Mind Your Manners: Unsolicited Opinions and How We Can Do Better

Yesterday, I shared a post on Instagram of one an individual experience of getting unsolicited criticism on this coat I made last year.

I’d shared that someone decided to comment that she was bothered about me not matching my stripes on the coat. I used it as a teaching moment to encourage people to continue to do what they do because there will always be some Negative Nelly who will find some microscopic and unimportant detail that they don’t like. And they will feel the need to share it with you, regardless if you ask their opinion or not. See the original blog post here, if you’re interested in the full pattern review and details.

Let me preface this by saying that, as a blogger, it comes with the territory that people will feel inclined to give negative opinions on my entire existence (haha). I’ve received comments that people don’t like my voice, technique, I’m ugly (haha try again, I’m cute and I know it!), and the list goes on.

I thank God that I have confidence and these things mostly make me laugh before I block and delete them. But, I will not spend this post complaining about the occasional rude comments. I can handle myself and won’t give any energy to that negativity. I love to blog. I LOVE the Style Sew Me platform and community and that’s that.

I normally mind my business when it comes to the more controversial and polarizing conversations that sometimes pop up in our community. It’s a little baffling some of the things have come up sometimes. It’s sewing for goodness sake. This is the most g-rated activity on the internet, why is there e-beef about this! Hahaha But, I felt compelled to write just a little something about this.

What actually sparked me to take this discussion to the blog is that there are so many sewers out there who struggle with projects and their confidence around it. And there are even more who have a desire to share their journey, but are often scared of what I’ll call “Snooty Sewers” who can be overly critical and feel entitled to share those unsolicited opinions in a tactless (or outright nasty) manner.

I believe that if someone asks for an opinion or says they struggled with xyz, definitely offer them help in a respectful manner. Treat them like you would want to be treated. But, if someone is simply saying “hey, check out what I”m made – I’m so proud of it”, it’s probably preferred that one keeps their critical comments to themselves.

I understand that the Internet gives us connections that may feel familiar, and not having to be face-to-face makes people behave a lot more “bravely” than they would in person.  We still should be mindful of our tone or how our unsolicited negative opinions be received.

Recently, there was a campaign where sewers shared how sewing helps them heal. There are thousands of women who use this craft to decompress from the day, escape from stress, cope with illness or circumstances, heal from loss, or even make money for themselves. The last thing they need to hear is “I don’t get why you didn’t match your stripes” or other unsolicited, rude, and nit-picky opinions that they didn’t ask for.

Would you say something like that to someone in person if they didn’t ask you for an opinion? Highly unlikely. Let’s keep that same energy online.

To my sewers who are just getting started, or are still struggling with confidence around their projects, keep your head up!

Everyone has their imperfections in their projects. Even clothing off the rack has imperfections because it was made by a person!

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to your makes and sharing it with the community. You made something with your two hands. You brought a vision to life and that is something to be proud of. Never let anyone take that from you!

To my more advanced sewers that have got a wealth of information and experience to share, please be aware of how you deliver that message.

Remember, there once was a time that you didn’t know something. Let’s all be more uplifting in our words and tone – it goes a very long way! Let’s build up and not tear down.

With e-love,

Eryn 🙂


52 replies on “Mind Your Manners: Unsolicited Opinions and How We Can Do Better”

  • I just shut the negative crap and wenches down with….”Go get your man and ask him what he thinks of me/ my garments because a female’s opinion will never matter when it comes to me…mmmmkayyy sweetie??? That’s how you get them!

  • Eryn, I work in retail and have a regular customer who critiques my outfit every day – often I’m wearing what I have made. He starts with ‘I like…but…’. It used to upset me but now I record them and share the comments with friends and work mates. I don’t think he knows the expression ‘If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing’.

    • LOL Wow at the entitlement to give frequent commentary where it wasn’t invited! I’m glad you found something humorous to do with those comments and that it doesn’t upset you anymore.

