Curious about starting a sewing YouTube-channel and becoming a sewing vlogger? Well in this post I will give you the rundown on how it works and what equipment you need. Plus the real, hard truth on how much work that goes into each video. So let’s go!
Concept of your sewing channel
First, let’s talk concept! My sewing YouTube channel is a variety channel, which means that I mix a lot of different content, even though it all pertains to sewing. One week I’ll do a tutorial, the next I might show my latest makes and the third week there might be a nitty gritty vlog where I take you along for a day of sewing. Since my content is mixed, chances are that those who subscribed because of my coverstitch tutorials might not be that interested in a sewing vlog, and vice versa.
In comparison sewing vloggers who have a more streamlined concept, such as doing only “sew and tells” or say quilts, will probably get way more subscriber views than I do because the viewers know what to expect from those channels. So these are things that you might want consider when starting out.
That said I will never do a one topic sewing channel as it would bore me to death and I would struggle to come up with weekly topics as well. Instead, I try to create continuity in other ways, so that all my videos have a similar feel to them if that makes sense.
I’m also very inspired by younger DIY:ers who injects a lot of enthusiasm and fun into their videos. I think that many of us older, more experienced, sewists are perhaps a little more serious in our outputs? So I wanted to merge the two aspects in my outputs. Hence my splashy thumbnails for instance!
But my advice would be to not spend too much time fretting over your concept – it will most likely materialize once you start publishing videos. The biggest step is to just get the ball rolling and after a while, you will find out what videos you enjoy making and that resonates with your audience.
P.S. I’ve also done a video on sewing content creation where I talk about how to come up with ideas.
How to get started on YouTube
The first step is to register and activate your YouTube-channel. You will need a Google account for that, and the process is pretty straight forward. If you also want to get a custom URL, i.e youtube.com/coolsewingchannel you need to apply for a custom URL, which is a bit messier, at least it was when I did it way back. Instructions on how to get custom URL for your YouTube-channel.
Currently, to be eligible you need to have
- 100 or more subscribers
- A channel that is at least 30 days old
- Uploaded a photo as a channel icon
- Uploaded channel art (the banner on top)
In theory, you could just use an iPhone 6/7 or a higher end android phone, as they all have excellent video quality. But in reality, the audio quality and light sensitivity will not be good enough for the current quality standards on YouTube – though feel free to challenge me on this! Anyways, if you are going the cell phone route you will need to invest in a stand-alone mic and additional lighting sources unless you live in a part of the world where the light is great all year around!
And if you are looking for a HD-camera and don’t want to go the full DSLR route I would recommend looking into either Sony, Panasonic or Canon vlog compact cameras with a flip screen. They have pretty good built in mics (way better than the cell phone mics) and are super easy to use.
Highly rated mirrorless vlog cameras
The links below contain affiliate links (Amazon affiliate disclosure)
Sony Rx100 (probably the best, and the priciest one)
My compact vlog camera
SONY DSC-HX90 (a great budget option with a good built-in mic)
Want to use a DSLR?
I use my Nikon DSLR for most of my structured filming. The advantage of using a DSLR is that it can handle bad light much better and usually have a slot for an external mic – the only way you can really get excellent sound. Plus if you want to splurge on lenses you can achieve amazing looking videos. I haven’t yet, I still use the 18-55 kit lens and think it does a pretty decent job.
Highly rated vlogging DSLR camera
Canon 70D or 80D (has a flip screen, slot for an external mic and provides good quality video) Full disclosure: I had a 70D at my last job and hated it, but I think that was because I’ve only used Nikon cameras before that.
Nikon D7200. This is my camera and it is amazing, excellent video quality even in shoddy lighting, long battery life and two slots for the memory card. But it lacks flip screen, which is a bummer.
Panasonic Lumix G85 4K. Panasonic is apparently making some very popular, good priced and high-quality DSLR:s that are great for filming
Bonus techie tip: Use manual settings on your camera for the best result. Either 1/5o shutter speed for 25 fps video or 1/60 for 30 fps and then adjust the focal length and ISO to get the exposure right. Also, pick a manual white balance setting if your videos look too yellow or blue. Or if you are in a setting where the light changes, such as when you are relying on natural light.
I use the Røde Videomic Pro when I’m talking in front of the camera. Yes, it cost a pretty penny, but I think my audio is pretty darn great considering that I know nothing about audio editing and just use the mic with the default settings. I attach my mic on a boom tripod but you can also put it on the camera.
Voice over microphones
Blue Yeti USB mics seem to be universally loved and it’s the brand I wish I had bought. Instead, I have a Samson C01U Pro. It’s a good mic, but not great.
Cell phone microphones
Røde SmartLav+ is apparently very good.
You need a tripod, but you don’t need a fancy one to shoot videos unless you want to do a lot of tilting and stuff. I have a super cheap old tripod that works alright, but I’m soon upgrading to a Manfretto tripod that is great for smooth video shooting.
Gorillapod and other flexible tripods. These are good alternatives and can be used anywhere.
And if you are using your phone, you need to buy a cell phone holder adapter since they are usually not included with the tripod.
This is the secret sauce that will determine the quality of your videos – even more so than the camera in most cases. Natural light is great if you have it in abundance and can shoot videos during the daytime. The rest of us have to rely on a combination of natural light and artificial light sources. Most common are soft boxes, umbrella light, ring light or lights that you mount on the camera. I have two soft boxes because they are versatile and easily available in Sweden. The downside is that they take up a lot of space when used and they are also kinda hard to storage. Mine can be taken apart and stored in a bag, but it’s quite time-consuming to do that. I have yet to master the light in my videos, but I highly recommend that you make this area a priority if you want to increase your video quality.
