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Conversational Threads

Issue 122

solly | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

I just got home from work and was delighted to see my new issue until I opened it up. I’m a returning sewer who gave up fitting clothes when prices dropped and fabric got expensive. Now I’m looking for good fit in good fabric and I’m a learner again. I’m not having a huge issue with the article choices (I don’t mind the variety of skill levels if there is actual info in the articles) but I’m having a big, big issue with the article content or lack of. The photos are unnecessarily large (yes, I like to see the illustrations – but really, a half page for a quick tip about shaving lotion!?!). I would like to see more information in the articles they do choose. I love the ideas but it’s getting skimpier and skimpier. Even my husband asked me about it tonight because it seemed so skinny when he got the mail. I have to agree wholeheartedly. I’ll take a couple of issues to make sure I’m not rushing to judgement but I’m now considering canceling my subscription of a long, time pleasure because content vs price is making me rethink.


  1. HeartFire | | #1

    This is why I cancelled my subscription, and when I called to do that Imade sure they understood why I was cancelling, I don't think it will do any good though. I also recently had a very long discussion with one fo the assistant editors about it, I"m not sure that will do anything either.
    I have been buying up old issues of Threads on Ebay and have been delighted with them (I started my subscription at issue No. 50. When my husband saw the old ones compared to the recent ones, he too was amazed at the lack of content,& wasted space (whole pages of just a picture with very little relavent info too the picture! they have now.
    ah well, its really a shame, it was a great magazine.

  2. lovemycottons | | #2

    Solly, I am also a returning sewer. I gave up sewing clothes years ago for the same reasons you did. Instead I made quilts and craft items. One christmas season, I worked at the local fabric shop and being there renewed my interest in garment sewing. Back when I used to sew clothes, I subscribed to Threads and loved the magazine, so last year I started up a subscription to Threads. At first, I was delighted with the magazine, but these last two issues were very disappointing. I don't mind all the skill levels presented, from beginners to advanced, but I feel the articles are lacking something. I am not sure what, but they seem empty. For example, the needle article in the current issue was spread out over a few pages but little was said. It could have been condensed into one page for all the info it provided and another short article could have taken up the other pages. The same thing with the pants fitting article. I found it sort of informative but again it was spread out on many pages. It seems like Threads may be cutting back on articles and to make up for it they are spreading them out over a few pages with large print and pictures.

    As of now, I am going to continue my existing subscription, but I don't think I will renew it unless I see some changes

    PS   I loved the chanel article from the last issue. If only all the articles were like that.

    1. marijke | | #3

      The Chanel article in the last issue was indeed a real treat. 

      I'm not sure I fully agree with the comparisons to the much older issues: I compared the recent article by Susan Khalje about Chanel  jackets to the much older one by Claire Schaefer.  The Schaefer one has much more text, but that text is quite repetitive.  The Khalje article has less text and more relevant illustrations, making it much easier to understand the process (and easier to find the information you are looking for when rereading to find some specific bit of info).  It's the quality of the text that matters, not the quantity.

      That said, I agree that a half page for the shaving lotion tip left wasted space.

      On the needle article, there might have been more information: there are a lot more different kinds of needles than covered in the article.  I would have liked to see more of those covered. 

      I would also like to see more articles include some sources for more information.   For instance, the needle article might have listed some sources for more information on different needles and their uses and sources for help on what needles give the best results with what fabrics. 

      I liked Mary Ray's article on battings for quilted clothing.  However, after reading several of her articles on quilted clothing, I am still wondering how she sews the quilted pieces together.  Does she essentially sew through all layers (i.e. sewing two quilts together)?  If so, what seam finishes does she use?  Or does she follow the technique described in the Chanel article?   Maybe she can do something on seams in quilted clothing?


      1. carolfresia | | #6


        Yes, Mary does just sew through all the layers, and then presses the seam allowances open; she either uses a Hong Kong finish (usually with a bias strip of lightweight silk), or sometimes simply serges them. Because she opts for the lightest, thinnest batting for most of her garments, there's very little bulk when the pieces are constructed this way. It seems almost too easy to be true, but that's how it's done! And if you bind the seam allowances attractively, the inside of the garment looks quite nice and neat. Mary is a stickler for a neat finish, although she's the first to admit that she doesn't like to make things any harder or more time consuming than they need to be.

        That said, the green jacket in the article was pretty complex, and she did a magnificent job of quilting on it.


