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Conversational Threads

Quilting and Kintting???

quilterb | Posted in Talk With Us on

I have been a subscriber of Threads for years and truely appreciate the quality of the articles.  My interests are more in quilting and knitting than tailoring and, unfortunately, Threads dropped knitting long ago and seems to have dropped quilting as well.  I really miss the articles on the innovators in the quilting world.  What is the future focus of Threads?


  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Hi, Quilter B,

    A number of years ago Threads made the decision to focus on sewing, and to stop coverage of knitting, weaving, crochet, and a multitude of other fiberarts that we used to include. More recently, we've discovered that the majority of our audience looks to Threads for information on garment sewing, so we're putting the greatest emphasis on that. There will continue to be quilting articles, but mostly those that are related to wearables in some way (although this isn't carved in stone!). For us, quilting falls into the category of surface design and embellishment, as well as fabric, so we'll try to keep it in the magazine as we can.


    1. pdclose | | #2

      > A number of years ago Threads made the decision to focus on sewing, and to stop > coverage of knitting, weaving, crochet, and a multitude of other fiberarts that we  > used to include. More recently, we've discovered that the majority of our audience > looks to Threads for information on garment sewing,

      A follows from B, doesn't it?  You drop the knitting, etc., and focus on sewing (especially garment sewing), then find, apparently to your surprise, that your main reading audience is farment sewers.   Uhm, are you REALLY surprised by this?  I'm not!  You won't attract that particular audience if you aren't offering those articles, so in dropping them you self-restricted your magazine readers.

      I, personally, am a garment sewer & embellisher, and am a founding member of the new Wearable Arts Midwest sewing group (out of the Textile Center in Minneapolis).  Because of that group, and its diverse membership -- quilters, knitters, beaders, fimo clay people, costumers, garment sewers, professional sewers, etc. -- I get introduced to techniques and textile arts that I might otherwise have never considered.

      Because of our most recent meeting I, a life-long knitting ignoramous, am taking up knitting!!  One of the women at this meeting demonstrated her most recent project, "smoke rings" interwoven with decorative threads.  Smoke rings, for those who don't know, are Alaskan-originated knitted "draped cowls" that you can pull up over your head to form a "wimple" type covering.  This woman's use of the Turkish stitch, which causes the *knitted* cowl to drape on the bias, and her interweaving with decorative yarns, produced something so mouthwateringly beautiful that I MUST learn how to make these for myself!!  Even though I've never knit before, nor never had the desire to knit before, I want to learn enough to make one of these.

      That's what Threads Magazine used to do for me -- inspire me to venture into other crafting areas to create garments of beauty and style.  Lately all they've done is rehash what sewing machines to buy for the nth time (I already have one, I'm not interested), talk endlessly about velvet in different articles that could've been compressed into one more interesting one, talk about patterns (boring), and cover basic techniques like topstitching and fabric painting.  Did fabric painting really need it's own separate article on "a decorative, no-sew alternative to sewing and serging on sheers"?  You could've summarized that one in a Tips column!

      I mentioned this elsewhere, but I'd like to see articles on dealing with fitting and sewing for and by men, giving men style and embellishment without overdoing it, sewing for "disease" (dealing with menopause's hot flashes, masectomies, stylish chemo hats, etc.).  I submitted a request for an article on STYLISH chemo hats a while ago, and haven't heard anything.  Can you tell me if this is in the works?

      1. TerryG | | #3

        "That's what Threads Magazine used to do for me -- inspire me to venture into other crafting areas to create garments of beauty and style.  Lately all they've done is rehash what sewing machines to buy for the nth time "

        Yes, yes, yes. I miss the WONDERFUL articles about all the textile arts that I may or may not ever try myself, but were so inspiring.

        This recent issue was so depressing that I have sadly decided I won't renew my subscription. But I will treasure those old issues from Threads better days.

        Big ********sighhhhhhh***********

        Terry in Portland, Oregon

        1. Tish | | #4

          I agree with you both.  I've said so before on this forum and I've felt as though I'm the only one.  I'm interested in just about everything fiber except making clothing.  I was a charter subscriber, too, but dropped my subscription.  What I loved was the way Threads looked at fiber arts and artists as real art, not as crafts.  The mix helped to emphasize the amazing range of fiber arts, and the adaptability of techniques from one application to another. 

