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Conversational Threads

Once Again Threads is a Bust!

janlorraine | Posted in General Discussion on

Well, it looks like the new issue of Threads is about to hit the newsstands and I have to say just from looking at the cover and the headlines, it is a bust once again. Do it quick, get it over, get it done. No time, no trouble, no effort. Who are they writing for? Can we sew or not? Even if we can’t sew as well as we would like, don’t we want articles that will stretch us beyond our capabilities? And with enough pages of instruction to make that aspiration possible? I’ve had it! I mean really! What made Threads great in the beginning? Believe me; it wasn’t ‘Do it quick, crafty projects!’ In answer to my question, it is not me. The last I don’t know how many issues have been a big bore and this next one looks to be the same. Shame on you editors. We have been telling you for years what we want and you won’t listen. Can it be because you can’t sew yourselves and don’t even want to learn. That must be it, because look at the result: schlock!


  1. fashionista | | #1

    Like you, I have become disillusioned with Threads.  But I don't think it is fair to judge the latest issue by looking at the cover.  I recently cancelled my subscription after 6 years because in recent months I was getting bored with it . However I got my husband to pick up an issue in Borders for me today - issue 128 - I am in the UK.  TO MY DELIGHT IT SEEMS TO BE GETTING BACK TO ITS OLD FORM AGAIN.  I loved the articles on Chanel jackets (short cut) and on lingerie guards(loved the tip about colouring in muslin to match your fabric). The readers tips were also inspiring. I shall look out for 129 when it arrives in the UK- - Who knows- I may well renew my subscription!

  2. solosmocker | | #2

    I have been an avid reader of Threads since its inception. By your own admission you have only perused the cover of the latest issue. To make such an inflamatory statement in your subject line based on the cover only is irresponsible. Seems to me someone said "don't judge a book by it's cover." We have all been given the opportunity to provide feedback but magazines don't turn around overnite. If in several months the magazine does not turn around I believe there will be a flight of some longtime subscribers. In the meantime I will take a wait and see attitude and buy the mag off the rack IF it's content appeals to me.

    I have taken to reading my old Threads lately and they are so inspirational and of such substance. Just last night I got inspired to try some gossamer felting on voile. Who knew? I certainly didn't. To see a fiber artist craft a garment that is unique and beautiful is such a pleasure to read about. I savored every word of that article and the others that were in that issue as well.

    Guess I am a positive thinker and will wait and see, but not for long.

    1. janlorraine | | #5

      I am sorry if my wording was too harsh and judgmental; I guess I was allowing my disappointment and frustration to show. I have every issue of Threads and used to feel real joy and inspiration from reading it. That feeling is now long in the past; it is rare that I find anything of even moderate interest in the magazine. And usually the same topic has been covered in a past issue in much greater depth. To those of you who are more recent readers, I suggest that you try to find an issue from the first couple of years. You will then know why some of us are so unhappy with the more recent content of this publication.

      1. GorgeousThings | | #6

        I've subscribed to Threads since 1989 continuously. I have all my back issues. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm also an occasional author for Threads. I have to say that I really *like* the current issue. It has lots of information that someone like me (and I think I'm kind of an advanced sew-er) can use, and I love the Basics section on Pattern Terms. I'll use that as a reference for my beginning sewing classes. The Faux Fur article is very timely for me, since a friend just gave me a huge bag of fur (real and faux) that I am dying to dig into. I also like the bustline adjustments article. It will make a great reference for a fit class that I'm teaching this spring.In fact, the only article that I didn't really like was the one on fabric yo-yos, or "fleurchons", as anyone who watched the last season of Project Runway calls them. The sight of them made me want to run screaming for the hills. No offense to Anna Mazur, whom I love and whose talents I envy. But that's personal taste. I think the issue is great, and I hope the editorial staff keep up the good work!Ann Steeves

        Edited 12/30/2006 11:39 am ET by GorgeousThings

        1. heirloomthreads | | #7

          Ann, thank you for your opinion.  I am also a long time reader of Threads.  While it has changed, which no one can deny, I personally still find it useful.  I consider myself an advanced sewer and there are articles that still teach me.  I find that sometimes the basics remind me of steps that I forget to do when I'm in a hurry.  Also, I teach and sometimes use the articles to emphasize a point or as a reference for students for more information.  However, as a serious sewer, I can't stand articles on "quick, crafty" flower type things.  If I want that kind of crap, there are other so called "sewing" magazines that cater to the crafter.  So, I guess I like the new Threads for the most part, but of course, I would love to see more advanced articles.

          Thanks, Kat


          1. JanF | | #8

            I agree - in part!
            Better mag this time - front cover looks good - back cover looks crap!
            can't see why they bothered putting "yo - yo's" (what's these when they're at home??)[Yorkshire terminology!]on the front of the lacy dress -can't see the bloody things! - but thought redesigning jackets was informative!
            Whilst admiring the skill in making the red quilted vest I can't agree that the overall look is good - sorry!! - skirt reminded me too much of a skirt I wore on my honeymoon in '77 and although the honeymoon in Jersey was lovely - the look wasn't!(I thought it was ok in 77)
            A shorter sexy leather skirt would have given a better daywear look with the quilted red vest for nowadays - in my opinion!
            (Actually - Ive just re-read this and in my mind I think - mmm - perhaps not!)
            Krystal Ericson's jacket looks great - as does the person's outfit that won the young sewer award ( I'm not sure I would have used a dart together with gathers on the front - but I presume that was in the pattern to start with - my "old fashioned" training would never have allowed me to do that!)I love the colour scheme though.
            I think Michaela looks good in her "cloned" dress - but coo - i couldn't wear that fabric next to my skin - it appears not to be lined and i suspect I would itch to death and "seat" the fabric over my own lumps and bumps.
            On balance I think the mag this time was an improvement on the last, and i know those of you who already know about pattern terms might think its basic - but the pages about defining pattern terms will be very useful for me in school!!
            Happy New Year to everyone!

