Sunday, 6 March 2016

Interview with Amy Thomas, editor of Love Sewing Magazine

Hello from the other side!

Back in December I was super excited to have my gathered dart tutorial featured in Love Sewing Magazine.  Hopefully you're already familiar with Love Sewing.  If not, let me introduce you to its delightful editor Amy Thomas (aka Almond Rock) who, since taking the reins at the magazine ten months ago, has helped "stitch in" some inspring new features and created new connections with the sewing community.

Amy's graciously shared a glimpse of her busy day and answered a few of my burning questions...

Over to you, Amy!

"I'm still getting used to what might be a ‘typical’ day! Since taking the job of Editor of Love Sewing Magazine ten months ago, my life’s been pretty hectic. It generally starts out the same – either my alarm buzzes at 06:30 or my cat slaps me in the face with her paw demanding breakfast. 
Chewie the cat
I have a massive cup of tea and pick out one of my handmade dresses to wear. Even though in my 30s I can't resist a whimsical print! Then I’m off on my way to the train station, it takes me two hours to get to Stockport in Manchester, where the Love Sewing offices are based. Once actually in work, the very first thing I do is check my emails. It could be reading updates about ongoing projects for the magazine or gathering bits of stitchy news about new patterns, fabrics or classes but I always have a full inbox.  
The maddest day of the month is PDF day, when the magazine gets sent to the printers. My art editor and I will be found scouring every page to make sure there are no mistakes, all pictures are perfect, and the copy’s right. This is especially tricky when dealing with sewing instructions and you can’t follow them for real! 
Checking pages on PDF day
We need all the illustrations, photos and step-by-steps to be in the right order and all the pattern pieces to be labelled correctly. 

On non-PDF days, the focus is planning for the coming issues and commissioning out all the copy. I work several months in advance to make sure everyone has enough lead time to get their projects completed. I’m also working with Claire the pattern designer at Simple Sew on selecting designs to be included as gifts on forthcoming months. So right now I’m planning copy for May to July and Simple Sew patterns for August to October! I have 100 pages each issue which need to contain news, book reviews, lots of competitions, expert advice and most importantly including as many dressmaking, home and accessories projects as possible. Lots of plates in the air!
Choosing upcoming fabrics
Once a month I get to head out of the office with my art editor and spend a day shooting the cover garments as well as different dressmaking or accessories projects we’re including in the next issue. It’s so surreal after years of arranging photography for my blog to see a professional make-up artist and photographer at work. I’m on hand for styling and fitting clothes on the models and approving the shots. Plus there’s an amazing butty shop round the corner to keep us all focused.
Checking images on set
And let’s not forget the writing! As a girl I did always hope to be a published crime novelist but in retrospect this is better: I love to do as much writing as I can for Love Sewing, whether it’s interviewing amazingly crafty people, putting together exciting news pages or just writing the contents list! My happiest day was writing that first welcome letter.

When my working day is done around 17:30, I head off to Stockport train station and start the long journey home. I’m lucky because my partner is a great cook often has some delicious vegetarian food waiting for me. Plus he never minds if I run straight up to my sewing room for an hour or two of my own projects. Then we head to bed, ready to repeat it all again the next day! I may always be tired and I may always be rushing around like a crazy person but I can honestly say I have a job that I love."
A fabric drawer at Love Sewing
You've been editor of Love Sewing magazine for about ten months now. What have you enjoyed the most about your role?
"The role is pretty demanding but every now and then when I'm head down frantically checking proofs I stop for a second and think how wonderful my job is.  The other thing that amazes me are the incredible statistics! I always knew the sewing community was big but to think there could be 30,000 people sat thinking about sewing a project from the magazine is very humbling." 

What is your proudest achievement, or favourite piece, so far?

"Every issue becomes my new favourite.  I'm pretty pleased with issue 24, on sale now, because it has great techniques, oodles of inspiration. It feels like the mag has fully grown up!"

What happens in a typical or favourite day?

"We're on a four-week schedule per issue.  Two weeks of writing, editing and photography and two weeks of laying out and proofing pages.  In addition to this I'm commissioning projects and articles roughly 3 months ahead and selecting pattern free gifts 6 months ahead of time.  For each issue I create a flat plan which spells out what will appear on every page and this is circulated around the team so everyone can stay on top of the progress of the pages.  My current favourite feature is the Brief History Of...where we get to delve a little deeper into fashion trends, historic companies and the sewing world."

How do you come up with story and special feature ideas?

"As I hope everyone kows, I love sewing blogs.  I also follow lots of Pinterest boards and fashion companies.  Plus I read a lot of other magazines.   Every month I spend a good amount of quiet time thinking about what everyone might want to sew, or what I'd want to learn and where possible think what might be of interest to people a few months down the line.  I also love it when people bring great ideas to me!  That makes things a little easier."

