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What is Textillia?

Textillia is an online community and database for all manner of sewing and fabric enthusiasts!

We welcome everyone who sews:

  • quilts
  • clothing
  • accessories and home decor projects
  • embroidery, needlework, and cross stitch
  • hand dyed or printed fabric
  • textile art using fabric and/or thread

A sewing machine, fabric, and a thread rack full of colourful spools

The word "community" gets thrown around a lot these days. When we say community, we're talking about each individual Textillia member whether sewing is your hobby, or your job. You are why this project exists. Our goal is to make this a useful and inspiring space for all sewists - our collective cozy sewing space online. We've intentionally created Textillia in a way that puts this community at the centre and foundation for the long term. Because we're independent, and not financially backed by any companies or funders, the decisions we make are driven solely by what works for us as a small family business and what best serves this community.

As a member:

  • You get your own profile page to show who you are, what you do, and what you make!
  • You can use Textillia's "my studio" tools to plan, organize, and document your projects and stash.
  • You can talk in the forums about tools and techniques, ask for help, and find other sewists in your hometown or with shared interests.
  • If you run a sewing related business, you can set up your business page(s) at no extra cost, and many more features will be added to these in the future.
  • You can get to know lots of great crafty people, and stay up to date on what your friends are working on!

Texillia isn't just another online community - it is also a centralized, crowdsourced database of all things sewing—an extensive and easy to use set of features that enable you to:

  • Work together on our community built searchable database of patterns, materials, and resources that are cross-referenced with each other, the projects members use them for, as well as the companies and people that designed and produced them.
  • Search a structured index of designers, companies, and shops (both online and brick and mortar), cross referenced with their products, and linked to community members who work at or own them.

And of course, we plan to add all kinds of additional features and tools as time goes on!

Who are you?

We are Ariane and Bruno, a couple living in Vancouver, Canada. Hi!

Selfie of Ariane and Bruno, making goofy faces

Ariane was born with an insatiable appetite for art and crafting, and learned basic sewing as a teenager growing up in Saskatchewan. She relocated to Vancouver for university and never left, running a hobby business making organic cotton bags and accessories (pre-Etsy!) on the side while earning her Masters in Health Geography. After university, she worked in the open source web development world (where she met Bruno!), and did a term as Documentation Co-lead for the Drupal open source software project, which is the software used to build Textillia. After several years as a project and client manager at a couple local web development companies that served mainly non-profits and academic institutions, worsening chronic illness forced her to stop working temporarily and then permanently. It was then that she was able to spend some time doing art and sewing again to pass time on better days - during this time that she sewed her first garment and fell in love hard with making her own clothes. After much soul searching and reckoning with the reality it was no longer possible to work regularly, Textillia went from being a fun idea to bounce around with Bruno, to an exciting chance to create a family business that could one day accommodate her illness while doing something she loves. Though her illness and treatment are fairly all consuming at the moment, aside from working on Textillia or sewing, Ariane enjoys watching Star Trek (TNG) and other feel good shows with Bruno, patting strangers' dogs, oohing and ahhing over birds and plants, writing, reading books, drinking tea, and appreciating all the small joys in life. Politically engaged since her teen-aged years, she has also become an avid disability advocate, as her illness has introduced her into the world of disability rights and activism.

Bruno is from Belgium (not so coincidentally, the birthplace of Drupal) and studied journalism before discovering his passion for web development and independent media. After working in web development and at Belgium's biggest indie media website for a decade, he fell in love with this Canadian girl he met at a web development conference (that's Ariane!) and uprooted his life to move to Vancouver shortly thereafter. He did web development work for various local non-profits and academic institutions, and for the last few years his main gig has been Lead Developer at popular Canadian independent online news site, the National Observer. He's been active in the open source web development and independent media communities for many years, and has co-authored a couple books on Drupal and media activism. Textillia has been an exciting way to both create a business that provides fun challenges in web development, while also having the flexibility needed to help support Ariane through her medical treatment and illness. Outside of work, Bruno enjoys swimming, yoga, gardening, reading, politics, occasionally singing as a tenor in a classical choir, and enjoying the beautiful landscape of Canada's west coast.

Why did you build Textillia?

