Airplane Reading

My airplane reading threw up some interesting surprises. This is issue 389 of Grazia magazine, aimed firmly at the fashion-conscious 20-something. It considers itself the thinking woman’s Heat magazine, mixing high fashion with street fashion – and spotting trends. Trends like sewing. Believe you me, if sewing wasn’t of the moment right now it wouldn’t be in Grazia magazine.

The conceit is that the article challenged the ‘best bloggers’ to show readers how to make their own interpretations of four key new-season looks. So I read with keen interest.

Bloggers… There’s an interesting word. It covers a whole gamut of online presence, from the darling who’s just set up a new sewing blog (hello, Sew It Anyway! Get yourself over there, readers.) to the commercial enterprise.

The people featured in Grazia definitely err on the side of commercial enterprise. There’s not a WordPress or Blogger web link in site; only professional websites. That’s fine – I don’t begrudge a person from making a living. Though I do wish Grazia had dug a bit deeper into the blogging community.

The projects… Ah, the projects. They’re sweet enough, although I do question the wearability of the skirt that’s basically a rectangle of silk with buttons added. Instructions (‘Sew some darts in the back’ – you know, just like that!) are crammed into tiny text boxes so that there’s room for nice, big pictures. I think some novices would struggle with projects such as cutting up a pair of trousers to insert contrast colour side panels. I would!

But I don’t want to be too critical. Young fashionistas are being encouraged to use a sewing machine and I think the existence of this article in a magazine such as Grazia rings a loud cultural bell.

Friends. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but we’ve become … cool.


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52 Responses to Airplane Reading

  1. Laura says:

    This made me laugh. Sewing (and crafting in general) is a growing trend. However, I think anyone who is “trendy” will soon find out that sewing takes a lot of time and dedication, and we have to learn to deal with failure very early on. I’m happy when I see these magazine articles appearing though, maybe more people will take up (and keep up with) sewing.

  2. Joanne says:

    Heheh cool are we? I like this. There was a bit of interest a year ago in sewing as austerity chic and it’s cropped up again under the guise of individual flair. It’s all good publicity for the skill to be honest, but yes I can imagine the editorial Grazia meeting now that came up with the feature. “We need something crafty Edina/Patsy/Semolina and that Kirsty Allsopp is busy making Christmas baubles – Google three things about diy fashion and we have a feature!”

  3. I think we have always been cool ๐Ÿ™‚ It has simply become impossible to ignore our fabulousity!

  4. Juliet says:

    Must be the continuing rise of the nerd. I love the fact that I can sew and my friends can’t (or, at least, they’d be quite flummoxed if they tried) – perhaps it is a skill that a fashionista aspires to: the casual, “oh, I made it”, like the ultimate in hipster-cool, whereas I squeal it if people ask me about a me-made item of mine! But YAY for sewing getting a better profile, regardless of how shallowly Grazia looked!

  5. Tine says:

    Interesting article. I’m always happy to read anything sewing related, so I like the article. Especially in a magazine like Grazia that normally only caters to the Primark-fast-fashion type of girl. Though I have to admit, that I’m a bit worried if people can work with the instructions. Sewing and especially fitting are tasks that one has to dig deeper into, if one really wants to create garments. Especially because not every girl or woman has the model-like figure as these bloggers have.

  6. Kerry says:

    Interesting, it all does look a little superficial but I suppose that’s what you expect in Grazia! It sounds a bit more along the Gok Wan lines of ‘superglue some haberdashery bits to your shoulders and voila you are on trend AND home made’.

    • Joanne says:

      Indeed! I do miss those segments where a well placed shoulder pad and some stapling could result in a whole new wardrobe

      • Ha ha those Gok Wan things always make me laugh. He’s a big fan of using garment tape to alter garments, too. I don’t have any strong opinions on whether sewing is fashionable – although I think it’s clear that it is becoming more so given the steadily increasing sales of sewing machines. And to be honest, I prefer crafting being represented as something for the hip and cutting edge than this whole bollocky mimsy Mollie Makes teeny-tiny knitted peapod in a housewife’s hand way it has been and continues to be represented.

      • Dibs says:

        Gok wan was really funny. Funny in a sort of patronising way.

  7. One might take the view that any publicity is good publicity; and if it truly does encourage younger folk to take up presser feet (as it were), then I think the fact that the article is not particularly profound doesn’t matter. It if works, well and good. But, you know, I’ve never been cool so even if what I do is now perceived to be so, it’s probably far, far too late for me!

  8. Lucy says:

    Cool? Oh dear. Do I need to get a new hobby?

  9. shivani says:

    how can this be possible. me… cool? my sister reminds me on a daily basis that I am the uncoolest. I’ll be sending her a link to this post.

