Saturday 30 June 2012

Guess Where I am Today?


Thursday 14 June 2012

PRIMA Pattern Came in My Post Today...

Prima Magazine - Pattern, June 2012 (01)

Well it's only been 2 weeks since I ordered my PRIMA Magazine pattern over the phone. 

I called in my details on a Friday evening (you leave your address etc. with them on a voicemail service), and taking into account office opening hours etc. the very, very earliest they could've got to work on despatching my order would have to of been Wednesday 6th June (with Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th being the special extra long Jubilee Bank-Holiday weekend and all). So, by my calculations... pick up my call on the 6th - delivered on Thursday 14th = equals 6 working days for delivery! Not too shabby really :)

Interestingly (or not as the case may be) it was posted First-Class (and there was me expecting Second-Class as a cost saving measure!). I saw that there was a return address (in case of non-delivery) on the front of my envelope: Prima, PO Box 7557, Derby, DE1 ONP. So, I had another little Google search using the address to see if an ordinary (non-premium rated) telephone numbers came up - in order to make ordering the patterns cheaper (or free dependant upon your call charges) - but no joy!

The pattern I received is a halter neck summer dress - with options for a pencil-style or a full-gathered skirt. It's from the June 2012 issue (no longer on the newstands in the shops).

Prima Magazine: June 2012 Issue  Prima Magazine - Pattern, June 2012 (03)
June Cover (Image Source:

The current issue for sale is the July 2012 one (below). I snuck a few photos from inside a newsagents this morning (shhhh!!! don't tell anyone!).

  Prima Magazine: July 2012 Issue
July 2012 Covers (Image Source:

Prima Magazine - Pattern, July 2012 (01)  Prima Magazine - Pattern, July 2012 (02).JPG  Prima Magazine - Pattern, July 2012 (03).JPG

July 2012's Prima Pattern is a
"Loose fitting calf-length dress and kaftan with deep V-neckline."

As pointed out by the lovely Melissa: Prima don't make it easy to find out what the next month's pattern will be (it's not on the net anywhere - trust me I looked!) And, very often they seal their magazines into clear plastic - so you can't even flick through the pages to see if you like the current month's pattern *sighs*. Anyway I tracked down an email address for their office and sent them a polite suggestion about publishing the pattern details on their website (I dunno if they'll reply - but as the saying goes "If you don't ask - you don't get!").

Think I might order this July pattern now - looks kinda cute + easy too :)!

  EDIT / UPDATE: (Friday 15th June 2012)
  I've just phoned them up and ordered the July 2012 pattern. And, I've realised that
  Prima choose a different set of phone numbers for each month's pattern!!

  E.g.:  June 2012 = UK 0906 757 6472
                                   Republic of Ireland 1550 927 771

         July 2012 =  UK 0906 757 6473
                                  Republic of Ireland 1550 927 772

  So, I believe that they re-use old phone numbers again later in the same year. So, if you see
  say June's issue in one shop, but the shop across the street has July's on the shelf - then you
  need to be sure to call the correct phone number! Or you'd get the wrong month sent to
  you if you don't listen to the recorded-voice at the beginning of your phone call LOL!


Friday 8 June 2012

Jubilations & Craftaganza in Brighton

Brighton - Union Jack Postcard
Very apt photo - I was visiting Brighton, but I live in London!
We've just had a super lovely extra long Bank-Holiday weekend at the start of this week, culminating in a short 3-day working week (anyone else felt like me and sooo didn't want to come to work on Wednesday morning LOL?). The long weekend (Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th of June were our public holiday days) was in celebration of The Queen's 60 years on the throne - her Diamond Jubilee.

On the Tuesday I popped down to Brighton to mooch around a couple of fabric shops, and to also check out Zoe's craft fair Craftaganza which was being held over the 2-days in Fabrica on Duke Street.

It was a rainy day but it didn't seem to dampen the British spirit, as there were plenty of people on the streets, in the shops, and at the craft fair of this historic seaside town in East Sussex.

