Tag Archives: Sewing

Which sewing magazines do you enjoy?

27 Feb

Over the last couple of years, since I started sewing, I’ve read a fair few sewing magazines, and I thought I’d take some time to share my views on some of the different ones I’ve read, and see which ones you all like.

IMG_9108 The sewing magazines that I most commonly see on shelves are Sewing World and Sew magazine. Occasionally I see a copy of Threads, and Burdastyle is sometimes available as well. For a while, when I first started sewing, I read both Sew and Sewing World semi-regularly. At the time, I just wanted to absorb anything sewing-related I could find, and it was before I really discovered the world of sewing blogs.


Sew was tempting as it often came with a free pattern, which was very exciting (in the days before I had a pretty sizable pattern stash). Sewing World I think I first discovered when I saw a version of Tilly’s Marielle skirt somewhere, which is a pattern she released in an issue of Sewing World. I liked the skirt so much that I tracked down a back issue of the magazine so that I could get it. (Have I made it yet? Erm…)

While I enjoyed reading both of these magazines, I’d find that I’d flick through them, skip over a lot of the articles that weren’t particularly interesting to me, and have read the whole thing (well, the bits of interest anyway) in about 20 mins. At about £6 each, that was a pretty expensive 20 minutes, and I started to think that I’d rather spend that money on a pattern I really wanted, or put it towards a sewing book that I know I would get a lot of use out of. I did used to buy them occasionally – it was a nice treat when I was in Tesco doing the weekly shopping, to be able to pick myself up something sewing-related as well.


I had a subscription to Sewing World for 6 months, and while I enjoyed them (and even won a pack of Fat Quarters from one of their competitions I entered), I didn’t extend it after that time. The issue I had with these magazines is that they were a bit too general – they covered so many different kinds of sewing, that it was unlikely to ever all be of interest to me. Every issue there’d be a number of home dec projects/ideas for sewn gifts, probably a couple of patterns or things to sew for kids, maybe a men’s pattern, and a ladies’ pattern or two. While I’m not averse to doing a bit of home dec sewing (I’ve got a number of blinds and curtains that I need to sew up pretty soon), it’s not really my main interest. Similarly kids, I don’t have any, and although I may occasionally sew something for a friend’s baby, that is a rarity. Sewing for men – it’s something I’ll probably do at some point (once Marcus lets me know something that he’d like that isn’t a coat!), but again, not my main interest. That leaves a very small proportion of the magazine that is actually about what I am really interested in.


It’s cute, but I’m just not sure it’s me…

The same applies to more general crafty magazines like Mollie Makes – there just isn’t enough in it than I’m interested in to make it worth me buying it. I do still occasionally pick up Burda Style, but that’s a different class of magazine – more just a collection of patterns rather than having general magazine content as well.

Love Sewing is one I haven’t tried yet – I won a subscription to it at the SewBrum meet up, but haven’t yet received any issues, so I’ll hold judgement on that (and maybe chase them up)!

A few months ago I picked up a copy of Threads at the airport when I was flying to Sicily. I figured it would give me something to flick through on the flight. That magazine kept me entertained for the whole flight – I basically read it cover to cover, and there were a couple of articles in particular that I found especially interesting, and I’m now keen to try out those techniques.



I love the clear step-by-step instructions of techniques in Threads

I think the main difference that makes Threads so much more enjoyable, is it’s focus primarily on dressmaking. It means that pretty much the entire magazine is of interest to me, and makes it much more worth the money (it also happens to be cheaper than most of the ones I’ve already mentioned. Marcus gave me a subscription to Threads for Christmas, so I’ve now got my fix for the next year – and I don’t have to worry about tracking it down in the shops, which is an issue I had – Threads and Burdastyle don’t seem to be as widely available.


Yes! This was something I needed!

I would love it (and I know I’m not the only one) if there was a UK equivalent to Threads, although I guess the advantage of reading a US magazine is that all the advertising is lost on me and can’t persuade me to buy anything ;) I noticed this week there is a new sewing magazine on the block – Simply Sewing, which is produced by the same people as Mollie Makes. It will be interesting to see if it fills this current hole in the UK sewing magazine market – I’m sceptical to be honest  – their description seems to imply it includes home dec and embroidery as well, and the sewing special that Mollie Makes produced around Christmas did not seem to be particularly well received – I had a flick through it in the shop and decided it wasn’t worth buying, and I know some people who bought it and wished they hadn’t bothered! But I’ll have a look at Simply Sewing if I come across it in a shop, and see what I think.

