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Conversational Threads

What about the novice sewers?

carolfresia | Posted in Talk With Us on

I’m starting a new discussion thread here to see if we can focus some thought on the opposite end of the spectrum. Nearly all the responses you’ve all offered so far ask for high-end, advanced techniques….the more, the better! It’s exciting to know that there are so many of you other there eager to learn more and to challenge yourselves with increasingly complex projects. However…

We’d also like to reach those people who are either beginners, or are returning to sewing after a number of years away and need some refresher information. Among these would be people who, perhaps, learned a little about sewing way back in the pervasive Home Ec days (around here, that means you’re over 40!), and also younger sewers who, in many cases, didn’t even have Home Ec in school to give them the basics.

Very likely, they’re not ready for the very advanced sort of material you’d like to see more of. Can you suggest ways to draw in the novice audience and encourage them to develop their hobby? The industry as a whole will be better off for all of us if we make an effort to foster new sewers.

If there are novices lurking who haven’t posted, please feel free to speak up here!



  1. Sue2000 | | #1

    Looks like you've already begun to do this when the best article you can think o featuring on a Threads cover is an article on topstitching.   Sorry, but I found this quite banal.... 

    1. edgy | | #2


      I hope Threads is not going to try to be all things to all people. Seems to me that beginning sewers will gravitate to other mags like Sew News and when they're ready, they'll "notice" Threads. Please don't compromise on the high standards of the magazine. All the feedback has emphasized that -- now your are aking about beginners as if all our participation wasn't useful!

      I was wondering what we would hear from Threads thru you about our feedback. Is this it?


      1. Sue2000 | | #3

        Nancy that's a good point about being all things to all people.  I can't remember what the various titles were that Martha Pullen had a few years back but it seemed they tried to combine them all into one.  It didn't work and looks like they're back to being pretty much the same Sew Beautiful they were before trying to "be all to everyone".

      2. carolfresia | | #4

        No, we won't try to be all things to all people--that's much too tall an order for any magazine! Nor do we plan to lower any standards just because we're thinking about beginning sewers. Novices need technical information and inspiration just as much as seasoned sewers--probably more, and they certainly don't deserve less. Especially these days, when only a tiny minority of young people learn to sew at school or from a family member (the two main sources of sewing instruction in past decades), the media play an increasingly important role in spreading the word about this hobby/discipline/artform we all enjoy. 

        Most of us were, at one time or another, tyros ourselves--let's try to remember how we got from there to where we are today. What could be more exciting for a beginner than to feel she belongs to a community of active, knowledgeable, and creative sewers? Sewing hasn't been all that "cool" for teenagers for a while (although I think that's changing), so whatever we can do to validate their pride in their achievements is worth doing.

        In terms of dollars and cents, more sewers means more stuff out there for sewers to buy and use...notice how the independent fashion fabric stores faded from view starting in about the 70s, but quilting stores have, relatively speaking, flourished (and thank goodness for them, too). I'd love to see a G-Street, Vogue Fabrics, Haberman's, Josephine's Dry Goods, Waechter's Silk, Buttons 'n' Bolts, etc. etc...in every town in the country, but that can't happen if it's just us asking for it.


        1. JulieH | | #19

          I agree that novice sewers must be included for all the reasons you gave.  I have been sewing for more than 50 years, and I always read all the tips; sometimes you can pick up something that's really useful.  The only thing I hardly ever read is pattern instructions; they usually don't put the garment together the way I would do it.  For instance the magic yoke you had in #111.  I've been making yokes like that for years, I can't remember where I learned it, but it's the best construction ever.  I think there are a lot of young people who would like to sew, but don't know where to start.  They don't understand terms like seam allowance, straight grain all the things we "old hands" take for granted.  You have so many wonderful articles and ideas (I shortened the sleeves of a jacket for my daughter FROM THE TOP using an article you had several years ago because the cuff was so ornate I didn't think I could duplicate it) I want to try making jeans again from the Sandra Betzina article in #111.  I fell in love with the Colorful Striped Fabric jacket in the current issue, and already have it laid out in my mind.  I love the fact that you have layouts and diagrams showing how things should go together step-by-step.  Many times I am familiar with the technique you are describing, but often I'll learn a quick and easy adjustment to my technique, and then use it ever after.  I'm happiest when I'm sewing.  I quess I've sorted of rambled here, but I think sewers of all levels need to be included, sometimes I feel that sewing is becoming a dying art.  Keep up the good work.  JulieH

          1. lindacarlson | | #20

            I am one of those who learned to sew in school, but we had dreadful projects that did not teach bound buttonholes, the hidden button placket, or fitting slacks. I love Threads, regardless of what level I am sewing on, because of the excellent page design that makes the articles easy to read. (I had a sample of Sew News and could hardly read its cluttered pages and outdated type style.) But I have two complaints, after reading Threads for at least five years: first, the diagrams are hard to follow. I was delighted to see the hidden placket addressed again, but I cannot understand the instructions. I'll have to practice and see if I can learn by doing. I've had similar problems with most of your other diagrams. Second, I cannot find classic tailored clothing in stores and would love to see more articles on creating slacks, jackets and dresses in fabrics like wool flannel, boiled wool and wool jersey. These fabrics are now so expensive and I don't have a lot of time or patience, so I'm looking for tips to cut time and risk but still create garments with linings, pockets and conventional waistbands (no elastic!). Oh, yes, and I'm still using a 1970s Kenmore portable!

          2. Sue2000 | | #21

            Maybe a basics article can have a sidebar for more advanced techniques.

            I was thinking more the opposite... but maybe you meant a single basics article, I read this quickly and imagined all content being more basic with sidebars for advanced techniques...gasp!

            But the sidebar idea is good, it could be used for any article with the "for starters" theme someone mentioned from another magazine (not saying plagiarize!) to have instruction simplified or offer some basics for newer/returning sewers so they can get to the level of the article.

            Was the topstitching article made the cover article to attract more beginning sewers? It seems from the intro on this discussion that Threads is trying to get to more of them is that by making the magazine seem less advanced when they see it on display at the fabric store or bookstore? And if so does it concern you about losing more advanced sewers? As someone else said, the topstitching article (which I have already expressed my opinion on as the cover) could have offered new ways to use this in clothing... as well as how to perfect it -- but it didn't.  It reminded me of one of the articles you'd find in one of the pattern manufacturer's magazines.

          3. callie1 | | #36

                 I think the way to do it is to have articles that explain the basics and then show where you can go from there.  Like the topstitching could have gone much further.  Show a creative use of topstitching, maybe different threads, double or triple needle, some design examples, etc.  I found that article to be too bland.  Even when I was a beginner I wanted to see the most exciting, inspirational ideas I could find.  That's what attracted me to Threads and that's why I have years worth of back issues in my sewing room.  If I get stuck, browsing through some back issues is always good for inspiration. 

          4. quiltnut | | #47

            Hi All,

            I am also an "Oldie but Goody."  I really like Sew News and Threads.  I get them both. Like Deb, I feel that we should not forget the people who need help & we should always be willing to help them. (Interesting that I also worked in Healthcare.)

            I am getting a new embroidery/sewing machine in April. It has many more stitches on it than I have ever had on a machine.  I will be reading everything I can get my hands on, I am sure.  So, you can see, I will now be like a beginner in so many ways. I will be very busy.  I have been looking through the magazines I have for articles on embroidery machines and stabilizers, thread, etc.

            I love the sewing chat boards because people are so willing to help one another. Sorry if this was long winded.  Just wanted to have my say.


        2. GoodFibrations | | #52


          In my opinion, the novice as well as the "yet to be" sewists should definiely be a focus of the publication of Threads.  If we do not mentor this group then Threads Magazine will surely meet it's demise just we experienced sewists will.  Threads cannot depend only on the upwardly reaching community of people who sew, we need to inspire the non-sewing people begin.  I can think of no better group to foster creativity and an appreciation for quality in workmanship than Taunton Press. Excellence at every skill level is still excellence. (and a few of us may have some bad habits we need to break)

          1. Theodora | | #53

            I disagree with you because there are plenty of resources and publications available for entry level sewists. As their skills increase, they may find information and inspiration in Threads, and find in it something to aspire to. After all, what is wrong with having something to look up to? Threads raises the bar and asks us to improve our skills, or it did so in the past. I don't want Threads to simplify its approach to meet the needs of the beginning population. I want that population to meet higher expectations and challenges. This group is being mentored to quite adequately, whereas the serious sewists who want in-depth advanced inspiration, technique and creativity have had very little besides Threads to rely on. The beginner audience is currently very well served, and the intermediate/advanced audience is currently in danger of losing the best resource it has had access to.

          2. Bernie1 | | #54

            I'm with you, Theodora. I read Sew News for years. Believe me, young sewists today are getting a heck of a lot more mentoring than I ever did with nothing but a crummy Home Ec class and one class at a Singer Center where the teacher didn't even care what our projects looked like as long as she got paid. I sew because my grandma, my mom and my aunts did, on an old Singer that was converted to electricity. There was no American Sewing Guild and no Threads Magazine, no classes at the local fabric store and certainly no Expos to encourage my love of sewing.

          3. FitnessNut | | #55



        3. TJSEWS | | #58

          I like the balance Threads has now just the way it is. 

        4. User avater
          maddog3 | | #88

          Whew, thank you for that response, I was just about to give up on the possibility of getting into the discussion of beginners when I read your response - I think the wonderful world of sewing offers an abundance of information for all - sorry to all of you seasoned sewers but there are some of us here who still stumble in many areas and need guidance and encouragement. I am getting back into sewing after many years of being away from it and so many things have changed. I have admired your publication for years even though I have not had the time to create. I am now looking forward to starting up again and look forward to having a place to turn for assistance. Thank you -

          (my name is NOT maddog - I will figure out how to change that - thanks again -

          Chris G.

        5. Delores | | #180

          Thanks for including the run-of-mill sewers like me. I have been sewing for a lot of

          years but am mostly self-taught and the way I do things isn't always the best way

          so I appreciate the opportunity to improve my skills.

          I am sorry if we are beneath the notice of the expert sewers but it seems to

          me there should be room enough for us all. I really am not interested in the

          "arty" articles bit will happily read them if you have some for the plain

          sewer too which, I am happy to say, so far, you have. As for the suggestion

          that we suscribe to Sew New - I have and I didn't like it.

        6. Delores | | #181

          I just noticed the date on the message I responded to. Sorry, I , for

          the first time, read this site. My comments are way late.

          1. carolfresia | | #182

            Hi, Delores,

            This is an on-going discussion, so you're never too late!

            We have several goals in deciding on the content of the magazine. We want to provide inspiration, certainly, in the way of current fashion as well as art to wear, but we also want to offer the reader clear, useful technical information. There are many, many years of sewing experience among the Threads editors, and yet we still learn new ways to do standard things all the time. We want to share those techniques with you, to make your sewing faster, or neater, or easier, or just more pleasurable.


          2. jmr650 | | #183

            Hi Carol,

            I am also late to this discussion and do not have the time to read everything that has been said so I will stick to "just my opinion" and beg forgiveness for any repetiion.

            I have every issue ofThreads! I constantly reference your magazine as I evlove in my own design world.

            The review of what you should include or not include has occurred before and there have at times been changes that are less than perfect "in my mind". But then... I still read every page, review every technique and find that even if I will never specifically use an article, method or explore a particular design realm -- my mind expands and it opens to new approaches to my basic loves -- quilting and sewing for myself.

            Also, if you could only sit and look a "Threads" as a body of work, you would see that even as this wonderful magazine changes perioducally -- it gradually returns to the same basic theme. I think occasional reflection on editorial direction is needed but should not become a theme unto itself.

            I can understand that the "experts" do not like to be slowed down by the basics for beginners -- but we should never be so full of ourselves not to stop and review our beginnings. Sometimes we drift so far from the basics that we make a process more complicated or  less stable because we do not want to waste that time. I find even reading "antique" books on garment making can be very revolutionary for me.

            And those "novices" because they do not know everything, take the basics and take us all off into new approaches in design. They don't throw the rules away, they just haven't received a copy yet.

            And then there is the subject of keeping "Threads" alive in a very expensive and competitive market. Having had experience in running a large retail business, I know that a magazine must have a broader market than just the "experts". The bottom line is about numbers ($$$$) and you, as editor must constantly attract knew readers. There are simply not enough members in that exclusive "expert" group to keep "our" favorite magazine viable.

            And by the way after over forty years of sewing and hundreds of classes, I still only consider myself as an advanced intermediate -- there is to much to see and learn for me to be agrogant enough to feel "Threads should only address me.

            Hoping to recieve "Threads" till the end of time,


      3. carolfresia | | #6

        Nancy, your participation (and that of all the other participants in this discussion) is indeed very highly valued. However, after just nine days, we aren't quite ready to make publishing decisions based on it. We've scheduled to have this discussion and the accompanying polls continue for the next nine weeks, at which point, if it continues at this rate, we'll have set a Taunton record for "most reader input in the shortest period of time"!

        Seriously, though, we're blown away not just by the quantity of responses, but also by the thought behind the posts. It's great to know that you all care about the magazine, and we are paying close attention to what you say.


        Edited 3/11/2004 4:12 pm ET by CAROLFRESIA

        1. HC | | #39

          Hi, Carol.

          I'm writing on behalf of my teenage daughters who probably qualify as "novice" sewers. Of all the sewing projects they've tackled, the ones from Threads' "Quick to Make" articles are their favorites. So, I think QTM is one series you shouldn't drop or reduce if you want to appeal to novices! Those QTM projects were always more interesting to them than any other novice-type projects I proposed from other publications.

          Thanks for listening.


          1. carolfresia | | #40

            I'm delighted to hear that they've enjoyed the QTM projects. Have you seen the Taunton "Quick to Make" book? It's a compilation of a whole bunch of nifty projects from past issues. I'm not trying to sell you anything (I'm in editorial, not sales!), but wanted to mention the book because I think your daughters might like it.

            Based on the feedback we've received so far about QTM, I think the decision to cut the department will be reevaluated very soon. We're also keeping in mind, for a possible future special issue (one-time, newsstand-only), a collection of smaller projects such as those shown in QTM.


          2. Bernie1 | | #41

            Hey, Carol: FYI when I was in Barnes & Noble yesterday I checked out the craft section of the magazine rack - about 50 magazines were devoted to quilters and knitters and beadwork but only two - Threads and Vogue patterns - were out there for sewists. So if you want to expand your offerings for intermediate/advanced sewists, you could probably drop the stuff on quilting and not see a drop in readership.

          3. carolfresia | | #42

            That's what we've concluded, too. You'll notice less on quilting in future issues, but we'll continue to include quilt-related techniques that either are very unique and interesting, or are specifically applied to garments and home-decor items. The number of quilting magazines is pretty mind-boggling, but inspiring, too.


          4. MsMouse | | #64

            Dear Carol,

            Cheers to Threads for deciding to have less quilting articles! As I've said many times to our local PBS affiliates, quilting and garments sewing are two, distinctly different needle arts, and to think that they've satisified garment sewists by airing so many quilting programs is to miss a considerable segment of the sewing market.  When quilting techniques can be incorperated into wearable art, then it would be appropriate for an article in Threads

            As to beginner sewists, Threads already addresses that area with regular, recurring features such as Basics, Fitting, Tips and Questions.  I love Threads because it is the only source, known to me at least, that is there for us intermediate or advanced sewists, who want to stretch our sewing horizons.

            Beginner sewists would be better served to purchase one of the many excellent basic sewing books such as those published by Singer, Readers' Digests and others. They can preview them at the public library before making an investment.

            Thank you for offering an opportunity for your readers to contact you.

            A Threads devotee,

            Marilyn in MD

          5. HC | | #48

            Hi, Carol.

            Yes, we have the book too, and will purchase any other QTM publications you issue! Although I have almost all the issues with QTM, my daughters liked the idea of all the QTM's in one place (and frankly, I don't like them taunting me for reading articles with titles like "Clone Your Favorite Bra", etc. . . .)


    2. Sewbusy | | #31

      I've been sewing for 40 years and I have NEVER learned the basics of top-stitching in any class I've ever taken - they just said "stitch close to the edge". Pattern instructions just say "stitch close to the edge".  So I figured out some techniques for myself.  After all this time, I'm pretty good at it.  But I still read the article, and surprise, surprise, Pam Howard taught me a few things I didn't know.  On top of that, I've been told by many people that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for beginners is top-stitching. AND that the most obvious sign of a home-made garment is either missing or badly done top-stitching. So I think it was a very timely article.

  2. pdclose | | #5

    >We'd also like to reach those people who are either beginners, or are returning to sewing after a number of years away and need some refresher information.

    I thought that's what Sew News was for.  No, really I did!

    Have you considered that people move out of the beginning stage pretty quickly?  Perhaps this info is more suited to a regular column or two, or how about one issue a year focusing on beginners?

    I gave up Sew News because it was constantly focused on beginners.  I moved onto Threads pretty quickly and have stayed there.  Til now anyway.  If this is the magazine's new direction, then I'll have to give it up too.

    1. kayl | | #7

      I suspect there are ways to appeal to both the new(er) and

      experienced person in the same article... and I think Threads is

      probably doing it conciously in the last issue. For instance,

      Shirley Botsford's article on draping necklines -- draping is

      usually considered a rather advanced technique, but the article

      also illustrates getting different looks from a basic pattern.

      I know when I first started to sew, The Way The Pattern Did It

      was almost sacred, and I didn't see the ways a simple pattern

      could be altered with just a bit of work. Ditto the wrap front

      top article -- though I'd like to have seen a bit more detail

      on how you or the actual clothier decided some of the inner construction details, as it would have better fed my particular

      interest in improving my construction.

      I consider myself to be at an intermediate level of skills, maybe

      a bit toward the advanced end of intermediate, but I know that

      there are times when I've picked up a basic sewing book and have

      been surprised at the number of niceities I've somehow let slide

      along the way... and how the next project improved after that


      Kay Lancaster [email protected]

    2. carolfresia | | #8

      "I gave up Sew News because it was constantly focused on beginners.  I moved onto Threads pretty quickly and have stayed there.  Til now anyway.  If this is the magazine's new direction, then I'll have to give it up too."

      Fear not: we have no plans to turn the magazine into a primer for beginners. We're more interested in understanding how we can entice beginners to stretch themselves, to aim for the skill level that so many of you have already achieved. The "Basics" column is designed to provide basic info. for novices, but we certainly hope that experienced sewers will take a look and see if there's anything new for them (or, if they have an even better way to do something, to send it in to us as a letter).

      I recently heard from a woman who, after more than 20 years of garment sewing, had just learned what understitching was. To me, that was something that came in lesson two or maybe three...but you never know. I'll bet her sewing improved, and she was glad of it.


      1. ccrresch | | #12

        As I'm new to Gatherings I want to add my 2 cents worth. Being a returned novice when I started subscribing I didn't even then want "basic" articles - there are plenty of inexpensive books for that. I want inspiration, better and different ways to do things. I love to read about couture sewing although I'll never do it. I've really loved the articles in the past that reviewed designer's ideas and execution, as Marcy Tilton's with Armani and Issey Miyake.

        I agree with the comments on Sew News - great for beginners and b-o-o-o-ring (thankfully my subscription's lapsed). On the other hand, Threads is on my always renew list.


      2. dregan | | #13


        I am one who returned to sewing after about 25 years, and have to go slow due to severe pain, but am so glad I found your magazine right away.  I am so glad that the articles don't all just jump in at an area way over my head.  I have learned so much, but wouldn't have even tried new things if some basics weren't included in most articles.  I can't imagine ever being so arrogant or rude that I felt so much on top of the majority of sewers that I couldn't be put through a review of the few basics included.  I have been a Registered Nurse for 25 yrs. and can't ever imagine that I would be so irritated because I had to read articles or go to workshops that included a review of the basics so that others may learn!!!  I think the balance in your magazine is excellent and thank God it doesn't just speak to people at the top! If all of your articles were at a level that looked like I'd never be able to do the techniques in your magazine, I would have missed learning so many things they didn't teach in 4-H or Stretch and Sew in the early 80's.  I took one class in that, but otherwise , hadn't sewed since 1968 in 4-H!!!  What a lot of new neat things I would've missed. Thank you for letting me speak my mind!