I arrived around lunchtime, and my first stops were the fabric shops C & H Fabrics. C & H have been around donkey's years - although I hadn't visited them in what seems like at least a decade, the store layout and decor had not appeared to of changed one jot! (Full set of my C & H photos are here on Flickr.) 

02 C & H Fabrics Shop, Brighton 03 C & H Fabrics Shop, Brighton

Downstairs is a mixture of tourist gifts, handbags, and a display of ready-made curtains.

The 1st floor is furnishing fabrics, curtain making, and a surprising array of crafts lights.

04 C & H Fabrics Shop, Brighton 05 C & H Fabrics Shop, Brighton
06 C & H Fabrics Shop, Brighton 10 C & H Fabrics Shop, Brighton

On the 2nd floor is the knitting / crochet area, dressmaking fabrics, haberdashery, notions, sewing-accessories and other crafts (patchwork / quilting, scrap booking etc.), and weirdly (to my mind at least) 2 different clothing brands Eastex and Dash! I was also intrigued by their custom button-covering service, but prices start at 45p per button, it seemed better to try this at home (I didn't need any made up for me - but  do already have a few years old half used kits I can play with if need be).

They also had a good selection of zippers. All their zips seemed to be a make called OPTI, that I've not come across before. A quick web search told me that it's a Coats & Clark brand.

I had a good rummage on their remnants table and picked up a piece of thick cotton drill for £2.79. I liked their range of notions and haberdashery and picked up a magnetic pin dish, some new shears, some buttons and some metric seam / measuring gauges.

01 04
I already own several Imperial / Inch marked seam gauges (their seriously in my top 3 favourite sewing notions), and keep them dotted around so I don't misplace them; one at the sewing machine, another by my cutting table, another by the pressing area, and a spare in my glass jar. It's now ice to have options between cms / inches to choose from.

Next stop was a few yards down the same road at Fabric Land. I've always found their quirky online store somewhat tricky to navigate, so I was keen to experience this more pocket-friendly shop in person. I didn't spot any home decor / furnishing fabrics so if that's your thing you'd need to stick with C & H. On the ground floor they did had a whole lot of cottons and polycottons for under £4 per metre, and a range of knits in polyester, cottons, blends, and rayon (viscose). Also on the ground floor are their wall of buttons and their haberdashery and notions display. (Full set of my C & H photos are here on Flickr.)

01 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton 02 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton 04 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton

Fabric Land felt a more sewing-crafting community friendly place - with posters in the window, and a noticeboard of events, clubs etc. near the stairwell (can you spot the Craftaganza poster bottom centre of the last pic on the right?).

03 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton 06 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton 07 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton 08 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton 09 Fabric Land Shop, Brighton

Of the 2 stores the Fabric Land staff seemed the happier, friendlier and more approachable bunch. The prices were cheaper than C & H, and there was a definite hustle 'n' bustle with plenty of customers milling about - many queueing up a the cutting table to pay, as well as browsing. All the Fabric Land staff were actively serving customers and barely had a moment to rest before the next customer was upon them. In C & H it seemed very quiet on the actual selling side of things - few people buying, and 99% of the staff seemed too be standing still either at a cash desk, or just tidying stock on shelves etc. Overall I'd say C & H had the better rang for haberdashery, notions and accessories.

This is what I bought in Fabric Land (a girl can never have too many seam rippers now can she!?)

It's 2 metres of a polyester Ponte Roma in Teal Blue - intended for a batwing top, as inspierd by Elizabeth's versions.

Last stop before heading home was Craftaganza (Full set of my Craftaganza pics are here on Flickr.) Craftaganza is held at Fabrica on Duke Street in Brighton. Fabrica's venue was formerly a church.

01 Craftaganza Brighton  03 Craftaganza Brighton 

It was a hive of activity inside. People were crocheting, and embroidering. There were cupcakes for sale, cushions, jewellery and all manner of pretty handmade things to warm your crafting-soul.

04 Craftaganza Brighton  05 Craftaganza Brighton 

I picked up a few bits (who could resist the urge to support local artisans, AND boost the British economy at the same time eh?).

I ordered a sweet little Bunny Brooch in custom-colours from Lucy's stall : Little Things I Make (she's also on Etsy).

