Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Do You Read Sewing Magazines?


Rather late to the party, on Sunday I stumbled across issue two of Mollie Makes in... erm... Tesco. Proof, if proof be need be*, that the crafting revolution has finally gone mainstream in the UK. The incongruity of the location, coupled with the vision of handmade strawberry pincushions, made me screech in the tropical fruit aisle (I swear they heard it in puddings) and straight into my shopping basket it went.


I very rarely buy sewing magazines. To be honest, I rarely even pick them up off the shelf, as the front covers don't appeal. I know some bloggers are fans of Burda, but personally I've never found much in it I've wanted to sew - not that I've flicked through it very often, admittedly. I did buy Sew Hip once and really enjoyed reading it. I felt comforted in the fact that there was a reference to my passion in the physical world, not only online, as it usually staggers IRL people when I tell them that I sew. But while I'm pretty sure I'll buy Sew Hip again, I never made anything from it, and to be honest I find the title a little... embarrassing (ssshh!). Someone gave me a copy of Selvedge once, which was truly beautiful, but so expensive I couldn't justify a subscription.


Back to Mollie Makes. First of all, it's just so gorgeous to look at. The cynic in me is whispering that it's all a bit Cath Kidston for my taste, but the rest of me isn't listening... mmm... pretty colours... pretty things... There are some cute, easy projects in it, perfect for Craft Club with friends - such as a strawberry pincushion tutorial, floral embroidery, and an adorable felt fox. I never knew I wanted to make a felt fox! But I do. And I'm definitely going to give the strawberry pincushion a whirl, especially since I spilt earl grey all over my shop-bought one (the tutorial suggests filling it with emery - anyone know where to get this from?).


Even if I don't get round to making anything from it, it's lovely to have something as pretty and comforting as this that I can read in the bath or put in my bag for train journeys. I also like finding new fabric shops through the adverts. And it's great to read about crafty people, venues and happenings all over the UK - we're not alone! To the cynic in me, who wonders why I'm enjoying looking at pictures of cupcakes, I'd say that there's nothing wrong with taking aesthetic pleasure in the little things in life.


I'm interested to know the value of sewing magazines to people who read sewing blogs. Do you buy sewing or crafting magazines? Why do you read them? Do you make things from them or do you just like looking at the pictures? Which other sewing magazines do you think I'd like? I'd love to know!

[Soundtrack: 'Humanity' by John Legend & The Roots]

ten points if you get the reference!

53 comments:

  1. I have never yet bought any sewing magazines. When I first began sewing I flicked through the few that were available at my local newsagents, but none really appealed to me enough to want to buy them, especially as they are often quite pricy. However, I am not necessarily apposed to them. I have seen a few people blog about Mollies Makes and I have been impressed by what I have seen, so if I do happen to come across it in Tesco (or elsewhere) I may well be tempted! It looks so bright and colourful unlike a lot of the other magazines I have seen.

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  2. When I first started sewing, for most of the clothes I made I used burda simply because that's the only sewing magazine to buy here. But I don't know if it's just me, in the last 3 years burda because such rubbish that's actually a waste of money to buy. So now I don't buy anything. I have a few burdas, take out a basic pattern from there and make my own pattern for what I wanna make.

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  3. I love sewing magazines. But then again, I love all kinds of magazines, whether they are involved around sewing, crafting, cooking, decorating etc. They are all about creating though, that's what they have in common. I love flipping through them, getting inspired, finding new ideas. I don't even make that much from them, that is not literally, but I do get inspired and I am sure they influence me in my choices somehow.

    And also, it's just nice to look at pretty things. There's nothing wrong with pretty. Pretty makes people smile and smiling people are kinder people. See, wasn't that a great justification to go out and flip through every crafting magazine you can find? ;-)

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  4. I'm not too sure about this Mollie Makes. A friend showed me the first issue and I got a bit irritated with the pattern for crochet Apple cosies. I KNOW that's just me being a grumpy git, and I don't usually have a problem with purely decorative things, but it just struck me as being a bit... mimsy, as did the name. I know, grumpy. I don't usually buy sewing magazines either. I like the idea of Sew Hip but, like you, I find the name highly embarrassing (again this is a grumpy thing, I don't like puns, I think they're too coy and apologetic) also, I've never seen anything in it I want to make. I love that there are so many available, and I keep my eye on Sewing World in case their free pattern is something I want, but usually I get more out of sewing blogs than magazines.