  10. But Karen… we’ve *always* been cool!

    Re: your comment about ‘sew some darts in the back’. I think a total novice would just ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ (as per your previous posts) – assuming they know what a dart is, of course. I’m not a novice sewer but I’m a huge fan of playing by ear, trial and error, using the simplest possible solution and feeling the fear and doing it anyway. You don’t need to use complicated couture techniques to make basic, wearable garments that fit as well as something shop-bought – in fact sometimes I think ignorance of any particular sewing techniques preserves the lack of fear! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Liz says:

    I really dislike the idea that sewing is a trend – I do it because I enjoy it and always have, not because I am trying to be cool. I really like retro styled pieces and people keep saying to me “oh they are really in right now” – grrrr, that is not why I do it! I like these pieces, not because they might happen to be trendy right now. On the flip side, if more people take it up, perhaps the cost of buttons might come down ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Renay says:

    The nightmare has been realised….

  13. poppykettle says:

    Cool? I’ve never been cool. I never will be cool. And you know what? I’m totally cool with that.

    On the flip side – hustling up some respect for garment construction by means of people who otherwise wouldn’t have a clue realising how much effort goes into getting the simplest of things to look good sounds pretty cool to me…

  14. yesilikethat says:

    Interesting. I’ve been thinking for a while about the difference between sewing blogs and Fashion DIY blogs, but keep re-writing my draft post as it’s such an interesting issue. The latter bloggers are a lot slicker, a lot more commercial, and the projects are a lot simpler (and mainly based around replicating/knocking off specific designer items). I read and enjoy many (especially A Pair and A Spare, who made the wraparound skirt in Grazia), but they are coming at DIY from an entirely different angle, high fashion rather than clothes-making. I think there’s things that both sides could learn from each other, but fundamentally they are different beasts.

  15. Mika says:

    On the one hand I like the idea of more people making their own clothes. On the other hand, articles and blogs that give so few instructions (or give just plain wrong information) I find very frustrating. Especially if they are representing themselves as an authority on the subject.

  16. Roobeedoo says:

    So… I didn’t read this properly and shot out at lunchtime to buy Grazia – only to come back with issue 390 “The fashion issue”. Not a home-sewn garment in sight! Clearly, sewing is not something worth regular inclusion and has nothing to do with “fashion”!

  17. i was really excited when i saw it but a bit disppointed with the article. there are so many great bloggers sewing fantastic clothes that you couldn’t buy in the shops that it was a shame to see them basically talking to fashion bloggers doing a Gok. would have been nice to spread the love around a bit and feature different types of DIY blogs.

  18. Dibs says:

    Oh God Karen. I have been laughing so hard at all these replies. Yesilikethat’s comment was really spot on I think. The whole thing about Fashion DIY bloggers coming at DIY from high fashion. Also, how lazy can the editorial team, or whoever was responsible for the article at Grazia be?

  19. woolcat says:

    We’ve always been cool, because we never cared about being cool.

  20. Clio says:

    I’m thinking about a post I wrote last year on how much I love using really good interfacing. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem to radiate “cool”. LOL. But if sewistas are now cool, well, I can’t object.

  21. i find it interesting how the things our mums and their mums and their mums’ mums did out of necessity are now, for many of us, leisure activities – things we do for pleasure. i kind of cringe when something i’ve enjoyed for ages suddenly becomes cool and everybody is doing it…it’s like the secret is out!

  22. Karen S says:

    Sewing, like quilting and knitting, has gone back and forth for ages between being “popular” (or the latest buzzword “on trend”) to “I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that/wearing that”. I take offense when the media makes it sound like there’s nothing to “whipping up a little outfit” when it takes more than that. It seems to take about 30 years for the pendulum to swing in the other direction so it’s only a matter of time before it’s unpopular again.

    I sound cynical, but I’m in my 50’s. I’ve been sewing since I was 14 and quilting and knitting since my 20’s. All three crafts have had various levels of popularity over the years I’ve been doing them.

  23. sewbusylizzy says:

    I love that sewing is cool… again! I think you are right, it’s a shame there wasn’t more of a big deal about the sewing blogging community – I find the online sewing community fascinating. It’s certainly what inspires me to continue sewing not to mention being a huge source of advice and support. I think that anyone who stumbles across the sewing blogosphere is sure to become addicted. Now that’s cool!

  24. MrsC says:

    Cool eh? But not interfacing? We have a class called “Know Your Interfacing!” coming up later this year, seriously uncool! hehehehe. If the numbers of people wanting to learn to sew are anything to go by, there is definitely a trend. In 5 months we’ve had 6 intakes of absolute beginners (a 4 week course) and the demographic is very diverse – around 30% male, ages from 25 to 60, all kinds of backgrounds. SO interesting!

  25. Janice says:

    I really wish sewing wasn’t cool (or becoming trendy.) I have nothing against fashion bloggers but I agree with the above comment. One DIY site that I read usually has very simple projects that pass for “sewing”, while the rest of us are trying to fit coats.