  • Eryn, thanks so much for this post. There are more important things in the world to be concerned with then matching stripes. I totally agree with your post. It all goes back to the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”, that saying never goes out of style. I appreciate you and your craft. Keep shining. BTW, I purchased your Madison cardigan and absolutely love the outcome of it. I plan to make a couple more. It’s my favorite quick sew cardigan pattern

  • Thanks for the thoughtful post. While I haven’t made negative comments on anyone’s makes, etc., a judgmental commentary was running in my head for years. About other people’s hair and clothes, primarily. I would imagine how much better they would look if this or that was different according to a set of style rules I had learned from my mother and magazines, etc. In my mind, I was being kind! I didn’t comment silently or otherwise on sewing because I was the only seamstress I knew, other than my mother, whose skills outreached mine for many years. In the past ten years, I have realized how destructive and negative this habit is. I now celebrate the choices people make who are brave, unconventional, and/or who have different values and ideas about beauty and style than I do. On sewing sites, I will offer advice couched in compassion and knowledge if requested. Otherwise, I’m thumbs up on whatever people make! Thanks again for your sage advice.

    • Julie, this is such a beautiful post! I am so in love with it. Thank you for being honest with yourself and recognizing your thoughts. We ALL think those exact same thoughts, myself included. It’s just really about not denying ourselves that moment of being judgey, but more about choosing what we do with those thoughts and how it could impact others! Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you Eryn! I am newly getting my business off the ground and I am encouraged by your words. Criticism can hurt and I struggle with “perfectionism” everyday. Not bringing what I know is valuable information and products to market, things people are looking for, or need, for fear that it is not perfect enough. I’m afraid that I would have to content with the slings and arrows of those who are negatively inclined. The community of sewers who are positive and productive is stronger than those who sit around looking for what is wrong.

  • Yes to ALL OF THIS!!!!! I’m working on becoming a seamstress, but I don’t understand why others feel the need to comment! If you don’t like it, just keep scrolling. Your creations are like your kids and so as artists and creatives, they are precious to us!! You handled this topic with such grace!!

  • Eryn, great article and thank you for sharing! I too have had a negative Nelly, Nancy and Natasha. They commented on a post of a picture the pattern company put up of me. Felt my skirt was tight and another was worried about my shoes looking like they were on the wrong feet. Personally I laughed like ummmm I like my skits fitted and if my shoes were on the wrong sides (which they weren’t) focus on my dress and not my shoes. So girl I don’t even give it energy.

  • Vous êtes juste divinement magnifique Je ne comprends pas beaucoup l’anglais mais je prendrais le tempsde traduire

  • Eryn, when my husband died, I said he was in heaven on a post in our sewing community and another Christian woman went completely OFF on me. I tried to explain why I believed as I did and it got worse. I let it go and told her that at the end of the day kindess always wins. It wasn’t sewing related but I doubt she would have spoken to anyone that way face to face at a painful time in their life. I actually think it was sad for her because she actually made a fool of herself with the behavior she displayed.I decided for myself that some comments don’t deserve the dignity of my attention. Like the person who commented, “STUPID”, on one of my latest YouTube videos. Now what am I supposed to do with that? No response!Thank you for sharing this and being YOU!You just keep glowing sister! Much love!❤️

    • I’m really sorry that this happened to you, Anita. I can’t even begin to understand “why”. But, as you said, these comments reflect more on the speaker than on the receiver. Thank you for sharing and keep being a light in the community!

  • Eryn, thank you so very much for this. I’m no well known blogger but yet I love to sew and blog about my journey, even if it is just family and friends that mostly appreciate it. My son passed away 5 months ago at the age of 24 and my sewing helps me to heal and gives me some peace and something to look forward to daily. My sewing space is my peaceful space many days. Like you stated people do not know the story behind why we do what we do and we don’t owe any explanation either. A lot of times I won’t even look at comments on other peoples post because some people are so rude and hurtful and think they must always say what comes to their minds. I realize now people like that are just miserable and cannot be happy for others simply because they are not, sad but true. Again, thank you for this article.

  • I agree 100% with your post. I once had a t-shirt that said “Obey all the rules, Miss all the fun!”. I always applied that to my quilting, and now to my sewing. It doesn’t mean you don’t “try” your best, but Nobody is perfect. I sew and quilt for fun, try to do my best, and enjoy all of my creations, whether the stripes match or not!!

  • wonderful post. rudeness happens, but meanness is never acceptable. so much of it seems to be going around these days. its all about respect. for yourself and for others. overall I have found the sewing community to be very nice and helpful people, but as you said there is that handful. I think they have such a miserable life they want to make it miserable for everyone else. such a shame. and yes you are cute!!!!

