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Conversational Threads

A Call to Quality

GailAnn | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

Dear Amber and All:

Many of us have discussed at length, the dismal lack of fine fabric stores in our own hometowns.  We’ve pointed out the shortcomings of Hancock’s and JoAnn’s.  We’ve  directed Amber’s attention to the poor workmanship in the jeans pictured on the front cover of Threads, and we have made well known that fringy jackets or rectangular “quick and easys” are not the reason we buy your magazine.  

Threads is aware of our admiration for the beautiful garments frequentlly featured on Threads’ back cover.  Our desire to create the same for our own.

Perhaps “We have not because we ask not.”  Thus I urge you to join me in “A Call to Quality”.

I have spent the past 18 months pouring over magazines, and needlework (primarily sewing, knitting and crocheting) pattern books from about 1938 until about 1955.  Those magazines, those advertising manufacturers, those companies and their readers were highly concerned about QUALITY!  So, Ladies of Threads, I present to you, so are your readers!

A few minutes and dollars spent on e-bay will yield an abundance of research materials.  Anything printed from the waining days of the Great Depression through the earliest days post WWII will provide inspiration, attention to detail, and insistance on high quality, with little tolerance for mediocrity, in any of it’s many forms.  McCall’s Needlework is my favorite, but it is not the only one in it’s field.  Columbia Minerva, Botany Bay, Brucilla, Beehive, and Jack Frost, while directed toward knitting, include sewing, crochet and fashion ideas.  Workbasket, is perhaps a little more homely, chatty, and friendly, geared toward the homemaker looking for a hobby or a craft, but thier patterns and material suggestions are spot on! 

I know Threads will need advertisers to “pay the freight” of any such changes in philosophy.  I wonder…. is Ayr Scotch Wools of Green’s Farms, Connecticut still in business.  Do you remember the Air-spun super-kid matching yarns?  They offered enough woven wool for a skirt and enough yarn for a matching sweater, packaged in a lovely gift box.  I recieved one, as a gift, my Freshman year, made it up during that Summer and wore it through the rest of high school.  Oh, how I would love to own, just one more matching skirt and sweater set, before I meet my Maker! 

I urge the editorial staff and readers of Threads Magazine to A Call for Quality.  Gail



  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    Hear hear GailAnn! As former salesperson in a QUALITY (now defunct) fabric store, I too despair over the lack of readily available better quality fabrics and findings. There really is nothing like the joy experienced in the handling of fine quality goods. The whole point of making our own has been better looking and fitting garments, wether they are sewn, knit or crochet. If I am going to spend my precious time fussing over every detail in my project, then I'm sure going to make sure the style and fabric are worth it! The early Threads mags used to show all sorts of fine quality techniques in all areas and seemed to urge us on to improve our techniques. Enough Quick and Cheap!

    Edited 5/22/2008 12:33 pm ET by ThreadKoe

    1. GailAnn | | #2


      Every grocery store newstand overflows with the the quick, cheap and easy, I challenge Threads to rise above.  Gail

      Edited 5/22/2008 1:34 pm ET by GailAnn

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #3

        Do you collect ancient sewing magazines like I do? My dearest heart suggested I should pare down my collection. Could not do it! ;) I love the way the pictures show the fit and form of the garments. You know exactly how it is going to look. I get frustrated with trying to see the details in the garments in the newer mags. The models are all twisted in artsy positions that make it hard to see what the thing is really supposed to look like. Case in point Issue 137, Fashion Squared, Four-square tunic dress. Where do the ties go? I can't tell from the instructions or the pics!Edited 5/22/2008 1:44 pm ET by ThreadKoe

        Edited 5/22/2008 1:52 pm ET by ThreadKoe

        1. GailAnn | | #4

          Do I collect?  Well, yes, and no....................................

          For many many years my sister and I collected Ladie's magazines and bound newpaper vollumes from the 1930's and 1940's.  We owned the collection jointly and stored some here at my house and some over at her home.  We loved them.  We loved having some proof of the fact that women were not nearly as repressed as we, who grew up in the 70's, had been told.  Women of the day were strong, capeable, intellegent, witty, and accomplished.  Writers, designers, inventors, archetects, as well as mothers and wives.  It is just that, back in the day, women weren't expected to do it ALL AT ONCE!

          For instance, we had been schooled in the glories of the "Rosie the Riveter" stories, but came accross the actual War Department documents stating  that women with children under the age of 16, (and in cases, of severe need, that could be lowered to 14) would no longer be hired to work in the war effort.  What a surprise!  Why?  "PATRIOTUTES"  Seems, too many young ladies left home alone, and unsupervised, too often. in the afternoons were too freely giving the soldiers, home on leave 'something to remember tham by'.  Thus it was determined that mothers were, indeed, still needed MORE DESPERATELY at home, than they were needed in the war industries.

          Is there nothing new under the sun?

          Any way, about 5 years ago, Sis and I sold all of our magazines and volume bound newspapers at auction.

          I missed them.

          Then about 18 months ago, I decided there were no clothes that I wanted in the stores anymore, I decided to go back and study some of those old styles, fabrics, fibers, and techniques.  So, I started buying old magazines again, at thrift stores, e-bay, tag sales, antique shops, and anywhere I could find them.  This time I focused, not on news stories so much, but on advertisments, fashion, needlework, sewing, knitting, etc.  I've learned a lot.  Mainly. what  I've learned is not to settle for mediocrity, and to insist on the best quality (whether fabric, yarn, notions, or patterns) I can possibly afford.  Slow and steady wins the race, and it also produces the finest, most beautiful clothes.  Fine quality takes time and is well worth the effort.  The trouble is, as independent shops give way to mass merchandisers, fine quality is left in the dust.

          But as I said, "Perhaps we have not because we ask not."   So I'm asking, please put quality first.

          What's this I notice?  Threads is now selling advertisments to be interspersed into our postings here on the gathering sites!  That is fine.  It is free enterprise at work.  I would just ask everyone to remember that it is OUR postings, our thought, our want and our needs, that bring readership to their advertisments.


          Edited 5/22/2008 2:46 pm ET by GailAnn

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #5

            Birds of a feather, but of a different flock.  I on the other hand, collect the mags for the same reasons, quality, but by a different route.  Loved the quality of clothing my grandmother and mother had stashed away in closet.  Never did fit into most of it so I determined to copy it!  Gramma had made most of it and taught me the basics so there I was....hate to have to fix the stuff I buy as it all falls apart...might as well do it from scratch better. Makes me sound old but I'm only 40 something.  Ended studying the textile arts in college and am now retiring from homemaking and re entering the world feeling like a dinosaur. 

          2. GailAnn | | #8

            My husband says, "The world wants and needs what the dinosaurs know."  Gail

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #9

            Thanks GailAnn!  That made my day! 

    2. Ocrafty1 | | #30

      Absolutely AMEN!  It is too difficult to find good quality anything anymore.  I subscribed to Threads after I bought several back issues from the 80's. I was so impressed!  I haven't been at all since I subscribed a few months ago.  I learned to sew in 4-H back when quality workmanship was demanded if you wanted to get a blue ribbon, even for beginners.  I don't want a magazine that teaches beginning techniques; I want advanced techniques. I want better from Threads.  It is one of the few magazines for experienced sewers. Sew Beautiful does a great job of teaching heirloom techniques, but those are not always applicable for garment sewing.  I love the articles by Kenneth King.  How nice of him to share his expertise with all of us. We need and want more of that calibre of articles.

      In reference to young people...I have been a 4-H judge  and have a degree in Elem. Edu. ...just not a job, yet.) and was appalled at the response when I told a young lady that I would have to give her a red ribbon because her workmanship was not as good as it could have been.  She expected to get a blue ribbon just because she had completed the garment.  I pointed out the nice things she had done, then made suggestions of how she could improve her sewing techniques.  She was angry because she thought that since she was the only one in her division, she deserved not only a blue ribbon, but the champion of her division.  By that county's rules she did get champion, but I refused to give her a blue ribbon.  She was in 7th yr. sewing and her seams were crooked, her hem had snarls of thread and looked terrible!  Too many young people today think that they deserve things that they don't.  I taught my daughters how to sew and they knew what to expect from a judge.  If they did shoddy work, they didn't get the glory.  We do our children a disservice if we reward them when they don't deserve it.  Life is too hard to give them false expectations.  We need to hold them to a higher standard!  It served US well.


