Jan 27, 2014

How did I start writing for Sew News?

I'm frequently asked by acquaintances from both real and virtual world on how I started writing for Sew News magazine. I have to admit it, it's quite unusual to hear that a woman from Serbia, who still lives in her homeland, writes for a foreign magazine about sewing. I don't know anyone from here who does the same thing. A local fellow blogger Jelena has the most similar experience, she writes custom ordered blog posts on various topics for various clients. We're not doing the same thing, but you get the parallel between us.


Those who don't sew at all think that I write either about fashion or they have no idea what I could be writing about - cause what's there to write about when it comes to sewing! Those who more or less have some insight in sewing usually think I'm selling my hand made garments via the magazine, or my patterns (the later one isn't far away from the truth). However, no matter whether they sew or not, local people think I write for Burda, since it's a local synonym for sewing.

Friends who know me well and who remember the first time I mentioned I was starting to write for a certain American magazine can't really distinguish the difference between my work for Sew News and Burda Style - I can't blame them, both Burda Style and Sew News happened to me at the same time.

So I thought it would be interesting to you to read about how and when I became a Sew News columnist and what it looks like to work for the magazine.

My progress with Burda Style

Back in 2008 I discovered BurdaStyle website, which was brand new at the time. It had less than 100.000 members (now it has approximately a million members) and it was a small yet opened community of people who were fascinated with sewing. It was something like Facebook for dressmakers. I signed in to acquire some of their free patterns that were available at the time and for some moral support - I needed to show my creations to someone who was genuinely interested in sewing. I needed someone to pat me on the shoulder and tell me "Well done, you make nice clothes!", as I didn't know anyone who sewed and I had no one beside my mom to admire my work (and at the time, my mom wasn't available either, since I had moved from my parents' house). I had no idea at what level my sewing skills were, since I had no one to compare with. And I was self taught... I had no idea of how much I knew and I thought I didn't know much.

However, as I started posting pictures of my creations, and following other members' works, I realized I knew a lot - I was better than average, but I had a lot to learn. I started absorbing any information I could find about sewing and I sewed like a maniac. During the next six months my sewing technique increased rapidly - practice made wonders! Honestly, my competitive spirit helped me a lot; while watching all those lovely and impeccably made creations other members had made I was moved to improve my own precision and to pay more attention to details. I wanted to be the best and I wanted to be noticed by other members.

When I realized the website had an option for members to post their patterns, I decided to try and make one myself! Drafting a pattern wasn't difficult - I used a commercial pattern as a basis and altered it according to my design. However, converting it into a PDF file was a challenge. But, I mastered another skill and made my first amateur sewing pattern for the AMC dress and uploaded it to the website. The pattern was quite successful, and had some solid reviews. So far it has been downloaded approximately 20.000 times - not bad for a beginner!

Along with the eight patterns I had posted to the website, I started writing instructions and tutorials for pattern alterations. One of them, for making the leaf pleated dress drew attention of Ellen March, the editor of Sew News magazine.

My first article and the Pattern Play column

Honestly, even though the tutorial was quite understandable and straight forward, it was so sloppily done with lousy photos. I still don't understand how Ellen dared to offer me to write an article about the dress for the magazine - which was exactly what she did. I thought I was dreaming. Since we don't have an access to the magazine here in Serbia, I was afraid her offer was some sort of a scam and that I wasn't communicating with real Ellen but with some manipulator. But I didn't let that frighten me, I called some American bloggers for help, and asked them to write me a few words about the magazine. One of the ladies I communicated with directed me to a person who actually worked as a collaborator for the magazine, so I was assured Ellen was a real person and her offer was no scam. And so I accepted the collaboration.


However, I decided to be proactive and take my chance while I had it - when Ellen and I were defining terms of the collaboration, I proposed her to make a regular column that would teach pattern drafting. She liked the idea, and the Pattern Play column was born, we signed a contract and I became a columnist of Sew News.

I can't explain how excited I was. I had to wait for ten months to get my first article published, which was a nerve wrecking period to me :). I was assured I wasn't dreaming it all when I got my issue of the magazine in January 2011. It was all real!

