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Conversational Threads

Letter to Editor

Assusasews | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

I have just come away from reading a pattern review.I was completely blown away by what might be possible to achieve with the right sort of resources.The project in question sums up for me what my expectations of Threads magazine.
There have been long discussions , emails and letters in the magazine about the current state, the changes in transition of Threads magazine.
The above jacket made using commercial pattern for home sewers,domestic sewing machine and easily available notions and gadgets could provide the articles for over a dozen or so Threads articles.
From fabric matching , exquisite designer details, couture level machine embroidery for garments, bias trims, hand sewing all in a way that will be far more inspirational to both new as well as experienced sewers.
What wont get me to the next level in my dressmaking is the sort of five pages on how to tie an Obi sash.
Please Editors , look around cyberspace and see the somewhat inspirational dressmaking skills we would like to attain.


  1. Josefly | | #1

    Not an editor, of course, but interested in what jacket you mean by "above jacket." Or can you point us to a particular pattern review? Thanks. Joan

    1. Assusasews | | #2
      1. Josefly | | #3

        Isn't that wonderful? The reviewer's photos are great, too. I loved the use of the bias strips with reverse side out. Her changes to the pattern were nicely documented, too. You're right about this being an inspiring demonstration of several techniques creatively used. On first look it might seem that the embroidery is what makes the jacket special, but I actually like the other features. By the way, I hope somebody can answer these questions: is cutting the jacket undercollar on the bias a technique that is usually recommended? Undercollars are often a little smaller than outer collars, aren't they, to make the outer collar lay over the facing better? How does a bias cut affect that? It also appeared that the sewist shaped the bias trim strips before attaching them to the fabric. I don't think I've ever seen how that was done, and I'm grateful to have that technique in my bag of tricks. Thank you for the link. Joan

        1. Teaf5 | | #9

          By cutting the undercollar on the bias, it will drape slightly smaller than the upper collar even if you cut & sew them the same size , and the collar fold will be very graceful as it drapes over the diagonal foldline of the undercollar.  A bias-cut undercollar can work wonders for a jacket or shirt, especially those with substantial body in the fabric--it will create a lovely and flattering drape that looks so nice circling the neck!

          1. Josefly | | #10

            Thank you for that tip. I'm saving your message in my sewing file. I don't think I've read that anywhere before, and I'm eager to try it.By the way, if the undercollar pattern is smaller than the outer collar pattern, would you still cut the undercollar on the bias, using the undercollar pattern? Or would that make it too small? Or would you cut an undercollar on the bias using the outer collar pattern?

            Edited 10/6/2006 11:36 pm ET by Josefly

          2. FitnessNut | | #11

            The under collar should be slightly smaller than the upper collar pattern to allow for turn of the cloth....1/8" on the outer edge is the norm. And I always cut it on the bias, in two pieces with a centre back seam.

          3. Josefly | | #13

            Thank you for the instructions...I'm sure I can remember that and will use your suggestion.

          4. Teaf5 | | #12

            FitnessNut's answer covers this, but doing both usually works fine. You usually sew the out edges of the collar, turn and press it, and then attach it to the neckline, so you have the whole neckline edge seam allowance to play around with to adjust the finished size of undercollar & the upper collar.Ultimately, you want the upper collar to "turn" over the outer edge so that the undercollar and seam don't show. After sewing the outer edges, you can ease the seamline toward the under side while pressing, and you can even off the neckline edge of the collar afterwards. Like Fitness Nut, I cut the undercollar in two halves seamed together so that the bias on each half is exactly the same. This matters only on fabrics with significant differences in the warp & weft fibers, which might drape slightly differently, but it also makes for a nifty design element in striped or plaid fabrics.

          5. Josefly | | #14

            Thanks for answering my question and for the explanation of why and how to cut the pieces on the bias. That makes so much sense that the bias halves must be mirror images of each other, if I'm reading you correctly. I'm getting eager to try this technique out.

