Made by Me!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Do You Read Sewing Magazines?

I'm just wondering whether you ever read sewing magazines? The reason I ask is that I have recently subscribed to ‘Love Sewing’, a relatively new magazine on the market and currently only on issue 11.  I have also recently taken to reading 'Sew Home and Style' which from my understanding has been around a long while longer, and the other day I picked up the first edition of 'Simply Sewing'. I am like a magpie to shiny things when it comes to sewing magazines, I have at least a 4 year stockpile of Burdastyle magazines on my shelves for example and am running out of space to keep them all. Part of the reason I love to read them is because along with online blogs I think they offer an alternative insight into new products and patterns coming out, new designers emerging on to the indie market and they also produce some good articles and how to sewing tips which even more advanced sewers find useful. They also hopefully inspire a new generation of sewers, demystifying the craft and making it more accessible to everyone. And the increase in publications popping up on the market can only be a good thing right? It was only whilst perusing the web and looking at what else was out there to satisfy my magazine lust that I saw a few other options to try. 'Make It Today! Stitch Your Style', a magazine this month looking at dressmaking but which looks each month at a different craft, 'Mollie Makes Sewing' which is the new offering from the Mollie Makes brand and is a lovely magazine, although I am not sure whether its a one off or not. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the shops but you can buy it online here. There is also the amazing Seamwork magazine produced by Colette Patterns Sarai Mitnick - which has a very reasonable $6 subscription fee per month.

Now I may love to buy these magazines but to be honest I am really just a little unsatisfied with what’s out there at the moment content wise. I recently stopped getting Burdastyle magazine mainly because I cant physically fit them in my house anymore but also because I think the designs in general are pretty uninspiring (although damn it I actually like some of the designs in my final issue - do they do that deliberately?!) and the directions for sewing things up are often dire. This won’t be news to anyone that’s tackled a Burda magazine pattern though it shouldn’t put you off trying them out either as you can work through them with some sewing knowledge. On the plus side I think the focus of the magazine has changed slightly in the last year with more designer patterns and a more thoughtful approach to the layout and articles in the magazine, however as I find the majority of patterns to not be my style there may only be one or two things I would consider making up each month and even then I am by no means in a hurry to do so. I admit every quarter they seem to have a magazine of really great patterns - and you can't beat the amount of designs given for the cover price of the magazine - but for me it isn't enough to warrant the subscription cost. I also realise I can get hold of all the patterns on line as well now – admittedly at an inflated cost to the magazine – and although this wasn’t possible when I first started my subscription I can now access everything I want and avoid the ones I don't. One peeve is the new patterns generally appear on the website before I even receive my magazine through the post. I don’t know about you but this is a massive bug bear of mine. What’s the point in being a subscriber if you have no benefits!? I may as well buy it down the shops like everyone else… Okay maybe I get to have it cheaper than the RRP on the newsstands if you pay upfront and I like some of the free gifts associated with some magazine subscriptions (you get the new sewing book from The British Sewing Bee if you subscribe to Love Sewing now which is well worth it - and I will be doing a book review of it in my next post) but actually being able to pick and choose whether you like what’s in the magazine prior to purchase makes me wonder whether its worth a subscription as there are a few issues I wouldn’t bother with if I hadn’t paid in advance and the thrill of getting the initial sweetener of a free gift wears off over time. Also I have found the content generally less inspiring over time in some magazines - I think with Burda in particular as it was the first sewing magazine I bought as a newbie sewer I found it both inspirational and daunting at the same time but now I have a little more experience and have seen there are other pattern companies other than the big four out there I think I have just given it less of my time. Maybe I have simply grown out of it and its style and as my sewing knowledge has developed so has my need to find something new and exciting to try along with patterns that better fit my personal aesthetic.

Mollie Makes Sewing on left and Sew Home and Style Feb 2015 issue

My other gripe is simply that the content in general has become really samey across brands. Now I know there are only so many sewing patterns in the world – especially ones from independent companies – but surely you want to make your magazine stand out a bit and find other innovative designers and other voices of experience. A good example is that a shirt pattern from the last Sewing Bee book  has made its way into two magazines with only a couple of months apart from each other in publication – a free jacket pattern has also been offered in 'Love Sewing' and 'Mollie Makes Sewing' as well as pattern for floral knickers. I also noticed a dress in 'Mollie Makes Sewing' is in the February issue 'Sew Home and Style'. I don’t want to buy the same content again and again – surely this is lazy journalism or is it acceptable to charge for the same stuff being repeated again and again?! I suspect its hard to prise away free patterns from top designers and so I guess the pool of freebies is small but I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse. Surely there are great designers and pattern cutters out there who would chomp their right arm off to work up fresh, edgy and stylish designs for a sewing magazine?