    Still, it is nice to look at pretty things, and it's good that publishers are sitting up and taking notice of this community of makers at last!

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  5. I buy sewing magazines because I find them interesting to see what other beeps are up to but I also find them inspiring thanks to the pictures and people mentioned. Which is what's so good about Mollie Makes, whilst it centres around sewing there are strong aspects of interior design and thrifting, which almost go hand in hand with sewing.(I used to buy sew hip, but stopped after I felt it wasn't really too interesting to me any more.)

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  6. I have yet to see this mag at my local shops, but will keep an eye out for it. As to emery...groud walnut shells are easier to find and far less expensive. They are what is used at the bottom of reptile tanks, so can be bought at a decent pet shop.

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  7. Like you, I thought Mollie Makes was a bit too pretty when I first saw it, but it didn't take long to lure me in. A lot of it is sewing (and interiors) eye candy but there are some good projects in it you'd definitely make (detachable Peter Pan collar in issue one? yes please), unlike most other sewing magazines. I find Sew Hip has got more interesting and useful articles e.g. how to get your head round Japanese pattern books but is nowhere near as cool. Apart from these two, I also buy Cloth magazine which is a mixture of the two: thick paper, fab photography, things you want to make and articles that are worth reading. The rest of the sewing magazines out there are (in my opinion) a bit old fashioned looking.
    The other thing I've found since I've started sewing is that I don't read general women's magazines any more. I've still got a subscription to one but I won't be renewing it. There's not that much of interest to me in them and I find I look at the clothes with "I could make that" permanently etched in my brain. I also find that the price of clothes, bags etc makes me feel quite ill! Great post Tilly, really thought provoking. x

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  8. I generally don't buy the magazines, but I have in the past bought a couple of Sew Hip issues. I haven't made anything out of them, but use them mostly for new fabric shops etc. My local town does not have many of the sewing magazines, so it would be a trip to Cambridge. I might check our Tesco though and have a flick through if they have it.

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  9. I don't buy sewing mags. I was given one once by a family friend who is a seamstress (and used to write for said magazine) and it was useful because it introduced me to my HG pattern, and had some corsetry tips in it, but I have never felt the need to buy another one. Mind you, I don't often buy magazines full stop.

    I also don't really read sewing blogs (this is the only one I follow), because a lot of the sewing blogs I have perused seem to be quite vintagey and colourful for my tastes - I'd love to see a sewing blog by someone who makes really structured gothy type stuff, so if anyone can point me in that kind of direction I'd be grateful!!

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  10. I've never seen Mollie Makes before but from your pictures it looks lush, so may have to go hunt down a copy - I'm a sucker for anything with pretty pictures! I have a few issues of Cloth Magazine, I wrote a little post on it here http://sarah-loves.com/?p=45. It has some good projects in for beginners like me and lots of ideas for customizing things and little crafty things which I thought would be good to make as gifts for friends for Christmas and Birthdays. It's given me loads of inspiration and I've discovered some new shops and websites from it's pages - they usually do a feature on a place too for little sewing shop daytrips, which I think is great.

    And of course, sometimes it's just nice to get away from the computer screen :)

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  11. I find a lot of sewing magazines are about sewing accessories or little things for the house..so I don't buy them. I used to buy Burda, I bought one issue of Stitch and a French magazine. I already get enough inspiration from the web and though I love flicking through pages I hate when a magazine just sits there on my shelf and I haven't created anything from it! (that applies also to sewing books, I am afraid)

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  12. I read Burda, even way back when all I made was a couple of things a year, for the fantasy wardrobes it affords me! I admit when I started reading sewing blogs I was confused as to why anyone would buy a single pattern for so much money if you could have tens of patterns for 6 Euros or so in one magazine. Now, I have certainly spent a lot more than 6 Euros per garment since I don't sew from every magazine I have, so that certainly evens out, but I still like the endless possibilities contained in pattern magazines. Nowadays I also read Ottobe Woman and, my very favorite, Ottobre Design magazine for kids (never found better kids' clothes eye candy). I would like to try a single pattern here and there but can't really justify buying one with all the pattern mags sitting in my sideboard that certainly, somewhere in there, contain every pattern imaginable!