        Thank you for all you do,

        Deb Regan

      3. Merryll | | #66

        I just stumbled upon this discussion and would like to echo those who enjoy seeing articles for all levels of sewers in Threads.

        I am greatly concerned about the lack of good sewing instruction available to those who would love to learn if only they knew where to go.  Sewing instruction certainly is not available in most junior and senior high schools today. Young girls (and guys!) love to look current and fab, and those who know how to produce those results through their own creative efforts are fortunate. But where do they go for inspiration and basic knowledge? Especially if they don't have examples in their homes.

        Beginning sewing knowledge is not only for the young.  I hear many women whose bodies have changed as they've aged seek help in fitting and adapting clothes and patterns.  They say if they could sew they'd do it themselves. And their problems are not limited to fit.  Appealing styles can be difficult to find. I still can hear my 84-year-old mother's plaintive wails about not being able to find anything she likes in stores.

        I've mentioned in another discussion that the latest statistics I've seen (and they may be out of date, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong) say that the greatest increase in sewers is by professional women who sew for relaxation.  I fit in that category, and I've seen similar comments by others here. Yet if Threads only feeds our needs and desires, who will come after us?  More important, what resources will be available to us?

        In the 1970s, I remember shopping on W. 57th Street in New York City just off Fifth Ave., and within two blocks there were many incredible fabric shops. There was one in particular that had such beautiful things their fabric was in cases behind glass, and I was too timid to ask to touch any (all sewers know you must touch fabric to "see" it). By the mid-90s along this same stretch there were only three fabric stores, one had moved upstairs, and the store with fabric behind glass was long gone.  Today there are none, and the only sewing resource along this stretch is a venerable notions store which probably does more catalogue business than anything else. Any surviving stores have moved primarily to the Garment District.  My point is that good fabric resources used to be all over.

        Why the disappearance? They aren't as viable comercially because people aren't sewing like they used to. If the best sewing magazine out there, with the greatest illustrations, pictures, and most appealing graphics and writing can't intrigue and inspire new sewers in some small measure, we may be in danger of losing more than our fast-disappearing good local fabric resources. We have a duty, IMO, to pass along our passion and our knowledge and our inspiration. The "Basics" column and an occasional article for beginners are the least we should do.


        1. Theodora | | #67

          "We have a duty, IMO, to pass along our passion and our knowledge and our inspiration. The "Basics" column and an occasional article for beginners are the least we should do."

          I agree with this sentiment. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are many many many resources out there who address the needs to this population. It doesn't have to be in Threads. Think of Threads as something for the beginner to aim for. Check your local public library, and look at the Singer series of sewing reference, etc. Look at SewNews magazine. Look at the many introductory manuals to sewing now being published. There is a very large amount of this material available.

          There are NOT adequate resources for info, inspiration, and expertise that we used to find in Threads, for the intermediate and advanced sewist. Threads was one of precious few things we had to turn to. I think a "Basics" column and a very very very occasional article for beginners is the MOST Threads should do.

          1. ElonaM | | #68

            I think an ongoing basics column is a useful idea; most good crafts magazines run something like that . The subject of basic sewing, however, is really immense, and better addressed by videos, classes, or books. If threads started running long articles about turning up a hem or easing in a sleeve, I'd probably lose interest in the magazine really fast.

            That said, however, I bet there are certain basic but important techniques that are inadequately covered by the above resources, on which Threads could do an article without boring the poo out of us more exeperienced sewists. I'm referring to questions like the best ways to apply binding or trim to necklines, or ways to prevent knits from stretching when you're trying to hem them. These two, for example, are topics I see popping up again and again on sewing boards, indicating that there are a LOT of people who need help with them. Of course, these subjects have in fact been covered by older Threads articles, but newbies wouldn't know that.

            Perhaps someone at Threads could do an analysis on the frequency of certain questions to help discover what techniques readers most often ask about.

          2. Michelle | | #69

            I would like to point out a certain inconsistency in trying to obtain a consensus from one group about another group. 

            In this case, the majority of the subscribers to this discussion group are intermediate/advanced level sewers, (try taking a poll) who would most obviously prefer an 'advanced level' input from 'Threads Magazine.'

            Since beginner level sewers have less representation in this group, I doubt that one would achieve an objective balance of readership input. 



          3. Merryll | | #72

             "...there are many many many resources out there who address the needs to this [beginning sewing] population."

            Theodora, I see this statement made over and over, and IMO, it is correct only to an extent.  Let's take a closer look.

            When most of us were beginning to sew, sewing resources were widespread. Most communities had good local fabric stores where we could find inspiration, sewing was taught in junior and senior high schools, the scouts had sewing badges (which I hear were recently re-introduced), and such national organizations as the 4-H had well-recognized sewing programs and competitions. Even local public schools offered a wide range of sewing classes in evening programs for adults. There was greater awareness of sewing as a hobby and skill, and greater general awareness of where to go to learn. 

            Today there are far fewer such resources. To their credit, 25 years ago when this problem was recognized, good fabric stores started sponsoring terrific sewing classes, and most do it today. They offer a wide range of classes for beginners, some even offering sewing camps for teens during the summer. But the fact remains there are fewer and fewer places for a potential sewer to find inspiration and instruction.

            To say that one can go to a library and check out a book is true, but first there must be the inspiration to get them there.  If teens don't grow up with a mother or other family member who sews, and their friends don't do it, how are they influenced to acquire the skill?  Inspiration to learn is hard to find unless one picks up a good-looking magazine at a place one regularly frequents, or one is fortunate enough to have a fine fabric store within reach.  Many would agree that the general fabrics available at such widespread stores as Hancock Fabrics are not as inspirational as those at Wachter's Silk, Banksville, Josephine Dry Goods, and the other top fabric stores across the country. I think one must see fine fabrics, wonderful sewing creations and discussions of the newest products and techniques to be inspired to learn to sew. All are readily available in Threads.

            Go to your average Barnes & Noble Bookstore and peruse the magazine racks. There are stacks of magazines on knitting, crafting and quilting, but besides Threads and Sew News, there are virtually no other publications on sewing. And no sewing shows now on HGTV. I appreciate your statement that Threads is the only publication for intermediate and advanced sewers, but it also must, IMO, dedicate some space to beginners and those returning to the fold, since those folks and their potential numbers far outnumber intermediate and advanced sewers.  If beginners can't find even a bit of useful information in this magazine, it's a pretty barren wasteland for them.  Ditto the books for beginners, and especially the uninspirational "easy" patterns. Good sewing resources must be as mainstream as possible for sewing to remain viable.


          4. cafms | | #81

            Have you really checked the library shelves lately?  At my library the few resources are pretty dated.    I have mentioned this to the staff and they have indicated they will look for newer books but doubt much will change with funding short.  Our sewing guild has discussed making donations.  

          5. Merryll | | #82

            Cafms, I haven't been to the library, but the reason I mentioned it is because many of the posts from advanced sewers in this thread who are opposed to basics being featured in the magazine direct beginners to the library.  I was suspicious there weren't many inspirational sewing books on the shelves, but thought perhaps in was just in my neck of the woods. Frankly, even when I was learning to sew back in the days of Home Ec in schools, sewing books were boring, boring, boring. And most of what I see today in bookstores is equally uninspiring.

            My point is that beginning sewers must be inspired.  Inspiration takes many forms--for me it's great fabric, hanging with other sewers in a wonderful fabric store (why is it they don't serve coffee in there for those of us seeking inspiration?!), snoop shopping for clothes I want to duplicate, reading this forum, watching wonderful teaching videos, collecting great sewing books and reading Threads. Threads is available in many local bookstores, and its beautiful illustrations, great production values, glossy stock and four-color photos are attractive enough to catch the eye of potential sewers.

            Since Threads is so inspirational, why not direct a bit of ink to people wanting to learn or brush up on the basics? I think there's little else out there to fill this need. Notice I'm saying a little bit of space. Bibliographies can provide further assistance and direction. Or perhaps an annual article on great ways to pick up sewing skills.


          6. Elisabeth | | #84

            We can always put in requests for new books to the libraries. They do listen to their patrons and they probably won't know or think to buy a new or updated good sewing book without some help from veteran sewers.


          7. MsMouse | | #85

            We can always put in requests for new books to the libraries. They do listen to their patrons and they probably won't know or think to buy a new or updated good sewing book without some help from veteran sewers. E.

            There are also Interlibrary Loans.  If you know a book title and/or its ISBN, your local library can order it from another library for you. Here in MD there is no charge for this service.  Many times I have previewed books that way before making a purchase. That's how I chose Carol Ahles's book on machine embellishments, by comparing hers with a couple of others on the same topic.

            With regard to whether Threads should include articles for beginning sewists, perhaps Taunton Publications should do some organized market research to see if there's a need for a magazine devoted to the beginner.  If the discussions here are any indication, there might be a market for such a magazine. Personally, I hope Threads will maintain its focus on the intermediate/advanced sewist.

            Thanks for having a forum where we readers of Threads can have input.

            Marilyn in MD





          8. pdclose | | #87

            Marilyn wrote:"With regard to whether Threads should include articles for beginning sewists, perhaps Taunton Publications should do some organized market research to see if there's a need for a magazine devoted to the beginner."

            Speaking of beginner resources... I picked up what I thought was Sew News today at Joanns and was surprised to see a different Sew News on the stands right next to the one I was looking at.  I turned to the front of the magazine that I was holding, and discovered that I was actually perusing the brand new "Clotilde Sewing Savvy Magazine".  While it did focus on more home dec and quick-to-make accessories, I found it otherwise indistinguishable from Sew News.  I sure hope Threads can continue to do better than that!


          9. pdclose | | #76

            "[There are adequate resources out there for beginning sewers but] There are NOT adequate resources for info, inspiration, and expertise that we used to find in Threads, for the intermediate and advanced sewist. "

            I'd add that there are not adequate resources for INSPIRATION for beginning, especially younger, sewers out there either.  There are certainly plenty of resources on the basics, the nuts and bolts, if you will, but it's all pretty dry and boring.  Even the Threads "basics" articles are pretty boring (and often "preachy"), imho.  What makes my 9 year old neighbor want to sew is when she sees something cool on her current idol and someone (her mother or me) tells her she can do that herself for pretty cheap and not a big investment of time.  A slashed, stabilized, and beaded t-shirt is her latest thing, and she completed that one this weekend.

            So perhaps Threads should be thinking along the lines of the disappearing "Quick to Make" feature, but gear it to younger readers at least some of the time with cool fadish sewing projects.  Sneak the "basics" in with the fun!

            In both my experience and my research, I've found the "teach them sewing" crowd has forgotton how to have fun and inspire -- how to sneak in the learning as opposed to hammering it home with those long, boring articles about, say, topstitching, for example. :-)  That one put me to sleep.  I flipped to the end to see if they did anything cool with the topstitching, but the article stopped with the basics well covered and didn't branch out.  Sad imo.

          10. KarenW | | #77

            "Since beginner level sewers have less representation in this group, I doubt that one would achieve an objective balance of readership input"

            Good point!  Do we even know that beginning/novice/returning sewers KNOW about Threads???

            "I'd add that there are not adequate resources for INSPIRATION for beginning, especially younger, sewers out there either.  "

            I agree.  Though RTW (and so much else) is so much more affordable now than when I learned to sew due to imports, one way may be to let beginning sewers know they can HAVE something that may have been otherwise unattainable - I sewed like a fiend soon as I learned because I'd been dying to learn but I'd also not have been able to afford many clothes or the formals I made had I not learned.  There must be things that kids still can't afford - but could if they made them!But I think the point about inspiration is key here for younger sewers... whether or not most on this forum are int./adv. sewers, there's no point having beginning info in Threads if we can't get the beginners TO Threads in the first place!  You could have the greatest fabric store in the world but if someone had no idea what they could make from what was inside, they may never pass through the door.

              Maybe the thinking should be along the lines of how to infiltrate the media they do pay attention to in order to get sewing "in their face".  My daughter's outgrown American Girl and doesn' t really read other magazines, maybe I should flip through next time I'm at the newsstand, but there are plenty of magazines targeted to kids/teens and those are places where they could be exposed to this as a fun/get-what-you-want activity.... maybe Threads writers could even do articles for that (as if you don't already have a full time job!).   In the "olden days", women's general interest magazines featured sewing related articles and SM ads.  While admittedly, sewing was more a skill that was expected then (i.e. 20s-50s), the inspiration was in their face even when they were looking for a new recipe for dinner.

            Now presuming we've gotten some less experienced/returning sewers to Threads who need some refreshment, instead of adding to the "Basics" section, what about keeping the technical level high as requested through this topic, but including a "pull out" section that could cover more basic instruction for the projects/techniques covered in the issue?  Could be on less expensive paper, with holes to create a Threads "basics" (for lack of better description!) notebook.   No need to "dumb down" and disappoint the more advanced, but the less experienced may not feel overwhelmed like something they SEE is really undo-able for them....


          11. sarahnyc | | #78

            reading through these posts have raised an interesting point for me.. clothes used to be expensive.. actually borth in RTW as well as home made.. fabric was expensive. so even as recently as when I was a kid you could save considerable cash by sewing your own - that just isn't true for most RTW...

            just in my own experience.. i live in new york had have access to clothing warehouses. It usually costs me less to buy something in a store - if we are talking about basics like the fitted black tshirt I'm wearing right now that cost 3 for $10 for not bad quality - what is worth my time, to sew is the sort of clothing that sells in art to wear or not quite art to wear clothing store.. the april cornel /j.jill sorts of clothing.. that type of clothing is really pricy in the stores but costs me next to nothing to make. i think to attract younger or novice sewers we need to show how that sort of unstructured /arty clothing is relatively easy to make. I used to buy at a local store called liberty house a wonderful store for grown up ex hippies.. the clothing is beautiful - but now that I sew I almost never buy anything there.. even at 70% off.. i can make myself an elastic waisted skirt in wool for about 8 bucks.. so i wouldn't buy it at $30 (and 70% off at that)

            I have gotten my DD into embellishing her cothing.. so for a few minutes time she has a pair of jeans similar or more interesting than the ones she sees in the catalogs for $80.

            sarah in nyc

  3. punky | | #9

    Hi. I'm one of those novice/advanced beginners; I've been sewing off and on since I was 10 years old; I took a 15 year break and, once I got married, decided I needed stress-relief and started sewing again. I've never taken a sewing class, since my mother taught me the basics of sewing. I have been a Threads reader for at least a couple of years (I can't remember when I initially subscribed, since I'm writing this at work.) I have learned so much from Threads, particularly from the articles about the basics; Threads has also given me the courage to try making simple clothes (t-shirts and skirts) without using patterns. That was a big step for me!  Anyway, this long-winded missive is really to say that I think the balance is just right: a little beginner, a little advanced; while some of the articles about couture are really over my head, I believe that eventually I'll be able to use the techniques described. One thought, tho, I'd love to see articles about sewing clothes for men (or even pattern reviews on men's clothing); I like sewing for my husband.

    Tracy (aka Punky)

    1. Susannah | | #10

      Hi Carol

      One of the things I have liked about Threads is articles that give some basic information, and expand on it.  There was one some time ago on bound buttonholes, which gave about 5 examples of different effects.  The article was well written, and was appropriate for someone who was starting out (I used it for the first bound buttonholes I ever made) but also gave some interesting design ideas that certainly extended skills and provided some interesting challenges.  The article not only gave me enough info on basic technique, but inspired me to make the lips for the buttonhole out of a contrasting fabric (which was really effective).

      I know Threads cannont be all things to all sewers, but articles like this do provide an opportunity to illustrate a basic technique, and to provide extension work for those who have already mastered the basics but might want to expand on skills/design.

      Likewise, the godets article provided some good info.  The technique aspects were not too difficult (and I think could have been replicated by a relative novice), but the design ideas in the article do seem to have hit a chord with quite a lot of readers (myself included).

      I love reading Threads, love browsing through "gatherings", have no time for digitised embroidery.

      Keep up the good work

      Sue from Tasmania

      1. JanineW | | #79

        What I like about Threads is that is shows me the possibilities and to think "outside the box" What I like about Sew News is that it reminds of all those basics that I learned many years ago. That is why I subscribe to both. I learn from both and hope that Threads continues to inspire me!

        1. Susannah | | #80

          Hi Janine

          I have seen some copies of SewNews here in Australia.  It seems to be very similar to Australian Stitches, and I agree with your comments about Threads.  Because it is imported, SewNews is quite expensive here, and so I am happy to buy the local product for the basics (selecting issues that have articles that specifically interest me).  With Australian Stitches retailing for less than half the price of Sewnews, you can probably understand why!  There is, unfortunately, no cheaper local version of Threads, and I think it is worth the extra.  By subscribing, I get it earlier, and generally it is cheaper to get it this way (although I last renewed my subscription when the Australian dollar had a less favourable exchange rate against the US dollar than it currently does).

          Threads really does encourage a more creative approach, but I also find the technique articles invaluable, as they take me beyond the basics.


          Sue in Tasmania

      2. Elizabeth | | #109

        I am one of those returning "over 40's", now finding a little more time to sew and improve my skills. So thank you Threads for all the articles

        and tips on fitting which have helped me with pattern alteration and to begin drafting my own patterns. I have also enjoyed those articles

        which have given ideas on how to extend or modify a simple design or idea

        such as the new "Fabrications" articles. Meanwhile I can read about and admire the haute couture techniques and perhaps aspire to these one day.

        I would be very disappointed if Threads were to become a magazine for

        advanced sewers only.

        Suggestions from rjf concerning the format of her weaving magazine may be worth thinking about.

        Liz from Trinidad

  4. caribjewel | | #11

    Hi Carol!

    You have no idea how happy I am to see your post!  I have been searching the 'Net for some guidance on hand sewing garments.  Is this the essence of haute couture [along with the high fashion and classic elegance, of course]? If so, how do I begin? What tools do I need? If not, how do I get beginners infornation on hand sewing?


    1. carolfresia | | #24

      Hi, Carib Jewel,

      Welcome to Gatherings. Gosh...where to start on haute couture?! That's not my area of expertise, alas, but what I'm going to do is start a new discussion thread on it for you--if you post your questions there, you might well get answers from some of our members who've got experience.

      Look under "General Sewing" for "Couture sewing"


  5. Lindy | | #14

    Count me in (okay, okay I'm slightly over 40!)

    1. DanielleT | | #15

      Threads is certainly an inspiring read.  I sew competently, but have never developed a true understanding of what I am doing, like a previous writer more-or-less slavishly following pattern instructions.  I have occasionally altered patterns for design and for fit, and I have made complex items.  But, in some ways I still consider myself undeducated!  For example the article on draping - it would have helped me to know what exactly was meant by draping (I figured it out, but don´t know how it is really supposed to work...).  I get Threads in order to challenge myself and educate myself, but sometimes I do find that I could never live up to the expectations that are assumed (Inspired by articles about good fit I am currently makine a muslin of a piece, something I have only done once before, and have discovered that I do not like the way the sleeves fit... in the past I would have made the garment directly and worried about the misfit later... problem of course is that I am not sure what to do about my sleeve problem!  Is there an online "help-desk"?!). 

      One thing that could be included to appeal to novices is a glossary of terms used in each issue, a refresher for many of us.  This could be an on-line feature, I suppose, but I really hate being sent to the computer while I am actually poring over the mag...


      1. tcsewhat | | #16

        Now I was excited when I received the most recent Threads and saw the cover.  I love topstitching!  And I was hoping to learn something new. I use it a great deal on my clothes and was hoping for new information. But the article gave only the basics.  Maybe a basics article can have a sidebar for more advanced techniques.  I would have loved more photos or drawings of possibilities for using topstitching in garments.  ideas on quality threads and where to get them, looks you can get with different threads, what altering the stitch does to the topstitching, etc.

        I think that we do need to work on inspiring and bringing in more sewers.  If that means giving some focus to the needs of beginners, then I am all for it. 

        Look at what knitting has done lately by making itself so accessible.  there are stores that can't keep certain kinds of yarn in stock.  it flies off the shelves as soon as they unpack it.  And it is mostly beginners knitting simple scarves. This industry  and craft is growing because they nurtured beginners. Maybe we can learn something from that.

      2. carolfresia | | #25

        Hi Danielle,

        I'll pass along your request re: the glossary. That's something that we've discussed more than once here....but it always gets jettisoned because we have a limited number of pages in the magazine and they seem to fill up very quickly!