      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #37

        I agree.  The young lady was also denied the opportunity for self assessed improvement by having other work to compare with.  Such a shame.  This is exactly why it is important for us to have something for us to compare with.

      2. GailAnn | | #44

        Yes, yes, yes, so well said!!!!

        When my grandmother taught me to knit, she made me rip out every stitch I knitted  for WEEKS!!!  She would accept NOTHING less than even tension and perfect technique.  That doesn't happen overnight.  It takes dedication and it take practice.  Just the same as learning to play the piano.

        Before I was out of my teens, I could read and work a pattern anyone handed to me.  It didn't look like some "Loving hands made at home"  "Pathetic masterpiece",  it was finished and properly done. 

        I learned Sewing, the same way, from a different person.   If it wasn't right  it was done over until either, it WAS right or the fabric was beyond hope.  Only our very best work was deemed to be acceptable.

        I wouldn't trade those valuable lessons for anything!

        Awards for sub-par work and prizes for just showing up, teaches a culture of failure.  It allows only the very most gifted to succeed.


        Edited 5/25/2008 4:56 pm ET by GailAnn

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #45

          Boy o Boy, visions of my childhood! 

          Between my Mom and Grandma I'm surprised I ever got any of my projects finished.  I ripped out stitches so often that sometimes my fingers bled, and the seam allownces frayed.   

          My husband says that it is a good thing I'm picky, or it would cost him  twce as much in wool as I seem to knit every thing at least twice. 

          I am still a perfectionist.  In the Basic Construction class in college,  I ripped out the zipper in a sun dress 6 times until it went in perfectly.  Imagine my horror when it was pointed out to me that I had put it in backwards, with the lap on the wrong side.  I burst into tears in front of the instructors who were marking me!  I still got a B+.

          1. GailAnn | | #47

            Don't know about you, but I feel very fortunate to have had the fine example of an exacting taskmaster from whom to learn.  Gail

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #48

            Absolutely!  I was blessed not just by those two task masters.  My Home Ec teacher was also a perfectionist.  I take pride in what I do.  It may take me longer, but the effort pays off.

            I also never put a zipper or button opening in wrong again! ;)

            Edited 5/25/2008 6:32 pm ET by ThreadKoe

        2. sewchris703 | | #49

          >Awards for sub-par work and prizes for just showing up, teaches a culture of failure.  It allows only the very most gifted to succeed.<

          So true and it is very prevalent in our school system.  Students shouldn't get an award just for perfect attendance.  Something that they have very little, if any, control over.  And it does even the gifted a disservice.  Why strive for anything if doing nothing is rewarded?


        3. ricstew | | #50

          I dont believe in that from of teaching I suppose...........there is no way I will teach my daughter to sew  " till her fingers bleed"............I want to encourage her not scare her off! Mind you she is doing a PHD in Chemistry at Uni.

          Sewing isnt taught in schools anymore..........along with a lot of other subjects.........mothers dont teach sewing anymore...........they are usually too busy at work/life ( be this a good or bad thing )

          I am finding a lot of ppl are wanting to learn to sew as they get older....as they go along they learn to discriminatebetween...fabrics.......methods........techniques.....patterns.

          A magazine has to cater for them as well. I want to make quick cheap easy fashion........and the kids coming along do as well. I also want to make beautiful garments that will last for ever...........and the kids that learn to sew will want to do that too eventually.

          But in the mean time I believe in letting them make mistakes and having to wear them! ( pun intended:)



        4. Ocrafty1 | | #54

          That was my point. We are raising a generation who expect much less of themselves, but more from others.  They may never know the feeling of pride in a job well done for the sake of doing it well; the sense of a real accomplishment.

          We need to raise our expectations; especially from a magazine like Threads, AND from our local fabric stores.Threads should be a magazine that gives information for experinced sewers. That is what it was years ago and I really am disappointed in most of what they have in it now. Experienced sewers don't need to know how to make 5 things from a couple of yards of fabric....that no one will wear anyway; not even the local teens.  What happened to the section with the advertisers of quality fabrics and laces?  I know there are a lot of them that have online sites now, but it would be nice to see their names in this magazine.  It was pretty much a given that if I saw the listing in Threads, I knew that they were quality merchants. I really hope that they pay attention to what we're writing in this DG.

           I remember in the '60's and '70's going to the local JoAnn and being able to purchase really good quality wool to make a simple poncho for a sewing class in school.  The plaid was woven well and required 2 seams and a lot of thread pulling to make the fringe.  The quality of the fabric made it easy to have a successful project for beginning sewers.  IF (and that is a BIG IF) you can find wool today at a local JoAnn, it would not be of the same quality.  The fabrics they sell today do not make it easy for new sewers to make a good project without a lot of problems.  Even the cotton batiste is poor quality. If we demand better, maybe they will go back to having quality fabrics.  A couple of yrs ago, our local JoAnns had a very poor selection of bridal/formal fabrics.  Most had to be special ordered.  This yr. the selection is better, although the quality is still pretty poor. Demand has gone up for those fabrics. Perhaps it is due to the high cost of formals at the bridal shops, but the demand for the fabrics has gone up.  I'm hoping that this means the trend for custom sewing is going up. Whether it is or not, we need to demand better. We deserve it!

          1. GailAnn | | #55

            Thank you!

            I think we are singing the same song.

            I hope Amber and the rest will read your post and send a positive response.


            If the publishers are so intent on featuring the Quick and Easy designs for beginner seamstresses, then why not teach with useful items necessary in every family.  Pillowcases, flannel contour diapers, simple skirts, nightgowns, pajamas, robes, what we used to call "Shifts", towels, facecloths, hot pads, or even "they say" that aprons are making a come back, but I'm not so sure.  Items that are useful or wearable.

            If we were to each make lists of the TIME and MONEY we have wasted on cheap, shoddy goods and false bargans, I think it would be shocking.  At times I've just plain made a mistake, or thought I'd found something wonderful on the clearance table that never really matched anything else in my closet.  Too many other times, I've truly believed I've purchased a quality brand name or shopped at a 'good' store only to be dissappointed by a change in the quality.  Why is the change never one in a positive direction of higher quality?

            i.e.,  the Dritz hem marker I bought in high school WOULD  have lasted a lifetime, but I lost it.  The one I bought to replace the lost one, is of the very most flimsey metal that bends and won't hold the heat of the iron.  Who can sew with brittle needles whose eyes are so sharp the thread shreds as it is pulled through the fabric.   Measuring tapes that are inaccurate, stretch, or fray are worse than useless, they are deceptive!  Even new pins I buy as my old ones need replaceing are of an inferior quality metal.  Recently I bought a small pair of embroidery sissors, from what I thought was a reputable catalogue company.  The fingerholes were so rough they made my fingers bleed!  Those sissors are in some landfill now, I wouldn't dare even give them to a thrift shop.  No wonder young seamstresses get discouraged.  If you can't find the proper tools to do a proper job of work...........................WHAT IS THE POINT?


          2. damascusannie | | #59

            Start going to either quilt shops or on-line stores that sell supplies specifically made for quilters. We are demanding high-quality tools, especially needles and scissors and they ARE out there! I recommend Ginghers scissors. They are expensive, but SO well-made! Many scissors are not being made in Pakistan and they are just junk. Just out of curiosity, do any of you cut out your patterns with rotary cutters? I use a small diameter cutter for curves and my big cutter for straight stuff and it's lightning fast! Now I just need a bigger mat so that I don't have to stop and move my mat so often. 8^) Most of my sewing is for historical costumes and if I'm going to invest in anywhere from 6 to 12 yards of fabric for a costume, I want it to be made as well as I can possibly make it. My next project (if I have time to do it!) will be a tightly fitted blouse to match a skirt I made last fall.