  • So well said! I am in awe of how eloquently you penned this heartfelt post. You hit so many nails on the head. Thank you for taking a stand and sharing your thoughts on this topic.

  • I love your point about considering how we welcome new people into the craft and tactfully communicate our criticism. However, I personally believe that critiques, framed in the right way, can be valuable. Sure, that time someone commented on my new coat’s buttonholes stung a bit, but you know what? They were right! Our community is one of learners, and we should try to be open to those opportunities rather than just be “nice” to each other. If you intentionally didn’t match your stripes that is definitely fine! But maybe some sewers would’t even know that was a thing, and now they would! The critique might not have been framed in the kindest way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take value from it.Now people saying they don’t like your body or voice or something, that’s just rude. But for someone showcasing their work on site where they sell their sewing products and knowledge, I’m not sure some comments about stripe matching are totally out of line.

    • You hit the nail on the head “framed in the right way”. Many people miss that piece! I’ve had people offer a suggestion on my youtube videos and they were right and I thanked them for sharing! Because it was delivered with care and a spirit of wanting to help. Those that are rude and backhanded are the ones I speak of.The thing about the stripes is this…my priority has never been about matching prints. If that’s anyone’s pet peeve, they’ll want to unfollow me promptly because they will always be disappointed in me! haha! I made a genuine effort in this coat for the first time and it still wasn’t good enough! lol!I said that to say personal cosmetic preferences (such as stripes matching) should not be expected to be someone else’s priority. I was not selling a product related to matching stripes or giving a tutorial.But, overall, your point about framing things in a helpful/respectful way is really what matters. That makes the medicine a lot easier to swallow!Thanks for sharing, Meg!

  • Constructive criticism is a good thing but not always necessary. I follow your blog to learn and to become better at sewing, and even to learn from your mistakes. But I didn’t see any mistakes with the coat. I loved it .

    • Great point! Constructive criticism is good and can be helpful when delivered respectfully. But, more often than not, it’s delivered recklessly and insensitively. Thank you for sharing!

  • I was taught that If you don’t have anything good to say – keep your mouth closed. Some people can be so insensitive and even hurtful. I think it’s much easier to build someone up than it is to tear them down.

  • I’ve been on the receiving end of this, and I try really hard not to be on the giving end. I’ve found that, if I discover what I think to be an issue, I’ll send a private message. There’s no need to go public. As you point out, the sewing community is filled with people who are trying to better their skills. Are there some instances of, “Well, that could have gone better…”? Of course. Even after all my years of sewing there I have some “Whut?” moments.

  • It makes me so sad to think that others want to bring anyone down with unsolicited critiques. Generally the sewing community is absolutely terrific (I belong to SewOver50) and we should all be our own cheer squad. Kindness begets kindness. Let’s lead in this manner…as you are.A great blog Eryn.

  • Great post Eryn. Most of the time people will blow up the DM with ideas about how they would do your make. My dad always said, “before you speak, think about it, and ask how you would feel if that was said to you.”

  • What a thoughtful post! I definitely agree that things can get out of hand in online comments in ways it never would in a face to face discussion. It’s often easy to miss (or mis-read) tone. And as someone who has gotten stuck in sewing paralysis due to trying to perfect every detail, because Jane or Jill or Janet says I should, I can attest it is often better not to sweat the small stuff, especially for something that is a hobby and not a job (at least for most of us). The one caveat I would mention on unsolicited advice however, is when folks throw up tutorials, or represent themselves as experts. In this case, unsolicited advice/feedback from the sewing community – especially if it is dissenting – could save many other sewists a lot of headache. I’ve experienced this myself and been grateful to the brave soul who was willing to speak up at risk of being considered “unsupportive”. But I do agree it should always be presented in a respectful way. Love that you were willing to broach this sometimes sensitive topic. And love your designs!

    • Oh great point, Joanna. Yes, it is a good idea to share helpful information to improve tutorials. I’ve received that feedback as well mostly from a “good tutorial, I’ve got another way that works, too!” type of vibe. That’s always received well! You hit the nail on the head, intention can be lost in poor tone. Feedback (if one really wants to be heard and considered) should be considerate, no matter positive or negative! Great points and thank you for sharing, Joanna!

  • Thanks Sister for those encouraging words and yes I agree with you that we need to be very mindful of our delivery to others!.

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