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Conversational Threads

Homemade look

jjgg | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

It’s rare that I really jump in and defend Threads magazine these days. I think the quality of the magazine has gone so far down hill that I canceled my subscription over a year ago. BUT, there has been a lot of comments about the garments looking home made. (and no, I haven’t really gone to look that close at the photos. BUT. some clothes have what is called “hanger appeal” – they look good on a hanger, most don’t, most clothing needs to be on a 3 dimensional body (dress form etc) to look good. I learned this in both fashion school and a photography class. I’ll bet the jeans, the jackets etc that everyone is complaining about would most likely look superb if they were on a model that fit them.

I’ve always felt that when Threads did their ‘pattern review’ section that the garments look awful because they were lying flat.

If you notice tops that have a very deep back facing – when it’s on a hanger in the store, you see the finished facing – thats “hanger appeal” the deep facing is just for the hanger look in the store.


  1. Josefly | | #1

    I feel a little uneasy discussing this subject, since others have expressed distaste for criticism of Threads on this forum, and I know your comments are a good-natured attempt to defend the magazine. I still subscribe, look forward to receiving each new issue, and find much that is informative or inspiring in each one, but I do wince every now and then about some apparent mistakes, some difficult-to-follow instructions, or some photos which, in my opinion, don't do justice to the magazine we've loved and come to expect so much from. About the photos you mentioned you haven't looked at carefully, I think the poorly-fitting jeans so many have commented on looked "homemade" for two reasons:1. The Betzina jeans pattern used is designed for women with a rounded stomach, and on the flat-stomached models, the crotch of the jeans looks weird - a little too much length, perhaps, with a little bulge in the fabric - not sure of the cause, but definitely unattractive. The finished pants may've looked better on a different model, but, as shown, they actually seemed to be examples of what so many of us are trying to avoid in our own pants-fitting efforts.2. The large belt loops on either side of the center front appeared to be poorly executed - of uneven length. No model or clothes-hanger could make that look right.The article, of course, still has value and offers some ideas and inspiration as well as sewing techniques. Nevertheless the discouraging question is unavoidable - if the experts can't achieve better results, even for the cover of the magazine, what chance do I have?

    Edited 6/20/2008 3:40 pm ET by Josefly

    1. katina | | #4

      There's a place for constructive criticism, as you say - it serves a valuable purpose. Amber handles our comments very deftly. I much prefer that we discuss issues, that we debate, rather than having disgruntled members abandon Threads.


      1. AmberE | | #5

        As always, I encourage all of you to submit articles and create garments for Threads. We are reader-written---it's a great way to make a little money and share your extensive knowledge.

        1. MomaDeb | | #6

          Maybe I'm not at the level of sewing as the rest of you, but I don't critique what I see, instead I look at it as a source of information/inspiration.  I look to learn from those who know how, to make sure my projects don't look like "happy hands at home". 

          Edited 5/17/2009 7:35 am ET by MomaDeb

          1. kbalinski | | #7

            I agree with most of you, to some respect.  I love the magazine, but I'm getting tired of finding negativity on this board.  Threads can't please everyone at the same time, but they're trying.  They have Master's class and beginner projects.  They have instruction for intermediate sewists on improving fit and garments you can make with out purchasing a pattern.  The editors have a big challenge to meet with their readers being at so many different experience levels combined with all the different types of sewing we like to do.  Perfection in the only garment construction magazine available is next to impossible ("You can't please all of the people all of the time..."), but I consider what we have pretty darn close.

            When my magazine arrives, I'm beside myself with excitement just to have some fresh ideas and inspiration for my hobbie/craft/passion.  I dog-ear the pages I love and want to refer to, and flip through the ones that don't interest me.  But more than anything, I love that I have a periodical that allows me to learn new things, even if it's just one tip, or see a new pattern I might've missed (love the independent company reviews that aren't sold in the big stores).

            In my opinion, the publisher makes this board available as a supplement to aid in our project goals, not a forum to bash them and list every little thing they've messed up.  Yes, I've participated in the negativity a few times, but I'm going to stop because what it all comes down to is this:  if the magazine and/or this board disappeared tomorrow, I'd be truly disappointed at the loss of knowledge available. 