          I shudder when I see people on this board call all fiber arts not used in garments "home dec."  A recent cover concept was killed because the technique was shown on a tablecloth and the users here cried, "Home dec!"  I saw a user write that she wouldn't be interested in quilting techniques unless they were in an article on using quilting techniques in garments.  I say that is not "thinking out of the box."  The best Threads articles for me have not been ones that I've slavishly followed, but the ones that I've taken as seed ideas and expanded into new areas.  If I liked a quilting technique and wanted to use it in a garment, I'd do it.  I wouldn't need an article to show me that I could.

          In the meantime, we've got a small group of people here in the forum who have kept us fascinated with a discussion of Temari balls.  Would Threads find a place for this art within its pages now?  What about the tetrahedron boxes featured last year?  I think readers are asking the editors to think "outside the box" but then insisting that the box be reinforced.

          1. rjf | | #5

            "I think readers are asking the editors to think "outside the box" but then insisting that the box be reinforced."

            I think the editors have a hard row to hoe trying to satisfy everyone.  How can they possibly keep everyone happy?  I hope they can take satisfaction that we all care so much about the magazine that we are willing to voice our thoughts so vigorously.  When I first started getting Threads (way back in the old days), I was fascinated by everything whether I did that particular thing or not.   I did knit but Threads expanded that window infinitely for me.  It wasn't something I was expecting from Threads but it certainly changed how I thought about knitting.  Serendipity?

            This audience is so well informed and clever that they have a great stock of information to call upon and I think after awhile it gets difficult to present really new material to them.  If I am a typical reader, I remember the first time I read about topstitching so to see it again is old hat.  I try to remember that  newer readers need to see it for the first time but my reaction is "ho-hum".  And then I look for something I haven't seen.

            Another characteristic this audience shares is the ability to integrate what they see in the magazine with what they know from doing and they can make great use of they read.  It's so amazing to read how they solve problems and how they share those ideas with others.   (Sexist remark about to appear)  Women do seem to have the knack for putting all kinds of strange ideas together in strange ways to accomplish miracles.  They think "outside the box".

            And "outside the box" is partly the readers' responsibility, don't you think? 

            Thank you for the comment on the temari discussion!  One of the best things about Threads is Gatherings.       rjf           

      2. carolfresia | | #6

        I'm afraid I didn't express myself clearly. The original decision to limit Threads to sewing (including surface design and embellishment, as well as quilting and both hand and machine embroidery) was taken because of market research showing that our readers were most interested in those areas, and felt that they were not finding these topics covered to their satisfaction elsewhere. At the same time, we were aware that many of the other disciplines, such as knitting and weaving, beading and beadmaking, were receiving excellent, inspiring coverage in a number of other publications (which we editors read avidly, by the way--we love all that stuff, too).


        1. kjp | | #7

          I love the Threads format.  I also buy and avidly read knitting magazines.  There are lots of them.  I have not found a sewing magazine other than Threads which focuses on detailed garment ideas and construction techniques.  I am a homemaker with young children.  I learned to sew as a child and was further instructed in college.  When I was single and newly married, I subscribed to Threads, but later stopped my subscription since my sewing had become more practical due to time constraints.  I restarted my subscription two years ago & boy did I realize how much I had missed it.  The articles on construction techniques are wonderful.  Yes, I have read these types of things before, but it has been a LONG time, & I find myself falling into bad habits if I do not reinforce my knowledge.  So -- keep up the good work! 

          1. ediebell | | #8

            I'm with you kjp!  I just discovered Threads in the last couple years so I don't know what it was like when it offered all the other content, but now there are so many specialized magazines for so many of those interests... I go to Borders to buy Burda pattern magazines (no longer there, I just keep looking...) and see that where the craft/sewing/hobby shelves used to have pattern magazines from the big 4 and Threads and Sew Beautiful and Sew News and such the quilting magazines were taking over, now the knitting ones are at the forefront, there are SO many!  Crochet also, and Fiber Arts and some other that cover some of the areas apparently Threads used to so I'm happy to have Threads focus more on garmentmaking.   Though it seems it  hit on a lot of different areas before, I personally find a magazine that's more of a "variety" magazine less appealing... for something like Good Housekeeping or Oprah or a more general one that's ok but for a hobby magazne I like a narrower forcus better.

