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Conversational Threads

Article proposals

Barbaran8 | Posted in Feedback on Threads on


Carol Freesia challenged us: 

>>send in proposals for articles that will pique your interest and challenge you as sewers. We request a one-paragraph summary of the topic, a tentative outline of the article, and any photos, drawings or swatch samples necessary to help us better understand the technique you’d like to write about. Threads has traditionally been reader-written, and we continue to believe that our readers include precisely the kind of experts we like to have as authors. <<


So I am starting this thread for people to post their ideas for articles for Threads to have in the future.


  1. EileenB5 | | #1

    Early on my favorite articles were those showing how to duplicate Chanel techniques.  I think it would be fun to expand that to other designers as well.  Armani, Valentino, Herrera, Wang I'm sure all have their own special elements that define their styles as well.  Maybe take a current design off the runway and show how to replicate the look and feel of the garment.  I would also like to see the finished garment on a "real" person!


    By the way I've been following the discussion that is criticizing the content of Threads.  This is our chance to do something Positive.  Let's be specific about what we would like to see!!

    1. Merryll | | #21

      Here's a huge Amen! to your suggestion for articles on duplicating couture garments from Chanel, Valentino, etc.  Articles about these designers have been done in the past, and Shaeffer has even done books on designer techniques.  However, designer garments change with the seasons, and I would appreciate an update. I would LOVE a behind-the-scenes look in the studios themselves, with explanation of techniques.

      I also love the marvelous technique drawings which explain a how-to each month.  Why not try going a bit beyond the basics?  There are many of us who do not sew professionally, and I find those drawings invaluable.  (Carol, whoever does them, he/she is to be congratulated.)

      I also would love an article on textile collections on view.  BTW, the Chanel exhibition at the Costume Institute on the ground floor of the Met runs from May 5-August 7, 2005.  Here's more information:


      1. kiwi1 | | #41

        I am not a professional sewer but love to make beautiful and different clothes.  Merryll is right in asking for up to date couture tips.  Basic couture techniques will never disappear but it would be very useful see how designers have approached their new collections.

      2. SewTruTerry | | #47

        Carol how about a small article or regular column in every issue about the independent fabric stores that are in the various parts of the country.  It could be used by those of us that travel to enhance our experience.  I am one of those that will open the yellow pages in the hotel room to find the fabric stores before I even unpack.  This type of information for those of us that sew and travel would be most helpful.

  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    Carol writes, "the technique you'd like to write about." I admit that up until that point I was expecting to read, "the technique you'd like written about." But rereading rereading the post I saw a challenge. Even though writing is definitely not my forte I started thinking of articles I might write. Well, fun fantasy (but who knows what one might do someday when one gets old enough!) I also thought about the wealth of knowledge and experience of the members of this forum. It doesn't take a degree in journalism, or any degree for that matter, to write a beautiful article about something you know deeply and have a passion about.

    1. carolfresia | | #3


      You're absolutely correct: you don't have to be a "writer" or journalist to write for Threads. Few of our authors are. They're simply people who love what they do, and want to share that information. Many are "lay" sewers--non-professionals--who happen to have developed a high level of expertise through years of experience; some are relatively new sewers who enjoy researching things and experimenting, and become experts through this process.

      We editors are here to make the articles happen, and to help your content fit into a text/image format that will present the material in the clearest way. I've said this before, and I'l say it again: I love my job! It's so much fun to work with authors who are enthusiastic about teaching others, and who understand that their contribution will play a role in keeping the art of sewing alive for future generations.


      1. suesew | | #4

        We aren't exactly pouring out hundreds of article proposals, are we. How about something on the use of sewing machine feet. It is amazing how little people know about what they own. I especially like to learn new ways of using existing feet.

        1. Beth | | #6

          How about an article comparing the different ways to insert a fly zipper? To include the best way in various situations. Each description describes their insertion method as if it is the only and perfect way. This implies criticism of everyone else. I don't believe it. Armani's method probably works for him for some obscure reason that may not apply to my situation.


