Hello happy people! I’m in a great mood because this post is going out on my birthday!! I never work on my birthday and always try to do something fun. As it’s a Thursday this year I also took the Friday off so it’s double the fun! Today I had a trip to the spa with a back and head massage and a foot massage. Then I ate my favourite skillet pancakes for lunch in the sun of Mill Kitchen’s outdoor seating. I’ve come back super chilled! And there’s time for a bit of sewing before we head out to dinner!
In other news I finished my dress for the New Craft House Riviera party and had a wonderful time on the night. There were so many familiar faces to catch up with plus some ladies I follow on Instagram but had never spoken to. There was Aperol spritzes and the biscuit fairy Claire was making sure we had regular snacks. I managed to get in a couple of photos with my darling Marie but in my usual style failed at getting a proper outfit shot. I AM THE WORST when I get chatting and forget all about photos.
So this week I managed to get a few photos at the studio with the lovely Renata this week so I’m not leaving it for ages to share my finished dress. I love the overall look and paired my lemon earrings and blue belt with the dress to pick up the colours in the fabric.
This embroidered mesh was pretty damn difficult to work with. The ‘squares’ are actually slight rectangles and they’re a huge 6″ tall which I didn’t think was actually that flattering when cut on the grain as it chops your body up in weird directions. It has no stretch and of course needed lining. Here’s the fabric if you’re tempted.
With all this in mind I decided to cut everything out on the bias! This left me with much less fabric to work with. I used Vogue 9000‘s hacked skirt from this dress and shortened it another 2″. I then cut both the front and back on the fold.
For the bodice I could only manage to cut the front on the fold and used my old Vogue 1102 (made so many times with too many tweaks to count) as I could hide the waist darts inside a tile without it looking too obvious. The back bodice had to be cut with a centre back seam but think it looks okay.
This all meant I needed a side zipper and to figure out the opacity. The bodice is underlined and then the two layers treated as one for construction and the raw edges finished with nude bias tape. The skirts were assembled separately and joined along the waist seam and zipper position. Below the zipper the skirts hang free and both layers were finished with an overlocked rolled hem. To finish I hand picked a side lapped zipper to make sure nothing would catch in the teeth and the stitching would be as invisible as possible.
If you didnt know this fabric was used in Dolce and Gabbana’s Majolica collection. This dress above sold for £4,800…. yep that’s insane. Anywhoo my dress is surprisingly swishy and I feel great in it. It took a lot of brainstorming to figure out the perfect silhouette, pattern placement and order of construction. It was quite nice having a meaty project to work on as I’ve been sewing a lot of quicker things lately but on the flip side there was also a lot on my plate so life suddenly felt very busy. It’s such a happy dress so I’m really pleased I powered through and think it will be nice for future events and holidays.
I know I’m a little bit of a diva when it comes to birthdays but I really just take the chance to see as many people as possible, eat and drink well, find joy in everything and feel grateful for another year! My husband and his family know me so well, I got flowers, gin, my favourite most relaxing White Company candle and a voucher for fabric! And on Saturday my family are taking me for fizz and afternoon tea! Life is grand!!
Oh and surprisingly I won one of the party raffle prizes for a Selkie Patterns pdf of my choice. I’m going to wait to see their exciting new launch and then decide which to get as an extra birthday present!! Thanks for reading. Maybe I’m writing to myself but I still love blogging, sharing my makes and documenting the process.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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