        1. Sewbusy | | #32

          I don't think anybody would complain if there were more pages....:>

  6. rjf | | #17

    The weaving magazine I get has some standard categories which help address the various abilities of readers.  There's one called "For Starters" which has fairly easy projects with detailed directions and the projects cover a wide range of weaving techniques and are good looking when done.  There's another called "The Weekend Weaver"...not necessarily easy, but fast.  And there's something called "Beginner's Corner", which has very basic information and never changes.  The rest of the articles deal with more advanced weaving.  It seems to be a well-balanced magazine, something for all weavers.  And having been a beginning weaver when I first started getting the magazine, I can attest to how useful all those articles were. And motivating!  I like the feeling I get from this magazine...it treats both the reader and the subject with respect.

    And I think Threads does the same thing.  Many people have said Sew News is for beginners so Threads shouldn't have "beginner" material but every magazine should have something basic to be complete.  When the editors decide what they're going to cover (with our help!), I hope they'll include one article per issue called "Outside the box" where they cover something different from all the other articles.      rjf

    1. SewTruTerry | | #18

      OK here are my 2 cents worth.  I really enjoy all of the articles in Threads as well as Sew News.  I am what you might call a beginning Professional? I have my own sewing business and have had it for 7 years now.  I have been sewing since I was 5 years old and I think I knew more than the home ec teacher.  So you know that I am over 40 . 

      I really appreciate the articles in Threads and get alot out of them including anything that at first glance appears to be for beginners.  As we all know there are many ways of achieving our goals and being satified with the results.  After all we can make a shirt or blouse so that it looks like something that we bought at the local department store but what if we want to have a blouse that looks like we bought it at the fancy and expensive boutique down the block.  I think that taking a basic idea and adding on to it and exploring all of the possibilities is what I like the most about Threads.  I would love to see more articles about the artistic process as well as the actual mechanics of doing the project.  I also love articles that are so inspiring that I have to put the magazine down right away and try it out.

  7. AmyC | | #22

    I know I've posted my opinion before, but I'm going to give it again :>

    I guess I'm an intermediate sewer.  I learned to sew from my Mom, but didn't get serious about it until a few years ago, when my son was born.   From the other posts here, I must be an intermediate sewer, because I find Sew News incredibly boring. :> 

    For me, reading Threads is a real paradox -  I always look forward to getting the magazine, and then I'm disappointed that it's not a 'good read', the way Fine Gardening or Gourmet can be.   But I've kept all of my Threads, and I browse them periodically, and I've realized I've learned a tremendous amount about sewing from Threads. 

    I totally agree that the best articles mix beginning and advanced techniques, like the article that someone mentioned on bound buttonholes.  The buttonholes in the photographs accompanying the article were so beautiful I wanted to learn how to do it. I still haven't made a bound buttonhole, but I used the technique to do some reverse applique on a quilt and was very happy with the results.  

    As far articles on very basic skills go...the only one I benefited from was about starting a straight seam.   The article showed the sewer starting her seam on a piece of scrap fabric, rather than on the fashion fabric, so that if what I call the 'bobbin booger' forms, it will be on the scrap fabric.  Maybe that was in my basic books, but I don't remember it..

    Lastly, sometimes reading Threads is discouraging because it seems like only people with degrees in fashion or who have been obsessively sewing since they could thread a needle can produce beautiful clothes.

    So my 'novice' suggestions boil down to:

    a) Don't rehash what a beginner can learn from a basic book like what Singer puts out, but please do give articles showing novices tricks for doing a better job with those basics..maybe a "best practices" column?

    b) Please continue to use lots of gorgeous photos.  They are very inspiring!

    c) Wherever possible, mix beginning and advanced techniques.  I like the idea of beginner oriented sidebars in the advanced technique sections, and expert sidebars in the easy technique sections.

    d) Give us a wider range of things to read...interviews with designers? Fabric shopping somewhere exotic, like Taiwan?  Visits to fabric mills?  A friend of mine told me about a charity that bought sewing machines for widows in India..they start small businesses and change their life...it would be nice to hear about stories like that..

    e) Keep writing 'empowering' articles! I can't tell you how much it helped to learn that I don't have to follow the directions on a pattern!


    1. KarenW | | #23

      Amy, I think you deserve the creative sewing term award for "bobbin boogers".  It is one I shall never forget!  Just last night I showed a beginning student how to avoid this and I wish I'd had that term!  BTW, you don't need a scrap of fabric if you hold your top/bobbin threads to the back when you start your seam.  This was a real revelation for this young lady.

      This whole topic about beginning/returning sewers and trying to include them as readers can be addressed from so many angles as we've already seen...

      Is Threads going to go directly to sewers they perceive/determine to be beginners/returning based on their other purchasing/reading habits to solicit their readership... then be sure there is material at the appropriate levels for when they do subscribe?  Is the focus mainly on attracting them at the newsstand with articles featured on the cover such as improving a basic (from my perspective) skills such as topstitching?   Depending on how/where they're learning they may not even be aware of the sewing magazines in print "out there".  Can beginning/returning sewers be "lumped" together?  I have loved sewing since before I learned to do it (by ogling the work of others!), but after sewing for about 15 yrs. a really awful sewing machine had me slow down the amount I did to virtually stopping altogether except as necessary.  I had that thing for 10 years and when I bought a new machine and started again, I discovered Threads.... I knew I had to relearn/update a lot but I didn't find the magazine intimidating as I still had basics to build on - I'd think that would differentiate the returning sewer from the beginner and thus how you'd address the new readers you're trying to attract.

      I wouldn't want any of the content less challenging but sidebars for the less experienced sewer to get "up to speed" so they'd be ready for the technique/design featured would be an excellent idea.  Or what about a Threads Basics magazine?  Burda World of Fashion does something like this, I think it comes out once a year.  Subscribe to Threads and get Basics so you're ready to roll with the rest of the Threads readers.   The Vogue and Butterick pattern magazines have really good articles for less experienced sewers (not sure about McCall's and Simplicity), though from letters to the editor it appears that many have been sewing for a long time but are still getting a lot out of those articles...maybe those are the ones most likely to want their sewing "kicked up a notch" by moving up to Threads.   Though it's not a huge number of people in the class, I'm in a beginning class at a jr. college that covers a wide age range.  A couple are there for re-teaching having learned long ago though they continued to sew a lot.  From what I've seen of those that are truly beginners, I personally wonder if even the sidebars discussed would be sufficient for Threads not to be overwhelming for them....the lure might be more of a fashion slant and how you can easily do it yourself to give the perception of "do-able" at a stage when they think so much is still over their heads.  But there again is the challenge of precariously balancing something that is do-able for the beginner without being boring to the more advanced. 

      It will be interesting to see the direction taken to bring these younger and/or less sewing experienced readers into the fold....


      1. carolfresia | | #26

        What a lot of good suggestions! Our goal in the magazine isn't really to aim for only beginning sewers, but we would like them to feel welcome, respected, and encouraged whenever possible. I think Karen might be on to something with the idea of using a fashion slant to entice "younger" readers, although don't expect a lot of exposed midriffs in future issues!

        The topstitched raincoat was chosen for many reasons, the first of which is that it's a sharp-looking, classic garment that young or old could easily wear. Among the things we consider when choosing a cover are: how it will look among competing magazines on the newsstand, how it relates to the previous issue we put out, season, fashion, how the photography looks...and a lot of other things. The cover, in addition to giving a sneak preview of the contents, is (when it's on the newsstand) also product packaging, and so it's important to try for a cover that's eye-catching in a positive way. Putting the raincoat on the cover doesn't mean that we think topstitching was the "most important" story in this issue, just that we thought this particular topstitched coat looked great.


        1. Sewbusy | | #34

          The article in the current issue showing 3 different interpretations of a single pattern was really interesting and perhaps that technique could be used to appeal to a broad audience.  Instead of just showing how 3 different people chose to make the pattern, have one be a basic, follow-the-pattern model, one that's intermediate, maybe with some decorative techniques or more difficult fabric and the third be advanced and show how to adapt the pattern to achieve a more couture look, with guidelines and techniques for what was done on each version.

          1. Iris_Colo | | #35

            I like that idea (multiple versions of a garment sewn by various levels of sewer) for getting the beginners covered but offering the more detailed/intricate/imaginative versions for the predominant readership [intermediate to advanced to professional]

            I really don't think aiming for beginners is the route for the magazine to go, not that you've said you're headed in that direction.  But, the preponderance of commentary I've read here has definitely said keep the article/knowledge level at intermediate at a minimum and concentrate mostly on the advanced and inspiring techniques which we have all come to know and love. 

            We want the magazine to challenge us, to give us something to aim for and to inform us in new and original ways.... or in ways from the past which represent the very best of sewing techniques and offer us examples of the most stylish and enduring designs.  Another plug for more of the "Delicious Details" or "In Detail" articles.

            In depth studies of museum pieces inside and out (akin to what Janet Arnold does) would be something I think we would all love to see!!  You don't have to go to the V & A to find luscious gowns and magnificent suits ... there are plenty of museums here in the US which contain two and a half even three centuries worth of inspirational garments.

            I'll stop here.... I'm sure you're getting our message.

            Oh... PS.... Can you tell us how the article subject matter is decided upon?  Do you take outside article submissions from writers or do the staff writers do almost all of the writing?  How much travel is involved for all of you there at Threads and does that determine in any way what gets covered by the magazine?  Just curious about the process and if you're wanting some actual input and inspiration from us aside from entries in the challenges.

          2. carolfresia | | #38

            Iris asked:

            Oh... PS.... Can you tell us how the article subject matter is decided upon?  Do you take outside article submissions from writers or do the staff writers do almost all of the writing?  How much travel is involved for all of you there at Threads and does that determine in any way what gets covered by the magazine?  Just curious about the process and if you're wanting some actual input and inspiration from us aside from entries in the challenges.


            We select the subjects based mostly on article proposals submitted by authors--sometimes authors we've worked with before, sometimes new authors (so yes, we do count on ideas from readers who also want to be authors!). Occasionally we'll solicit a proposal from someone we meet when we're out on the road at shows, but quite a lot of the proposals are simply sent to us by people who love to sew. We editors visit authors when it's called for, for example if we need to take process photos (there's an article on the website about "the author visit" that shows what happens during a trip), but some articles are done at long distance, with lots of email, phone calls, and FedExed packages of samples. The makeup of each issue is determined so that each magazine contains a mix of technical articles, design/pattern manipulation articles, some surface design, and a tool or product overview (which includes the pattern review)....we try to keep a reasonably balanced diet, but given that there are lots and lots of areas to cover, we can't get everything into each issue.

            And the worst part of it is, every month we come up with some new feature or department we want to put in the magazine, and always have to debate the use of the real estate!


          3. Hansi | | #89

            I like your idea of having beginning, intermediate and advanced applications of the same idea.  A few issues back they had an "If you see it, can you sew it" article where they did something similiar.  I'm a novice sewer and I enjoyed reading all three sections.


    2. kjp | | #28

      I am reading with interest the many responses to this question.  I don't think many novice sewers gravitate toward Threads, but intermediate sewers do.  I am sometimes bored by the basics articles, but do read them and realize that bad habits can develop over the years, especially if a technique isn't used often.  I have saved my advanced clothing construction samples & techniques from 15 years ago, and still refer to them when I need to do something. 

      I am not a "creative" sewer or textile artist, but I really enjoy the articles & techniques and the way Threads has presented them over the years.  I think "advanced basics" are important and I often refer back to your techniques when approaching an outfit using an expensive or unfamiliar material.  I think I memorized your sewing sheer silks article from a few years back & have a gorgeous top to show for it.  I may try more artistic sewing in the future, but right now, like many moms & working sewers, time necessitates practical sewing.  The fit articles are wonderful. 

      Please, please, please don't gravitate too much to the novice sewer - keep the fabric art & advanced techniques in Threads!  As for the topstitching article - somewhat boring.  Would have liked more creative ideas for including topstiching in garments in unusual ways along with the basics.  Karin

  8. RParrill | | #27

    I read Threads because I expect it to do a couple of things for me. First, I want to be inspired. I want the articles to be springboards for ideas. Even if I don't follow the article exactly, I can trace an element in my project to a small nugget of information I have scrounged off the pages of Threads. Second,

    I expect Threads to be on the cutting edge of construction and innovation. I need new stuff, all the time. I need challenges and problems to solve. I need Threads to give me this fix like a drug.

    I am 28. I started reading Threads in the tiny library of my small town sometime in the late 1980's. I took Home Ec, and was a smarty pants to my teacher because I thought I knew more. I had one friend who sewed then, and know no one besides my sister who sews now. I have taught upholstery and drapery classes in the past and here is what I know of novice sewers... Sewing is not for everyone. Some people love it, some people cry because they find it stressfull. I think the people who are drawn to Threads want the challenge. If they don't understand something, that's a perfect opportunity to go on and educate themselves. Buy a book, get some cheap fabric and experiment. We all know the only way to really become proficient at sewing is to do it and pay your dues. If you want to draw in younger sewers, appeal to their needs, not their sewing level. Feature fashion forward ideas and instructions. Keep things new and innovative. Feature how to knock off trends and save money. The people who are worthy will come, the others will stash away their mistakes and go on to something else.

  9. Bernie1 | | #29

    Why not try to run a list of sources/stores that offer beginner and intermediate sewing classes? You could include their web addresses/phone numbers. There's nothing like having an instructor to look at your work, critique and make you better.

    1. Theodora | | #30

      I am reading lots of excellent points in this thread, and my general attitude supports Threads continuing to be a publication that shows advanced techniques, advanced work, inspiration, creativity, originality, excellence. And I am willing to pay a premium price for it.

      I don't support the inclusion of any more material aimed at the basic sewing audience. There are plenty of resources out there for that community. There are not enough resources for the other, advanced end of the spectrum. Beginners are always welcome to learn from Threads, and take a step up in their progress. Increasingly over the past couple years, as I've finished and issue of the magazine, I put it down thinking, "Absolutely nothing new here for me." If the magazine shifts toward more basic material, it will no longer be a worthwhile purchase for me.

  10. Rozzy | | #33

    I'm interested in "new" sewing.  I started sewing again two years ago after a 35 year hiatus.  I need detailed information about "what's new."  I've been picking up modern sewing as I go along, but a more systematic approach would ease my clutziness.  Thank you.

  11. becksnyc | | #37

    I agree that both novice and advanced sewing can be covered in one magazine, it's the balance of the two that matters to me.  I read Threads cover-to-cover, including the basics, even though I've been sewing for 25 years, 14 full time as a business.

    The Basics column is excellent.  No harm done reviewing what we think we already know!  Sometimes we're wrong, or sometimes the way the column is written helps me to explain basic concepts more clearly to my sewing students.

    I agree that even the deepest articles, if well-written, can enlighted novice and experienced alike.  It is a matter of defining unfamiliar terms (where space allows) and including both simple and complex examples of a given technique.

    If you want to draw young people to the magazine, why not occasionally feature a youthful model on the cover with a trendy garment using a technique from one of the articles?  It's a visual generation, and a picture will draw the youthful eye to the magazine.  Just don't make teeny-bobber projects a regular feature.  Once a year or so, profile a young fiber artist--age isn't important to the rest of us, if the work is inspiring.  And then have Taunton Press produce a book based on the Basics column, advertise it heavily in each issue with an eye catching photo of a young sewer.  Produce a special additional issue that targets young people, and offer it (and the Basics book) to schools at a discount (or free--cigarette makers have used this technique for decades--look how many are hooked.  Threads is addictive, too, just not harmful to your health! ;-)

    My 52 cents,  BecksNYC

    1. pdclose | | #50

      BecksNYC wrote: "If you want to draw young people to the magazine, why not occasionally feature a youthful model on the cover with a trendy garment using a technique from one of the articles?  It's a visual generation, and a picture will draw the youthful eye to the magazine.  Just don't make teeny-bobber projects a regular feature.  Once a year or so, profile a young fiber artist--age isn't important to the rest of us, if the work is inspiring.  And then have Taunton Press produce a book based on the Basics column, advertise it heavily in each issue with an eye catching photo of a young sewer.  [snp]"

      I can't speak to the novice part from the sewing point of view, but I can offer an opinion from the dance world.  I recently took up ballet, as an adult, after never, ever dancing as a child.  So I am a true novice.  To round out my education, I looked at all the dance magazines out there and I ended up subscribing to Dance Spirit (http://www.dancespirit.com).  I looked at all the adult-only magazines and found they concentrated on the professional dancer exclusively.  They made the assumption that their audience either was professional or on their way to turning pro.  They had pretty much nothing to offer the novice or intermediate dancer with no career aspirations, except pretty eye candy.

      Dance Spirit, on the other hand, manages to appeal to all ages and pros as well as non-pros.  They do this with a mix of articles on health (diet, exercise, treating injuries), columns on handling auditions, etc. for the aspiring careerist, and reviews of clothes (for the gym as well as for the stage) and interviews with dancers of all ages for the rest of us.  With their interviews, it's not the age or experience of the dancer, it's their creative punch that they focus on.  I'm reading about dancers 30 years older than me and those 30 years younger with equal interest!  I'm discovering the unique steps, attitudes, pizazz, etc. that they bring to the table and am learing from all age groups, not just the "pros".

      Younger people I've talked to like the fact that the magazine doesn't talk down to them, and at the same time doesn't assume everyone is making a career out of this -- exactly the same reason that I, an older adult, like the magazine.

      So maybe Threads could take a page from this experience and use it?

      Diane Close

      P.S.  I like this magazine so much that I sponsored a subscription for my local library, in addition to getting one for myself.  FYI, I did the same for Threads this year (sponsored a subscription for my local library).  The library had been planning to drop the magazine because (they said) it was getting too dumbed-down in their opinion and was no longer offering anything too different than Sew News.  I was horrified to hear this and volunteered to pay for their subscription myself.  But after seeing the last three issues, I'm sadly starting to agree with them. :-(

      1. Bernice | | #51

        Are there sewing librarians at your library? They really seem to know their sewing magazines!  We don't get either Threads or Sew News at our area libraries.

        I don't know that I'd say Threads is getting too much like Sew News, there are some articles in the May issue that seem rather basic (the serging and topstitching ones - maybe in the effort to make things doable for novice sewers?) but it seems like Sew News is trying to make their wearables sections less dowdy or made at home from cheap materials looking.... I have surprised myself several times looking at this year's issues and thinking "wow, that's a great idea" or that looks great, un-SewNews like. I stopped subscribing to SewNews a few years ago but was actually reconsidering except that it's still got a lot of nonwearable kitschy stuff. 

  12. ventose | | #43

    New machines and users, beginners -

    I think you have a third group to address - that is those who have older equipment and cannot (for a number of reasons) consider the state of the art options.  Many of the older machines are not used to capacity, and many users have long ago forgotten what all the nifty features are - (that were part of their purchase decisions).

    Given the time, money and talent, I would love a computerized digital embroidery machine, but having limited amounts of all three, I am working with my uncomputerised machine that was state of the art 15 years ago.

    I do wonder how many people have these wonderful new machines and how much can be done to creatively create similar wonders (or ones equally intriguing) with older machines...

    1. carolfresia | | #44


      You'll be encouraged to learn that many of our most favored authors (by readers as well as by us) use exactly the kind of machine you're describing, and they do incredible things with them. Although we do present the latest in equipment, many, many of the techniques shown in the magazine can be accomplished with not much more than a straight and a zigzag stitch.

      There are certainly some machines that don't so much as as become classics--people who own them wouldn't give them up for the world. Or for a computerized embroidery machine.


      1. KarenW | | #45

        I like the idea of getting a younger beginning sewer age model on the cover (not that I object to any age model, didn't mean to go there!) as an attraction... of course you know what covers sell best, but Burda World of Fashion has always had covers that seem to convey "fashion magazine" more than sewing magazine on the newsstand (at least that I recall, it seems to have disappeared from the shelves at the local Barnes & Noble).

        What about reaching out directly to the sources of the new sewers from a marketing angle while still making the appeal editorially?  Though it may not be the biggest department, I was surprised at how many students are in the fashion classes at our jr. college (including different levels of sewing classes, tailoring, draping, patternmaking, fashion design, sewing with knits, serging, etc.).   Display copies sent to the dept. for in class use with special rates for students of those programs could bring them into the fold.  I think there are still a respectable number of 4 year institutions with fashion or "home science" type programs as well, and there are even home ec classes in some secondary schools (a list rental agent could help source those).  


