Image © from Victorian Evening Hairstyles article by Lynn McMasters for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, 2010
Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you weren't quite living up to your potential? That if you could just get it together, you could be doing a much better job than this - for yourself, for your sewing, for your employer, for your customers, for your family?
That guilty feeling really sucks, but it's a good sign, because it tends to be followed, sooner or later, by a moment of decision.
Ok. That's it. This is going to change now. It's time.
In 2007, I was one jealous costume maker. I was a serial lurker trying to figure out how all those fabulous costumers out there were creating such drop dead gorgeous clothes. I wanted to learn. I wanted what they had. If they would just take me aside and show me how they really fitted those corsets, set in those sleeves, arranged those pleats - in detail, not just a few quick pictures in a blog post - I could be selecting fantastic projects without a care, flying through them with amazing making-of photos, and feeling a million dollars in the end result too. And so came the idea for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd... what if I passed a hat around, and we paid these artists to show us all how it's done?
We'd get the special sauce. We would know what they know. Our sewing skills would go through the roof and we'd feel like we could tackle any crazy idea and create a masterpiece too. We could do this together.
Little did I know that that little idea was going to sustain me as a career, support a team of four, and pay over a hundred costume and corsetry artists who would write for us for a full ten years. Almost five thousand Members have passed through the doors of Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and Foundations Revealed since November 2007, some for a month, some staying with us the entire decade.
Ten years on, I can definitely call that little idea a resounding success... but for me, it's not enough of a success.
There's still something missing.
Image © from How to Make A Bra series by Mark Garbarczyk for Foundations Revealed, 2011
I wanted my websites to make us all better seamstresses. We've built a pretty awesome library and I've certainly improved a lot myself. I have a much nicer sewing room too, but the truth is...
I'm not sewing right now.
And so many others just aren't sewing either. People tell me they read the new articles with a nice cup of coffee on a Saturday morning... but are they sewing? More and more readers leave us because they're "not doing enough sewing to justify it", or they simply feel that they "can't justify the price". Read that again. They can't justify spending $14.97 on themselves? What's wrong with this picture?
Meanwhile, anxiety and depression continue to rise, and I believe that there's a connection. When creative people don't give themselves the space and the permission to create, we gradually lose our minds. Slowly at first - we're busy, we're tired, there's so much else to do, we don't get around to it - but the decline is real. Not making art is emotional suicide.
Somewhere, I've missed the mark.
Image © from Corsets with Cups series by Barbara Pesendorfer of
Royal Black Couture and Corsetry for Foundations Revealed, 2015
There's no denying that we have the information to help people sew better - almost a THOUSAND articles, of a breadth and depth that is available nowhere else, online or off. We've thrown eight to ten long form articles at our readers every single month, without fail, for ten years, on subjects ranging from bra making to push-up corsets, and from flowing Medieval gowns to Twenties knickers. There's an unprecedented level of detail there.
But information isn't enough.
Back in 2007, what I really wanted wasn't just a brain dump. I wanted a mentor. I wanted a cheerleader. I wanted someone to give me permission to sew with abandon, and the courage to explore and experiment and discover. And I didn't just want someone to tell me how. I wanted them to SHOW me how.
Starting on March 7th, 2017, you'll see the following features begin to roll out at Foundations and Wardrobe:
We're slowing the relentless tide of information and replacing it with interaction - namely, a closed Facebook group in which Members can connect with other costume, corsetry and fashion artists who inspire you with the same kind of passionate commitment to their sewing as you have.
(We have tried this before on an independent forum within the site and it did not work at all. We have had much better results experimenting with Facebook groups lately. With regret to those who do not like Facebook, it must nevertheless be my choice for the most effective community building platform currently available.)
A team of professional Coaches will give our Members interactive feedback and support, so that no seamstress need ever struggle alone.
New monthly classes and tutorials will be delivered via video, with a tighter focus than ever before on how-to information that directly helps you master your skills. One video will be in depth; another will be a quick practice project that you can do in a weekend, in an evening, in between the oh-so-urgent obligations of life. We're going to keep your creative spirit alive whether you have three small children, or a demanding job, or a surgery to recover from.
We'll map out a path from Beginner to Couturiere on which you can measure your progress and filter the content in our library that's most relevant to you where you're at now.
Through 2017 we'll be working on re-branding on a new, updated, professional platform, with a fresh new look - and it looks likely that we'll be re-combining YWU and FR as a single site (with Membership levels that still offer the option of joining FR only).
We'll open registration for brief periods only, in order to give the Members' Community a stable space in which to build relationships with each other and the Coaches, without the to-ing and fro-ing of a constantly open gate.
Why am I telling you about this now, before any of it happens? Because if the Oak Leaf Dress taught me anything, it was that making a public commitment is the first step in moving Heaven and Earth, and that moving mountains is a lot more fun when you have - here comes that word again - a community who are along for the ride.
I'm re-committing myself fully to this innovative, award-winning project so that we can Bring Back Sewing in 2017. I'd love to hear what you think about this direction in the comments below. (If you get an error message saying "This is not a valid comment", keep punching "Send" - our comments feature is temperamental. Another reason for a new platform.)
Stay up to date with developments on this project by joining our mailing list (click the "corsetry in your inbox" banner at the top of this page).
Alternatively, if you're all in with me, I invite you to get "in on the ground floor" by becoming a Member now. Because those who are our loyal Members today are going to feel the love first.