          3. GailAnn | | #60

            Yes, thanks, I have some Gingher shears (and after my afore mentioned incident) some Gingher embroidery sissors as well.

            "Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me!"

            I do have a rotary cutter, but I am a little frightened of it, and use it only on straight cutting lines.


          4. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #61

            I am sure my Ginghers shears are at least 30 years old, and I guard them diligently from dh's paper cutting forays. In fact, I bought him some office scissors and put a tag on them that said: These are for cutting paper! I lucked on to a pair of Gingher appliqué scissors for $2.67 US in a clearance bin in Hobby Lobby recently. I grabbed them so fast it made my head swim. I do hope Threads really hears us when we say we want quality information. I can buy any number of magazines that cater to fast, cheap and easy. I hate to see Threads dumb down when they don't need to to maintain readership and advertising.

          5. Ralphetta | | #62

            If I want quick and cheap I get discount store, or thrift store bargains, and then take some tucks and make it fit. A cheap pair of black pants and a quick alteration allows me to spend my time working on just the special things...which might even include a beautiful pair of black slacks. Knowing how to make alterations is a big money saver. An earlier writer was interpreting quality with suits, gowns, etc. I sew so that I can have things that are unique and good quality and that includes all categories of clothing from casual to dressy. My time is valuable and I concede that China can make the easy things more cheaply. Great! I don't have to spend time making something to wear while mowing the lawn or going to the grocery store. I can concentrate on the more complex things and those are the articles I look forward to in Threads.

          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #63

            I love my rotary cutter. It took me a while to figure out how to slide the mat around under the outside edge of the larger pieces. It saves my fingers and hands so much. I still like my big tailors shears for curvy pieces. Not much luck with the small pieces with a rotary. Any Tricks of the Trade to share?Most of my scissors have been purchased by trying out pairs everywhere. I still have my first pair of Singer shears. My tailors,trimming shears and thread snips were purchased through Lee Valley Tools, http://www.leevalley.com/ and I can vouch for the quality. They are not the top quality, but certainly very good quality. This is an excellent site if anyone is a gardener/woodworker that also has neat small storage stuff as well.Edited 5/27/2008 7:55 am ET by ThreadKoe

            Edited 5/27/2008 10:03 am ET by ThreadKoe

          7. damascusannie | | #64

            What size rotary cutter do you have? They come in three sizes, but most common is the 45mm. I use this for most of my cutting, but also have a 28mm that I use for tight curves.

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #65

            I have larger one, and have debated purchasing the smaller ones.  I hate to spend good money on a tool that sits in a cupboard.


          9. damascusannie | | #66

            Well, it's not that much money and I've never regretted getting mine!

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #67

            Decision made then!  Just checked out your pics. you do lovely work.  The singer looks like mine.  I got it when I was 8.

          11. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #68

            Saw this on the desk at the parts dealer today, thought you would appreciate it, "the flavour of quality lingers long after the sweet smell of low price."

          12. GailAnn | | #69

            My Dad preached that sermon his whole life.  It has saved me from some costly mistakes.  Gail

          13. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #72

            The one I keep preaching to the Girls is Time=Money. Either you spend the time or the money. To make the money, you need to spend the time. Waste time, you waste the money, etc. Needless to say, all 3 have a pretty good work ethic, and a pretty good eye for how to spend their money

          14. twreeder | | #56

            I well remember when Jo-Ann's Crafts store went in our very large mall.  The excitement among my daughters and myself was the quality wool fabrics they had.  Didn't have to go out of town to buy.  Gradually the fabric area has been reduced to a small corner of the store.  Instead they now stock cheap decorations and storage containers.  The containers certainly are not for storing your stash, as there isn't any thing you would want to buy to add to the stash.  I live in a very large metro area and have to mail order quality fabrics or drive 2-3 hours to buy.

          15. AmberE | | #83

            Just curious: were there any stories that you liked in the June/July issue. This issue is typically geared toward summer sewing, and faster, more trendy projects. Issue 125 two years ago was an all time best seller. Let me know the stories that you enjoyed in issue 137...

  2. Ralphetta | | #6

    It seems to me that the last few issues of Threads made great strides toward resuming the quality that many of us have complained about missing. Years ago when I first started reading Threads it was WAY too technical for me...but I loved it anyway. I studied the photos and diagrams and saw what I should be aiming for. I'm not interested in a publication that mirrors my ability, I want the tempting elegance, (quality,) of something to strive for. I'm seeing some of that again.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #7

      Thats why I bought the subscription in the first place.  I liked the challenge.  There are already several beginner mags.  There are no other mags. for the more experienced or adventurous sewer.  Initially I loved the mag because it was about all needle arts and was a good blend or cross of all disciplines. 

    2. GailAnn | | #10

      Very well said.

      Who needs a magazine that "mirrors our own abilities"?  We need challenges to strive toward.  Encouragement to do our very best work, and be our very best selves.   Show us the highest techniques and the finest workmanship that can be achieved.   Teach us how to be discriminating in our choice of fiber, fabrics and notions.

      Anyone can always sink down to the lowest level tolerated.

      Never forget "The bitterness of poor quality lasts longer than the sweetness of cheap price."  Gail

  3. Cherlyn | | #11

    I really would like to have a quality fabric store in our area.  I have tried to take notice of the changes that have occured to cause this problem.  While collaborating this past semester with the Life Skills teacher, I found out that for convience, the class orders kits.  The boxers or pants come with a pattern made of heavy white paper, cheap thread with loads of knots in it and it breaks very easily, fabric quality that is really bad (the plaids were in no way going to match), and lacking in directions.  The kits sell for $10-$15.  She didn't have to take her class anywhere to learn pattern selection, they didn't spend time on learning about measuring and making any adjustments to the pattern (length, crotch depth), or how to use some of the valuable tools that I brought into the classroom because I don't function without a seam riper and a good pair of shears!  What the class learned was sewing is a headache!  Their thread broke constantly, they spent several minutes digging out coiled thread from their machines, or pulling out threads with a straight pin because they couldn't use a seam ripper, and I could just go on and on.  Sewing is becoming a lost art because we have very few people out there that are really qualified to teach the skill.  Does 4-H encourage their kids to enter sewing contests?  Does Girl Scouts do much with sewing?  What happened?  Our big fabric store was lost when he could no longer make it selling fabric for clothing and patterns.  His whole business switched to quilting and home decorating.  I cannot purchase anything here.  I have to travel to larger cities to get anything for clothing.  We don't have quality ready made clothes anymore either.  Everything is made for our "throw away society." 

    I'm happy to find magazines that are written for sewing and have articles for customizing a pattern to reflect my personality.  I wish that I could purchase books in my bookstores that are for the more advanced seamstress (loaded with challenging ideas).  Instead, all I find are books for the beginner or for teens (the ideas focus on embellishing the ready made jean or denim). 

    I have a daughter that is interested in designing and making her own dance clothing.  She would like to learn to make her own clothes.  She knows that what she purchses in the store is made for a season or less time than that sometimes! 

    What do experienced sewers want? 


    Edited 5/22/2008 10:34 pm ET by Cherlyn

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #12

      Cherlyn, you have a point about the kits.  My daughter took fashion to learn to sew and they are not even going to cover the basics as they ran out of time!  I have been "teaching" novice sewers in my neighbourhood for years.  My daughter has now finally asked me to teach her! 

      Experienced sewers like myself want to see what fine techniques look like.  I want to see close up what to aim for.  Shoot for the stars and you will hit the moon.  What does the inside of a real tailored jacket look like with the proper hair canvas and hand stitched rolled collars.  Show me what the inside of the back cover garments look like.  Show me garments with more than 7 basic pieces.  I want to learn about wedding and prom gowns, heirloom techniques, tailoring fine wools, talk about the difference between finer and poorer quality goods.  You would be supprised at how many really excellent seamstresses waste their efforts using poor quality goods because they have never been taught the difference.  Many store clerks don't know!

      Threads should be a magazine about what it's Masthead says-from the thread up.

