We learned about how to write a great book proposal yesterday, and today we have detailed information for you about how to get published in a magazine. Tricia Waddell from Stitch magazine tells us about her role in producing Stitch; she also tells us a little about everything from how each issue comes together to how to submit projects that get noticed. You can enjoy five issues a year of Stitch, available in hard copy on newsstands, at a discounted rate with direct delivery or it’s also available as a digital download. Enjoy our interview with Tricia, and be sure to tell us when you get published!
Spring 2009 Cover
Sew,Mama,Sew!: First of all, please tell us a little about yourself.
Tricia: I am the founder and editor in chief of Stitch magazine and a regular guest on It’s Sew Easy, a new TV series on PBS. I have been working in publishing for many years, starting out on the book side with F+W Media acquiring and editing how-to books, then I came to Interweave where I was editorial director of the book program. Next I moved to magazines, heading up Interweave’s knit and crochet magazines, then onto Stitch! In addition to writing and editing, I love to sew, knit, weave, and generally make stuff by hand any chance I get!
Tricia made the shirt dress she’s wearing in her photo, of course!
SMS: How did you come to Stitch?
Tricia: In 2007 Interweave was interested in developing a sewing magazine and I jumped at the chance to create one. I’ve always been passionate about sewing, textiles and fashion design so it was a great opportunity to explore that creatively and fill a hole in the contemporary sewing market. I was Editorial Director of Books at Interweave at the time, so I developed Stitch in my “spare time” working extra hours to get it off the ground. We started out publishing two special issues a year, then in late 2010 we went to five issues a year and I happily began working on Stitch full time. I was thrilled to have only one job and to give Stitch my full attention!
Tricia, wearing a dress she made, at Spring Quilt Market with Amy Butler.
SMS: You were wearing some fabulous things at Quilt Market. Do you sew a lot of your own clothes?
Tricia: Thanks! I sew a lot of my own clothes. If I’m not at work, I’m sewing! Once you start making your own clothes it’s pretty addictive.
SMS: My knowledge of magazine publishing comes from TV sitcoms, so basically I know nothing. Can you give us a brief idea of how things come together? How far in advance do you work? Do you go with a theme?
Tricia: Well, we work pretty far in advance. In June we had our photoshoot for our Winter issue and I’m already working on our Spring issue due out in January 2012. So we start working on an issue about six months before it is due out on newsstands. I start the process by coming up with an overall theme for the issue, then do a lot of trend research and start brainstorming project stories and article ideas with the editorial team. Once that is set we create color palettes for each project story based on color forecasting trends and post the call for submissions. While we wait for submission ideas to come in I assign articles to freelance writers. When all the submission ideas come in we have a big submissions meeting and review everything— Typically we get over a hundred submissions for each issue. We choose 35-40 projects for the issue and I work with the chosen designers to finalize design details and fabric choices. Then we get ready for the photoshoot! This is the fun part— It’s when the whole issue visually starts to come together. We have a 3-day photoshoot working with a photostylist and models to shoot all the projects. Next it’s time to edit all the articles, get all the project instructions reviewed by our technical editors, and design and layout the issue. Then it’s press time! We are usually working on at least two issues at a time so there is a lot of multitasking.
SMS: Stitch has a variety of contributors. How do you find them? Do you contact them or do they contact you?
Tricia: When the magazine started, I solicited projects from designers I found on Etsy, sewing blogs, and at indie craft fairs and Quilt Market/Festival, plus I had a lot of contacts in the craft industry from doing craft book acquisitions for many years. Over the years we have built up a roster of great designers and I find new ones all the time. We email every submissions call to anyone who has been in the magazine previously. But we also get lots of new people who contact us because we post the submissions call on our website and Stitch Facebook page. Anyone can submit. I love finding new people! We have lots of first-timers in every issue, most of whom contacted me.
Curly Cashmere Scarf by Betz White from Stitch, Fall 2011.
SMS: If someone wants to submit an article or pattern, what should they do? What tips do you have for someone who wants to see their work in Stitch?
Tricia: For articles, send me a query with a brief description of the content and a little bit about you to email@example.com. And don’t get discouraged if we don’t accept the article. Many times I’m looking for articles that fit into specific issue themes, so it can be a great article idea, but not a great fit for our themes.