          2. AmberE | | #51

            Thanks Jan!

  3. autumn | | #3

    I agree. I looked through the Nov. issue in the local library (I quit subscribing a long time ago) and found nothing of interest. I skimmed every article simply because I'd had a long walk and wanted to sit in the library and rest for a few minutes. When my garage warms up I will look through the copies that I saved for interesting articles. I gave the rest of them to GoodWill 6 years ago. That might give newer readers an idea of why we are so upset by the "New" Threads.

    1. denise | | #4

      may I reply to everyone,

      I have just started  to subcribe  to threads,  and i really enjoy it.

      I sewed many years ago when my children where small i am very much self taught and said i would never sew again.

      Then along came number one grandson.

      And off i went.  Then i thought well i may as well make something for myself.

      I stumbled on to threads on the web site.

      I have now learnt how to bag line a jacket.

      How to successfully put in a zip.

      my french seams are better.

      My fitting is better.

      Loved watching  the videos that the site makes available.

      I think if i have learnt that much from three issues i am indebted.

  4. Pansy | | #9

    I have been a Threads reader since 1989.  It used to be that every issue was rich with possibilities.  That's not so true anymore.  I want meaty articles, not projects.  I am an advanced sewer and I feel there are so many sewing magazines out there for beginners, that I wish Threads would stick to the intermediate and advanced levels for serious sewers and not cater to the weekend crafters.  I have not seen the current issue, yet, but you've gotta be kidding me: ANOTHER article on Chanel jackets?  Oh, brother.  Even the pattern reviews are tired.  The old Threads also had one thing I really enjoyed:  Every issue included an article on at least one ethnic technique.  That disappeared a long time ago.  I am also totally bored with machine embroidery articles.  How about REAL embroidery? Well, that's my rant!  One more thing: I really miss David Page Coffin.

    1. janlorraine | | #10

      I agree with you Pansy. I do not understand why Threads continues to repeat again and again articles on techniques that have been treated exhaustively in past issues. Somebody must have made the decision long ago to write for beginners. But, the thing that annoys me the most is that back in the late 80s when I first started to be aware of the magazine, I was attracted by articles about designers, sewing experts and techniques that I had never heard of. And I considered myself an experienced seamstress who had no fear of taking on the most difficult pattern. The articles featuring garments that were far beyond my level of expertise like Charles Kleibakker and designs that "blew my mind" like those of Vionnet, Madame Gres and Balenciaga changed my life. I mean that. I had always loved to sew and I was quite good, but my serious pursuits were more academic; I was working towards an advanced degree in Classical Languages and English Literature. Sewing was simply a pastime. Those early articles in Threads made me see that sewing and garment design was a pursuit to be taken seriously. I want to see the same kind of revelatory writing in Threads now. Inexperienced sewers inspired by skilled designers will do what it takes to learn the basics if they really want to learn advanced techniques and patternmaking, just as I did. Even though I am now quite advanced in my abilities, I know that there is always more to learn and I would like to think that Threads Magazine would continue to point the way for me. Threads first year of publication was an exciting time when I knew each issue would open a new horizon for me. Sadly, that is now long past and I mourn its passing. jl

      1. fashionista | | #11

        Since you are so advanced in your abilities, have you never thought about submitting some of your own writing to THREADS - I'm sure there is so much you could teach us - go for it ! Share all your considerable experience with those of us who need to learn.

        1. janlorraine | | #14

          The kind of article that I could write sewing here at home is not what I and many others are looking for. I think what we miss about the old Threads is that it was more of an art magazine. Some of the authors that used to publish in the magazine were academics like Harold Koda and Betty Kirke. Why aren't these people or others like them publishing in Threads any more? I want in depth reviews of exhibits, books and an auction review section would be good as well. Who are some of the collectors of couture clothing and what is in their collections? I think Pansy's comment about not wanting "projects" made me realize that the new Threads has become more of a craft magazine featuring ways to make certain items (especially quickly and easily) whereas the old Threads had more content about dress as art. In 1987, Threads allowed me to see myself as an artist and this realization was liberating for me. For that I will always be grateful. jl

          1. user-263598 | | #47

            I agree that Threads has gone downhill over the last couple of years. I cancelled my subscription as a result, but I'm still hoping. I am not an advanced sewer, though that is my dream. The thing I loved about the old Threads (I too have kept every copy) is that it gave substance to my dreams. JanLorraine was spot on! Threads was about ART. It was about creating something unique, not trendy. The articles on fit and technique were the meat and bones of the magazine (an absolute necessity), but the desserts were the embellishments. How can I turn a basic pattern into something timeless and beautiful. Wearable Art! If the editors are listening:

            We want wearable art! How it looks, and how to achieve it. That's what Threads needs to be again.