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  13. I have bought some of these but not regularly.I think they are very expensive. usually nearing £5 .I can buy a book for that.and a good craft book for the price of 2 magazines. craft books obviously last longer and are easy to put on the book shelf wheras magazines just kind of clutter the place up. I think the projects can be very nice but nothing you can't get in either a book or for free on the internet.I must admit those strwaberries look very pretty but i have made something very similar and just made my own pattern a while ago.I do thing they can be nice to read though

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  14. When I was a teenager I weekly went to the newsagent and bought the pattern magazine thing that went into folders to make a full collection. I never ever made anything from it though!

    The only thing I've ever made from a magazine was a shirt and dress from a Prima pattern I stole out of a Drs waiting room, so I guess that doesn't count as buying a sewing magazine!

    I'm really not into accessories, pin cushions or soft toys so most mags don't appeal to me and I'm with you on Burda, not my cup of tea!

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  15. Yikes- that IS a bit Cath Kidston, isn't it? Eeesh. If that's what a sewing magazine is, then it's not for me. I've never felt the need, to be honest. I have (free) blogs for inspiration and if I need a pattern, I'll find one that suits what I want.

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  16. I suggest filling your strawberry pincushions with the same filling as used in amigurimi crochet (use more of it so it's tighter), but put some steel sponge in the middle to keep your pins sharp.

    Here we have Burda and Knipmode but neither appeals to me.

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  17. I have a subscriptions to BurdaStyle, and also to Threads. I like the patterns in the BurdaStyle, although I think as a beginner I need some help from my books with the sewing instructions because it's all text and no diagrams! The Threads mags (an American title) I love because they have beautiful photography and show you things for the beginner right up to couture techniques! I've only received 2 or 3 issues of it so far (I am a relatively new subscriber), a new magazine is published every 2 months roughly. I've also bought some old copies (back-issues) from eBay - as some issues have a big article on a very interesting topic/subject that I wanted to read about. Though I have seen copies in very big branches of WHSmiths too.

    If people go to the Threads website then they can see online copies of a few of their older articles to see if you like the kind of thing they write about, here are a few examples e.g.:
    (1) Making Sense of Pattern Grading,
    (2) Bag Your Jacket Lining,
    (3) To Get the Right Armhole, Fit the Bodice,
    (4) Drape a Skirt Sloper, and
    (5) Merits of a Basic Sewing Patterns.

    I've bought Sew Hip once, or twice - mainly for free patterns for kid's toys to make as gifts for friends. It's adult's/women's patterns aren't really my style so it doesn't hold regular appeal to me. SEW is another title - I bought the odd one here and there (mainly in Tesco's haha!) it comes with a free pattern (on tissue in an envelope - often Simplicity patterns).

    I get more excited by the Threads TBH it reading about new skills and techniques that I look forward to each time :)

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  18. I just bought the e version of this issue - I'm not normally one for sewing magazines because of the blogs and books available which are a. cheaper than a subscription and b. more tailored to my tastes. I do buy craft and sewing magazines from time to time for the pretty pictures and inspiration, I think this magazine may well fall into that category...

    As for Emery, I bought some from America via Etsy. It's not very cheap, particularly with postage, but it is good at keeping needles sharp! It's also quite heavy so you need a reasonable amount in weight terms to fill a pin cushion. I think that's why traditionally you have one large soft pin cushion and a tiny emery one to sharpen your needles in.
    I've been told that sawdust can be as effective - it keeps out moisture and is a mild abrasive.

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  19. I'm in the U.S. and I subscribed to Threads magazine for a while but had to stop because I couldn't afford it anymore. It has lots of great sewing tips, pattern reviews, and was generally quite useful. I still have all my copies on my shelf so I can refer to them if I need some inspiration, but honestly, I get so much inspiration from the internet than I could ever have time to act on all of it.

