• Sewing A-Z

    Behind the seams at Love Sewing magazine

    I thought it might be interesting if you don’t actually know about my day to day job to hear a little bit more about editing a sewing magazine.

    I have now been working in publishing for 10 years. For several years I edited legal publications for solicitors and barristers, and then I spent a few years as a publishing specialist reworking print titles into eBooks and online titles. Then in June 2015 I joined the Love Sewing team. I really enjoy being able to combine my two passions of publishing and sewing. The worst bit is probably the timelines you need to work to: Magazines are very demanding because there’s no let up or downtime with what you need to squeeze in to your working week.

    The magazine is based in Stockport and is part of a publishing group that has 10 other craft magazines all under one roof. I sit in the Softcrafts team so I’m surrounded by sewists, quilters, knitters, and crocheters and creative designers in the art team; all wonderfully inspiring people. With 14 issues a year of 100 pages and two pattern gifts every time, it’s a busy schedule and I rely on my deputy editor to help me write/source content for every page, then edit, proof and approve the magazine. Every day is slightly different as my month generally falls into two halves – the two weeks when we produce an issue and the two weeks where I plan the upcoming editions. More often I’m having to do both tasks at the same time to keep ahead of the schedule.

    When we work on an issue word documents are edited then ‘subbed’ by another team to double check spelling, punctuation and grammar and add instructions for the art team. Art lay out the pages and then we proofread to ensure all the text, imagery, and even the page numbers, are as they need to be. We use job bags that we pass between each other to mark the progress of the pages throughout each stage and create PDFs for each article or project using Adobe inDesign. When an issue is ready we send every page to the printer along with a cover. On issues where we include a bonus second magazine with the issue, that usually has to be finished by the same date as well which can add another 60 or so pages into the month… Safe to say celebratory press day pizza and wine is a regular occurrence in my house.

    The rest of the time I’m generally planning around 3-6 months ahead; picking pattern gifts, arranging projects, lining up articles and interviews, plus searching for great new fabrics! There are also client meetings, production catchups, consumer shows and magazine reviews. I’m currently finishing summer issues, planning Christmas, getting ready for two shows, and also thinking ahead to early next year in case Sewing Bee has another early air date. Talking about Christmas now might sound crazy but it sort of works because I then get it done and put it out of my head long enough to get excited about real Christmas later in the year! Publishing is really like project management in a lot of ways – it’s scheduling, budgeting, organising yourself and others, and being disciplined in all these areas.

    As I’ve been sewing a long time now I act as technical editor for the magazine as well, meaning I have to be able to suggest tips for construction, write about fabric handling methods and explain various techniques. We also work with industry experts to share their knowledge on couture techniques, fitting tutorials, and inspiring tips and tricks. Our resident columnists are Alison Smith MBE, Elisalex de Castro Peake, Claire-Louise Hardie, Stacey Chapman and Wendy Gardiner. Working with these ladies over email is wonderful and together we spark ideas for brilliant new pieces plus they’re great fun on the days when we finally get to catch up in person. Go on one of their amazing workshops, I dare you!

    I commission a number of independent designers to create the projects inside the magazine and we work together to pin down the style and details in the garment before they make up the pattern and a sample garment. The paper pattern garments are made up by seamstresses so I have to pick the fabric and plan the covers and envelopes to make them bold and bright. Picking fabric is a huge part of my job so I’m always searching through shops online and obsessively looking for the best prints and colours to use in the magazine.

    My favourite parts of the month are the regular photoshoots we have. With four magazines that have model photography we regularly have shoots and all try and put a few garments onto each shoot. I often run out the office, across the road with a pile of dresses in hand and spend an hour or so, creating the images you see in the mag with the studio team before running back to the office. Some days we spend longer shooting an entire morning with one model for several issues of Love Sewing and getting a few cover shots as well. Renata is our talented fashion photographer, Nina provides gorgeous hair and make up.

    As you might know I have a reader over to the studio every month and love spoiling them with their own private photography session. Everyone arrives saying they aren’t that confident in front of the camera but by the end of the afternoon we have oodles of gorgeous shots showing off their make and their gorgeous personality. We started this around issue 38 and now the issue 70 reader is coming over next week. We’ve had sewing celebrities, ladies who have brought their bestie for moral support, women who don’t normally wear make up, even a big group of ladies all in one go. It’s always a great afternoon and always over too soon.

    Everyone’s route into publishing is different. I have a Degree in English Literature, and a Masters in Creative Writing. To get my first publishing job I also had to pass a series of tests – grammar, spelling and punctuation, plus typing and how to style a document. To get the Love Sewing Editor role I had to talk through the titles I’d managed to date, plus show I had the planning skills to put together an example features list. I was also expected to have a strong knowledge of the industry by describing the key sewing titles, pattern companies, experts, websites and bloggers. Plus I obviously had to talk about what makes a good-looking fabric, garment and magazine! (The key area of difference between book and magazine publishing is the sheer quantity of pictures.) I’m now the Managing Editor of Quilt Now magazine where I work alongside the Editor Bethany, as well as keeping control of Love Sewing.