  13. becksnyc | | #46

    Hey Carol,

    Instead of trying to make Threads suit all sewing levels, why not spin off a teenage magazine, say half the size, with just one or two page spreads and lotsa kiddie stuff.

    Whatcha gonna call the new mag?  How 'bout "Bobbins"?



  14. Constance | | #49

    I just joined tonight & was very intrigued by this discussion. I'm not a novice, but a returnee to sewing after years of being chained to my computer (I'm a graphic designer). I learned to sew in the late 50s at a Singer Sewing School, sewed my way through high school & college, then on to lingerie classes & Stretch & Sew, copying the clothes from high-end catalogs, etc., etc., but somewhere along the way I lost my sense of adventure. Threads is helping me find it again while I am "relearning" the basics. It's hard to say if I'll ever turn out the amazing aspirational pieces, but I'm definitely inspired and hope you'll perhaps include a few updated basics for those of us who learned so long ago. I've let my other sewing subscriptions lapse (all 2 of them) because they are definitely boring, but Threads continues to keep me interested. My "new" sewing machine is 15 years old now, one of the very first computerized and I still love it as much as I did then! Since I can't afford a dream machine, I'll keep trying out new ways to use the features on the one I have.


  15. RobinRash | | #56

    Well, I have to agree with several others posted here. I have been sewing since I was about five years old. I had my first sewing machine when I was seven. I had no one to teach me, since my mother couldn't do more than sew on a button, and my sewing grandmother had passed away before I was born. So, I was completely self taught, and absolutely loved it! By the time I had Home Economics in high school, I was far more advanced than my teacher. I had the drive to push myself just because of the love for sewing. The first time I saw a Threads magazine (several years ago), I fell in love with the haut couture look of some of the garments. I knew that this is what I had been waiting for. Now, I live in a rural area, and don't always have use for some of the looks you feature, but I can always make it work into something for me. That's what makes it fun!!! I completely enjoy the advanced sewing and the unique ideas not seen in other sewing magazines. In my opinion, you will be just like the other ho-hum magazines if you start catering to the beginner sewers. Don't get me wrong!!! I have nothing against beginners (we were ALL there at one time), but I do feel that there are many magazines and articles out there for those less experienced. But, YOUR magazine is the ONLY one I know of that has the more advanced techniques. Please don't throw that away! If you do, I for one will probably be one of the many who quit subscribing.


  16. Elisabeth | | #57

    I think that all advanced sewing technique contains beginning level sewing elements.  A curious beginner would not necessarily be put off by advanced articles, especially if she or he recognized a beginner element or two within the advanced technique and could then be led to a source for more information.  A book suggestion or reference to a past relevant article might show the way.  In addition to specific topic books there are some new good basic sewing books out now that a beginner could really enjoy.

    On somewhat the same note, wouldn't a reference to a relevant Taunton book at the end of an article be a good way to sell a few more Taunton books?  Jeans That Fit seems to match up nicely with a pants making book and The Magic Yoke makes me think of DC's Shirtmaking book.  Something that can lead us to where we can find out more about a topic that we find personally particularly interesting.E.


    Edited 3/21/2004 12:45 pm ET by Elisabeth

  17. Grandmaginny | | #59


    I'm 55, disabled, got my computer just a few months ago and don't rerally know it, but most of all I discovered your wonderful, unbelievable magazine with issue 111.  I never knew you could do these things with your sewing machine or that there were the products advertised available let alone how to use them.

    My Grandmother and Mother were professional seamstresses and I learned how to alter a basic pattern to fit, but not like you did the jeans or pants.  It takes me hours of alteration time to get a decent fit.  You do it in minutes.  I mix collars, sleeves, etc., but please I know you can do it easier than I learned how to.   I want to learn.

    I just got my new issue -- yes I subscribed as soon as I read the first article -- and I can't wait to read it!!  I've been wanting a new machine, but wasn't sure what to look for.  The articles on fitting, patterns and fabrics - I know I won't be able to take it all in at once, but I got a 3- ring notebook for them and intend to keep a index at the front of the book on the issues I  have in it so I can find them quickly.

    Also, when I entered your website page I never had so much fun before getting the additional information you had available.  I know there are a lot of high tech sewers out there, but I have 8 grandchildren, six of them girls.   The oldest is 11 and although I sew several fancy dresses, I guess my sewing is basic. 

    I'ld like to learn how to do that sewing better and easier.  Most of all, I want to do something new - something extraordinary!

     'm not sure what you can do different.  I know I couldn't hardly wait when I realized it was almost time for "THREADS' to arrive.


  18. linden | | #60

    Working on my mother's adage that if you could read you could do anything, I taught myself to sew back in the late 50s and made myself dresses and quite complicated Vogue pattern suits and dresses.   I even got married in one of them with my bridesmaid borrowing something else I'd made.   Later I made clothes for my daughters (until they reached their teens and went off Mum's sewing) and did general domestic stuff.   But I've done no real (or successful) sewing for the last 25 years althouth I've been reading Threads for five years now, spend too much money on fabrics and have a small sewing work station with a Husquvarna Lily machine and a Janome serger (donated by one of the said daughters - a brilliant, prizewinning quilter here in the UK) but am terrified to start properly again. 

    Has anyone else got frozen by fear of failure like this?   At 20 I reckoned I could do anything and, eventually, managed to do anything I really tried to do including going to university at 40 and getting a good degree.   Now I'm 65 I feel like I'll fail even shortening a pair of trousers.   I'm in reasonable health and shape.   Please help me to kick start again. 

    1. Bernie1 | | #61

      Definitely!!! I even screwed up a welt pocket last night. Fortunately, it was an experiment so it didn't count and I was tired. But it made me think - all of those welt pockets I did 20 years ago. Just take it a step at a time and try things on scraps before you do it on your project. I have tons of the most wonderful Chanel-type prints that I plan to make gorgeous jackets from and I'm not going to let fear keep me from my machine.

    2. AmyC | | #62

      Linden! Aww..I think I know how you feel...when I was 20, I felt like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to, and I did some amazing things.  Now, at 40, sewing is the only thing that is keeping a creeping sense of utter incompetence at bay. 

      What I'd suggest.. take your time, only sew when you feel like it (that's the beauty of a hobby!).  Also,  don't let perfectionism consume you!  Whenever I find myself becoming perfectionistic, I remember two things my Mom used to say about minor flaws:  "only God is perfect" and "nobody is going to get down off a horse to look at that."   I also keep perfectionism at bay by showing my work to my husband and friends.  When I make something, I'm aware of every little flaw, but they can see it objectively and tell me if something is a problem or if I'm just being silly.

    3. carolfresia | | #63

      Hi, Linden,

      I second what the other post suggests, which is to try to keep that perfectionistic tendency at bay...as much as possible. There are a couple of things that can get you jump-started if you're stuck (which is something that happens to most of us at some time or other).

      One--try out something you've never done before, but thought might be interesting. If you haven't made a swimsuit, grab some lycra knit and give it a go. Or try out a new method of putting on a collar...anything that you can simply call "experimentation" (including non-garment sewing, and embellishment techniques). Don't assign yourself a specific task that you must accomplish, or you'll set your expectations high from the start. If the experiment goes awry, step back and see if you can figure out what happened, then decide if it's worth it to you to correct it, or if you learned enough from it to move on to something else. I agree--you can teach yourself a lot from reading, but playing around is a wonderful way to learn, too. And if the experiments are wearable, but you don't like them, you can always donate them to charity--someone will love them.

      Another thing to remember is that sewing is a lot more fun if you can find that special balance point where you are happy with both the outcome (the quality is acceptable to you) and the process (not making yourself crazy achieving acceptable quality). This can be tricky for perfectionists, but it's not unachievable--so maybe you pick simple, classic garments that you can turn out to perfection for a while, and then move to more complicated things. Or, you dive into the hard projects, and realize that no one will ever notice the tiny glitches that are so glaring to you.

      Also, keep posting here--there's a lot of creative energy on Gatherings, and we'll be happy to keep you going!


    4. hcookie | | #90

      I have been trying to learn to sew for myself for many years but except for the first skirt I made I haven't liked anything.  Now I want to make shirts - I live in shirts and pants - but keep puttting it off because I expect to fail.  I, too, know what it is to be frozen.

      1. carolfresia | | #91

        If you want to make a basic shirt (a ladies' version of a men's dress or sport shirt), see if you can find a copy of Margaret Islander's Shirts video. Also, consider a Kwik Sew pattern--these usually have wonderful, simplified instructions that get you started just right.

        If you're looking for some classic, woman-tailored blouses and shirts, take a look at Louise Cutting's designs (http://www.fabriccollections.com), the Cutting Line. She puts in lots of really nice, designer details, and her instructions are incredible. Not pared down, but very, very detailed--each pattern is like a whole series of classes in quality sewing.


        1. hcookie | | #93

          I have the Islander Video, I have the Coffin book, I have a shelf full of books but the knowledge is in my head, not my hands.  I have looked at Kwik Sew on the web but the store near me doesn't carry them.  I have A Perfect Blouse from Louise Cutting and would buy other of her designs but they only go to XL.  I wear 3X in ready-to-wear so I want to try something else first before I try to work with A Perfect Blouse. 

          I would love to see more articles on simple methods of upsizing classic designs that are loose fitting - I have the Barbara Deckert article from Threads #76 and reread it periodically when I have the urge to try to sew again. 

          1. GinnaS | | #95

            I wear a 2X top and a 3X bottom.  Louise suggested that I buy Modern Artist License instead of A Perfect Blouse so I wouldn't have to do any alterations.  She made this suggestion in person at a sewing show.  Haven't made it up yet so can't give you any input on the pattern.


          2. hcookie | | #96

            Thank you Ginnas

      2. linden | | #92

        Thank you for telling me you feel the same.   I have made a few alterations recently - taken up some trousers/pants and so on and didn't make a total hash of it.   However I don't think I'll ever get the sizing right and there is nowhere left in London where you can find inexpensive fabric to play with.   I don't want to be spending £25 to £70 a metre when I may end up donating the result to a thrift shop.   Maybe we need to start out with a good understanding of maths!   Thinking of you, hcookie.   Solidarity always helps so let's keep trying!   Best wishes, anyway.

        1. hcookie | | #94

          I agree that making a hash of good fabric is a big, big pain.  Fortunately I am retired and only need to get a few patterns right.  A camp shirt, a blouse, a long sleeve shirt, a pair of trousers and 85% of my wardrobe is covered.

        2. mcgintie | | #111

          Linden, are you in London UK? Croft Mills do cheap (variable quality) fabrics mailorder, and so do Fabricland (a treasuretrove, and are also online )  although the postage may bump the price up a bit.  The Fabricland stores are brilliant.

          1. SewNancy | | #112

            We will be in London for a few days on our way back from India and while I expect to buy fabric in India, I would love some good sources in London too.  Can you expand on the stores you mentioned? and what type of fabric do they carry?


          2. mcgintie | | #113

            Hi Nancy,

            Sorry to mislead you - they are outside London but they do mailorder. If you had a UK address you could order from Fabricland online and get it sent there. A lot of their fabrics are mixed fibres that would go into massproduced women's clothing, but they do lovely linens very cheaply, and theatricaln materials.

            I am not aware if Croftmills has a webpage. It is quite far from London. 

        3. SewingSue | | #122

          Linden, I have been away from this forum for quite to long. Very interesting thread that I am working my way through but felt comeled to respond to you. If you don't have anything similiar to WalMart's and there $1 a yard table have you considered alternatives? When I was quite young, pre-teen age, my parents weren't able to financially support my sewing whims and Mom would let me practice on old linens or my Dad's or older brothers' worn garments. I got to experiment and create. Obviously these weren't fancy outfits but I was proud of my creations none the less. I am still totally fascinated with sewing 40 years later (not sure where the time went). As my skills improved my Mom would allow me to make more of my own clothing. You may even be able to come up with "cheap fabric" in a second hand shop. Sewing up a muslin is normally a good idea if you are unsure of your skills or whether you will have fit issues. Hopefully this helps some. I'll respond to the original question after reading the rest of this thread. Gosh, I missed this forum. Happy sewing - Sue W, Williston, FL (Hopefully Ivan will go a different direction this time or better yet fissle out.)

          1. linden | | #125

            Sue, Thank you for responding to my plea.    There used to be a street market nearby with a cheap fabric stall which I used a lot in the past (20 plus years back) but yes, you are right.   I could be using ragbag garments for experiments.   I have started 'playing' again - just a bit - and using oddments to trim things.   I've also bought a few things in charity shops (thrift in the US?) which I've altered successfully and I guess as time passes I'll get better and braver.

            I've been watching the passage if Ivan on the news and just feel thankful I live in a comparatively peaceful part of the world (nothing too extreme in terms of weather).   From what I heard at lunch time (four hours ago) it was en route for Cuba.  Let me know how it goes.   I find the USA fascinating and hope to visit New York with my elder daughter next year or the year after.

            Best wishes,

            Linden Nicoll ([email protected])

          2. SewingSue | | #127

            Linden, You are very welcome. I'm glad I could be of some small help. Sometimes it takes talking it out to realize there is more then one way to go about things. Sewing certainly has many facets and I think that is why it has held my interest for some 40 years. You can be very compentent at the physical sewing part but need to also be able to do alterations or fitting or it's all for nothing. When I was much younger <sigh> I didn't need to think about the alteration or fitting part to awfully much with the exception of garment length. I'm a whole 5'2-1/2" in height. Don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that just about everything is too long for me. Thankfully length adjustments are pretty easy. It's those round curvy body <over 40> issues that are harder to adjust to. But I'm getting better at that also.

            I'm originally from Albany, NY and our weather issues were snow and lots of it. You'll enjoy your trip to NYC. So much to see and do. Learning to adjust to Florida weather. DH's idea to be in Florida <big grin>. It's looking like we shouldn't have to bad a time of it with Ivan, in central Florida. Hopefully he will slow down and decrease in size before going a shore in the pan-handle or where ever he should happen to make land fall. Nice chatting to you and happy sewing.

            Sue W, Williston, FL

  19. Jennie | | #65

    I'm an advanced sewer, and I've been finding al most all Threads articles too beginning for at least a couple of years. Publish unique, advanced articles and let the beginners read basic sewing manuals!


    1. jandheurle | | #163

      I couldn't agree more.  Beginning sewers need to read basic books about sewing or take a beginning sewing class.  Threads has become exceedingly boring for me for a number of years.  I subscribe because I want to support them and I keep hoping for the kind of articles that I found so inspiring ten years ago.  That's not to say that I don't occasionally find something of interest in the magazine, just that, in general, everything is too basic.  I am looking for in depth articles on designers - not just 'how to' stuff, but the history and development of design.  I would like reviews and/or articles on the costume exhibits at museums, interesting textiles, ethnic dress, history of dress, etc.  Sewing is much more than knowing how to assemble a garment.

      1. Jean | | #165

        So--you've come a long way in 10 years. Some of us are trying to play catch-up and aren't ready for the kind of magazine you seem to want.

      2. carolfresia | | #166

        One of the ways our magazine grows and changes is by having new authors join us. Many of our authors started out as avid sewers and Threads readers, and eventually realized they had something to share with the sewing community. We encourage all of our readers to send in article proposals--there's so much going on out there that we haven't even touched upon, and often the only way we can find out about it is if you all send in your ideas. As you know, we cover everything from basic to advanced construction techniques, and design and surface embellishment techniques, not to mention fitting methods and product overviews. So--if you have something up your sleeve, please consider sending it in.


        1. candyo | | #171

          That is wonderful that you accept articles from lay sewers! Here I thought I'd have to live in NYC to be published!

          Re: Brook Delorme- I don't think the backlash was due to her age. It was because her designs were lazy and stupid.

          1. user-192941 | | #173

            RE:  Brooke comment......OUCH!

        2. MOMPEA1 | | #188

          I find that I keep going back to my issues of Threads. Sometimes when I receive them I might be disappointed as there's nothing that grabs my interest or is relevant to my current project. But sure enough, wait a month or two and I'll find myself going back to those "uninteresting" issues because suddenly they are relevant. Sometimes the articles are a little elementary for me, and other times they're way over my head. But I find that usually I can take something from an article and add it to all those bits of information swimming around in this brain of mine.

          I'd like to make a delicate looking blouse for my daughter-26yr old professional- I find though when I sew really delicate fabrics the machine would like to eat them for lunch. I was thinking of using a tear away stabilizer, add a little body to the article while I'm sewing it, stop the machine from eating it, etc. Any other suggestions? Also I frequently know what I want when I feel it, but other than twill, wool, cotton poplin and the common others what am I looking for? I'd like a delicate looking polyester material that I can pintuck, maybe add a delicate machine embroidery with the same color thread...name that material!!

          Thanks to all that have sent me suggestions. I really appreciate the time and effort you gave. Signing up for classes isn't really an option due to health issues so I really appreciate the input from all the seamstresses out there.


          An article suggestion...I've put zippers in since my grandmother taught me, but they didn't have invisible zippers in France in 1900 when she learned to sew. I know it's an elementary level, but could we see an article on how to place invisible zippers?

          1. Elisabeth | | #189

            I know what you mean about the machine eating your delicate fabric! Isn't it amazing how much fabric can fit down in that little slot? I have two stitch plates for my machine, the one it came with which is the slot for all stitches the machine does and one I bought later which is straight stitch only and has a small hole. I also have a straight stitch foot which I also had to buy separately which has a small hole instead of the larger opening an all purpose foot will have. Using the straight stitch plate and foot together makes a huge difference in how my machine handles delicate fabrics. A new needle of a suitable type and thread that works with the fabric are part of the success formula too.

            Have you considered using silk fabric? There are many that will go in the washing machine these days. I find delicate silks easier to work with than polyester, silks seem to have better manners, not so unruly. Plus, silks breathe and are really sweet to wear.

          2. kayl | | #190

            You might want to consider a washaway stabilizer instead of a tear-away. Or a straight stitch plate for your machine, or moving the needle all the way to one side or another. Starch or large seam allowances can help the "fabric eating" too.

            Is there some reason why you want to stay away from handkerchief linen or batiste or lawn for your daughter's blouse? Both of those fabrics pintuck well (but test-- you'll find one grainline pintucks better than the other for most fabrics). Otherwise, I'd go to silk (perhaps

            a noil or a twill) or a tropical wool for the blouse before I'd try pintucking polyester.

            Have you seen Carol Ahles' book, Fine Machine Sewing? It's somewhat

            of the bible for "heirloom sewing", but also valuable to those of us who don't do "fancy stuff" -- the discussions of getting the most out of your sewing machine, matching threads and needles to fabric, etc.

            is definitely useful. And she's got the best instructions for using

            a hemming foot I've ever found.

          3. MOMPEA1 | | #192

            Thanks so much Kay and Elisabeth and everyone else, for all your suggestions. I just came back from my local fabric store and am a few hundred dollars lighter but beautiful material happier; wool tweeds,cashmere and wool blend (on sale!) and gorgeous woolen suiting fabric. I appreciate the suggestions about the straight stitch plate and using another foot. I have a Janome and thought I had purchased just about every optional foot but I'll have to check on the other plate. Also I'll be hitting the library for "Fine Machine Sewing".

            With all the work I have planned I don't think I'll have to worry about ever getting cold this winter..I'll be too busy completing my projects.


  20. CTI | | #70

    I feel like a novice as it's been so long since I opened a pattern and spread it about and remember picking up Threads because I was into fiber art when it first appeared. Over the decades work has cut into my sewing time but Threads is the only sewing magazine I would actually BUY should I find the time to sew again. If a technique is too advanced, I will come here and question the experts. However, maybe you could consider some additional publication, sort of akin to the Comfort Food issue the Fine Cooking people did, for basics? 

    It's undoubtedly unfair and a bit greedy to raise these suggestions as I haven't searched the site or recent issues, but here are some things I would pick up and buy the magazine for:

    --a simple skirt or something, shown in the same fabric, one on the bias and one not, and when and why to use or not use bias

    --detachable collars (and those things that extend down the chest to cover up a V-neckline, I forget the word, dickey?) and cuffs to modify a top

    --how to make "regular" buttons detachable, or how to make a shank

    --all about elastic and the ratio of strength to width, etc.

