GBSB Series 3 Episode 4&5

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

11 March 2015

Okay, please don't shoot me - I know this blog is so so HIDEOUSLY late, but it's because we've all been slaving away over our beautiful April issue (on sale Thursday 26th) To make up for it I've got a BUMPER review of both episode 4 and 5, along with a little sneek peak of our gorgeous April issue... 

MM59 Final Cover

Episode 4




Challenge 1: boning, binding and blind panic

“A lot of home sewers are frightened at making something like a corset…” With all of those pattern pieces, I’m not surprised May!! (Who also swore it would unforgivable if the front panel didn’t match – someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today!) As Amanda says, a structured pattern calls for a structured procedure..or in other words military planning - cue Neil!!

Even with four hours, everyone’s looking flushed and overworked! Even Ryan who’s had previous corset experience, he must be feeling the pressure (lovely Claudia even has to explain ‘bumpy boobs’ to the lad)! I love Lorna’s description of her creation – ‘it started out as Macbeth, and now it’s more Moulin Rouge – very racy!’

So, to the line up. Despite Amanda’s ‘structured procedure’, she decided to make her own binding which took far too much time , with Ryan coming in 6th! It was Neil who found himself in first place – describing it as the ‘nicest garment’ he’s made. (Congrats to Matt for his first time in 2nd place)


Challenge 2: "Ghostbusters. What you gonna make? Ghostbustaaas!"

The sewers are presented with the most amazing array of 80’s, sharp shouldered suits (all of which are older than Ryan, which had him chuckling for a good while) I must say, the talent in this series is staggering (despite Matt’s insistence that he applied for “the baking one”)– the alteration plans going on in this challenge are incredible: a cocktail dress (Neil), a maternity top (Lorna), skater dress (Ryan + tears) and a bolero jacket (Deborah).

Second line up of the day – Amanda 7th, Paul 6th, Deborah 5th, Lorna 4th, Matt 3rd… Ryan 2nd and Neil 1st – again!!


Challenge 3: Patrick’s lovely legs…err…kilt

This weeks final challenge is (modeled by Mr Gorgeous Grant) the traditional kilt, although the sewers can go to town on modernizing the original style. Lovely lovely Paul decides to go for glittery denim (LOVE his fabric choices each week) in an attempt to bypasss the scary check-matching, which everyone else has to tackle. Although, as it turns out, the pattern – for once – lent itself to this task and actually HELPED with the pleating, poor Paul. Amanda also takes a risk, being the only person not to start pleating first, and foregoing the hair canvas & thick/stiff fabric – eek! In typical Neil fashion, he’s decided to hand-stitch his pleats and knows exactly how much time to spend on each (10mins, first one took 6! He should spend those extra 4mins keeping an eye on Claudia & his model..!)

And, so with two people out this week, tensions are high as garment of the week is revealed… NEIL! (ie General of the Ceremonial Kilt)


But unfortunately we have to say goodbye to Amanda AND Ryan – good luck in the future guys!! 

Episode 5/Semi-Final!!

Yet again, two people are leaving…gulp!


Challenge 1: fraying tempers and feverish sewing

A pencil skirt, not too tricky, right? Cue heart-dropping moment…it’s in LACE! The sewers faces fall, and no one looks quite so confident coming into these semi-finals as they did 5 minutes ago. “If you’re going to go lace, you’ve got to go black” Had anyone else heard that rule from Neil? Lorna clearly hasn’t, as she’s gone for a stunning burnt orange, nor has…well any of the rest of them! Everyone’s getting a bit hot under the collar this week, even meticulous Neil is loosing his cool. (Not to panic, Claudia has Ryan Gosling waiting in the back…in a box, err, wait, Claudia?) 


“Has anyone tried their skirt on their mannequin?” The nervous laughter that erupts is concerning – is anyone confident?! Well, Lorna’s waistband has gone for a drunken walk, Paul has can pinch an inch..from the other side of the hem, and Deborah has too much underskirt (but a lovely colour combo) whilst Neil’s pattern matching was ‘bleugh’ – crikey, this is a toughy.  Matt’s sewing is ‘extremely good’ and found himself top of the charts this week! 

Challenge 2: modern, modern, modern…and Madonna!

Perhaps the most bizarre alterations challenge to date, and some of the..umm..most interesting creations! We can’t go any further without mentioning Lorna’s Madonna-style, conical bustier (‘oh it’s got to be satin!’) Definitely innovative Lorna, can’t wait to see the result. Both Matt and Neil head back to lace, Neil determined to show them pattern matching done well! Deborah’s little dress is shaping up to be something very special, but Paul struggles with sleeves, unpicking the correct one and getting himself into a little bit of a tizz! Looking at the final line-up, there’s an outfit for Madge, Kylie AND Lady Gaga – well done guys!