For simple movies, iMovie or Windows Movie Maker will suffice I think. Many Apple users love Final Cut Pro and I personally use Adobe Premiere Pro, which is pricey but great. I had hardly any prior experience working with video editing when I started my channel, but I’ve worked with other Adobe programs for 20 years, so for me, Premiere Pro wasn’t too hard to grapple. That said, I only use a fraction of the functions.
Trigger warning. This part might come off as ranty, but I’m just here to tell you the truth. Unless you make simple videos where you just hold up your latest makes in front of a camera with zero editing, you need to be prepared that making videos will be a huge time suck – there is no way around it.
Hence why many vloggers struggle to stick to a regular schedule. Just setting up the gear, record the video and then pack all the equipment again can easily take over an hour for a video that will only be 10 minutes. And if you are doing tutorials, well then you can expect to spend hours of shooting for just one tutorial. And we haven’t even done the editing! So if your video is a tutorial, or perhaps a vlog covering many hours of sewing, have a lot b-roll, graphic effects and such, you will usually need to set aside around 4 – 6 hours of editing. No, I’m not kidding!
And it doesn’t stop there. You also need to create art work for the video (aka thumbnail), upload the video, tag it properly so that it will be discovered by others, write a description and perhaps also an accompanying blog post. And if you aren’t exhausted yet, next step is spreading the word about your latest video on your social media channels. This is pretty much a necessity I think unless you are already doing good on YouTube and have a loyal audience that will see your stuff.
Bonus tip: For your thumbnails, use (mostly free) services like Canva or PicMonkey. I do mine in PhotoShop but to be honest you can make them just as nice using those services.
So yeah, I can easily spend 8 hours making just one video. Sometimes it will be less, but it could just as well be more. Also, there are so many technical variables that could go wrong during the process, which again adds time.
Want a second opinion on this topic? Check out Sewing Report’s take on being a sewing YouTuber. (I think she works even harder than I do, to be honest, putting out two videos a week on top of having a day job. Mad respect!)
Want a third opinion? Listen to Sewing Out Loud’s podcast episode about creating sewing content (I get a very flattering mention in the beginning of this episode regarding my video quality, and just like Mallory and Zede says, getting your videos to look good is really hard. I learn new things each week and always find areas to improve when it comes to my video making.)
But luckily there are ways to speed up the process. Recording several videos in one session is a method I employ and it saves me time. Also doing easier videos, such as straight talk to the camera chats or livestreams will save you a lot of editing time. I also re-use footage from my old videos regularly for my b-roll, which also saves time. I’m able to save settings and graphics in my video editor Premiere Pro, so I have a template with all the recurring parts in my videos to speed up the process.
Plus getting tools like TubeBuddy and Vid-IQ will make also help you automate many steps when it comes configuring your video on YouTube.
So that is the hard truth. Are you still wanting to make videos? Well, let’s talk about the pros and cons of doing videos vs writing a blog or posting on Instagram.
The good and bad of being a sewing vlogger
TIME. Yes, I said it before, but it bears repeating. You will be able to get a lot of photos taken for Instagram and probably write more than one blog posts in the time it takes to make one video, even if you factor in taking photos and editing them. Also, your sewing projects will take much longer if you also plan to film them.
MONEY. Since making decent looking and well sounding videos requires good equipment, you will probably have to spend money on both lightning, an external mic and pay for editing software (but you can start with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker). Plus possible a new camera!
You can put ads on your video on YouTube (once your channel gets 10 000 views). But YouTube only pays on average 1–2 US dollar per 1000 views, and getting 1000 views on a video is pretty darn hard, especially in the beginning, so we won’t be able to quit our day jobs by running sewing channels! Even a huge sewing YouTuber like WithWendy (love her) apparently has to rely on a part time job, despite having over half a million subscribers.
STRESS. Because there are so many technical components that go into in making videos and so many things can go wrong I find shooting a video way much more stressful than say a photo shoot. Plus for me, even though I really enjoy talking to the camera, it is also quite exhausting. This is partly because I have to be so focused on getting my English right, but I also think it’s the video medium itself, so after recording 2 or 3 videos I am spent! Also sometimes you might feel off, tired and whatnot and on those days getting in front of a camera is way harder than writing a blog post. But you could do a tutorial of course and just record a voice-over another day.
PERSONAL CONNECTION. Seriously, videos are amazing when it comes to connecting with others and being able to share your real, raw self without the editing that comes with words or a photo. I feel like I’m having a one on one conversation with you guys – and that feeling is wonderful.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE. Making videos gives you pretty much unlimited creative possibilities and a chance to learn some pretty amazing things. As a vlogger you will also always be able to improve and try out new things, which is why it is so addictive! If I had the time, I could spend all day editing my videos, because I enjoy it so much.
BIGGER REACH. For instance, I have a very popular blog tutorial on coverstitching that is among the top ranking posts each month. Still, my videos on coverstitching get 4x times more views each month compared to my blog post on the same topic. Several other bloggers have said the same thing about a blog post vs. a video. And if you have a strong built-in-following on Facebook, you might consider posting your videos there too. It’s not unusual to get more views there than on YouTube.
I hope that this long post didn’t intimidate you. As I said in the beginning, you don’t need much equipment, just focus on getting a good mic or decent mirrorless camera and preferably some external light source. And the editing can be done using free software either on your computer or your phone. Also, don’t feel discouraged if you feel that your camera presence isn’t as good as you want it to be. Few people in the world are blessed with a natural camera presence, the rest of us has to practice and the only way to do that is to start making those videos and put them out to the world!