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Conversational Threads

Threads: Then and Now

jensauer | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

Greetings all.

I was just looking over the results of our request for favorite Threads articles (on the Threads homepage). The list of the top one hundred is truly a diverse mix of articles, dating back to issue 6!

This list made me realize that I’d like to hear some more about Threads of the past, Threads as it is now, and perhaps, what you’d like to see from Threads in the future.

So here are a few starter questions:

What are your thoughts about the evolution of Threads over the years? What keeps you coming back for more?

Jennifer Sauer
Associate Editor, Threads


  1. ShannonG4d | | #1


    Even though I love to look at the older issues (about issue 30 and before), I am more drawn to the more current ones.  I think the magazine is more focused.  I like the advanced sewing techniques articles best, as Threads is the only reliable source for these (IMO)!

    What keeps me coming back?  High-quality photography, clear explanations, good information.  Threads is my reference book!


  2. HNYMAMA | | #2

    The last issue of Threads was the verry first one I have looked at,  just getting back into sewing after a few year break.  I have no idea what your mag use to be like but I loved the last issue it was so nice,  I will be getting the next few out and if they are all that great I will get a subscription.  The instuctions were wonderful,  I have already tried the monograming by hand (beautiful results),  and I am planning on making some of the patio slipcovers for my Mom's pool area,  also a picture in one article inspired me to do a creative top for my oldest daughters capri set. 

  3. rjf | | #3

    I started my subscription to Threads in 1986 (I think) and liked everything about it.  At that time, the focus was not exclusively sewing; in fact, it was more knitting than anything else.  But it was just as beautiful then as it is now and just as carefully written. 

    There were two particularly wonderful things I got from Threads.  One was a way to get pants that fit perfectly and the other was a terrific method of knit cast-on and cast-off. 

    But no matter what the content, I think what appeals to me about Threads is that it takes handcrafts seriously.  Techniques are explained, not just for the project being written about, but also for use in future projects.  We get the building blocks to go our own way.  And you give us many ways to go.

  4. rjf | | #4

    Hi JenSauer,

    I've been meaning to tell you guys that one thing I really like about THREADS is the back cover.  You put the most beautiful handwork and fascinating designs there.  I remember there was once a knitted sculpture.  It looked something like a sheep but from some wild dream.  From the sculptural point of view, it was terrific but from the knitted point of view it was beyond belief.  I'd never thought a knitter could create so many curves and textures and loops and make it look like unified being.  Amazing.  And then there was the woven gold thread.  And the box of candy made of satin ruffles and seed pearls for sprinkles.  And haut couture dresses.  It always seemed like "Save the best for last".  Thanks.               rjf

  5. Tish | | #5

    I stopped taking Threads several years ago.  I realized that I rarely read any of it any more.  I was deeply disappointed by the abandonment of traditional and cutting-edge fiber arts and the turn to garment making and machine sewing techniques.  In the early days, those were balanced with other topics.  At the end, I found that I was paying $30.00 a year to read, at most, two or three articles, plus the back covers.

    Since I was lured into the Taunton forums by my father, I gradually began coming by Gatherings to see what's up.  I can see that there is a strong constituancy for a garment magazine, and I understand why the decision was made to change.  Using the forum, I can slide over the discussions that don't interest me, and join in the ones that I do have something in common with.  When I check the content of the current magazines on line, I can see that I made the right choice to stop subscribing, but I was and am proud to have been a charter subscriber, and I enjoy most of my collection of the first 12 years of Threads.  There is no other magazine that even approaches what Threads was.

    Respectfully and regretfully, Tish

    1. rjf | | #6


      How are you doing?  Is your paper finished?  Have you started weaving something?  I finally got the thing with the supplemental warp finished and off the loom.  I think I found a way to make the paint gallons work....if you tie it to the handle after putting the cans as far away as you can, then move them forward when you advance the warp.  After the warp is advanced, you ootch the cans back 'til you have the right tension again.  It only took about 6 broken warps before I learned that.  The design looks okay but now I wished I had used a heavier thread for the supp. warp.  What is fun is that I'm discovering all kinds of liberties can be taken if I adhere to a few basic principles.  This seems to be a very different process than inventing sewing techniques or knitting methods.  The back of my mind is still wondering why it feels different from sewing and knitting.  Maybe it's because putting the warp on is an irrevocable process.  I could always tear out 4 inches of knitting and do it again but you can't rewarp and thread heddles so easily.  I certainly did take out a lot of weaving on that last project. 

      I probably shouldn't ask on this forum if you read "Handwoven".  It seems to be as good for weaving as Threads is (or was, depending on your point of view) for sewing and knitting.  Do you think we have read too much stuff?  Maybe a newer audience doesn't get the "I knew that!" reaction. 

      Hope your break is going well!               rjf

      1. Tish | | #7

        Hi! the semester's through, I got all "A"s, got my paper turned into the journal.  Now I'm weaving a scarf with fluffy stuff.  I'll report back on the "Anybody Weave" discussion.

        Threads was never really good on weaving, though they started out looking as though they were going to be.  Issue #1 featured tapestry weaving on the front cover and #2 had "Spindle and Distaff" on the cover plus an interview with Annie Albers, and an article on sewing handwovens.  Somewhere around #5 (I'm not going backto the bookshelf to check) there was an excellent article on warping.  But really not much else.  I discovered that when I re-read them when I took my weaving class.  I was shocked to discover that they've never written anything at all about Ikat weaving--single or double. 

        I'm still going to try some of the things from those early editions, like knitting wool and then felting it, and making an up-dated Hippari coat (maybe with handwoven fabric).

        1. rjf | | #8

          I KNEW you'd get all A's.  It's a really nice feeling, isn't it?

