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Conversational Threads

Focus of Threads

DWRead | Posted in General Discussion on

Sometime in the 1990s, Threads become an all-sewing magazine. Before then, it was mainly sewing but included other textile arts such as lacemaking, weaving, knitting, etc.

Can you tell me the number of the first all-sewing issue? It would probably be the first issue that said “For People Who Love to Sew” on the cover. Then I would know which issues to buy on eBay. (Sometimes the only information given is the number–no mention of contents and no picture.)



  1. Jean | | #1

    #60 Aug/Sept   of  '95 is  the first issue  with 'For people who love to sew'  on the cover.  I've been in mourning  ever since.

    1. DWRead | | #2

      Thank you for looking that up, Jean.

      Threads is still a great magazine, but I wish they would go back to being a little un-focused!


      1. kai230 | | #3

        I'll third that.

        1. rjf | | #5

          When I started reading Threads in the late '80's, it seemed to me to be mostly knitting.  Then suddenly, it was all sewing just when I no longer needed or wanted to sew.   Looking back at old issues, I see that they covered much more than just knitting.  And the title of the magazine lead one to believe that they would cover every technique known to woman.  It's seems as if they could include something else in addition to the sewing machine stuff.  On the other hand, they need to sell magazines and perhaps we are such a specialized group that it would be financial doom to cater only to knitters.  It's a good magazine and, selfishly, I don't want to be all for the sewists.   Or all for any one technique!                               rjf


      2. Tish | | #6

        I also agree with Jean, but I disagree with the way people refer to Threads' focus.  I do not believe it was unfocused at all.  Its focus was on very high level textile arts.  It was never a craft magazine.  Better Homes and Gardens and Redbook publish craft magazines.  The knitting skills and techniques that Threads featured never appeared in any craft magazine that I ever saw.  (I admit that when I was knitting, I loved the patterns in Redbook.)  I have never seen another magazine with the focus that Threads had. 

        They didn't focus on a particular type of fiber art, but sought out the most innovative artists in the country and showed us what fiber arts could do.  A lot of the featured artists blended media and techniques.  Many Threads readers expanded their horizons and became more creative because of the focus of the magazine.

        If I never read about anything except what I already do, I'd never learn to do anything new.

        1. rjf | | #7

          Tish,  You're exactly right!  I remember the first issue I saw.  It was visually beautiful but in addition,  it taught techniques, not projects.  Amazing, compared to the other magazines at that time.  It really changed how I thought about handwork of all kinds.  I think it taught me to go beyond the articles in the magazine.      rjf

        2. DWRead | | #8

          I was joking about the Threads once being "unfocused." Also, I couldn't think of an accurate term to describe the content.

          Have you heard of Martha Weatherbee? She was a basketmaker, teacher, and supplier who specialized in Nantucket and Shaker-style baskets. I don't know if she is still in the business, now that she is no longer married to Nathan Weatherbee and is living in another part of the country. Back when they had their basketry business in New Hampshire, I spoke with Nathan. He could tell that I was fascinated with Shaker basketry and asked if I were interested in working with them.

          But there was no telling how long I would be into basketry, except that it would not be "for the rest of my life." I love learning much more than producing and, inevitably, some new craft would take center stage.

          "I know exactly what you mean," he said. "You're what we call a 'craft hopper.'"

          The old Threads suited my craft-hopping nature. There are other crafts magazines out there, but they are too cutsey-pie for my taste and don't seem to be as interested in skills and techniques.


          Edited 1/4/2003 4:48:06 PM ET by DWREAD

          1. SewingSue | | #9

            I love the new format.  I used to subscribe to Threads a very long time ago.  Don't remember if it was late 70's or early 80's but gave it up after the "safety pin outfit".  It was always a quality magazine but got a little to bizarre for my taste.  I started subscribing again about five years ago when I saw an issue on the newstand and saw that it was basically sewing and not as "flashy".  I hope they stay with the current format and content.  They definitely cover things better then any of the other magazines out there.    Sue

          2. sarahkayla | | #10

            I really miss the thinking out of the box aspect of the old Threads. I find that the stuff that is a bit off and innovative has helped me to approach my work in a fresh way. I may not knit with wire, or build a rug loom using old crutches but I found that the old Threads really got my brain going. I don't often learn in a straight line... I really miss the old format and the oldinnovative natre of Threads. i just got the latest issue and I found it kind of dull and not so interesting... that makes me sad because I depend on Threads to give my brain a monthy jumpstart. I love how it teaches techniqu and not just step by step projects that are essentially limiting...

            Is this a plea for more off center stuff??? You bet!

            Sarah Kayla

  2. sewphaedra | | #4

    I'd have to disagree about the focus. I used to pick up a copy here and there from the newsstand, but there wasn't nearly enough sewing in it for me. I never was into all that hard-core crafty stuff like spinning and weaving so that put me off. My grandmother gave me a subscription last year and I was blown away by all the cool sewing stuff in there so now I'm hooked. I like Threads much better now. I'm sure there's a market for the rest of the stuff, so maybe someone needs to start a new magazine.

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