        2. GreenApple | | #18

          I'm not the person that you were responding to, but my response would be: I don't subscribe to Threads for an opportunity to teach other people - I subscribe to it because I want to learn things. The old Threads taught me things. The new one doesn't teach me much, even though I'm not very advanced - I'm somewhere between a beginning and intermediate sewer.Also, I agree that changes take time, but _because_ there's so much delay, I don't want to wait and hold back on comments. If an issue misses the mark, I think that it's important to communicate that _immediately_, so that the problems can be corrected in whatever issue is in the works. If I wait three months to see if things get better before I comment, then it's going to be six months before any comments can be reflected in a published issue. So I'm not going to freak out and say, "You're ignoring me!", but I'm also not going to stay quiet.And I don't think that criticizing Threads is going to harm it - what can harm it is its own reduction in quality or failure to provide material of interest to its subscribers, and the criticism of everyone here is intended to try to prevent or reverse that. What I'm hearing from almost everyone is that they _love_ Threads, and are somewhere between dismayed and horrified at the change that they're seeing in it.Going on to my own impressions of the latest issue: IMO, it's better than the last one, but it's far from its old form.On the positive side, I'd say:- The photographs are better and more interesting - pretty much every article that was illustrated by photographs avoided the recent tendency toward boring garments, odd poses, and repetitive shots of the same garment. There weren't really any "Ooh!" photographs, but the items were worth looking at.- The subject of "Cut Up Patterns and Add Seams" - redesigning garments with new seams - was a step in the right direction. It's an open-ended creative technique rather than a cookie-cutter explanation or a quick crafty project. In the negative section below, I grumble about the title.- Copying ready-to-wear also seems like an appropriate topic for a magazine - it's something that can involve a variety of techniques, and something that isn't covered in every beginning sewing book.- The flexible ruler article is also an appropriate topic for a magazine, IMO.- The article on faux fur looked interesting and, once again, it's not a topic that will be covered in every beginner sewing book, so I think that it's appropriate for a magazine.But on the negative side, I'd also say:- "Pattern Terms, Defined" seems completely inappropriate for a magazine. However well it may have been presented, this is absolutely basic beginner information that is available in beginner sewing books. I see very, very little value in presenting this sort of basic reference information in a magazine format.- "Cut Up Patterns and Add Seams" was, IMO, badly titled. This is unfortunate, because the actual subject is a step in the right direction, as mentioned above. However, the title _and_ subtitle implied that the technique was just adding seams and nothing else, which is a topic that has, I think, been covered very recently in Threads. Something with the word "redesign" in the title, and a subtitle explaining that the technique actually involves changing the lines/shape of the garment, would have been better. I'd also have liked to see a couple more pages and a few more samples on this topic.- "Copy Your Garments With Precision" also seemed like an odd title for the article. The article seemed to be about a variety of uses for flexible rulers, not just about copying garments - the title leaves the impression that this issue has two separate articles on copying ready-to-wear.I'm puzzled about these two titling errors, as I see them. Are the titles being written at the very, very last minute? Or, are there guidelines for titles that are causing trouble? For example, if the title suggests that redesign or design is going on, is there a fear that that will frighten readers off?- I'm torn about the yo-yos. There was some creative use of fabric, beads, etc. On the other hand, this seems like a suspiciously crafty "quick and easy" project again.Green Apple

          1. Dorothy | | #20

            I have subscribed to Threads since around Issue No. 40.  It's had its ups and downs, but over the years there's been no other magazine to compare.  About one good idea/inspiration an Issue is all I ask for--sometimes there are several in one issue, occasionally none. 

            I enjoyed the latest Threads.   I can't wait to get started making belts!


          2. WhiteBow | | #21

            I have been a Threads subscriber since the late 1980s, and I agree that it has changed its focus. It used to have articles on fine dressmaking and high-end designer techniques, and now it seems designed to appeal to the beginner sewist. I learn a lot less from each issue of Threads now than I used to. I know that beginning sewists need low-level advice and encouragement, and I want them to get it, but that leaves an advanced sewist like me with even fewer places to learn from. I was dismayed by the "pattern terms" article. That confirmed my suspicion that Threads is written for the beginner now.Just an aside--I thought the yo-yo's were pretty! I could definitely imagine making them in various sizes, in fine silk, with pearl centers, and embellishing a bridal gown with a cascade of them. Very floral and feminine. Christina

          3. ctirish | | #22

            Your comment about the yo-yos made me laugh. Do you know where the idea was publicized? On last year's Project Runway, there was a woman from the Midwest I believe, she loved these little yo-yo's and put them on every garment she made for the show. She did not have a fashion school background and the other contestants make fun of them all the time. In the beginning the judges would comment about them being there. One week they did a group project and her team talked her into not putting them all over the garment and to just use them as buttons or accents, I don't quite remember. That week a guest judge said she liked them on the outfit. After that, they became her trademark and she became obsessed with them. When I saw the cover of the magazine, I couldn't believe my eyes. I still haven't read the article on them, I keep laughing.

          4. susanna | | #23

            Threads magazine is, to me, a tool that I use along with many other periodicals and books related to fashion and sewing, along with my needles and thread and machines ~and my imagination. I enjoy practicing techniques I have read about and coming up with creative solutions of my own. I also design many types of crafts projects as well, and to me these pasttimes all flow together. But in the end, my art is up to me.

            My suggestion for the people who miss the old Threads would be to request a book on couture techniques. Maybe a series of books.

            I have read Threads for almost 2 decades, and it has changed to be sure, but so has the world, and so have those who sew. I find the magazine to be the best of its kind, even with the changes.

