Michelle Rowley

Writer, editor, teacher, dressmaker

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The best sewing machines in 2022

The best sewing machines offer a wealth of options and functions, and it can be overwhelming. So we've scoured the stores and put together the ultimate list of the finest sewing machines. It doesn't matter what you need the sewing machine for, be it dressmaking, quilting or embroidery, whichever type of sewer you are we have you covered in this buying guide. A good sewing machine is a much-needed companion to the best Cricut machines, as you can cut your cloth accurately and speedily and then b

Our Woolly Wonders

Take a woolly tour across Britain as we explore how the nation’s sheep have shaped our iconic contribution to knitwear. When you picture the British countryside, what do you see? Chances are the picturesque image includes some sheep dotted amongst rolling green hills. Across our valleys, hills, plains and mountains, Britain is home to over 33 million sheep. No wonder it’s hard to imagine our landscape without them. Whilst Britain’s landscape is undeniably beautiful, the same can’t often be said for the weather. The need to wrap up warm has had Britons wearing sheep fleece since the Stone Age. Immigration and industry have further shaped our knitted heritage, with different areas of Britain producing their own distinctive knitwear.

The Royal Weave

Sudbury in Suffolk has been the centre of weaving in the UK since the arrival of the Huguenot weavers in the 19th Century. Gainsborough Weaving, based in Sudbury, have been producing some of the world’s finest furnishing fabrics since 1903. Specialists in historical reproductions of interior fabrics, they have woven fabrics for the productions of Downtown Abbey and Pride and Prejudice amidst an impressive portfolio of high-profile clients such as the British Royal Family and Bentley Motors. Michelle Rowley explores the company’s fascinating history, complex weaving processes and incredible archive of other 7000 sumptuous fabrics.

Fashion at The Royal Opera House

From Jack Nicholson’s ties to the swans in Matthew Bourne’s ground-breaking Swan Lake, Amanda Hall has been sewing incredible costumes for the stars of film and stage for over thirty years. Having loved opera and sewing from an early age, Amanda currently has her dream role as head of the costume revivals department at the Royal Opera House. She spoke with Michelle Rowley about her fascinating career and its unique creative challenges.

Sewing Under the Hammer

Lucy Bishop has the fascinating role of auctioneer and specialist at Kerry-Taylor Auctions in London, the world’s leading auction house of exceptional fashion. Accepting only the very best of vintage and contemporary fashion, haute couture, celebrity wardrobe pieces and rare antique costumes for their sales, the auction house has sold thousands of beautifully sewn garments at eye-watering prices. Michelle Rowley chatted to Lucy to discuss her enviable work and some of the incredible pieces she has been fortunate to work with.

A Brief History of Blazers

If you haven’t worn a blazer since high school perhaps it’s time to take another look at this classic wardrobe staple. With a wealth of fantastic blazer sewing patterns available for the hobby dressmaker, now could be the time to take on the satisfying challenge of sewing this classic garment. A blazer is undoubtedly far from a quick sew but Michelle Rowley argues that its timeless appeal and versatility will be worth the extra time and effort. She explores the history and power of the blazer and offers some pattern, sewing and styling tips to get you sewing a garment you will reach for time and time again.

Labour of Love

Would you sew your own wedding dress? What prouder sewing achievement could there be than to walk down the aisle in a dress of your own creation? There’s never going to be a better opportunity to say “Thank you, I made it!”, but is sewing your own wedding dress a dressmaker’s dream or a stressful sewing nightmare. Michelle Rowley spoke to four avid dressmakers to discover the highs and lows of sewing your dream dress for the big day.

Suits you, Sir

Sewing strides for the rich and famous is all in a (few) day’s work for star trouser tailor Daniel Kozyra. His perfectionist work ethic combined with a real passion for bespoke tailoring means Daniel is recognised as one of the UK’s best trouser makers. His work is highly sought-after from a number of Saville Row tailors, such as Benson & Clegg, Malcolm Plews, Meyer & Mortimer and Huntsman & Sons to name a few. “Daniel is renowned for his meticulous attention to detail and the sheer quality of his work is unrivalled.” says Benson & Clegg’s Managing Director, Mark Gordon. His journey from a young boy designing football kits to an acclaimed bespoke tailor, is one of hard work, dedication and perseverance. Michelle Rowley caught up with him to discover what it takes to be a Saville Row tailor and to get sewing advice from the man who sews trousers for HRH Prince Charles!
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