A sewalong is a structured guide to making an item using a pattern – usually an item of clothing. Each stage is broken down into a blog post, with illustrations, hints and tips. It’s a great way to learn how to sew especially since you can usually leave questions in the comments, and learn from what other people are posting. Even if you’re a more experienced sewist you can usually learn a lot, especially when the sewalong leader posts more advanced techniques and add-ons. Sometimes they will even post a whole illustrated tutorial, like Gertie’s on bound buttonholes, and Sarai’s on small– and full-bust adjustments.
Sewalongs are usually led by an accomplished sewing blogger, and sometimes, for the smaller pattern companies, by the designer themselves. Most will usually have a flickr set to accompany them as well so you can see people’s finished and half-finished projects, and their fabric choices. The finished item roundups are a great way to get inspiration as to what to use yourself! Most often you need to have a copy of the pattern, but sometimes the sewalong will be based on instructions to draft your own, or guide you to somewhere where you can download and print it.
If you’re a blogger you can formally declare you’re taking part in a sewalong, and feature a little button (like those pictured) on your blog. But of course you don’t need to have a blog or even tell anyone you’re doing it. And because the posts stay up on the web you can access them months afterwards if you get behind or want to take it up later.
I haven’t taken part in many sewalongs, but here are some I’ve come across and would recommend (links are to the first post in the series):
Gertie’s on the Colette Lady Grey (includes loads of tips on tailoring, muslins, and adjustments)
Tasia on the Sewaholic Crescent skirt, Pendrell blouse, Lonsdale dress, and (currently ongoing!) Minoru jacket (includes tips on laying out your fabric, making bust adjustments on a garment without a bust dart)
Noodlehead’s Simplicity 2226
Sherry’s self-drafted Ruby slip
Sunni’s trouser sewalong (based on a downloadable Burda pattern but flexible enough that you can apply it to your own pattern)