06 Craftaganza Brighton 07 Craftaganza Brighton

On Betty Shek's stall I picked up 2 darling rings - made from re-fashioned buttons!

09 Craftaganza Brighton  11 Craftaganza Brighton  10 Craftaganza Brighton

And, last but not least I bought 2 silver-plated pendants from Ladybird Likes - one in the design of a pair of scissors very sewing appropriate I thought (I've been proudly sporting them all week), and a weeny little blue butterfly one.

12 Craftaganza Brighton 13 Craftaganza Brighton

Here's the actual handmade purchases :) Alongside the lady responsible for pulling the Craftaganza event together - Zoe!

05  14 Craftaganza Brighton

Lastly, we can't leave out the Jubilee fun - Brighton seemed in a celebratory spirit... here's a few pics:

Saturday 2 June 2012

PRIMA Magazine: How to Order Their Sewing Patterns

This post was last updated on: 30-October-2016
This post was previously updated on: 19-August-2013, and 09-April-2014

Years ago the UK published (available in ROI too) 'Prima Magazine' used to include a free garment sewing pattern.
Prima Magazine Logo (source)
I vividly remember sewing my first dress (a shoe string strappy number with fish-eye darts, a centred-zip, in black floral polycotton) from it when I was 16 years old. Unfortunately for me I was in a hurry to complete the dress in time to wear at one of my best friends' birthday party... and I forgot about the seam allowance, and effectively stitched up the dress a size or two too small. Cue an evening of suckin' it all in for what it's worth, and crossing my finger's that my zip didn't burst either LOL. Ahhh, the follies of youth ;). I even made a lovely matching scrunchie for my ponytail (haha - I see the Prima website has a free how to  on making those hair accessories - fashion eh? What comes around, goes around).

Anyway, these days Prima only sends out the pattern via the post - it's no longer printed and inserted into every copy of the magazine like in the good 'ol days.

if you're a subscriber you'd automatically get your copy in through your letterbox with your magazine.

Or... if you've bought a one-off issue in your friendly neighbourhood newsagents you can call up the Prima phone number(s) and get that month's pattern posted to you.

Now clearly, in these hard economic times the magazine publisher isn't gonna give away the patterns entirely for free. They're going to need to re-coup the printing costs from somewhere aren't they? Therefore, the phone number your obliged to dial is premium rated - and that calls is not going to come cheap.

I've hunted the web, and sadly there's definitely no sign of an ordinary phone number to use instead (so no cheap calls I'm afraid), I even tried the site which helps people to share normal phone number alternatives to premium rate lines; but no joy.

Prima Magazine: June 2012 Issue  Prima Magazine: July 2012 Issue
June and July 2012 Covers (Image Source:

So, if you like a good proportion of their patterns during the course of a year it may be more economic for you to take out the subscription, rather than say buy the magazine off the shelf at around £3 at time + spend money on the phone calls on top of that.

So, far I've only liked 1 or 2 patterns enough myself to warrant making the phone call... so THIS is what now I do ;)...
(1)  Make a note of the phone number,
(2)  Keep it somewhere safe,
(3)  Go to the shop - flick through the latest Prima Magazine,
(4)  Check-out this month's sewing pattern, somewhere in the middle pages usually!
       [I do not actually buy the magazine - saves me some cash]
(5)  I then decide if I want that pattern or not,
(6)  And finally, I call up the phone number and place my patten order.

PRIMA MAGAZINE - Sewing Pattern
  Phone Number for Ordering  
  UK 0906 757 6472*  
  Republic of Ireland 1550 927 771*  
  *You must be over 18 years old to call.
  [EDIT: *These phone numbers above are for the June 2012 edition - Prima choose a different set of phone
    numbers for each month's pattern -
see this newer post here]

  Call Costs (correct as of the December 2011 issue):
  Calls cost 77p per minute from BT Landlines (ROI 95c/min) and should last no longer than 
  2 minutes. Network charges may vary.