For those sewers who haven't got their hands on Love Sewing, what can they hope to find?
"We're a healthy split of fun news stories, articles, inspiration and advice, plus dressmaking, accessories, homeware and children's projects.  We fit lots of patterns into the magazine and the template sheets plus there are pdf downloads if you misplace your copy or aren't into tracing!  We have great columns from Wendy Ward of MIY Workshop, Elisalex de Castro Peake of By Hand London, Alison Smith, awarded MBE for her services to sewing and the Great British Sewing Bee's Claire-Louise Hardie, aka the Thrifty Stitcher."

What's your strategy for finding time to sew in between editing, blogging and commuting?
"I sew in every spare minute I can find! I have a very forgiving partner so I can sneak off for some selfish sewing time whenever I need.  Plus you need to be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have spare otherwise sewing will become a disappointment when you fail to hit unfair timelines."  

What influences your style?
"I'm a vintage lover but not a full on vintage reproduction wearer.  I like patterns that nod to the past but still look in place today.  Plus as it is probably cclear I gravitate to bright colours and prints because clothing needs to make me happy. I keep an eye on the high street - Boden and Joules, Modcloth in the US - but really it's the sewing community that gets me excited about new projects and styles.  They make me push myself out of my comfort zone!"

What's on your sewing list?
"I'm currently sewing lots of nice easy to sew tops to go with jeans during this grumpy weather, and a couple of dresses from vintage patterns with cute features. I also owe my partner a shirt so I'm chipping away at that a little bit at a time. I just finished V9127 which was a mammoth effort, taking about 7 weeks to get all those fine details just right."

What are your 2016 sewing trend forecasts?
"It's so hard to tell what might be the next big thing but fashion wise it seems ruffles are coming back in a big way and garments with multiple layers of transparency, so maybe chiffon will be the fabric of the year for everyone to tackle. Vintage inspired sewing seems to be gathering an immense amount of support so I'm sure that will be continue to grow.  'Granny chic' or 'French 'Country or whatever you want to call it seems likely to be a strong part of next year too.  We'll be making roll neck jumpers and pinafore dresses, layering up our clothes adn pulling on ankle socks in no time.  Trousers seem to be getting wider again so let's see if more bootcut and flare patterns start to crop up!"  

Thank you Amy!  I especially like Amy's point about being realistic in what you can achieve with sewing.  With work and family I find that fitting sewing into my life is such an ebb and flow process for me and, after a bit of a sewing break over the new year, I've got some new projects I can't wait to share on the blog soon. In the meantime, you can catch me and Love Sewing over on Instagram, too!

Until then, happy Sunday and happy sewing!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

autumn Linden

Well, hello November!  Time to draw the curtains, light some candles and hibernate until April.  While I live for the freedom of summertime, there's a big part of me that equally loves the forced hibernation of late autumn and winter.  For one, it gives me a chance to sit down and focus on my sewing without that pesky sunshine beckoning me outside like a vitamin D public service announcement.

The other reason I love it is that emerging from winter makes the transition to springtime feel all the more glorious and envigorating.  (Remind me I said that come March.)

Anyway, let's get down to business.  Our long sunny autumn has stopped me from posting my second Grainline Linden sweatshirt until now.  This one was as easy and fun to make as the first.  I added a band to the short sleeves and and the hem of version 2, for not reason other than playing as I go.
Have you made more than one Linden?  I have a feeling this isn't my last, and that now I know what my whole family is getting for Christmas...

Happy sewing and happy hibernating x

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Adlib Fashion

One last shout out to summer before it all turns wool and fleece on here!

A last crucial bit of my Ibiza wardrobe was something to fit in with the island's own brand of "Adlib" fashion.  Adlib has its roots in Ibiza's hippie cutlture of the 60s and 70s and is still going strong today (I think read somewhere that it was coined by a Yugoslavian princess who visited there!)
It basically means white, lightweight, comfortable clothing with lace and embroidery.  Ibiza and Formentera even have their own fashion week and Fashion Board, devoted to Adlib clothing.  Cool, eh?

This Burda maxi dress 06/2010 fit the bill, and so I spent an evening tie dying a couple yards of cotton voile to really get into the spirit...
 This was the first time I tie dyed anything since I was about 10 years old and it was all, shall we say, very ad-lib... but if you want some proper inspiration and how-to, I just discovered Justine at Sew Country Sew Chic's amazing tie dyed jumpsuit which shows you how to make this pattern yourself (and line up the print, to boot!)

Well summer, it's been delightful.  Until next year, where are my wooly socks and mug of tea...