5th – Paul (as he guessed – sad face), 4th – Matt, 3rd – Neil, 2nd – Lorna…and Deborah came first!! CONGRATS. This week’s full of surprises (in the nicest possible way!!).

Lorna (2)

Challenge 3: bright, bold bikers.

Leather jacket time! And, time for Neil to ‘turn it around!’ Once again, Paul’s choice is just fabulous, but after the previous challenges, it may be a tad too stiff…uhoh. Deborah’s jacket is equally bright, with her teal hide – ‘everytime I come to your station, it’s like Whams back in town!’ – but surely in the best way possible, we don’t want to go back to last week’s 80’s tastic suits! Lorna’s going against the grain and starts work with her lining to ensure the fit is absolutely perfect, but it goes so well she starts threatening her family with head-to-toe outfits, watch out guys! Matt runs out of time and can’t fit the lining in, which makes it an uncomfy wear for the model. Disaster strikes for Deborah at the final hour when her zip comes straight off – after sewing it, eek!

Lorna’s green jacket – chic, Matt’s grey biker – snug shoulders, but sharp corners (precision sewing!), Neil’s statement collared jacket gets a pat on the back for a great sew, Paul’s snake skin jacket – beautifully flat seams, Deborah – brave pattern choice.

Drum roll please…. He did it, NEIL’S BACK IN THE GAME!! His oversized collar, scarlet lined jacket wins the day.

But, REALLY REALLY sadly, we had to say goodbye to lovely lovely Paul, and lovely lovely Deborah.

Final three...

Final 3


Be there, or be square. 

London Design Week

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

4 March 2015

An exceptional showcase of style, innovation and imagination, the show will offer the most comprehensive collective of the latest fabrics, furniture, wallcoverings, lighting, accessories, kitchens, bathroom, outdoor living, tiles and carpets.

LDN Design Wk

LDN Conversations

Psst! Here are some sneak peeks of some of the stars of the show..

LDW15 Image 6(3)

 LDW15 Image 4

LDW15 Image 3(2)


Abbott & Boyd * Altfield * Alton-Brooke * Ann Sacks * Armani/Casa * Azucena at GMR  * Baker Lifestyle * Baker * Beacon Hill * Bella Figura * Besselink & Jones * Blenheim Carpets * Brian Yates * Brunschwig & Fils * C & C Milano * Cassina * Chaplins * Chase Erwin * Christopher Guy  * Christopher Hyde Lighting * Clive Christian * Cole & Son * Colefax and Fowler * Colony* Création Baumann * Crestron* David Seyfried Ltd * Davidson * Decca (Bolier) * Decorus Furniture* Dedar * Edelman Leather * Evitavonni * Fendi Casa * Flexform * Fox Linton * Gallotti&Radice * GP & J Baker * Harlequin * Henry Bertrand * Interdesign * Interior Supply * J. Robert Scott * Jacaranda Carpets * Jason D’Souza * Jean Monro * Kravet * Lee Jofa * Lelievre * Lewis & Wood* Lizzo * Marvic Textiles * McKinnon and Harris * Mulberry Home * The Nanz Company * Nicholas Haslam * Nobilis * Original BTC * Pierre Frey * Poliform * Poltrona Frau * Porada * Porta Romana * Ramm, Son & Crocker * Remains Lighting * R.I.M Tile Boutique * Robert Allen * Romo * Rubelli/Donghia * SA Baxter Architectural Hardware * Sahco * Samuel Heath * Samuel & Sons Passementerie * Sanderson * The Silk Gallery * Simpsons Mirrors & Furniture * Stark Carpet * Stark Fabric * StudioTex * Summit Furniture * SWD * Tai Ping Carpets * Threads at GP & J Baker * Tim Page Carpets * Tissus d’Hélène * Top Floor Rugs/Wood * Tufenkian Artisan Carpets * Turnstyle Designs  * Turnell & Gigon * Vaughan * Via Arkadia (Tiles) * Victoria +Albert Baths * Watts of Westminster * Wemyss * Whistler Leather* Wired Custom Lighting * Wool Classics * Zimmer + Rohde * Zoffany 

Plus Designers Guild, Osborne & Little, Kingcome Sofas in Chelsea and William Yeoward