  Information you will need when you phone:
  (NB: You're asked to spell any difficult words)
  •  Your full name
  •  Your address
  •  Then your post code
  •  Your daytime telephone number - including dialling code.  The phone line closes for the
current issue's pattern at the end of that issue's actual calendar month. E.g. for the
      June 2012 issue, you'd need to phone up before the end of June to order it.

Interestingly, I spotted the July 2012 issue in WHSmiths yesterday and I liked the pattern in that issue - but when I went to order it tonight (hence the idea for this blog post), I was only able to order the June 2012 pattern (which I found out **half way through the phone call). Given I'd already paid out for the phone call I thought I might as well have it after all.

And, as I'm a curious sort, so I decided to use my digital kitchen timer to check if their purported 2 minutes call-time held true... I synchronised pressing of buttons in both hands for an accurate result ;) . And, success! I had 1 minute 58 seconds on the clock:

Took 9 seconds for my phone to stop ringing and connect to them (so I suppose 1 min 49 seconds if you're being really finicky).
•  The recorded message greets you with a voice telling you which month's pattern you are ordering.
•  Then, listening to **36 seconds of adverts/blurb.
Then I had to record my order details (name, address etc.). 

What do you get with your pattern?

The patterns themselves are delivered in an A4 envelope.
•  Out of the envelope the pattern sheet unfolds to 8x the size.
•  My dress pattern from the December 2011 issue had 2 sheets in total.
•  The sheets are printed double-sided, so you may need to trace-off or photocopy some of your pieces to make things easier.
•  They're printed all in black and white, onto thick paper - not unlike newspaper stock. They're definitely not the lightweight, semi-transparent, tracing-type of pattern paper you'd usually get with the traditional / conventional envelope patterns of say McCall's or Vogue.
•  The pattern instructions (complete with diagrams), cutting layout, and key to symbols are printed onto the sheet too. So, it may be worth photocopying, scanning, photographing (to read on a screen as you sew?) them off before you start.

The sizes for most Prima Magazine patterns seem to run typically from a UK 10 - 20. Also, their sizes seem to be based on UK RTW (ready to wear) sizes.

Here's the size chart from the December 2011 dress pattern. I've recreated it for easy reference :)Prima Size Chart
It's for body measurements, not finished garment sizes. Therefore, I'm making the assumption that the size chart would apply for all of their women's patterns (well until they change their sizes anyway).

Free Crafty Projects Online 
Prima also have a collection of simple, free crafty projects which would be great for beginners - book bags, sleep masks, make-up bags, kiddies toys etc. here. There's even a free pattern for a really simple drawstring skirt  taken from the new book 'Sewing Made Simple' by Tessa Evelegh - it looks good for a quick beach cover up if made in a not-too-thin knit, or even a towelling fabric!

Subscribing to Prima Magazine
If you do decide to subscribe, then here's the publisher's web-page.
I looked at 4 to 5 different subscription stores, and the above link was the cheapest value. Some had options to buy say 6 months worth, but then the price might be more costly.

The magazine is delivered in a clear plastic envelope - with the sewing pattern tucked inside with it.

Please remember though - that if you do purchase the magazine subscription, that you ensure that you clearly select the option to receive your 
free sewing pattern each month - or it will not be delivered when your magazine arrives.

A Note About Digital Issues: I got the photos further above of the June 2012 and July 2012 covers from, but whilst you can get a digital subscription to the magazine through Zinio - I do not believe that you can get the sewing patterns digitally - let alone printable via this media. So, don't go down the digital route if you want to get the patterns (although I would be interested to hear of anyone who has done this and still got the patterns posted to them at home!).

    Q: Where can I view the current month's sewing patterns?

   Easy! You can checkout all my other blog posts about Prima Magazine - as I publish
   the details of the new/current pattern at the start of each month. I've been posting details
   on my blog from the June 2012 issue magazine onwards of each month's sewing pattern.

  [DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way associated with Prima Magazine, nor am I sponsored in
  anyway by them. I started posting about their sewing patterns as I thought that if I cannot
  find any information on the web about them then perhaps somebody else my find this
  stuff useful too :) !

   Q: I ordered my pattern, but it never arrived - what should
  - what should I do?