For project submissions, check our website regularly for the submission calls and the specific project themes for that issue. You’ll also find the color palettes for each project story so you can plan fabrics and notions. When you send in a submission include the following: a description of the project idea explaining the basic construction and key design elements; project sketch or photo; swatches of the fabric samples you propose using the suggested color palettes as a guide; a short bio listing any design/writing experience; and your contact info including your blog and/or website. You can send submissions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail (ATTN: Stitch Submissions, 201 East Fourth St., Loveland, CO 80537).
Stitch selects projects based on project themes determined for each issue.
For example the Alphabet Soup Quilt (Rachel Hauser, Above), Paper Shredder Quilt (Kevin Kosbab, Below), and Poetry Skirt (Katrin Vorbeck, Below) were all part of the project theme
on designing with type in the Fall 2011 issue.
I get asked all the time how to get into the magazine. Mostly, I love to be surprised! Here are the things that get me excited when I’m reviewing submissions:
- Be innovative! I love seeing your unique twist on a project. We get very excited about clever construction, cool design details, and an inspired use of fabric and color. So don’t play it safe! Be bold and have fun with the project design.
- Experiment with different fabrics! I love beautiful cotton prints as much as the next person, but I am always looking for more designs that pull from a broader range of fabrics. Show me what you can do with silk, knits, wools, denim, corduroy, etc., and how you creatively showcase texture in your designs.
- Play with embellishment! Some of our most popular projects are simple projects with unique embellishment. From appliqué and hand/machine embroidery to fun fabric manipulation techniques such as pleats, gathers, tucks, layering, and more– This is a great way to elevate a simple project to one-of-a-kind. Great design is all in the details.
- Most importantly, keep submitting! Even if we have turned down one of your submissions in the past, we want you to submit again! There are lots of reasons why a submission is rejected. Could be that we already had something similar to your project so we could only chose one, or it could be that it didn’t fit neatly into our themes. So try again, and next time your project may be a perfect fit.
If your submission is accepted, we love great technique and finishing and designers that write detailed instructions. Our technical editors will thank you. The more specific you are in the instructions the better. Plus if you are doing clothing, we need size-graded nested patterns or we need accurate templates for smaller projects. We also appreciate technique illustration roughs or photos for any complicated techniques that would benefit from a visual. Don’t be intimidated by this! We just want to make sure we understand how you made the project so we can edit your instructions accurately.
For more information about our submissions process, check out our submission guidelines at interweavestitch.com/submissions.
The Fall 2011 Stitch Cover
SMS: Do contributors get paid?
Tricia: Absolutely! I work out payment with each designer individually based on the complexity of the project. For smaller projects (accessories, pillows, bags, etc.) we pay between $150-$350 on average. For larger projects such as clothing and quilts we pay between $350-$500. And we return all the projects to the designers after we go to press.
Poetry Skirt by Katrin Vorbeck,
part of the designing with type project theme in the Stitch Fall 2011 issue.
SMS: We hear you’re going to have a special gift issue this year!
Tricia: Yes! Stitch Gifts comes out in November and will feature over 50 small projects perfect for gift-giving. We will include a few “Stitch Favorites” from past issues plus over 30 new projects. It’s jam-packed full of holiday decorations, gifts for the entire family, projects for holiday entertaining, embellishment ideas to dress up store bought gifts, clever fabric gift bags and cards, and so much more!
Paper Shredder Quilt by Kevin Kosbab,
also in the designing with type theme from the Fall 2011 issue.
SMS: Stitch has gone from two issues a year to five now. That’s quite remarkable considering everything we hear about the challenges facing print magazines, so congratulations! Any chance we’ll see a more frequent publication schedule?
Tricia: Thank you so much! I am eternally grateful to all the readers and advertisers who have made Stitch successful. Our focus now is developing Stitch products through other media. We launched an e-pattern store earlier this year at shop.sewdaily.com so you can buy individual patterns that have appeared in the magazine from your favorite designers. And we just launched our first Stitch Workshop sewing DVD plus video download technique shorts, with several more to come. Plus we definitely have some expansion plans for the magazine in the works for 2012 that are still under wraps, but that are very exciting for us! So you will definitely get more Stitch in the months to come.
In addition to being available on newsstands, you can also sign up for the Stitch Auto-Ship program and get the magazine delivered straight to your mailbox at a discounted per issue rate. Stitch is also available as a digital download at shop.sewdaily.com and a fully hyperlinked digital version is available at zinio.com. Come visit us at interweavestitch.com, sewdaily.com (our sewing community site), and at facebook.com/stitchmagazine. We love to hear from you!