    If you liked this post you might like to read some interviews I’ve done in the past!

    The Fold Line interviewed me here a few years ago.

    I did an interview for the Love Sewing blog a while back as well.

  • Tops, blouses and shirts

    Simple Sew Poppy top

    I’m writing this on Sunday, currently freaking out about my half made ballgown for The Dressmaker’s Ball. I have the pattern ready finally but as I came to cut out my fabric I realised I don’t have enough underlining fabric! How silly of me. So I had to get more yesterday and sew before next week (as I’m away from then until the ball). GULP. I’m going to make it work and Tim Gunn would be proud of me, I’m sure.

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    My brain is utterly frazzled by work at the minute as we have been running so many special issues and there are garments flying around everywhere and I don’t have a free weekend until late April. The glamorous world of publishing.

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    I really want to sit quietly and write a blog post so have forced myself to do it! This is thePoppy top from Simple Sew patterns. I got the printed version free from the cupboard at work but it was also a digital download from issue 48 of Love Sewing.

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    With gently fluted sleeves and neckline pleats instead of darts it’s a pretty nice top that could be made for everyday wear or a special night out.

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    I made the size 8 and let out the hips out to a 10 but it isn’t close fitting so didn’t need too much extra room. I should have made the 10 at the upper body I think as its a tiny bit tight.

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    It’s a super quick make though and the pleats are fun to make. There’s a decent size facing underneath which supports the neckline pleats well. And a cute keyhole back letting you pick a pretty button from your huge stash to use… or is that just me?

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    The fabric was from the 1st Sewing Weekender goodie bag! It’s aStoff & Stil viscose with little bird/boomerang shapes. Everyone got the same 1.5m piece so it’s been cool to see their makes over the years. I generally prefer brighter colours so I don’t wear this often unless it’s with a bright cardigan. Although it wasn’t my style I couldn’t seem to part with it. Glad I finally used it eh? I call the next photo “My fabric stash is THIIIIS big”.

    Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

    Now it’s time to count down the days until I see my girl Marie and hang out with loads of lovely ladies at the ball!!

  • Dresses

    McCall’s 6891 chambray shirtdress

    Hello all! I’ve recovered from my extremely busy December and am back with a finished make for myself.

    This dress was a rather spontaneous make as I was lucky enough to try on a finished version we had in the office! This meant I quickly worked out the couple of tiny adjustments I’d need to make it fit me. I could then cut out with confidence and whizzed this up in a day. In fact I made the yellow version you’re seeing on the new pattern envelope! We’re now making the designs in UK fabric and reprinting the envelopes. Squeal!!

    The pattern is M6891 which is on the front of Love Sewing 63 on sale from tomorrow! It’s double stuffed so you get sizes 8-24 in one envelope and the issue includes tips on collars and cuffs if you haven’t made them before. I love a notched collar and The McCall Pattern Co instructions direct you to make theirs differently to other brands like Simplicity or indie designs.

    First you attach the interfaced collar to the bodice neckline and then attach the non-interfaced collar to the facing. When you place the facing/collar on top of the bodice/collar instead of sewing over the seam allowance at the notch, they ask you to push it out of the way and stop at the seam point marked by a dot, then sew on the other side in the same way. Here’s a diagram to explain a bit more:

    This reduces bulk as it means you can grade the seams and trim a bit more freely as the seam allowance isn’t trapped… But this technique seems more beneficial on thicker fabrics like coats really. Unless I’ve missed another reason for this technique.

    It’s not a surprise I like this pattern, as retro style shirtdresses are a big proportion of my wardrobe. They’re both smart and casual – perfect! I made view C and love the full skirt. The darts give a nice shape and of course the notched collar has a lovely vintage feel. It needs a reverse button/hole at the waist point for extra security but I can add that any time.

    Now of course the Ultimate Shirtdress which is my favourite shirtdress pattern but in truth I’ve never got on with the sleeves. On the McCall’s design the sleeves fit great so maybe I need to try and merge the armscye and sleeve of this pattern with the Sew Over It pattern in the future.

    I made the size 10. The bust fits my 36a-cup really nicely so no SBA here. I just adjusted the waist at the side seams to fit my 32″ tummy and the wide flare of the skirt is very roomy on my hips.

    You might be wondering about the fabric… well to that I say, “Sewing friends are awesome”. They are especially great at birthday time because they think like a sewist when getting you a present and remember what things you say you like! This gorgeous Robert Kaufman spotty chambray was a gift from the darling Marie! Creative mind behind blog www.astitchingodyssey.com, Marie is such a lovely soul so I highly recommend you follow her inspiring blog/social media accounts and if you run into her at an event you’re guaranteed to leave smiling.