Event Location: Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, London SW10 0XE 
Event Information: Call 020 7225 9166, email or visit

Press Enquiries: 020 7225 9121 or email

Logos (1)

The Hambledon, Winchester

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

3 March 2015

Since 1999, Winchester indie, The Hambledon, has been charming loyal customers near and far with its carefully curated lifestyle and fashion collections. Housed in a beautiful four-storey Georgian building overlooking the Cathedral Square, owner Victoria Suffield likes to think of The Hambledon as a kind of department store, but "just selling the good stuff!" Womenswear is found on the first floor, menswear in the basement, while the ground floor features homewares, bath and beauty – and a dedicated space for stationery, books and craft. Think paper decorations, beautiful notebooks, wrapping paper and letterpress cards aplenty. There’s a project space too. “It’s a place we have fun with, showcasing our latest loves and favourite makers. It’s been used for everything from paper-cutting workshops to charity cake sales. And we have plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline,” says Victoria. Party masters Meri Meri and styling star Emily Quinton will be popping up soon!

HAMBLEDON PompomAll images courtest of The Hambledon

"We always wanted to make a shop which sold the things we loved in a space we loved to people we could grow to love. It's a sentimental kind of aspiration but borne out of a genuine love of retail and a real belief in the worth of shops and shopping and shopgirls (and boys). 

Since 1999 we have been trying to refine and develop what we want The Hambledon to be: a really good shop by any measure, uncompromising in its choices, entertaining in its presentation and always super friendly in its approach. 

We have extended womenswear into three rooms on the first floor. The Norman basement (once a warren of spooky stockrooms) is now a happy home for a fully fledged menswear offer. Homeware and all its associated friends live on the ground floor. The first mezzanine level is a new and grown up bath and beauty department. The Tudor rooms at the rear of the building are now a stationery and book department and a project space to house our temporary exhibitions and collaborations. And the new website is like a new department for us – just a different room in the same building – which enables farther flung people to visit us."




See for the latest products and events.

See you there!! 



GBSB Series 3 Episode 3

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

23 February 2015

Oh dear, only three weeks in and I’m already running late with my reviews! (Which I’m sure you wait with baited breath for, just as much as you do for the show…!) Well, many apologies and some grovelling.

This week the contestants were taken back to the 1950’s and each were presented with a beautiful vintage Singer machine (not a sewer myself, I think it would be wonderful to have a go on one of these, but according to the faces of Neela and Paul – I’m very wrong!) And so, to the challenges...

New LookImage: Great British Sewing Bee

Challenge 1: breakfasts, binding and bafflement.

Today’s pattern teaser was a real doozy! Based on Dior’s ’49 New Look this ‘Walk-Away’ Dress has all the classic 50’s elements: nipped in waist, full skirt and fitted bodice. Apparently it was easy enough to start cutting out the pattern just after breakfast, and you’d be able to ‘walk away’ (see what they did there?!) in it for that elegant lunchtime cocktail date. I think today’s team of sewers might disagree as they all came apart at the seams with this little number!

Not only did they have to figure out the workings of the Singer, they were also faced with some brain-teasing pattern instructions: the main ‘back vertical edge’ had everyone scratching their heads for a while. But once they’d got their heads around the pattern pieces, the contestants were faced with a whole lot of binding and the use of a binding foot if they wished – many chose to bind by hand, feeling more confident if slower, Lorna decided to ‘leave it up to the men to play with gadgets’. A mistake perhaps, as it was the men who came out on top! The lovely Ryan managed to pull an early win out of the bag, despite having pulled his neckline a little bit too.

WalkawayImage: Vintage Sewing Patterns

Challenge 2: Von Trapp madness.

Next, the group are presented with a pair of vintage curtains. Super modern Claudia could barely contain her distain when Patrick suggested they were hers – this is clearly not her week (‘I loath it [i.e. big puffy skirts]’. Oh dear!) Clearly, it’s time for a sing-a-long Ms Winkleman…. these are a few of my favourite things:

  • The sound of Deborah’s circus tent skirt – her final piece was slightly less mad, and lovely (if ‘still slightly like a curtain’ according to Patrick)

  • Matt instantly choosing to make a little girls dress – again. Aww. 

  • In the same vein, Neil instinctively designing an evening gown – lucky wife (even if she does ‘throw them in the bin’ after one wear!!)

  • Claudia’s face while Ryan described his collar plan – me too Claudia, me too.

  • Lorna’s golden ‘apron-style’ skirt – a well deserved winner!

  • And, of course, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Julie _andrewsImage: Unfashionably Lost

Challenge 3: sleeves, seams and sheer panic.

