Challenge Yourself with a PatternReview.com Contest | Episode 37
In this episode of Sewing with Threads, the monthly podcast by the staff of Threads magazine, Editorial Director Sarah McFarland and Senior Technical Editor Carol J. Fresia talk with Deepika Prakash, founder of PatternReview.com.
The entrepreneur, who has a background in software development, started her website in 2001. At the time, she was a novice sewer who was enthusiastic about learning on her own, with the help of the internet. She discovered that patterns didn’t always turn out the way they looked on the pattern envelope. She was looking for a community of others who could answer questions and offer guidance in sewing techniques and fitting.
Since then, Deepika has shared her experiences and knowledge with Threads, even writing articles for the magazine. Join us for a quick trip down memory lane, and read a short exchange with Deepika on our forums, dating from 2002.
Learn why knits are Deepika’s favorite fabrics to sew. Though knits have a reputation for being tricky to work with, she has embraced their comfort and versatility. Keep listening to find out what Deepika’s favorite sewing term is. Hint: It’s a commonly used acronym.
Deepika explains that the original goal of organizing sewing contests on PatternReview.com was to encourage site members to sew. She suspected that many members just read the reviews but weren’t motivated to do much sewing on their own.
The contests—more than 300 over the past 20 years—have a variety of themes. There are usually two contests running every month. Each contest includes lively discussion about the members’ plans, on the site’s forums. Deepika works with a group of expert, trusted volunteers, who help her administer the contests and develop the rules.
A long-standing favorite theme is the fabric stash reduction contest. Participants are scored by how many yards of fabric they use from what they’ve owned for more than six months. This encourages creativity and productivity. The Sewing Bee contest is another popular challenge, requiring serious commitment and creativity.
This year is the website’s 20th anniversary, and there will be a contest to celebrate this milestone. Check PatternReview.com regularly to see if there’s a contest that inspires you.
These are the starting dates for the planned 2021 contests. The span of most contests is a month, but some are longer, and some overlap with other contests.
January 15 (through February 15): Video Call (Zoom) Garment/Outfit
February 1: Activewear
March 1: Sewing Bee
April 1: Sewing for Babies or Toddlers
May 1: Bargainista Fashionista
May 15: Transformer (Clothing that transforms by using clever sewing techniques and/or closures)
June 1: Pattern Stash
July 1: Quilted Garment/Reverse Appliqué
July 15: Ankara/Wax Print Fabric
August 1: Children Who Sew (A contest for those under age 12)
September 1: Mini Wardrobe Contest
September 15: Upcycle Contest
October 1: Skill Level Specific
November 1: Pattern Review’s 20th Anniversary Contest
December 1: Holiday Sewing
If you need information from other sewing enthusiasts about a pattern you’re interested in trying, Deepika’s website is the place to go.
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This was wonderful. I actually first "met" Deepika when we were both a sewing forum discussing our projects, and issues. Was it "SewingWorld"? That was (mumble mumble) twenty years ago.
I joined PatternReview shortly after she announced on that forum. Then I got to meet her on real life on a tour of fabric stores in my town (again mumble mumble) ten years ago. I am not very active on it, but is a great resource for information on patterns, machines, etc. I would like to take part in the challenges, but life keeps getting in the way. (like repairs over making silk jammies.... that need the pants part modified, erg)
Ah, yes, Sewing World! That was a gateway for me, too, to getting back into sewing all those years ago. Looking back at how limited our options were for online community in those days, it delights me that so many of us have stayed with sewing and with each other--and our community has grown so much. Deepika was hugely instrumental in that.
The baby I was expecting back when there was an active maternity-sewing group on Sewing World is now a junior in college who does her own sewing and posts occasionally on PatternReview.com. Luckily, the rest of us have hardly aged at all during the intervening years. Or at least we stay young in spirit. ;-)
Carol Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor