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Interview with Sam Sterken, editor of Sew Now

 Sam Sterken

                                                                                   Sam Sterken

Sew Now is a new sewing magazine launching this month (October 16) from Practical Publishing bringing the reader fashion focused sewing projects, patterns and techniques. We caught up with the editor, Sam Sterken to find out more about both her and the magazine.


Please tell us about your background and how you got into sewing.

I’ve always been creative and lived next door to craft shop when I was a child, so often hung out there learning macramé and embroidery. My previous jobs have been mainly in customer service and operation management, but I’ve somehow always managed to weave some creativity into each one!

I started to sew as a teenager with my mum close at hand, but the bobbin of our vintage hand wound Singer machine confused us both so it was very short lived! While on a round the world trip, 12 years ago, I gave dressmaking another go and took an evening class in Wellington, New Zealand. This time I definitely caught the sewing bug. I learnt just enough skills to set me off on my sewing journey, before I moved on.

You used to run Ministry of Craft in Manchester, why did you decide to move on from that?

I set Ministry of Craft up when I was pregnant with my first child, Max, and it really worked well combining my passion for craft and teaching, but also allowing me the flexibility to look after both my children as pre schoolers. Once my daughter went to school, it felt the right time to find a new challenge and it’s was great to be able to hand it all over to one of my close colleagues, Alison Leese. It really was like my third baby!

What kind of sewing do you prefer and why?

After having kids, dressmaking was put on the back burner for a while, as time was very limited. You can also never underestimate the time needed to run your own business, so for years I was happy to sew simple home décor projects and gifts for other people. In the last two years, I’ve had the time to go back to dressmaking and I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone with trickier patterns and fabrics.

Sam Sterken Sewing Space

Sam's Sewing table

What is on your cutting table at the moment?

I just have the sleeves to finish on the jersey top from the Simple Sew Duo of top pattern from Love Sewing  issue 17.  Tops are my ‘go-to’ patterns, as they can be sewn easily over a weekend. I invested in a walking foot a few months ago so I’m sewing a lot with jersey at the moment as the foot makes it so much easier!

Please tell us about your best sewing achievement and biggest sewing disaster.

The very first dress I made in Wellington has to be my biggest sewing achievement. It a shirt dress in a fab 50’s style postcard print! I still have it and wear it from time to time although the finishing was pretty rushed, as I could only use a machine during the class!

My biggest sewing disaster was dress I decided to tackle, while my daughter was a baby. I was tired and managed to cut through the front panel of the skirt after sewing it, by accident, on a bank holiday Monday. Luckily my local fabric shop was open and I could replace the fabric, but I think I just lost my motivation and never did finish the dress. I’m have to confess it’s still in a carrier bag, stored with all my fabric ready to have zip put in and this happened 4 years ago!

What are your top 3 sewing tips?

Make sure you have everything you need before you start sewing – there’s nothing worse than finding a notion missing that then stops your flow!

Invest in the right feet and needles for the techniques you want to sew – they really can make a difference.

Use an orange stick (normally used for pushing back cuticles) to turn out corners and points on collars – it works a treat!

Sew Now magazine issue 1

Issue 1 of Sew Now

How did you end up being the editor of Sew Now and what do you hope to bring to the role?

I’ve been working for Practical Publishing for a few years on and off as a freelancer, creating projects for a two or three titles. When I moved on from Ministry of Craft, Practical Publishing approached me asking me if I’d like to be Editor of a bi-monthly magazine called Sewing Made Simple and I jumped at the chance. In developing this title we realised that there was gap in the market for a stylish sewing magazine and Sew Now was born!

In terms of what I can bring, I think I’m very similar to my reader – always on the look out for new projects that can help define my style and help me be unique, but that challenge my skills and help me understand more about sewing and dressmaking. Hopefully by always putting the reader first I can help bring great patterns, projects and content that’s fresh and different!

Tell us about the magazine, how will it differ to Love Sewing and the other magazines on the market?

The majority of women lead busy lives and although we’d all love to be able to sew all our clothes, in reality that’s not always possible. Sew Now looks at sewing from a different angle to other magazines on the market by combining stylish sewing patterns and projects, with inspiration and trend from the highstreet and catwalk. We also want to make sure our readers can grow their skills so there’ll be plenty of tutorials, techniques and tips on fit and finish, as well as style guides, fashion fabrics and advice from our panel of experts. The greatest thing about being a sewer is that once you can sew the basics you can turn your hand to anything, so we’ve also included on - trend home décor projects, bags and accessories and children’s sewing – there really is something for everyone!

What type of stitcher is the magazine aimed at?

The projects will be for beginners through to intermediate stitchers. I think particularly for beginners it’s important to understand that the first few garments you sew, however simple, can also be stylish and suit your shape and size, but we’ll also be bringing a few new ideas and skills to those who’ve already been stitching for a while.

Sewing projects from Sew Now

Projects from Sew Now Magazine

What can we expect to see in the magazine each month?

Alongside the patterns and projects, there’ll be plenty of inspiration – whether it’s a peek behind the scenes of a sewing business or all the latest new release patterns. We’ve also got refashioning and upcycling in every issue, which I love, as it’s a quick and easy way to learn skills and get creative!

We’re excited to have Stephanie Roper aka Wardrobe Angel on board as our style expert. She’ll be sharing her tips on what classic and on trend garments to sew and how to style your makes whatever your age! And we’re also super proud to be focussing on readers with a fuller figure as part of our ‘Plus Size Promise’ and each issue we’ll have a feature, pattern review or styling advice for size 16 and above. And of course there’ll be plenty of giveaways and discounts – we have a fab Janome sewing machine readers can win in the first issue!

Can you tell us about the contributors we will see in the first few issues?

We’ve got some great people on board, including Claire Garside of Simple Sew, Anna Bruce of Made it patterns, Fiona Hesford of Sew Girl, Julia Claridge of Bobbins and Buttons and Victoria Peat of Little Black Duck. Each one will be bringing us fantastic new garments and accessories for the season ahead. Our panel of experts include Sewing Bee’s Jamie Kemp, Rachael and Kate of The Foldline and Alison Smith, as well as features and interviews with well known sewing celebrities!

Each issue comes with a free pattern, which pattern companies will be featured?

To get the best trend led patterns, our free patterns will be Simple Sew and our in house brand Threadcount, but we do have some exciting plans for future patterns, which will be revealed in the New Year!

Lastly where can we find the magazine online and on social media?

 We’re in all the usual places and on our website at

Sew Now subscription offer