Exploring the narratives, motivations and experiences of people engaging in an online sewalong: the #focuscuttingsewalong (previously known as the #fussycuttingsewalong)

In 2018, I started an Instagram sewalong. We were originally known as the #fussycuttingsewalong and we have since changed our name to the #focuscuttingsewalong. Within the sewalong, there is diversity in the location of participants (with people from the UK, Channel Islands, USA, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Germany, Norway), ages (ranging from 27 to 70+ years), religions, techniques, socio-economic status, careers, and styles yet there is also unity through that diversity as sewing has acted as a leveller. A supportive community has been created which has extended beyond social media (some people have met and become friends in off-screen life). We have worked together to create a strong, encouraging, creative community which is built upon shared interests by using Instagram to create a digital version of the traditional quilting bees.

Often when sewing is researched it is done from a public health perspective with sewing being explored as a creative intervention for healthy ageing and/or for those struggling with mental health difficulties, disability and/or ill physical health.

I would like to explore sewing for sewing’s sake. To do so, I am focussing on the personal narratives and motivations of those taking part in the sewalong as well as sewing more generally. I would also like to explore the role of social media in their sewing experiences.

Please send me an email to nc12824@bristol.ac.uk if you have any questions or would like to talk about the research further.

You can also click the following links to download copies to keep of:

The consent survey for this project can be found here: https://sps.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/consent-form-sewalong

Information Sheet

Exploring the
narratives, motivations and experiences of people engaging in an online
sewalong: the #focuscuttingsewalong (previously known as the

My name is Naomi Clarke and I am at the University of Bristol
studying for a Social Work PhD. I am also a stitcher, maker, crafter and hostess of the #focuscuttingsewalong. I realise there is a lot of information on this
sheet so please do let me know if I can answer any questions or if there is
another format I can use to make the information more accessible.

“What is the research about?”

For my PhD I am doing a research project about people’s experiences of sewing in an online
sewalong (the Instagram-led #focuscuttingsewalong which was also previously
known as the #fussycuttingsewalong), their experiences of sewing generally, and
their motivations for both sewing and engaging in the #fussycuttingsewalong.

“What is involved?”

Your participation is completely voluntary. If you don’t wish to take part then that’s okay and this
will not go any further. You can continue to be a part of the sewalong without participating in the research project.

As part of the research project, I would like to preserve the posts you have made as part of your sewalong journey. This involves me taking a screenshot of the posts you have made on Instagram with the hashtag #focuscuttingsewalong and #fussycuttingsewalong which would include the photo, the written texts and the comments.

Taking part would firstly involve completing the consent form which you can find here: https://sps.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/consent-form-sewalong

“What about privacy?”

I may write academic publications and give talks based on this project. I may use direct quotes and/or your experiences, thoughts and the photos of your work but I will not use your name, your Instagram name, or any other identifying information without your express consent. Whilst I will do my very best to anonymise your experiences if you request that they be anonymised, it is also important to note that it may be difficult to proffer complete anonymity as some sewing photos, by their very nature, may be personal to you, your style and could potentially be identifying.

Everything you say will be private, unless you say something that makes me worry about serious harm (which is behaviour that poses a risk physically and/or emotionally) either to yourself or to others. If this happens, then I’ll need to talk about this with my supervisor. All of the photos will be stored on a password-protected backed-up University of Bristol network computer and anonymised. You have the right to request for your data to be erased at any point and for any reason. This request may, however, be difficult to ensure if the data has been suitably anonymised.

“What if I’m happy for you to preserve my sewalong photos but I don’t want the images to be used in reports/publications?”

That’s absolutely okay! Please just clearly state in your email and in the consent survey that you don’t want any of the images to be used in any reports or publications.

“What next?”

Your participation is entirely voluntary. If you’re happy to take part in the project, then please complete the consent survey (available here: https://sps.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/consent-form-sewalong ). I will keep records of the consent survey completion and these records will be destroyed if you withdraw your consent. Once you’ve completed the consent survey, I will then start to preserve your images by taking screenshots.

If you don’t wish to take part then that’s okay and this will not go any further. You do not have to take part in this research and participation is voluntary. You can still take part in the sewalong without taking part in the research project.

Further information:

If you’d like to know any more about the project I’m more than happy to talk with you. My contact details and my PhD supervisor’s details (Professor Debbie Watson) are available on the bottom of this form. I’ve received ethical approval from the School for Policy Studies Ethics Committee at the University of Bristol.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Naomi Clarke


PhD supervisor:

Professor Debbie Watson