Michelle Rowley

Writer, editor, teacher, dressmaker



Recent features

Celebrating Britain

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.

Tales of triumph & talent

Stitches on Stage

What image does the word ballerina conjure in your mind? For most of us, it’s like the opening of a musical jewellery box: an elegant dancer on pointe, with arms aloft and dressed in a beautiful tutu. It’s hard to think of ballet without this iconic garment. Swan Lake wouldn’t be Swan Lake without an abundance of white tulle. For whilst the most important aspect of ballet is the dance, the role of the tutu should not be underestimated, and nobody knows that better than leading costume maker Amanda Hall.

Mad about Mary

Looking back on her teenage years, 74-year-old Ruth Lowe recalls with great fondness the fabulous nightlife of the swinging sixties. Dressed in their latest Mary Quant inspired homemade outfits, Ruth and her older sister Lys, now 76, regularly visited the clubs in their home city of Birmingham to watch the latest bands perform. Those happy times, centred around music and fashion, were to have a lifelong lasting effect on Ruth and would eventually lead her to a new and rewarding career at the age of 60.

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.

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!

Fashion History

Trench Coats: A Fascinating Secret History

Michelle Obama, Audrey Hepburn, Meghan Markle and Kate Moss are amongst the legion of women who have recognised the trench coat’s ability to add sophistication, style and an air of authority to an outfit in an instant. When Meghan Markle wore hers to announce her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017, it was likely a sartorial statement to be taken seriously. Throwing on a trench coat can take an outfit from basic to business in seconds, simply through our association of the iconic coat with compet

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.

A Brief History of Women's Trousers

A BRIEF HISTORY OF: History of women’s trousers

Who wears the trousers? These days, they’re a wardrobe staple for most women. But travel back even a few decades and it was a very different story – an article originally written for Love Sewing Magazine by MICHELLE ROWLEY

Are you wearing a form of trousers as you read this? There is a strong chance. If so, did you question the message you would be sending to society when you got dressed this morning? There’s probably very little chance. Today ou

Guides and tutorials

How to Sew Leather & Faux Leather, Tips & Tricks for Success

Embrace the world of sewing with leather and elevate your craftsmanship to new heights! Our comprehensive guide is here to dismantle any doubts and guide you step-by-step through material selection, mastering seams, and creating exquisite, professional-looking leather garments. Unlock the secrets to working with this luxurious material and transform your sewing projects into standout pieces!

How to Choose a Suitable Pattern For Sewing With Leather

Keep things simple the first time you sew with

How to sew a zipped cushion cover for your home - Reader's Digest

Add a splash of colour and some extra comfort to a room with a simple zipped cushion cover. With just a few supplies and 1-2 hours of your time, you can sew a removable cushion cover to match your current colour scheme or to inject a pop of new colour. When it comes to comfort and style you can never have too many cushions!

"With under two hours of your time, you can sew a removable cushion cover to match your current colour scheme or inject a new colour"

This quick project is suitable for beg

How to make a tote bag from old material

Learning how to make a tote bag is one of the best and most practical ways to get started in sewing. My step-by-step tutorial for a tote bag will take you through transforming a neglected bedsheet, duvet cover or tablecloth into a useful all-purpose tote bag. This is a great beginner sewing project as you don’t need to invest in fabric or a pattern and it is very easy to make.

All you need learn how to sew a tote bag is an hour or two of your time, a basic sewing machine, an old textile item su

How to sew a toddler’s dress from a pillowcase - Reader's Digest

Chances are there’s an old pillowcase going to waste in your airing cupboard, so why not put it to good use in a quick and satisfying sewing project that anyone can do!

With just a few supplies and one to two hours of your time, you can transform a neglected pillowcase into a much-loved dress. With no pattern or fabric to buy, this fun upcycle project is a great introduction to sewing and the satisfaction that it can bring.

"With just a few supplies, you can transform a neglected pillowcase in

How to start sewing: a guide on how to sew for beginners

If you're keen to learn how to start sewing then I can help. If you’re looking for a new hobby that’s useful, creative and rewarding, then this guide will get you started. Understanding the basics of how to sew for beginners I outline below, will get you up and running in no time at all.

Learning to sew gives you the power to create a wardrobe of beautiful, individual and (best of all) well-fitting clothes.

Best sewing machines for quilting in March 2023

When choosing from the best sewing machines for quilting you need to consider a number of things, as whilst it’s true that any sewing machine can be used for quilting, there’s no denying that a machine designed with quilting in mind is going to offer a quilter some beneficial extra features.

As stitching quilts can involve working on very large pieces of material, it’s worth finding a specialist sewing machine that can provide a larger work space, known as long arm quilting machines.

Author interviews and book guides


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