          2. MomaDeb | | #8

            Thank you.  After I posted my last message I was giving serious consideration to stop reading this board.  I love the magazine Threads and look forward to each and every issue.  I feel like a kid when I get my next issue in the mail and can't wait to sit down and look at every page, only to go back when I have time for more serious reading.  These are the magazines I take with me anytime I know I'm going to be traveling or going to an appointment where I may have some serious waiting.  For those of you more talented please help the rest of us who are looking to you for your knowledge and wisdom.  Your experience and insight is invaluable.

          3. jjgg | | #15

            I quit subscribing a few years ago and occasionally pick up a copy when I have a 40% off coupon at Joanns. I'm not ready to send in my money yet for a new subscription, I started subscribing about 20 yrs ago (my 24 y.o. twins were just babies so it may be longer than that). The quality of the magazine has steadily gone down hill. If you saw the magazine from back then, you would see the difference.BUT I do get on this list, I"m here every day (almost) and enjoy this list more than the magazine

            Edited 5/18/2009 10:03 am ET by jjgg

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #9

            Point taken my friend. My apologies for ranting on about the small points that disappoint me, while overlooking the whole, which is thoroughly enjoyable and looked forward to. Will be quiet now. Sorry. Cathy

          5. kbalinski | | #10

            Why are you apologizing??? Cathy, we all know that we hope for perfection and throwing our 2 cents in gives the editors a better idea of what we'd like to see.  I just think there's a difference between constructive criticism and complaining.

            Thanks for understanding my perspective, I understand your's, too!  You've been so helpful with your advice (not just to me, but to all of us) I hope you realize that you are one of the reasons I like this forum so much.


          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #14

            Thank you very very much for the compliment. You made me realize that I had been ranting a fair bit lately, that my usually optimistic tone had taken a down turn, and that is not always pleasant. Just do not want to become a Negative Nelly. Need to choose my rants more carefully.... Cathy

          7. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #11

            Kristine, if my comments about the fitting problems in last two issues of Threads offended you or anyone else on this board, including the Editorial staff of Threads, I sincerely apologize. It was not my intent.

          8. Ralphetta | | #12

            A couple of years ago I became very, very disappointed in the content of Threads and stopped subscribing. Then recently. things improved. I don't know if it was in response to the constant complaints at this site about unimaginative content and an incessant cry for the return of the beautiful back page..but someone at Threads was listening. I'm enjoying it again! It seems to me that I read lots of positive feedback, as well as the polite complaints.

          9. Stillsewing | | #13

            For my tuppence halfpenny worth I think that "Threads" is a terrific mag and this website is a marvellous facility! As far as I am aware it is the only mag that caters for sewers and God knows there are few of us about. There are loads of different mags for quilters and other craft workers but sewing........? So thank you Threads for providing someone like me with a mag that turns me and that I can get lost in. I may not always connect with all the content but who would find one that that did?

          10. ljb2115 | | #16

            I stand with my criticism about the wretched shirt in #142.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, I have discontinued all sewing magazines, except Threads and Sew Beautiful.  Unfortunately my all-time favorite magazine, Creative Needle,  has fallen due to this abysmal economic climate we are experiencing. Even Sew Beautiful is becoming redundant.

            Threads is the standard-bearer of all American issued sewing magazines, but it keeps everyone on his/her toes when there is a panel of peers watching.


          11. ohiostar | | #17

            I've read all the comments and grumps about this magazine. I've been purchasing and subscribing to mags for more years that I wish to count and one thing is constant. After a while, I get BORED with the content. Boredom is another word for NO GROWTH. I just can't expect the editors to keep me happy when I've reached a boredom phase. Only a few magazines are worthy of subscriptions for me and Threads is one of them. If I'm not interested in what they are providing for me now, I put it aside, because sure as shootin' I'll want that mag in 2-3 years. Quilter's Newsletter is boring, so I dropped it, and if an article or two is worth my monetary attention, then I purchase it. Perhaps those of you that are disappointed in the direction of the magazine, need to find something else to read for a while. I am a sew-er, and I am always looking for something to stimulate my creativity. If this is you, then expect yourself to get bored, and more on to another thing until you see no growth in yourself in that area.Donning flame proof attire, but I love ya all anyway! jann

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #18

            ROTFL...no flames being thrown here Jann...I think you make a good point tho. When you are not particularly interested or involved in the content of the moment, no matter how good, you are going to be bored with it. The WOW factor will be missing. So molehills become mountains....small errors become glaring mistakes, tee hee
            One of the reasons I love going back over past issues is that it often throws a whole new light on them, and an uninteresting article then is more pertinent now.... Cathy

          13. ljb2115 | | #19

            I think the same reasoning goes with the TV sewing shows.  I have ceased watching Sewing With Nancy, the Viking/Sue Hausmann shows, Martha Pullen, etc., as most are for the beginners or the "make-it-tonite-wear-it tomorrow" types. 