And so we come to ‘the hardest challenge yet’ – which, Claudia, is pointing out the obvious just ever so slightly I have to say! The sewers have been practicing making a sheer vintage blouse for a while now – however according to Matt that means ‘the collar, but I got that wrong and realized I couldn’t unpick it.…’ and Neil used a ‘cheaper fabric’, so fingers crossed it’ll go alright on the night! (FYI - we love the vintage fabrics from 'Til The Sun goes Down - lots of lovely sheers to have a play with!)

Amanda chose a gorgeous chartreus to make her pussy bow blouse in, but unfortunately the little details of the sleeves and buttons let her down. Neil set himself quite the task by drafting his own pattern (no wonder he found it more daunting than his day job – i.e. Lieutenant Colonel!) unfortunately it didn’t win judge(-y) Patrick around who declared it ‘lumpy bumpy’. Oh dear. Deborah’s blouse was accused of going for a walk, while Matt’s seemed to have been wrestled from a dogs jaws – more oh dears here!

This week it was the lovely Lorna who took garment of the week with her pretty peplum top – much to her surprise! Congratulations Lorna!

Lorna (1)Image: Great British Sewing Bee

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Neela, who struggled with timings so was very excited to be able to take as much time as she liked on her next project!!

It just so happens, we’ve done our very own pussycat bow blouse in our March issue – out this Thursday, so why don’t you have a go?!


That’s all for now folks, so tune in next week, same time, same place for corsets, kilts and power suits.

BBC2 @ 8pm, Thursday 26th.




GBSB Series 3 Episode 2

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

13 February 2015

So week 2...lets just take a moment to revel in how great it is to have the lovely May, (fantastically be-shirted) Claudia and the delectable Patrick back on our screens?! 


(Confession time... I like the moustache!) 

Challenge 1: Welt pockets, wonky sewing and worried faces.

Ooooh you're a mean one Mr Grant... Everyone struggled with this (heartmeltingly adorable) childrens' waistcoat pattern. (Apparently any empathy he had for the novices went with the beard!) The intricate pattern called for TOTAL CONCENTRATION - which must be quite tricky when Claudia is dancing about - and a few of the sewers went to pieces. It was the welt pockets that caused the most problems, understandably as it's a Saville Row technique!! (Great tutorial here on Craftsy) Both Lorna and Ryan chose particularly distinct patterned wool, initially causing concern but it seemed to work in their favour as they both came out on top, but it was Ryan who won this first task. 

Challenge 2: Butterflys, bolero's and boxing gloves.

Challenged with using only the over-sized yellow t-shirt and a cotton sundress, the sewers produced some pretty incredible designs! Lorna decided to go with her gut instinct (i.e. no plan - risky business!) and turned out a lovely bow fronted girls dress, while Alex transformed her two garments into a pair of hareem pants. Patrick declared the final array 'the best thing he'd ever seen' (perhaps he doesn't get out too often?) but was tickled by 'insane but brilliant' boxing shorts and gloves from last week's winner Neil. 


Challenge 3: Feathers, flippers and flapper dresses

And so to the Big One. Deputy Head, Amanda went a whiter shade of pale when she realised her 3D element (beads, embroidery and embellishments) was much more modest (read: tasteful) than the rest, but May adored her flappers headdress - phew! There were two peacocks fighting for the limelight, but Deborah's pipped Matt's to the post (who forgot about the know.. movement element to the outfit!) I have to admit, I adored Neela's bookworm - she'd thought about every detail down to the pages of the 'Inch Worm' book and big, bold curly wig. But, it was Paul and his dancing, prancy Nellie the Elephant who took today's (hypothetical) trophy - so congrats to you Paul!!


Sadly, as always, we had to say goodbye to someone, and it was the adorable Alex who's cupcake confection just didn't materialise in time.

Good bye & good luck Alex!!

Don’t miss next week’s GBSB on Thursday 19th Feb, 8pm on BBC2


The Great British Sewing Bee Series 3

Sophie Mould

Sophie Mould

6 February 2015

Last-minute makes!

Sophie Mould

Sophie Mould

16 December 2014

Winter Issue - Mistake!

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

11 December 2014

Oops, very occasionally we make the odd mistake (it happens to the best of us), and regretfully we mis-credited our photographer for the rather gorgeous Winter issue (55). 
Please note that Pete Jones ( was responsible for all the main shoot and cover photography throughout this issue, and not Emma Noren as stated.

