Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Just Sew Stories

Just Sew Stories blog tour

Just Sew Stories is a new book from Hardie Grant written by Katie Allen (available to buy here)   It has 25 quirky gifts to make starting with the really simple:  handkerchiefs, scarf, bowtie etc to the more complex: a quilt, bags, apron and oven glove.  The good news is that none of them are hugely difficult to make so this would be a good book for beginners.
Katie uses embroidery and appliqué in some of the projects to give them a twist – such as the hankies that say boo hoo on them, or the tea towel that orders you to do the dishes.  I think in my house it would have to be a tea towel that says ‘but it’s not my turn!’ or ‘I did it last time’.   Don’t worry if you haven’t embroidered before there is a stitch guide in the front of the book.

I like that this book includes gifts for the men in your life as well as women, like the handkerchiefs, the upcycled shirt gadget case and spots bag.  Many books are full of projects for women’s presents but forget about men, who let’s face it are pretty difficult to make for. 

Also perfectly timed with Christmas the last chapter covers Christmas cards and gift wrapping, very useful.

This post is part of a blog tour so do take a look at the other posts to find out more about the book:
Monday 22nd:     Handmade By Emily - http://www.handmadebyemily.com/   
Tuesday 23rd:     Emma Block -
Wednesday 24th:  Me
Thursday 25th:    Very Berry Handmade -
Friday 26th:          Mathide Heart Manech -
Saturday 27th:    Red Ted’s Art -

Also Hardie Grant are giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner.  To enter follow Hardie Grant on Twitter @hardiegrantuk and email your details to competitions@hardiegrant.co.uk.  UK residents only (sorry overseas friends!)

Just Sew Stories by Katie Allen, £16.99, Hardback, published by Hardie Grant, available here.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

For the love of shot cotton

I'm developping an obsession with shot cotton.  If you didn't know shot cotton is fabric which has one colour thread for the warp and another colour for the weft.  This means the fabric almost shimmers between the 2 different colours as the light catches the different colour threads.

Kaffe Fassett in steel from Simply Solids

Some shot cottons keep the colours fairly similar and may have a light blue for the warp and a dark blue for the weft for example.  But I love the ones which have 2 really contrasting colours, like Kaffe Fassett Shot cotton in steel which has orange and grey blue, or the Lipari collection from Oakshott Fabrics which has black thread combined with several different colours.

Lipari fabrics from Oakshott

The biggest problem with shot cottons is that it is really hard to photograph them, most pictures of them online make them look flat and one colour, especially when there isn't a sharp contrast between the 2 colours used.  This makes it very hard to buy, some look very different from how they look online, I've found most of the time they look more vibrant, with a bigger contrast between the colours.  Although I have had a couple which were a little disappointing in that you could barely tell they were shot cotton.

Saints & Pinners have done a pretty good of showing the contrasting colours of their Kaffe Fasset shot cotton bundle -  jewels.

Jewels bundle from Saints & Pinners

Plus this fabric from Oakshott called Chives really shows up well online, the 2 colours used are red and green.

Chives from Oakshott

The shot cotton effect seems to give the fabric more texture and makes it more interesting than just a plain fabric.  If you haven't seen shot cottons before and are buying online it may be worth asking for samples before you order just so you can see the actual fabrics in person to help you decide which ones you want to go for.

My recent haul of shot cottons from Oakshott

Where to buy

Oakshott Fabrics - Oakshott specialise in shot cottons and have the widest range I've ever seen. You can buy them by length and in bundles.  It's worth signing up to their newsletter for discount codes & free postage codes from time to time. 

Simply Solids - Have several of the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons available either by length or in bundles.  Most their bundles are one offs though so if you see one you like buy it quick!

Saints & Pinners - Also have the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons by length and combined into the jewels bundle as pictured above.  They also have shot cottons mixed into some of their fabric bundles alongside prints too.

Truro Fabrics - Truro fabrics have some shot cotton shirting fabric to use for garment making.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Sew La La fabric & habby selection box giveaway

Sew La La Fabrics Giveaway

Sew La La Fabrics stock a beautiful selection of vintage inspired fabric and haberdashery and have kindly offered a big selection box of goodies from their site to the lucky winner.  This competition will run for 3 weeks to give you all time to enter.