Work for the magazine

Many are surprised when they realize each of the items published in the magazine travels back and forth from Serbia to Colorado in order to be photographed. Also, many think my articles are written with no plan. In fact, each of the magazine issues and articles that are featured in it is thoroughly planned, months in advance.

I propose the topics - I provide a short description of the garment I will write about, I attach a photography of it (in case the garment is already made), or a sketch or a photo of a similar garment, with notes on the fabric I will use and what would be the focus of the article. Since I write six articles per year, I make a list of at least eight suggestions, and I make sure I have at least half of the items from the list already made. This gives me enough time for sewing some additional garments during the year. It's important to me to know that the items I suggested to Ellen are the ones I'll still like when it's their turn to be sewn, so I chose the ones I've been fascinated with for a while. I also copy famous designers frequently.



According to my suggestions Ellen picks topics for the next year, we make an annual plan, set the deadlines for each of the articles and sign a preliminary agreement. All in all, I have to have each of the garments ready at least ten months before the issue the garment will be featured in is published. And ten months goes from the moment I send a garment to the States for a photo-shoot till the moment I get it back. Quite often I sew a garment just before it is sent to Sew News so I don't get a chance to wear it before that.

Each article requires three things: the text that describes the process (usually a pattern drafting process), photos or illustrations that demonstrate the described process, and a finished garment which is the subject of the article.

I write the article in a technical manner - with the step-by-step instructions. The editor edits my text, makes all the necessary corrections to my English and writes a brief intro to the article - usually it's a short text that describes the garment itself. I'm glad I don't have to do this part of the job, as I am not one of those people who can write witty and catchy headlines that draw readers' attention.

Once all the material for the article is collected by the editor, she sends me a contract to sign. After that I get my check, usually three months before the article is being published.

Occasionally I get an opportunity to write additional articles, like I did with the February - March 2014 issue. Topic of these articles is usually some sewing technique which I suggest or the editor asks for. This part of the job is optional and if the editor and I agree on this, we sign an additional contract.

What has working for Sew News brought me

Along with the obvious things, like getting the fee for my articles and having a feeling of doing something out of ordinary, the collaboration with Sew News has influenced me more than you can imagine:
  • First of all, I've done something good for myself by getting out of my comfort zone. I was insanely lucky to be spotted by the editor of the magazine, among thousands of other members of Burda Style, however I can't be too modest about it - I mean, my work got noticed among thousands of other items on the website! Also, my boldness played a major part in the story - I knew I was able to work the magazine, and I asked for more than I was initially offered, and I got what I asked for! 
  • After I started writing for the magazine, I realized no one from Serbia nor the region knew about me and my work, so I decided to start blogging. So, here I am, three and a half years later, slowly making my blog a business that brings some profit. My blog was bilingual because I had already knew a lot of people from the sewing community who were from abroad, and I didn't want to lose their friendship and support. I think it was the right decision, which lead me to meeting some new friends and getting to know people from all over the world, all thanks to Štepalica.
  • I've realized what I should do for a living. Years before I started writing about sewing I was looking for a way to cash in my creativity, but I wasn't interested in making custom fit garments for others. When I was given this chance, I realized the merge of writing, pattern drafting and sewing was a winning combination to me. This lead me to thinking about starting my line of sewing patterns, which was exactly what I did.

  • My self confidence has increased a lot. I've never been one of those people who are shy, but I wasn't bursting with confidence either. Now I feel I can do whatever I set my mind to.
  • I have improved my English. Seven - eight years ago my English knowledge was solid, but when I tried writing my first comment and garment description, I was stuck - I was completely unfamiliar with the sewing terminology. As a comparison - now I find it easier to write about sewing in English than in Serbian. Writing in English every day has helped me improve the language, and I think it gets better and better every day.

I hope I haven't drowned you with this post, and that I have answered your questions on how I started working for Sew News. Also, I hope I have inspired you to move and get out of your own comfort zone. It's not that hard, I swear! 