          1. AmyC | | #7

            Here are some articles I would like to see:

            * A "basics" article on sewing a collar with a lapel, with or without self-facing.   I've made 6 shirts in the last few years, and while I'm getting better at it, I still feel like I'm winging it.

            * A discussion about how to use embroidery machines to make buttonholes.  My embroidery software has some amazing buttonhole patterns, but I don't know how to make use of them.

            * Keep bringing the 'quick to make' articles. Those are some of my favorites.

            * Interviews with costume designers and couture designers.

            * Stories about how fabric is made and what a commercial garment operation looks like.

            * I would love to see Threads do a story about charities that provide sewing machines to women in third world countries.  

            I realize that Threads wants authors to approach them, but I think that the magazine should make an effort to approach fashion design professors.  I'm not in that field, but it seems to me that if there is anyone who is both in touch with the cutting edge of clothing design and willing to write about it, it will be a professor of fashion.

            Lastly, I think that the basic problem with Threads is that, while trying to distinguish itself from other fiber arts magazines, it has painted itself into a corner, and is too narrowly focussed on garment construction.   It seems like the same ideas are repeated over and over.  When a magazine is too narrowly focussed, there's no longer room for synergy between areas.  For example -- this months Quilting Arts had a cover story about using silk cocoons as embellishment.  That's the sort of thing that one used to see in Threads -- with maybe a discussion about other novel ways to use them  -- but if Threads is seen as the "garment construction" magazine, then authors with these kind of ideas will publish somewhere else.  

          2. user-37718 | | #39

            Please, please, please don't change the focus of Threads.  I find the magazine an invaluable resource for quality information on garment construction.  The articles on fashion and the current embelishment technique are interesting, but it is the articles on fitting, sewing techniques and pattern design that keeps me buying the magazine.  I keep back issues going back to the eighties on the shelf above my sewing machine for easy reference. I can honestly say that Threads has made me a better craftsperson.

            I may flip through other magazines at the newstand for ideas, but I buy Threads. 

            I would like to an more articles on pattern design and alteration for Plus sizes.  How much ease is appropriate, what design modifications should be made, How grading affects pattern sizing.  Why the big four pattern companies assume that our arms get longer but our boobs don't.

            Also an article on the steps that should be taken in multiple pattern alterations.  Shoulders, bust, then back?  What should be done first? Last?

            I second the idea that an article on feet and how to use them would be helpful.

            Thanks, PamelaJane





          3. barbaraj | | #45

            I have read this "conversation" for the first time today. I absolutely agree with pammur. My daughter introduced me to Threads magazine one year ago. I became inspired to return to sewing after giving it up 20 years ago in frustration. The find the articles about techniques to be invaluable. Since my source of frustration had to do with fitting, I appreciate any articles that touch on that subject. And I have been inspired to experiment by reading other articles (who would have imagined washing wool fabric?)

          4. kiwi1 | | #40

            I agree, I would like to see an article on how to do the perfect fly zipper...it is so out there so has to be perfect.  by the way, I think Threads is amazing.  I have learnt how to bag lining, how to interface jackets, to use metallic threads to finish seams in unlined jackets etc. 

      2. Judygoeson | | #8

        To CAROLFRESIA and everyone else:

        This is a wonderful idea. And the ideas from participants have been terrific.

        When reading THREADS, I like the column (I guess we could call it that) which highlights, through drawings, a particular technique... eg. topstitching...and unusual ways in which it has been used in the past to add interest to different parts of a garment.  Before you all groan "Oh, if I see one more article on topstitching, I will absolutely...", let me tell you that's only an eg (exempli gratia). There have many suggestions which were off the beaten path and I am thinking of using a few.