          Boy, your collection of Threads precedes mine by a lot.  I'm envious of the beginning ones but I feel certain there was an article on IKAT weaving quite awhile ago.  My collection (reacquired from Carol) is in the basement so I will check and let you know.  I'll also hope that I've got the one on warping.  Since I didn't weave at the time, I probably didn't notice it.

          One of the Guild members does a lot of knitting and  then felting but she raises llamas and has an infinite supply of yarn.  Of course she has to spin it first.  We have a "challenge" once a year and her task (should she decide to do it) was to spin silk and wool as boucle.  It was amazing how she did it and it was really beautiful.  I have a whole new respect for spinners now that I see how intricate it can be. 

          Tell me about Hippari coats.  That's a new word for me.

          Okay!! I'm going to go spread mulch and then come back in and wind a warp for an overshot summer purse.

          1. Tish | | #9

            Hippari coats or robes are a traditional Japanese design that is shaped like a big, wide "T".  The article is in the premier issue, "A Versatile Jacket: New shapes and fabrics for the traditional Japanese hippari," by Joyce Hannah.  Hannah said that she used the Folkwear pattern #112, Japanese field clothing as her jumping-off point.

            It looks as though all this weaving is going to drag me back into garment sewing after all. 

            The magazine index has several references to Ikat style knitting, but all of the references to Ikat weaving are reviews of books and museum shows.

  6. Guest | | #10

    What keeps me coming back for more are the excellent articles on garment construction. particularly embellishment. What other source is there? Sew News is like family circle, while Threads is more in the line of Vanity Fair.

    One of the goals I have set for myself is to try a new technique every month shown in Threads. My next is a hand picked zipper. Keep doing what you do, and include more step by step photos.

    1. carolfresia | | #11

      Diane, if you use a technique from the past year and love your results, please consider entering your garment in the "Inspired by Threads contest." Details can be found by going to the Threads home page and clicking on the "Contest" feature there.  Hope to see your creation this summer!


  7. Crish | | #12

    Why have I subscribed since issue 1?

    1)  Outstanding, clear illustrations

    2)  Inspiration

    3)  Respect for quality - materials, technique, research

    4)  Variety - there are articles that I wouldn't seek out but I have yet to be disappointed by one of these.  There is always something learned that is adaptive to an area that is of interest to me. 

    5)  The magazine's willingness to explore technique 

    6)  The magazine's attitude of helping

    What don't I like?

    I am a subscriber - why must there be 3-4 "blow-in" subscription forms in addition to the one bound in each issue?  This doesn't affect the editorial content, it's just so annoying!  And wasteful!

    I have every issue from the Premier Oct/Nov 1985 to present and regularly use them as reference for instruction and/or creative inspiration.  I would love to have an index but since the computer age has become mainstream, I do find the index on the Threads site useful - sometimes the computer isn't available the moment I have a need to get a quick answer.  I like early issues and the variety of content.  While I miss it, I appreciate the need to control the focus.  I sew (primarily, but not exclusively, clothing), knit, embroider, weave, bead, and teach a variety of clothing and embellishment classes.  I have never not read an issue of Threads from cover to cover, from Letters to the Editors to the classified ads and ALL articles in between.  Obviously some are of more interest to me than others, but every one has some nugget that fits into my brain's storage system to be retrieved someday.

    1. sanderson | | #13

      I indulge my passion for fibers by renting a small sewing space/studio.  The room is adjoined to my for-pay work which makes it so wonderful.  I recently moved all of my Threads, and I do have them all, to my studio.  Going over the past issues was like opening the old family photo album plus.  Some issues I remember inhaling and some came in hectic times and got only a cursory once over which makes them almost brand new now.  A design challenge I'm working on is to work on a form of daily 'journaling' to add some structure and routine.  Each day that I can be in my studio I begin the time with reading a random issue of Threads, not cover to cover but an article or two or some letters from readers.  I am constantly impressed with the thoughtfulness and concern for clarity and accuracy Threads readers insist on.  We are a demanding bunch!  It would be interesting to hear from the editors about the articles that generated a lot of fall-out.  For new subscribers it would be great to hear again why the spinning/weaving/knitting area was let go.  I,too, miss the Threads treatment of these areas and am ever hopeful that Taunton will again take up the banner. 

      1. Jean | | #14

        Hi stranger, good to 'see' your voice again. ITA about the knitting articles. Knitting magazines are as scarce as hensteeth in this town, but it seems there are more crochet magazines than ever. I don't know if the knitting magazines just don't sell well in my town or what, but I even have to go to the Big city to get Threads now. In fact, it just dawned on me that ALL of Tauntons publications are missing from the racks here-abouts.  Not enough people of discriminating tastes living in Hooterville??! <sigh>

  8. veraw3 | | #15

    Hi.I have recently started on a "fitness" jag. I use a walking machine every day and because it is deadly boring,I read as I exercise. I have started to reread all my back issues of Threads and I am re-inspired all over again. That is what Threads does for me.It inspires me. It also teaches and entertains and informs,but mostly it inspires.Thank you Threads. Luv ya!  vera

  9. janeckyjames | | #16

    Hello Jen: I started picking up Threads issues that had quilting information contained within a couple of years ago. I was subcribing to Quilters newletter at the time and buying lots of other quilting mags. I found myself really inspired by you magazine to try other types of sewing projects. I love the variety of content of Threads. When I read an article that interests me, I feel that I could do what the article has demonstrated. I am no great sewer but I do love to sew and am making more time to do so. Needles to say, Threads is now the only sewing magazine I buy and I look forward to every issue.I love your website too. I just made a posting on gatherings for a pattern for a dog coat. All the very best. soapy

    1. Jean | | #17

      Needles to say

      One of the most appropriate typos I've ever seen! Loved it.Welcome, soapy!

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