            I would even suggest that it is a bit behind the times. I'd like to see more articles on "green" fabrics and "repurposing" or recycling clothing. I think it is just fine that there are projects for beginners and rehashing of previously published ideas to use, for those who are working their way through the whole process of sewing. To that end, I would like to see some sort of mentorship available from those who are disgruntled with the magazine as it is, in order to help spread the knowledge they have, if they are not going to write about it.

            Or, blog about it. Have you seen the plethora of sewing blogs by newbies who get excited over sewing a straight seam, putting in a zipper, making a buttonhole for the.  first time? And they are selling their stuff! This is great!

            So help them! I have to say that this coterie of purse-lipped critics has me a bit down here. The editors are probably yanking their hair out by the fistfuls trying to keep this excellent publication going. While I'm all for the fancy stuff, those newbies need to read and do all the whats and whys and hows before they too can knock off a Balenciaga!



          5. Catherine2 | | #24

            As yet I have only seen the promo for the article about copying a ready made garment on the web site, but it causes me some serious concern ... doesn't anyone think that this is just WRONG!!


          6. HeartFire2 | | #26

            What causes you major concerns? Copying a RTW? or the quality of the article from the website? It is perfectly legal and done all the time - copying of RTW clothing. Its done by the 'industry' daily - thats how you see 'knockoffs' of originals. Nothing unethical about it unless you try to pass it off as the original and not your own.

          7. Catherine2 | | #31

            Copying a RTW garment may be legal, ( and I’m not convinced that is is) however it is morally reprehensible. When you buy a pattern you are purchasing the right to make that garment, when you but a garment you are simply buying a garment, NOT the right to copy it. As someone who spends a lot of time and effort on creating original designs it is frustrating and infuriating to have my ideas stolen by someone else. And that is all it is theft!

            <!----><!----> <!---->

            Just because “industry” does it all the time does that make it right???

            <!----> <!---->

            As you may have gathered this is an issue I feel strongly about, sorry if it has got up peoples noses, however if these comments make one person think before they steal a design, it is a win.

          8. GreenApple | | #35

            It's an interesting issue. On the legal side, clothing designs cannot be copyrighted in the United States, so there's nothing illegal about it. (Logos, prints, etc., can be copyrighted, but not the lines of the garment. And, no, I'm not a lawyer, so don't take my word for it.)On the other hand, is it ethical, whether it's legal or not, to copy someone else's design? Probably not.On the other other hand, there are a limited number of ways to do a sleeve, a skirt, whatever. If we start feeling obligated not to copy garments, then where is the ethical line, and to what extent do we restrict our own options?For example, does the first person to rediscover dolman sleeves in a decade get exclusive use of them indefinitely? Empire waists? Dolman sleeves combined with empire waists? Is it OK if we just copy the dolman sleeve but refrain from copying the empire waist? Is it OK if we just copy the garment by eye and refrain from tracing off the seams?How would this theory apply to, say, cooking? If a restaurant creates a fabulous dish using brussels sprouts, garlic, and sesame oil, is it wrong for me to try to duplicate it? Is it wrong for me to even run with the thought, "Hey, I never thought of sesame oil with cabbagey vegetables!" I really feel that it isn't wrong to try to duplicate a recipe, and I'm trying to decide whether, and how, clothing is somehow fundamentally different.Edited to add: I'm fairly sure that I _wouldn't_ trace off a handcrafted garment by an independent designer, and I'm fairly sure that I would have no ethical problem with tracing off a vanilla "utility" garment like my everyday mass-produced black knit skirt that's starting to wear out. But I can't really come up with a set of rules that make those positions consistent.Green Apple

            Edited 1/8/2007 8:21 pm ET by GreenApple

          9. HeartFire2 | | #37

            I wish I could find this article I read recently, it was well written about this very issue, and how unlike other forms of intellectual copyright, that in the fashion industry it is actually helpful to the overall industry of fashion for this to happen.I think it was in some legal journal or a fashion industry journal. I'm really sorry I can't find it right now, it was a very interesting read.

          10. Ralphetta | | #38

            Various publications that I have read, suggested copying a favorite garment that fits well.  I guess that because I saw it recommended in magazines, the ethics didn't really occur to me.  When I think about it, I can certainly understand the strong feelings voiced by the designer.

            The emphasis in those articles was on "fit" more than "style."   The only times I ever considered copying, it was in terms of a pattern that I would have made in different fabric, color, etc.  

            Haven't you seen articles detailing exactly how to pin and copy pants?

          11. User avater
            jacd | | #39

            I've been following this thread on Threads ;-) for a while now and have been trying to decide whether to join in or not.  I've been really disappointed in the magazine for the past couple of years now.  I feel it just does not have the "ooomph" it used to.  Sigh... I have been subscribing for almost 10 years (I'm not that old, just been sewing for a long time...) and I think I will not renew at the end of this subscription but will actually use the money I normally reserve for threads (not a cheap mag to subscribe to) and subscribe to Vogue Patterns instead.  Or Burda patterns.