        One part of a garment I am especially interested in is the neckline/collar treatment since the top part of me is better than the bottom part for drawing the eye toward. (Proofreader 911!)  I like unusually shaped necklines and collars on dresses and blouses.  Let me give you an idea:

        Nearly forty years ago I was planning my wedding dress with my aunt. I wanted everything simple...no lace or beading or other embellishment because I am short.  My aunt had a gown made by her dressmaker which had a rather unusual neckline and I decided that was what I wanted!  I got it!  And it was a hit!It began as a vee neck but instead of going around the backneck it rose to the collarbone on either side.  Then it dropped down to form a point on each side which sort of framed the neck.  It rose abruptly at the shoulders and joined the back, which had a sort of boatneck.  Wow!  I am so glad this wonderful magazine has pictures!  You know how many words they are worth!

        Now you have me started.  I will examine the dress, see how the neckline is constructed, and submit a proposal!

        Thank you for a super beginning, Carol!

                                                                       From JudyG


        1. mem1 | | #9

          That sounds just like what I am so keen on Lets do something onnecklines and variations on say the V neckline Its flattering to all we all have that favourite pattern we would love to alter.

      3. cjc15 | | #22

        I think all of the ideas that are currently in the post are great!  I would like to see more on classy embellishments that dont slap you in the face, but set the garment well apart.  How about faced and shaped buttonholes and welt pockets.  I remember an article by Lois Erickson that was great.  I dont want to be "way out", but classy.  How about the neck shaping that was used by making rows of bias tubing and shaping in to yokes, collars, etc in my grandmother's day.  They were joined by feather stitching, or cross hatching.  But I would think that using the embroidery stitches on the  zigzag mechanical machines we have would work also.  That generation, my grandmother's, was very proud of their hand stitching and really made use of it.  She would be amazed at our basic sewing machines. 

        Also, couldn't you please include an occasional article on knitting?  The yarns, etc of this day and age are so gorgeous, and would be a wonderful addition to anyone's wardrobe or to use for couching a design on a jacket.  I really find it so expensive to buy separate magazines, and then not find a really usable pattern in the knitting ones or they are brand related.  Hopefully, Jody

        1. katina | | #23

          Jody, you read my mind!  I adore the techniques of yesteryear; there are some fabulous books on the subject.  I am equally passionate about knitting and have used knitting yarn for couching very successfully.  Articles on knitting with particular emphasis on how to combine it with sewing would be greatly appreciated.  Sewing and knitting have never been mutually exclusive for me.

          1. kjp | | #24

            Agreed, agreed, agreed!!  I would love to see sewing and knitting techniques combined! 

          2. HeartFire | | #25

            The names of these fabulous book???Thanks, Judy

          3. katina | | #26

            Hello Judy

            I'm not at home right now so can't check.   "Secrets of the Couturiers" by Frances Knennett is a book I have gained much from, as well as "Decorative Dressmaking" by Sue Thompson.  Claire Wilcox has useful books also.  Kennett has written a number of books on fashion.  Hope this helps!


          4. cjc15 | | #27

            Katina, I have been going thru my books and came upon one, Decorative Dressmaking, by Sue Thompson by Rodale Press 1985.  It has some gorgeous technics and the one I was talking about with the bias tubes.  Think how much easier this would be with the Fast Turns we now have.  My mind has gotten started!  My grandmother taught me lots of handsewing technics that could easily be done by our basic machines.  I dont know that I could write an article on it but would love to see one in Threads. I am not really interested in heirloom baby clothes, been there, done that, but putting these technics into women's garments, to set them apart from the normal RTW stuff.  

            I am still vitally interested in an occasional knitting article.  One on knitting unusual sleeves for a  Chanel jacket, collar and cuffs that are detachable, purses, knitting a sweater from side to side instead of bottom to top.  I dont think that knitting should take over, but just as quilting, or embroidery is included occasionally, it could be a palate pleaser.  Again, hopefully, Jody

          5. TashaGirl | | #28

            Another big couture exhibit on right now through mid-July is at the Henry Ford in Dearborn Michigan.  The couture gowns of Mrs. Firestone (Firestone tires...) were willed to the museum and a portion are now on exhibit.  More are on exhibit at a museum in Cleveland. They anticipate an occasional rotating exhibit. 

            I would like to see articles on how some of the "big name" sewing instructors/ indendent pattern makers got started.

            Also, articles on how to become an instructor.

