Saturday, December 12, 2015

Attention All Heirloom Sewers!

Last week Classic Sewing Magazine delivered its first issue, and it's a beaut! I was a bit skeptical when I signed up as a charter subscriber, having seen so many magazines folding over the last several years. Creative Needle, Sew Beautiful, and Australian Smocking and Embroidery all bit the dust recon the past several years. Of all the three now defunct magazines I believe that, at first glance, Classic Sewing Magazine, hereafter known as CS, most closely resembles Creative Needle.

There are tips for sewing, new products to make your sewing life easier, and general news about heirloom sewing.

What I really like is the cover project. It's a beautiful Swiss voile dress with lots of lace designed by Gail Doane, and has the pattern included with the magazine. (Something CN and SB rarely did, but AS&E always).  There is a lovely hand embroidered baby bib by Claudia Newton, a very talented designer and teacher, who isn't known nearly well enough.

There are also machine embroidery projects with free downloads online. In fact, if you are a charter subscriber, you can download an alphabet designed by Alison Banks for free, something I haven't done yet.

Many of the projects are variations on existing patterns, something that CN and SB did all too often. I much prefer having the pattern included with the magazine, as AS&E did from very early on.

The christening gown by Connie Palmer is a stunner, but is regally long, and probably very unwieldy. Does anyone really use a gown like this?  But I would love to sew it, it is so very lovely.

The magazine also contains at least four smocking projects, all suited for spring events. Janet Gilbert's pink dress is especially beautiful, with the three tiered "rumba skirt" ruffle attached to the back. Also included are small projects that can be made by hand or machine, such as Bible (or other book) covers, a bib, bonnets and a couple of projects for little boys, several of which have free downloads available.

Likes: There is a nice tribute to Martha Pullen, who did a great deal for heirloom sewing in the US, a very nice article about constructing a reproduction Williamsburg dress, and the great variety of projects, many by teachers that all of us who are into heirloom sewing should know. The inclusion
of patterns for some of the projects is very welcome! The magazine is printed on high quality, heavy paper, with plenty of illustrations of both the projects and the techniques used.

Dislikes: There are some inconsistencies in the articles/projects. For instance, on the Williamsburg dress, it is stated that it is fit for a Queen but it is really a fairly simple dress from the era, lovely but not regal at all. While the beautiful christening gown has a monogram on the gown, the article suggests that you can put the baby's monogram on the slip. I would think that on the gown a religious symbol would be more appropriate and the monograms kept to the slip, to make the ensemble usable by many babies. Maybe I'm nit picking this point a bit, but I think it should be obvious. Also, where are the kits? There are no kits offered for any of the projects! I would love a kit of the cover dress, as well as the boy projects for my grandson. This magazine seems to be geared towards the US market, but having a few fall projects might increase its audience to the Southern Hemisphere. AS&E always had projects for both hemispheres in each issue. I would like to see more emphasis on hand embroidery vs. machine embroidery, but since there are four smocking projects I can't complain too much.

I am so glad that this magazine is here at last, and all in all, it is a very, very good beginning, filling a void left when the others folded. If you would like your very own issue, visit and order a subscription now.


  1. Is this going to be a re-hash of all the magazines you mentioned in your post? I was a thirty-year subscriber to Sew Beautiful and nearly a premier subscriber to Creative Needle. Of the two, Creative Needle won. I love heirloom sewing - have won many ribbons at the Indiana State Fair w/said methods. I am going to wait for a bit before subscribing. Lydia Barnard - posted as Anonymous.

    1. I agree, I loved CN and got very frustrated with all the lace and ruffles in SB. We'll just have to see how the new mag progresses. You can write to them at:

  2. Well, that cover project really IS beautiful. I love the scalloped lace insets. Looks tricky!

    You are right, kits are crucial, because it can cost a lot and take a long time to find all the different items. Especially if you live in a more isolated location. But, hopefully they are listening!

  3. I am patiently waiting for my premiere issue of Classic Sewing to arrive "down under". Gail Doane has a kit for her front cover dress on her etsy site in three colourways and Farmhouse Fabrics has kits for Connie Palmer's Christening dress in three fabric choices. Lorraine

    1. You are so right on the kits! Thank you for pointing that out.

  4. I love good quality magazines, the kind that are worth saving. Sounds like this might be one of those, and hopefully they will take note of some of their short comings. Thanks for the review.

  5. I'm sure the magazine will listen to its subscribers and become better and better!

  6. Thanks for your honest review. This magazine fill such a void. I wish it the best. I will wait before subscribing however. I'm just feeling a bit insecure.


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