        1. marijke | | #8

          Thanks, Carol, I appreciate that information.  That green jacket did look complicated with the curved seams.  Very pretty, though!  I have enjoyed all the quilted clothing pieces by Mary Ray.  Now I need to find time to try her techniques out.



      2. lovemycottons | | #14

        I must thank you for the wake up call and I also owe Threads an apology. Focusing on my disappointments only in the last issue, my statements were rather harsh and I failed to mention the positive aspects of the magazine. Yes, they did cut back on the feature articles, etc, etc.   BUT   I did not state what pleased me.  The welt article was great. It's text was very informative and after reading it, I actually felt like I could make a welt pocket. And the pictures showed the construction details clearly.

        Instead of the 8 feature articles, they have 6 now. It looks like the two new departments Embellishments and Master Class make up the difference. They may not be as "meaty" as a feature article but they are informative and can supply us sewers with new ideas and techniques. So far, I am not impressed with the Embellishments, but the Master Class one I liked.

        I do not like the new Notions department. I actually prefer the format for the old Tools of the Trade.

        So, there are some great changes and some not so great. I am waiting to see how the next few issues will be with its "new" design.

        Your suggestion for including additional information sources in the articles is a great one.

        Again, thank you.


        1. Teaf5 | | #15

          Thank you, Heartfire, for counting the number of hours a Chanel jacket would take! I loved the article but wondered how practical the process would be for me and my lifestyle;you helped me to understand tha I don't have 60 hours to invest in a single garment, no matter how wonderful it turns out!

      3. jennich | | #25

        I agree with you that so additional information about constructtion would have been both interesting and useful.  In addition I was let asking myself the question I wonder if she has had to modify the sizing/fit of her garments or does she get around that one by only using very lightweight battng.  Lastly, when quilting garments is interfacing still included to give support to particular areas, such as facings collars etc.




    2. MKay | | #4

      The Chanel article was also missing important information.   There is no mention of internal support of the jacket such as interfacing and twill tape for the seams.  The article has left me more confused  then informed.  I took a look at a real Chanel jacket at the local Chanel boutique and the lining is NOT quilted to the fabric.  I'm I missing something??  Mary Kay 

      1. GorgeousThings | | #5

        Mary Kay, the lining is quilted to the jacket fabric only on the couture Chanel jacket - it's one of the hallmarks of the couture. The RTW jackets that you see at the Chanel boutiques are not quilted. Ann

        1. MKay | | #9

          Yikes!  I can't imagine what a couture jacket would cost.  The RTW started at around $2,000.00, but most were $4,000.00.  (This Chanel boutique is in Nordstroms BTW)  Mary Kay

      2. carolfresia | | #7

        Mary Kay, there is no interfacing or twill tape in Chanel jackets of the type shown in the article. That's what makes the jackets so deliciously light and supple. You do have to handle the fabric gently to minimize ravelling, but the result is almost more like a very slightly structure sweater than a tailored jacket.


        1. MKay | | #10

          Carol, so there is no interfacing or taping the front edge in a quilted Chanel jacket?  I never paid much attention to Chanel before the Threads article.  I wanted to make one because it looks like a lot of fun.  Mary Kay (going back to my jacket quilting)

          1. HeartFire | | #11

            having just taken Susans french jacket class, I would charge at least $2,000.00 to make one for someone. There is at least 60 hours of HAND sewing involved in the jacket - not to mention the custom fitting, if it were a plaid, I would charge more. Then ofcourse there is the fabric, and trim, and the buttons, I paid about $50.00 just for the buttons for mine!
            BTW, her class was fabulous, I highly reccomend her classes.
            oh, and no, there is no interfacing, no taping at all, you can put shoulder pads in, but I didn't .
            The only ingredients are the fashion fabric, lining, trim and buttons. and hours and hours of hand sewing.

          2. MKay | | #12

            I saw that Susan Kaljie offers the French Jacket class at her sewing school. Is that jacket similar to the Chanel jacket? Mary Kay

          3. HeartFire | | #13

            yes, she can't use the word "chanel" in the title of her class, but its the same thing.

  3. FrancesC | | #16

    There is something else about issue 122 that you should notice. The back cover is now "Fine fabrics" instead of an illustration of a particularly fine piece of needlework.

