I often holiday in Italy and frequently peruse the sewing and pattern magazines in the newspaper kiosks there. I’ve grown more partial to magazines recently. When you have a magazine that has twenty or so patterns in it for roughly 5 Euros, it certainly makes sense to buy them rather than spending £10 alone on one regular Big 4 pattern or an independent pattern, which can be even more expensive.
I’ve bought a handful of publications in Italy in the last few years and have even used some of the patterns, so I thought I’d write a little about them.
Where can I buy magazines?
There are lots of newspaper / magazine kiosks dotted around in most towns or cities in Italy. They have a bewildering array of magazines, but usually only one or two copies of each magazine, which means unless you are lucky that your holiday coincides with the publication date you might not be lucky.
There are plenty of magazines in the “tabaccherie” as well. However, again they may only stock one or two copies. I have asked for magazines to be held for me for my next visit, and the owner very generously agreed. Obviously, this only works if you visit the same area frequently.
I’ve also found that larger supermarkets, like Emisfero, have a good selection of magazines and frequently enough copies that they do not run out quickly after publication.
What publications are available in Italy?
The Marfy designs are Italian, high-end / couture and very stylish. They include dresses, coordinating suits, coats and a limited selection of separates. There are no instructions for these patterns and Marfy really do assume that you are a competent sewer to tackle their designs.
I’ve not bought this magazine myself, simply because the designs don’t fit into my rather casual lifestyle, although I could perhaps justify a smart jacket or coat.
Modellina is a magazine produced by Simplicity. There are sister publications too, including Modellina Facile (Modellina Easy) and Modellina Extra.
The magazine is full of simple, easy-to-make designs. In the edition that I have there many patterns with two or three variations, which means you can mix and match the features to get the design you’re after. For example, this jumpsuit has two different sleeve lengths, three different leg lengths and different collars.
I’m currently making a pair of Capri trousers with a pattern from this magazine.
La Mia Boutique
This magazine contains patterns from Italian designers and has more adventurous designs in it in my opinion.
I nearly bought the August edition of this magazine when on holiday, but I wasn’t particularly interested in more than a couple of the patterns in it. In contrast, having looked at the website, the preceding month has some excellent designs. I’ll look again at this magazine on my next visit, perhaps La Mia Boutique will have moved on from the weirdly asymmetrical garments (see below) in this last issue. Not that I dislike asymmetry, just these particular designs.
The Sewing Princess reviews all the editions of La Mia Boutique and I’d recommend looking at her blog for in-depth reviews of each edition of the magazine.
La Mia Moda
La Mia Moda and additional publication La Mia Moda Speciale – Solo Abiti (Only Dresses) is also known as Fashion Trends in Germany.
I went out late one evening to purchase this magazine from the store near our hotel and found that the experience left me with a huge crop of fresh mosquito bites. For my pains though I did get this rather super magazine. The patterns are based on ready-to wear designs and this means that they are mostly made with knits or stretch fabrics. For this reason I haven’t made many of the designs – I consider myself still rather more keen on sewing wovens. However, I have used one of the t-shirt patterns for both this and this t-shirt.
This particular outfit has been on my to-do list for a while. I’m sure I’ll make it one day….
Fashion Style seems to be the Italian version of Knip magazine from The Netherlands. It is also known as Fashion Style in Germany and Patrones in Spain. I did ponder when I bought this magazine where it originated, since there are German words on the patterns. I think the Italian version is actually translated from the German. There is also an article with two Dutch ladies in it, giving it truly international feel!
I’ve yet to make anything from this issue, but I am drawn to this jacket.
Burda magazine is published in a large number of countries including United Kingdom, France, Spain, Gemany, Russia and The Netherlands as well as Italy. They also occasionally publish collections of patterns following a theme. I bought the magazine below in Italy, long before it appear in the UK. It is a collection of the “Sewing School” patterns, which are quite simple to make. Of course, if you are ever stuck with the instructions, they are free to download them from the Burda website in English, but don’t expect much, Burda are renowned for the incomprehensibility of their instructions!
I made this shirred top from this magazine.
How are the patterns printed in the publication?
The patterns are printed on large fold-out sheets and you’ll need to trace off the patterns. As is usual with magazines there are no seam allowances included in the patterns for those magazines that I have tried – Modellina, La Mia Moda, Burda Style and Fashion Style.
What sizes are the patterns? / Are there plus sizes?
This chart is only a rough guide. I have found that the sizing does vary between the different companies and it is wise to select your size based on the company’s own body measurement charts.
Where can I buy these magazines if I’m not going to Italy?
I haven’t tried these out yet, but I think I would like to order an edition of La Mia Boutique. I’ll let you know how I get on with that.
Is it worth picking up a sewing pattern in a language I don’t understand?
If you’ve been sewing for a while you’ll realise that even when the instructions are confusing, there are always ways to resolve your problems. It is possible to sew something just by finding alternative instructions either online or from your own trusted repertoire of sewing patterns. Having said that, sometimes it’s wise to have some knowledge sewing terms, especially those that crop up on the pattern pieces. I’m lucky I lived in Italian and have some knowledge of the language, so I’ve put together a sewing glossary in Italian that might help here. This glossary is more a work in process than a comprehensive guide at the moment. I’ll keep on adding words to it as I go along.