            I would also like articles, mentioned previously, that look at top of the line ready to wear as well as couture construction techniques. Let's face it - Talbot's isn't Armani, but most of the garments are well finished - Hong kong seams, nice detailing.  Eileen Fisher has wonderful garments made simply but with intrigueing details.


          6. SewNancy | | #30



          7. katina | | #29

            Jody, that Sue Thompson book is a great inspiration.  I wonder if it's still in print?

            With regard to knitting, I often knit sweaters and vests side to side - great for striped sweaters.  What sort of sleeves have you in mind?  I assume you mean the jacket body is made of tweed?

            Thanks - Katina

          8. cjc15 | | #32

            I thought the sleeves could be knitted in a compatible pattern to the fashion fabric of the jacket.  Also the shape of the sleeve could be tweaked to set off the whole look.  I remember a suit that my mother had that had a gorgeous lining on the front and back of the jacket and the sleeves were the Chanel style but in a lovely knitted pattern  that completely matched in color the fashion fabric, looked as though they were one and the same until you got close and were lined with what I think was silk organza.  The skirt was lined with the same gorgeous fabric as the jacket, but acted as a slip attached at the waist.  The zipper was hand picked.  This was back in the 50's I think, not sure about that

            Also, there was a suit dress of a soft boucle, the skirt was attached to a slip top, it had a cowl necked sleeveless blouse, and the jacked was hand knitted lace.  I would love to duplicate it.

            I think we have such a wealth of past and present designs that we can use as a jumping off place.  What fun.  Jody

          9. cjc15 | | #33

            Katina, I got to describing clothing and forgot to mention the book.  I do believe it is out of print.  I have had mine a long time and got if from a hard to find bookstore in Vermont, I believe it was called Betty's.  I was looking through it again today, and it is a jewel.  Hope you can find it again.  Jody

          10. loomchick | | #34

            Sue Thompson's book "Decorative Dressmaking" is out of print (I believe) Searching Amazon.com and Abebooks.com turned up a number of copies ranging in price from around $20 to almost $80.

          11. katina | | #35

            I treasure mine, must say.  It's worth searching for if one can be found at a reasonable price; I believe I paid about $25 (new) several years ago.  It's absolutely packed with wonderful ideas - for me it's a classic I turn to frequently for inspiration.

            Thanks for updating us - Katina

        2. kath | | #52

          If there's going to be an occasional article on knitting, I would like to see one about how to knit socks.  There are lots of patterns available, but I haven't found a good source of info about how to make them fit well, be durable and wearable, how to adjust the shape, type of yarn and so forth.     Katherine 

          1. Jody | | #53

            I agree about the knitting article on socks or anything else!  I dont want to upset the balance of the magazine, but would be so much happier to see this included.  In the early Threads there was always a knitting article.  Since the knitting revival, it seems to need to comback, to help us keep one magazine instead of  several, and a quarterly article would be grand.  Thank you.

      4. TJSEWS | | #38

        I would love to see articles on the following!

        How about an article on the inner workings of couture houses?

        An article on different career options for those of us who love to sew and would like to make a livelihood out of it (but not open a business).  What type of credentials would employers look for?   What employers are out there who would need a sewer? 

        An article surveying some of the less expensive sewing machines, including mechanical ones, for those of us who cannot afford to spend $1000 plus on a sewing machine.


      5. michellemiller00 | | #42

        I have an article proposal.  How about something on pleating fabrics?  Something in depth, though.  Not just buy a pleater and pleat.  I was doing a dress for school where I wanted to pleat the fabric.  I had no where to go.  After extensive research on the computer and through phone calls I found my best options were to send the fabric out to a pleater in New York or LA.  Later, after I decided to do something different, I found information about a pleater at Clothilde.  In this article you could explain pleating methods, fabrics, sewing techniques, and what to look for in a pattern.

