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Stop Printing. Do You Know About Projector Sewing?

There’s a group of makers who no longer have to print, tape, and cut paper patterns. By Nastasia Morris.

Posted in: Makers & Crafts • July 31, 2021

I started sewing about 12 years ago. Despite my love for sewing, the time I felt I could devote to it varied over the years. Then came 2020. My city shut down in the worldwide pandemic. I found myself working part-time from home and helping my children with virtual homeschool. I needed a personal outlet, so I dove back into sewing. I found myself sewing more than ever! By the end of the year, I came to a realization. To continue sewing, I needed a solution to a problem: the seemingly neverending amount of printing, taping, and cutting of paper patterns.

I had been a member of the Projectors for Sewing Facebook Group for months. I lurked here and there, amazed at what others were doing, but I thought I wasn’t up for the switch. One day, a projector went on sale, and I made an impulse purchase.

I ordered a mount and figured out my setup, installing my projector and pairing my electronic device. To my surprise, I got it calibrated, and I was ready to cut! After projecting, cutting, and sewing a pattern for the first time, I asked myself, “Why hadn’t I done this sooner?!”

My whole sewing game changed, and it was paperless! Not only was I making a more environmentally friendly choice, but I was saving so much time. I could now easily sew for myself, my husband, and our four children—and it was all thanks to that one Facebook group.

The Projectors for Sewing Facebook Group

Missy Pore founded the Projectors for Sewing Facebook group in December of 2019. I interviewed Sasha Sewist, who helps run the group. According to Sewist, a few people posted videos of themselves trying to use projectors for sewing patterns. The idea of projector sewing inspired Missy, and she became “obsessed and intent on finding something that would work for her.”

Sewist says, “Pore sewed for her business and knew it would increase her productivity tremendously. She tried and returned multiple projectors until one worked for her. In about October 2019, she started posting about her success in some Facebook sewing groups, and people were amazed.”

Two months later, Pore formed the Projectors for Sewing Facebook group. The group grew at about 1,000 new members a week for most of 2020. There are now 35,000 members and counting!

Sewist initially wondered if projecting patterns would be too complicated for most sewers, but she says, “I’m also amazed at how it’s turned out, for most people, to be easier than I expected.” The first publication that Sewist published for the group members was a setup and calibration guide. She compiled all the information and tips that the group members shared. The group also has guides for buying a projector and tips for using patterns with a projector. I have used these guides, and they helped me immensely. I am by no means an expert or well-versed with technology, but I found the directions to be so helpful.

Every projector setup is different—we all have unique spaces, budgets, and time—and that’s why the group is so great. Not only are they providing guides to help, but members share their ideas and photos along with updates about improvements.

Think You Want a Projector?

There were a few things I considered when getting started with my projector.

  • What cutting surface would I use?

  • Where would I mount my projector? (There are options if you’re unable to mount a projector in your sewing space)

  • What projector would work at that distance?

  • What electronic device would I use to project my pattern? I needed a wireless pairing option on my projector for my iPad.

Sewist suggests a few things for anyone getting started. You can find even more ideas in the Facebook Group.

  • It’s easiest to use patterns that have copyshop A0 files or, most ideal, projector-specific files. Layered files are best so that you can turn off the sizes you don’t need and only view the size lines you need to cut.

  • Use a computer instead of a mobile device. Sewist says it can be an old one and doesn’t need to be fancy. “This generally also makes it easier as we can type our calibration zoom for each pattern, and it will be at an accurate scale. On mobile, we have to finger zoom for each pattern, and that can be more steps to learn how to do that accurately.”

  • Lastly, Sewist says, “Keep handy our Top Tips guide, which helps solve lots of little challenges that come up when projecting patterns. And make sure to follow our Setup and Calibration guide.”

Being in the Projectors for Sewing group—and making the plunge to paperless—has taught me that sewing is not a dying skill. To see so many modern sewers using technology and making changes and improvements to the sewing process is incredibly inspiring.

Sewist agrees that the community in the group is special. “I think it has created a deeper sense of community among sewists than we had before. There are thousands of sewing groups, but there are no other large groups that bring so many sewists together to talk about any sewing patterns and challenges (we focus on projectors but allow other sewing discussions too) that is so diverse in terms of countries and backgrounds. And we have made sure our group feels like a welcoming, inclusive space. We don’t have any projector or tech snobbery and will help anyone who wants to learn, no matter their technical ability.”

I am forever grateful to the Projectors for Sewing community because I don’t think I’d be sewing (and enjoying it so much) without all of their help to change and improve the process of cutting out fabric.

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