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Week 4: Threads recently published an…

carolfresia | Posted in Talk With Us on

Week 4: Threads recently published an article about how to make and embellish velvet appliqué. The technique was shown on a pillow, throw, and skirt. How does seeing a technique on both home accessories and wearables affect its appeal?

  • Makes the technique more appealing
  • Makes the technique less appealing
  • Has no effect on the appeal of the technique
  • Seeing only the home accessories would make the technique less appealing

You will not be able to change your vote.


  1. rjf | | #1

    Seeing as many applications as possible is always better...it helps the reader invent their own uses for the technique.  Carol, is that you wearing the skirt?      rjf

    1. carolfresia | | #2

      No, that's not me, that's the former art director, Karen Meyer. But it's funny you should ask that...my hands are often in the magazine doing various things, and I was a waist model once, so my kids always look through the new issue to see if they can identify my body parts. When your granddaughter saw that picture, she took a second look, and then said "That's Karen's hand." I was shocked! She's met Karen maybe twice.


      1. carolfresia | | #3

        Here's a new, sort of by-product question: how many of you do home decor sewing? I gather that for most participants here, garment sewing is your primary interest, but I know that, when absolutely forced to, I will make curtains or duvet covers and the like. Do the rest of you, too? And if so, how elaborate do you get? What is your inspiration--do you copy gorgeous linens and soft furnishing that would cost a fortune if you bought hem, or (like me) whip out the most basic thing that will get the job done?

        What do you think of all the home design programs on TV these days? Do they inspire you to decorate? Do they make you want to throw an old sheet over the sofa and put your head under the pillow?


        1. FitnessNut | | #5

          I rarely do home decor sewing, although that may change as we need some window treatments and a duvet cover and I can't force myself to pay the ridiculous prices I see at the stores (and for such poor workmanship!). I won't be getting very elaborate with any of these projects. Like you, I will be whipping up basics. I'd love to copy gorgeous linens, but for that you really need top quality fabric and it just isn't available here. True, there are a couple of sources that were mentioned some time ago in Threads, but it simply isn't affordable to order from Canada. So I will be going without.

          As for your second question.....no, these TV shows don't inspire me in the least. I don't want to offend anyone, but quite frankly, I find much of the decorating to be rather tacky and in poor taste, not to mention just slapped together without much thought behind it. I'd rather put my head under the pillow than watch one of these shows! Especially those where people trade homes and decorate a room...Yikes! Some of those are awful!

        2. TJSEWS | | #6

          My primary interest is making garments but like you, if I have to, I will make something basic since as one poster said above, I don't want to pay ridiculous prices for the items that are out there that are also of poor workmanship.

        3. amapola | | #7

          Your magazine has inspired me to do things beyond my experience successfully.I like to read every page because I learn and also my brain starts working as to how to apply it to my sewing interests.

          I watch HGTV designer's shows. Kitty Bartholomew is my favorite because she has such good taste and teaches techniques that you can do for your home.

          When I do duvets, pillows,curtains, etc...for my home, I like to embellish to the point of an ooooooooh! beautiful project.  And oh my the envy!!!!!  Gloria Matye

        4. rjf | | #8

          I'll make drapes when forced to but only because I'd rather make them than buy them.  Nobody else said "drapes"; are they out of fashion? 

          The decorating shows are fun to watch, I think.  Some parts drive me crazy, like the way they stuff pillows....one little handful at a time...very lumpy!  And some designers are so outrageous it's fascinating.  If you can get over "settling for less than perfect", maybe making drapes would be less of a chore.         rjf

        5. Merryll | | #9

          Carol, thank you for asking about interest in sewing home decor.

          My husband and I are corporate nomads, and I no longer finish decorating one house, then we move and I get to do it all over again. What used to be one-year projects have expanded to four or five, what with larger homes and the demands of other activities. But I love the opportunity to change colors, window treatments, wall treatments, etc. I have many friends who are in the same situation and also sew their home decor needs.

          My passion always has been garment sewing, but when I look at the prices for custom draperies, duvet covers, matching pillows, custom shades, heck anything custom, I bulk.  Most times I can do it better at a fraction of the cost.

          Just like I have a library of garment sewing books, I also have a library of home dec books.  Years ago I was fortunate enough to live in Portland, OR, and took advantage of the many home dec sewing classes offered there.  At the time it was a hotbed of wonderful how-to classes; I don't know if it still is.  As a result , I sewed roller shades, draperies, balloon shades, Roman shades, matching seat cushions, etc., etc. I've upholstered walls as well. Judy Lindahl's wonderful book, The Shade Book, was a terrific resource.  I've since purchased updated copies.