        I would also like to add something about how I feel about the maagazine.  I have subscribed for about 3-4 years and did not renew.  I browse through them at the bThe information in the magazine is so bookstore now before I buy.  Since, my subscription ran out about 4 months ago, I haven't found any issues I'd want to purchase.  The information is so basic and can easily be found in one of my sewing reference books.  I would appreciate more articles for advanced sewers and mostly more in depth articles.  If I think of any more suggestions, I will add them.

      6. liselaure | | #46

        To Carol Fresia and anyone else,


        I would like to see an article about adapting non-stretch woven fabric patterns to knits: what kind of patterns can be adapted, what changes must be done, how much the seams must be taken in according to the stretch factor of the knit, etc. I could find some information here and there but nothing thorough, even in books devoted to knits.


        I don't know if my proposal will be accepted but in the meantime I welcome any information about this topic.


        1. michellemiller00 | | #48

          A good book is Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joan- Armstrong.  I am a fashion design student and I have the 3rd Edition.  It doesn't tell how to adjust commercial patterns, but it has an entire section on patternmaking with knits.  It talks about how the patterns are different for knits as opposed to wovens and how to factor in stretch.  Not only is the knit section good, but I find it invaluable for patternmaking in general (even adapting a commercial pattern with different details).  The only thing is that it's not a sewing book so sewing techniques aren't mentioned.  It's strictly patternmaking.

          1. Elisabeth | | #49

            I have that book as well, it really is good. The "stretch" section is for knits. With all the woven stretch fabrics around these days it seems like there needs to be another chapter soon. How are they addressing this in your school?

          2. mmiller00 | | #50

            You really learn more from doing. For knits, I usually drape the pattern in a cheap knit.  For stretch wovens, I treat them like regular woven excepts I don't add ease or only use a very little.   I think there are a lot of issues they don't address in school.  The first year you are given all the basics in sewing and patternmaking. Then, for advanced design classes, you have to just find ways to solve design problems yourself.  Sometimes even teachers tell you the wrong thing.  I've had things that worked out great and other things that were duds.  But through it all, I've learned a lot. 

          3. Elisabeth | | #51

            That's really interesting. Hopefully school works a nice balance between learning from someone who knows and reinventing the wheel. There can be too much of that reinventing the wheel activity for those of us that are sewing on our own! With all the stretch woven clothing in the upscale stores there are obviously lots of people in the world that know how to sew the fabric very well so some information is out there. I would have thought a school would have at least one semester class for stretch wovens. Thanks for your tip on using them, I'll have to experiment some.

          4. liselaure | | #54

            Hello Michelle,

            Thank you very much for your input. I am going to look at this book.


  3. katina | | #5

    Hi Barb, thanks for kicking this off.

    Is anyone else interested in garments combining knits with wovens?

    1. mem1 | | #10

      Yes . I recently saw some tops which combined silk fronts with knit sleeves and also tweed jackets with kitted sleeves.

      1. katina | | #11

        Yes, that's the sort of thing.  I've been experimenting with this - I really like the ease of a knit in say, sleeves, without the clinging of a knit around the body.  Such garments can be very comfortable, smart and practical.

  4. ChrisHaynes | | #12

    1)  More details on the award winning outfits in the challenges

    2)  Stash Storage --- plus creative ways to use stashes

    3)  Health issues:  allergies (nickel, wool, latex, dust, adhesive sprays), posture, hand cramps, eyes (sewing closer?), hearing protection, etc.

    4)  Humor article on all the mistakes we have made that made us learn (having made an entire wardrobe with corduroy before I learned about nap!)

    5)  Sewing machines we will never part from, classic machines (I did get a Threads survey... it asked me if I had a machine older than some number of years.  Then it asked if I was going to replace a machine -- Well, yeah.  I am going to replace my NEWER computerized machine and my used embroidery machine with a combo, BUT the only way I will part with my 14 year old Pfaff 955 is when they pull it from the clutches of my cold dead hands before they bury me!!!).

    1. carolfresia | | #13

      Now I'd like to see that corduroy wardrobe! I'm sure it was very funky, even if that wasn't what you intended.


      1. ChrisHaynes | | #37

        Carol wrote:

        Now I'd like to see that corduroy wardrobe! I'm sure it was very funky, even if that wasn't what you intended.


