Make it Easy: A newly made top and a long lost sewing magazine

Monday, January 18, 2016

I recently bought an issue of Make it Easy: Mix and Match Pattern Wardrobe & Sewing Guide from an antique shop in Sheffield (though I'm not sure I'd quite class it as an antique yet - it was published in 1984). I first remember being drawn to the attractive, bright, retro designs of the Make it Easy series when I was in my teens, and I came across a bunch of them in a junk shop. I bought a few at the time, just because I liked to collect old catalogues and 'vintage' imagery. These were a bit wasted on the non-sewist teen me, so now I actually sew, it was a pleasure to come across a few issues.
The cardboard sleeve and it's contents
A preview of what's inside issue 7
Make it Easy is a 26 piece series, originally published by Marshall and Cavendish in 1984. Each issue offers instructions to make a number of garments, as well as a pattern hack and 'styling' suggestions. The patterns are all printed and enclosed with the magazine in a cardboard sleeve, and each issue comes with 'technique cards' - though mine were missing unfortunately. I decided to buy issue 7 for the top/trousers/dungarees combination of patterns.

Jam packed contents!
I've really struggled to find out much more about the series. It seems that the magazines are aimed at the beginner sewist, who was trying to build their very own 'mix and match' wardrobe - and as some of you may know, I'm already a big fan of the capsule/mix and match wardrobe (see here)! Marshall and Cavendish also published a similarly beginner-targeted magazine series called 'Get Knitting' the following year - each pack containing a colour knitting and stitch guide, plus patterns for men, women and children. You probably get the idea, but I did come across this wonderful video ad for Make it Easy (via Kristina at Arts, Thoughts, Fashion, Tech) that is well worth a watch:



Anyway, over to the make! I still had some (suitably retro print) cotton hanging around from the last Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market, so I decided to use it for the very basic top in the magazine. No darts, no shaping, just a straightforward sew to kick start 2016. The blouse/top has a wide, almost boat-style neckline and a neat little tie to the right shoulder.

Make it Easy top worn with Topshop trousers

The instructions would be super easy to follow for an absolute beginner - though I took more time finishing my seams, rather than just using pinking sheers as per the instructions. The only bit that was a pain was turning the narrow ties out - totally manageable, but just takes patience! I've rolled my sleeves up a couple of turns and stitched them in place like the design on the front cover - see I'm paying attention to the styling tips! Here are some more:

Mix and match styling tips for the patterns in issue 7
Simple pattern hacks and accessory suggestions for the top
I'd like to try making the trousers from this issue (when you consider the picture below, how can I not?!) and I'd collect more of the Make it Easy series if I ever come across them again! If anyone else spots a copy then I'd recommend snapping it up - even if just for the fun styling :)

Snazzy trousers and dungarees here!

Can anyone else shed more light on the Make it Easy series? Have you come across or made anything from it?


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24 comments

  1. I have a full set of Make It Easy Patterns!! I bought most of them in the 80's and made a few of the items back then - basic t-shirt tops and a couple of the shirts from Set No. 8 mainly - unfortunately the clothes are long since discarded!! The pattern sets are brilliant - I love them!! I have the booklets filed in the red folder that came with the series and it's great to look through them now and again. I also had the extra series that followed on, called Special Collection or something like that, which included a few mens and childrens patterns as well. I'll have to dig them out and maybe get sewing...

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    1. Hi Janet, it's amazing that you have the full set and that you've hung on to them! What a great library to look through for inspiration and help with techniques. From what I saw, most of the patterns were pretty simple and timeless if you can see past the 'of-the-time' styling - you should definitely try sewing some of them up!

      My next challenge is going to be the 'triangular flap' variation of the trousers - but probably in a quite plain fabric, don't think I'm brave enough for that check print quite yet :)

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    2. Hi Janet, just discovered the post. I found pattern 25 in a charity shop and am keen to make the playsuit but the instructions are missing - I've only got the pieces - any chance you could post the instruction page for it?! Otherwise there's going to be a lot of guesswork going on!

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    3. Charlotte - if you let me have your email address, I will try and scan them and send to you.

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    4. Hi.
      I have got all the patterns and not the magazines. I notice that you were going to scan for Charlotte. Did you succeed and would you be able to scan the top and skirt instructions from issue 1 for me please?

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  2. My mum has the full set - I think she bought them in the 80s when they first came out. I've made a pencil skirt from one of the issues a couple of years ago when I needed a school skirt. The patterns in this collection are really good for beginner sewists I think.

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    1. Hi Heather - so amazing that your mum has kept hold of the full set. I think the patterns are really good for beginners too, or just easy to run up when you fancy a quick sew. I wonder if the sewing mags of today will be collected and held onto in a similar way? I know I'm not so good at getting rid of things, so my Love Sewing mag collection might stand the test of time! x

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  3. Hi, I have just come to your blog via wrong doll, and just had to comment on the 'make it easy' I did get one issue of these when they were out, but have to confess so I never got around to making the very shoulder padded box jacket (think I may have been planning something in royal blue!!!) seeing them now is quite 'something'. I have a funny feeling I still have a domestic version of one of their magazines still as it showed how to make a hammock (still have not done that either)

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  4. Hi Eimear - thanks for having a look and commenting :) The shoulder padded box jacket sounds like it would've fit right into the pages of Make it Easy - I'd love to see how they styled it! x

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  5. I used to have that issue and possibly one with a pencil skirt too. I remember I made a couple of pairs of trousers (not with the triangle flap though!) and several versions of the top. I would have been 14! Memories!

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    1. I really like the triangle flap variation of the trousers - though I'm not sure how flattering it would be...
      :)

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  6. Does anyone have the christening gown pattern they would like to sell? I made one for my eldest daughter in 1992 and would love to make one for a friend's grandchild?

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  7. Does anyone have the christening gown pattern they would like to sell? I made one for my eldest daughter in 1992 and would love to make one for a friend's grandchild?

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  8. I bought these when they first came out and made lots of them. Or rather mum bought them for me - I was 13 in 1984. I don't have them anymore unfortunately!

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    1. I still have lots to try and make through! Looking over the collection, a lot of the styles have definitely come back around (maybe minus the shoulder pads...) x

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  9. I bought these when they first came out and made lots of them. Or rather mum bought them for me - I was 13 in 1984. I don't have them anymore unfortunately!

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  10. Nice top! I have about 5 of these patterns picked up at various op-shops in Australia. The styling is fantastic, but also strangely contemporary. The sports-wear one is just so great, but also a little bit cringy. I have number 7, but only the patterns, none of the instructions. I think the cross-over style pants pictured on the back look great, dare I attempt it without instructions?? hmmmm.

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    1. I agree about the styling! Strange how fashions come back around! If you drop me an email (magnificent.thread[at]gmail.com) I could send you a scan of the instructions across! I need to check for definite, but I'm pretty sure I have that one :)

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  11. I was going through some of my mum things I had packed away and come across the card file but no mags to go with it

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    1. That's a shame! But maybe it means the mag/patterns were well used with any luck!

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  12. I still have the full set, collected them in the '80's. I've actually just gone through them and have decided it's time to sell them. I did make quite a few for the outfits at the time.

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  13. I now have the full set of patterns with instructions and have made skirts and tops from issue 1. Loving looking through all the patterns and styling tips.

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  14. stumbled across this blog, I have the complete set of make it easy guides, is anybody interested in taking them off my hands??

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    1. That's such a generous offer! I already have an almost full bunch, but hoping someone else in the comment thread is keen to take you up on it! They're fab magazines :)

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