      1. Cherlyn | | #13

        You made several good points.  I would love to learn more about good tailoring techniques so that a garment has the underlinings it needs to give it the support and shape that should be there instead of just drooping.  Not every look is suppose to droop.  I have taught myself heirloom sewing techniques.  It wasn't easy learning some of this alone.  I spent some time on the phone talking to designers one to one when I would use one of their designs that was published in "Sew Beautiful."  I would love books that are written for the advanced sewer that are filled with those finer techniques (garnish ideas for the garments) so if I want to change something about the original pattern, then I have a resource to use.  Once I learned several heirloom techniques and polished them, I was ready to mix and play.  I have sold several designs (I create a single design for a family heirloom Christening Gown); this keeps it personal for just them.  But now, what I want for myself, I cannot find in my home city.  I drive to find quality fabrics.  My interfacings here are very poor quality---how sad is that!  The buttons are just plain plastic molded junk----I want style, natural.  I do love using Vogue designer patterns and when they have it labeled for the advanced seamstress, they mean just that!  

        I would love to hear from others about what they would love to be able to find.   

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #14

          I am in the same boat, so my stash of findings and interfacings is piling up as i tend to buy in bulk when I find them.  I studied textiles and fashion design and sewing techiques in college but put them on the backburner for the last 20 years to raise a family on a dairy farm.  Only now am I finding the time to upgrade my skills again, to find that there just are no resources to fall back on.  The local college I attended changed focus and no longer carries the courses I took.The Wonderful fabric store I worked in is gone.  I know more than the clerks do in the places that are left, and they do not offer advanced classes.  Plus, they won't hire me because they would have to pay me too much.  Imagine that!  Yet we are out there, desperate to spend on quality goods.  It is great to find a place like this to talk with like minded people who like to share Ideas and skills.  I just got the internet and was feeling kinda lonely.

          Edited 5/23/2008 12:49 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          1. Cherlyn | | #15

            Where did you go to school?  I have checked into taking some courses.  I have not found anything close enough.  I live in KY. 

          2. jatman | | #16

            Hi Cherlyn!  Baer Fabrics in Louisville offers some courses and I'm not 100% sure but I think UK in Lexington (or one of their affiliates) might offer some classes as well - I was researching something a while back and happened upon a UK website that had some sewing info.  Where in KY do you live?


          3. Cherlyn | | #25

            Extreme western KY, but I make trips to Louisville often to go to Baers during some of my long breaks.  I love Baers!  The long wall of buttons, the quality fabrics, and everyone is so helpful!  I know they have classes, but nothing has ever struck me to be quit what I'm looking for.  I didn't know that Louisville or Lexington may offer coourses.  I think there may be a school in Nashville.  I have been checking around.  Something to do for the summer.  Thanks for your reply!

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #17

            Hi Cheryn,

            I don't know how helpful it would be but it was in Ontario, just south of Ottawa. They don't have the same couse anymore. 

            The only one left here is Richard Robinson, a local fashion designer's school.  He has a website I think. He is the designer who put a big diamond over Michael Copeland's wife's breast.  The only other ones left are in either Toronto or Montreal. 

            What exactly are you interested in studying?  I know that some of our colleges and universities have some excellent online courses.  Have you checked out that angle in your area? 


            Edited 5/24/2008 10:00 am ET by ThreadKoe

          5. Cherlyn | | #24

            I'm still checking.  I just thought that with my experince in sewing the course work wouldn't be all that difficult.   I would get the certification I needed to teach the class.  I want to teach the love for an art form that I feel is going to die and I don't want to see it go that way.  The quilters were able to revive quilting, why can't we revive sewing?

          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #26

            My coaching certificate with YBC gave me the paper I needed to start teaching in home with my first few "Lessons" with friends.  It is slowly expanding with a few clients, here and there who need help with their sewing.  Now I am starting to advertize myself as a teacher because I want to share the joy I feel for the craft.  My accreditation is 25 years of experience.  You may already have the background to teach, just not where you expected to.  I may not be able to teach in a school, but I can volunteer my services as a speaker or a helper.  Often,  a door opens when you least expect one to.  Keep your eyes open and keep looking, don't limit yourself, I'm sure there is a way.

        2. cafms | | #28

          Are you familiar with the Kentucky Master Volunteer in Clothing Construction program?  This is their website  http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/MVP/  You might check into this to find either classes to take or an opportunity to share your own skills.  Either way you connect with others who love to sew.

      2. GailAnn | | #19


        Amber, other Ladies of Threads, are you listening????????


        1. User avater
          CostumerVal | | #97

          I agree with you all.  Mass production is all about more, and cheaper, not better.  They have outdone themselves with ugliness and bad fit.  They design for faster cheaper production.

          This is not what we do!  Sure we can buy a coat cheaper than it is to make one, but obviously we don't or we wouldn't sew.  So I really don't want to see cheap looking coats and bags in my sewing magazine.  I want to see what I can't find in the stores.  Style!!!  That's why I sew.


        2. MaryinColorado | | #98

          It seems to me that Threads has been listening to thier loyal readers constructive criticisms and making many positive changes.  I haven't seen a better sewing magazine out there that meets the needs of such a variety of seamstresses.  Threads longevity speaks volumes! 

          There is an old saying that I think applies here:  "Try to please all and you will please None". 

          Thank You Threads!  Mary

          1. Cherlyn | | #102

            Threads does feature articles that appeal to my need for creative techniques and they have introduced me to some very creative independent designers!  I do love many of their articles that stimulate my creative desires to have clothing with details that are different.  When I am at work, I don't want to look like everyone else.  When I'm at home, I want to be comfortable.  I love their articles.  I have purchased more issues of Threads this year than in previous eyars because they have articles that stimulate my creative side.  I can spend hours reading one issue and then more time looking at different web sites.  

    2. GailAnn | | #18

      Oh, my dear Cherlyn, your discription of life skills (a.k.a. Home Ec) just makes me sick to my stomach!

      After I learned to read and do plain math, EVERYTHING else that I needed to know, to be successful in my life, I learned in Home Ec!  Bless my dear teachers.  Gail

      1. Cherlyn | | #23

        I really wish that in life skills, the teacher would take the kids to a local fabric store to make their purchases so they would get the experience of reading the back of the pattern and making appropriate choices.  My mother took me to purchase mine when I was in high school just like all ther other mothers.  We had to provide our own scissors, seam ripper, and other tools.  But this has all been lost.  Now its the quick and easy, order a cheap kit.  Actually, the pictures of the kits looks pretty good, but once its opened, you see that its not such a good deal!

  4. Ckbklady | | #20

    I second (third, fourth, twenty-fifth, whatever) the motion. I too have noticed the stark juxtaposition of Threads' often cheap and ratty designs and the glorious vintage clothing on the back cover.

    Even if we all don't have "gourmet fabric shops" in our towns, we mustn't be reduced to making quick & easy nasties with the horrible fabrics in the chain stores. You're right, GailAnn - there are enough corner-cutting quick & easy magazines out there.

    The whole Project Runway has revived interest in sewing, but if the newbies don't go past adding embellishments to their jeans and doing two-pattern-piece tops, there really won't be a long-lasting revival of sewing as you and I see it. All print matter I see addressed to newbies gives them only a quick and unskilled fix, and dooms us all further to mediocrity. I hope that Threads really does remain committed to quality sewing, and more strongly voices the value of learning deeper skills than making cutie-pie tote bags.

    I love Threads and have every issue from the beginning, and know that they went through a big identity crisis recently and that Amber and the gang steered the ship back towards quality and training with more technical and practical articles, and articles that ask more of their readers. I applaud them for that, and I applaud you, GailAnn, for wanting to keep them conscious of the need to keep this necessary craft alive by instilling in its readers a desire to push themselves to learn more.

    Now if only we all could have "gourmet fabric shops" in our towns. Thank heavens for mail-order.

    :) Mary


    1. GailAnn | | #21

      Dear Mary;

      Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I've thought the same thing about the cutie-pie tote bags......Even if we use them for our groceries, how many do we need????

      Maybe sewing, as we know it, comes down to R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  Respect for ourselves, our skills, and our wardrobes.







    2. GailAnn | | #22

      Dear Mary:

      Have you heard of a publication called PieceWork?