      2. User avater
        Becky-book | | #4

        Wow!! What an inspiration!

        1. isew4kidz | | #5

          Truly inspiring.



  2. AmberE | | #6

    Thanks so much---it looks like it has struck a chord with the community---I will be taking a look!

    1. KarenW | | #7

      Ann Rowley, who produced that work, does absolutely stunning garment work.  There is a topic specifically for her to answer questions on http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php and she also participates on sewingworld.com where I've seen links to other items she's made.  Anything I've seen photos of that she's done has been impeccable.   Though I've sewn for a long time and feel I learn more with each garment and each gets better and better, her level of fineness is an example of that to which I aspire... Amber, perhaps you could get her to do some work for Threads?


      1. AmberE | | #8

        Sorry to take a while to get back to you, but I will definitely look into this. I am always looking for what will inspire our loyal readers, so any ideas are always very much appreciates. In the future, I have set up an area under Feedback called Talk with Amber, so you can reach me more readily. I get email alerts whenever there's a post. Thanks again for the tip Karen.

        1. ctirish | | #15

          Amber,  I know almost anything is possible  given time, talent and money... but I am wondering if your IT department can move the Letter to the Editor up in the list that is on the left side when you enter Gatherings. It is pretty far down the list and I find I forget about it (and I know it is there). I have mentioned it to a couple of people and their comment is they haven't seen it. If there is a way to keep that one at the top permanently more people may use it, but more so, they will always see they have a place to go to with ideas and comments.  I am sure you are tired of my thoughts at this point - that's ok. - I get on the PC when I am too tired to sew, but can't sleep.

          Anyway, another thought, I sent one about this to the Th@threads address. I had a class today with Jennifer Stern on embroidery. She just does great work. She thought some of her work was on this web site but I couldn't find anything.  I thought it would be nice to have a place to show some of her embroidery work to encourage, inspire, motivate other sewers. Now I was thinking there must be other people who do the kind of expansive work that she accomplishes. So, my next thought is a place to show the work of people who have won awards for their work. I know Jennifer has won several awards at the Quilt Festival in Houston, actually she is going there again this year in November. I know you have requested people to post their work on the photos board but (that is another one that should be at the top of the list) no one seems to be using it lately! I just love to look at other people's work from the simple to the over-the-top.  I know you have so much to do I just hope you are good at delegating.


          1. AmberE | | #16

            I will see what IT can do---that's a good idea. As well as your other ideas---don't worry we can never have enough good ideas!

          2. dotty | | #17

            I know the topic of old Threads is getting old, but I have to add my two cents. I just looked up some knitting info in an old issue. There seems to be a knitting revival (myself included) happening at the moment. What a treasure trove those old issues are. I know our tastes change, but I really love reading about other fabric/sewing related things. I found an article about sewing your own shoes!! There are lots of things I'll never try, but somehow I find it very appealing to have a place to go for info if I ever change my mind. I also like the open ended ideas those old issues created. You feel empowered to combine techniques into your own thing with all that info at your disposal. For example I'm cogitating a fabric jacket with knitted collar and cuffs. I don't know if I'll ever make it but I know where I can do my research for the fantasy.

          3. AmberE | | #18

            I agree that the Threads info on knitting is great---and there's not that much out there now for advanced knitters---of which there are more and more. My 30-something cousin has been knitting for about 3 years and is looking for info beyond the basics. We've been looking into doing a special issue on this, for sure.

            Edited 10/16/2006 9:54 pm ET by AmberE

          4. katina | | #23

            Hi Amber

            A special issue? Can you tell us anything about it, please?


          5. AmberE | | #24

            It's called Sew Stylish and will be on newsstands in Feb. or it can be ordered at the Threads site online beginning in November (web address is in my issue 128 editor's letter.) The tagline is Basic Training to Unleash Your Creativity and the idea is to develop more advanced and couture sewing skills and create designer quality garments. We have also developed a companion Sew Stylish pattern with Simplicity and these garments will be our featured skill-building projects.