So, which sewing magazine you read and enjoy? Do you think there’s still a gap in the market? Do you think there is still a place for sewing magazines given the number of websites and blogs dedicated to the subject? While I could probably find most of what is in a magazine on the internet, I quite like being able to sit down and flick through, and maybe come across something that I wouldn’t have done if I had to look for it on the internet. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Finished: Blue Ginger Doll Bonnie

9 Dec

Over the last year or so, I’ve ended up buying quite a few jumpers, as it seems I had a bit of a hole in my wardrobe. While I haven’t bought many RTW clothes since I started sewing, I don’t mind these ones too much – they are all cashmere ones that I got from a couple of awesome stalls at the market in Oxford for ridiculously cheap prices – 5 cashmere jumpers for £20 anyone? They are all lovely, and so warm and cosy! But I did want to make an effort to add some jumpers to my handmade wardrobe as well. I have started knitting a jumper, but that is hardly a quick way to make additions to my wardrobe!


When I saw Marie’s version of Blue Ginger Doll’s Bonnie pattern, I knew this would fill a hole in my wardrobe. When Abby announced the sewalong, (you can see the sewalong entries and cast your vote here) that was the push I needed to actually get on and sew one up!


The fabric is a…I want to say sweater knit, but I have to say, I’m not particularly up on my knit fabric types, and often have difficulties deciding what kind of knit they actually are! Regardless of what it it, it’s a gorgeous fabric – it’s a nice weight – just thick enough for something like Bonnie, without being too bulky, and it feels quite stable. It came from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham when I was up there for the SewBrum meet up. I just checked back on my post about that meet up, and I helpfully didn’t mention how much it cost, and of course now I can’t remember! I think it was about £6/m, maybe £5. If it was any less than that, I’d have bought more than 2m, and I don’t think it was any more. It was originally destined to become a Renfrew, but when Bonnie appeared on the scene, I thought it would be perfect for that.


I went for pretty much the same options on my Bonnie as Marie’s original one that had inspired me – the cropped length with a waistband, and boat neck. I considered going for the 3/4 length sleeves to match the cropped length of the jumper, but decided in the end to go for long sleeves, as I thought I’g get more use out of it, what with it being cold and all! I’m glad I did, as I really like the way the long sleeves look with the cropped body.


My jumper is actually a bit more cropped than the original pattern – I made it up as per the pattern, but it was just a bit too long – it ended up sitting a bit below my natural waist, but wasn’t wide enough to sit comfortably over my hips, so it bunched up a bit. I shortened it just by running my overlocker around the waistline seam again…and then again. I think I took about 4cm off the seam in total, so about 8cm off the overall length, and I’m much happier with how it sits now. I could probably do with taking a smidgen more off, but I didn’t want to make the waistband too narrow by taking more off the seam.


The other change I made to the pattern was to add cuffs onto the sleeves. This was partly because I thought they would look nice and complement the waistband nicely, and partly because I managed to break the only twin needle I had when I was setting it up to do the neckline. And then managed to drop the broken piece inside my sewing machine and had to dismantle a bit (and turn upside down and shake) to get it out again! I used a zigzag stitch do to the neckline, but I didn’t really want to do that on the sleeves, so the cuffs provided a good alternative. I basically just guesstimated the size of the pattern pieces for the cuffs, and I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out – I like the look!


I love how flat the neckline is sitting – I’m always worried with knits that it might stretch out when I’m sewing it, but this one held its shape beautifully. Next time I’m going to sew a little piece of ribbon into the back neckline when I sew it though, as I can’t really tell the front from the back of this sweater when I look at it! Luckily (it turns out), when I started sewing the neckline, I inadvertently had a pin stuck under my presser foot, which stopped the fabric from going through, and so there’s a patch of very condensed zigzag stitches on the back neckline, which is the only way I can tell which side is the back!