Kako sam počela da pišem za Sew News časopis?

Sve češće me poznanici, iz realnog i virtuelnog sveta, pitaju kako sam počela da pišem za Sew News. Moram priznati, prilično je neobično čuti da jedna žena iz Srbije, koja pri tom i dalje živi u svojoj zemlji, piše za neki strani časopis, i to o šivenju! Lično ne poznajem nikoga ko radi to isto. Jelena ima najsličnije iskustvo; ona piše blog postove po narudžbini, za različite klijente i na različite teme, tako da naš posao nije istog tipa, ali jasna vam je paralela između nas dve.


Ljudi koji se ne razumeju u šivenje ili misle da pišem o modi, ili nemaju baš nikakvu ideju o čemu bih ja to mogla da pišem - jer šta ima da se piše o šivenju! Oni koji manje ili više znaju da šiju obično prvo pomisle da prodajem svoju ručno sašivenu garderobu ili svoje krojeve (ovo drugo i nije daleko od istine). No, bez obzira da li znaju ili ne da šiju, svi misle da pišem za Burdu, jer je ovaj magazin sinonim za šivenje u Srbiji. 

Prijatelji koji me malo bolje poznaju, i koji se sećaju kada sam prvi put pomenula da počinjem da pišem za neki američki časopis, ne mogu više da pohvataju šta sam radila za Burda Style, a šta za Sew News - razumem ih, i Burda Style i Sew News su mi se desili u isto vreme. 

Zato pomislih da bi vam bilo zanimljivo da pročitate kako je, i kada, do ove saradnje došlo, i kako moj rad za ovaj časopis izgleda.

Napredovanje uz Burda Style

Dakle,  2008. godine sam otkrila Burda Style sajt, koji je tad tek bio u povoju. Brojao je manje od 100.000 članova (sada ih ima oko milion), i stvarao je osećaj male ali otvorene zajednice ljudi koji su fascinirani šivenjem. Nešto kao Fejsbuk posvećen šivenju. Učlanila sam se zbog besplatnih krojeva koje je sajt nudio i zbog želje da nekome, koga šivenje zaista zanima, pokažem svoje kreacije. Trebalo mi je da me neko potapše po ramenu i da mi kaže "Bravo, baš si to lepo sašila!", jer nisam imala u svom okruženju nikoga ko je šio i nikoga sem mame da se divi mom radu (a u to vreme, ni mama mi nije bila pri ruci, jer sam se odselila iz roditeljskog doma). Nisam imala čak ni predstavu o tome koliko dobro šijem, jer nisam imala sa kime da se uporedim. Pri tom sam bila samouka... Nisam imala pojma koliko znam, i verovala sam da ne znam previše.

Međutim, kako sam počela da postavljam slike svojih kreacija, i paralelno da pratim radove drugih ljudi, shvatila sam da zapravo znam dosta - bila sam bolja od proseka, ali imala sam još dosta da učim. Počela sam da upijam svaku moguću informaciju o krojenju do koje sam mogla da dođem, i sumanuto mnogo šila. U narednih šest meseci moja tehnika se rapidnom brzinom poboljšala - praksa čini čuda! Iskreno, veliki doprinos mom usponu imao je i moj takmičarski duh; gledajući lepe i savšeno pedantno sašivene stvari drugih članova, dobila sam elan da i sama usavršim preciznost i da se posvetim detaljima. Želela sam da budem najbolja i želela sam da me ostali članovi primete.

Kada sam shvatila da sajt nudi mogućnost da članovi postavljaju svoje krojeve, reših da se oprobam i ja! Napraviti kroj nije bilo previše komplikovano - koristila sam komercijalni kroj kao osnovu i izmenila ga prema svom dizajnu. Međutim, pretvoriti ga u digitalni format je bio veliki izazov. No, i to sam naučila, napravila svoj prvi amaterski kroj za AMC haljinu i postavila ga na sajt. Imao je sasvim dobar uspeh i rejting. Do sada je skinut sa sajta oko 30.000 puta - nije loša cifra, zar ne?

