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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Unfinished Projects | Threads Podcast

Episode 16: Threads seamstress Norma Bucko and the editors face their uncompleted sewing projects.

Video: Threads magazine

In the Sewing with Threads Episode 16 video podcast, Threads staff seamstress Norma Bucko discusses finished and unfinished personal sewing projects. She also shares her tried-and-true technique for installing a ripple-free zipper in a hand-knit garment or  when machine-sewing one into a store-bought sweater knit.

Successes and setbacks

Among Norma’s recent sewing accomplishments is a cashmere jacket for her son. She says she most enjoyed working with the fabric and hand-sewing the jacket’s many buttonholes.

Not all sewing projects reach completion, however. Norma and the editors identified several reasons why, based on their experiences.

Norma discusses the long winter coat for which she bought fabric but has never found the perfect pattern.

Senior Technical Editor Carol J. Fresia shares her reasons for procrastinating on making buttonholes and completing the hem on a georgette dress.

Carol Fresia’s unfinished georgette dress needs buttonholes and hemming.

Editor Sarah McFarland talks about how she has fallen out of love with an unfinished winter jacket that combines two wool fabrics.

Sarah McFarland shows how far she has gotten in constructing a wool coat.

Managing Editor (Production) Jeannine Clegg relates her years-long delay in lengthening the sleeves on a ready-to-wear jacket.

The sleeves need to be lengthened on Jeannine Clegg’s fitted wool jacket.

The editors offer each other concrete steps to get these projects back on track. Carol may want to start the buttonholes at the dress’s bottom, Norma suggests, since there is no leftover fabric for first testing buttonhole stitches.

Norma recommends Jeannine use a diluted vinegar solution to help remove the jacket’s sleeve hem creases. This useful tip has been mentioned and used by Threads contributors before; see “Care and feeding of vintage linens” by Jennie Archer Atwood, Threads #102 (Aug./Sept. 2002). The editors agree the jacket is worth altering because of its interesting details. The collar has a Davidow edge, for example, Carol notes. For more on this construction method, see “How Did They Sew That: The Davidow edge,” Threads #201 (Feb./March 2019).

Add a zipper to a knit

For an unrelated project, Norma explains how to achieve a ripple-free zipper installation in a knit garment. Norma had success using this method on a sweater she had knitted and recommends Sarah try it on a sweater she has hand-knit.


This episode of Sewing with Threads is sponsored by Baby Lock and Wild Ginger.

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  1. user-6617347 | | #1

    Hello everyone! I'm so enjoying listening to the ufo dilemmas! I really appreciate hearing and seeing what concerns are for other sewists, particularly those that are in the home garment sewing industry. Makes one feel that we are all together in our isolated sewing rooms. :-) Anyway, I had a suggestion for Jeannine concerning her jacket. Beautifully constructed, btw Jeannine! What about adding a contrasting cuff to the sleeves and using the same at the collar? The trim for the collar could be a simple narrow band of say black (or grey or whatever color suits your fancy) velvet(een). Or, you could make up cuffs in different colors/fabrics and add snaps or hooks and eyes and change them up to coordinate with whatever blouse you're wearing with the jacket. Could also do that with the trim for the collar. If you didn't want to add hardware (snaps, hooks and eyes) to the outer collar, add them to the undercollar and affix the contrast trim to that.

  2. khaight | | #2

    This is the first podcast I listened to. Either I had trouble doing it before or they are now more easily available. I liked the group support and problem solving. That strategy is something I am going to use with my UFOs. Listening to and reflecting on my own UFOs I recognize the problem of expecting perfection AND one of a kind design.

  3. jclegg | | #3

    Thank you for your excellent suggestions, user-6617347! Yes, I like this ready-to-wear jacket's construction, too. I will definitely consider your cuff and collar ideas and audition them along with testing various stitching options. The podcast discussion and your ideas are a big help.

  4. user-1045905 | | #4

    Oh, you dear, dear ladies : I LOVED this podcast! I identified with each one of you - what a relief to know maybe I am a 'normal' sewer after all : ) I was just going through the buttonhole quandary this week (I also started with the lowest one, in the hopes of it being the least seen) - I never thought of making a trial one in the hem allowance, though. Your honesty & openness has lifted my spirits immeasurably - now I need my husband to listen to this, so he can know I am not the only one with unfinished projects....

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