            My reasons include a lack of challenging articles and techniques for me, I don't expect the magazine to be chock full of designer techniques etc but I would like to learn one new thing per issue.  The magazine is getting thinner, less stuff each issue.  Repeats of articles, there have been many copy your clothing articles as of late but not much to tell you how to do a great designer pocket etc.  There also has been a lack of art.  I don't mean "wearable art" (not my scene) but truly amazing artists at their craft at creating beautiful clothing.  Vogue has been having articles by some amazing sewers as of late, Claire Schaeffer, Sandra Betzina, Katheryn Brenne.  I have a large collection of sewing books on many topics, quite a few are by the Taunton Press.  I miss David Page Coffin too (Shirtmaking is great if you don't have it already).  So I feel Threads is just not the magazine for me anymore.  Perhaps it will change, I hope so but I don't think so.  So my subscription will expire soon I believe and I won't renew.


          12. GorgeousThings | | #40
          13. HeartFire2 | | #41

            No, but the first link in that article to the "Piracy Paradox" was what I was talking about. Thank you so much for finding it, I don't remember where I found the link to that article but found it very interesting

          14. educo | | #42

            There are talks about copyright laws for fashion designers, to somewhat mirror the laws that are in place in France. This is good for many of us who design and make original designs, but for those who design or work for design companies that simply knock off others, if this gets passed, it will pose a huge problem. In addition, there will be more pressure on designers to remain "original" which will change the American clothing industry forever. If you think about it, many designs that come from the US look one in the same, but compare that to Paris, and every designer has something different to offer. Yes, the US is more sportswear oriented, than couture France, but because they have copyright laws, they can't do what is common practice in America. Look back in history and you will find a famous case beweem YSL and Ralph Lauren where Ralph copied a YSL design and got sued for copyright infringement.

          15. GorgeousThings | | #25

            " I have to say that this coterie of purse-lipped critics has me a bit down here. The editors are probably yanking their hair out by the fistfuls trying to keep this excellent publication going. While I'm all for the fancy stuff, those newbies need to read and do all the whats and whys and hows before they too can knock off a Balenciaga!"Thank you for putting it so well. I agree that the "newbies" need Threads just as much as the "advanced", and I think there is lots to celebrate in the magazine.Speaking of Balenciaga, there is a marvelous book available Balenciaga and His Legacy. I got it for Christmas, and it is marvelous and inspiring!

            Edited 1/8/2007 3:03 pm ET by GorgeousThings

          16. susanna | | #34

            Thanks for the heads up on the book on Balenciaga...I looked it up and will purchase it as soon as I can!

            Also, for anyone else reading this, my subscription is renewed to this wonderful magazine. I always read it cover to cover, ads included, and have kept my collection through seven moves.

            I talked with a woman at an art fair years ago who had written articles for Threads...can't recall her name...and she encouraged me to submit an article, evidently not knowing I felt totally unworthy of doing such a thing. But I never forgot that. I have found the magazine to be equally encouraging.

          17. GreenApple | | #27

            Re:"... I would like to see some sort of mentorship available from those who are disgruntled with the magazine as it is, in order to help spread the knowledge they have, if they are not going to write about it...."If Threads were a club, or a user-participation website, or even if it were a nonprofit with a voting base of members, then I could agree that it's the members' job to fix the problem.But it's not - it's a business, selling a product. Subscribers aren't members, they're customers buying the product. And most people aren't willing to put any work into the products that they buy; they just want to buy them.To use an example in another industry: Some people are willing to participate in community supported agriculture, even to the extent of investing in a farm, helping to plan the crops, helping to distribute boxes of vegetables, or even helping to work on the farm. But most people just want to go the grocery and buy a sack of potatoes. And if their grocery doesn't carry the right kind of potatoes, they're not going to help to do research, find a farm that sells that kind of potatoes, solve all the problems with getting them stocked....they might take the trouble to request their preferred potatoes, but if they don't get them they're just going to go to another grocery.The same is pretty much true of Threads. If Threads doesn't carry material that a sufficiently large number of sewers want, it's not going to be bought by enough sewers, and it's not going to be valuable enough to the advertisers, and it's going to die. What _I_ do isn't going to change that. A business model with extensive, strong customer participation, contribution, and _decisionmaking power_ is an admirable business model, but it's not generally one that's used by a major magazine.Now, maybe not enough people want the material that the old Threads contained. Maybe beginner articles are what will sell Threads to more people, and maybe those beginning articles will carry Threads through many decades. Maybe Threads' circulation is going through the roof and maybe it's making all the money its owners could possibly expect from it. In that case, I can't really argue with success, because it _is_ a business. In that case, I would just decline to renew my subscription, and I would hope that someone else would come out with a magazine like the old Threads.But I see people clamoring to buy back issues of Threads. I see discussions of pretty advanced topics on sewing websites. I also see plentiful sources of beginner material in basic sewing books. I know that _I_ don't buy magazines that provide basic, beginner information - when I start a new interest or hobby I get my baseline from books and I buy magazines to get new, timely, or advanced material, or sometimes just for a fresh dose of eye candy. I restarted sewing because I was inspired by the advanced material in Claire Schaeffer's couture sewing book, and I subscribed to Threads, as a relative beginner, because I wanted to see more material like it and anticipate what I could look forward to. So it looks to me like Threads is going in a problematic direction.I don't have time to become a volunteer and help to fix Threads, even if I had that kind of power. (If I had that kind of time, I'd probably devote it to community supported agriculture. :)) All I have the time to do is communicate what I think is wrong.It seems to me that you're saying that I shouldn't be communicating that - that if I don't like Threads and I'm not willing to volunteer a lot of work to fix it, I should just be quiet and, I guess, cancel my subscription. But is that what Threads/Taunton wants? Do they really want their unhappy subscribers to just shut up and go away? I really don't think so - that's certainly not the impression that Amber's given. She seems very open to feedback, and unless and until that changes, I'm going to keep giving that feedback.Gren Apple

          18. jane4878 | | #28

            I've been lurking on this thread for awhile.  I'm a newbie and I'm not going to buy the magazine if I can't use any of it.  Threads will die a quick death if it only caters to very advanced sewers.  I can't comment on Threads' old issues, but my husband is a carpenter and he's been getting Fine Woodworking for over 20 years.  I asked him his opinion.  He is now so experienced and advanced he gets very little from them, but he still enjoys the magazine and about once a year something absolutely brilliant will be in an article and that will make the whole year's subscription worthwhile for him.

