Friday, 5 April 2013

Spring Sewing Magazine Review

Confession: I bought 5 sewing magazines last month. Excuse: spent hours at my daughter's rehearsals (the other side of the county) and needed to fill them 'productively'. I haven't included Burda in my review as it's virtually all patterns, the magazines I am reviewing are more general news and projects type mags. Of course the following is just my opinion and I would love to hear any else's.

So, in strict alphabetical order, first up is Cloth (subtitle - Make It Your Own), issue 15.

I had never heard of Cloth, but Tilly mentioned it on her blog so when I saw it in the newsagents I thought I would give it a go.

Cost: £4.99
Number of pages: 98
Number of projects: 23. 
Type of projects: Most of the projects were small (such as make a petal collar) or upcycling (add studs to a shirt, cut up a t-shirt, jazz up your wellies). There was one rather pretty plaid flounced skirt pattern, a very trendy colour blocked clutch bag pattern, simple instructions for a round cushion and a great idea for turning lace doilies into a lace look lampshade, among others.
Sewing content: Not huge when it comes to sewing actual garments, the plaid skirt pattern would have to be upscaled from a grid and redrawn on squared paper (not going to happen in my case) or downloaded from the Cloth website and taped together. For those used to buying downloadable patterns this wouldn't be a problem, obviously.
General style: Cloth has a trendy look to it. It really appealed to my 13 year old daughter who read it with me. She was interested in many of the projects. I enjoyed the article about Catherine Martin, a very talented costume designer who has designed stunning period look outfits for many a Hollywood film. I also liked the 'look in my wardrobe' feature as I find the style of others fascinating, and the article about tweed fabric.
Buy again? Maybe if I felt I need an injection of new ideas/inspiration, and definitely if I was looking for fun projects to do with my daughter.

Next, Mollie Makes (subtitle - Living & Loving Handmade), issue 24.

Cost: £4.99
Number of pages: 106
Number of projects: not stated, at least 11.
Type of projects: small pretty things - a crochet flower chain, a felted rabbit brooch, cross stitch pictures, folksy embroidered cushion, charming floral bag among others. No garments.
Sewing content: not really for those who love to make clothes, more for the multi-talented who like a bit of crochet, a bit of knitting, a bit of ...
General style: as the title suggests, Mollie Makes is a very pretty publication. If you are a strict design minimalist this is not going to be for you, to put it mildly. There are some initial pages with trend/news, these were clearer and less busy in style than Cloth. I liked the articles about designers, especially the mother-daughter business team who started the Cambridge Satchel Company, and the guide to The Rust Belt Market (unfortunately for me, in America).
Buy again? I must confess I bought this issue because I need a penny purse and there was a little kit on the front cover, so I thought it would be an easy way to make my own. Also this issue has a 'folksy' vibe to the projects which appealed to me. However I would only buy it again if I really loved the content and thought I might make something from it, as I don't think it is really aimed at people who love to sew clothes.

Sew, issue 46.

Cost: £5.99 but usually includes a free garment pattern, so worth it if you like the style and think you might make it up.
Number of pages: 106
Number of projects: the cover says 34 stitched inspirations
Type of projects: a good mixture with enough to satisfy those whose focus is clothes - as well as the dress pattern, there were downloadable mac patterns from the magazine archive, downloadable kimono robe, downloadable vintage style slip, another envelope clutch pattern, cushion covers, a quilt and a good variety of sewing that would be ideal for gifts, including the sweetest toy horse.
Sewing content: Sew is aimed more at the home sewing market, it is less craft-orientated and features latest pattern releases, class dates, advice on fit, sewing machine reviews as well as some craftier stuff.
General style: Glossy cover and pages, much more focus on making items to wear. Less 'cutesy' in tone that Mollie Makes.
Buy again?: Yes, if the pattern on the front and the garments inside appealed to me. I wouldn't at this stage subscribe because on occasion I have noticed the magazine has home issues and I find sewing for the home tedious!

Sew Today, April 2013.

Cost: £4.25
Number of pages: 96
Number of projects: 1 (but read on)
Type of projects: How To Make An Organza Rose Corsage
Sewing content: It's all garment sewing related :)
General style: Sew Today is a glossy magazine published by BKMV (might have just made that up but you know who they are!) as a showcase for their latest patterns. So you could argue it's just advertising, but seeing garments made up and photographed on a page can be more helpful than viewing on a computer monitor. I find small details easier to spot on paper. As well as the photos there is a 'my sewing life' type article, what readers are sewing, fabric showcases, technical advice (this month, overlocker maintenance. Eep - must do that!), technical sewing articles (this month - custom buttonholes and chain trim), fashion stories and news. There isn't tons to read but what is written is clear, well illustrated and crucially the articles are in depth and don't talk down to their audience. Note: 10 issues a year.
Buy again? Yep, am currently subscribed for the reasons above. Also, you get all their patterns half price if you are a subscriber, so if you buy patterns regularly, this is worth the outlay.

Sewing World, April 2013.

Cost: £4.95
Number of pages: 98
Number of projects: 15
Type of projects: a skirt, a robe,  a clutch, a quilt, baby bunting, a shift dress, felt jewellery, to name a few.
Sewing content: Plenty to interest the garment sewer, although not solely aimed at them as the above project list demonstrates. There are news and reviews as well as 'masterclass' type articles (this month, the concealed zip foot). Sewing World is currently running a series on building all the basic blocks. Another long running series was on in-depth alterations which taught me a lot. Sewing World is an old title that used to feature dated projects that looked very home-sewn, but the new editor has brought a fresh look while retaining some of the best of the old mag. Every now and then there seems to be an issue that I want to make everything in - even the non-garments! I must mention the pattern supplement, too - I am not sure how often this is but you can order featured patterns (mostly Simplicity I believe) for £2.95, each with the fifth free.
Buy again? Yes, if the contents appeal.

Total expenditure on sewing magazines in March - £25.17!!!
Note to husband - this was an exceptional month - and it's still cheaper than therapy :))

Do you enjoy sewing magazines, or do you think they are a waste of money? If you are not from the UK, how do our publications compare to yours?

Happy sewing, 'til next time!


  1. Thanks for the reviews! these look like great publications, all new to me. I've heard of Catherine Martin of course, since she is an Aussie!! The only magazine I ever buy is the Burda one with the patterns... I would get maybe one every year or two.
    thnks for your question about kangaroos on my blog, and in reply: In the country like at my parent's place in my post, kangaroos are a very common, several-times-a-day encounter; where I live less so! Although there is a little island, very near our house that you can bike to, which has a small wild kangaroo colony. I take all my overseas visitors there!

  2. Not being a sewer myself, I've never bought a modern (I have to make that distinction, because I do have a few vintage pieces of sewing related literature) sewing magazine and thus fear I can't really compare the two, but speaking from a paper crafting perspective (which I've bought plenty of American, Canadian, and British magazines devoted to over the years), I really like a blend of the two. Often different things trend in North America and the UK/Europe, or they trend at different times, which is always neat to see, as are the products that exist there that we don't have here.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Thank you very much for your lovely comment on my US day trip post, sweet Philippa. I hear your marshmallow pain loud and clear. By and large, we just have white (vanilla) and tuti-fruit ones here (pink, oddly, are not easy to come by). Have you every made your own? I have a few times. They don't always turn out looking picture perfect, but they are yummy and can be flavoured pretty much any way your heart desires (coconut is especially nice, IMO).