          With another large house to finish, this time I'm looking at interlined draperies.  Since I live in New England (literally down the street from the Threads offices), I'm interested in the lush, puddled draperies long popular in England using bump cloth as interlining.  The per-panel cost to have these made is astronomical. I've found only one decent book on the how-tos of interlined draperies (Carolyn Wrey's *Complete* Curtain Making Course), and have ended up making them mostly by hand, according to her directions.  I'd give anything to see Threads do a how-to article with detailed instructions and your usual exquisite illustrations and resources.  After all, the magazine's terrific articles on upholstery and slip covers are in the same family of skills.

          How 'bout it?


          P.S. You asked about the HGTV decorating shows.  I mourn the loss of  Sandra Betzina's sewing show as well as Sew Much More.  I'm not interested in crafts, so I rarely tune in to HGTV anymore.  I've been known to travel long distances to attend good sewing seminars.

        6. MarshaK | | #10

          It has to be a 'sewing' thing. Many of us have said in our own ways that we would hesitate before buying ready-made home decor items, we would sooner make them ourselves. The high prices are outrageous for the quality of these pieces, if I can make it myself, I won't buy it. That actually goes for many things in my life, I'm a terrible consumer.

          The home decor shows are getting out of hand, it seems every channel on TV has one or two or ten, really ridiculous at times. Maybe they wouldn't be so boring if there weren't so many. I wish the sewing shows like Sandra Betzina's Sew Perfect, Sew Much More and the one that Kenneth D. King did with Nancy Flemming, I think it was called Sewing Today, would return.


          1. carolfresia | | #11

            I initially enjoyed the home decor shows, but I'm pretty overwhelmed by them, too...One thing I like about them is that the designers tend to handle color very differently from me or from each other, so I learn a lot about what works, or doesn't, what suits my taste, etc. Sometimes there are some eye-opening ideas, even if I wouldn't actually decorate that way.  Even if I don't jump up and run off to make a slip-cover, I do get thinking about decorating in ways that I wouldn't ordinarily, and that's a good start, I guess.


        7. cafms | | #12

          I just found this site though I've looked at the Threads magazine site many times.  I have subscribed to the magazine for many years and really enjoy the articles.  I am primarily interested in garment sewing for my family but enjoy home decor sewing as well.  I have been sewing most of my life and have done many different things, from helping my mother recover our car seats as a teenager to making the draperies for my house and even headboards for beds, in addition to all kinds of garments.

          The home decor shows on TV were better when first on, though I agree with some of the others that many ideas are rather tacky.  But I see them as a starting place and then try to do better.  I just wish there were more sewing shows. 

          I found the letters about fabric stores and thought they were interesting.  I'll take some notes for trips.  I am a member of the Master Clothing Volunteers (we teach sewing through the state Extension Service) and as one of our projects we put together a listing of as many of the fabric stores in our state as we could find.  It has been helpful as I travel around the state. 


        8. Hansi | | #13

          Hi Carol,

          I've only been sewing about 18 months.  I have done some garment sewing but most of my sewing has been for my home.  I've made lots of pillows and 3 sets of curtains, each set progressively more involved.  (For the last set each panel was about 80 inches long and 100 inches wide, fully lined.  I am SOOO proud of them.)  I'm still gathering my courage to try making slipcovers from the Laurel Sprigg series of articles.

          I loved that this particular article featured home sewing projects.  Since I started sewing, what's struck me the most is how  much retailers charge for relatively simple things.  And the opportunity to make something individualized and special with a technique such as your applique technique seems so valuable.  I really hope your magazine continues to feature home decor techniques.

          By the way, I love the garment articles in Threads too.  I just love the whole magazine.


          1. carolfresia | | #14

            Jay, you are definitely to be congratulated on undertaking all those draperies! It's one thing to know how you'd like to decorate, but another thing altogether to actually do it, especially when the project is quite large. I hope you keep on sewing even when your house is fully decorated (and I'd encourage you to try your hand at a slipcover. The Sprigg series is really good and should take you right through the process).

            But if you haven't been sewing clothes, wait till you do--you'll love the smallness of the pieces you're working with, I guarantee it!


          2. Hansi | | #15


            Thank you so much for the encouragement.  I really appreciate it.


