Curate Your Old Blog Posts and Sewing Photos

big white shirt

(My first-ever blogged sewing project.)

When I was a child, I loved keeping diaries. Sometimes I’d write poems, or chronicle what I did that day, or wax about my first crush on a boy in Algebra class named Derek. (I ended up marrying a Derek!) I was particularly into composition notebooks because that’s what my hero Harriet the Spy used. Like Harriet I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and composition books seemed more “writerly” than Hello Kitty diaries with locks on them.

I have a couple of boxes in storage that are full of those diaries from different periods of my life, and every so often during a spring cleaning I go back through some of them. Not only are they a window into my past but sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised to find something that has potential to be a real piece of writing.

It struck me recently that I never do this with my blog entries. When was the last time I went back and read through my own archives?

I’ll admit that I often forget to reflect on what I’ve enjoyed or accomplished in the past because let’s face it, blogging (and even more so social media) is all about the now. Instagram is all so… instant.

So today I’m thinking of ways to value what you’ve previously worked at.

Tend Old Blog Posts

If you blog, there’s a good chance you have some oldie but goodie posts hanging out somewhere deep in your archives no one can find. These might not necessarily get pulled out by a “related posts” or “favorite posts” widget into your sidebar.

Why not curate an intentional list of these in a menu or sidebar? They might be:

  • A favorite project of yours that really shows off your skills or changed your sewing life.
  • A hot topic or opinion that generated a lot of discussion.
  • The story behind your blog’s name.
  • Your five favorite pattern reviews.
  • Your most-visited tutorials. You can look at stats to see what those are.
  • The post where you wrestled with pants-fitting. I LOVE THOSE KIND OF SEWING POSTS. I’m certainly not the only one who does. I’ll search through your archives to find them! I glean a lot from others’ fitting processes.

It doesn’t matter how often some of these posts are still visited, of if your blog mission has changed. I love going back and reading what sewing bloggers consider to be their favorite projects and seeing how they evolved. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about! We all love a good story.

And if you have a particular post or series that readers visit often, tending these is just as important as creating new posts. For example, my Bra-making Sew Along posts are a couple of years old but still the most-visited on my website. A few bits of information are out of date but most of the actual tutorials are timeless and useful to first time bra makers.

So I’ve been tending these by fixing grammar mistakes, updating links or information. I’m also in the process of re-editing a few photos (because I’ve learned so much about photo editing since then!). I leave the comments open so readers can ask new questions.

Create a Portfolio

Another way to highlight past favorites is through a photo portfolio. And if you blog or use Instagram you probably have a mile of them you’ve forgotten about!

creating a portfolio in WordPress | Cloth Habit

I created one for the purpose of highlighting professional work (it’s a work in progress), but you don’t have to be a pro to have a portfolio.

Even if it is just for you and no one else, a digital portfolio is a wonderful way to cherish your previous hard work, and a healthy self-reminder when you ever feel as if you can’t keep up: you create more than you think you do.

Of course you can create off-blog portfolios in Pinterest or Flickr but it’s easy to add one straight to your blog, especially if it’s a WordPress blog.

Both self-hosted and wordpress.com blogs have a built-in gallery creator. To use this you would need to create a separate page for your portfolio, then use the Media Uploader to create a gallery that you insert onto that page.

create a sewing portfolio | Cloth Habit

If you want to get fancy and have those gallery photos open into a big lightbox, you can turn on Jetpack’s Carousel.

Those with self-hosted WordPress blogs have even more options. Many WordPress themes offer their own gallery page templates which may offer more advanced features than the standard WordPress gallery.

The super tinkerers out there might want to try a gallery plugin. These are good options for those who really want a professional portfolio and better image management. Photo Gallery and Envira are two of my recommendations.

You can even curate Instagram photos into a gallery! Some full-blown gallery plugins offer Instagram integration but there are simpler options, like Enjoy Instagram, that only focus on Instagram. This lets you curate a portfolio from of a particular hashtag.

These are just a few ideas for valuing your past work.

By digging around my blog, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some things I’d forgotten about! It’s fun to go back and read that the first entry I ever wrote, if only to remember how I came up with this blog name. (My friend Hannah helped me out with it, because I’m terrible at titles!)

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By the way, it’s probably obvious I recommend WordPress for blogging! For beginners I recommend starting with wordpress.com which is easy to set up and make pretty. (Blogger has way fewer options in creative layout and comment moderation, and Google doesn’t seem to spend time improving it as a web product.)