I think what I like most about this jumper is the mix of a vintage-style pattern – the cropped length and gathered sleeve heads definitely lend a vintage feel to it – alongside the more contemporary print of the fabric. I get the cute vintage features without the risk of it being too ‘twee’. Although that’s not to say that a floral version won’t be in my future ;)


After I’d made this, I suddenly have a moment of wondering what I was going to wear it with. It will look great with dresses that have a fitted bodice and full skirt, but it turns out those are the things that I always want to sew but often get pushed down the list in favour of more practical everyday things! But now I have the excuse I need to sew more pretty dresses ;)


I thought I’d try it on with this denim pencil skirt I have, and I absolutely love this outfit! Again, I think it’s the fairly smart pencil skirt with the contrast of the slightly casual star print sweater – I just really like how they work together. I love wearing this skirt, but I don’t wear it much at the moment – I work in an office where there is no dress code, which is great if I’m feeling lazy and just want to pull on jeans and a jumper, but I actually like dressing up a bit smarter for work, and I feel a bit out of place if I’m too smart after being in jeans the day before! This sweater allows me to dress the skirt down a bit which is great. Especially as I seemingly have a continual desire to make pencil skirts, but worry how much use they’ll get.


This is actually the first Blue Ginger Doll pattern I’ve made. I bought Stella ages ago, and had an attempt at fitting it (it was just after I’d done my fitting course), but struggled a bit and it got put aside. I really need to go back to that though as I love that top. I really like this pattern, and the instructions were easy to follow – I had it all sewn up from putting pattern together to finishing the top in an afternoon, although I found the PDF a little tricky to line up in places.


I’m loving the quick wins in my sewing lately – I got one top sewn up on Saturday afternoon and this one on Sunday, and it makes for a very satisfying weekend! Given that I had a nasty cold all weekend, I’m pleased I had some simple sewing that I could manage! I can definitely see more Bonnies in my future, I want to try out some of the other variations!


I’ve actually been really productive with my sewing recently, and have a whole host of makes to show you. The thing that’s holding them up is being able to get photos when it’s dark so much of the time! I took these before work this morning and man was it cold out there! 0°C according to our sensor – chilly! The things I put myself through for my blog ;)

If you’re interested in making your own Bonnie, Abby currently has 30% off all her patterns (until 19th December!).




Finished: By Hand London Flora for a summer wedding

11 Oct

If you’re a regular reader of sewing blogs, and you’re thinking that this dress looks a little familiar, that’s probably because it is. I admit, this is a shameless copy (with her permission) of Fiona’s Flora that she made during pattern testing. I saw her dress, completely fell in love with it, and thought it would be perfect for a wedding I had to go to in the summer.



The fabric Fiona had used just looked (and sounded) glorious, and when I googled it to check it out, I came across a listing for it on ebay for £2.50/m! At that price, who was I to refuse! I promptly bought 4m of it (and wished I’d bought more, but they were out of it when I checked back). The fabric is a gorgeous John Kaldor viscose twill and it is beautifully soft and drapey. I love the colours as well. I don’t wear a lot of pink, and am trying to wear a bit more after my colour analysis session.

The lining is some poly viscose that I picked up in Goldhawk Road at the NYLon meet up in May, for £1.99/m. I bought 3m of this and then had a panic when I thought it wasn’t enough, as it’s only 45″ wide, but managed to get around it by cutting the skirt pieces on the crossgrain.


The dipped hem version of Flora was perfect for a wedding – the longer length at the back would be too long on me if it was that length all the way round, but having it longer at the back adds a bit of class to balance out the shorter front. I went for the tank version of the bodice – I’m really not sold on the faux wrap version of the Flora bodice, but I love the tank version – it’s just nice and simple and unfussy but at the same time quite unusual.


In typical me-style, although I’d had both the pattern and fabric for months, I started work on this dress….oh, about a week before the wedding! Why do I do that! I can only imagine that it’s some subconscious thing because I know I perform well under pressure!

I did a very quick toile of the bodice (very quick, I didn’t even bother putting a zip in), and it seemed pretty alright, so I went ahead and cut it out in a size 10. Looking at the photos, the neckline is actually gaping a bit at the back, so that might need a bit of adjustment if I make another version.

By Hand London Flora

I also apologise for the fact that the dress has not been ironed in these photos! Luckily the full skirt hides it well!