          19. Susannah | | #29

            Threads is part of the Taunton business, and it is not the readers' responsibility to make sure it is popular or profitable.  The publishers will respond if sales go down.   Perhaps they are responding, and the result is that there are more "beginner" articles?  Where else are beginners getting their inspiration along with basic information?  Some of the other sources of very beginner stuff are technically good, but they don't have the real design flair that has been (and I think still is) the hallmark of Threads.

            I think the last few issues have shown a really good balance between basic and intermediate technical information plus some inspriational ideas.  The article about adding seams to existing patterns gave some really exciting ideas.  I have read similar articles about colour blocking etc in other magazines, but the pictured examples have looked more than a little like a panel from a patchwork quilt rather than a fashion item that I would be proud to wear.

            If we are going to fuel the flame of passion for sewing, then we need to have sources of inspiration juxtaposed with the basic information that new and intermediate sewers need.  And we can all learn new ideas.  Carol Fresia had a tip in the current issue of threads about a technique for combining elements of both flat construction and traditional set in sleeves - I can't wait to try it!


          20. Josefly | | #30

            Yes, business is business. However the editors have stated in this forum more than once that there has been no attempt nor intention to simplify, or make more basic, or "dumb down" the content of Threads. I think you are right, the magazine will go in the direction the publishers believe will sell the best, and readers will come and go as a result of their decisions. But it would be nice at least if the magazine content reflected the stated objectives. So far, only readers and posters on this forum have suggested that the magazine has shifted focus to attract beginners; the editors have denied it.

          21. Susannah | | #32

            Hi Josefly

            I don't actually think that Threads has been "dumbed down" or had a significant change towards beginners.  I started subscribing about 5 years ago, and have purchased quite a few back issues (even a few of the hard to find single digit issues).  Although the focus has narrowed to sewing (with the taking out of weaving, knitting, fabric dying, crocheting, fine embroidery etc), quite a few of the early issues still have articles on basic techniques.  While some of us have extensive libraries of Threads, and may see another article on pattern alterations for a full bust as needless repetition, some readers who are newer to sewing, and haven't got these earlier issues, would welcome an article like this.  The point I wanted to make is that Threads has always (at least in the relatively representative samples in my collection) had a combination of articles on both design and technique, aimed at beginners, intermediates, and with the occasional challenging article for the advanced sewer.  I think the highlight is that all of the articles are presented in a context of imaginative design.  Looking back at some of the earlier issues, if anything I think there has been a trend towards more sophisticated design rather than away from it.  I didn't like the yo-yos in the most recent issue, nor the felt flowers in the one before.  But I thought the articles on 'patchwork' and introduction of new seams as a design idea in recent issues brought flair and imagination - showing that these techniques could be used to achieve very stylish and elegant effects.

            I am nearly 49, and my earliest memories of sewing would have been making dolls clothes while sitting on the floor under my mother's sewing table while she made my costume for a kindergarten concert (I would have been about 4 at the time).  That gives me 45 years of sewing, and I still can find new ideas and design inspiration from Threads.  For those who don't, then vote with your cheque book, re-read the articles from back issues that you find interesting, and look elsewhere for inspiration.  There are other sources out there, in books, on the web and in design schools.  Good luck.



          22. woodruff | | #33

            I dunno; I think three years may be enough for the editor to have gotten a feel for what the reading public wants. And as for the beauties of the old Threads, the kinds of things some of us would love to see once again, well, anyone on staff can go back and look through those and see what we are talking about--IF they're interested, and IF anyone on the staff actually is experienced at sewing. That ain't necessarily a given.It could just be that the old Threads was the product of a wonderful but brief period in time when handicrafts were booming, and the economy permitted the luxury of a publication devoted, in detail, to these things.

          23. GreenApple | | #36

            By the way, I completely agree that articles on "green" fabrics would be a great idea. That's exactly the kind of timely information that a magazine would be useful for. And repurposing clothing, while it wouldn't necessarily interest me, sounds like something that would appeal to the new sewers that I've been reading articles about and, again, not just be a rehash of existing sewing books.Green Apple

          24. Alexandra | | #48

            Thank you GA for expressing exactly what I think and feel so eloquently.  I've been on board since issue #1 and have just, very sadly, cancelled my subscription.  I used to be so excited when the new issue came out; now I haven't even read the last two I received because they look so very boring.

            I want to be inspired and learn, I don't want to write for the magazine.