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  20. "Proof, if proof need be" - why is it I can hear Emma Thompson saying that? I can't quite place it.
    I haven't seen much in the way of sewing magazines in Australia, except for dated-looking patchwork-type stuff and the odd Burda which hasn't lured me enough to purchase.

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  21. I bought issue 1 and had to give it away to a friend. It was too twee for me. At least it didn't do the "have you heard of the internet?" article which seems to pervade most stitch-crafty magazines. If I wanted to see a blog in print I would... print out a blog! I don't buy any women's magazines nowadays - I get my fix of new ideas through the internet and the weekend papers: Times and Guardian on a Satuday; Sunday Times and Observer on a Sunday. It is more current. It takes a monthly magazine 6 months to catch up!

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  22. @Jane now you say that, I can hear Emma Thompson too! Is it from Sense and Sensibility, Tilly?

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  23. I read (and subscribe) to Selvedge after a friend introduced me to it a few years ago. I sew for a living as a costumer so Selvedge is more than a sewing mag for me, its about the fabric, the history, the people, I love how it feels in my hand too. I also subscribe to Threads for sewing techniques, as there are so many different ways to achieve a finish within a sewing project, so I feel I need to always keep on learning. I do get Burda too and often find that if I look at the line drawings I get a better sense of the garments as the fabric and styling they choose are not really my style, but the patterns do have a modern fit which I prefer.

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  24. I've never bought a sewing magazine. None of them have ever really appealed to me. Maybe all the good ones where buried under the knitting and crochet mags! lol. Part of this I think is because I have a definite vintage slant to my aesthetic, but I have a hard time justifying a subscription when there are so many fabulous sewing blogs I can subscribe to for free!

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  25. I've been drooling over issues of Selvedge for years... it's just the subscription cost that holds me back! ;)

    I don't really read many sewing magazines beyond Threads (which I have a subscription to) and the Vogue Patterns sewing publication. Occasionally I'll pick up an odd issue of Sew News or Sew Stylish, but I mostly just stick to Threads. Partly because I find the quality of articles to my liking--as they cover a lot of techniques that aren't always in sewing books (such as couture techniques), do articles on building a wardrobe or color story for your sewing, and profile designers and their work. I think the biggest issue for me with a lot of sewing/handcrafts magazines is that many of the projects I've already seen online; so it seems a bit repetitive to me. But occasionally something will catch my eye and inspire me, and I'll just pick it up to keep in my inspiration stacks! :) Can't beat a colorful publication to page through when you're looking for ideas!

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  26. I'm curious about this Mollie magazine however I'm pretty sure it's not available where I live (Canada). I've bought Interweave Press’ "Stitch" magazine before and while the first couple of issues where filled with great ideas and pretty pictures I find that the projects in the most recent issues are no longer interesting to me. The one magazine that I do love and buy whenever I'm in vacationing in a Spanish speaking country is "Patrones Joven". Their patterns are quite lovely and easy to sew. The truth is that I buy magazines because while I enjoy blogs, I'm old school and a sucker for the printed word!

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  27. It sounds like a fun magazine, but I doubt they sell it in the US. I read Vogue Patterns Magazine and Threads which are both geared much more to sewing clothing (both beginner and advanced) which I like.

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  28. I usually just buy them around the holidays, because they have great ideas for ornaments and small gift items! This Mollie Makes one seems so cute though... I wonder if they have them in the US. :)

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  29. Hmm see I always find sewing magazines too expensive, plus I tend to get all my info from awesome blogs like this one! People are always impressed when I say I sew, altho I'm the only person I know IRL to do it, think we need to start a revolution... :)

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  30. i love sewing magazines! i can't say i've ever bought one, though... i feel like they are a little pricy, considering most of the info can be found online (and i know it sounds totally stupid to say a $4.99 magazine is expensive when i will gladly buy fabric that is $15/yard... whatever haha!). anyway my mom usually ends up picking them up for me when she's at the bookstore :) love having a mom who also sews! oh, and my local library - which is only a few blocks away from my office - has a subscription, so i can go there on my lunch break & sit in the nice leather chairs & read for free :)

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  31. I love sewing pattern magazines (I subscribe to THREE!), but general sewing magazines are often way to crafty for me, and not really hardcore enough in the garment sewing to entice me. I used to pick up the occasional issue os Sew Hip or Sew! at Tesco, but they were both too craft-focused a beginnery to hold my interest. But you're right, they are GREAT for finding new UK fabric shops in the ads!

