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.

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My best friend’s wedding

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Not just the title of a movie, this Christmas break I also went to the wedding of my best friend and her lovely partner. It was a slightly unusual day in that we started with a 10am ceremony, then went for pie and a pint at a local pub, dashed off to the woods for a game of laser quest and then went to a swanky hotel for the wedding breakfast and evening do.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Yes you heard me right, we did all of this on the 28th of December! It was busy, brisk and lots of fun. And I had the joy of seeing months of work come to life in a different way from my wedding. I not only worked on Becky’s dress, but made my bridesmaid dress and made ties and pocket squares!

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

First things first, Becky wore an off the shoulder fishtail lace gown. It had an illusion back, fitted silhouette and reasonable size train. It was made half way between Oxford and Leeds as Charly and I joined forces to get the dress made in time. Charly as you may remember is an accomplished bridal seamstress so she took the lead, drafting the pattern, fitting the toile and ordering the supplies.

We had a major cutting out session as a group to get the satin, tulle and lining layers all ready and then constructed the majority of the dress ready to get the lace attached. Charly designed the pattern for the lace placement and over several long sewing sessions we hand appliqued lace into place. Charly added the motifs to the bodice and created the illusion while it was on the mannequin and I made 7 skirt panels that would be added to the skirt later so I could keep the work at home with me.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

After a slight mishap breaking with her ankle, Charly wasn’t able to finish the dress so she came home to live me for the last few weeks. I added an elastic waist stay, sewed a bra into the dress, attached the lining and hemmed the layers. Because of the beading, none of the lace could be machine sewed so I did have a slight claw hand by the end of things but it’s an absolutely gorgeous dress, so Charly and I were really proud on the day.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Our bridesmaids dresses were made from different patterns but designed to have a similar feel. I used Threadcount 1610 which you saw on the blog recently and added a three quarter circle skirt using the pattern from my wedding dress! The wine duchess satin was lovely to work with and though I had to cut everything out on the crosswise grain it didn’t reduce the shine that much which I was very pleased with. Becky asked us to channel our inner 50s housewife with pearls and vintage stoles (made by Charly) which I happily embraced.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Ties and pocket squares I’ve made before for Mark and Nickki’s wedding but I forgot how much I HATE POCKET SQUARES. They should be called “little squares of evil”. Never again I say, do you hear me universe?! Luckily I only had to make two pocket squares, plus two grown up ties and two tween-age ties. I adapted my tie pattern to make them roughly 13″ long when tied then made a neckband that finishes with velcro for ease. I mean I learnt how to knot a tie at 12 but only because it was part of my uniform; most young ones don’t learn until much later. Ties are very therapeutic to hand sew closed. You machine sew the short facing pieces to the ends, trim and turn through then press over the edges and hand sew close to the fold. It’s definitely a personal choice on whether to interline the whole tie for more bulk. Last time I did but with the trend for skinny ties these days I decided not to this time.

I’ll leave you with some photos from laser quest. It was certainly different running around the woods in a boiler suit then having to race back to the hotel and get re-ready for a wedding! It all turned out perfectly though.

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Wild roses Vogue 8469

A fresh faced sewing enthusiast called Amy made her first version of Vogue 8469 back in 2013 and said, “oh yes this is lovely I better make it again”. She used £1 a metre polyester she found in Leeds Market and wore it to one of her first sewing meet-ups in London – the epic V&A event.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

Flash forward to 2016! The new version is again made out of £1 a metre polyester, but this time from Birmingham Rag market. This amazingly versatile dress has lived in the back of my wardrobe only occaisonally getting worn because I slightly messed up the gathers on one side of the bust, and my zipper installation wasn’t very neat. What I discovered during Me Made May this year, is that it really doesn’t matter! You can’t see either of those things when I wear the dress so I should blumming well get it out the cupboard more often.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

This dress is great if you’re a large or small busted lady in comparison to your waist and hip size as you can adjust for your bust easily; simply slash and then add or subtract the space you need and then draw the fabric under the bust neatly.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

The skirt is more tulip shaped than you might think, a change from my super flared skirts. It’s still gathered making it easy to fit through the hip. The bodice, waistband and sleeves are lined and I used my trusty tutorial for clean finishing the sleeves into the lining. I skipped the sleeve elastic again as you can see.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

The centre sewn zip is what we all learn early on, stitched down each side to secure the zip and create a little flap to cover each side… but this is the hardest zip to achieve a neat finish for me. The zipper always peeps through and the sides aren’t even! The supposedly harder invisible and lapped zippers are much nicer in my book. Am I wrong?