17 comments

  1. Geo says:

    Oh, yes, i have a couple of pages for things I made in 2013 and 2014 (incomplete), I think I’ll just delete them and creatw an overall gallery of my favourites.
    And blogspot is really bad. What annoys me the most is that I can’t comment in Chrome, Google’s browser. I have to open a new browser, make sure I login, open the post I want to add a comment to… too much work, that’s why I rarely comment on blogspot blogs.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Geo, I’ve noticed that too. Sometimes I wonder if Blogspot comments have a cache problem that hasn’t been addressed. I’ve been logged into Google, typed many a comment only to watch it disappear. WordPress is great because you don’t need a sign-in system to control spam and that makes it really easy for anyone to comment. I’ve had maybe 3 spam comments get through in the last year. (Jetpack and Disqus are sign-in systems a lot of WordPress bloggers use but you don’t need to use them. I don’t.)

  2. christiane says:

    such a good idea! loved reading this post. i just started a blog so there isn’t much to look back at but i would love to add a portfolio to the menu once there are more projects. i think blogging on it’s own is a way of cherishing one’s makes and the time and effort that went into making it… personally, that’s why i started a blog 🙂 to me, a portfolio is the most appealing (online) way to look at one’s closet.. like walking through a gallery, filled with well-curated pieces. your post made me excited to photograph and expose!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Christiane, that’s why I started a blog initially. It’s fun to keep records of your projects and share with others. After doing it awhile there’s so much there I kind of feel like it becomes like my messy closet… Have fun with curating!

  3. Sherry says:

    Hi Amy!
    Amazing – I remember that shirt! On my blog I have pages set up to show finished garments, tutorials, etc, but a portfolio looks so much nicer. Funny you make a special mention of WordPress – I have been considering making the switch and this is yet another reason to do so.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Just wanted to chime in and second the suggestion of using a WordPress gallery as a portfolio for your previous work. I have a simple wordpress.com blog and use the gallery function for my Finished Project Gallery. Although you don’t have complete control over how everything displays, it’s easy to set up and maintain, and it’s a great way for new visitors to check out what you’ve been making in a clear and organized way.

    I also love pants fitting posts! The more detailed, the better. 🙂

  5. Genevieve says:

    Thanks for this post Amy! You’ve inspired me…..I started a blog 2 years ago, but fizzled out after I met my, now, husband….you know how new love is . I went back to see if I wanted to continue, but the name and branding just wasn’t me. So, I started back…blogging. I love reading others’ blogs and often wish I had a place to chronicle much of what I do since it is truly my passion. I’d like it if you stopped by my blog, don’t judge….well okay you may judge…but only it you leave me honest feedback. I obviously need A LOT more content…but at least I’ve started. Take care,
    G x

    • Amy says:

      Hi Genevieve, I know how easy it is to start and fizzle. I think we’ve all been there! Blogging is definitely a craft on its own and sometimes even sewing gets in the way of blogging ;). And congratulations, too!

    • Amy says:

      I really like them because they can be a window into someone’s overall style, or what their favorite projects were. It’s a great way to share.

  6. allie J. says:

    I’ve been thinking about this as I try to improve my blog and make it more “professional.” There are a lot of photos on my blog that are… not particularly inspirational! I may go back and re-take a few since I still have /wear the clothes!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Allie, sometimes it’s fun to remix the older things you made into a new outfit! I’ve done this before. My early photos weren’t the greatest (that photo up there is so underexposed!) and I was still learning but I kind of like having that record of my progress, even if it’s something I wouldn’t pin or put in a portfolio ;).

  7. Michelle says:

    Amy, what a great post. And some fun ideas. You’re so right – we don’t go back and read over our older posts very often. It’s fun to do just that, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised on the couple of times I have. I quite enjoy WordPress too, and recommend it as well. I don’t think I can even think of anything about it that I’m not happy with.

  8. Kayla Green says:

    I consider my blog as a “public” diary that contains DIY for your home. I don’t do it often but seeing my old posts/work/projects give me a moment to say to myself “Oh yes, this dress was difficult!” or “This was really nice, I want to do another one”. Regardless, I love looking back on past projects. It brings back fond memories on how hard it was for me to start at first and things that I was able to accomplish now.

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