          2. JuliaHouston | | #9

            I'm one of the minority who prefers the old format of Threads - with an assortment of articles on knitting, crocheting, weaving, beadwork, quilting, garment design from draping to pattern manipulation.  Those articles on the other fiber arts were not the usual run of the mill, but offered unique and/or very advanced methods.  I don't buy crochet or knit magazines......not too interested in doilies or toilet tissue covers or Barbie doll clothing.  I do pick up a beadwork magazine once in a great while, but I hate paying full magazine price for a single article or picture.  Those 'other' articles were often more inspiring than the ones on garment sewing or sewing techniques. The quilting articles that have appeared have also been about new and interesting techniques, suitable for either garments or 'real' quilts.

            Now, if I want to trim a Chanel style jacket with a wonderful knit or crocheted trim, I'll have to devise my own, or dig through back issues, or decide om something entirely different.

            I did subscribe for several years, but dropped it in favor of purchasing those issues that had information I wanted.

            Anyone care to recommend knitting/crocheting magazines with truly inspirational offerings similar to those Threads used to have?  (Trying to visit Borders is like going to a different city as it's so far away.)


          3. xstpenguin | | #19

            I have only known Threads for a couple of years.  As I have got more and more interested in making clothes this magazine seemed the perfect choice for me - so much so that I have just started subscribing.  I don't know what it was like before, so can't comment, but I do value very highly the articles on construction techniques.  I need to know this stuff!

            I can only think the subjects are just right for me - in one issue there were articles covering straight skirts and lining up checked fabrics, I had just started on a skirt block for a tartan skirt for my best friend and an article about shawl collars - give you 3 guesses what got handed to me in my Lightwear class the following Monday morning!  I'm doing Hand Tailoring at college now and the recent article on Pad-stitching meant that I was way ahead of everyone else in the class that week!

            I can appreciate that people miss articles on other fibre-arts, but could there not be another Taunton magazine for them?  There really isn't anything else like the current Threads around.  And yes, maybe  in future years I will find a cover article about top-stitching a yawn, but there is plenty else!  No-one in my class yesterday even looked at that article, but they were well impressed with many other things, the lady in the fabric store is going to start getting it and at this rate I should be on commission! 

            I should add that I live in Glasgow, Scotland and the only sewing mags here are Burda or Sewing World.  The latter seems to be mostly about machine embroidery cushions and wedding dresses - BORING!  I want hand sewing techniques, too.  And pattern fitting, manipulation etc.  Plus info about the fabrics themselves, what they are suitable for and capable of.

            Long may we all continue stitching!


          4. Thea | | #25

            Just my two cents...

            I'm very new to Threads (I discovered it only eleven issues ago and have been a happy reader right away) and I must say that I enjoy the machine reviews a lot. Even when you're happy with your own machine, it doesn't hurt know what's new, in my opinion. (Well, it might hurt your bank account in the end.) I would probably enjoy the pattern reviews too, if those were available where I live.

            I'm also glad Threads focuses on sewing, but that's very personal. If I'd enjoy knitting, I might feel differently.


          5. KarenW | | #26

            I have to say I'm one of those who prefers garment making and am happy with that narrower focus in Threads... though I've read much about the wonderful articles of issues prior to my discovering the magazine and there seem to be so many who, despite what I see as an abundance of publications on other fiberarts, perceive the Threads methods of presenting these arts as superior.  Just an interesting, note, there are probably many more with interests in other types of fiber/needlearts/embroidery/etc. than I perceived, I went to the site for the Puyallup, WA sewing expo (http://www.sewexpo.com) to look up the spelling of an instructor's name and saw that they had the classes that were sold out noted as such.  A good number of those that were sold out had to do with other needlecrafts or ones that were not limited to garment making.  Seems I may be in the minority....


          6. Theodora | | #27

            I'm another reader who misses the "Old" Threads. Even the issues from 4-5 years ago were more inspiring, though tending to focus on garment sewing. I just got the new issue today, and leafed through it at lunch. There's not a thing in it I can recall while sitting here, that I'm anxious to go back and read. I too am glad that I have the older editions because there are many articles I can go back to. Always find inspiration in things that didn't call to me in them before. And the range of media covered educated me, even if I weren't involved with those media.

            There is always a new audience coming along though, and I can see how they can be great for those who haven't covered that territory before.