    --everything about pockets

    --classic world designs using wrapping (yes, this is not sewing but about beautiful cloth and simplicity), possibly augmented with some unique fastenings

    --hottest new fabrics and what they are best for

    --how to use pleats to augment or deemphasize

    Thanks for listening and keep up the great work!

  21. SewSimple | | #71


    I've been reading through these posts and find a lot of people like myself who prefer the advanced, high end articles. Some willing to compromise w/sidebars for beginners on advanced techniques or sidebars for advanced techniques on basic articles.

    I teach sewing to beginners at local chain fabric stores. Some of my students had exposure to sewing in junior high home ec but many have not. One of the stores I teach at limits the beginning sewing class to three weeks. This is not nearly enough time to teach them "all the basics". (I encourage my students to take the class multiple times so they can get a better handle on things.)

    This is what my students  have problems with:

    Sewing vocabulary--we have our own lingo and beginning sewers don't know it, can't decipher it & don't know where to look. (I give them a "vocabulary list" for reference & tell them where to look for definitions)

    Pattern directions--even the most basic patterns, geared to beginning sewers, somewhere along the line, leave out a step. Students then ask me how I know to do it that way. It is usually so basic, I cannot even tell them how I learned it. I resort to the excuse--I just know................

    Beginning sewers have a great reliance on the written word & diagrams in the patterns. Knowing that many times there are better ways to do things than the pattern directions, I thought I would just teach the "better ways" when teaching the beginning sewers. But, I found out unless I'm willing to re-write pattern directions for people, beginning sewers it is easier to teach them the "way of the pattern" and as they advance, work in some of the easier or more effective techniques.  (They don't remember how to do it when they get home & they have no directions to look at)

    I don't know if Threads wants to get that basic on a regular basis.

    Gearing articles to the returning sewer might be easier because you could do an approach of 20 years ago you learned to do it this way, now do it this way because we have such & such products that make this much easier.

    Just don't get rid of the inspiration & wonderful advanced techniques.


    1. carolfresia | | #73


      Thanks for your input. It's good to know what the beginning and returning folk are up against when they get into sewing. I can see that it would be tricky to help them move away from cumbersome pattern instructions when that's really all they have to refer to once they get home. Do you ever use Kwik Sew patterns when you teach? They often have really good, professional techniques that are quick and easy, and well illustrated. I'm much more likely to follow Kwik Sew directions that those included with other commercial patterns.


      1. SewSimple | | #74

        Yes, Carol, Kwik Sew directions are better. But the one store doesn't carry them and since part of teaching is to promote in store products.........................

        1. carolfresia | | #75

          Aha. I can see where that would lead. Well, lucky for the students they have you to guide them through the process!


  22. SewNancy | | #83

    I think that how to articles are great, but to appeal to a younger audience you need to show hipper clothing.  Just the sort of thing that some people really hated when you showed Brook De Lorme's cltohes.  Younger designers and how to sew this look.  Not everything that is fun is hard to make.  A walk around Soho shops to see whats going on.  The unfinished edge is still very big.  I find that Burda pattern magazine seems to have many more young and interesting fashions but the instruction are pretty obtuse for the beginner.  ( or even for those of us who are more experienced.)  For me this is where I rely on my back issues of threads and my many sewing books.  But, obviously the beginner doen't have these  resources.  And yes, I too first started to sew in home ec.  We actually made clothes. 


    1. KarenW | | #86

      " I find that Burda pattern magazine seems to have many more young and interesting fashions but the instruction are pretty obtuse for the beginner"

      Nancy, Burda has a supplemental WOF type magazine, not sure how often it comes out, and I can't remember the exact title (I know I'm sounding pretty un-helpful here!) but it's specifically for newer sewers.  Features the trendier stuff you've noted them for, but much more explicit instructions for the less experienced or new sewer.  Unfortunately the bookstore near me that used to carry Burda no longer does so I can't check to see when this comes in.


  23. marijke | | #97

    To bring in new sewers, maybe try sidebars like the ones you have to 'try it out,' but rather than focusing on small and quick projects, explain how a beginner could get nice results. 

    I like being challenged with articles on advanced techniques (whether or not I can actually find the time to try them), and also get much use out of BASICS.  Sometimes, the basics are just better techniques than what I currently do.   I wouldn't get rid of that, because I would think that sewers at any level can profit.  The recent article on topstitching did teach me something new.

    (I'm probably best classified as an intermediate sewer?  I have done tailored jackets, but those take me a lot of time to complete.)


  24. katina | | #98

    Hello Carol

     I'm new to Gatherings but have subscribed to Threads since1986.  I taught myself to sew at age 12, am reasonably profficient and have learnt a great deal from Threads.  One writer who has made a valid point mentioned that new knitters are very well catered to, and this is worth examining.  Knitting is portable; groups gather on a regular basis in knitting stores, coffee shops and the like; it's a most sociable activity; materials can be as expensive as one likes and disasters can easily be undone and the yarn re-used.  The beginning sewer usually has the expense of a machine and other supplies; sewing is something of a solitary activity so the novice probably lacks a support group. 

    There are many magazines for knitters, some catering particularly for the novice, but which advanced knitters frequently buy as there is always a need for the quick and simple project, whatever the skill level of the user.  Few magazines exist for sewers.  I would therefore suggest that Threads not adopt a one-size-fits-all policy, but rather caters separately to the true novice either by means of another magazine (maybe quarterly?) or a special issue from time to time.  That may well encourage those who perhaps feel intimidated by some of the articles in Threads. 

    Although it is nowhere near the magazine it once was (I have every issue) there is still much to inspire one.   Mass market clothing is not expensive in the USA - we sew because we love it; we sew to make a statement about ourselves.  Yes, we do enjoy the "high-end, advanced techniques" you speak of, but we also want creative clothing ideas.  You sparked an outcry when you dropped knitting (in my opinion the magazine has never been the same since), stating that knitters have several publications available to them.  Well, the same can be said of quilting - so please let it go.

    I do hope this helps - Katina

  25. bjs | | #99

    I'm not too worried about you going the "Sew News" route. I have always enjoyed your "Basics" section - it isn't too basic. There is plenty out there for the rock bottom basics. I think one of your best assets for beginners is inspiration. You could give them confidence by using more side blocks (I don't know what they're realy called) to show a way to try a technique without investing in a major project. You could re-name these blocks to attract beginners.

    Like the little hearts next to healthy items on a restaurant menu - some little symbol could direct beginners to certain projects or information.

    I don't want to see a lot of teen fashion, but simply using a teen model now and then would probably go a long way. The current article on 3 wrap top variations could have included one in something guazy with a teen model - the article on flounces could have one photo with a young model to inspire a prom creation.

    Why didn't your jeans article have one teen model? These things could inspire teens - they'll learn the real basics elsewhere after they have a reason to want to. The basics themselves are never going to snag anyone.


    1. SewDad | | #100

      Hi.  I felt so compelled to jump in here that I joined the forum for just this purpose.  I'm a completely self-taught sewer, male, who sews for my two daughters, my wife, and, recently myself (in addition to outdoor stuff for camping/hiking).  I consider myself somewhere between a novice and intermediate sewer.  I'm not entirely sure what the distinctions between levels of sewing bandied about are, really.  I recently discovered Threads and have only been subscribing for a little over a year, so I don't know what it was like in the past.

      I can offer that I wonder what the future of recreational sewing as a craft is -- and more particularly what the support available for it in the form of decent fabric, equipment, and other resources will be -- if new, young sewers are not embraced and encouraged to join the fold.  I read a lot about/from women (like my mother) who grew up in the fifties or sixties and have sewn since 4-H/Home Ec.  I hear newbies described as women coming back into the fold after having families or taking time away from sewing.  I think publications like Threads need to also do something to appeal to younger and/or different groups too.  If not, then sooner or later the readership will be dead and so will Threads.  I don't think that means offering extensive tutorials to rank beginners (are they reading Threads?).  It does mean having content that feels accessible to relative novices and younger readers (I'm not a lot younger, but my children, for whom I sew, are) who lack the experience or confidence to tackle more advanced techniques or use what they know in new and innovative ways.

      I think that Basics, Tips, and Fitting do a good job of that and definitely belong in the magazine.  But more importantly, what Threads can do is help us novice/intermediates move forward.  I can sew a seam and handle a reasonable variety of fabrics.  What holds me back, and I think a lot of novice/intermediates, is generalizing my skills and knowledge to break away from being a slave to patterns and their instructions.  I love the new section on three ways to view a pattern because it helps me see the potential in a pattern and in sewing.  Also, having sidebars, illustrations/photos, or other suggestions that help me see how to apply the construction or other techniques in the main articles to my own projects are terrific.

      Summing up, I agree that Threads should provide insights and instruction to the advanced/professional sewer.  But it should also make an effort to help those of us with less experience see the possibilities the craft offers.  I don't think any content needs to be added, but continued presentation with these concepts in mind (using sidebars, etc.) would be great.

      Thanks for listening to a long message...Dan

      1. carolfresia | | #101

        Hi, Dan,

        Thanks for your input. And I must add that your daughters and wife are lucky to have someone sewing for them!

        The world of "novice" sewers is an interesting and varied one these days. Back when I was a kid, home ec was still a required class for girls, so everyone ended up leaving 8th grade knowing at least the very basics of how to interpret and use a pattern, operate a basic sewing machine, and put together a simple garment. Many women stopped there, and now that they're returning, are beginners but with some background to work with. Younger sewers, and probably many male sewers, often haven't had even this minimal formal foundation. Starting from absolute scratch seems like a hard thing to do--it helps, I'm sure, to be methodical, logical, somewhat fearless, and patient. And to have a fundamental love of fabric, and to take enjoyment in the process of being creative. If it's all about a specific end result, I find it's not nearly as much fun.

        We try to provide useful information that's accessible to just about any reader/sewer, although some topics are really geared toward people with more experience. Eventually, though, everyone gains experience and can learn from these more advanced articles. Equally important, we think, is to offer inspiration, by showing a variety of sewn samples, some that respond fairly closely to current fashion trends, others that are more classic, and still others that are clearly one-of-a-kind, art-to-wear garments.

        And of course we welcome continued suggestions and ideas from you and anyone else who has thoughts about what they'd like to see in Threads.


        1. GALEY | | #102

          In 1990, when I first discovered your excellent exciting magazine I said AHA!  AT LAST!  When I first saw the articles for novices, I said WHAT IS THIS?  When I realized that you might continue using your valuable space for anything that was not adventurous or challenging, I said WHERE CAN I GO?  If advanced sewers do not have Threads, we have no where to go.

        2. SewDad | | #103

          Thanks for the reply.  I hope I didn't seem to be complaining, because I wasn't.  The balance right now seems reasonable to me.  I'm sure every one of us could find articles we loved and some we could easily have done without (or at the wrong "level" for us). 

          Reading this thread and others, I was seeing a lot from folks who seem to be calling out for less or no material for novices and more/all for experienced folks.  I just wanted to throw in my two cents for the more balanced approach, along with a thought or two about what helps me.  I often find that while I sit there in my living room my (sewing) problems seem unique.  But my concerns are more than likely representative of a lot of fellow practitioners (e.g. getting away from being a slave to the pattern).

          What I think Taunton publications do well, generally, is focus on those who are relatively serious about their crafts as crafts (I've read a bit of Fine Woodworking in the past, too.)  That seems to be as much attitude as anything else.  Since the editors and writers and a significant portion of the readership are all "experts" already, it's probably pretty easy to think mostly about what they and people like themselves crave.  That's the thread I was picking up on.  I just wanted to voice a reminder that there are a lot of us out there who take the craft of sewing seriously without yet having the experiece to be experts.  It's great that a resource like Threads offers articles and columns designed to be useful to and appeal to us, too.  Someday I hope to be sufficiently accomplished to think half of the contents of Threads is "old news," but that will be a while.  'Till then, keep up the good work...

        3. SewNancy | | #114

          This is one of the few mazazines I actually subscribe to.  It  is my lifeline when I am stuck for a technique and has enabled me to really enjoy sewing again.  I still like to glance at the beginning techniques, because often it is a newer, easier way to do something.   But, I find that the sophistication leval of the designs, ie: the make the pattern 3 ways, has really taken a downturn.  Like many others of us who are intermediate to advanced, I am interested in changing patterns to copy couture and expensive ready to wear.  The cut is just amazing on these things and I want to know how to do this.   I don't want to do a whole outfit using couture methods, I don't have the time.  But, I do use elements of couture technique because sometimes it is easier with difficult fabrics. 


          1. edgy | | #115

            I really like the idea of using the web site for younger and beginning sewists. It certainly seems like a natural fit, altho I'm not exactly sure what would be the best way to do it.

            A supplement issue that leads folks to the website could be one way. Another would be small side boxes in a more complicatd article that leads beginners to an easier technique on the website.

            Maybe others can chime in w ideas........


  26. Lizsews | | #104

    I took Home Ec and I'm under 40.  I'm in my early 30's.  My proposition is to put out a supplement for novice sewers.  That way people who already know the basics won't have to rehash what they already know.  Many times I find myself at a loss when trying to sew something unfamiliar like welt pockets.  I've spent a lot of time staring at pattern directions but I really don't think it's something I want to attempt.  Another suggestion is to color code the pages of a small portion of the magazine for novice sewers. 

    I haven't found a thread yet that speaks about designer Brook DeLorme.  As a novice sewer I gained a lot of inspiration from her techniques.  From the buzz I've heard many advance sewers weren't impressed.  Novice sewers need to be inspired.  When we're told there's only one way to achieve the end result of having a wearable garment that puts some of us off.  I would really love to see a magazine that is more geared towards unconventional works.  I don't know of any magazine like that.  If someone knows I welcome the suggestion. 

    While I see the value of learning the basics with sewing I tend to believe many novices are scared off by the idea rightly or wrongly that they have to sew an aesthetically perfect garment every time. 

    1. SewingSue | | #123

      Taffy, again I feel compeled to respond. Threads used to be just that magazine; very unconventional and extremely inspiring. Happy sewing. Sue W, Williston, FL

  27. sewannsew | | #105

    Another novice reporting in. I slid away from sewing three decades ago. However, I have been reading (and saving) Threads since issue #1, because I love sewing and always planned to return. I love sewing because it challenges me in: fitting, actual construction, and creativity. I do need basic information and/or review in all three topics.  

    My favorites: The (Please bring it back!) Quick to Make, detailed articles on fit, and the annual wardrobe design challenges.

    Young sewers as well as us mature ladies need to see regular articles about designers--established and up-and-coming--to be fashionable. Although my life and body could not wear the clothes that young designers are creating, I delight in their inventiveness and passion. The same can be said for more established designers. I will probably never own or wear an Armani jacket, but I loved reading about every construction detail and nicety.

    The new series, one-pattern-three-ways prompted someone to suggest that some months the pattern could be the place were level-of-sewing ability might be presented and I agree with that idea.

    1. carolfresia | | #106

      Good news: Quick to Make will be coming back, at least a couple of times a year, maybe in each issue (yet to be decided). Threads is quite non-project oriented on the whole, and we realized that readers often enjoy something that they can just dive right into. Plus our Quick to Make editor, Judy Neukam, keeps coming up with good ideas!


      1. Califon | | #108

        I just found this board today, which is why I am adding an opinion to an already comprehensively covered topic. 

        I'm a beginner sewer in some areas, but NOT in others.  So I do feel Threads is applicable to me, and also activates me to challenge myself in new areas.  I'm good at designing and fabric embellishment, but not so good at tailoring.  There's lots of skills to use, and everybody has some. 

        I really like the on-line supplements.  I think you could put more Basics stuff on the website.  The sophistication of the zine draws the customer in to buy it.  Younger folks are more likely to have web access. 

      2. JudyWilliment | | #110

        For what it's woth, I'm a pretty advanced sewer, but mostly self taught.  That means that while I can tackle pretty much anything, (including wedding dresses, one of which was made entirely pattern-less) I don't always know the best method for my desired end result.  Thanks to Threads, I've picked up a lot of very valuable information, some of which is quite basic, some advanced, all of which has improved my sewing, and my enjoyment of sewing.  Just because I've been sewing for a long time (about 20 years, since I was in my teens) most certainly doesn't mean I have nothing further to learn of the basics.

        Personally, I applaud your desire to encourage beginners.  I'd like to think there is a place in Threads for the kind of information that makes the difference between a successful garment and a wadder.  (And after all, if you get them hooked on Threads early in their sewing, won't that make them more likely to continue buying it, making it more profitable, and hence always available to us all?)


  28. drapolonsky | | #107

    Okay, this has taken me a while, because I had to read all the replies.  I am pretty much a novice sewer.  I started to learn about a year and a half ago at a local fabric store and attend classes with one of your frequent columnist contributers, Connie Long.  (It's pretty inspiring to see her articles actually.)

    Anyhow, I read your magazine cover to cover every month.  Then I go back with a pen in hand and read it like I would a medical textbook (my regular profession).  I must say, many of the articles go over my head, but they are interesting and inspiring and I know that even if I am not ready for them now, I might be someday.  I like your content balance, but have a hard time applying the new techniques.  I don't run right out there and try a button hole or zipper or design when I see it.  But when I tackle a new project I recognize that the knowledge is there, first at my fingertips, and then in my brain.

    I think it is great that you have lots of pictures when showing how to apply techniques.  I wish that the resources for learning fashion sewing were more accessable.  That schools and master classes were more readily available to adults.

    I wish there was more on patternmaking and design.  I need to learn how to alter patterns to the style features I would prefer.  I want to learn how to copy things that I see and love, or that I have in my closet and want to alter in fabric or design.  I want to make different types of clothes, outerwear, excercise clothes, lingerie, high fashion garments, and hand sewn beauties, etc.  I have lots of goals, but figure it'll all happen in good time bit by bit, article by article, book by book.

    Thanks again.  Live some, learn some.

    Amy Polonsky

  29. AgnesD | | #116

    I have been sewing since a teenager, coming from a family of tailors and seamstresses.  When I learned how to sew, I was taught the "traditional" way of sewing.  Several years ago I stop making clothing and switched to making cloth dolls concentrating on costuming.  I have decided to return to making clothes, but my time is limited so therefore I welcome the basics articles.    I referred many times to my Threads Magazine.  I recently attended a sewing conference to get an overall review of sewing.  I not only learn some new basics or ones I had forgotten, but also new techniques for the basics.   It was at the conference that I saw the average age and realize we need to bring in younger people or this industry will wither.   I guess what I am saying is that the magazine should feature some of the basics, especially with the development of new tools or new people taking a different view which can lead down a different path but the end result is the same.

    Agnes D

    1. candyo | | #126

      I agree that much needs to be done to entice younger sewers. I'm 27, and since I started sewing 7 years ago I'm often the youngest one at the store. People are not friendly at the pattern book table, nor are they to anyone else. Finally, they are coming out with juniors' styles. And, why must sewing machines be white, and notions be blue and white? Don't these companies know about marketing? And, Joann fabrics is finally getting more current fabrics, instead of getting them 2 years after they were popular.

      Young folks like myself want to get patterns and fabrics to make the clothes we see at the mall. Sewing needs to be more accessible to the average person. The way it is now, it's too intimidating.

      We all need to become "sewing missionaries," spreading the gospel of sewing to others. Say hello at the person next to you at the pattern table looking at the Vogue Patterns catalog. Ask about their project and offer encouragement. I always suggest to beginners to check out http://www.patternreview.com and read "Sewing for Dummies." And, of course, get on the fabric stores' mailing lists for the coupons.

      As far as Threads is concerned, there has been less and less lately that interests me. I paged thru it and tossed it aside. All the garments are too matronly for me. I don't care about embellishments. I just want to make a decent-looking garment. And don't get me started on Sew News. That magazine is terrible. Too many puns posing as article titles, their garments are ALL for senior adults from the midwest. Look at that magazine and tell me that it would entice a young adult!

      Do you want sewing to die? If not, start thinking about how you will help keep it alive.

      1. SewNancy | | #128

        If you want young fashions look for Burda pattern magazine.  They are much more fashion foward that even their pattern catalogue.  But, they lack good instructions so you'd need to have some back up sewing books for better how tos.  Also, try Neue Mode, which you can get on line at http://www.thesewingplace.com.  Also, http://www.marfy.com is an Italian company with really young and fashion foward patterns.  But, they don't have any instructions at all!  I haven't used any of these yet, but they have been favorably reviewed in Threads.