    I saw another blog banging on about this magazine recently, too, but it doesn't look any better for me. To me, this is for people who wished they sewed, rather than for people who actually do sew...

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  32. I came across this in Tesco too and snapped it up! I normally don't find most making mags very interesting, but this one is so pretty. Yes, it is very 'shabby chic'in design and idea, but I think it does something a bit more interesting by focusing on people, and featuring wonderful interiors too. It's quite a well rounded magazine! xx

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  33. I really love Mollie Makes, it's really inspiring and more of a sort of lifestyle magazine which I adore - it reminds me a bit of the wonderful Australian creation Frankie :)
    I used to buy Sew Hip every month, but now only buy it if there is something that I particularly want to read about or make, I made a skirt and a dress using sew hip patterns. And I agree, Selvedge is lovely, but I have only ever purchased 2 because of the price, and to be honest there is not a great deal of content.

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  34. I'm not a big magazine buyer but I do buy Threads - need to get a subscription, which I might check off my list today. And crazy enough, I have a subscription to Selvedge - something a friend bought me and now looking at the price I'm shocked! Its a chocked full of lovely images, which is fun, but to be honest, I use Threads more in my sewing. However, I remember there used to be this magazine called Adorn here in the US which I went over the moon for. Great eye candy and had some fun and cute tricks for how to do certain types of things like in your Molly Makes. Sometimes mags like these are just full of little bits of fluff that are simply too good to pass up.

    Instead of emery powder - which is way hard to find and expensive - fill your strawberry with crushed walnuts. You can find a bag at a pet store - its usually referred to as bird litter - and split it with other sewing friends. Everyone needs a strawberry!

    xoxo, Sunni

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  35. I have a subscription to SewHip magazine that I got when I first started sewing. At the time, the easy explained projects allured to me. Now they are plain boring and it has been months since I have seen something I like. I won't be renewing. Magazines like Mollies Makes look gorgeous but I'm not usually attracted to crafty sewing so not tempted there. As soon as I move house I will be getting a subscription for Threads which is the only magazine now that appeals to me. No projects, just techniques.

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  36. I love Selvedge, which I've seen at Purl Soho in New York. Unfortunately, as you noted, it's quite expensive.

    I had a subscription to the American sewing magazine Threads for a year several years ago. But for every interesting thing there were four items that were home sewery and silly looking. Besides I have access to the FIT Library, which I assume has a full collection should I need a particular article.

    There's so much available on the web now that it's hard for magazines to compete. If I look hard enough I can find three or four sewing bloggers who match my interests and aesthetics. A magazine, obviously, has to reach a much broader audience.

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  37. I've leafed through this issue, bit its not for me. I buy every burda issue, threads and sew stylish, which is the project based edition of threads. I don't have a subscription for any of them because I always find them at my local WH Smith. I normally find UK sewing magazines quite boring, but that is because i'm not really into crafts. I have a subscription to Sew Direct, but that's only because of the half price discounts I get on the patterns.

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  38. If you can get it across the pond, Threads is absolutely indispensable for anyone does something more than "quik n' easy" sewing, if you know what I mean. Well worth the price. Other than that, I tend to covet magazines and books for fiber crafts that I DON'T do, but would love to! That way I'll be ready someday, I guess? Quilting books at thrift stores are my guilty pleasure and I love anything to do with knitting.

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  39. Apart from Burdastyle, I have the feeling that most German sewing magazines are more geared toward the "mature" (meaning: old and shapeless) type of sewing/garments... I own a handful of Burda style magazines, but I don't have a subscription. I usually leaf through it and if I find more than two or three garments I like, I might buy it. I'd love if there was a more hip&vintage kind of magazine available! Molly Makes sounds/looks very interesting.

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  40. Yes!!! Burda, Manequim e Estilo (from Brazil).

