Wow, that’s quite a revelation for a headline, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I’m still attached to my sewing machine, but I’m going to spout some opinion today, so strap yourself in. I will prefix this by saying I’ve been stewing for a couple of days wondering whether to post this or not. There’s so much positivity in the sewing community that it feels weird to be posting something critical – I’ve tried hard to be constructive so I’m sorry if it doesn’t come across that way.
I went back to the UK for a wedding last weekend and while killing time in Heathrow I picked up the latest issue of Love Sewing (no. 41 – June/July 2017). I was looking forward to a good read, but I ended up disappointed and exasperated.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s much to like in Love Sewing. Since it’s been under the leadership of Amy of Almond Rock, there’s been more focus on bloggers and the online sewing community. It’s great to see familiar faces sharing their makes alongside experts like Alison Smith or Wendy Gardiner. There’s always at least something I’d like to make in each edition and when I have made something it’s turned out well thanks to some great instructions. I also really like The Dressmaker’s Diary series by Elisalex from By Hand London. She’s an engaging writer and when I’ve tried her projects they’ve always been well thought out and clearly explained.
But reading through the latest issue, I found myself wanting to cover it in red pen. Many of the articles and features look like they haven’t been proof-read or are so poorly written I wanted to do a complete redraft. The A Brief History of Shoes piece is a case in point. It sounded like the unnamed author was paraphrasing the only source cited, a book analysing the Victoria and Albert Museum’s extensive shoe collection. It would have been great to see an interview with an expert to give a little more colour to the information. There’s a detailed description of a boot but no photo – I reckon most won’t know what a Louis heel looks like, so why not show us? Two paragraphs are given over to contemporary designers, but don’t explain what is it about their design that makes their shoes so different and so covetable. I know it’s difficult to fit such a broad subject into the word limit, but it felt like the author went into almost too much detail in some places, but not enough in others.
Another example is the book review section, In the Good Books. This month it’s an interview with Jenniffer Taylor, a former contestant on the Sewing Bee, to promote her new book Girl with a Sewing Machine. The only reason I know this is because there’s a picture of the book on the page – it’s barely mentioned in the rest of the piece. The article’s subheading is “Our pick of this month’s new sewing and dressmaking books” but the interview fails to tell us much about the book. It’s more of a catch up with Jenniffer and what she’s done since her time on the programme. There’s all sorts I’d like to know about the book, like what patterns are included or whether it’s suitable for beginners or more advanced sewists, but this basic information just isn’t covered.
Elsewhere there are basic spelling and grammar errors that any sub editor should spot, which makes me wonder who’s proofing before it goes to print. For example, a picture story on pastel colours came with a 55-word introduction with a poorly constructed opening sentence littered with grammatical errors. I know from experience that spelling mistakes (e.g. “concious” instead of “conscious” on page 64) can be easy to miss in your own work, but most publishing programmes include a spell checker and you would expect an issue to go through several rounds of checks before going to print.
I also find the way the content is organised rather confusing. I don’t like the way projects are interspersed with articles seemingly at random (though I accept this may just be a matter of personal taste). I’d prefer separate sections for things like projects, skills, community news, inspiration and reviews – at least that way things would be easier to find. The shoes piece is the first big story you come across in the magazine, making it essentially the lead article but it’s not even advertised on the front cover. A few pages further on there’s a piece about the free gift this month (McCall’s 7536 – a dress) followed by a blogger review, but the two are separated by an advert over a double page spread. Admittedly I don’t know much about where adverts should go, but I would have thought it sensible to keep articles on the same subject in the same group of pages.
I could go on but I think I’ve made my point. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands and am reading too much into this, but when you compare it to other magazines I just think Love Sewing could be so much better. It seems that the money goes to pay for the free gift rather than the actual quality and content of the magazine, and that’s a real shame. If we’re paying £6.99 for an issue, we should expect more. Love Sewing is available here in the US, but based on this last issue I’m unlikely to buy it regularly unless the free pattern is worth having. What do you think? Which magazines get it right?