        1. candyo | | #129

          I'm aware of these, but they are costly. A beginner needs to be able to find relevat stuff at their local joann's.

          1. SewNancy | | #130

            Have you seen the price of Vogue or any of the big pattern companies lately?  Neue Mode is actually cheaper and Burda at $8 (cheaper if you subscibe) is a bargain with its multiple patterns.  JO Anns is not the place for someone who wants to be fashion foward.  They meet the needs of their clientele, not necessarily the person who reads Threads, especially having read all the letters bemoaning the lack of good fabric stores.  Those of us who want something more have to go a bit further afield.


          2. carolfresia | | #132

            Nancy, I agree that really dedicated fashion sewers almost always end up shopping outside of their local chain store, for variety, quality, and individuality. But Nikki has a point, that true beginners are most likely to stop into Joann's, Hancock's, or Walmart to make their first foray into sewing. I've actually been pretty impressed lately with the effort the Big Four companies are making to meet the demand for trendy designs. There are loads of fun little tops and low-rider and boot-cut pants, interesting uneven-hemmed skirt styles, and some youthful interpretations of the fringy Chanel-inspired jacket, even. I've also noted that my local Joann's has begun to stock much more appealing fabrics the past couple of seasons. If I'm investing time in a classic "career" piece, I'm likely to shop elsewhere since I have options in NYC, but I don't hesitate to buy some of the offerings at Joann's when I want to experiment with a pattern or technique.

            My hope is that the chain stores will remain vital and that the Big Four will maintain their commitment to sewers interested in current fashion trends, and that new sewers will then expand their horizons to support the independent stores that carry high-end and unusual fabrics. If you're well and truly a sew-aholic, it doesn't take long to start yearning for more...more fabric, more challenging and fashion-forward patterns, etc. And once you're there, there's no going back!


          3. teacozy | | #172

                      I think a lot of the problem with many of the big four fabric sources are really bad buyers.   Having worked in retail in the past, most buyers are given options of what and how much they can purchase for stock in thier stores.  The JoAnn's I use is to a great degree clean, well stocked and has help that knows what they are doing.   As for thier fabrics, the really top line fabrics may not be on hand  but if you ask they can be ordered for you.

                      Patterns, that is another matter. I have a rather conservitave 16 year old daughter that wouldn't be caught dead in what the pattern companies think a teen would wear.  As for myself' a pattern very seldom come out looking like what is on the envelope.    Oh well.

                       For you beginners out there, we all started at the same place you are.  Use the resources you have at hand , Stores, patterns, etc.   You will be surprised at what happens and how it looks.  Threr aresome people in the world ( and I DO NOT  mean anyone in particular )  I call sewing snobs.  I have a friend like this. She refused to look at anything  but Vogue patterns for years until she started sewing for 2 small, very active children.  Heute culture went out the door. It all depends on your indivual  taste and circumstance.

                       Well I guess you can tell this is one fo my rants . I hope I didn't offend anyone this is just my two cents worth. 

                         Happy sewing,


          4. user-192941 | | #174

            I've learned more about sewing from joining a sewing group in a my area.  We meet every 6 weeks, and bring in projects we are working on, problems we are having, and "brainstorm" on solutions to solve them.  Most of the ladies are retired, and at 40, I'm the youngest in the bunch, but their experience and hands on advice is invaluable. 

            Several months ago, I brought a THREADS article to the meeting to address a problem with pants crotches riding up.  I don't recall the author, but she described in detail (with illustrations) how to use a flexible curve to correct the shape and depth of the crotch curve to best fit.  After literally 20 years of struggling with this issue, my problem was solved.  When I shared it with the group, not one of them had ever heard of or used this technique (which worked! no more bunched up shorts in my crotch when I walk!).  

            I think THREADS is doing a great job.  It is one more tool in my sewing room, I wouldn't be without. 

          5. sewrunrig | | #175

            Hi Susie: In what issue of Threads was the article on adjusting the crotch with a flexible ruler? I'd love to take a look at it. Thanks in advance.

          6. user-192941 | | #177

            Issue 111, page 26 for the article on how to use a flexible curve to fix the crotch shape on pants......works great!

          7. sewrunrig | | #178

            Thanks Susie!

          8. candyo | | #133

            Joann's often has Vogue on sale for either 75% off or $3.99, and that's not costly to me, nor was it to my 21 year old cousin, whom I just started teaching to sew. She bought both Vogue and Burda patterns.

            Anyhow, we are speaking of different markets here. You are speaking of experienced sewists who know high quality fabrics and where to get them. As Carol said, beginners are going to start by going to a chain store and sewing with a Big 4 pattern with Joann's fabrics.

            I've purchased fabric, patterns and all types of sewing stuff both at chain stores and online. It's easy to snub chain stores for their many shortcomings, but the truth is they do have many things going for them, one of which is attracting new sewists, which has been my point all along. If we don't attract them, this hobby will go the way of tatting or butter churning, especially with the readily available cheap RTW.

          9. edgy | | #134

            I know I shouldn't start a rant about Joanns again, but I can't help myself. The closest place to me has a G Street Fabrics and they don't put much on sale -- ever. The same mall has Joanns. I was just there. The 2 stores are like night and day. G St was empty, quiet, helpful staff, stuff organized.

            JoAnns was a mess. Looked like after a tornado. Very low stock (and this was NOT during a sale). Too few staff, almost no one could answer a question or wanted to be bothered.

            i'd think that would really turn a beginner off, but so would the prices at G st.

            It's a quandry I haven't resolved. I go to Joanns for sale items, but can hardly stand being in there. Not being snobby, I just prefer calm, ordered environments. Then, when I need nice fabric, it's G St. where I'll pay upwards of $20/yd or online where it's less expensive, but I can't touch.

            Just as frustrating for an experienced sewist. Hope there's some kind of change in the wind.


          10. SewingSue | | #135

            nancy, I can really relate. I worked in a So-Fro fabric store when I was in high school. Most of my little pay check went right back to them in the purchase of fabric. You used to be able to buy such yummy fabrics. If you sewed a demo garment for the store to display the garment was yours to keep at no cost after they were finished displaying it. Usually a few months. I remember going overboard with those. They wrote off all the cost and you just contibuted the labor. Now there is very little selection and I really miss not be able to finger the fabrics when I purchase on-line. The little swatches just aren't the same thing at all. It really drives me crazy when the give the color description and my little swatch only shows the background color. There are certain colors that don't look good on me and I can only get away with it if there is very little of it in a print and I can keep it away from my face. Does anyone else have problems with the swatches? I won't comment on your Joann's remark for fear of going on another tangent. Happy sewing.

            Sue W, Williston, FL

          11. Elisabeth | | #136

            What a great way to get "free" garments! It reminds me of how I used to get "free" materials when my kids were young. The kids grew quickly enough that they didn't have a chance to wear out many things so I would take those things to a consignment shop. When the shop sold the items the $ amount I got was usually around what I had paid for the materials. Of course, then I would go out and buy more fabric and keep the cycle going.

          12. SewNancy | | #137

            I just went to Jo Anns the other day for a pattern, they do have them all at 50% off every day but the store is always a mess!  I did notice that Vogue has 2 patterns by Olive and Bette a new young hip design label that my 18 year old would love.  But I can almost never find thread or zippers in the right color there because their inventory control is so bad.  I do look at the fabrics when I am there,  but they just don't pass the feel test.  I am really not looking for the same things as the beginner I guess.  Size of samples are a problem, but some places do send out bigger swatches, like Paron and Mood or B & J.


          13. carolfresia | | #138

            One thing I've noticed, from clothes-shopping with non-sewers, is that many adults who are fashion-savvy aren't particularly informed about fabric. They can't identify fiber contents or anticipate care and maintanence issues, and sometimes don't even stop to think whether a texture will feel comfortable or not. In fabric stores, where the material is separate from the garment style, they'll open up to the texture, the richness of the colors, and the drape of the fabric. It's quite a different experience--something that beginners can start to learn even at a chain store, I think.


          14. SewNancy | | #142

            I learned at my grandmothers knee to not only look at the inside of a dress, but the feel and drape.  She taught me to sew, but she taught me more about quality than any thing else.  She had Norman Norells and a classic Bonnie Cashin coat that I wish I still had!  She was a very cool lady.


          15. lifelongsewer | | #211

            Hello Carol,

            I just read your comment dated Sept. 14, re: savvy fashion shoppers/beginning sewers knowing next to nothing about fiber-content-and-care.   When I tell my beginning students to first look at the labels inside the garments (not just the designer label), they look at me blankly.  They know what cotton, silk, and linen are but have trouble identifying the fabric. 

            It is very gratifying to educate people and raise their level of consumer consciousness.  It keeps me sharp to sort through the vast amounts of information in my head and in books and magazines and present it in a palatable fashion to new sewers so they are not overwhelmed by TMI!

            I love teaching!  (and I love Threads)

            Kay in L.A.

          16. SewNancy | | #212

            Glad you are passing that tip on to your students.  I always feel the fabric in garments and then look and see what the fabric is.  Today, there are so many different blends around it is hard to keep track.  But, developing a feel for fabric is so important and I do mean that literally!  I shop in the garment district in NYC for fabric and not much os labeled as to fiber content, so knowing by feel is a big advantage.  Also, of course when a pattern mentions fabrics I have a better sense for subbing the appropriate fabric.


          17. SewingSue | | #139

            Nancy, I've never heard of either of these, Paron and Mood or B & J, do they have websites? Always open to checking out new sources. I received Vogue Fashion Fabrics for awhile but got tired that they didn't have the fabrics on the website for members to view. There swatches were a little bigger and they would show black & white scans of some of the prints but it wasn't enough for me to figure out what the fabric really looked like. I like Trim Fabrics website but have never bought from them. I really like the way when you click on a fabric swatch it changes to a multiple view of the fabric. The view I think is most helpful is it shows a length of fabric rolled off the bolt so you can better envision the scale of the fabric. Happy sewing. Sue W, Williston, FL

          18. edgy | | #140

            I hope you all know about emmaonesock.com She is fantastic to work with, lists content and care instructions whenever she knows it, will happily send out swatches (altho, that can be risky since her stuff goes so fast!), and her photos are exscellent.


          19. SewNancy | | #141

            Mood has a poor website, but they they fill sample requests on line and by phone.  Paron has a website, also not so good, but they are apparently also http://www.manhattanfabrics.com which is good.  B & J doesn't have a website but any of these places can be called and they send out samples no charge and quite nice sizes.  B & J and Paron are the quickest.  I don't have tel # offhand, but information for NYC will get you the numbers.  Mood has an amazing amount of fabric, so if you are in NYC go visit them, wll worth it.  And of course all the other stores have amazing fabrics.  Most are within a few blocks of each other.  I used to then take the bus with my fabrics and go Tender Buttons a famous and amazing place.  But M & J Trimming has a great button store now in the garment district along with their trimming store and it is quite good.  They have aterrific website and I have gotten buttons both on line and in person. 

            Happy hunting.


          20. SewingSue | | #143

            Nancy, thanks for the info. Always like to explore new possibilities.

          21. Elisabeth | | #131

            I agree, sewing can become an expensive venture otherwise. The 99 cent pattern and some fun fabric on sale at JoAnn's makes a low stress project for beginners. I wish the service and selection was better too. Last week I went to a Michaels craft store and happened to walk down their one sewing aisle. They had some better notions than JoAnn's!

            When you mentioned the sewing machine colors I laughed remembering how one of the deciding factors for getting my Viking (20 years ago now) was the color. The Pfaff was a contender but lost because it was brown and I happen to not like brown! I still wouldn't want to sew on a brown machine, no matter how nice it is, I would hate it!

  30. nieves | | #117

    I would be really dissappointed if Threads becamea beginner's magazine.  I believe that there are plenty of articles that cover beginners issues.  Also there are other publications that deal with beginners projects and techniques.  I have searched far and wide for something that comes close to being educational for an experienced sewer.

    I also believe that a sewer who has a break from sewing quickly remembers and catches up with where they were when they took a break.  I think this is so in my case.  I had an almost ten year break from sewing while having very young children and then building a house.  I do want to learn and grow.  Easy patterns are simple enough to use. 

    I want techniques and information that patterns do not offer.  Even more exciting patterns would be good.  You do get tired of the traditional commercial patterns.

    Please do not become a beginners magazine.  I feel that Threads already has some beginners articles.  I devour every issue for information and would also like to see and learn more about advanced techniques and even some patterns from time to time.



  31. lize | | #118

    Carol, I've just read your posting.  I am a 52 year old woman who used to make all my own clothes, my daughters and anyone else that would let me 15years ago I started up  my career again and didn't do too much sewing until my daughter was in highschool and started making her prom gowns.  nothing too elaborate but fun.  Now my daughter has started college using the skills that i taught her while she was at home.  she is now studing fashing and custome design in Chicago.  Her sewing skill have surpassed mine and intrigued me.  I have dusted off the old machine, purchased a new Pfaff and started up an old hobby and have begun sewing seriously.  I am currently learning how to embroider with my machine and find you magazine full of challenging ideas.  but, back to the subject matter.  I think concentration of some of the basics to be helpful ie.  sleeves, my daughter has learned the professional way to do set in sleeves and has tried to teach me longdistance via telephone.  I still have difficulty getting that professional look on a set in sleeve.  Therefore, I tend to stick to patterns that have the komono, raglin sleeve.  I need a good source for pictures to see how to get that perfect look.  Also, I have found that since I have grown older and wiser my bottom has grown with me and I have trouble getting pants to fit properly in the back.  Most of  time i need to pull the waist up over my stomach so that the back lays properly at my waist.  Please help me get that professional look.  People know that i sew but whenever someone says "oh did you make that" I think it looks homemade! which is not the look i'm going for.  so hope this helps with your question.  I look forward to hearing from you and joing in with other on subjects that will encourage me to keep trying to strive for that "just right look".  One of the things I have found to be fun is, I went through my closet and found some suite that are a little dated so I took the tops and enhanced them with differnt buttons, embroidery and other fun emblishments learned from your magazine and matched them up with new bottoms.  While not one to waiste I took the skirts that were too short and made pillows,  the fabrics were like a mole skin so they were perfect for pillows, placemats and other small pieces around the house.  Well enough is enough   will be waiting for your response.   Eliz Ellis

    1. carolfresia | | #119

      Hi, Eliz,

      I'm glad to hear you're back at the sewing machine, and equally delighted to learn that your daughter had taken what you taught her and run with it. How great that you two can share that interest.

      One thing I can suggest for your fitting problems is to see if you can attend a sewing expo. There are always classes on fitting, usually at least one focusing on pants fitting, and you can often have the teacher help you get a perfect fit that you can then duplicate at home. You mentioned that your daughter is in Chicago--there's an expo outside Chicago in October, I believe, and of course there are others around the country. I LOVE the expos--they're a great place to see the independent designer patterns, take classes from experts, hang out with other sewers, and buy fabric and notions you can't find locally.

      We've published a number of articles and fitting columns devoted to pants fitting--check the online index for references. The solution you'll need will depend on your particular fit problems.

      By the way, just because someone asks you if you make your clothes doesn't mean they look homemade--I'll bet they're admiring your style and skill.


      1. lize | | #144

        thanks for the vote of confidence I needed it.  I think  I will look into those expos I need a little freshingup.  Although the daughter has gotten much better than mom ever hoped to.  she inspires me!

      2. lize | | #152

        can you tell me when and where the sewing convention is in Chicago.  If you don't know can you tell me how I can find out.  Lizee

        1. carolfresia | | #153


          The Original Sewing & Quilt expo is Oct. 7-9, in Rosemont. For more info, go to http://www.sewingexpo.com. You'll be able to view and download a class schedule, etc.


  32. mmiller00 | | #120

    I think that Threads should stick to more intermediate and advanced techniques.  There seem to be so many resources for beginners (most sewing books are geared towards beginners) and fewer good resources for someone looking to advance their skills.  I have a few sewing books that cover the basics.  I'm sure everyone does.  I like reading threads to get new ideas and see a way of doing something that I can't find in a sewing book. 

  33. mmiller00 | | #121

    I also wanted to just aink dd that I think Threads needs more fashion forward ideas.  That would really bring in more readers, especially young ones.  I subscribe to Threads because you find techniques and information that you wouldn't find anywhere else, but the fashion is very disappointing (I'm not trying to offend anyone).  A person earlier talked about how popular knitting has become, but I also notice you find much more modern and fashionable designs in knitting magazines.  I've even started knitting again because of this.  I think looking at it from this angle will bring in more readers than trying to make Threads a basics magazine.

  34. SewingSue | | #124

    Carol, I have read each and every post before responding. With due respect to everyone who has responded to you I offer my 2 or 3 cents worth. I think I have been buying Threads on the newstand or subscription from issue 1 with a few lapses. I gave away most of my older issues when I thinned my varied collections when I retired from the Air Force several years ago. I kept several issues and number 7 is still in my collection. Due to financial considerations after I retired I had to let several magazines lapse and Threads wasn't holding my appeal at the time and has always been more costly then other magazines so I gave it up for a few years until I was in a position to renew subscriptions again. I was very pleased that during the time I was no longer reading Threads that the focus of the magazine changed and fashion sewing was the main topic. I have been sewing since the age of nine and mostly self taught. I had home ec in school and it's a wonder that the experience didn't totally turn me off sewing. But by that time I was already addicted. What really appealed to me was the ability sewing offers for individual expression. Having and wearing clothing that isn't available to anyone else always has been of great importance to me. Sometimes the clothing is more creative then other times and sometimes it is simply a matter of having colors and textures that appeal to me and aren't available in RTW. When you sew your own clothing you can have anything you can dream up - providing you can find the fabric and notions to meet those needs. Please please leave Threads magazines focus on creative, inspirational, up-scale fashions and art to wear. Leave the basics to a minimum. When I was a beginner, I never would have considered having a publication alter its venue to meet my current needs. It was my responsability to improve my skills to reap the rewards of what was being presented.

    Having said that I also agree that more young folks need to be turned on to sewing. But sewing has many aspects. It can be a creative art (I was a fine art major in college.) it can also be utilitarian (RTW used to be limited and out of the reach of most and women had to sew to clothe their families.). There will be some that for whatever reason are drawn to the notion of sewing but they won't have true motivation or ability to master the skills needed to be proficient or advanced in the art form. This isn't a bad thing. We each have our own talents and I think what many of us are expressing is we want Threads to continue to be an inspiration for those of us who have devoted the time and energy to our craft.

    Recently on another forum someone provided a link to a website that provides out of print sewing books that can be read or printed at no charge. One book in particuliar is a pattern drafting book published in the 40's; very informative and inspirational. If Threads was to publish a second magazine focused on basics and beyond I don't think you would receive any complaints and probably a number of current subscribers would look forward to the opportunity to subscribe to a second quality publication. It would have to be handled in the same thoughtful manner as Threads is now but could cover the basics in a sophisticated manner and go beyond to cover drafting and other more complex aspects. It could be the "how to" publication and leave Threads as the "inspiration". This would definitely be a win-win. Even better, have it published on the opposing cycle to Threads so we would have something to look forward to from Tauton Press every month. I won't speak badly of the other publications but will simply say that Threads is the only non-pattern sewing publication that I subscribe to. I consider the pattern magazines differently - I subscribe to them to keep current with the trends and don't expect them to meet my inspiration needs. By the way, I have done the knitting, crocheting, quilting, cross stitch, etc. etc. but have alway come back to focusing on fashion sewing. Like I said we all have our talents and fashion sewing is mine and selfish as it is I want Threads to meet my needs. The basics are available for anyone who wants them. I have several basic sewing books in my personal library and a search at Amazon brings up a number of titles and most can be purchased used at a reduced cost. Also, recently I started scouring antic shops looking for older sewing related books and I don't find that the older books are unuseful. Most of the techniques and tools are still being used. There are new methods for some things but a lot is unchanged and probably will remain so. I have also found that many methods being touted as new have actually been around for years but fell out of favor and were forgotten. Sorry this is so long winded and thanks for the opportunity to respond about the focus of the magazine.

    Sue W, Williston, FL

    1. marijke | | #145

      I've read the posts on novice sewers with interest.