          7. ElonaM | | #28

            I also miss the old Threads, having all but two or three issues in my possession. However, the articles I loved--persnickety couturier techniques and exotic garments and extraordinary knitting projects--represent the very focus that might drive down the subscription numbers, thereby forcing the magazine out of business.

            The truth is that few people sew, compared to the numbers even forty years ago, and of those that do, one has to wonder how many of those would buy a magazine just because it featured the designs of Bonnie Cashin, for example.

            I don't like it that the current Threads is so similar to Sew News (which, when it first started out, also featured more advanced techniques and ideas than it does now), but better a Threads that's a cut lower than it used to be than no Threads at all.

          8. AmyC | | #13

            I would like to see Taunton put out a magazine on art quilts.  There's a lot of quilting magazines out there, but none seem to have the quality I'm looking for..

          9. PLW1017 | | #14

            Hi Amy,

            Have you seen "Quilting Arts" magazine?  It's a fairly new one focused on just art quilts and other fabric art projects.  Although I'm not into art quilts, per se, a good friend gave me a subscription and I'm really enjoying it.  It only comes every other month but I've seen it at both Borders and Barnes and Noble. 


          10. TerryG | | #15

            Quilting Arts is a nice magazine, but it has a very narrow niche regarding art quilts. It tends to focus very much on heavy embellishment, in fact I think it was originally going to revolve around crazy quilting. Tends, in my opinion, to be a little kitcshy.

            Terry in Portland

          11. AmyC | | #16

            Hi Peg,

            I just saw Quilting Arts in B&N yesterday afternoon! I'm still trying to decide if I like it..I'll probably subcribe, but I think it may not emphasize technique as much as I like.. (I'm pretty fussy! LOL!)


          12. stitchmd | | #17

            I also miss the articles on other topics because Threads (and all Taunton magazines) always did such a better job than any other specialty publication. There is no knitting magazine that compares to Threads knitting articles. This is true for other media as well. My intro to Polymer clay came from a Threads article on making buttons with it.

            To combine this and the Quick to Make discussion how about one article per issue on ONE other subject. E.g. one issue can have Quick to Make, one can cover a specialized knitting technique, one can do a medium or craft that can be incorporated into a garment, etc. Everyone I know who sews does one or more other fiber crafts or wants to learn them.

          13. becksnyc | | #22

            Another sewer into polymer clay!  Hey there!  May I ask, do you combine the two crafts?

            Have you seen the Carol Duvall on sewing eye-glass cases out of Kato clay?


          14. stitchmd | | #23

            I'm sorry to say I've made very little progress with clay. Done mostly things with my kids. I didn't see that Duvall episode but remember one where they used liquid clay in fabric. What have you done with it?

          15. becksnyc | | #24

            Mostly jewellery, but the idea of sewing clay intriques me.  I am not using Kato brand, though, so haven't tried it yet.

            I like to coordinate my jewellery with my sewn outfits, for a complete look.


          16. PLW1017 | | #18

            Hi Amy,  My perspective on the magazine is probably different than most because I am not a quilt "artist" as defined in the quilting world.  I just enjoy looking at the variety of things they have in "Quilting Arts" and am always impressed with the creativity of the work shared.  As I said, the subscription was a gift or chances are I wouldn't be getting it! ;>)

            I've been a traditional quilt maker for nearly 15 years and have even had some success in entering quilt shows but I find my interest returning to garment construction for a variety of reasons, hence my return to Threads.  Of course, I still have enough quilt projects started and planned to keep me busy for many years yet.

            I no longer refer to my fabric collection as a "stash" -- it's a "Fabricology Research Center" and I am officially a "fabricologist"!  I worked in a quilt shop (with a generous employee discount) for almost 10 years -- need I explain more?! lol 





        2. TerryG | | #10

          "At the same time, we were aware that many of the other disciplines, such as knitting and weaving, beading and beadmaking, were receiving excellent, inspiring coverage in a number of other publications .."

          Ah yes, but not like Threads did them. I read the specialized magazines too, but the wonderful thing about the "old" Threads was that it seemed to skim the cream from each of these disciplines and present only the real gems. Plus, the writing, the photography and the directions in Threads were far superior to any of the other magazines. I don't want to have to look to six or eight other magazines for these things. I want them in *my* magazine!