I had a few issues cutting the dress out, mainly because the viscose was just so slinky it wouldn’t stay still. I cut out one of my skirt panels, only to realise that, after I took the pattern piece off, the pattern piece and the skirt piece I’d just cut were completely different shapes. My friend Clare (Clare number 1 to Marcus, who insists I number my sewing friends called Cla(i)re as there are so many of them) then suggested using spray starch, so I used that on the rest of my cutting, and it made things a lot easier. Luckily it was the main fabric that went wonky, and I had enough of that to re-cut the skirt panel.

I think the dress sewed up without too much drama. This is the point at which I really wish I actually did what I intended to do and keep a notebook by my side when I’m sewing, to note down things about the pattern and process. I actually bought a notebook for this purpose, but haven’t really taken to keeping notes. And now of course I can’t remember many of the details of sewing the dress up…we’ll take that as a good sign – if something had gone drastically wrong, I think I’d remember, and I managed to get it finished in time for the wedding, so it must have been fine!

By Hand London Flora

This is my first fully lined dress, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I understitched the lining along the bodice, to stop it peeking out, which worked well, but due to the way the bodice is structured with the straps, there were a couple of bits in the corners of the tank I couldn’t get to to understitch. Is there a way I could have done that?


I wasn’t sure how best to attach the lining to the invisible zip, but I used the Sewaholic Cambie tutorial and it worked brilliantly.



Somehow the bodice lining ended up slightly longer than the bodice shell – I guess the fabric just stretched out a bit more. This doesn’t bother me too much, I just had to trim the skirt lining down a bit so that it was shorter than the shell. Looking at the photos, the lining could do with being a bit shorted on the right at the front, but I didn’t notice when wearing it because the skirt moves around so much.

By Hand London Flora

This is the first time I’ve made a circle skirt, and so I did what I was meant to do and left it to hang for a day or two before hemming it, so that I could even it out after the fabric had dropped. However, the fabric didn’t seem to drop at all. Either that, or I have a really bad eye for telling if things are level!

And how good are circle skirts for swishing around and dancing at weddings?! I did SO much twirling around!


Ok, have to be a bit careful twirling *too* much in the full skirt!

I just machine hemmed the skirt lining, and debated how to hem the main fabric of the skirt. Fiona beautifully hand stitched hers but I knew that I really didn’t have time for that. I also have basically never done any hand stitching on my garments, and so didn’t trust that I would be able to hand stitch the hem and have it look good. I decicded in the end to do a blind hem on my sewing machine. It’s something I learned how to do on my original sewing course, but haven’t actually used since. It turned out alright – not completely blind (largely due to the fact that the fabric isn’t a consistent colour all over), but it looks better than it would have done had I just stitched it normally. I need to work on my technique a bit – there are a few spots where it didn’t quite catch the fabric properly, but it’s good enough!

The straps on the dress are quite narrow set, so bra straps can show when you’re wearing it. I was going to put bra strap carriers in, but in the end just wore a strapless bra to the wedding. I’ll probably go back and add them at some point so that I’ve got a bit more flexibility with wearing the dress.


The dress lived up to all my expectations and was absolutely perfect for the wedding. I basically love everything about it, and the swirly skirt makes it especially good for twirly dancing. An extra unexpected bonus to the fabric is that when you’re trying to balance your plate with a scone with clotted cream and jam on (mmmm!) on top of your cup of tea (so that you have a spare hand to eat the scone with), and it all slips and you smoosh creamy, jammy scone onto the underside of your boob, the fabric pattern hides it very well!


The wedding was of two of our capoeira friends, Simon and Zanna, and it was absolutely amazing – it was held at Zanna’s grandad’s place, which was stunning, and the weather was glorious, despite the fact that it was forecast to rain all day. Zanna was wearing a gorgeous vintage wedding dress and looked absolutely fantastic.


Unfortunately, due to my leaving my dress making to the last minute, I didn’t have time to make their wedding present before the wedding. I have just finished that now (blog post to follow!), so they will finally get that soon! Sorry guys!

I’m going to leave you with this photo of our capoeira friends who attended the wedding – I love the fact that 3 of the dresses (and one of the waistcoats) in this photo are handmade :)


chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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