You only have to be on social media for five minutes to realise there’s a whole host of sew-alongs happening, pretty much all of the time! But what exactly is a sew-along? What is involved, crucially, do you have to pay, do you have to sign up and what do you have to do? We’re here to demystify the different types of sew along and hopefully encourage you to join in with one – they are great fun and a wonderful way to learn new skills, get to know other quilters and all work on the same project at the same time!
What is a sew-along?
A sew-along is when a group of quilters all sew together, usually lead by a host quilter or couple of host quilters. It is often to make a quilt, but it could also be to complete an embroidery, item of clothing or maybe a series of items, from a book for example.
Sew-alongs are lead through social media; sometimes via a facebook group, on Instagram, or through newsletter updates. It really does depend on the host as to how they want to run it. But the idea is that everyone sews along at the same time, and there is a facility to see one another’s progress through sharing photos and even videos. It might be through an Instagram hashtag or through sharing photos in a private facebook group, for example.
Do I have to sign up and pay?
Some sew-alongs require you to sign up and others don’t. You would normally be expected to pay for the pattern, which could either be a PDF or a paper pattern. Some sew-alongs are subscription based, so you pay monthly, and each month the next part of the pattern is released. Quite often you are getting SO much more than just the pattern. Often there are instructional videos, additional blog posts, and the ability to contact or chat with the designer, as well as being able to connect with other quilters also sewing along.
Do I need certain tools and equipment?
You will find a supplies list at the beginning of the sew-along, and often the host will make it very clear what you’ll need before you even purchase the pattern. If there are specific items that you need, often links will be provided to purchase them. Sometimes the designers sell templates, glue, specialty threads and any tools you might need. Sometimes these are optional extras, other times they are just recommended. It generally depends on what techniques are involved.
For some sew-alongs you’re able to purchase kits, such as fabric kits or template kits. Sometimes sew-along hosts team up with retailers and other times they sell kits directly. It takes the hassle out of having to choose your own fabrics, and you’ll be given the correct, or more yardage than you need.
Some Kits have the fabric pre-cut for you; this is often if you are working on a quilt or project block by block. Then all you have to do is the fun part of sewing the pieces together!
How do I learn?
Almost all sew-alongs will require you to have the pattern or book with written instructions. But increasingly, you will find accompanying instructional videos, either on a private website, facebook group, email or on Instagram stories/IGTV. Sometimes the host might do an Instagram/Facebook live, or there could be weekly or monthly instructions, depending on the duration of the sew-along.
Is there a schedule?
There is almost always a schedule so that everyone can work at the same pace, and finish their project around the same time. It could be run over weeks, months or even a year. All of these work, but you will have to decide how much you want to commit to a sew-along and consider how much is involved. Some sew-alongs are quite fast paced, and a lot of sewing is required each week/month to keep up. Others have a more relaxed pace with just say one block a month, over a year, like our 2020 Block of the Month program. It’s good to look at the schedule before committing, to see if you think it’s achievable along with your other commitments.
Are there prizes?
Some sew-alongs have prizes as ‘carrots’ for you to hit certain milestones, and sometimes there is a prize at the end. Often companies like to get involved and sponsor a sew-along as it’s good exposure for them and it encourages people to take part. Other times the sew-along is just for fun with no prizes. It really does depend.
We hope that this has been helpful and encouraged you to join in with the next sew-along that comes along that’s right for you!
Don’t forget in 2021 we are sewing the projects that feature in the Quilter’s Planner, along with completing rows each month from the Great British Friendship Quilt. This is hosted by Lorinda Davies in our Facebook page ‘Quilter’s Planner with Stephanie Palmer: Sketch. Dream. Be Inspired’ so make sure you’re following over there and we hope you’ll stitch along with us!