Introduction to Social Media: Flickr and Big Huge Labs

According to the Modern Quilt Guild website, "The growth of the [modern quilting] movement was facilitated by four factors: the cultural shift of quality design being recognized by the general public, affordable digital cameras, the changing fabric industry and the rise of social media."  These four factors are the foundation of the Modern Quilt Movement.  The Modern Quilt Guild article continues, "The Flickr group Fresh Modern Quilts, established in 2008, provided the first online centralized social media venue for quilters in the movement. With that Flickr group and many active blogs, the online world of modern quilting took off like wildfire."

Started in 2004, Flickr was the original online digital photo hosting and sharing program.  Flickr provides up to 1,000GB of storage per user.  In addition, people could post their photos in an online format where others could see them. 

Flickr also had the capability of fostering an online community, allowing people to comment on others' photos and file their favorites away for later viewing and inspiration.  Accordingly, the online community format fostered the building of online relationships and people began to form groups based on their interests.  For the crafts and quilting communities, Flickr was the perfect venue for facilitating online bees and swaps.  According to Wikipedia, in March, 2013, Flickr boasted more than 87 million members who upload more than 3.5 million photos each day.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2013, Flickr's focus seemed to move away from the idea of community to a more photo-centric ideal.  Rather than present photos in a web-friendly format, as it had done from its inception, Flickr presented digital photos in their full resolution.  This caused several issues for users - slow uploads, an increase in data usage, and an increase in cost for those who paid for their internet service by the amount of data they used.  In addition, to focus on photographs, Flickr minimized the comments features and made them harder to use, which impacted users negatively.  At the same time, Instagram was becoming more popular and many Flickr users shifted to Instagram to avoid some of the new difficulties with Flickr.

Flickr Fresh Modern Quilts Group Home Page
In its heyday, as Flickr users formed online relationships and gravitated to the kinds of photos they enjoyed, they formed groups based on their interests.  As mentioned in the MQG quote above, the Fresh Modern Quilts group shown in the above screen shot was instrumental in fostering the Modern Quilting movement.

ECMQG Flickr Photo Pool

Creating a Flickr account is easy.  If you already have a Yahoo account, all you need to do is sign in to Flickr - your Yahoo sign on and password work with Flickr as well.  If you don't have a Yahoo account, simply go to and click the Sign Up button at the top of the page.  Complete the information requested on the form and voila! - you're a Flickr member.  Click the upload button and begin uploading your own photos to Flickr.  You will certainly want to join the ECMQG Flickr Group!

Flickr Fresh Modern Quilts - Group Photo Pool
In the various groups, members could upload their own photos and see the photos posted by others in the group.  Group moderators could also monitor the photos uploaded to make sure they were appropriate to the group's aesthetic.  In addition, group moderators could invite the owners of photos to post them in the group if they felt photos met the criteria.  Moreover, other Flickr members could "like" and "favorite" photos, as well as make comments.  These features created a sense of community as members from all over the world got to know one another through both their photos and comments.

My most recent Flickr favorites
Because you could "favorite" (or "fave") photos you liked on Flickr, you could take those same photos and create mosaics and galleries of pictures you found inspirational.  This feature was often used for swaps to tell others what kinds of things you might like to have made for you.  In fact, some swaps required a mosaic in order to enter the swap.

My most recent inspiration mosaic
One helpful online tool for creating photo mosaics is  While they have many photo tools available, their mosaic maker tool was a vital part of Flickr photo sharing.  It is versatile and easy to use.  By selecting various options, you can create a mosaic using up to 36 different images either from the photos on your computer, from Facebook, or from your Flickr photos or your Flickr favorites.  Big Huge Labs offers several different formats for presenting your mosaics as well.

BHL Choice Screen
Again, creating a BHL account is easy!  You can sign up with your email address, Google or Facebook.  Once you have an account, link to Flickr or Facebook and creating mosaics is a matter of choosing your photos and clicking "Create".

While the social media platform may have changed, social media is still essential to the Modern Quilting movement.  Online sharing and inspiration from people all over the world is a vital part of modern quilting.

1 comment:

  1. Great post & topic!!

    This is exactly how I found my niche in the quilting and sewing world - blogs first, which mentioned Flickr and the photo pools and swaps. Eventually, I stopped lurking and created a Flickr account, joined a few groups and an online QAL, learned how to post and tag my photos, etc. I remember Kelly talking about Instagram (IG) at one of our meetings and thought "I don't have time for that." Ha! Almost three years later, I am a happy, frequent IG user, a not as frequent Flickr user, and am a competent BHL member.

    I have friends all over the world because of the power of social media and the instant connection to other like-minded people.

    If you haven't been brave enough to dip your toes in the water of social media, do it now. The world of creativity, inspiration, and friendly people are waiting to welcome you.


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