Happy sewing everyone x

Saturday, 26 September 2015

A quick Spanish Cockerel dress DIY

Happy week-end everyone!  Just thought I'd share some more pictures and a 
quick how-to of the spanish cockerel print dress I posted on Instagram a while back, 
using fabric with a repeat print.  

A basic shift dress pattern is an easy one to get started with for this, just make sure 
any darts on your pattern are at the side seam of the bodice and not elsewhere. 
I know this is not not rocket science, but a diagram would have saved me a few head 
scratches very late in the evening when I was sewing this!

1)  Mark the point on your fabric where you want the centre front to be (in the drawing 
below, in the middle of the heart)

2)  Find the mirrored half of the pattern (the right side of the heart) when you have an 
appropriate amount of fabric for the fold.  

3)  Now that you have marked your two "external" mirrored centre fronts, go back and 
find the midpoint between the two.  This will be your actual centre front.  Extend the 
centre front of your paper pattern to this point by growing it from the original 
centre front, and cut your fabric on the fold from here.

Keep in mind that you want a deep enough fold to make a strong feature and  that 
some of the folded fabric is likely to lay under the bodice and lay underneath the 
shoulder as well.  Your cut off point is ideally the bust point if you want to 
keep the fabric as one piece. Any further than that and you are in dart territory 
and it may not lay flat.

If you are working with a very large print and you have to go beyond the bust point,
 at construction stage I would trim the folded fabric in one vertical cut at the bust 
point on each side and sew back together.  Then you'll have a nice, sharp underfold 
that dosen't interfere with the dart.

To sew, stitch down the length of the fold at the centre front, to below the bust 
point, otherwise it will keep flipping open.
Oops...I know mine are not perfectly lined up ( was very late at night!), but if you 
are working with a repeat print like this I think still better than having half bodied 
cockerels cut in half randomly on the front of a dress!
 No excuse for the back either, in an ideal world that should have been one piece.
I just didn't have the extra fabric needed to match this up either.  Don't forget to
bargain for extra fabric you'll need if you are trying this!

The cockerel wax print cotton fabric is from Fabric Godmother  - there's a heap of
beautiful fabric on sale at the moment.

Happy sewing!  

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sallie in Ibiza

Here she is... my Sallie jumpsuit by Closet Case Files.  I wore this chica more than any other on a quick end of summer trip to Ibiza, only forced to take her off when I had to squeeze back into warmer jeans and sneakers for the plane journey home! 
Heather Lou's pattern was a dream to sew and the fabric is a charcoal bamboo jersey, triggered by a too late night watching Marissa Tomei skip around Italy in wide leg black jersey trousers in the film Only You...ahh.
Still catching up on everyone's sewing and other late summer adventures, until then happy sewing everyone!

Saturday, 8 August 2015


Ah the dog days of summer...  sadly I am not in Spain but I'm having fun pretending!  I scored this flamenco style green cut out fabric in Seville a couple of years ago, and fell in love with it on the spot 
(propelled by a lot of sangria, a lot of cheese and general holiday euphoria)...

Back at home, after the high of the impulse purchase wore off, it was relegated to the back of my fabric stash, hibernating, out of context and unsure what it was supposed to be.   

A few hot days recently were the perfect remedy and gave me the impulse to whip up this simple raglan sleeved shift with some ladder trim on the sleeves.  Hey presto!  Sewing holiday make-believe.  Anyone also try this therapy?
 We're having a hoot over on Instagram at the #sewphotohop organised by House of Pinheiro.  I'm still finding my way around the place but if you're on IG would love to connect!

Hasta la vista, sewers! x 

Friday, 24 July 2015

cozy dress - Grainline Linden

Ahoy sewers!  Just back from camping on the beautiful Isles of Scilly.  If you've never heard of Scilly (I hadn't!) the islands are nestled together 3 hours by ferry off the southwest tip of Cornwall and, let me tell you, they are breathtaking.  Crystal clear blue azure water, fine white sand, lush tropical vegetation and - perhaps my favourite thing - wearing nautical stripes is seriously de rigueur.  Really, everyone wears them.  It's the cutest thing. Even the wannabe sailors like us. 
Well, I love a nautical stripe almost as much as I love a dress and so I combined both with Grainline's Linden sweatshirt, lengthened into a minidress (and, critically, didn't take up too much camping gear space -- though I would have forgone the portable cooker to pack this if I had to!)

The pattern pieces fit together beautifully.  For this version I blended into a size up at the waist to the hemline.

There are so many great versions of the Linden already out there (Ginger Makes, Closet Case Files, Makes the Things, House of Lane...and just today, Sew Tessuti) so you don't need me to tell you what an easy and versatile make it is.  But if you haven't already made this, what are you waiting for? 
I've even got the hubby asking for one in his size, with stripes.  

Did I mention we are wannabe sailors...?
Happy sewing x