      It is not geared toward fashion at all.   It does, however, celebrate the finer points of the needlewoman's skills and talents.  The most recent issue devotes many pages to handmade laces.

      PieceWork has no truck with quick and easy, fast and furious, cutsy, or down and dirty sewing.  I enjoy it for that reason.

      The downside is that you can't count on every issue to feature articals about dressmaking or garment knitting.  Those two skills are my major area of interest.  Whatever needlework it does address will be treated honorably and respectfully and not like something to be tossed aside two days later.

      Sometimes PieceWork expects the reader to send in a self-addresses stamped envelope to recieve printed instructions for projects from it's articals.   That may be an inconvience, but allows them to be accurate, complete, and not constrained by page length.

      They assume that every work will be our BEST WORK.  I appreciate that.  Gail


      1. Ckbklady | | #35

        Hiya GailAnn,

        Yes, I do know Piecework and love it like I love FiberArts - the same serious, academic tone and value given to skill.

        Threads has certainly pulled its socks up of late with the shift to Sew Stylish and Craft Stylish as a younger/quicker/easier/craftier resource. I have noticed that Threads has geared itself more towards good garment construction again. But oh,my heavens, what a lot of shoddy sewing in the pictures! I've been puzzled by that one for a while.

        :) Mary

  5. ricstew | | #27

    I am going out on a limb here.............but quick cheap and easy has its place..........where on earth am I going to wear a tailored 3 piece suit? or a matching sweater? My pearls were packed away years ago.......

    I sew because I love it.........I love to make things that fit me...........but my lifestyle doesnt require tailored suits or ball gowns. I wear jeans, track pants, knit tops, cotton skirts and work clothes. I love polar fleece!

    DD wears the same things..........

    I want to throw my garments in the washing machine! a quick zip with the iron and out the door I go! I want to make fashionable garments that I dont feel guilty about throwing away when they have had thier day.

    I am not saying I dont like to use quality .........but sometimes the budget or the lifestlye doesnt warrent it..........I really dont want to spend weeks making something I would only wear once unless it was a very special occasion such as a wedding gown..........there is no chance that either I or DD would wear a matching skirt and sweater..........so Threads needs to cater for all people..........including us that just want fun fashion!



    1. Cherlyn | | #29

      Quality materials means that an item will last in that it will stay together because the thread is not cheap, the colors will stay viberant instead of becoming lighter with each washing, and the fabrics won't shrink with repeated washings.  I am not going to wear a three piece suit everyday either, but I would like to be able to purchase the right materials to give it the body that it should have so it will last.  I like comfort too when I'm working.  But I'm not going to wear polar fleece to school unless I'm working a ballgame.  There is a place for every fabric.  I want things that wash well and will maintain their color, not fading, not pilling, and not drawing up.  I really get agrivated when threads start pulling out on ready mades.  When I used to sew for myself all the time, I had suits for church and formal functions and I had my everyday clothes that were fun and wore well. 

      I think that some young people are drawn to sewing because they want to place their own stamp on the items they wear.  The kids in the life skills class knew that their materials were not higher quality materials, but a cheaper quality.  They became agitated when their thread kept breaking and they couldn't match the plaids.  Sewing chould be relaxing and fun, not a hassel. 


      1. ricstew | | #32

        Point taken but I think it really boils down to our economy..........and the way we live.

        Fabric is expensive........not every ones budget will run to the top of the line fabrics especially if you are learning to sew.........who wants to throw an expensive wadder!

        and we are a throw away society........I might make an expensive cotton into a classic shirt but turn the cheapy knit into a tshirt that I know I wont wear next season. Sewing either of them will fill me with angst..............so as a reader I want infomation on both..........I dont know that a magazine can become exclusive and continue to encourage ppl to sew.



        1. Crazy K | | #33

          I'm with you.  I try to find the best quality fabric for the best price.  Thankfully, I was blessed with my dressmaker grandmother's (bless her soul.......she passed before I was born) ability to 'feel' the fabric and determine if it will hold up.  Yes, I get duped on occasion but mostly what I find is of decent quality..........even in the warehouse shopping that I find fun.  I, too, don't wish to spend lots of money or time on something that I will wear for the summer......helping at daycare, gardening, etc. and then pass on to someone else.  My lifestyle doesn't require dressy clothing, heels and all the trappings.................altho I do what I refer to as my 'funeral clothes'.  They hang in the closet, unused!

          I could afford the better quality if I needed it but there are plenty of folks out there than either buy the lesser expensive or have to go without.  The economy today is affects all of us.........well.........all but a few.

          Guess my point here is that much of our sewing depends largely on a couple of things........our budget and our lifestyle.  My budget would allow but my lifestyle says......I would be nuts to spend for the highest quality.  I won't buy expensive rtw items either.........unless for a very special occasion.   My day-to-day wardrobe consists of jeans, knit pants, capris for warmer weather, t-shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts...........can't get much more casual than that!!  Sad part is that I don't need anything much beyond that..............oh, I have some dressy slacks, a couple of easy-fitting jackets and some nicer t's.........a couple of dresses and skirts.

          Sorry.......didn't mean to write a journal here!  I just read the posts and realized that there must be others like me.........gals who don't need or desire the fitted, lined, interfaced, dry-clean only, classic items that last for decades.  Heck, my weight and shape change more often than that!! :-)

          'nough said!


          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #36

            Crazy K,

            You are absolutely correct.  We don't always need or want the really expensive or quality stuff.  There is a time and a place for everything.  I certainly don't need a fancy outfit or a suit for more than the occasional  outing.  The cows certainly won't appreciate it! (Tee Hee) 

             But I do need to feed my brain and I do need to have something to aspire to.  I need the good resources.  And I certainly need the Intelligent, Creative, Supportive people like yourselves for the brainstorming and feedback I wouldn't get anywhere else.

            You were one of the lucky ones who have a feel for quality fabrics, and someone to teach you.  I had a wonderful teacher in college who started me with the basics, but I continued on from there. 

            One of the first things I start with a new student is a 'swatch file'-a recipe file of fabric swatches with information , it is a great reference tool, and shows exactly what the patterns call for on the back.

            Edited 5/25/2008 2:23 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          2. Crazy K | | #39

            Yes, I am lucky to have Grandma's ability to have that 'feel' for fabric.  However, except for a couple of semesters of sewing in Home Ec. and I am self-taught (grandma passed away the year before I was born and my mom didn't sew!).   I started sewing clothing for myself in Jr. high (before that, doll clothes starting at age 9) and except for a few years where time didn't allow due to kids, jobs, a divorce, etc. I have been sewing and trying to hone my skills as I go.  I have found some of the how-to shows (Sandra Betzina mostly) very helpful as well as some of the books, magazine articles, etc. that I have read.  I am not a perfectionist really but I like to have my things look just as good as I can possibly make them.  I am definitely not into tailoring so am glad that my lifestyle doesn't require tailored suits, etc.  My sewing these days in a mix of home dec., sewing casual things for myself and making things for the many grandkids.  I love doing machine embroidery so that is my latest passion.   I love making gifts that are 'one of a kind'!


          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #46

            Machine embroidery is fun.  I had the opportunity to work on a commercial machine for 3 yrs.  It was the most fun job I had ever had.  I have been looking and saving for a machine of some sort of my own for a while now, just not quite there yet.  The only downside to the job was I am a people person and I spent a lot of time alone.

          4. Crazy K | | #40

            This is my latest..........gifts for my grandson's pre-K teachers.  The flowers are from a Biblical Flower collection from Emb. Library.  I also made the bags.  I love doing projects like this one.


          5. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #41

            OHHH!  They are beautiful!  I am in the midst of sewing my youngest daughters prom dress.  Yards of satin and gathered organza.  My Tomboy wants a ballerina dress in pink!  Yay!  I made lovely dresses and outfits for the 3 girls when they were small, but they soon out grew that stage :(  Now as young women, they are finally interested in having me do stuff again :)  I have only ever bought maybe 5 0r 6 good dresses in my lifetime, the rest I have made.  Maturity has changed my shape and now I have to redraft my sloper before I can try designing for myself again.  Will try and post a pic of her dress when I am finished it.