        9. The_Girls | | #16

          As much as I like making and wearing beautiful clothes, I also want to do the same for my home.  I'd like to see more articles along the lines of the series on slipcovers. I was happy to see the recent article on finishing the ends of cording on pillows and slipcovers. Maybe it's my New England heritage, but I can't bring myself to purchase drapes, curtains, dustruffles, etc. One look at the price, the poor quality fabric and the less than wonderful construction and I know I can do better. I won't say that I'm not influenced by home dec and remodeling shows, but I don't watch them very often and I've let all my subscriptions run on the home decorating magazines I was receiving (with the exception of your new sister magazine, Inspired House). It struck me that I was spending way too much time living vicariously thru other peoples decorating projects instead of getting off the couch actually doing something myself and creating my own style. But sometimes I just need a little help with technique. PLEASE keep the home sewing articles coming!

          1. carolfresia | | #17

            You're very inspiring, Polly! I wish I had that drive to decorate my home, but usually I'm just trying to walk across the floor to pick up discarded laundry while not branding my foot with a Lego block, or grinding a goldfish cracker into the carpet. (I honestly don't live in total squalor, I just happen to live with two little kids).

            Today I spent some time in a decorator fabric store looking for fabric for an upcoming article, and I have to say I was really inspired by the fabrics there. Not necessarily for home decor, but there were some jacquards that just cried out to become a cool, unstructured/Japanese/contemporary jacket. I held back, and of course now wish I hadn't! Just what I  need, and new source of "garment" fabrics...


          2. The_Girls | | #18

            You're right about there being some great fabrics out there. I've made vests, unstructured jackets and coats using home dec fabrics. It does feel weird though to walk into a furniture showroom and match the upholstered pieces. I had made a coat using a jacquard with rustic designs woven in. I'm seeing the fabric everywhere now, particularly here in Colorado, including the barstools in that furniture store. I just told them in was in camouflage.

          3. SewSimple | | #19

            The only window treatments I've ever purchased have been horizontal blinds to go under my window treatments. I take that back, I did buy drapes for my living room which I then used in the family room.  The last valances I bought for my son's bedroom (bed in the bag thing) I had to add to in order to make it look decent. So I don't think that counts. I like doing window treatments even though I may not do them often. (They are more profitable than alterations, I can charge way less than the local drapery shops & still make $$.)

            To change topics slightly, I do like the review of the machines that Threads does once a year. Scoping out the features and prices are nice. But I wish you could supplement that by adding an evaluation similar to Consumers Report. (CR does not evaluate sewing machines very often).  An evaluation where cost vs. features vs. reliablity & repairs is taken into consideration.


        10. marijke | | #20

          Like several others, I do home dec sewing mostly on an as-needed basis.  Mostly, I don't like all the 'frou-frou' that they show on the home-dec shows and in books/magazines.  I'll do simple valances, curtains, drapes.  The latter are no fun to do (handling those enormous pieces of fabric plus lining and figuring out the pleats on the pleater tape are not my most favored sewing moments), but way cheaper to do it myself than to buy.

          An occasional home dec article is fine, but I prefer a focus on garments, patternmaking, and quilting techniques.  (I did enjoy the articles on making slipcovers.  Haven't tried making those, but more likely to do so after reading those articles.)


  2. Iris_Colo | | #4

    When I saw the cover of the magazine ...  I thought "Wow!  Velvet!" but I was somewhat disappointed with the article.  The particular projects in it made me think - "homemade".  I am not a real big fan of wide zig-zag applique.  I figure if you're going to be working with spectacular fabrics, the technique and workmanship should reflect the effort required to make the the finished product absolutely top notch.  The beading was a good additional embellishment technique but the fabric paint suggestion was a turn off.  One has to be selective and judicious in the use of multiple embellishment techniques in one piece.

    I have personally created a Mardi Gras train for my sister, Queen of her Mardi Gras Order in 2003.  I did, in fact, use velvet applique on it with a very tightly spaced metallic thread ziz-zag (so dense you couldn't tell is was a zig-zag).  All that was of course a good 10 months before the article.  I was very pleased with how the train turned out and it was stunning on the night of her coronation.  [I'll see if I can find a .jpg of it to post in the photo gallery.]  For this particular project, these were appropriate techniques and fabrics.  For a skirt to wear everyday to the office.... I don't know.  Perhaps a little better "matching" of the types fabrics and amount of embellishment with the intended featured garments in the articles could be done to best illustrate the techniques, if you know what I mean.  Velvet applique for a ball gown or Opera coat or other stunning Art-to-Wear piece, for instance but not for "day skirt".  Just my 2 cents.

    Thanks for giving us this venue to speak directly to you about what we think.  Everyone has differing opinions and we all know you'll never be able to please everyone.  It's cathartic to get our opinions aired though and you're doing a terrific job with the magazine.  I won't be giving my subscription up any time soon.

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