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  41. I have subscribed to Stitch magazine in the past whilst doing my C&G embroidery diploma. I've also purchased the odd Sew Hip, Burda, Sewing World and Sew Today magazines, but to be honest don't really make anything out of them and find them a bit dated and boring.

    I've noticed there have been quite a few mentions of Mollie Makes on blog sites, but I'm not sure I want to spend money on any more magazines. I'd rather purchase a pattern or sewing book instead. If I happen upon a Mollie Makes I will certainly have a quick flick through it to see what it's about, but it does have a bit of a twee crafting look to it from what I've seen on line.

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  42. Forgot to add this to my comment yesterday, 'proof, if proof be need be' is from The Day Today. Remember Brian O'Hanrahanrahan?! x

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  43. I agree totally, Tilly, most of the covers of sewing mags are so off-putting I never pick them up either. If I were to buy any, I think I'd get Threads (though it'd be an arm and a leg) because whenever I seen any of their tips online, they've been so spot on a easy to apply.

    I sometimes buy burda mag if there are at least two patterns I would conceivably make.

    So looking forward to Saturday!

    Zo xxx

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  44. Ten points to Jane!

    Really great to get everyone's recommendations and non-recommendations. I think I need to get my hands on a copy of Threads and see what all the fuss is about...

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  45. I love magazines and think they're a great source of inspiration. My all time favourite must be Marie Claire Idees. It's full of creative ideas and is very tastefully presented. Even if you don't speak French you'll find this magazine will teach you lots about crafting, sewing and simple creativeness...

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  46. wow, I havent seen this one. I ready sew hip and sew direct and i love it. thanks for sharing a new one.

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  47. I bought the first Mollie Makes, and thought it was ok - but not too thrilling. Also I am very over bunting and there was masses of that... I subscribe to Selvedge and I get excited just by the smell when I open the parcel it comes in. Love it because it never fails to inform and make me think. My other occasional buy is Stitch from the USA because it has great patterns.

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  48. I rarely read crafting magazines, but occasionally I'll buy an issue of Threads if there's a particularly good tip in it. I still use my beginner-sewing Threads magazine to check things from time to time.

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  49. In Australia we have Australian Stitches mag
    http://www.isubscribe.com.au/Dressmaking-With-Stitches-Magazine-Subscription.cfm

    I have a love-hate relationship with it. It has quite a lot of good stuff but the presentation and the garments they make in it are so fuddy-duddy I totally despair. And if I see one more lament about how sewing is being lost to "the younger generation" I may just throw a modem at the editor.

    I much prefer online blogs and such! (And you don't really ever get to the end of them like you do a magazine)

    As for emery, no idea even what that is, but my pincushion is filled, at the suggestion of the local craft shop, with "glass powder" aka sand. Not just any sand from the beach (though that would probably do!) but funky bright pink sand from the landscaping section of the hardware store. Bought it for a song, too. It apparently keeps the pins sharp and they won't rust.

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  50. I've met lovely Eirlys aka Scrapiana who wrote the piece on making the strawberry pin cushion and at a workshop making the very same she was using sand as a filler. Apparently it sharpens your pins. She lives here http://scrapiana.com/

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  51. I've picked up a few sewing magazines but if I'm honest, I found even the beginners projects daunting and so ended up putting them back.

    I'm due to start a beginners sewing course at my local college in the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed, by the end of the course patterns, magazines and books will seem more user friendly and a lot less daunting.

    I love your blog - you explain things in plain old English. Keep up the good work, I've got a lot to learn :)

    Sarah x

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  52. I live in Canada and subscribe to Selvedge - I love it! For anyone with an interest in fabric and textiles, it's THE magazine. It is pricey but it is the sort of magazine you keep all your copies of. So I figure I'd rather have one really nice one then subscribe to a bunch of magazines that I end up throwing out. Yes I know there is tons of stuff on the internet, but it's not the same as having a visually pleasing magazine in your hands

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  53. This post is how I feel too. I have been sewing forever but I never buy sewing magazines because they don't normally appeal to me but Mollies Makes looks so pretty. I'm luck with Selvedge my Mum buys it sometimes so I can have a cheeky look too.

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