      I'm not really a novice, but not advanced either.  I've got a (more than) fulltime job and two small kids, so not much sewing time.  I don't want my sewing to be yet one more source of stress, so I don't always challenge myself with very complex techniques, but I do enjoy the creativity that sewing brings to my life.

      Some of the creative ideas offered in Threads I try, some I don't.  I always like reading about them, and try to evaluate whether the technique would be fun or potentially frustrating.  The editors couldn't possibly know what frustrates me, so I'm not asking that all articles are things I would try.

      Basic information often offers new ideas.  Conventions on how to do basics change.  Some of the basics I've encountered in Threads taught me more efficient ways to do things and/or techniques that made my stuff look more professional.  So keep basic info, but also keep the creative stuff.

      That my 2 cents,


  35. user-192941 | | #146

    I'm a "tweener" sewer.  Between novice and expert, and agree that beginner sewers gravitate to "Sew News", and more advanced sewers "Threads". 

    I'd like to see an article on choosing good, reliable fabrics.   Something that addresses how you can predict how a fabric will perform after it's made up.  I'm tired of working hard to construct a well fitted garmet, only to find that the material I used is junk, and after 3 washings is faded, or flimsey. 

    I'd like to know where to buy good fabric, so include some sources.  I'm especially interested in finding a chino blend of polyester/cotton/nylon to make casual pants from (like the fabric that Talbott's uses in their slacks).  Also, a decent source for Denim, to make Jeans that behave like ready to wear.

    You could even do a series on different types of fabrics, how to launder, what interfacing to use, with practical applications.  I use "Fabric Saavy" all the time, but after I've already bought the fabric.

    Help me stop wasting my time and money!

    Thanks, Susanne Boyd

    1. SewNancy | | #147

      I agree that finding the fabrics used in ready to wear are hard to find and I shop in the garment district in NYC.  I bought an expensive knit from Donna Karan and used it in pants and it bags out!  This annoys me more than any thing, when fabric stretches even though I've prewashed it more than once.  I use the stretch test and that isn't all that reliable either. 


      1. user-192941 | | #148

        It doesn't seem to matter how much I spend for the fabric, how much I pre-wash, or test.  It's to a point I'm about to give up sewing.  I've even relied on only dry cleaning, hand washing, etc.  

        You know, you expect this for some knits, woolens, silk, etc., but cotton and cotton blends?  Argh!!! 

        1. user-192941 | | #149

          I should also clarify, that I'm not buying "junk" from JoAnn's.  I just got back from Toronto, where I spent 3 days shopping for the "Rignt" fabric, and it still isn't right. 

          Do you think it would help to take some college courses in textiles?  Sewing is my only hobby, and unless I figure out this fabric thing, I'm finding a new hobby!

          1. carolfresia | | #150

            Thank you to all who have expressed frustration at finding fabrics that will live up to their expectations. I think that we've all had plenty of those annoying experiences when a perfectly lovely fabric goes wacky in the wash, or just from wear. While it probably isn't possible to pre-troubleshoot every type of fabric, I'll see if I can find an author who'd like to take on the task of informing us all a little better about how to choose and use a variety of fabrics.


          2. user-192941 | | #151

            Thanks!  I'll look forward to it.

          3. louise | | #197

            At the risk of sounding really crabby.........OH PLEASE, there is more than enough space devoted to  novice questions in Threads as it is!  PLEASE PLEASE no more! m Sew News is an excellent resource for novice/intermediate sewers.  If you can't find it in Threads, go back to Sew News.  Threads is the last bastion for the intermediate-advanced/advanced sewer!

            Now the crabby me has left the room, my better self will ask/answer the rest.  Re the crummy fabric.  Do you check to make sure that it is washable and then do you wash it carefully and hang or lay out to dry, or just toss it in the washer/dryer?   I make a habit of not washing clothes that I have detailed or tailored.  If I have spent more than two days making it ......it goes to the cleaners.  I have an excellent local dry cleaner who does all of his work on the premises.  Large fabric chains, in my opinion, carry a substandard grade of fabric.  They cater to those who like to sew it fast and wear it for only the current season. 

            I think you said you were in Toronto?  Well, most of my fabric is purchased on Queen just west of Spadina and at Designer Fabrics on Queen, just west of Bathurst.  If I am really putting on the dog, I buy findings and notions at MacDonald Faber.  They cater to the garment industry and if they don't have it, you don't want it.  I only shop in large fabric chain stores for things that can't really be messed up.  Patterns, needles, threads, buttons linings.  Again for the above reasons, when shopping in the 'big box fabric stores' I only  use sew in facings (which I pre shrink like mad) now because I haven't met an iron-on that doesn't bubble, crinkle or shrink. 

            Since subscribing to Threads for many years I usually line or underline with materials that couturier/ designers/high end methods suggest.  Plainly put, I often use fabrics for linings that a big box store would advertise as an outer fabric.

            I hope this helps, it is well intended.


          4. SewNancy | | #154

            Dear Carol,

            That would be great.  I am experienced and I still have problems.  You did an article a while back about shopping and putting fabrics together which was helpful, but I don't think that it covered what we are talking about.  Talking about fabric, when I talked to the people at Banksville Fabric in Ct. they mentioned that they had fabric from the same mill as Chanel and sent me some samples in black and white that are to die for.  $29 yd and beautiful.  They said that they had other colors and that they come in and go out very quickly.  By the way I bought silk lycra charmeuse from them.


          5. carolfresia | | #155

            I was talking to another editor today about this, and of course the best thing to do is buy 1/4 yd. of your fabric and pretreat part of it. If you hate the results, pretreat a second swatch using another method. This will help out with the general care and maintenance, but things like how it will actually behave when worn are hard to pre-test. The bagging knit you mentioned, for example. It's tricky to simulate the effects of what happens when a fabric is stretched, then sat upon for some length of time, without actually wearing it!


          6. marijke | | #156

            Good point about how fabrics hold up with extended wear.  That's not just a problem for what I sew...  many RTW fabrics don't do so well either when it comes to bagging and wrinkling...


          7. SewNancy | | #159

            So true, I bought an expensive pair of pants this summer and they bag out when I wear them!  Very anoying.


          8. kayl | | #157

            You might also try wearing some of the fabric around home... sometimes there's something I just *have* to have... and I may just fold it and toss it around my shoulders like a shawl or wind it around me sari-like for a day or so, just to see what it wants to do. The UPS guy may look at me a bit funny, but, hey, it's *my* house and *my* fabric!

            If you're doing the 1/4 yd sample thing (I'm rarely that organized)

            and you want to check for bagging or wrinkling under stress, safety

            pin a swatch to the inside of the knee or the inside the back of your

            most comfortable and bagged-out jeans and wear it for awhile... and

            see what it looks like.


            Edited 9/27/2004 11:25 pm ET by kay

            Edited 9/27/2004 11:27 pm ET by kay

          9. lize | | #167

            thanks all for the info unfortunately i just found out i will not be able to attend I am really bummed!!!!! boo hoo~~~~ for me:( but I will survive if anyone knows of any other conventions in or around Buffalo New York please let me know also Raleigh Durham I go there several times a year.  I think I saw one in the spring in Cleveland so maybe i'll try that one.  For all of you going have fun get great ideas and if you get any websites that are really interesting please let me know.. thanks.  Lize

  36. SylviaH | | #158

    I'm a novice sewer and am teaching my daughter to sew. We both enjoy Threads especially the retro and historic clothing features. My daughter doesn't enjoy other sewing mags, I'll refrain from naming them, as she says they're not inspiring or interesting. She is very much a beginning seamstress but likes to "see how things are done". I'm content being a novice but do enjoy the advanced articles. We both enjoy patternless sewing and the 1 pattern 3 ways ideas and would like to see more of them. I think Threads should keep publishing items covering basic sewing techniques and knowledge. I feel it encourages beginners and a good review from time to time won't hurt anyone. If you feel you don't need a review, don't read the article. This type of article also keeps Threads from appearing to be a "stuck-up fashion only slick", my daughter's words. 

    She suggests that from time to time perhaps Threads could run pieces/articles featuring young sewers or items that pertain to them. Some of her ideas are:1 pattern 3 ways with a pattern teens would like,  articles about youth sewing programs or even featuring the youth themselves, thrift store or hand-me- down make overs and more patternless sewing articles.

    If we want to attract and encourage the next generation we should allow them on the stage with the seasoned performers. We'll all benefit and it'll be fun too!

    1. marijke | | #160


      I agree that mixing in an article that focuses especially on young sewers and/or young designers might be useful.  However...  the article on Brook DeLorme resulted in a storm of reactions.  Although I think it was mostly because the piece seemed all about her showing off and not about sharing technique or ideas.

      I wonder if there are any design students out there who could do innovative/young in a way that would be more appealing?  (I'm thinking about a show I caught on HGTV where they had a design student do a real project and it was a sort of reality check for the student but also showed process and result so the audience also saw design going on.)

      At the mall last week I saw a lot of teens/young women in little skirts that were unfinished at the bottom.  It can be a cute look, but some had obviously put their skirt through the washer and had large and uneven clumps of fray hanging from it -- not so attractive.  Maybe an article on doing the frayed look, teen style, but doing it to withstand the dryer and stay cute?  (Maybe the trend will be over by the time that would appear in print...)


    2. lifelongsewer | | #191

      Hi Sylvia,

      What great ideas you and your daughter have - keep them coming!

      Kay in L.A.

  37. sewrunrig | | #161

    As someone who would describe herself as a novice sewer, I want to add my thoughts on this engaging discussion. I enormously appreciate the articles and sections that are geared toward the basics of sewing. I have sewn off and on for years, but have not remained committed enough to advance my skills. When I first started sewing, I had a sewing instructor who, when I asked her about sewing magazines, responded, "Threads is an excellent magazine, but it's for advanced sewers, you could probably learn more from the advertisers than the articles."  I can still vividly recall feeling overwhelmed and discouraged about advancing my skills.  It took me years to finally even peruse a Threads magazine.

    I believe it is important to feature techniques and articles that appeal to advanced sewers; however, I believe it is critical that we do whatever we reasonably can to invite and support new and beginner sewers to this community. The more inclusive we can be at several levels of participation, the more likely the number of sewers will swell and the beginners/novices of today will move to become advanced and more involved sewers.

    I would also encourage continuing the inclusion of "basics" because I firmly believe the "devil's in the details."  I have had the opportunity to view beautifully sewn garments, but been struck by the less than impressive zippers, buttonholes, darts, etc. I am also struck by long term sewers who say they only sew garments with no zippers, collars, buttonhles, etc. because they've never learned how to skillfully construct them.

    In sum, I think it's important to focus on the more advanced, creative aspects of this wonderful craft, but to also encorage and support the base of novice sewers, so as to grow our craft.

  38. sewrunrig | | #162

    PS: I'm in that over 40 group returning to sewing. My grandmother and great grandmother were excellent seamstresses. Unfortunately, my grandmother was one of those persons who avoided any garment with buttonholes. 

    As a child and teenager, I thought I'd never want to sew. However, after seeing a size 2T pair of elastic waist seersucker pants priced at $18.00, I thought my grandmother could make this out of 1/2 yd. of fabric for about $5.00. So, I got interested in sewing.  

    I do enjoy being inspired by Threads -- the couture techniques, the added touches that demonstrate how finely made a garment is. One of the most interesting articles I ever read was one by Shermane Fouche. I believe it was on smoothly easing in a sleeve cap. I will never forget how beautiful that jacket looked - a simple, basic technique that was elevated by the artistry and skill of the writer.

  39. sdotson1 | | #164

    I returned to sewing 3 years ago from a break of over 15yrs.  There were times I stopped by the fabric shop to pick up craft items and would occasionally pick up a SewNews or various magazines.  It wasn't till I purchased a Threads issue that made me realize what I was missing.  Can't wait to get each issue.

    As a new beginner, I want to be inspired.  I have numerous video tapes, books etc on the basics.  I figured why sew if it's just like RTW.  I wanted beautiful and creative at the same time.  Threads give me this.  The way the articles on advance fabric types are covered, helps me to try it too.

    That is how you are going to get youth into sewing, pushing the envelope sometimes.  I love to see how to do some of the current runway fashions design techniques.

    I have used your magazine to show others how to make clothes that are theirs alone.  Any basic step that is not in the magazine is readily available in my sewing library basic books.


  40. jandheurle | | #168

    Since readers never know what the next issue will contain, how can a novice sewer count on the right information coming from Threads that will help them in their endeavors?  I think that the editors at Threads are trying to do too much if they think they can teach people how to sew.    I've always used the magazine as a resource for inspiration or I look back in previous issues to check on a technique I want to try.  Recently, I made a lace evening gown and I checked back on a Susan Khalje article on how to applique lace.  Novice sewers, it seems to me, would be better served with a comprehensive sewing book that covers the basics that can take them step by step through assembling a garment.  Threads is good for suggesting alternative methods or offering different perspectives on various techniques.  Threads should rather serve as a beacon to novice and experienced sewers alike with interesting, informative articles that offer insight into different methods of creating new designs.  The most inspiring articles for me have always been the detailed exposes of different designers:  Harold Koda's article on Balenciaga, Claire Schaeffer on Chanel, Betty Kirke on Vionnet, and many others, all fascinating to my mind.  I should think that anyone interested in making clothing would find this kind of information something to strive for whether they are beginners or accomplished dressmakers.  If Threads wants to serve beginners, perhaps they should publish a beginning sewing book.


    1. louise | | #200

      Amen, sister


    2. juliamae | | #237

      The reason I keep paying the price to subscribe to Threads, three years at a time, year after year, is that it is not trying to teach me to sew, but how to refine the techniques I learned on the way to adulthood, from my mother, sewing teachers, other less sophisticated magazines, and most of all by experience, trial and error. I have dropped subscriptions to other sewing machines because they are so elementary and uninspiring. Hooray for Threads!!! It IS the magazine for people who love to sew, and know how to sew.

      1. jandheurle | | #238

        I agree. I, too, keep my subscription and I have every issue. Yet, I feel that the current publication cannot compare to the earlier years and I wish that they would return to that format.

  41. Mema | | #169

    I am an elementary sewer, however I enjoy sewing a lot.  I love Threads Magazine.  I like to learn more about sewing.

    1. edgy | | #170

      I have to say I'm with Jan. I understand you want to hold a wide audience, but I think you've "dumbed down" the magazine in the last 8-10 years. There's so much out there for beginners and it's so difficult for those of us trying to stretch our creative muscles to find innovative ideas and techniques.

      I wish Threads was innovative ideas and techniqes about thread-related art. If anyone has any notion of another source, I'd love to hear it. I've tried almost every magazine and book out there. Threads is losing me as a subscriber, because after all the feedback we gave you over the past year, there was no "statement" of what the magazine would be pursuing. And I think that's because it's trying to be all things to all people.

      IMHO, that's a mistake, but I'm not the editor.


  42. chg | | #176

    I always thought the "quick to make" pojects and the "try it out!" suggestions at the end of articles particularly helpful for less experienced sewers as well as those short of time. They encourage people to try out new techniques on a small and therefore not so daunting project. I would have thought this helps beginners, but both "Quick to make" and "try it out!" seem to have disappeared from your pages. Much to my regret.


    1. MOMPEA1 | | #179

      I have just spent the better part of an hour reading this entire thread. I would describe myself as beyond a beginner, a little past novice but definitely not an expert. I have upholstered couches, made swags and jabots,roman blinds, childrens clothes ranging from one piece rompers to a miniature trench coat for a two year old. I asked a question earlier about where to go to find classes that would help me to advance my sewing abilities and make my blazers/jackets turn heads. I agree sometimes I find Threads too simplistic, but even in those articles I find I pick up something. And other times you're light years ahead of where I'm currently at - or I think so until I try. Sometimes I succeed sometimes I don't, but that's life and I just keep plugging.

      One comment though-about using muslin for patterns. I don't really find it very helpful. The muslin has a texture and drape(often NO drape) of it's own and frequently doesn't translate well into making a wool skirt. The wool has characteristics all its own too.

      My current goal is to sew professional outfits for my daughter. She is teaching at the university level and is required to wear a blazer or suit jacket with slacks. I'd like to make the jackets polished but appropriate for a 26 yr old. Any pattern recommendations to fit my criteria?

      Thanks and keep on sewing!


      1. lagga2003 | | #184

        My favourite jacket pattern of all time has got to be Vogue 2162, sadly no longer available. I made this in everything from pure wool herringbone tweed to dupioni silk and altered the length to suit the fabric, sometimes adding a back vent, and it never looked as if I had used the same pattern.

        My next favourite is Vogue 7673 which I have made in a herringbone wool mix, a plain polyester blend, a Linton tweed and am presently making in leather. On the tweed I made patch pockets set at an angle, rather than the set in pockets. This pattern is young enough for a 26 year old, but looks businesslike. Any classic jacket pattern woul also work well, try doing the upper collar and facing in a contrast fabric and make a skirt from the contrast fabric and trousers from the main fabric. Two totally different looks. I also use sheer fusible interfacing on all pieces, this seems to make the garments keep their shape, sorry I live in the UK so don't know the American name for this.

        Once you find a basic pattern that your daughter likes the only limit will be your imagination.

        Shelagh in UK

      2. louise | | #201

        Dear MomPea1

        Re the muslin:  Our local School of the Arts runs sewing classes (8 or so weeks) and I took a couple of them.  The teacher was terrific, her initials were M.G. and if she's out there, I sure wish she would drop me a line about whether she still teaches.  I have seen her name in the letters/tips column at least once.

        But I digress.  This fabulous teacher suggested that if you really want to check your fit, go to the $1/yd counter and try to match the weight  and charachteristics of your fashion fabric.  The "muslin"  will more closely represent how the finished garment will fit.  It's probably cheaper than muslin too.


      3. louise | | #202

        Dear Jackie

        I really love Vogue and here the patterns are $5.99 to Fabricland members.  The best tailoring instructions available would likely be found in Claire Sheaffer's Couture Sewing, several back issues of Threads (you can do a search on their site) or The Vogue Sewing book.

         Stanley Hostek publishes an excellent, but very detailed  tailoring book for men.  I am 99% sure he has one for women.  It seems to me I paid about $45 CDN for the men's one about 7 years ago.

        Here is his address anyway.


        4003 West Armour Street, Seattle, Wash 98199  Library of Congress Catalog Card # A345190.

        Good luck with the jackets!  A couple of tips, underline, even if you have to use something very light just so you can underline and take the time to baste them together.  I use a very long basting stitch (about 7stitches up the front length of the jacket and about 4 rows across).  You are then confident that the interlining matches up and there will be no sags or bags to give it away.  A lot of your construction stitching can be anchored to it, making the "bones" of the jacket invisible.  Use the best quality (inter &) linings and interfacings you can afford.  Use tailors shouler pads, not the crummy foam ones that chain stores sell.  Again, if you search on threads I am sure they have an article on types of shoulder pads and how to make them.  My personal advice, don't use iron on interfacing, though I am sure I am a dinosaur on this point.  You guys have Handler etc. available, here in Canada, it's pretty hard to come by a decent iron-in.

        I love Claude Montana's suits they are superb! Very Classy and timeless.  I made myself one of his suits in a slate blue microfibre.  It was a short jacket the front consisted of  three staggered vest points (yes 6 in all)  It was and is a stunner!

        Again Good luck, if you want to do it you will!

        1. MOMPEA1 | | #203

          WOW! Thanks for all the information Louise. I have purchased Claire Sheaffers books..I scanned them a bit ago...guess I should read them.. you think? It's like I think I'm going to gain the information by osmosis or something. I also picked up 2 of her Vogue patterns with very detailed instructions both are blazers, one button and the other a 3 button. I've already spent 2 evenings reading the instructions for the one button jacket.

          I did just finish making a beautiful pleated skirt for my very picky daughter and after reading everyone's comments I put the zipper in by hand. I was really pleased with the skirt, very detailed and I put every bit of extra work into it. Dear daughter complained that the pleated skirt didn't fit tight enough(!) I explained the difference between the styles of skirts and pointed out that a-line and pleated skirts are NOT going to hug her bum! Sheeeesh! What a kid! Picky, picky, picky.