          I am a bit surprised that your market research showed readers want the narrower focus. I had lunch with an old friend yesterday, after I had written my comments here. She said, "Did you get the new Threads this week?" I answered that I had and her comment was, "I spent less than 10 minutes looking at it. If the best cover story they could come up with was white topstitching on a navy raincoat then that is pretty sad."


        3. pdclose | | #11

          >I'm afraid I didn't express myself clearly. The original decision to limit Threads to sewing (including surface design and embellishment, as well as quilting and both hand and machine embroidery) was taken because of market research showing that our readers were most interested in those areas, and felt that they were not finding these topics covered to their satisfaction elsewhere.

          Well lately "Threads" has been more "Sew News" than "Threads".  You've been loading down on pattern reviews, machine reviews, and basic techniques and thin on the ART aspect that attracted me to Threads in the first place.  I dropped my subscription to Sew News long ago, when they recycled articles on topstitching, etc. for the second/third time in a year.  There's only so many ways you can present that stuff as new -- what's your timeframe for "recycling" technique articles?  Sew News seemed to have a yearly schedule; I new exactly what the magazine's content would be by knowing what month it was published.  I sure hope Threads doesn't get to be that predictable.

          As it is, my husband saw this month's Threads lying open on the table and flipped through it and wanted to know when I resubscribed to Sew News -- definitely NOT a compliment!  He was shocked when I told him that was Threads.  He wanted to know where all the "art" and exciting techniques went.  So do I.

          1. Bernice | | #12

            Maybe it's time for Taunton to think about publishing a new magazine dedicated to these other arts!  Seems many think they did a superior or unique job of it vs. others out there.

            I had stopped taking Sew News a couple years or so ago but I have looked through the last few issues when at the fabric store... I have to say their clothes articles in the last couple issues are actually things that I wouldn't be embarrassed to wear and are much classier than before with interesting techniques and treatments (no topstitching!  Haven't gotten my Threads yet to see this....).  And the pattern review they did in the latest one (I think it's March or April) covered a much bigger variety of styles/garments than they had been. Maybe they're trying to get back people who left like me?  There was still some craftier looking stuff I ignored, but I almost bought it for the garment articles, but $5.99 for an issue of SN???  I don't think so!

        4. becksnyc | | #21


          You are amazingly tactful and diplomatic.  We're so awed, honestly(!), that you editing folks can take this rash of opinionated constructive criticism without getting defensive.  My respect for you is up several notches.

          On the topic of the market research that led to the narrowing of Thread's scope:  as you alluded, the surveys used in the past didn't let the reader's speak their thoughts completely, but may have put words in their mouths.  Although I do mostly enjoy garment construction and techniques that I can apply to garments, if threads had an occasional, advanced article on another fiber art (like knitting, tatting, crochet, and even *gasp* home dec), it would only enhance the magazine.  Many of us are looking to broaden our horizons, seeking inspiration and knowledge of the fiber arts. 

          So keep listening to our dreams, and then, hopefully, increase the breadth and depth of Thread's content to its former glory.  If all the issues were like the last few, none of your readers would be bragging that they'd saved EVERY issue since #1.  No offense intended....


  2. marge | | #20

    I have every issue of Threads since the first one.  I am concerned that you have not had anything on knitting, crocheting, or quilting in the past 3 issues.  Those are my interests and wonder whether you plain to continue as in the past 3 issues.  If so, I doubt I will renew.

    1. AuntieDepression | | #29

      I became a subscriber to Threads after Issue #2, and have kept every copy since. Some are treasures: the issue that introduced Kaffee Fassett, the one that included a pattern for a Bonnie Cashin coat, and so many more. I remember the controversy over keeping or dropping the articles on knitting, crochet, etc., and, even though I was on the "keep" side, I continued to subscribe, in part out of nostalgia for what Threads used to mean to me and with hope that some of that vitality might return. Currently, it feels that the focus that been turned inward, with more about less. More kindly, the publication seems to favor depth over breadth. That's fine for an academic monograph, but it takes the air out of a magazine like Threads. I mean, how many articles can you do on fitting pants? You can talk about making patterns, altering patterns, fine-tuning fit, and you can focus ever more closely on waistband, hems, pockets. And after a while, you're DONE. As my grandmother would have said, GENUG. By limiting yourself to garment sewing (with the occasional foray into slipcovering and hassock-making), I think you have painted yourself into a corner, creatively speaking.

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