Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Thoughts on Periscope and the Sewing World

Periscope is the newest form of social media to be taken up by sewing bloggers and Instagrammers.  It's an App, owned by Twitter and available for free on IOS and Android.  Best described as mobile  live streaming video with a social element, it has great potential for sewers on social media, especially fabric shops or designers as it can provide an interactive live experience for you and your customers.  I've been doing some Scopes for the Farmer's Wife 1930s quilt along, I'm, and I use it to introduce the blocks each Monday and discuss any issues or tips that come up each week.    I am still very new to the Periscope experience so I am talking from the scantiest of experience, this is very much my first impressions of a new kid on the social media block.

Basic Stuff to Know
  • 'Likes' are expressed by hearts- you tap the screen to get hearts.  Multiple tapping is a good thing to do.  it shows you are enjoying the content and gives feedback to the broadcaster.  The colour of heart that you get on your first tap stays constant throughout that broadcast.  
  • Prepare before you broadcast.  Find out how to operate Periscope- turning it off and on for instance.
  • You write your title before the broadcast starts.  You can use emoji and hashtags to bling up your title.
  • Periscope always start with your camera facing away from you so make sure it is looking at something pretty.  Once you go live you can double tap the top of the screen and the camera will face you.  It also helps to have your phone stand or grip set up ready.  Some people hold their phone to start and then set it into position.  I start with mine in position and I check with the camera first that my head, body etc is fitting into the screen well!
  • Watchers interact with you by giving hearts and be commenting through typed comments
  • The broadcast lasts for 24 hours only.  It can be watched live or on replay.  You can't comment on a replay but you can give hearts.  
This blog post explains how to get started on Periscope as a broadcaster or viewing other's Periscopes.   And this one tells you what Persicope is and gives you further ideas on getting started.   I would recommend watching other people on Periscope before you broadcast yourself.  It will give you an idea of what's out there and what you want to add to that.  I'd also recommend following other sewing people- use sewing terms to search for them- quilt, dressmaking, sewing- all very straightforward.

 When you write your biog for Periscope it helps to include these terms too.  I also follow a really helpful Periscope guru, Alex Pettitt and I've found his broadcasts are incredibly useful, especially for newbies. He also has a website with Periscope related content.

This is a screen grab from one of his broadcasts.  You can see the comments which is the social element on the left and the multiple heart on the right.

Good things
  • At its best, Periscope can show you live events from all over the world.  This could be a live news story, or a sunset, or a sewer in a different country showing you round their sewing room.  When the Alexander McQueen exhibition opened at the V&A, they filmed a tour round the exhibition.
  • It automatically links to your Twitter account 
  • It is interactive.  Watchers can comment and the broadcaster and the other commenters can respond. You as the broadcaster can comment in person and there may be a conversation between commenters too.  This means that questions can be asked and the broadcaster can change their actions.  
  • The live nature of it makes it real.  If you tire of the perfect slivers of life shown on Instagram,  Persicope can give you a slice of reality.  Broadcasting live gives no place to hide!  Plus it lasts for 24 hours only, you can even choose to erase your scope straight after broadcast - I did that accidentally on my first Periscope!

Bad things
  • It consumes time and your data allowance both for the watcher and for the broadcaster.   I use Periscope at home where I can use Wifi rather than my limited data allowance. 
  •  Broadcasts are available for 24 hours only.  There are ways round this like Katch.  Some users go on to download their videos to YouTube.  I've downloaded a couple so you can see how Periscope is working for me.  You can transfer your broadcasts to your mac, complete with hearts and comments using this method, you need a newer device with a lightning style connector for this to work. I find loading on to YouTube takes ages so I don't plan to do this regularly. 
  • Whilst instant spontaneous filming can work for some, for sewing related scopes you often need to do some prep.  I plan what I'm going to talk about, I get all my materials to hand and in front of where I am sitting.
  • It's tough for women who scope.  There is a troll/pervy element of guys who drop into scopes purely with the aim of making sexual comments- these can often start with apparently innocent comments like "hey, I like you voice", or "which country are you in?" and then it descends into .. well you can guess.  I've followed advice from other Periscopers and avoided interaction with seedy scorers and instead blocked them without comment.  Blocking is easy and you can do this as a broadcaster or as a viewer of someone else Scope, just tap on on the picture of the commenter and an option to Block User comes up.  I've seen commenters blocked for sudden inappropriate swearing in comments and for sleazy comments. 
  • For the most popular Periscopers it is not always possible for the watchers to comment on a broadcast, it gets too full and you get locked out.
  • Click bait Buzz feed style titles are the way to encourage people to watch your broadcasts- I'm not a fan but I can't deny they suck people in.  Think of the time you've lost on Facebook looking at the top ten celebrities who've aged badly- that time is gone forever! 
  • Sometimes I feel like I'm watching a whole load of nothing!  I feel I need to pick what I watch on Periscope very carefully otherwise it's a big time sucker!