          6. katina | | #25

            Thanks Amber - sounds great. Somehow I got the impression that it had to do with knitting.

          7. AmberE | | #26

            That  is another one that we are considering and if enough people on Gatherings show an interest, it would likely help make the case for the need for one.

          8. katina | | #27

            Yes please! And thanks for taking such an interest in the discussions - makes all the difference.

          9. AmberE | | #28

            These discussions help me too!

          10. User avater
            Aless | | #29

            Hi Amber,

            I have been trying to contact Customer Service but my mail is ' not able to be delivered '.

            I'm one of the Australian subscribers who has yet to receive #126 and #127.Have emailed them x times myself before getting on here.

            Could you please give me the correct address to reach CS,please?

            (I did what you suggested and put Australia in the subject line....but that does me no good if it can't be delivered....)



          11. AmberE | | #30

            Hi Aless: The correct address is in the Problems with Australian Subscriptions thread. I posted the info there. Let me know if you still have problems sending an email and be sure to fil out subject.

          12. User avater
            Aless | | #31

            Thanks Amber. I have worked out what the problem was. I had picked up, and used, a tiny error (considering the pressure you were under,to be understood) in just one of the many CS addresses you gave out to us and had directed my email to [email protected] instead of [email protected] .

            Isn't the internet a wonderful but pedantic institution?!!  :-)))))

            Hopefully,I'll get a reply from CS soon.



          13. AmberE | | #32

            Ooops! I have to go fix that---sorry!!!!!!!

          14. SewinMari | | #36

            Sorry -- got to weigh in with my two cents worth.  There are loads of knitting magazines out there and not enough sewing magazines.  I agree that you can mix the two arts, and you can certainly mix in other arts/crafts.  However!  Threads used to be more haute couture.  I think with the interest in the recent hit Project Runway, I think Threads needs to cater to intermediate/advancers sewers.  I've been sewing for most of my life.   Even review of the basics isn't a review anymore --- it is an review plus introduction to new methods.  I think the Knitting craze is probably waning, while sewing is about to hit a popularity swing. 

            I would like to see an short (1-2 page) article on Versace (and other designers).  I saw a couple books about and by him, and they looked artful and expensive.  What makes those expensive runway fashions expensive?  Why can't I make one myself?  (ok---I'm too old to wear and my 13 year old is too cool)  I feel fairly empowered to design.  Especially after project runway - I think I can do just as good!

            I'd like to see something on how to dye fabric.  A good in-depth 4-5 page per month for a few months would be fantastic.  I am learning how to paint dye now.  It is pretty cool and I am in control.

            I'd like to see something on how to go from loose beads and sequins (or paillettes) and put them on a bodice.  How to choose the beads, what thread, what stitch.  (Where to get the beads!)   Most of this I've had to just figure out on my own.

          15. cynthia2 | | #37

            I agree, SewinMari.  Rather than adding other crafts to Threads, why not explore embellishment options, draping methods, featured designers (both famous and boutique) and other advanced sewing issues.  I like to knit, but there are other good magazines for that.  There are so many intermediate to advanced sewing topics that could use more coverage.


          16. AmberE | | #40

            Great ideas---if we did other crafts, it would be as a separate publication. Threads will continue to be about garment sewing.

          17. katina | | #38

            There are several good books available that could help you with fabric dyeing - check on Amazon. Quilting magazines often carry such articles. I agree with you about Threads catering to more advanced sewers, but after all the discussions and input we've had with editorial, it seems that they intend to appeal to all levels.