    I have had a subscription to Threads for many years and I have every issue but the first one. The first place I always look in a new issue is the back cover and I don't like this change at all. And when it comes time to renew, it might just be the deciding factor when deciding what to do since I, also, feel that Threads is not what it used to be.


    1. Elisabeth | | #17

      Even though the red fake fur is pretty darn cool, it doesn't compare to an example of fine dressmaking of yesteryear to study. I'm sure we, the readers, have in our possession some lovely pieces of sewing from our grandmothers and beyond. We could supply the back cover photos if the editors need some.

      1. FrancesC | | #18

        In times past, Threads has had back cover illustrations of such things as a miniature weaving studio, and a box of candies made of ribbon, both of which I thought were marvellous. Since they have narrowed the focus of the magazine, which I am not entirely happy with, they have featured museum quality, or one-of a kind pieces. I don't mind including exceptionally fine fabrics in the mix, but I don't want them exclusively. And, if any readers have fine pieces of needlework, I would like to see them. I don't think the pictures should be confined to clothing either, because who knows what would give someone inspiration. A year or so ago, I sent the editors a clipping from our local newspaper of 2 Torah covers which were inspired by clothing and they were wonderful. And they might very well re-inspire someone for a piece of clothing. Let's keep the traditional back cover.FrancesC

        1. poo | | #19

          ahh, but they get advertising money I'm sure for these 'fine fabrics' thats more important these days then reader appreciation! (it pays their bills anyway) I remember that box of candy! it was fabulous

          1. carolfresia | | #20

            Nope, "Fine Fabrics" is purely editorial--no advertising connection at all. We provide sources for the fabrics shown inside the magazine so that readers can obtain similar fabrics if they wish. The goal of the "Fine Fabrics" department is to showcase yardage and fibers that most sewers have no access to, or don't know about, and to provide the "raw materials" of inspiration. Depending on the fabric, we'll sometimes show it made up into a garment.


          2. cynthia2 | | #21

            Hi Carol,

            I like the new Fine Fabrics feature.  I always enjoyed the back covers that featured extraordinary sewing techniques as well, but as since I'm always on the lookout for new fabrics, I rather like the new feature.


          3. DeeDee | | #22



            I really liked the back cover of the latest Threads magazine.  I have been looking for some of this 'Astrakan' material for years.  I remember my mother having a coat in black astrakan when I was a small girl and I have always wanted one.

            Unfortunately I am based in the UK and we do not have access to any home grown magazine which is a patch on Threads.  I have to wait for weeks after your publication date to get my copy of the magazine.  Although I think my mum is going to get me a subscription for Christmas.

            I do not think your USA readers realise how lucky they are.

            I am going to try the suppliers you suggested in the states and see if I can still get my hands on some fabric.  I hope I am not too late!

            Dee Dee




          4. carolfresia | | #23

            Dee Dee,

            My mother, too, had a black "Persian lamb" coat when I was a child in the 60s--hers wasn't the velvet shown on the back cover, but rather some sort of wool weave. I thought it was the absolute height of elegance back then, and have always wanted one of my own. I don't think a velvet coat is in my future, but if I ever find the wool version of it, I'll be seriously tempted!


          5. FrancesC | | #24

            I do want to make it clear that I have no objection to a feature on Finer Fabrics nor do I object to its being on the back cover. But I do not want it to be the ONLY subject of the back cover. There are too many other wonderful subjects for that.If the editors want a Finer Fabrics feature in every issue, I think it should be a separate page.FrancesC

        2. berniejh | | #26

          You're so right about the back cover, it is the first thing I look at and have loved the older covers and found them inspiring. I can look at fine fabrics in a good fabric store anytime, I was really disappointed in the picture of the Organza a couple of issues ago. Keep to the traditional back cover, there is so much wonderful stuff they could include from all over the world. I recently went to a Maori artist quilting display by Ku Bailey, (a fellow New Zealander) at my local gallery and was so inspired to continue sewing. I thought if only Threads could see these!
          If they asked for readers contributions they would have a fabulous variety to keep them going for ages.
          Ku's work is shown on http://www.arikiart.com, then search Ku Bailey. The photos don't do the work justice.

          1. poo | | #27

            OMG!!! I love the picture of Bush in the "The Emperor's New Clothes"
            its fabulous! thank you so much for this link!

          2. midnitesewer | | #28

            I loved the link also. "The Emperor's New Clothes" is one of my favorite stories.

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