…no trending audio or dancing required.
Instagram is a massively important tool for sewists – it’s hugely responsible for connecting a bunch of creatives who would otherwise, for the most part, be enjoying their hobby in solitude. While frivolous for some, the platform provides sewists with a way of discovering new patterns, independent fabric shops and pattern designers, and a wealth of inspiration from fellow sewing enthusiasts. Who hasn’t searched the hashtag for a pattern they’ve got their eye on?
However, with the increasing pressure on Reels as a way to connect, and endless changes to THE ALGORITHM, lots of people have found themselves getting frustrated with the app. Reels can be really daunting, and while some hate the idea of succumbing to them, I find myself really enjoying making these short videos. They’re a fun way to create content, and as dressmakers, video form gives us an opportunity to show our handmade clothes in motion – to show how the fabric moves with us, how the clothes fit when we’re moving rather than standing still for a photo, which is really important.
I make very (very!) basic Reels, with no fancy lighting, backdrops, editing or dancing involved, and I really enjoy making them. I know this isn’t the same for everyone, some people just can’t think of what to share in a Reel, and others are worried that they need loads of video editing skills. Because of this, I thought I’d share some ideas for Reels that take zero filming ability, that we can all share in our own way, and that give you a great opportunity to engage with other creatives.
- 30 second sewing plan
A very simple talking-to-the-camera video. Share your upcoming sewing plans, but make it quick! Show the patterns and fabrics you’re going to use, if you have time you can show how the material moves so viewers can see the drape of the fabric. A great way to share this part of the process and inspire others.
- One pattern 6* ways
If you’ve made one sewing pattern a few times, this is a great way to show how that pattern can be recreated. We all want our money’s worth when we buy a sewing pattern, so if your audience can see that they could make e.g. 6 different garments from one pattern, you’ll be providing so much inspiration, while supporting the pattern designer.
(*insert the correct number of ways you’ve made the pattern!)
I might do this with the Lyra Dress from Tilly and the Buttons:
- Your 3 favourite makes
You don’t always need to be sharing new makes! If you have some absolute favourites that you wear on repeat, let people know about them! This could be as simple as standing in one spot in your house, filming yourself for a few seconds, then changing into the next outfit (when the camera’s off!). Put these clips to some good music and you’re good to go. This is all I did for Me Made May and it not only helped people see how I actually style my handmade clothes for everyday use, it also helped me see what I wear most often.
Some of my favourite makes to include in this would be…
- Prints vs solids
Similar to the video above, if you have a few printed clothes you love, and some solid colours, why not show them all off and ask everyone their favourites? A great way to engage with others, and it might actually get you pairing some new combinations.
- All the prints/colours
If you love prints or a specific colour, that’s a perfect excuse for a Reel or two. You could show the garments all hung up next to each other in your wardrobe and pick a few out to show, or you could stand in front of the camera, snap your fingers and the outfit ‘magically’ changes to the next bold print (just make sure not to move the camera/phone and always stand in the same spot), or simply get some video footage where you normally would have taken a photo. Again, add a good bit of music and there’s a super easy Reel that shows off your style.
- Ask for help
Have you got some fabric that you love but you’re not sure what to make with it? Ask for ideas! This is another super-quick talk-to-camera video, so no editing is needed. Just have the fabric to hand and chat away! This can also be for a technique you’re stuck on; it’s amazing how the sewing community is on-hand with tips and advice.
- 5 favourite patterns
If you’ve got some all-time favourite patterns, why not let everyone know? This is another one where you can talk to the camera and show the patterns, saying what you like about them. If talking to a camera gives you the heebie jeebies, you can lay the patterns out and simply film them, then add video clips of you wearing the clothes to show each pattern sewn up. You can add text on top to name the patterns, and/or add to the caption.
Some of my favourites for this would be…
- Your favourite fabric type
If you’ve nailed working with slippery fabrics, or you just love sewing with jersey or poplin, get those makes all together for a Reel. This will show others how one fabric type can be worn multiple ways.
- Restyling one piece
Sewing a garment takes a long time, so showing how that project can be styled for different occasions will be of huge value to others. Someone might love a pattern but not be sure how they’d wear it, so showing e.g. 8 ways of styling one skirt could really inspire them. I shared a pair of green trousers styled with different tops and it’s by far my most engaged-with post.
- One garment for all seasons
If you have a project that’s perfect for all seasons, you could show how you’d style it in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Again, this will be great for everyone to see the value of this sewing project, and give them ideas for styling similar items they may already have.
- Tag the sewing pattern companies and fabric shops in the caption. Reels can really take off so it’s a great opportunity to promote your favourite independent brands
- I had loads of problems adding text to my videos, so I use a separate app called InShot. It’s free and you simply add the video clips then put a text box on top. You then save the video from InShot and it’s there as a video to upload to Instagram
- When you start to create your Reel, set the time to 90 seconds. Best to have too much time than have the end of your video get cut off! If you only end up using e.g. 36 seconds, the video will only last that long, there won’t be 54 seconds of blank air time
- Repost your Reel to your Stories to let everyone know it’s there. That pesky algorithm could mean that some of your biggest supporters wouldn’t see it otherwise.
Don’t overthink it! Your Reels don’t need to be Oscar-worthy, heavily edited masterpieces. Done is better than perfect, so if you just stand your phone up on your ironing board and twirl around in your favourite handmade clothes, that will still provide value to others. We will still be inspired by what you made, how you used the fabric, how you interpreted that sewing pattern to suit your style. Relax, enjoy the process, have fun, and hit ‘share’.