            Edited 5/25/2008 3:28 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          6. Crazy K | | #42

            Thanks for the kind words.  As for sewing for your children........my youngest is 31 and yes, there are years where they are not at all interested but after they get older (and wiser!) they come back with "mom, could you please make......?"  Even my sons were that way.  My youngest is my only girl and even though I worked full-time, I managed to make her little jeans (Kwik Sew has a fantastic pattern for kids!) and turtle-necks when she was in Kindergarten, first and second grade.  She even had panties that matched her shirts because I could use all those little leftovers of fabric!  I tease her to this day that she was the only one with panties that matched her outfit!! 

            I have had the pleasure of sewing for numerous grandkids but in the area where most of them live, as soon as the girls get into the upper grades in elementary they would rather look like an unmade bed............dresses??  are you kidding??  No way!  I hope it is a short-lived trend........attractive girls end up looking trashy with the styles they choose...........yuck!  Maybe I'm just gettin old!!  When one of the girls made her First Communion, I made her a beautiful satin and organza dress.  She looked beautiful........I was proud.  The bodice was lined white satin and the skirt was satin with the double organza overlay.  She had a wide sash made for organza, too.  Very nice.  Too bad I don't have a picture!

            I would love to see a photo of your daughter's dress.......................

          7. Cherlyn | | #57

            These are really nice!  Great job!

          8. Crazy K | | #58

            Thanks!  Fingers crossed that they're a hit with the recipients!


          9. rodezzy | | #70

            What wonderful gifts.  They will love them.  Beautiful work.

          10. Crazy K | | #71

            Thank you!  I have another in progress now.  A friend has Shar Pei dogs and I embroidered a dog on the bag, found some cute lining with dogs on it.......just have to put it together.  Busy now helping my daughter and a trip to Texas for that graduation coming up next week.............oh my.....what's a mother to do.........so many projects floating in my head and so little time.................oh woe is me!!  ha ha   Wonder how many feel the same way...............at least some of the time????? 

          11. ricstew | | #51

            Crikey I can so relate to the funeral clothes! I have a black crepe skirt and jacket hanging in the wardrobe that will never be worn out! I hate to wear them!



    2. Ralphetta | | #31

      I think there are quality jeans, track pants, cotton shirts, etc., just as there are quality ballgowns and suits. If I've had the opportunity to study how the ideal garments are made it gives me the knowledge to choose which steps I'm willing to sacrifice in the name of quick and easy. I've never understood how they decide which patterns are "easy," (it seems like they always leave out interfacing, have you noticed?) A perfect example is a vest, etc. that has binding sewn on all the edges. I find it much, much faster to just line the darn thing, and it has a more expensive look. If I hadn't read more advanced articles I wouldn't have that option. I think people are just saying that they want to learn the very best way of doing things and then they can make educated choices about how much time they are willing to spend on projects.

      1. Gloriasews | | #73

        Right on, Ralphetta, about lining the vest - it IS easier & looks so much better.  As well, it doesn't stick to your shirt or sweater.  The only time I'd use binding for a vest would be if it was reversible.  Interfacing certainly has its place, depending upon what you are making - binding is the same.  Actually, I find that binding is more time-consuming & fiddly than just lining the project.


        1. Ralphetta | | #74

          Easy patterns that call for yards and yards of binding are one of my pet peeves! Not only is it time consuming but few beginning sewers can do a smooth job of applying it.

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #75

            Thank you Ralphetta
            You put that so nicely. Binding is not easy. Whoever came up with that silly idea? It really does take less time to sew in a lining. Binding certainly has it's place in style and design and is a huge part of a quilter's repertoire. Mind you, it is one of those techniques, that once you have mastered it, you tend to use it a lot. I liked the article on bias binding in Threads. I have been cutting up some of my bigger small scraps of dress fabric just to have on hand. Should make for some interesting sewing this spring.

          2. Gloriasews | | #77

            That's another pet peeve of mine, too, about the binding being fiddly enough that it's hard to get right & tidy, especially for beginning sewers.  I've ripped out scads of stitches over the years to produce a neat finish.  I also hate making my own binding, too, but it's necessary sometimes, as the commercial bindings often aren't in the colours or width I want.  I try to avoid binding as much as possible.


        2. damascusannie | | #76

          I don't even use binding when making a reversible vest. I just use extra care when sewing up the side opening from turning and use it that way. I agree that it's infinitely easier to line a vest than to bind armholes or edges. I even line very fitted blouses rather than mess with facings. If the fabric is sheer, this looks better than facings anyway.

          1. Gloriasews | | #78

            You're right about the lining giving a much nicer finish.  I'll have to make my next reversible vest the usual way, as if the reversed side is the lining.  I only made one reversible vest with binding - that was enough for me.  What a nuisance & it took me twice as long to make;  the binding took up most of the time, as I was really fussy to make it look good from both sides.  So, easy & fast it's not!


    3. LizPf | | #34

      >I am going out on a limb here.............but quick cheap and easy has its place..........where on earth am I going to wear a tailored 3 piece suit? or a matching sweater? My pearls were packed away years ago.......Jan, I know what you mean. I live in jeans and t-shirts. When I dress up, I substitute nicer pants and a knit shirt made of dressy fabric.But that doesn't mean I can't have quality ... I'm coming back to sewing because I want tops that fit my figure and have short sleeves that cover my aging upper arms. I want fabric that won't permanently stain if some cooking oil gets on it. And I want the tops to look good even after 3 years of wear.In this case, quality isn't defined by couture technique, but it's just as present. [Assuming I can ever find a high quality cotton knit fabric. Joanne's is the only fabric store nearby, and it's the rare bolt of thin cotton knit in an eye-hurting color, amidst all the iridescent dress-up fabric.I too am disappointed by the latest Threads, but only half way. The Fashion Squared garments are, on the whole, poorly designed and fit badly -- and do you notice the two-rectangle top was cut with the grain running the wrong way, so it doesn't drape? However, the four rectangle tunic is a perfect first project for my daughter.The article on flat-fell seams is badly written. Look at the first step of "Fold and Stitch" -- does one work on the right side or wrong side of the fabric?Where are all the great tips, the monthly fitting column, the extensive articles on different fabrics? Instead, we have instructions on making tote bags and badly fitting clothes.Next time I want to buy an issue, you bet I'm looking through it thoroughly first!

      1. ricstew | | #52

        All i can say is at maybe Threads are trying to attract a youger hipper reader..........who will still be sewing when I am long gone I hope!

        Things can be improved with better workmanship in the sewing and perhaps different choices in the patterns..........but I gotta say the pics are usually excellent!

        I always complain about proof reading but I should imagine it is hard to find a proofreader with sewing knowledge..........at my local newspaper they cant spell! Yes we need articles on fit and technique but also on quick and easy! and examples on this and that.............but please no make overs! There is another mag with lovely ladies who have stripey hair and faces different colours to thier necks! Threads dont need to copy this!

        I would like to see different types of fashions..........punk, Emo, that frilly japanese stuff that has a name  I cant think off.......costume, antique, vintage, lingerie.........and the nitty gritty that goes into making them!

        Inspiration and encouragemnet..........that will make enthusiastic sewers!

        Who will eventually learn the difference between fabrics!

        I wasn't born old and waaaay back then I wanted bright pretty shiney and sexy! No different to the kids today.........eventually I learnt that I wanted different things from my sewing but without someone ( as in magazines  no net back then!) to teach/show me I would never have tried............



        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #53

          Perfectly put.  I do like the inspiration of seeing other styles or fashions.  Sewing for my girls keeps me up to date and interested in the up and coming fashion styles.  Sometimes it can be the launch point to try something new that becomes a basic in our own style wardrobe.  I've been checking out sites that have been recomended in past discussion threads and WOW.  Even a bit of something added to a easy pattern could make it something.  Got an idea in the works now but need to finish the prom dress first.....

          P.S.  The bleeding fingers were not as bad as it sounds.  I have very, very, very thin dry skin on my hands and it doesn't take too many bad thread pulls to make them bleed.  I have learned a much simpler and easier way to do it now. 