  26. Today I was getting excited thinking about how I should make a tailor’s ham and how excellent it will be for pressing. Oooh, check that out for coolness: It’s like I’m the female Fonz ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I haven’t read the article, but I bet it was prompted by one of the (commercial) bloggers sending in a press release, and the journalist just lazily skipped down the same path. I can’t see any of us sending out a release “Check out my post on interfacing. Woo, yeah”. (Although I’d read that. Woven is my favourite…)
    PS you’re a darling too! I wondered where the new followers had all come from ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s a very, very good point. From my one (limited) experience of magazine work, a lot of writing is based on press releases. Hey, let’s all start doing press releases! Of course, that’s assuming we want an engagement with the wider market…

  27. oonaballoona says:

    boooo. i like exposing more peeps to sewing, but they really couldn’t find true sewing bloggers?

    i feel like our blog niche is overlooked… even on bloglovin, there are categories for fashion, and DIY/craft… which in my opinion we don’t best fit into. HEY. let’s be the breakfast club!!!

  28. Ah cool, yes. And I’m so thankful. I’ve been waiting 20 yrs to be able to get the help I needed to be able to sew clothes that fit ME! Cool, yes but not because it’s popular but because we sewing folk share like ladies in the days of old, instead of over the fence it’s over the world wide wire.

  29. kaitui_kiwi says:

    Ohh so we are cool? Yay! ๐Ÿ™‚ But boo to no “true” bloggers – I have noticed the “cool sewing” tends to be more arts and craftsy and re-styling, (not that I have a problem with that, the more creativity the better) but I prefer the start-from-scratch, alter a pattern or draft your own, get the perfect fit for that dress etc type…So the true cool ones are still the “inner circle” of my blog reader, that’s even better imo ๐Ÿ˜‰ we are like a proper underground secret club, just how I like it…

    • Yes, interesting point. I think the care taken over a custom-fit outfit probably doesn’t fit the ‘sound bite’ mentality of a weekly magazine. Each to their own and that’s their industry, but it’s interesting to see how things translate.

  30. Neeno says:

    I hate when people start doing things cos it’s considered “cool”. Urgh, Then they abandon it.

  31. Amy says:

    Hooray! Cool! Though, secretly, I still feel very much like a nerd. I got lost for an hour today exploring the click and drag world on today’s It is fun to see sewing pop up in unexpected places.

  32. Pingback: Sewing blogs vs. DIY blogs – the showdown « Yes I Like That

  33. Mรกire says:

    Although i have not read it, it seems like a poorly researched and incomplete article (Grazia, you surprise me!). Refashioning is just the start, then you think “I could just go the whole hog and try making something from scratch” and boom….you’ve slipped into the inner sewing circle, never to return to accepting Grazia’s fashion advice. So wait, maybe they were just protecting themselves and their bottom line?! Besides, if they revealed the time and effort it takes to make a well fitted garment from scratch the disposable fashion culture might suffer! They also missed out the really cool bit about standing around, semi-clad, attempting to fit a mock-up made from an old sheet/curtain that has been sacrificed to the sewing gods. Is that not cool?

  34. sylkotwist says:

    I’m quite comfy with being a bit of a nerd actually and hyperventilating when I find a vintage pattern for 20p in the charity shop. We don’t need the ‘cool’ label or the approval of a bunch of magazine editors to know we’re onto a good thing. We’ll still be making our own knickers when they’re putting their sewing machines on ebay with an ‘only used once’ description! Great post, thank you.

  35. Rachel says:

    What’s this airplane you speak of? I know you said you’d gone stateside but still…

    Sorry. Long term reader crawls back into their lurking cave.

  36. I also read this article on a flight! I wasn’t sure about the article really….also that ‘skirt’ made out of a rectangle looks like it would flash your pants to people…. Still nice to see that they are trying I suppose.

    I don’t like it when magazines declare things I already like doing to be ‘cool’. It was very annoying when it happened with knitting. Everyone thought I was doing it ironically…..

  37. Rachel says:

    Carrying on with you’re original topic…

    Whilst I relish the thought that I’m ‘a bit different’ for sewing my clothes, I’m glad the appeal is becoming more widespread. I don’t fear homesewing becoming the norm for 2 reasons
    1. It’s too hard and time consuming
    2. Even if everyone did it, my clothes would still be unique because I chose and made them to my taste to fit me.

  38. Joyful says:

    Karen could you give me any instructions for making the make- up brush roll? I’m not in your league re sewing but really want to male it but I need some help!!
    Thank you

  39. Tracey. says:

    I am just about to cut up an old jumper to make some long socks for my boots from the sleeves, a cowl from the roll neck and hopefully some gloves from the body.
    I’m just doing it to see if it works although in theory it will.
    I’m not so good with patterns and like to just ‘wing it’. What have l to lose if it goes wrong? Nothing.

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