This fabulous prize includes –Fabrics and haberdashery supplies from Sew La La Fabrics

3 x half metre’s of coordinating vintage style fabrics

3 x half metre of coordinating vintage chic fabrics

2 x half metre of coordinating retro chic fabrics

2 Metre’s of Fillawant floral bias tape

1 Metre of Berrisford’s love ribbon

1 Retro Pin Tin

1 set of 5 pink & white retro 4 hole buttons

1 set of 5 blue rose buttons

1 Sass & Belle I Love Sewing cream card holder

1 x 3 Metre reel of Sass & Belle blue ric rac trim

1 x 3 Metre spool of Sass & Belle pink pom pom trim

To enter

Find the fabric pictured below on the Sew La La website and using our entry form tell us what it is called.  We want the full product name as appears on the top of the description page.

Fabrics and haberdashery supplies from Sew La La Fabrics
Terms and Conditions

One entry allowed per person, multiple entries will result in disqualification.  The winner will be chosen at random and sent all the supplies listed above.   The prize can only be shipped within the UK.  All entries must be received by 6pm on Tuesday 6th November 2012.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2013

You may have remembered me blogging about the Fat Quarterly retreat start of this summer (post here).  About the embroidery class I had with Moda designer Aneela Hoey, about meeting lots of bloggers and people I speak to online in real life and about the lovely goodie bag I came away with...

Well the great news is they are doing it all again next year!  The 2013 Fat Quarterly Retreat will be held in Boden Powell House in London again (very easy to get to) and will be 3 days- from the 19th -21st of July.

The tickets went on sale this week and are going like hotcakes! You can find the details here: http://www.fatquarterly.com/retreat.  This year they have introduced a payment plan for those who can't afford to pay for it all upfront but want to ensure they get a place before the tickets sell out.  Scroll down on that page to see the options.

Unfortunetly I don't think I will make it this year (promised to take my son abroad for the first time so every penny going towards that) but Beth is going instead so someone from The Sewing Directory will still be there.

Who else is going? I look foward to seeing all your pics and hearing about it afterwards.  I'll try my hardest not to be jealous!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Disillusioned with Magazines?

I saw a tweet on Twitter from Sarah at Rowan Tree Studios which made me realise I am not the only one disillusioned with magazines lately.

The tweet (pictured below) asked people's opinions on magazines who will only feature you if you pay for an advert. 

Unfortunetly I've noticed this becoming increasingly common.  It seems to happen one of 3 ways:

 - The magazine approaches you, tells you how much they love your product/service/designs and says they would love to feature you, but you need to book an advert before they can offer editorial coverage.

-  Or you approach the magazine sending a press release, or asking if they could write about something you sell/do.  They then get back to you and say they only feature advertisers or you must advertise before they can feature you.

-  Alternatively either they approach you or you approach them and they give you editorial but then guilt you into booking an advert in exchange.  Slightly less direct than the above methods but ultimately most of us feel we owe them a favour for having written about us so end up booking the advert anyway.

Is this fair?  That magazines are full of coverage about companies who can afford to pay for regular adverts?  Where does that leave small independant businesses, who are often working with next to no budget?  Does that mean readers aren't getting a fair representation of what is out there?  Should we have to pay to be written about?

However to be fair to the magazines they exist to make money, they constantly have an eye on profit with everything they do.  They are afterall a business themselves, not philanthrophic.  I can also understand that they feel loyalty towards someone who has supported them by paying for adverts.

But as a business owner or crafter does it make you feel used?  I understand that advertorials exist and that people pay to be featured in a way which isn't just a box advert on a page.  But if you are having to book an advert just to get something mentioned on the news page, or to get a product featured on an article it just doesn't seem quite right does it?    It's not clearly indicated as an advertorial, but you wouldn't be in there unless you had paid for an ad at the same time.  

Further more does that mean that magazine staff aren't at liberty to actually feature the products they genuinely think are best or would fit best with their feature and instead have to pick from the magazine advertisers? 

However, it can be said that people do tend to pay more attention to editorial (as opposed to adverts, or items clearly marked as advertorials) so are you being expected to pay because but having editorial as well as an advert you are more likely to be noticed by the magazine readers?  

I'm not saying all magazines adopt these practices, many don't.  I haven't run many press adverts at all this year and I just sent press releases out about the new workshops directory and a couple have already come back and said they would love to include a mention in their news section.  However, when I was sending the press releases yesterday there were certain magazines I didn't include, or that I sent to knowing it wouldn't be included because I haven't advertised with them for a year or so. 

If others have had the same experiences in the past they too may not bother sending press releases to certain magazines.  Does that then mean there are great products/events/services out there that we as magazine readers aren't being told about simply because they choose not to advertise?

From what I understand this practice isn't limited to just the sewing industry, it seems to be the same in many industries.