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

I wear this dress with the bow tied at the front most days but occasionally swing it to the back. It’s a great number to wear with red lipstick and dangly earrings for dinner out, or ballet flats and curly hair for a vintage day look.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

It was great to teach myself, just because you messed something up doesn’t mean you can’t still love it. The annoying perfectionist in me shuts up while I wear this so that’s a win right?!

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Happy swans Vogue 1102

Hello everyone! This post is going up while I’m away in France. I thought a little blogging would keep me distracted in the run up to the wedding so I scheduled a few posts. I’m sure the wedding was [insert a phrase here]. Hehe just kidding. I won’t try and guess but I’m hoping it was sunny and merry and full of dancing.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

This Art Gallery Fabrics organic canvas print was a stash points splurge from Village Haberdashery two years ago. Yes I’m afraid this dress has been finished quite a while. The print is quite large but very fun and the canvas is just on the cusp of being unmanageable for dressmaking with its weight and lack of drape. It’s from the Hello Ollie collection and is called Swanlings Bevy in colour “Nightfall”. There’s still some left here!

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

This is Vogue 1102. You thought I was done with this pattern? Well THINK AGAIN! I needed to find a style that would work with the canvas and the structured bodice was a great fit. The skirt is perhaps a little bulky but it flares out in a really pleasing way while being worn that I don’t care if it’s unflattering from another person’s viewpoint.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

As you may remember I drafted a higher back bodice and this let’s me wear a bra (essential) but still keeps that glorious exposure at the back. That sounds a bit ruder than I intended doesn’t it! I think the finish at the top of the zipper is so neat given the bulky canvas used. Trimming the top of the zipper is key and not being afraid to trim a lot of the tape. I also lengthened the empire line so it sits at the waist which works better with the gathered skirt. I think this is my last un-blogged version of this dress now! Or should I say… for now!

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

I originally photographed this dress on the garden while I had my glorious perm. Look how happy I look even in this screen preview. Hair of my dreams!! Then when the perm was ruined, I fell out of love with the photos… So sad. Renata came to my rescue with a few snaps in the studio though.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

Don’t worry about this being a scheduled post, I’d still love to hear your comments on the post or over on social media. I honestly don’t mind if people read the post here and go over to Instagram to send me a message because the conversation is still going, just in a different location! Chat to you soon xx

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Thoughts on being an original – my dress inspiration

There are times when I feel imposter syndrome sneaking in and I start questioning whether I’m really a creative person at all. I start believe that I can’t think up any original ideas; I just copy things I’ve seen out in the world and I don’t actually know what I want to sew or wear. This comes and goes and it helps to remind myself that I have drafted an original design in the past, I am inventive with fabrics and I only feel happiness when I look in my wardrobe.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

And something guarranteed to make you feel more unsteady is a wedding and specifically a wedding dress. If like me you haven’t been dreaming about your ideal dress for years, there’s a sudden rush of confusion, pressure and indecision as you try and work out what to wear. I also know women who were rock-solidly confident in their dream dress until they were proposed to and the fear crept in.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

Its a giant white dress… that isn’t really like anything you’ve ever worn before. What is actually going to suit you and what you’re capable of sewing might also not match up! And how often are we asked to create pattern instructions from scratch that result in a flawless finish???

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It turns out, I couldn’t think up an original dress to make and I’m okay with that. Instead I went to several dress trials and whittled it down to one dress I really liked from Lou Lou bridal. I didn’t love it but I really really liked it. The way you can really like the possibilities a lovely pattern or piece of fabric holds. Then I thought about how I could tweak it and make it my own. Shortening it for sure, different bust gathers, a different combination of fabrics and a different skirt shape. I found a base pattern and made up the rest.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It has been a strange roller coaster ride: I found what was labelled rose voile curtain fabric online but what I actually think is the exact poly-organza fabric from the Lou Lou source dress. Ordered 5m too much silk organza and currently have no use for the excess. Made four toiles for fit and a wearable test. Nearly cried over the hem. Nearly cried over the zipper. And stabbed my fingers countless times.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It’s my dress, brought into being by these hands so it’s one of a kind in that sense and although I failed on an original design, I think I succeeded in testing my fitting, construction and time management skills.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

I love my dress. Even though its not perfect… because can we ever sew THE PERFECT DRESS!? If you’ve managed to catch that unicorn please let me know in the comments.

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