          18. AmberE | | #41

            We are definitely aiming for the intermediate and advanced sewers for Threads---not absolute beginners. In fact, our technical editor, the very talented Judy Neukam, has that specific charge: make it work for our advanced core readers! Look for Judy to be more active on these boards in the near future. I relatively new here (one year 11/28/06!) and am getting my sea legs, but I can assure that Threads will be going more in the direction of what you want. We do have a special issue coming out on newsstands in February, Sew Stylish, that will develop haute couture skills for more beginner/intermediate sewers, but I daresay that there's something there for everyone because we really focus on translating runway styles to home sewing projects.

          19. katina | | #42

            Thanks again for taking the trouble to respond to us, Amber. I've been a subscriber since 1987 and only now do I feel we're being heard; we went though all manner of surveys and questionnaires over these last few years with some frustrating results. You're well named - amber is prized for its marvellous qualities!

          20. AmberE | | #47

            I'll pass that on to my mom (a subscriber since Issue 1!). Thanks Katina!

          21. SewNancy | | #43

            Oh goody! I am a fan of Project Runway too and what I really love about it is their ability to design drape and create a fabulous design. I also, after seeing Laura's clothes want to know how to do all that embellishment. Wow her workmanship is incredible. I loved Heather's last article on draping the skirt front, which I plan on doing.

          22. AmberE | | #48

            I hope you'll submit to Reader's Closet!

          23. ctirish | | #52

            Amber, I am so glad to hear the direction of the magazine is going to be more for the intermediate and advanced sewers.  I'll admit sometimes that scares me even though I have been sewing since I was ten.  I took a hiatus from sewing when I went back to work full time.  Now I have some time and I want to expand my sewing knowledge, but like a lot of other women - I don't know where I fit in the scheme of beginner, intermediate, or advanced.  When I first subscribed to Threads I found some of the articles beyond me, not because of the topic, because of the instructions. When you started with the beginner articles I realized how much I did remember and know and I missed the more advanced articles. My point here is please do the advanced and couture articles and please include very definitive instructions and many pictures.  Thank you for taking the time to listen. jane 

          24. AmberE | | #54

            Will do!

          25. SewinMari | | #44

            I have purchased so many books.  They take almost as much room as my fabric and yarn.  Books are like fabric:  Some are cheap and you wonder why you bought them.  Some are expensive and you should have bought them to begin with and saved the money and space being used to store the cheap stuff.  Some are just outrageously expensive and you wonder if you are really spending enough time reading/wearing it.

            A magazine can't be an encyclopedia, but it needs to give enough information on 2-4 pages to empower you to go try something.  The end of the article needs to give you good resources - where to buy that fabric, where to buy a more in-depth book and where to get other info. 

            I finally broke down and bought a $89 pattern drafting textbook.  I had put the purchase off for a long time because I couldn't see buying it off Amazon without looking at it.  Gosh, it is going to SAVE me some money this year.  I sew for a dance studio (this year).  I love it.   I'd like to buy more textbooks, but I'm not sure what key words to look for.

            Amber, what has been an absolute godsend to me has been the listing of fabric resources in Threads and the ads in the back.  I can never find odd-ball fabric. 

            I'd also like to read about fabric related careers.  How does a movie costumer become that and what do they do?  I've looked for info on managing dance costumes, but I am just having to figure this out on my own.

            Well, not sure you wanted to read all that.....

          26. Ralphetta | | #45

            I really liked your suggestion about articles on sewing related careers.  I also liked the suggestion someone made about the finalists from Project Runway. The show spends a little to much time on "personalities" and not as much as I would like, on techniques, etc.

          27. AmberE | | #50

            We are planning to reach out to and feature more up and coming/student designers. Any suggestions are very welcome!

          28. jatman | | #46

            I like the sewing related careers idea, too.  Or maybe even textile careers in general which may cover a little bit broader of an area.

            I'm guessing the book you are talking about is Pattern Making for Fashion Design?  I've had my eye on this book (on Amazon) for a while and can't seem to justify the cost since there are so many books out there that I would love to buy.  Sounds like you would recommend the one you purchased?

