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Titanic 1912 hatsIt is an unwritten expectation that if you are paying to access a website, you do not see advertisements. On the Internet, free stuff has ads, paid stuff does not. Period.

I think this is short-sighted, and here's why.

In the office last week, there was uproar when I proposed trialling advertising at Wardrobe and Foundations. Uproar for exactly the reasons stated above. Everyone knows you don't have ads unless the site is free, right?

I'm glad to say I convinced my team otherwise, and as we launch advertising at Your Wardrobe Unlock'd today, here's my reasoning for you, too.


1912 Black Straw Hat 1912 Yellow Straw Hat 1912 Natural Straw Hat

Lynn McMasters shows you how to make a selection of different styles of Titanic era Straw Hats
out of existing modern headgear. (Feb 2012)


Ever since I launched Your Wardrobe Unlock'd back in 2007, we have received regular emails asking to be put in touch with suppliers. Readers want to know where to get 4mm steels or a crinoline kit. They want to know where they can go on in-person courses, or what events are in their area. You can see it all over Facebook communities - people want  to make connections.

Meanwhile, many costumers and corsetieres email us wanting to know how to market their work and get the word out there. They are working hard and trying to make it pay. They’re selling supplies, they’re running courses, they’re putting on events and they’re designing patterns, but advertising is out of their league. The big sewing magazines or websites are hellishly expensive, multiple hundreds of dollars even for a tiny classified ad buried in the back pages, and their reach is too general. They need a highly targeted marketplace where they can get in touch with the people who want what they’re making.


We can see how much gaping there is on the neckline of Karen’s bodice.  This has nothing to do with her shoulders.   We can attempt to fix it by pulling the excess into the waistline, but the gathers are not flattering, and the neckline is still loose.  This shows how the bodice should fit, close to the bust along the front, with gathers that continue over the bust line, like the portrait of Martha Arbeneva above.

"On the left, we can see how much gaping there is on the neckline... We can attempt to fix it by pulling the excess
into the waistline (middle), but the gathers are not flattering...
Right, this shows how the bodice should fit,
close to the bust along the front, with gathers that continue over the bust line."
Fitting Regency Gowns, Nicole Rudolph (Aug 2011)


I set up a trial advertising feature on Foundations last week, and when the team objected, I cut it back – but it was still there.

That same day, I received an email from Laura. She's a costume maker who has just launched a corset pattern and a sewalong to help people less experienced than she into corsetmaking. She was reaching out to make connections. She has 700 followers on Facebook, and she’s trying to make it work.

That night, after I replied, she submitted an advertisement for Foundations under my trial scheme. This is the ad that threatens to so offend the unsuspecting Foundations reader:


Eventide Ad


Is it really so offensive to paying members to support and connect our community in this way?

This ad is sitting in a folder, pending my approval. (Yes, I get to vet the ads that appear on our sites.) Now: do you want me to turn down Laura’s ad, or do you want to support, connect, and strengthen your community?


One more story.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the International Living History Fair, where a lady in a beautiful 16th century costume caught my eye. She told me all about the historic and vintage underthings on her stall, with her partner(?) looking on proudly as she summoned up her courage and dared give me, the punter, her spiel.

She handed me her card and I recognised the name – Jo Lawler, the Seamly Woman, is one of our members. I introduced myself, and we had a lovely chat. I told her that what I love most about running these websites is not just giving people sewing instruction, but supporting them, championing small businesswomen like her to put themselves out there, by become writers, for example. She seemed a little overcome. “We need a champion,” she nodded enthusiastically, and I know exactly what she meant. It ain’t easy making a living doing what you love.



Detail of skirt waist completed – Front
Skirt completed

Bess Chilver dresses the lucky Tudor Cinderella, layer by layer, giving details
on modifying Tudor dress in practical ways for a growing girl. (July 2010)


Now: would it be so terrible to let Jo tell you what she does in a space under our articles? Would it be so awful to let her suggest that you don’t need to make that partlet yourself, that you could partner with her and let her help with the bits of your costume that you don’t want to make, or don't have time to make? If she decides to give a lecture or a class, do you want to know about it?

Jo’s business card is still sitting on my kitchen table right now. I want to help her. I think you might like to help her too.

And in return for helping relevant businesses move forward in this way, could we not ask for help with that core funding we need to keep Foundations and Wardrobe going at this crucial moment?


If you have a small, relevant business that you'd like us to champion, we're now offering promotional opportunities for varied budgets. Get the exposure you need, and help us survive!  Find out more and browse options and prices.

Right now we have 653 members. We need 750 to survive beyond the next seven weeks, and 1000 to pay our taxes at the end of the year and keep moving forward and improving our service comfortably. If you see value here and you want to support this project, SIGN UP HERE, and share this post on social media!

I still think this project is worth saving. I hope you do too.


Hi Cathy!
I'm all for tasteful and relevant advertising provided it doesn't overwhelm the content. It's nice to be able to "shop" within an expert site, it saves a lot of guesswork and searching.

Kerryn Olsen
I think that carefully chosen ads are perfectly relevant to a site such as this. As you say, we're always on the lookout for suppliers, or ideas, or further information, or courses and get-togethers in 'our area' (where-ever that is, in the world).

What annoys me about internet advertising is how irrelevant it is most of the time. If the ads are related to the site, I can't see how they would hurt. If they're down one side of the page, they're not intruding into your sight, unless you want to look at them.

I say go for it! (Also, anything to keep this site going. I have no income at the moment, so can't re-subscribe, but I desperately hope it's still there when I get a job!)

I completely agree with your point. I not only do not mind the advertisements, if it means that we'll get to keep this wonderful resource, I love that it would support the small businesses. Considering many members fall into the category of small business, we have articles on starting and maintaining them, why can't we also help them get their names out there? Well phrased. :D
I would love to be a member, but it isn't possible at this point in time. Even being a member I would still want the information provided by the two situations you mentioned above. Not everyone has hours and hours online to search for what they want. Hopefully I'll be a member soon.
Re: membership for Nancy
Dear Nancy - we hope so too! Remember we do have discounts available for students and seniors, so you might find it more affordable than you realise if you fit either of those categories. You can find out more at https://www.harmanhay.com/amember/signup/8FP13kVFE
Best wishes! Polly (one of the Harman Hay web mice)

If you aren't able to increase the membership by the end of the month, will existing content on YWU and FR still be accessible to members?
If that came to pass, we would find a way. However, I'm confident that we can fix this situation without having to cross that bridge!
Dee Anne
I'm a brand new member (just today), and I think tasteful and relevant advertising would be very helpful for someone like me. I very new to this world, and I don't know where to look for so many things! It would be nice to have ads I could explore.
Thank you for weighing in, Dee Anne! I'm glad you think so. Don't miss the Directory page, which is a listing of members' businesses, as well as the ads.
Advertising Content
I don't find the placement of small ads particularly offensive, but I will admit that I don't really pay any attention to them. I locate my suppliers through either recommendations from bloggers that I follow who have had positive experiences with their products, or via a google search. Ads from companies I've heard of, but have never patronized, might help to keep them on the top of my mind but honestly I don't go exploring from ad content to become familiar with new vendors. I think the most effective way a vendor could gain my attention on these websites would be to offer tutorials or articles that focus on the use or history of their products. Providing content of value would make me see them as part of the community, and I'd be more likely to patronize them. Just my $0.02.

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