Pored krojeva, kojih sam ukupno postavila osam, počela sam da pišem i instrukcije za izmenu i re-dizajn postojećih krojeva. Jedan od njih, za haljinu sa nafaltanim detaljem u obliku lista je privukao pažnju urednice Sew News časopisa, Elen Marč.

Prvi članak i kolumna Pattern Play

Iskreno, tutorijal je bio, iako jasan, toliko aljkavo ispisan i fotografisan, da se dan-danas pitam kako se Elen usudila da mi ponudi da napišem članak o toj haljini za njen magazin - a upravo je to uradila. Kada mi je ponudila i honorar, mislila sam da sanjam. Budući da u Srbiji nemamo pristup ovom magazinu, u trenutku me obuzela skepsa, plašila sam se da je sve prevara i da osoba s kojom komuniciram uopšte nije Elen, već ko zna ko. No, nisam bila lenja, pozvala sam u pomoć više blogera iz SAD, i zamolila ih da mi napišu koju reč o magazinu. Jedna od žena sa kojima sam komunicirala me uputila na osobu koja je zapravo pisala za Sew News, te sam tako iz prve ruke čula iste informacije koje mi je i Elen dala. To me prilično umirilo, i tako sam pristala na saradnju.


No, uz pregovore o pisanju tog jednog članka, ja reših da budem proaktivna i iskoristim svoju šansu - predložila sam Elen da od toga napravimo kolumnu, koju bih ja vodila. Ideja joj se svidela, i tako je nastala kolumna Pattern Play, potpisali smo ugovor, a ja postah stalni saradnik i kolumnista Sew News magazina.

Mojoj sreći nije bilo kraja! Do izdavanja broja u kom je bila moja haljina prošlo je bar deset meseci, i to je za mene bila borba sa strpljenjem :). Tek kada sam, u Januaru 2011. godine dobila svoj primerak magazina i nazad svoju haljinu, uverila sam se da se to zaista dešava, da ne sanjam.

Rad za časopis

Mnogi se iznenade kada shvate da svaka moja stvar koja se objavi u časopisu pređe poveći put do Kolorada i nazad, kako bi bila uslikana. Takođe, mnogi misle da moji članci nastaju stihijski i bez plana. Zapravo, svaki broj magazina i članci koje će sadrćati se temeljno planiraju, mesecima unapred. 

Teme članaka ja predlažem - dajem kratak opis odeće o kojoj bih pisala, priložim fotografiju gotove stvari (ako je stvar završena), skicu ili sliku slične garderobe, sa naznakama od kog materijala bih je pravila i šta će biti fokus članka. Pošto godišnje pišem šest članaka za Pattern Play kolumnu, uvek dam bar osam predloga, i uvek vodim računa da bar pola predloženih stvari već imam sašiveno, kako bih ostavila sebi vremena za dodatno šivenje onoga što me trenutno inspiriše. Bitno je da znam da će mi se stvari koje odaberem da pravim za magazin, a nemam ih već na lageru, sviđati i kada dođe red na šivenje, pa biram klasične stvari ili one koje me već duže vreme fasciniraju. Neretko kopiram poznate kreatore.



Elen bira teme za narednu godinu na osnovu mojih predloga, pravimo godišnji plan, definišemo rokove do kada svaki od članaka treba da bude gotov i potpisujemo predugovor. U suštini, svaku od stvari moram da imam spremnu otprilike deset meseci pre objavljivanja broja za koji je namenjena. Isto toliko vremena prođe od momenta kada svoju stvar pošaljem u SAD na fotografisanje, do momenta kada je dobijem nazad zajedno sa izdanjem u kom je objavljena. Često mi se desi da odeću napravim neposredno pred slanje, pa ni ne stignem da je obučem. 

Svaki članak podrazumeva da obezbedim tri stvari: moj tekst koji opisuje proces rada (najčešće izrada kroja), fotografije ili ilustracije koje ilustruju opisane korake, kao i gotovu garderobu koja je tema članka. Tekst i fotografije šaljem email-om, ali i narezane na disku, poslate zajedno sa garderobom. 