Sew Home and Style Dec 2014 on left and Love Sewing issue 10 on right
Mollie Makes Sewing top and Love Sewing issue 9 on bottom

Mollie Makes Sewing above and Love Sewing issue 10 below
Plus I think there are so many craft magazines that cater for sewing homewares etc... I really just want a magazine dedicated to dressmaking and accessories not how to make table runner, a tool belt or a cushion. 'Mollie Makes Sewing' and 'Seamwork' come closest to this for me.

Love Sewing issue 11 - yawn...!

Love Sewing issue 11 - a particularly yawn making issue in my opinion!

Secondly and I am sure that many of you will hate me for saying this and it isn’t meant horribly but there are also a lot more voices out there than the select few that are chosen to write articles in said magazines. I feel saturated by some of the regular contributors who seem to pop up here, there and everywhere. I mean it's great marketing on their part and its hard to say because lets face it we are all online to sell our brand whether it's for profit or just to put ourselves out there and share our makes but there are so many great people in the world of sewing and all I ask is can we not mix it up a bit? I can’t be the only person who wants to buy more than one magazine in a month with the hope of reading fresh perspectives on sewing and to be inspired to make something from what I read or look at? When it’s all blah and samey well what’s the point in spending my pounds? Because I can categorically tell you it isn’t cheap to buy these magazines, it is for me and I am sure others a luxury to do so and for this reason I want variety and I want it now!! Showing that all sorts of different people are out there sewing is much more interesting to me. We should be seeking them out in the way that you and I are seeking the new blogs out there in the blogsphere.

Mollie Makes Sewing - Victory Patterns Roxanne top, right hand page bottom left.
On a positive note I have found new designers and patterns through these magazines. I found the lovely Jennifer Lauren and her Afternoon Blouse and Bronte Top patterns which I plan to make up soon - she has also just released a new dress which is super cute - check out the Felicity Dress on her site. I have been introduced to other designers such as Vanessa Pouzet , Sew Caroline - especially loving the Waterfall Tank and also they have re-reminded me of companies I haven't used in a while - like Victory Patterns - I love the Roxanne top shown above that they featured in 'Mollie Makes Sewing'. And they are also a great resource to see how other people have made up some patterns that I have pondered on for ages – just like how we all like to search out other peoples makes in the sewing blog world for inspiration before we decide to fully commit to a project. I like that especially with 'Love Sewing' there are loads of free patterns for all levels of sewist and some are really good even if they are duplicated in other publications – they were better in the beginning of the magazine though to suck us all in I think! 'Sew Home and Style' gives away patterns each month and 'Make It Today! Stitch Your Style' gave away three patterns and a few more in the form of downloads in the magazine itself. A number of them I would consider making although as a lady larger than a size 14 on patterns from simplicity etc...I rarely get the size I want to make for free which means buying it again or simply grading the pattern up to my size. Not a massive problem just a pain for people that aren't on the smaller side or who don't know how to grade confidently. This magazine did feel a little like an advert for simplicity though but I guess that happens when you get so much from them for free!!

The most inspiring magazine I have read recently (and it is worth every cent) is Colette patterns Seamwork magazine. What an inspiration! Fresh ideas, fresh patterns and thoughtful articles. It's an online magazine so it's cheaper as well. Take a look here. I think you will be impressed! It may be aimed at those with a little more knowledge than some of the magazines mentioned above but it seems to come from a more thought out perspective,  and they have definitely filled a niche in the market. I wonder how long it will be before other Indy companies jump up and produce similar titles. This is what we need more of!