          Edited 5/26/2008 7:39 am ET by ThreadKoe

          Edited 5/26/2008 7:43 am ET by ThreadKoe

        2. AmberE | | #82

          We want both: new audiences and devoted readers--not easy! And we need both---at the end of the day we're all people who love sewing and that's a pretty cool bond.

          1. LizPf | | #99

            I know it's not easy to appeal to two very different audiences, but I'm not sure it's even desirable.New sewers (probably) want simple projects with great Wow! appeal, things that they can talk with their friends about. They want articles on basic technique, and some intermediate methods. They want to learn how to sew things that look as good as what they can buy.However, experienced sewers don't want to see any of that. [Well, maybe a little, if we are teaching someone to sew.] What we want is advanced technique, couture analysis, analysis of historical garments and methods, discussions of new, possibly obscure tools, and enough fashion so we know what direction to look in. We're much less concerned with "home made vs purchased"-- our home made looks far better than anything we buy, and we know it.To me, these two groups don't overlap. Articles that appeal to the first group (which filled the latest issue) cause the second group to complain, and the first group will just get lost in a magazine filled with articles for the second. [Or maybe not ... even when I was a sewing beginner, I loved studying Threads' advanced construction articles to figure them out.]Ultimately, the decision on who to attract comes down to marketing. There are other sewing magazines for beginners and those who only want "easy", but are there enough of us who want more to support a magazine devoted to our interests? I hope there are, but it looks like the Threads staff doesn't think so.

          2. AmberE | | #100

            Liz: I urge you to look at issue #135 for an example of an issue that really has resonated with both expert and less expert sewers, and I think you will be assured that Threads will remain what it has been for several issues, for the intermediate and advanced audiences. Beginners must look to Sew Stylish. I hope that clarifies our content position for you.

            Edited 6/6/2008 6:56 pm ET by AmberE

          3. LizPf | | #101

            Thanks, Amber, but referring me to a back issue doesn't really help.I buy Threads occasionally on the news stand, and I sometimes get very old issues in used book stores. [I treasure those.] I have thought several times about subscribing, but immediately after I think, the quality of the very next issue drops. [The first time was when Threads stopped including knitting. I'm more of an expert knitter than a sewer, and I have never since found as consistently great knitting articles elsewhere.]The most recent issue is another disappointment.It had only 4 articles that could be called intermediate or high level: drafting a shirt, tailoring fringed edges, fell-style seams, and mitered corners. I'll take these one at a time:Tailoring Fringed Edges: my first thought was "ugly!". But my personal taste isn't important here. Overall, not a bad article, though a bit short on text.Sloper to Shirt: As with the fringed edges article, this really is a single application -- how to make a shirt just like the author's. I really dislike the minimal text, meaty captions article style. To me, it reads like a recipe or a blind follower's knitting pattern. I don't want to learn how to make a shirt exactly like the author's, I'd much rather see a story on 8 ways to shape a shirt (different dart placements, gathers, shaped seaming, etc.), and how to use one's sloper to draft those ways.Felled seams: I like this article (it applies to my current big project), but the actual instructions are weak. For example, the fold and stitch method doesn't say if you start right or wrong sides together, and you can't tell from the photos.Mitered Corners: A nice explanation of an intermediate technique. Certainly not advanced.The rest of the articles are clearly in the beginner camp. No fitting articles, no book reviews, nothing about working with different fabrics.So, what would I like to see? First, I'd like to see Threads return to being the magazine for expert needle-persons, just as Fine Homebuilding and Fine Woodworking are for top-quality craftspeople in their respective fields. That means no more Quick, Fast, Pattern-Free ... well, maybe one such article per issue, no more.I wouldn't mind an ongoing column on Becoming an Expert -- single topic lessons intended to move beginners beyond the basics. The mitered corners article would be a good example.Bring back the Fitting column! I'd also like to see a Fabric of the month (with care, handling and sewing information) and a Tool of the Month (with info on how and when to use it) column.I've always enjoyed the historical articles ... I'd like them even more with technique info added.And as I mentioned above, more design articles. For example, an illustrated article on skirt shapings (both in and not in fashion), or necklines, or sleeve styles.One last comment (I've gone on long enough, sorry) ... I noticed there were *no* drawn garments, only photographs. I really prefer drawings, as they show seaming and shaping in a way photographs can't.

          4. AmberE | | #103

            What can I say---it's the Quick Construction issue and quality doesn't have to do with level. Sewers of every level are interested in faster ways to do things, and we work hard to keep an editorial balance. In 135, just 2 issues earlier, the theme was Slow Sewing and was all couture. I'm sorry that 137 wasn't to your preference, but our hope is that over the course of a year's worth of issues we satisfy our range of intermediate and advanced sewers.

            And of course, I encourage you to submit137  article proposals and write for us. It may be that your skills have advanced to a point where you are a leader in this area and it would be great for you to give back. I hope that you do decide to write for Threads---thanks for your feedback

          5. katina | | #104

            Hi Amber

            Yet again I notice you're working on the site early in the morning and over the weekend - many thanks.

            Issue #137: while the rectangles did nothing for me personally, I can see the appeal. Kenneth King's wrap, though - wow! Has struck a perfect chord. I've already made and given away 3 of these; to a 19 year old, a mid-forties friend and a lady in her 70s. Each one was very enthusiastically received. I'm about to make myself one from 2 metres of rich brown taffeta with an embossed leaf design. This project alone is well worth the price of the magazine, and the wrap will henceforth be a staple in my gift-giving. It's fabulous!


          6. AmberE | | #105

            Very cool!

          7. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #106

            it's the Quick Construction issue and quality doesn't have to do with level.Amber, you have been giving me something to think about for a few days. Sometimes there are times when it is nice to just whip up something quick at the last minute. Patternless sewing can have it's place as well. After all, before we had paper patterns, we used to have to draft from measurements and fit from scratch. Part of understanding how to fit a pattern is to understand how fabric drapes and falls off of a body in flattering ways. If a few squares of fabric sewn together to make a basic garment become the start for a beginner, it can become the springboard for something bigger for a more advanced sewer. After looking at the garments again, I see a few possibilities....Cathy

    4. Char9 | | #38

      After all the hullabaloo over the jeans on the cover I went back and took another look.  Yikes!  Not only are the belt loops different sizes but the button pulls, the zipper doesn't lay flat, the pocket lining doesn't fit right and the legs are not the same length. 

      I agree with a previous reader who said jeans are available in too many different styles, sizes and prices to justify making my own jeans.  I will, however, give Threads the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they were telling us that we could make jeans in other than blue denim.  Like red pleather. (?!?!?!)  Who in their right..........Never mind, that's a whole other conversation.

      Jan summed it up for me nicely.  If I'm going to spend me time and trouble constructing a quality garment, it will be a garment I will wear frequently, not just hang in my closet waiting for the right occasion.  Dressy occasions are few and far between, if at all.  Most of the places I go and things I do don't even require make up, for goodness sakes.  I'll put a face on to go to a borough council meeting to harass the mayor and council, but this is a small town and casual dress is the requirement.

      I sew because I love to sew but I want to wear what I sew.  I individualize my "creations", a collar from this pattern, a sleeve from that pattern, and other details that may come just from my own head, maybe some couching or other embellisment, but it's always casual.  

      1. AmberE | | #79

        Hi: Re: jeans on the cover. These jeans were created by the author, which for Threads is important---we try to have as many garments as possible created by authors as they are the ones who can best show the techniques. I'm just curious---while you may not have liked the garment, what did you think of the article? No one has really talked about that.