Članak obično pišem vrlo tehničkim tonom - dajem korak-po-korak uputstva, bez romansiranja teksta. Uredništvo potom rediguje moje instrukcije, koriguje moj engleski i daje kratak uvod u članak - obično je to kratak tekst koji opisuje gotovu garderobu. Meni je drago da taj deo posla ne moram ja da radim, jer nisam baš od ljudi koji umeju da pišu zvučne natpise koji mame čitaoce da pročitaju članak.

Kada uredništvo dobije sav ugovoreni materijal, šalje mi ugovor za članak, koji ja potpisujem i prosleđujem im jednu kopiju. Nakon toga dobijam svoj honorar, obično dva do tri meseca pre objavljivanja broja u kom je objavljen moj članak.

Povremeno, kao što je bio slučaj sa februarsko - martovskim izdanjem za 2014. godinu, dobijem priliku da napišem još koji članak za magazin, mimo Pattern Play kolumne. Tema ovakvih članaka je obično određena tehnika šivenja, koju mogu ja da predložim, ili koju samo uredništvo predlaže. Ovaj deo anganžmana je opcioni, što znači da se naknadno, po ugovaranju tog konkretnog članka potpisuje novi ugovor. Takođe, može se desiti da za taj članak imam manje vremena da ga pripremim nego za ostale, budući da je neplanirani dodatni rad u pitanju.

Šta mi je rad za Sew News doneo

Pored očiglednih stvari, poput novca i osećaja da radim nešto nesvakidašnje, saradnja sa Sew News magazinom me je promenila više nego što biste mogli da zamislite:

  • Pre svega, pokrenula sam se, uradila nešto dobro za sebe, i izašla iz zone komfora. Priznajem da sam imala ludu sreću da me urednik jednog takvog magazina zapazi među hiljadama drugih ljudi, ali ipak neću biti lažno skromna - među hiljadama drugih, baš moj rad je bio primećen! No, presudna je bila i moja odvažnost i vera u samu sebe - znala sam da mogu da radim taj posao, i tražila sam više od onoga što mi je ponuđeno, i to sam i dobila.
  • Nakon što sam počela da pišem za časopis, shvatila sam da niko u Srbiji i regionu ne zna za mene i za to što radim, pa sam pokrenula svoj blog. Evo me, tri i po godine kasnije, polako od svog bloga pravim posao koji donosi zaradu. Blog sam počela da pišem dvojezično jer sam već znala mnogo ljudi iz inostranstva, čije druženje i pažnju nisam htela da izgubim. Mislim da je to bio pravi potez, jer sam stekla neke nove prijatelje i upoznala neke sjajne ljude širom sveta zahvaljujući Štepalici.
  • Shvatila sam čime želim da se bavim. Godinama pre nego što sam počela da pišem o šivenju tražila sam način da svoju kreativnost unovčim, a nisam želela da radim kao šnajderka. Kada mi je pružena ova šansa, shvatila sam da je spoj pisanja, modelovanja krojeva i šivenja dobitna kombinacija za mene. Od toga je nastala ideja o pokretanju svoje linije krojeva, i konačno sam u tome i uspela.

  • Poraslo mi je samopouzdanje. Nikada i nisam bila nešto sramežljiva, ali nisam bila previše sigurna u sebe. Sada znam da mogu da uradim sve što poželim.
  • Unapredila sam znanje engleskog. Pre sedam - osam godina sam sasvim solidno pričala engleski, ali kada je trebalo da napišem svoj prvi komentar i opis garderobe, nisam znala ni jedan stručan termin. Sada bolje vladam engleskom nego srpskom krojačkom terminologijom. Svakodnevno pisanje je dosta uticalo na moje znanje jezika, koje je sve bolje i bolje.

Nadam se da  vas ovim postom nisam previše udavila, i sa sam vam odgovorila na pitanja kako i otkud ja u Sew News magazinu. Takođe, nadam se da sam vas bar malo inspirisala da se i sami pokrenete i izađete iz svoje zone komfora. Nije tako strašno, časna reč!