At the end of the day it's great that the sewing world has become so popular that there is an appetite for all these sewing magazines and long may it live! All I want is that one magazine be a little different to the next just as the independent patterns are different to the big four. This is really where Seamwork shines as it is the only one that is filling that hole in the market for the more experienced sewer, the person that wants to understand about garment construction, choosing the right fabrics for specific jobs, talking to experts in the field and getting some interesting and relevant patterns to boot. In the last issue we read about the construction of lingerie, detailed information about making bras, dying elastic and fabrics, choosing sustainable fabrics for your makes and of course how best to choose your fabrics for lingerie. In the world of sewing magazines this is something slightly different, more intellectual and basically a magazine that appeals greatly to people like you and me. I mean let's face it variety is the spice of life and we need more of it don't we? I don't think that's asking too much is it?

Doesn't she look like Tilly?!
Do you read or subscribe to any sewing magazines? What are your favourites? Do you agree we need more variety in the marketplace?


  1. I've just come across your comments as I was researching sewing magazines. I couldn't agree with you more. I get disappointed when I buy a magazine only to see the same articles and patterns appearing in a "rival" magazine. Also when you subscribe to a magazine and the free pattern is the same as one you have already brought a couple of months previously its very frustrating. Another of my gripes is that all the photographs are of young women when I am sure there are a large number of more mature ladies that are buying these magazines and patterns. Summing up I think you have said what I feel :)

    1. Hi. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. It was a long one! Funnily enough in reference to purchasing patterns only to see them for free on the front of a magazine, I recently bought a couple of books, Lisa Comforts 'Sew Vintage' and of course the Sewing Bee book I reviewed on this blog. Within the next few issues of some of these magazines they have been churning out the patterns I bought the books for! Frustrating! I guess we can't completely move away from that as its great PR for them but I can't be the only one that likes to own the actual book and doesn't think its great that you have the content replicated so frequently it doesn't make the purchase worth it, plus it means buying the magazine isn't worth it either as its generally the main pattern featured. I also wholly agree with the need for a variety of models in these magazines, both in age and body shape. This is after all a craft that inspires people of all ages. It feels like most of these magazines have jumped on a bandwagon to make money from a craft that has suddenly seemed to jump in popularity without a huge amount of thought about diversity. Anyway I am not sure it will stop me occasionally picking up a magazine or two but it would just be nice if a little more thought was put into content.

  2. Hello! I wondered if you might like to take a look at Love Sewing again, a year on as I'd love to hear your thoughts on the new style. I came on board last July as editor and have revisited almost all the regular sections of the magazine to tailor things to an intermediate audience. Fingers crossed that might pique your interest? We're still aimed at the Love Sewing reader, but one who has moved on and wants to continue stretching their skills!
    Thanks for your comments either way, they're really helpful to justify the changes I'm trying to make in the content of the mag.
    All the best, Amy

    1. Hi Amy, thanks for your comment. I have looked at Love Sewing again recently and do agree it has changed - although in honesty I don't buy the vast swathes of magazines I used to so can not be comparative in terms of overlap of features/ patterns etc.... anymore. It feels more consistent now which is brilliant, it's upped the articles of interest for me like pattern drafting basics in this months magazine (allthough I would love some of them to be more in depth or serialised rather than to just brush the surface of a subject) and there are more voices being used which helps to broaden it's appeal to me. I am still not always a fan of the patterns but then you can't please everyone all of the time! I hope that it will continue in that vain and equally that it will endeavour to challenge sewists further. I think you are doing a great job and you have turned it around from being, in my opinion, a bit of yawm fest - although I am still happy to skip through the home sewing bits and bobs - but then I just want to read a dressmaking magazine not how to sew toys etc.... I still think there are a lot of magazines on the market of the 'Love Sewing' ilk though and I really dont mean any disrespect by that, just that I think without a truly different angle its hard to stand out significantly. I also subscribe to Seamwork by Colette as this is vastly different in my eyes to most things on the market and allows me to look at sewing from another angle. I know your appeal is broader but I think there are definitely some elements of style/ content that are worth looking at in terms of content inspiration - though I am no journalist its just a magazine with a really unique feel for me. Generally most sewing magazines I read are light and fluffy round the edges and I dont think people want that. To be challenged, pushed and to read articles that inspire creativity is what I'm after. I am sorry if I sound negative, I think the magazine so much better than it was when I wrote this and I really do enjoy getting it. I guess in the end a magazine cant be everything to everyone. Keep up the good work. Sarah


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