          14. GinghamGrrl | | #20

            I know what you mean. I bought Sew Stylish a couple of weeks ago, and I thought the clothes looked terrible. I mean the finished garments looked like a sewing project nightmare. You should have seen these knickers they made. And the tunic on the cover? Not even K-Mart would carry something that awful. One thing about handmade clothing is that you really don't want the things to look handmade. It's different when you are going for the "crafty" look, but when you are making a designer piece, it is a lot different. There are certain standards in the industry that designers strive for, and sewing magazines are not showing the quality workmanship that is necessary to succeed in this industry.

            Edited 5/28/2009 11:03 am ET by GinghamGrrl

          15. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #21

            I agree that the workmanship is lacking in some of the garments seen. On the other hand, I also enjoy seeing another view point. Not all garments are meant to look polished and well done. Some garments actually look better once they have been well worn and a bit ragged....
            We do need garments to show the light of the way. I think it is also Ok to show garments that have been crafted "on the quick", with the "homemade" look also. If you do not show them, then beginning sewers would be afraid to show and wear their beginning efforts......
            I think some of the garments shown in Sew Stylish were more about restyling a garment, an idea, than a how to sew article. It would have been better if finer finishing techniques were proposed or suggested as well. Cathy

          16. ohiostar | | #22

            It was my understanding when I looked at this magazine, that it was meant for beginner sewers. A lot of the articles seemed to be watered down versions of Threads articles. I think this magazine (just my humble opinion, mind you) that this magazine would appeal to twenty- somethings who would be intimidated by Threads. The clothing construction styling certainly reminds me of my beginner sewing in my late teens and early 20's. Everyone has to start somewhere, and had I had this magazine then, I probably would have purchased it. However, all we had in the sixties and seventy's was McCalls Needlecraft and Golden Hands, and if you could afford it, Vogue Book of Sewing.

          17. becksnyc | | #28

            I, too, no longer watch sewing shows. Although I have the utmost respect for the entrepreneurial and sewing skills of the ladies who produce the shows, I cannot relate to their choice of projects.
            After 20 years in NYC, I now live in the Mid-West (Ohio) and understand their market. Local fabric stores cater to quilters and crafters, not fashion sewing. Many of the local seamstresses are members of conservative religious communities like the Amish. They create amazing stuff, but it doesn't relate to my life.
            I'm by no means a fashionista; my style is classic with a creative edge. Threads is the only sewing related media that even comes close to my interests.
            How I LONG for a sewing show sponsored by Threads!!! Even if it did contain some content for newbies!

          18. ljb2115 | | #29

            I  live just a bit farther west in Indiana.  There is no real fashion in the city where I live, but I can get some inspiration from Saks and Nordstrom in Indianapolis.  There are two very nice boutique-type shops in my city, but one can wear just so much "boutique" type clothing.  (I live in the country with yard, etc.) 

            Back to the sewing shows.....I, too admire the personages, but there is a limit to the "stuff" one can sew.  Nancy Zieman at one time ran a series on actual garment sewing.  Somewhere I have the series on tape.  Martha Pullen's items are lovely, but in some instances rather silly for the normal person.  I custom fashion Christening gowns, but would NEVER wear any of the women's clothes shown in Sew Beautiful magazine.  My friends would take my temperature and put me to bed!

            I belong to the ASG and Association of Design and Sewing Professionals (formerly Professional Assn. of Custom Clothiers) and derive quite a bit of style information from both groups.

            Keep in touch.  This is the week-end I demo the Janome 350E embroidery machine at the local quilt show.  Must get back to the mess I have started while gathering samples!


  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    Lately, while checking out a variety of sewing magazines, I've been appalled by completed projects that are shown; they tend to be clunky, goofy, and poorly executed.  I can't imagine anyone--not even a gorgeous young vintage fan--wearing any of those things! 

    Perhaps the magazines are trying to avoid intimidating the consumers by not making things look well-made?  That we will feel good about our efforts because they'll look better than theirs?  Or that we'll recognize that the project will be easy?  In any case, very few motivate me to bother with the project or the rest of the magazine!