            Again, great ideas - hope they show up in Threads sometime soon!





          29. SewinMari | | #51

            Yes, I am recommending Pattern Making for Fashion Design.  Wholeheartedly!  I have bought LOADS of patterns just for the different sizes for 10 girl groups.  Finding exactly the right pattern is like finding just the right fabric.  It is SOOO frustrating.  I felt so empowered after reading just a few chapters.  I would like to see better (detail) photos in Vogue and those type mags just so I could make my own pattern. 

            Amber-take note- another article idea! 

            If I weren't such a fat-bottomed-46-year-old with a stomach and breasts that looked like they gave life -- much life....I could maybe wear those Vogue clothes.

            ok that is off the subject.....the book is worth the $90.  well worth the $90

          30. AmberE | | #53

            thanks SewinMari!

          31. AmberE | | #49

            Thanks! Great stuff. We've been talking for a while about some sort of theater costume story. There seems to be a lot of interest!

          32. AmberE | | #39

            Great ideas---and we are definitely swinging back to being more haute couture!

          33. ctirish | | #34


            The special issue sounds wonderful,  I can't wait to get issue 128 for information.

            I will give you my two cents worth on the knitting topic. I understand having an article on a knitting piece when the garment being discussed requires it. I don't agree with putting a kntting section back into Threads.

             Right now it seems like magazines are specializing, there is one for quilting, embroidery, crocheting, knitting, sewing, beading....etc.  The list could go on forever. My concern is magazines seem to be getting thinner and thinner and when you add in additional information for another craft we will lose sewing pages.  I would like to see magazine become thicker and thicker. I know that requires selling ads to pay for the extra pages, and hopefully the interest in sewing will expand with QVC and HSN selling sewing machines.

            I know you were talking about a separate issue for knitting and that would be great.

            I just wish the sewing machine manufacturers would advertise on television. I think many of the people who buy sewing machines via the TV probably get frustrated and toss them out after a while.

            Now there's a thought, maybe you could strike a deal with QVC where a copy of Threads is included in every sale of a sewing machine. Or not even a copy of Threads but a new version BasicThreads which gives basic sewing instructions and techniques for the beginning sewer. 

            I am tired sorry for the fragmented information.


          34. AmberE | | #35

            Thanks for all of it!

            That's a great idea on the QVC---I'll forward that to our marketing dept. I would like to see Threads become better known---it just has so much great info.


          35. katina | | #19

            Thanks for mentioning this, Dotty. I've been combining knitting and sewing in items for many years - the possibilities are endless and so very exciting. I hope Threads does an article or two along these lines.

          36. User avater
            Becky-book | | #20

            Speaking if IT.... someone mentioned giving access to back issues of Threads (on-line) to current subscribers; is this even in the realm of 'possible' ?  I sure would like to browse through the past issues, but having started my subscription with #111, I can not afford to purchase all the back issues (nor have room to store them!).

            Thank you for all the work you do to keep Threads mag. going!!


          37. AmberE | | #21

            Thanks Becky--- we will be revamping the web site, so we are looking at lots of options---thanks for your input! 

          38. AmberE | | #22

            I did talk to IT and this functionality is not available on the current bulletin board, but we can always add that idea to a the wish list for an updated version. Thanks again! (P.S. Discussions are arranged chronologically, so the more active this Thread, the more it will pop out at the top!)

          39. ctirish | | #33

            Amber, That the discussions are arranged chronologically is good information to know.  When I am suggesting they write to you, I can tell them they may need to look a little further if your postings have been quiet.

            I was reading the note from Aless about her error in the email address for CustomerService at Taunton. I worked in IT for years and I know they can change your system(it is not a big deal) to accept either lowercase or uppercase letters in the email address.  This was a big problem early on when the internet became popular, people did not realize it mattered. Since then most email systems have been changed to accommodate whatever the sender types in the To:  field.


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