 What's the impact for the sewing world?

Equipment wise, based on some other blogger recommendations, I bought a Gorilla grip to hold my phone and an LED light which is very bright indeed and useful for taking pics in the winter months as well as broadcasting.

I think a lot of people think initially that Periscope is going to be great for tutorials but as a live medium where you are both broadcaster and camera operator, it's pretty hard to do anything beyond the simplest tutorial.  It end to stick to chat about topics related to the Farmer's Wife blocks- it might be about using specific equipment or why templates are particularly useful for a block.  It's great for talking about fabric- it offers a visual medium where you can react and respond to comments and requests live.  I've seen shop owners like Lauren of Guthire & Ghani do this brilliantly-
find her at

Brenda of Pink Castle Fabrics has used it to show new fabric lines and sewing machines.  She tends to present and her partner Jason films and relays comments and questions-
find them at

For garment sewers, pattern and fabric designers, shop owners, Periscope is a great opportunity to show your products live.  You can see a moving representation of fabric or a garment, get an idea of drape, fabric density, ask a question about what you are seeing and get your response.  I know that the idea of appearing live in front of a camera is terrifying.  I am not a terribly outgoing person and I can still remember the enormous and overwhelming feeling of fear as I stood in front of a class of eleven year olds when I started my teacher training and Periscope reminds me of that adrenaline filled experience, but as with teaching, the more you do it the easier it gets and sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and do it.  Before you hit the broadcast button think about:

  •  What are you going to say 
  • What is your content going to be?  I've seen a lot of sewing room tours, and whilst they are always welcome they are quite a passive thing to watch. 
  • Why choose periscope instead of a blog post/tweet/Instagram/standard video
  • How will you interact?  When I use Periscope for the Farmer's Wife blocks, I often feel I am not making full use of the interactive element, it's something I'm working on.  

I do get the feeling that sewers like to observe more than they like to interact- I know that's the case for me, I enjoy being the spectator and the occasional commentator.   I do know that sewers enjoy meeting each other and Periscope can feel like you are doing just that and it makes the world a smaller place. Any thoughts?  Please share below.

sib blog


  1. That's really interesting Kerry, and I really admire you for again being an 'early adopter'! It sounds like it might be a bit too much work for me, but I have downloaded the app. Also our MQG have noticed some of the US guilds periscope their show and tell and I think this might be a fun thing to do. Thank you!

  2. Oh my goodness! Another new thing to get my head around! I'm a little bit technologically challenged, and it does sound like lots of time and work! Well done on you for getting on with it! Popping in as part of my blog comment challenge 300 in 30 days. (Yes I'm still challenged by the time it takes to comment on blogs, but I'd hate blogging to disappear - hence my challenge)

  3. I was thinking about this earlier this week as I think I might start video blogging when I move, but I've made the decision to try a bit retro first and do standard videos on YouTube once I figure out the content

  4. Super outgoing and brave, Kerry! I'm resisting just because I feel like my entire waking day is becoming social media-dependant and I'm hardly sewing! I can't quite wrap my head around how one can maintain a train of thought and present a topic while simultaneously answering questions from viewers - I can only imagine a giant finger approaching the camera as it reaches in to type a response on the keypad! I'll try to figure out how to watch one just to see what it looks like in action.

  5. Thank you for the info Kerry. I've been tempted to watch your broadcasts but hadn't wanted to try and figure out what periscope was all about. Your post has convinced me that maybe I should give watching a go.


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