  3. Razrsmom | | #3

    Hi jjgg:  Let me first state that I have been doing custom dressmaking for 40 years.  I love Threads magazine for alot of things but........I agree with you.  Clothes laying down just don't look appealing.  If I am interested in the pattern is is because of the sketches.....not the made up garment.  Maybe one reason for this is the fact that models are expensive to hire.  I have also wondered how the people that sew these samples up are chosen.  Does anyone else wonder about that??  Page 24 of the current issue shows a dress made in a busy print.  The details are totally obscured.  I do love the magazine, my first issue was #39 and I still have them all.  I usually just scan the dresses, read the details and move on.  I really shouldn't be critiquing anything since I just joined the gatherings group but I am glad that someone else feels the same way I do.

  4. Ceeayche | | #23


    I hope that those of you "concerned" about the attacks on the magazine are taking the feedback in context.  Most of us who voiced our disappointment are long time readers and loyal members of the Gatherings community.  It is that passion for the excellence that Threads represents that caused the outburst of concern.  We hold our beloved Threads to a higher standard than the other magazines.  We expect the garments to be well fitting, the techniques to be thought provoking.  While we recognize that everybody isn't at the same level (I'm awestruck by some of the accomplishments of our members here), when the editorial content shifts we feel compelled to speak up and remind the editorial staff why we are loyal subscribers and consistent Gatherings participants.  In short, when the quality of the garments slips (as in the recent issue with the jeans and the shirt fitting article), we notice and we want them to know that we care about this.

    Personally I appreciate the members who voiced their opinions.  I had a visceral reaction to the jeans but couldn't put my finger on why until I read the postings here.  Then I could look at the pictures with more discernment and I learned something.

    The magazine/staff should welcome this type of feedback as well.  If everything posted here is saccarine sweet, they won't grow, won't evolve. And with the dire straits of the publishing industry it is critical for their own survival that they continue to sustain those key differientiators which make Threads special.  We can't allow it to descend into a magazine targeting only newcomers to sewing.  There are plenty of alternatives for that.  But a magazine that inspires the novice to the expert there is only one and that is Threads.

    I haven't noticed any mean-spirited postings.  And as long as the postings are towards making Threads and the Gatherings community better-- I don't have to agree with it all. I have to tell you I read it because as I demonstrated on the pants issue, I learned something I probably would have never put my finger on.  These posters READ the magazine, try the projects, and they have incredible exerience and skills. It's like attending a class sometimes when you wander throught the posts.  The combination is priceless.  So to you, Cathy and others who have voiced your opinions I applaud you for being so invested in this and taking the time.  And to the editors, I urge you to listen up!  If we didn't love you, we'd vote with our walking papers by not subscribing and not visiting the site.   And if you read through all the postings, you will note that towards the time the new issue comes out there's a clarion cry until everyone has their copy.  We all eagerly anticipate each issue.


    1. katina | | #24

      Thank you for taking the time to post this insightful piece. Yes, constructive criticism is essential for the refinement of whatever it is that's being dissected; if readers simply stopped buying Threads - the equivalent of being booed off the stage - there would be an almighty storm of protest!


    2. KathleenFasanella | | #25

      I'm reminded by a friend of mine who wrote an article on my site called _The power of a good (or bad) review_ (http://bit.ly/G79eh). I find bad reviews to be very helpful! For example, if I'm a total nube on a topic and looking at books, the bad reviews that say the book is too basic, or just for newbies, will do more to convince me to buy it than not. Fwiw, this thread inspired me to buy the latest issue of Threads at the newsstand. Sometimes you even buy something just to see how bad it really is. At least I do and am usually not surprised to find it's not so bad after all. I haven't read it yet tho. I'd buy Threads more often but for some weird reason, B&N nor Joann's carry it. I have to go to Hastings which I don't usually go to.

    3. User avater
      JunkQueen | | #26

      ceeaychelle (love the name, incidentally) -- thank you so much for the clarity in your post. Constructive criticism is the best feedback anyone can get. Witness the student who excels because their teacher helps them in that manner. All true teachers, whether degreed or not, instinctively know this. You have articulated this wonderfully. I believe that, while Gatherings is a fun and educational place for us to hang out, it is, more importantly for Threads, a marketing tool and a place for the editorial staff to keep a finger on the pulse of their audience. This wonderful group of people who populate this forum have one and all. at some point in time. been an inspiration to me, and I love the way we can discuss and criticize without rancor.

    4. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #27

      Very well put. Cathy

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