Then you get onto the magazines asking people to write for them for free....but I'll save that for another post.  This one has run on enough already.  Please do comment below, let me know what you think?  Have you found the same thing or do you get features regardless of whether you advertise?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

What has happened to Simply Sewing?

If you've read my previous blog posts about All Craft Media and Craft Magazine Shop you will be aware that All Craft Media (and the company before it Kalmedia) were both owned by Kerrie Allman who denied she was behind Craft Magazine shop despite the evidence to the contrary.  These companies both went into liquidation owing large amounts of money to contributors, staff, printers etc

For those of you who aren't members of Ravelry (where there is a very good group keep people up to date with all news regarding this) I thought I would share some of the latest developments on this blog so the information is easy to find, from what I gather plenty of people are looking and struggled to keep up with all the twists and turns.

More proof Kerrie is behind Craft Magazine Shop

More proof has recently emerged of Kerrie's involvement with Craft Magazine Shop.  Firstly at the start of the summer a photographer whose pictures were featured in Handmade Weddings confirmed that she had dealt directly with Kerrie acting on behalf of Craft Magazine Shop.

Then a few weeks ago someone found that the original website for Craft Magazine Shop was in fact on the Inside Crochet Domain - owned by Kerrie.  The Inside Crochet magazine is owned by Tailor Made publishing and was never anything to do with Craft Magazine Shop so why would their shop be on the Inside Crochet domain?  Unless Kerrie (who owns the domain) is also behind Craft Magazine Shop and got the designers to put the site there whilst they were working on it until it was ready to be put live.

Just in case the shop should disappear from that site once this blog post is put live I've put a screenshot below

 New CCJ

There's also a new CCJ against Craft Magazine Shop taken out by someone whose content was used without consent in Simply Sewing.  They sent an invoice for the work but didn't get paid so sought a CCJ.  The last I've heard on that is that the CCJ has not been satisfied so the bayliffs have been instructed.

Vacated Offices

The landlady of Bayley's Barn, the premises Kerrie had been occupying contacted the people behind the Ravelry group to say that Kerrie has abandoned the premises a few months into a 3 year lease leaving a large unpaid electric bill behind.  People have been in touch with the manager of Craft Magazine Shop's new offices in Huntingdon, only to find that they have a PO Box there and no actual office space.

Simply Sewing no more?

Issue 45 of Simply Sewing is now 2 weeks overdue and hasn't been seen in the shops and subscribers are still waiting copies.  It's also not showing as available to buy on the Craft Magazine Shop website.  Simply Sewing are not responding to people on Twitter who are asking where the magazine is and the Craft Magazine Shop website is now showing the magazine as only being available as a digital subscription. The only magazine showing as available to subscribe to in print is Modern Quilting whether the next issue of that will actually turn up in the shops remains to be seen. 

Adverts being used without consent

Not only is content in the magazines being used without consent (see above re. CCJ) but adverts are being run without companies having booked the ad, or having given consent for the advert to be used.  One big show organiser was suprised to see a full page ad for one of their recent shows appear in the magazine.  One of my customers was being harrassed for payment of an advert that they had explicitly told the magazine they did not want and that they did not have the right to use the artwork, but the printed it anyway and then expected to be paid for it!

Kerrie Allman = Tallulah Ray?

There's a new craft magazine due out this month called Be Creative Magazine co-edited by someone called Tallulah Ray (aka. Lulah).  It sounds like it may be similar to Handmade Living, previously owned by Kerrie and now run by Taylor Made Publishing.  A little bit of digging found that the co-editor Claire was one of Kerrie's ad staff and Tallulah Ray judging by this self portrait on Twitter (the account is now private) is none other than Kerrie Allman.   Just when you think things can't get any more unbelieveable...

Monday, 1 October 2012

New Sewing workshops database

Find a sewing course near you

At the start of the summer we did a market research survey to find out what you would like to see more of on The Sewing Directory and the overwhelming consensus was that you wanted more information about sewing courses.
So since then we have been working on a new addition to the site, an all new sewing classes database with hundreds of sewing workshops throughout the UK.  After what feels like never ending testing and updates we are pleased to announced it is now live!
You can search the database using the search bar at the top to find classes by date, location, course provider or by keyword.  You can see all details including price and there's a link through to the course providers site to book or get more details.   Our customers can add their new classes whenever they like so there will be new workshops added on a regular basis so don't forget to check back when you are next looking for a class.
We've love to hear what you think, please do comment below and let us know.

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