          25. jmurphy | | #49

            I'm a THREADS charter subscriber. I miss the excitement of the magazine I fell in love with. I loved how the magazine might have sewing, embroidery, knitting, shoemaking. I never understood fabric drape and hand and how they interacted with the design of a pattern until THREADS came along. I had read Deborah Newton's article in THREADS on fitting sweaters for large people, in which she used knitted fabric as a 'muslin' to test out sweater designs, and her book DESIGNING KNITWEAR. Then one day I read an article (it might have been by David Page Coffin, whose writings I also miss) on how the design of a shirt with fluid fabric had to have different ease than a shirt with less-fluid fabric. Suddenly I realized what I was reading in the current article and the discussion of fabric hand and drape for kmitted fabrics in Newton's book and articles were the SAME THING -- whether the fabric was knitted or woven, one had to pay attention to the interaction of the fabric and the pattern when creating the garment. This may seem obvious to some of you, but at that time, I had done more (bad) knititng than (bad) sewing. And I understood a lot of the mistakes I had been making in BOTH the knitting and sewing, all at the same time.Now that the folks at Taunton have decided to banish knitting from THREADS, this kind of epiphany for slowpokes like me can't happen anymore. If Fine Homebuilding can have the special HOUSES issue once a year, why can't THREADS do a once-a-year issue on GARMENTS that explores just this kind of interaction -- or at least bring back the fiber arts articles I loved for just that one issue?In the glory days, before the redesign added more whitespace, I used to wonder about the people who complained because THREADS wasn't monthly. I re-read the current issue several times, and needed the two months to take in all the information inside. Sadly, these days, I read the magazine once and put it in the file and rarely get it out to look at again unless I am using it for reference for a particular project.David Page Coffin's SHIRTMAKING and Newton's DESGNING KNITWEAR, however, are on the 'must be able to get at' bookshelf.Since I don't sew very often, I am still a newbie sewer -- the very beginning sewer that THREADS is trying to attract. Yet I learned so much more by reading the articles that were WAY over my head in the old THREADS, than I have from any of the 'let's take the beginner by the hand and lead her through the process' kind of articles that we regularly find in the current magazine.It's pretty sad, isn't it? Jan

          26. janlorraine | | #50

            Yeah, it's so sad that a lot of us are leaving. The many posts that you see lamenting the old Threads attest to our sorrow (and despair) at what we have lost. The epiphany that you describe so well in your post is exactly what we all miss and want (need) to find again. It's that thrill of discovery and compulsion to create where everything else is set aside because the new 'idea' (or realization) is so overwhelming everything else pales in comparison. It's called art, and somehow over the years Threads has lost that impetus. I think it is because the original editors and authors of the magazine were artists who really cared about their craft; now the people producing the magazine care more about publishing a magazine. I bet they can't even sew and don't care to learn; at least, that's the impression I get from the current trend of the articles. My impression is that as soon as Threads started using professional models, the magazine started to go downhill. I remember a few years ago being invited to watch a video on the website of a photo shoot (it was for the Susan Khalje article on Chanel techniques) and I came away with the impression that the producers cared more about makeup and hair style than sewing technique. That spelled the end for me. Oh well! Now we are on our own. Let's be grateful for what we had, review our old issues and post our discoveries on other sewing websites. We now have new ways of communicating; let that be our consolation. jl

      2. Cate067 | | #12

        I have been reading all of the negative comments about Threads for a while now and I can't help but wonder why you aren't submitting ideas. I know people write and say, they want to know what they don't know or when they see it they will know it is what they want. Think about those comments from the editors standpoint. What does that tell them exactly? As far as I can tell, nothing, to me it sounds like a bunch of women that think they are such great sewers they don't have anything to learn and don't want anyone not to their level to generate any change in "their magazine." At times I want to scream, "If you know so much; write articles and teach those of us still learning." The people who complain that Threads repeats articles over and over again are the same people who every time someone new complains about the magazine starts posting over and over again their complaints about the magazine. If you fan a fire it will burn higher and higher and my fear is the magazine will end up as the dead victim in all of this and we won't have any magazine of the caliber of Threads.

        I apologize in advance if I have hurt anyone's feelings, but, it is just as frustrating for those of us who think Threads is a good magazine to be told constantly, "you are wasting your money; it will never be what it was before, and you will never know what we know," as it is for those of you who are giving up on a magazine that sounds like it has been a good friend for many years. I feel like many of you are throwing the baby out with the bath water because there is a water problem. Amber has said over and over how long it takes for change to take place in a magazine and I wish everyone could just hang in there and wait and see what happens in the next year. I will follow my comments up with a suggestion and a chance to help I think. I have been sewing for 30 years but I have never had the time to do any advanced work in garment work. I have learned so much in the past couple of years from Threads and classes. I never had sewing in school, I took classes at the local Singer Sewing Center, 4-H and my mother helped me in between these classes. I recently signed up for the Women's Wear Daily headlines and found an online fashion magazine called "Splash." WWD is a daily newspaper for fashion and beauty and other new ideas. To get the newspaper on a daily basis is expensive and I can get the headlines for free. Splash is a magazine that seems to have articles on all of the new designers lines for spring. On both sites I have found designers I have never heard of with their lines of clothing. One of the headlines from WWD is "Princess Michael of Kent Lauds Kutoglu Collection." I entered Kutoglu Collection into a search engine and it came up with over 20,000 hits about his collections. His designs are great. Also, on the Saks Fifth Avenue site there is a way to select clothing lines by designer. So, my hope and request is to find these designers and look at their clothes carefully and find designs or techniques you would like to see worked up and put in the magazine. I found a dress that I thought was exceptional, it is by Escada, striped silk dress, Italian silk georgette stripes. I would love to see a write up on how that dress was created. There were also a lot of items in the Saks Sale garments that I found interesting and desirable as possible garments to make for 2007. I have listed a few here if you would like to take a peek. There is a silk pleated skirt by Blugirl, a Dana Buchman Metro silk skirt, Dana Buchman Silk top with pleated or folded V-neck in front, James Caviello Plaid Wool Skirt with a handkerchief hem. Then, if you go to the Piazza Sempiore line you will see other wonderful designs. There is a twisted neck sheath that I found interesting and a new look for your basic black dress. If I am way off on what you think Threads needs, please let me know and I will disappear from the horizon. Happy New Year...