Fur Jacket 328

Guest Blog: Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

8 December 2014

With the festive season creeping up on us, these salt dough Christmas decorations are a great way to ease in to it all and are perfect to decorate your home and Christmas tree. Plus, using just three ingredients, this DIY is perfect for those looking to decorate on a budget. It's also a great DIY to work on with friends or family; why not challenge each other to make specific decorations or make some as personal gifts for others. 
You will need: 
For the dough
• 1 cup Flour
• 1/2 cup Salt
• 1/2 Water
• Rolling pin
• Cookie cutters
• Knife
• Stamps (optional)
• Permanent felt tip pens
• A pencil
• Ribbon/string

DSC_0031 (1)

How to make the decorations:
• Add the flour and salt to a bowl and mix well. Add the water bit by bit (you might not need it all). 
• Once mixed, knead the dough until smooth. 
• Roll out the dough to approx. 1cm thick, then using cookie cutters or working free hand, create your decorations. Circles are great for baubles or Christmas puddings if you want to keep things 
simple, or if you're feeling adventurous why not try Christmas trees or snowflakes!
• (Optional) Use rubber stamps on some of your decorations to add detail.
• Using a pencil, create small holes through the tops of your decorations. Make sure the pencil goes all the way through the dough as you will need this hole to hang the decorations. 
• Bake your decorations to dry them in an oven on a very low heat (around 100°c) for around 3 hours. Check regularly.
• Once cool, use felt tip pens to add colour to your decorations. Why not add initials or names of family members if you intend to give the decorations as gifts? 
• When you've finished decorating, thread your decorations onto some festive ribbon or string, and you're all done!


20 something creative who belongs by the seaside.
Usually found crafting, baking (gluten free) or creating of some sort.
Harry potter lover, thrifty & eco thinker, and could listen to Laura Marling every day until the end of time.

National Stress Awareness Day: Embroidery is best!

Abigail Cox

Abigail Cox

4 November 2014

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) based at Hampton Court Palace, says that many of the 1000 plus students come on hand embroidery courses each year attend thanks to the therapeutic and stress-relieving benefits of embroidery which helps them re-focus their lives when in difficult circumstances.

The process of creating and following a design requiring total concentration; the soothing methodical and repetitive motion of taking a needle and thread up and down through fabric; the slow progression of a project as a antidote to the speed of everyday life and the use of colour to express emotion have all been quoted by RSN students as explanations of how embroidery helps them cope with the stresses of life.


Image courtesy of Anna.

The current emphasis on ‘slow crafting’, the popularity of the BBC programme ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’, numerous craft clubs, online forums and magazines giving easy access to designs projects and the inspiration of communities of like-minded people, all add to the stress-busting benefits of creative activities.

Jaqueline Nuttall from the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), says, ‘Although there are no scientific studies to support the claim that embroidery helps tackle stress, in general hobbies are considered to be stress reducers as is the social interaction of doing embroidery in a group environment.’


Image courtesy of Yumiko.

RSN Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay- Williams says, ‘Embroidery is well known for its healing properties. In the First World War soldiers were taught needlework and other craft skills as they convalesced from the experiences of battle. In 1945 the RSN established an advice service for hospitals and nursing homes offering guidance on how best to teach embroidery to recuperating servicemen. Today the RSN’s courses attract a wide range of students, both men and women, including doctors, teachers and lawyers, who have chosen to use their limited free- time to learn embroidery and generally de-stress.’


Royal School of Needlework 

The Royal School of Needlework was founded in 1872 and is the international centre of excellence for the art of hand embroidery. Based at Hampton Court Palace in south west London the RSN offers a range of embroidery courses from day classes for beginners, a Certificate and Diploma course, a Future Tutors programme and a Degree programme – a BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art. As a unique institution the RSN teaches regionally throughout the UK in Exeter, Bristol, Rugby, Durham and Glasgow and internationally in the USA (San Francisco and Williamsburg) and Japan (Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya). The RSN Embroidery Studio undertakes new commissions and conservation work. Clients have included fashion designers, Oscar nominees, cathedrals, private individuals and the Royal Family.


Image courtesy of Chris.


International Stress Management Association – National Stress Awareness Day

This year, the 16th National Stress Awareness Day, will be held on Wednesday 5thNovember at venues all over the UK and promises to be an exciting and fruitful one. Our theme is Stress: the balancing act. It is sometimes difficult to keep the balance right in terms of work, play and lifestyle. Helping to raise awareness of the numerous solutions that are available to achieve this balance is an important one in ISMA’s calendar.

Recent blog posts RSS

All blog posts