    If you clicked into my shirtdress tag you’ll see I now have two spotty Robert Kaufman chambray dresses. Well I actually have a third UFO of Vogue 1102 cut out in the black colourway but I messed up some of the pintucks and have been putting off fixing it for months. Maybe 2019 is the year you’ll see that dress appear.

    I’m currently trying to plan some sewing for the coming year. There are some lovely fabrics that have been in my stash for way too long. I’d really like to fix that and not be afraid of making the wrong thing anymore. I have my dressmakers ballgown to make too. Will I see you there?

  • Dresses

    Lena wrap dress Simple Sew

    Winter… my nemesis! It really feels like we’re galloping through Autumn and Winter is here. To prepare I’ve made a few snuggly clothes to help keep the chill off. I am unbelievably cold all the time and often have my little desk heater on at work. I’m pretty wimpy I know.

    Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

    Today I’m sharing the Lena wrap dress by Simple Sew patterns. It came free with Love Sewing 35 but is also available here. The surplice bodice is lined and fits into a waistband, then there’s a flared skirt with hem band. These are the 3/4 sleeves from the pack but the wrist length would maybe have been better for me.

    The fabric I used for this dress is a lovely double knit of mysterious mix that I got from Charlotte, and that she got from Barry’s of Birmingham. She made a Coco dress by Tilly and The Buttons which is linked here. She donated it to a sewing swap table and I happily took it home! It was a pretty big piece so thank you Charlotte!!

    Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

    This dress is extra cosy because I lined the bodice in self fabric which is a little bulky but warmth wins over bulk. And I made the hem band in self fabric and I don’t mind the seam at all even though it would be more effective in a contrast colour or print.

    Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

    I made the size 10 but should have sized down. Not long before I started the dress I’d been burned by trying to make a size 8 version in low stretch fabric and then over-compensated here. You know how things grow with wear and shrink after a good hot wash in a never-ending circle. On the second wear, the sleeves end up pretty big and I sometimes wear a cami top in case the bodice falls open. Oh well.

    Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

    I used a zigzag stitch and my overlocker for construction and I’m super pleased how it’s holding up inside. The skirt is fabulously twirly for a jersey dress and i feel very smart when I wear it. All in all, a big thumbs up. I should really make another! This one has wonderful memories of this girl band inspired photo shoot we tried at the studio last year. So moody I love it.

    Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

    Here are three lovely versions to check out next: this floral beauty from Giorgia, Harriet looking pretty in pink and Gabby looking lush in velvet!

  • Dresses

    Hot lips Annabelle dress

    Do you have days when life is so ridiculous you just have to laugh? On mornings when we have photoshoots for Love Sewing I’m responsible for getting all the outfits ready, steaming them, checking for loose threads, prepping all the shoes and jewellery and so on. It’s pretty manic and Renata likes to tease me by capturing shots like this from last month.

    In the afternoons we have the favourite part of my job, the reader photoshoots where I basically get to hang out with a fellow seamstress as they get pampered and help them have some fun in front of the camera. Every woman who has taken part in our shoots has left me feeling wowed by their talent, warmed by their big hearts and re-energized by their enjoyment of the day. Often there’s a small window to take pics of my makes before home time and this Thursday I took photos of this dress.

    Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

    It’s the Annabelle dress from Simple Sew patterns, a beautiful take on the tea dress that I have made once before here if you want to see my size choices and adjustments. For me it’s the perfect throw on dress when you want to look smart and comfy. This version perfectly works with red or blue accessories and can be dressed up or down depending on the day.

    Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

    I love this dress because of its easy fit, with flattering under bust gathers and swaying silhouette. Crepe de chine always feels very slimming and luxurious. What I didn’t expect was for someone to ask me when I was due while wearing it that very morning! “This is my pot belly lady… not a baby.”

    Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

    This is especially comical to me as I’ve recently lost 1.5 stone in weight. I’m not saying it’s such a noticeable amount that everyone on the street should be high-fiving me over, but I feel pretty darn slender at the moment. Clearly I need to work on my posture if I’m sticking my tummy out that much hahah.

    Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

    This dress makes me so happy because of those kissy lips! I picked up a 1.5m remnant of the kissy crepe de chine at Fabworks mill shop. I’ve also seen some in Holm Sewn’s online shop but there isn’t much left so hurry! I used a navy invisible zip at the side seam and navy thread rather than red.

    Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

    The dress requires a bit of stitching in the ditch around the facings and waist which I always mess up a little. I never write down the perfect setting for my needle position. It’s pretty invisible this time so I don’t sweat it. I’m really happy with the weight of interfacing I chose though. Not going too heavy on lightweight fabrics is quite tricky when you have limited options but well worth finding something lightweight but stable.

    Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

    You might also remember this fabric from Rachel Pinheiro’s epic Holly jumpsuit. And I love this version of Annabelle on the 64 Dresses blog. If you’ve been put off trying a Simple Sew pattern in the past this is one I would heartily recommend. Now I’m off to play in my sewing room today. Have a lovely weekend!!