        1. Ralphetta | | #13

           In the past weeks I have read numerous suggestions from readers about general and very specific topics they would like to see.  It's true there have been many complaints, but there have definitely been constructive ideas voiced and some were on the topics you just mentioned.   I guess you missed them.

          1. Cate067 | | #16

            I think it is good that people are leaving suggestions. But again, it takes time to implement the suggestions.  What response to the suggestions would be acceptable to you?

          2. Ralphetta | | #19

            You asked what response I expected.  Since I've only been on this Thread for a couple of months, I don't know how long people have been vocalizing their complaints and suggestions. I would hope to see some changes within the next few months.  I understand that it takes time and I'm hoping it will again be the inspirational publication I fell in love with.

          3. AmberE | | #54

            You're right---there have been many! I am thrilled with how some readers have stepped up to the plate with some amazing ideas, and I want to continue to encourage them to submit proposals!

          4. PetSew | | #55

            Hello Amber,

            There is a discussion under 'Talk with us' labeled 'Potential articles for Threads' that someone has started and others have added to.  Some really interesting ideas there that I would love to see in the magazine.


          5. AmberE | | #56

            Thanks Pat! I'll take a look!

        2. HeartFire2 | | #15

          Cate067 said:
          >>>>>Amber has said over and over how long it takes for change to take place in a magazine and I wish everyone could just hang in there and wait and see what happens in the next year.<<<<<Cate, We have been complaining, asking, responding to surveys about what we want in the magazine for over 3 years now, and it just goes downhill. You would think that in all this time they would respond to the readers. They did have issues with the editor - they didn't have one for a while, but still, its been years

          1. Cate067 | | #17

            Amber has been at Threads for one year. I think the fact that they brought in a new editor is a positive response to the surveys and comments that have been made prior to the change in management. 

        3. AmberE | | #53

          Hear hear Cate067. I'm getting low on tolerance for complaints that offer no solutions! I've asked over and over again that readers be constructive, not destructive---it hurts the magazine and turns off new readers, and I'm sure that none of us want that! We all love Threads and always want it to be better. But I also know that the magazine has a tremendous amount to offer. The best way to influence content is to become an author, rather than just complaining.

          I want to see the forums return to their original intention---it's a place to foster discussion on sewing, not to tear down the magazine. Thanks for your support!

    2. AmberE | | #52

      What machine embroidery article are you referring to?

  5. Elaray | | #43

    Susanna said …

    "My suggestion for the people who miss the old Threads would be to request a book on couture techniques. Maybe a series of books.

    I have read Threads for almost 2 decades, and it has changed to be sure, but so has the world, and so have those who sew. I find the magazine to be the best of its kind, even with the changes."

    … and I couldn't have said it better! There are so many resources and sources of information about sewing. "Threads" is not the only way we can improve our sewing skills.

    May I respectfully suggest the following:
    1. Visit online book stores (alibris.com ; hamiltonbooks.com; booksamillion.com) . You'll find everything from "Sewing for Dummies" to "Patternmaking for Fashion Design",
    2. Most colleges and universities have online bookstores. Research and find a college that offers courses in sewing, fashion design and purchase a used textbook.

    I know of two- count 'em - TWO, other publications that focus on clothing construction: Sew News and Australian Stitches. "Threads" is just a magazine. It's not the best of magazines nor the worst of magazines. I say take advantage of what "Threads" has to offer and supplement your knowledge any way you can.

    1. Ralphetta | | #44

      I don't like Sew News, it's too crafty.  The point countless readers have made is that they were attracted to Threads because of it's artistry. Those backcovers used to rest on my coffee table and bring me joy every time I looked at them.

      I do go to book stores, etc., but the point you overlooked is that one of the joys of subscribing to a magazine is the "surprise" of what you will find when you open it this time.

      1. Josefly | | #45

        At the risk of being described as a "purse-lipped critic" - hmmm? - is it all right for people who are disappointed in an article or the whole magazine to express that disappointment? I don't think the magazine is going to die because of the comments of long-time subscribers who are sad to see that Threads is not what it once was. Reading this thread and others on this topic has been informative, hearing both negative and positive points of view on the magazine. It's brought up some names of writers and articles that I've missed out on since I only subscribed from issue # 100 on. But I cringe when I read comments that seem to suggest that complainers should just shut up and go elsewhere. Readers of this forum also choose which topics to read, don't we?

        1. PASDENOM | | #46

          All I have to say is that I've subscribed since issue 15, even when I was broke and it was a major budget item. My subscription is up for renewal and I am not renewing. I looked at the current issue at Borders, where I could have gotten it for free using my bonus points, and decided it wasn't even worth the bookshelf space. Very sad that a magazine that once held the best of inspiration and technical information is now a glossy display of pretty much no useful or appealing content. I will keep looking at it and would renew if it regains its former substance, but for now it's like losing a close friend.

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