Love Sewing – our promises to you!
How is Love Sewing working towards inclusivity?
It’s a question that I’m sure a lot of you have been thinking about lately. Perhaps you saw this year’s blog post by Rumana updating everyone on her Sew In Colour campaign which calls for more diversity in sewing magazines. Or I wonder if you’ve recently joined the Sew Over 50 community and want to see better representation for older women in the sewing industry. Maybe you’ve been a long-time member of the Curvy Sewing Collective and are desperate to see your size and shape catered for.
You could be a regular reader of our magazine or perhaps you only pick up a copy here and there; either way we thought it would be best to write down some of the ways Love Sewing is trying to become the magazine the sewing community wants.
Since January 2017 Love Sewing has been inviting models to the studio, that you may not normally see on the cover of a magazine, as often as possible. We try and find models of a size 12 or over as that’s more realistic to the dress size of our audience, we’ve used models of different racial backgrounds to represent the diversity of our readers and we’ve had several women over 40 years of age as cover stars to highlight that style is ageless. We even tried out having a sew-lebrity on our cover!
You might wonder why every issue hasn’t had a diverse cover star and I’m afraid the answer is frustratingly boring. To create 14 issues, we have 10 photoshoots at our Stockport-based studio. The photoshoots are a morning session so we need to find local models from the North of England, available and willing to work for half a day. And their half day rate must be within our photography budget. We look for warm, friendly smiles and shy away from the more fashion-focussed models as we want the pages of our magazine to feel warm and friendly. We’re also trying to avoid women smaller than a size 10 wherever possible and who don’t look too young. An 18-year-old, size 6 model who shoots high fashion magazine spreads may make the garments look cutting edge, but those photos won’t be very helpful to our readers who want to know what the garment might look like on their own bodies. If you’re hoping for a sewing magazine looking at high fashion and catwalk-led design, we probably wouldn’t be for you anyway.
It’s also important to let you know that not every photoshoot is a success! We’ve had models turn up whose measurements didn’t match what they had said so only half the garments fit them. Another model turned up with lip fillers that made her mouth look comically inflated. And hilariously true, there was once a model who couldn’t stand in heels and fell over every third shot we took. These are women we were excited to feature but ultimately their photos don’t get used.
Everyone here agrees there’s still more we can do; for instance, we’ve only featured redheaded models a handful of times, our favourite plus size model to work with is on maternity leave, and we’re trying out new model agencies to find new diverse models within our catchment area and budget. But knowing that you are out there challenging us not to slow down keeps us trying to book unique and beautiful models for the best covers we can.
The team also work hard to keep these standards running through the pages of the magazine and find images from RTW brands and pattern companies that are diverse and body positive and include these in news stories, fabric inspiration pages and pattern round ups. We love imagery from companies like Cashmerette, JD Williams, Colette, Dorothy Perkins, Deer and Doe, Simply Be and McCall Pattern Company brands who feature a wide range of sizes, ages and women of colour and allow us to use their photography in our magazine. Long may this continue!
McCall Pattern Company Envelopes
When you go to the supermarket and you see all the sewing magazines wrapped in brightly coloured packaging you actually don’t see the cover. Instead you see the lovely pattern that is going to shout “I’M YOUR NEXT SEWING PROJECT!” We are proud to partner with the McCall Pattern company and offer their various brands as gifts on Love Sewing. We hope you’ve noticed a wealth of diverse models on those envelopes, calling out to you from the shelf and inviting you to take a closer look.
Something I’ve been so happy to introduce is our reader review feature. This involves a reader testing out our pattern gift, writing a review to share their thoughts and showcasing their make in the magazine. The photoshoots take place in the afternoon of our model photoshoots. I invite women of all skill levels, ages, sizes, backgrounds and even those sewing around medical conditions. Because they come in the afternoon they can travel from all over the UK to get to our studio. This has meant we’ve had a diverse range of women in the studio and promoted their skills to a wider audience. Personally, I’ve loved chatting about sewing with them, helped them relax and take a great photo, and at the end I hope they leave feeling wonderful.
I try to only pick sewists that are going to be comfortable in front of the camera because it can be actually quite intense having your photo taken professionally if you’re not used to it and several ladies we’ve had on set who took a while to get used to it. But I love that it gives talented sewing enthusiasts a chance to shine and show off how gorgeous they are inside and out. It’s something the whole team is behind; we don’t pile on the make-up, or make them wear an outfit they aren’t comfortable in, we don’t photoshop out laughter lines or natural curves and we make sure the readers like their finished photos. We give them the chance to have a headshot taken to keep too for their own use.
I encourage you to ask one of our readers how they found the experience. If you think you’d offer the reader reviewer a unique point of view, you can be added to our waiting list by messaging firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to pair you with a garment that will suit you.
Our size promise
Ever picked up a sewing magazine and excitedly taken it home only to discover that the pattern infuriatingly stopped just before your size?
One of the biggest things we were able to secure in the last 18 months was expanding the range for our pattern gifts so that all the size ranges are included in the one envelope. This is a special agreement with The McCall Pattern company that you won’t find on any other magazine and means you won’t get home frustrated. I’m happy to report that we always cover sizes 6-22 with the pattern gifts, and often include patterns in a fantastic size 4-26! We introduced the broader range because when we did our annual survey, we discovered most of you sit on the cusp of the two size ranges and must have been so disappointed to miss out regularly. Our surveys are amazing in offering us these insights as you get to influence the direction of the magazine!
The next step is improving our offering with the projects inside the magazine. We’re currently offering PDF download designs in sizes 6-20 but are examining ways to improve the range further. Calling all pattern designers! If you a run a pattern company who would love to introduce your designs to a international audience of nearly 30,000 please contact us to hear how our process works. You can message the team at email@example.com and we can talk through the details.
To find out more about the things we’ve mentioned in this blog post visit:
@SewOver50 and #sewover50
If we’ve inspired you to pick up a copy of Love Sewing you’ll find all the details of where to find a copy here.