        NOooooooooo!!!!  It was a long time ago in a body long long gone!

        My college dorm was near a fabric store that had lots of inexpensive stuff, usually ends from manufacturers.  It also sold bags of batting scraps from a local factory that made ski-wear (I stuffed large pillows with that stuff, pillows I made from the velvet they sold by the pound... and that I tie-dyed).  I believe it was a couple pairs of slacks, a vest and a jacket. 

  5. Barbaran8 | | #14

    A lot of people on the complaints thread said this, and I will add it to this thread - an article overview of a number of garments in an exhibition at a museum, such as FIT. Discussing similarities and differences between the garments chosen for the exhibition, and with description of specific construction techniques used in a few of the garments. I'm remembering a museum exhibit years ago at the Seattle museum of history and industry on paisley shawls. The exhibit showed some of the original paisley shawls, hand embroidered from Afghanistan before 1810, then European copies as they changed through the next two centuries. I learned so much from that exhibit! If there had been an article about that exhibit, that perhaps showed some of the more unusual embroidery stitches, and how the paisleys were stitched together in the original afghani shawls.... You could ask curators of upcoming exhibits to write the articles, or suggest someone who works with them to write the articles....

    1. Barbaran8 | | #15

      Oh, and another article that is a listing of museums that have good textile collections - where to go to get to see some of the techniques that we are interested in, what the museum specializes in etc. Perhaps three articles in a series, one that covers museums in the US, one that covers museums in Europe, and one that covers museums in the rest of the world.

    2. SewNancy | | #16

      There is a Chanel exhibit comming up at the Metropolitan.  How about an article on that?  With lots of pictures!


      1. kjp | | #17

        When is it?  I guess they wouldn't let us examine the garments, though would they! 

        1. SewNancy | | #19

          I don't know the exact date, but I believe that it starts in May and runs through August.


          1. mem1 | | #20

            I was thinking the very same thing about the Chanel exhibition.

      2. kjp | | #18

        My suggestion:  an article on some of the newer fabrics:  wovens with lycra, designer knits and meshes (buttermilks and onionskins and stretch laces).  what are the best ways to use them and moreover treat them: interfacing, edge finishes, stretch jackets, embellishment ideas, etc.)  All of my favorite sewing references don't include these new fabrics.  Karin

  6. Teaf | | #31

    Where is the original post from Carol Freesia with the challenge? As a university writing specialist who loves to sew and loves to read about sewing, I'd love the opportunity to try an article! Please tell me how to find all the details. Thanks!

  7. Elaray | | #36

    Someone posted a question in General Discussion that I think is an excellent suggestion for a future article in Threads. I'd like to see an article an using Burda, and other international patterns. Yes, Burda magazine has detailed instructions, but I'm sure there are serveral tips and techniques that people have devoped to make tracing-off the patterns easier.

  8. vocrn | | #43

    I stopped getting it because the articles were too "professional" for me, yet really enjoyed it while I had it and am constantly tempted to resubscribe (it's the only taunton magazine that doesn't come to our house, and : No - they don't give any discount if you subscribe to all, nor was there anyway to organize the magazines so they all expired in the same month!).

    I would like to see an article for the experienced, but truly a homesewer: quilting, everyday clothes, children's clothes, home dec etc., that lets the sewer know how to modify patterns, or combine patterns, either for style changes or size changes. E.G. a tall skinny 7 year old who is practically still a size 4, but can wear a size 8 or length. Or when making flower girls' dresses how to combine the features from about 3 patterns.

    As in cooking, I am strictly a follow the pattern/recipe type of person, but am very accomplished...so I need help in taking the creative steps.

    1. HeartFire | | #44

      <<As in cooking, I am strictly a follow the pattern/recipe type of person, but am very accomplished...so I need help in taking the creative steps.>>Megowen.
      Ah, youve hit MY nail on the head here. having grown up "following the pattern" as my mother would tell me, yes, it is hard to breakaway and 'do your own thing' I guess it comes easier for some people than others,

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