   If you have ordered a Prima Magazine pattern using their phone-line numbers and it has not
   arrived within the 28-day period
 (which they stipulate to allow for the delivery) then I'd
suggest that you contact them direct with your query :). The magazine is
   published by 
HEARST Magazines, and you can find their contact details here. Their email
    address is:, and their phone line for queries is regarding a
   magazine subscription order, renewal or enquiry please call *
0844 848 1601 or you can visit (which is the official online store of Hearst Magazines). [*NB: To save
   call-charge costs on your telephone
 you could call this number instead 
01858 438 797.]
   Both of the phone numbers given above are UK phone numbers.


  Q: I've seen an old pattern that I want to get - can I order
  a copy still?

   Okay - this depends!
   Check the date of the Prima Magazine that the pattern appeared in... if it's still current,
and that month hasn't already ended then you should still have time to telephone the 
   number and place your order with them for that pattern over the phone (see the process
    above - NB: the telephone number changes each month for each different pattern
   E.g. If the pattern is from August 2012 and you're about to telephone to order and today is
   still before the end of August 2012 then you're good to go; if not and it's after the 31st
   August 2012 then you're out of luck my friend! To see if the pattern you like is still current
and available to order - you could checkout all my other blog posts about Prima 
Magazine - as I publish the details of the new/current pattern at the start of each month.

  Q: Can I purchase or order back-issues of the patterns?

   Sadly this is not possible.
   Prima Magazine only offer their sewing patterns for
 **free - the patterns are never for sale
   - therefore it is not possible to purchase them. This applies to both their current and old

  Q: As the patterns are **free is possible to download them
  as PDF files?

   Whilst it's great that the patterns are **free - they are however not available for download.
   They are only available as the printed-paper hardcopies.

**The Prima Magazine patterns are free - except for the costs you incur telephoning the
    special order number - which changes each month).

    Claire's Tuppence Worth... (Added on 9th April 2014)
     (1) In my humble opinion, it would be lovely if Prima Magazine were to go back to the good 
   'ol days and were to always include the printed-paper sewing patterns in the centre-fold 
   of each and every magazine. Then everyone regardless of whether they are subscribers or 
   customers in the newsagents would always get a copy. However, not everyone loves to 
   sew (a great shame I know!) so the cost and expense to the publishers of doing this would 
   not be make economic or business sense at all. So, it's highly unlikely that this would 
   (2) If Prima would make it easier to order their paper sewing patterns - e.g. an online 
    section perhaps on their own website would be nice? They currently use a [fee-charging
    phone line ordering system - from which they clearly must derive monies back to cover the 
    inherent production costs for design, pattern-cutting, manufacturing, printing and 
    posting out the patterns. Perhaps, a small-ish fee in the ballpark of the £2-£4 GBP (via 
    PayPal? could be made by customers ordering online instead?
    UPDATE: 30-Oct-2016 Since January 2016 Prima magazine have "finally" started to issue
    details of their patterns online. Also, as from their September 2016 pattern, they now
     "finally" show images online of the technical drawings too.)

   (3) Previews of sewing patterns for the month ahead would be fantastic, and would in 
    my humble opinion, increase uptake on orders for the patterns too. A mini-preview photo 
    printed inside the magazine itself + an online preview/archive of images of the
sewing patterns should not be hard or technically challenging at all to achieve.
     UPDATE: 30-Oct-2016 As is common with practically all magazines they are printed with
     a "cover date" ahead of the current "actual calendar date" - e.g. in early October
     you'd be able to purchase the November issue. Therefore, since January 2016 it is
     now possible to view the details of the next sewing pattern from Prima 
     Also, as from their September 2016 pattern, they now 
"finally" show images
     online of the 
technical drawings too.). 

   (4) The ability to order back issue of patterns would be great. Maybe they could offer 
     these online (see suggestions in (2) above).

   (5) Offer PDF patterns as downloads - for the current and back-issue patterns would be 
    great too. And, save them the cost of printing/postage etc. They could still recover 
    production costs via a payment (again, see suggestions in (2) above) - and maybe even 
    generate more revenue/profit for themselves to boot!