Because it was long overdue that sewists have a home base online! As Ariane began sewing more, she constantly found herself wishing for "the Ravelry of sewing". At first it seemed pretty pie in the sky to take this on, but as time passed, the more we thought about it the more it made sense. Bruno was itching for a highly challenging web project of his very own (something he'd long hoped for, but never expected would be related to sewing!) And for Ariane, it's a way to create her own career that truly accommodates her substantial medical needs—and not just any job... a dream job with one of the best, most creative communities there is. It's a dream come true for both of us.

Who's funding this? Where is the money coming from? Are you backed by a big company or investors?

It's really just us: Bruno and Ariane, the skills we've cultivated over the last 15 years, and a dream that became a plan. We have a vision of a beautiful, fulfilling long term career building a beautiful, functional Textillia for all of us, and being a part of this fantastic creative community for the long haul. We've kept overhead costs as low as possible by building everything we could ourselves little by little, and have covered any additional costs out of our own pocket. Sure it's a slower process and higher personal risk and investment, but because we're not backed by any companies or outside investors, our loyalties are purely to ourselves and the Textillia community, and we get the advantage of founding this micro company debt free.

You may be wondering how we plan to fund this project as it grows. This is something we've spent a lot of time thinking about, discussing, researching, and weighing the pros and cons around. This may come as no surprise to those of you who have been seeing the shifts in how online services are run these days, Textillia is going to be a subscription/membership-based community. While we're in beta (still improving the site and working out the initial kinks) access is free, and after we're no longer in beta, we plan to continue having a first month of free membership for new users, so that everyone gets a chance to explore what the site is before committing. After that we plan to charge a very affordable monthly membership fee. We'll be setting the price low and it will stay that way, because it is important to us that it be accessible to you. We know we could charge more, but instead we are taking a deep breath and believing that what we've built is not just good but great—and that enough of you will agree and support it (and us!), to make our low price sustainable. Update: more info on the membership plans here - spoiler: they'll be just $20 USD per year.

Ads, sponsored content, commissions, affiliate programs, selling user data... they've become a common and often chaotic part of the ecosystem of "free" websites. Many sites function like this because they started out years ago when the internet was very different, and that's how they've adapted to survive. But this model of online business is deeply broken and honestly just not feasible for us. The truth is, there's no such thing as "free" when it comes to websites—either you pay with money, or you pay by having your data tracked and sold, or using a site full of ads and affiliate links, some of which eventually lose sight of their original purpose. All large sites make money one way or another, because building and maintaining a large site costs a lot of money, not to mention that people deserve to be fairly compensated for providing a service or product. We are choosing the path we feel will be most sustainable and lead to the best quality service in the long term.

How wonderful is the idea of a website where you never have to wonder whether someone is being paid for their so-called "opinions", or whether you're reading content vs. an ad? Where it's free of clutter, and all the focus is 100% on making the site's content and services better? We believe that while it's a bit "old school", it's retro in a good way and a breath of fresh air! Being a membership-based site will be what makes this whole project realistic, and what gives us the chance to make it not just possible but excellent. Each individual person who becomes a member, whether sewing is your hobby, you're an independent designer, or you own a big 4 pattern company, will have the same access to the site and our community. No hidden fees or agendas. A clean and modern design, loads of functionality, and this cozy corner of the internet to call our own.

Downward shot of two people sitting with their laptops

If you can't tell, Textillia is really important to us and we want so much for it to succeed. Your support means everything to us, and will be what allows Textillia to actually become what we've been envisioning. You are what will allow us to take this beyond an idea, beyond just "scraping by", into a position where we can give back to the community in so many amazing ways that our imaginations are only starting to be able to dream up...

Textillia scholarships and grants? Helping fund camps and workshops and conferences? Sponsoring environmental stewardship and social change projects in the textile industry? Sponsoring sewing equipment donations to Tool libraries (can you imagine being able to rent an overlocker for a week super cheap?!) Interactive journalism stories on sewing and the textile industry?

Who knows! The sky is the limit, and we are looking way up.

We come from a background of learning, creativity, activism, and open source (aka. community built, free) software, and we truly hope that Textillia will benefit and empower us all in our sewing and beyond.

Thanks for believing in us and in Textillia! Bruno and Ariane