        1. Char9 | | #85

          OK, Amber, I'll hang my head in shame because I didn't read the article.  Jeans are something I have no desire to make.  They're too much trouble for something that's so readily available OTR.  When I make a garment I want it to be unique, something that no one else has or can get in any store.  In fact, although I must use patterns for my garment making, I rarely follow a pattern completely.  Maybe I'm just a rebel at heart but I must change something.  Sometimes I'll put an inverted pleat in the side seams of pants or hand or machine embroidery around the hem or up the side.  Jackets are a favorite place for embellising ala Barbara Randles' "Crazy Quilting with an Attitude".  Couching, bobbin work, beading, trims, etc.  Gosh, I never know when a garment, made by me or OTR, will "speak" to me and say, "Meander some couched yarn on my lapels." or "Give me some embroidered bobbin work around my cuffs and then add a few randomly placed seed beads."  Lace inserts on a blouse, hand crocheting around a neckline - Oh, please stop me before my head explodes! 

          1. AmberE | | #86

            No worrie! Just wondering if concerns extended to copy, but I love your ideas. We have a great story on sheer inserts coming up in 138 that you will love.

          2. Char9 | | #87

            Looking forward to it.

            Speaking of Barbara Randle, any chance Threads can do a feature on her.  Quilting Arts did one a couple years ago and I made several of her crazy quilted bags.  Her embellishment techniques and ideas aren't limited to quilted items, crazy or otherwise.  Nor do they need to be done all over a piece.  A bit of well placed embellishing can really jazz up a ho-hum garment.  Actually, her ideas needn't be limited to garments, either.

          3. AmberE | | #88

            I'll put it in the hopper---thanks for the tip

      2. AmberE | | #80

        One more thing that I forgot to add: the jeans are that color because colored fashion jeans are a big trend right now. They went on the cover because the cover is largely geared to newsstand buyers and often those audiences are new to sewing and fashion-driven. It's interesting--every time we go with quick and easy or pants on the cover, the newsstand sales go up. For instance, of the two covers that have aroused a good amount of ire here, #128 and these jeans, both signified a big spike on the newsstand. Conversely, issues that were created particularly with subcriber in mind (132, 135) did less well on the newsstand, but really resonated with subscribers. I find it interesting and it seems that we clearly have a generation gap going on in our readership. Certainly keeps me busy keeping both newsstand and subscription readers happy! My feeling is that if we get new, untrained sewers (this audience didn't have grandmother, mothers, or even home ec teachers to teach them sewing--they need mentors!) hooked on a project that they feel is accessible, they will learn to love Threads and the more advanced sewing skills (and of course the vibrant, super-brainy audience that goes with it!)

    5. GailAnn | | #43

      Sometimes I garden.

      Sometimes I clean the toilet.

      Sometimes I paint the hall.

      I don't want to dress as if I'm prepared to mop the floors, when I'm going to the library, meeting my daughter for lunch,  or spending a quiet evening at home with my husband.

      True, I don't need many three piece suits in my wardrobe.   Skirts and sweaters, or sweet Summer dresses are just as useful as jeans, shorts, or sweats.

      When I dress as nicely as I can, for whatever the occasion, I feel better, my attitude is more positive, and my patience magically improves.

      I understand the old adage, "You can't judge a book by it's cover."  It is probably just as true as another adage, "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression."

      Like it or not, the way I am dressed affects not only the way I treat others, but also the way others treat me.

      My very first sewing lessons always began with...... Wash your hands and face, tie up your hair and put on a clean dress.


      1. AmberE | | #81

        I love that! I'll have to remember that when I sit down to sew! :-)

    6. MargieT | | #96

      I agree!  Sometimes we forget that sewing should be fun and enjoyable.

  6. AmberE | | #84

    GailAnn: Thank you for your thoughtful letter! The editors of Threads are right on board with you for quality! When are you going to write for Threads--you are an idea a minute! :-)

    1. GailAnn | | #89

      Dear Amber:

      Thank you for your very kind words.  I have written a few published articals in my time.  I've existed through two decent careers, and now I only have one desire; to live.  Quietly, peaceably for however many days or years my Maker may allow me. 

      I enjoy my life, my home, my husband, my familly, I read, I sew, I walk, I sleep, I breath in and breath out, I deliberately extend my attention to every real live person who wants to spend time with me.  All things I didn't do, when competing in the work force.  I don't have very much money, certainly less than I once thought I needed, but, strangely, I find I do have enough. 

      So thank you, for the tempting invitation, but no thanks.

      Even having made this decision for myself, I can't seem to allow mediocrity to flourish without expressing a contrary opinion!  Anthing less than striving toward the highest and best, of whatever we turn our hands toward, diminishes our lives.  With regard to sewing, I find the acceptance of mediocrity denigrates not only my own life, but the lives of generations of women who have taken needle in hand, before me.

      This Gatherings Discussion satisfies my deep couriosity into the lives of individual women.  It is such a sweet sisterhood!  Your ladies, here, are wise, transparent, and timeless, they are open and willing to share, to help one another.  Where else could this wealth of lives' experiences be found in a single location?  Every woman has a unique and a very interesting story.  Yet, all of us our bound together, by the same appreciation of that ancient woman's vocation: Needle pulling thread.

      I think sweatshop labor conditions are unnecessary in the clothing of America.  The $8.00 turtleneck, purchased from Kohls, hangs mockingly in my closet.  I sincerely doubt any man stitched it together.  Yet, what sort of life does the woman who sewed it live?  I suspect she is just like me.  She breathes in and breathes out, she walks, and sleeps, she loves, nutures, and cares, she rejoices, and she grieves, she worries about what to make for dinner tonight and how is she going to pay for it.

      I dislike the fact that from park benches, to sports stadiums, from the exterior of  city buses, to web-sites, editiorial content can be bought, by advertising dollars.  Unless we choose to live totally outside the mainstream of society we are powerless to escape from it.  We may pay ten cents a page to read a magazine, that has been tainted by advertising dollars.  How do we distinguish the right, the good and the true from the bought and paid for?

      Advertising dollars are a pale alternative to high quality material, fine workmanship, or good labor conditions.  Advertising is NO substitute for maintaining a sterling reputation.  Sorry, Amber, but I feel as if Threads has allowed Bernina to try to do just that.

      In response to your post number 81, do you expect to be able to serve two masters?  You would be the first in all of history to accomplish that goal.


      1. AmberE | | #90

        No kidding about two masters! Time will tell, right! And some days are better than others. Thanks again for keeping us honest!

      2. AmberE | | #91

        P.S. The interactive team was surprised at the strong reaction to this ad---they certainly didn't expect it or intentionally try to disrupt Gatherings. A still ad replacement is on the way... :-)

        Edited 5/31/2008 12:52 pm ET by AmberE

        1. User avater
          JunkQueen | | #92

          Amber, I applaud you and your team for listening to us, your loyal readers and active forum participants. I look forward to an ad that does not flash and does not slow the downloading of each new page. Thank you.

          1. AmberE | | #93

            Me, too! And you are all very valuable to us editors---our lifeline to the reader, really. Thanks again for the feedback.

          2. KansasSky | | #94

            I'm a sewer who has every issue of Threads from its beginning --- my sewing room is lined with shelves of magazines and books.  I love to reread the older Threads.

            But something astonishing this month.  It's such a thrill for me to be in a bookstore and buy my current copy of the magazine that I don't actually subscribe.  Not easy to explain why, but finding the magazine in my mailbox is not the same.

            Despite checking the website regularly and being aware that a new issue is out, I actually drove past the bookstore last week and didn't stop in.  I'll get my issue, no question, but I actually DID NOT HURRY. 

            Threads stands for something different than it used to.  When I read the comments on the poorly-sewn garments featured on its pages, I can't forget those awful designs under the "Threads" brand in the Simplicity pattern books.  SIMPLICITY !

            Those designs are for the dowdiest, most county-fair, 8th-grade 4H-project ideas I've seen in years.  Nothing to inspire me to sew!

            When you put Linda Lee to work making little flower pins, you are wasting my time, and perhaps hers.

            [It was you who mentioned again #128.]

            Those felt flowers, those awful jeans, those Simplicity endorsements . . .

            I sigh.  Thank goodness for the Vogue magazine and the quality inside.

            But, thank you, Amber, for keeping up with us out here.  I relish everything you say.







          3. AmberE | | #95

            And I relish everything you say! Thanks for keeping me posted and let me know if and when a story strikes a chord with you, so that we can be sure to strike it again!

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