          I'm going to go to the ASG site and see if they have anything available near me. I would love to take classes and just see how the pros do it. Any time Kenneth King is on I am just so amazed at his talents. The mans' talents just blow me away. I'd go just about anywhere to be able to spend some time learning from him. I've made skirts,unlined jackets, sundresses, childrens clothes, drapes, and upholstered furniture. I've got a pretty good handle on basic sewing. I would just love to advance to making a really WOW outfit. Something that would shut up my picky daughter once and for all.

          Sandra(I think that's her first name) Khalje (sp?) discussed a specific type of paper like material that is used to make patterns. It looked heavy and seems like it would last. Anybody know what paper-like material she was talking about and where do I get it?

          I have learned so much just reading all the postings here. Thanks to everyone for being so nice and answering my questions and offering suggestions.


          1. kayl | | #204

            The paper you're talking about is sometimes called "alphabet paper" or

            "alphanumeric" or "dotted paper". The only mail order source I'm aware of is South Star: http://www.southstarsupply.com/newcatalog/search.php?PHPSESSID=51ebdb0dfb7bdfd939ccc5454c468a49&category=28&text=&Search=Search

            Try calling around to all the paper suppliers and to sewing suppliers around you -- you may luck out. Or you may be able to get a co-op

            going with fellow ASG or similar group members.

            I use a heavier version I bought at Oregon Tailor Supply before they

            went out of business. Wish I'd gotten a couple more rolls.


          2. Elisabeth | | #207

            Is it the Swedish Tracing Paper that Susan Khalje is referring to? It's very easy to work with but a tad expensive, in my opinion. Nancy's Notions has it. Sometimes it is called Monster Paper, an americanization of the swedish word for pattern.

            You might enjoy the book Couture:The art of fine sewing by Roberta Carr. She has some great methods described for making your garments look great. An alternate title for this book might be What Your Pattern Instructions Didn't Tell You.

            Maybe you daughter would like the feel of having the pleats stitched down a couple of inches from the waistband. It would usually be done before putting the waisband on so you can't see the stitching, the pleats just release lower, but it can be done after by topstitching. Then the skirt would feel like it had a yoke hugging her hips.

          3. MOMPEA1 | | #208

            I shouldn't have really called the skirt pleated. It is fitted except for 2 decorative but functional pleats in the front. There's topstitching in the form of a triangle about 12" below the waist, at the top or the start of the pleat. The pleat only opens after the triangle. You can also alter the pattern to make the skirt look like a pair of gaucho pants. Maybe that will give you a better mental picture of what it looks like. My daughter is just a picky bugger about everything she wears...aren't they all?


          4. louise | | #213


            You are very welcome.  Your comment about "osmosis" is actually a good way to learn the finer points of tailoring. 

            Whenever I watch a movie (which can be a gold mine of detail ideas), or go shopping, or get a chance to get "up close and personal" with men's suits, either "bespoke" or just plain expensive I find I spend most of my time looking at the finishing.  This is particularly helpful when I am considering using a fabric that is not a strictly conventional suit fabric.   I study the lay of the fabric, the stitching, the buttons and anything else I am curious about on every garment I see.  Then I go home and dig out all my technique sources to find out how it is done.  Study pictures of fine garments in books like "In Detail", which are close up photo layouts of hand sewn garments from museum collections. To my mind that is the best and quickest way to learn fine finishing.   I find I learn better when I am seeking a particular kind of information, rather than reading a text cover to cover.  I am the type that likes to specifically apply my learning.

            It also helps that my mom, who is one classy lady, tipped me off to some of the easy secrets.  For example: use a lining that can also be used as an accent on other wardrobe pieces;  use the same fabric for the lining and a complementary blouse.   If you do match the lining and to the blouse remember to match any pattern repeats on both the blouse and the lining  so that there is no clash of design for the viewer,  Use bound buttonholes.  Put zippers in by hand.  Press at every stage of garment construction.  Use a press cloth.  Spend a little extra on the buttons, make cuff-links with the suit buttons if you need them.  Match that which should be matched.  Raise your standards rather than meeting the lowest common denominator (did your mom tell you "just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge does'nt mean you have to?)....  Little things like that.

             The biggest secret, don't be afraid.   You won't learn if you don't try.

            Your daughter is lovely I am sure, but perhaps it might help if you took her shopping for a garment  that is as well constructed as those you lovingly provide for her.  It sounds like you are already at a stage where your sewing skills place your garments in a very "uptown" price bracket.  Kvetch a little about how you have sewed a divot in your finger from all the hand finishing....but only a little.  Don't be afraid to impress on her the quality of  your product.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear my son once tell a friend (who was being really picky about something) that the work should be appreciated and if they were so #$(*%&^!@+# displeased then they should do it themselves!  My mom's "pearls of wisdom" which were channelled through me to him! 

            Happy Sewing


          5. SewNancy | | #214

            This is very Chanel advice.  If you get the NY Times, was also in a mag last month, they are showing a limited edition suit for the opening of the new boutique and it is a jacket and skirt with blouse matching lining and the lining is ala Chanel to the edge with a ruffle extending out at wrist.  The trim is undoubtedly made just for them but an article in a Threads shows how to make a very nice trim withyarns.  Look for the yarns first and then find the fabric.


          6. User avater
            ehBeth | | #215

            Louise - thanks for mentioning the Queen (Spadina to Bathurst) corridor for fabrics and notions. It's a positively intoxicating wander.

  43. TonyC | | #185

    I don't see the cover of Threads as being inviting to a complete novice.  In fact, I thought it was a fiber arts kind of mag for years.  Obviously I wasn't looking that closely.  I found out about Threads by looking for sewing magazines on Amazon.

    Threads can be difficult to find outside of fabric stores, and many people who live in very small towns (like me) do most of their fabric shopping by PC.

    Threads is an excellent magazine that can serve the curious novice as is.  The only problem is a woman named Carol who seems to believe only women sew.

    A HE sewer.

  44. mwangy | | #186

    This seems a good idea to me.  Twice I have left sewing but want to return again.  When I go to a store, I am intimidated and overwhelmed by the choices of interfacing, even pins (the store clerk asked me why would I pin anything, if I really knew how to sew).  Another time and another store, I asked for advice about sheer curtains and the lady told me to not sew them, but use some type adhesive.  When I asked her what she meant, she looked at me like I was stupid and said well I can't help you with what you don't know and advised me to just purchase drapes, since I don't sew.  Sheers are fairly new to me.  Georgette blouses were the only thing I had sewn previously.

    I purchased a new sewing machine as mine is more than 30 years old and a 4 thread serger.  I took a classes but it was geared to those who wanted to use t-shirt fabric and fleece and stretch fabrics.

    Years ago, I was told that I was an excellent seamstress and even worked for a designer where every garment made had a lining.   At least there were other seamstresses to make suggestions and guide me there. Now another 10 years have passed and I am frustrated.

    My stockpile of fabric is ridiculous and I want to get going, but I will probably start with some home decor.

    1. kayl | | #187

      You said:

      "When I go to a store, I am intimidated and overwhelmed by the choices

      of interfacing, even pins (the store clerk asked me why would I pin

      anything, if I really knew how to sew). Another time and another

      store, I asked for advice about sheer curtains and the lady told

      me to not sew them, but use some type adhesive. When I asked her

      what she meant, she looked at me like I was stupid and said well

      I can't help you with what you don't know and advised me to just purchase drapes, since I don't sew"

      Truthfully, both of those remarks similar to those that I would have

      expected to catch coming out of the mouths of new grad students

      teaching lab sections and not being sure of their information. And

      I suspect I'd be having a conversation with the manager of the second


      Pins are easy for me... I've got some of those huge quilt pins with

      the big yellow plastic heads. They get used for everything that they won't leave a mark in. They're big and easy to spot, and I'm sure

      I won't sew over them. I also have some fine silk pins that I use

      for fabrics that the quilt pins would mark -- I use them less often

      because the others are easy to handle. And yes, I've learned to sew

      nearly pinlessly, but that doesn't mean that I never use pins. And

      many people who sew very well use pins religiously. So what? There's

      no sewing police. Do what works for you.

      Interfacings can be a problem. There are some good ones on the market, and some that aren't worth bringing home. Buy a yard of

      several different kinds, write what they are on them, and then

      (assuming they're fusibles), fuse them to several different types

      of fabric... compare the hand of the fabric before and after. Toss

      the swatches in the washer and dryer several/many times, and see

      what happens. Write down the sorts you like and the sorts you hate

      for future reference. I have a suite of three fusibles I

      particularly like, and they cover 95% of my sewing needs. When

      they don't, I can always use a non-fusible, which are easier to

      judge without some running experience with a particular fusible.

      The "tape" the second clerk was referring to was probably a fusible

      tape like "heat and bond" or "steam a seam", and I personally wouldn't

      use them on curtains, though many do. She certainly should have been

      able to give you a couple of brand names. Grrr.

      If you have sewn georgette successfully, you can certainly handle

      working with sheer curtain fabric.

      Have you checked to see if there's an ASG group near you? http://www.asg.org/html/chapters.html

      As for your serger class, what techniques did you want to learn that

      weren't covered? Working with knits on the serger give you an opportunity to use a few more basic serger techniques than you'd

      use with wovens, so I suspect you just need to transfer the techniques

      you learned to woven fabrics, which are usually less skittish than knits.

      Sounds like you've got a good basic grounding in sewing, you just need

      to get your confidence up again.

      Jump on in... the water's fine... the worst you can do is ruin some

      fabric and waste some time -- and the rewards for sewing can be very



  45. anna_banana | | #193

    hello Carol,

    I am a novice a very basic novice, in fact have never embroidered before so am about to start, I am also over 40 lol and can remember home ec but I was educated in Ireland and sewing was not big on the list......



  46. mom6 | | #194

    HI! I am a beginer sewer.  I just recently purchased my first sewing machine.  While I think I make pillows quite perfectly, my husband has banned me from making anymore, unless I am giving them away,lol!  I want to make clothes for my daughters and other things, but no nothing about sewing.  I dont understand the pattern instructions, or the cuts or anything. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated!!




    1. GinnaS | | #195

      skittles - It would be very difficult to tell you in this format everything you would need to know to sew clothing.  I think the best way to learn is to take a class where an instructor can assist you in person.  Check you local sewing shops and continuing education classes for a beginning class in garment construction.  The local shops might have contacts for one on one teaching also.  You might see if your county extension agent could assist you in some way.  Does your town have a senior center?  If so, you might talk to the person in charge about what you are looking for or post a message there asking for assistance.  If you give some idea of where you live someone on this message board might be able to help you.


      1. mom6 | | #206

        ok, i am in downey, california. Anyone have any knowledge on where to go for sewing classes

    2. kayl | | #196

      A class or a friend who knows about sewing helping you at first might be the best bet. However, the Simplicity "Simply the best Sewing book"

      was developed just for beginners, and you may find it goes a long way

      toward answering your questions. You might also see if there's an

      ASG (American Sewing Guild) chapter near you (http://www.asg.org) --

      you're guaranteed to find people who sew there!

      Enjoy sewing... it's got a bit of a steep learning curve at first,

      but the rewards are great!


    3. GALEY | | #198

      Congratulations on beginning a rewarding skill!  The advice to contact the county home demonstration agent (here they're called Agricultural Extension Home Demo. agents) is a good one.  Their services are already paid for with your tax dollars.  In Louisiana, they offer free brochures by mail, they will answer a question over the phone if possible, and they offer beginner sewing classes at a nominal fee.  I have been sewing garments to wear for over 50 years and the one piece of advice I would urge is to buy the best fabric and tools you can afford; for instance, $15.00 shears cut about 300 times better than $7 ones!  The very best thing is to have a neighbor to whom you can run with a problem--the ones on my block have ripped out major mistakes and even finished garments when the original sewer had given up.  Also, you can call any pattern company toll-free any time and speak to a person who will give you help with unclear directions, etc.  I have done this very successfully.  Good luck and remember, there is no perfect garment made by man.

      1. SewNancy | | #199

        Dear Galey,

        I never knew that you could call the pattern company and get help with unclear directions!  Wow, talk about learning something new every day!  When I started sewing again as an adult I was very lucky to have  an expert seamstress next door and she really was a big help.  But, I ended up taking lessons at an upscale fabric store and that was worth every penny. 


  47. biaspeggy | | #205

      I am a new sewer.  I have fitting problems..  I am a size 12 at the shoulders, and a size 16 at the bust.  I cannot decide what is the best design for my figure, without looking like maternaty clothes.   HELP.   Thanks much.   Maggie

    1. SewNancy | | #209

      Sounds familiar as I have the same problem.  Or not if you look at it positively.  The thing to remember is that fabric will fall from the point farthest out on the body and hang straight, thus making us look a lot heavier than we are.  The best patterns are those that have multiple fitting seams ie princess seams either from the armhole or the shoulder.  Several darts will work also but not quite as easily.  you can increase a bust dart and then pivot and divide the amount to create verticle darts so that the item is more fitted.  A great fitting book for the beginner is Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto.  It is readily available and a relatively easy method to alter patterns.  Take a look at the article, it is on the main website for Threads on cloning a fitting dummy.  I have one out of duct tape and it is a real  boon.  If you don't fight against your body type you will have a much happier time sewing.  I have learned never to buy or make shapeless things.   Clothes that just skim my body make me look so much thinner.

      Good luck,Nancy

      1. biaspeggy | | #210

          Hi Nancy...   thanks so much for the tip.   I suspected as much.  I shall give it a try with some knits, just in case I need some extra ease.  You are my first ever message on line.   I enjoyed the chit chat..  Thanks again     Mag

    2. ktc | | #221

      I'm similar to you, too (but bigger).Barbara Decker (writing to plus sizes) suggests that if your bust is disproportionally bigger than your shoulders, you should choose patterns according to your CHEST measurement (smaller) rather than your full-bust.Bust alterations are far easier to target.I recommend Fast Fit, by Sandra Betzina. Her book is easy to use--many specific figure problems, and quick solutions.I used two of her suggestions to increase cup size and lower the apex: never has any pattern fit me so perfectly! I'm THRILLED!

      Edited 11/24/2004 9:31 am ET by Kathy

      1. biaspeggy | | #222

        Hi Kathy

                 Thanks for your input.  I shall give Sandras book a try.  I used to watch her TV program all the time..  In fact, I watch all the sewing and quilting programs.  I've picked up a lot of info.  Someone has suggested  I stick with the princess line, but I'd like to try both.    Thanks again..    Mag

        1. ktc | | #227

          The blouse I altered is a princess line blouse! I was afraid I was on the borderline of too big for a princess, but Sandra's suggestion helped me to add length and shift the top of the curve so that I wouldn't have to add a dart.After I got the pattern altered, I made a test garment. It looked like a bag! I thought, "I can't even tell that these are supposed to be princess seams!" I was disappointed, thinking I'd loused the directions up.
          When I tried it on, though, it looked FABULOUS! It popped right into shape (unaltered, princess seams in my size jut out at collarbone level!).Even if you don't have any bodily oddities, she's just so succinct that you'll be glad to have "Fast Fit" as a reference.

          1. biaspeggy | | #228

            Hi Kathy....   I have so many tops in my closet trying to find a good fit.  I was thinking   about giving up on garment making and sticking to quilts.   However, if Santa  doesn't bring me a copy of Sandras book, I'll shall purchase it myself..  Thank you for your help.            Mag

  48. amyL | | #216

    My suggestion is to teach others: children, friend, relatives a sewing skill you already know.  I have taught various basic sewing classes to mothers and daughters, boys and girls  of all ages.  I encouraged them to to sew something they could use, but keep it very simple. You would be amazed how fun it is and how much you do know already.  Most of the women I taught were so grateful to learn and also have their kids learn to sew since they never learned how.  I also donated a sewing class to my kids school auctions which were very well received. You can handle this in a lot of fun ways as well.  Also, I am not an expert seamstress but I do love to sew and am wanting to do more of it.  It is my creative outlet and I love to try new things all the time.  The problem is just noat having enough hours in the day. 

    1. carolfresia | | #217


      I love the idea of donating a sewing lesson as to the school auction. I often consider donating a garment (since I'm not a quilter), but what with size and style considerations, it might not go over very well. A lesson or class, on the other hand, would be lots of fun.

      Would you be willing to share how you did this? Did you do a series of classes or a single lesson? Was it based on completing a project, or more of a basic how-to class?


      1. amyL | | #218

        I donated classes in several different ways. one was a mother daughter class for 3-4 mothers/daughters, these girls were all about 6 years old and did very well following instructions etc. and if there was confusion the mom was able to help a little. We started our first class at the fabric store to pick out fabric and notions. I believe the kids made pullover nightgowns and a matching drawstring bag to keep their overnight supplies in. The mom was the supporter she did not sew but helped out. I included a simple snack like cookies and grapes, and milk and we kept the class to about 1 1/2 hours. We then proceeded to meet 2-3 other times to complete the projects. Another auction class I donated was for 3 girls only to sew the same simple nightgown and bag. This was fun too with just the kids.
        I have also taught to other kids during the summer months. The idea is to sew something they will be able to use, like and that is simple. I did not push for perfection with these kids I just wanted them to sew and be proud of what they made. I should add that we did spend some time on learning the sewing machine and practicing on a scrap of fabric.
        I think this about covers it. It was about 5 years ago so it is hard to remember all the details. I highly reccomend you try this out sewing is not being taught anymore and the moms were thrilled to have their kids learn a valuable skill. I have thought about doing this again some day when my own kids are gone but I am too busy at the moment. Good Luck, Amy

        1. carolfresia | | #219

          What did you do about having machines for everyone? Did the students have their own, or do you have enough to provide them? The other day I was wearing a funky pair of pants (Sewing Workshop Panel Pant, in black with red Chinese characters printed all over), and a little girl asked me about them and where I got them. I told her I made them, and she was very surprised, then asked me to make a pair for her mom! I told her one day we could all have a sewing lesson together and everyone make pants, and she was delighted at the idea. I was pretty pleased that she showed an interest, as so many people just look blank at the very thought of sewing their own clothes.


          1. amyL | | #220

            I did provide the machines. I have 3 sewing machines, all different, and one serger. (I hate to admit this but I went through a "phase"). Anyway, my good machine is a New Home Memory Craft 4000, an old Bernina
            Sport ( I bought at a garage sale, a nice basic machine) and a Featherweight. I almost forgot I also had a very small Singer portable machine that had a slow/fast switch which the kids loved to start out on until they gained confidence and then they used the other machines as needed. They always loved using the New Home since they could try out the different stitches and alphabet. There were times when some kids did bring their own machines too. I encourage this so they would feel comfortable to sew at home on their own..Another thought for you is if you do do an auction donation for lessons, make it as easy as possible for the moms who work. I offered to pick up the kids after school and bring them to my house, have a snack and then sew. I did know these families so they were comfortable with this and I also met the kids at the door of the school so they did not have to find me outside. The moms then picked them up at my house and even car pooled. Remember you are offering a real service and it can turn in to a small business if you want it to. One mom confessed she had never even learned how to thread a needle, her daughter was one of my star students, at 7 years of age , she understood everything from the get go and is still sewing I understand. I occasionally drop off my old sewing books and magazines when I am cleaning out shelves. Another thought here too, I am really rambling, but I would also let the kids dig through my stash to pick out what they liked and then they decided what their next project would be. I hope this helps. AmyL.

          2. HeartFire | | #223

            I love the idea of donating sewing lessons, and would like to do this in a fund raiser for my synagogue. I've never done anything like this before, but everyone I've talked to thinks its a great idea. Can you tell me how you valued your time? was it per hr? per session? How much value did you put on it? I'm thinking of maybe 3 - 3hr sessions for an adult.
            Thank you for any input you can give me

          3. amyL | | #224

            Hi Judy, Good for you for considering this! Putting a value on something like this is hard. I did this a few years ago and was working with children (3 at a time), and I wanted to keep it reasonable so that it would be possible for a wide range of families to choose from. As i recall the auction committee put a "priceless" figure next to it, this item also went in the oral auction so it would get more activity than in the silent auction. I hope this helps. Good Luck, Amy

          4. HeartFire | | #225

            I'll let you know how it goes, the fund raiser isn't till April so I have some time to figure out details

          5. carolfresia | | #226

            Amy, thanks for your input. I'd have to do this on a weekend, since I'm one of the Working Moms, but I was envisioning it as a mother/daughter or girlfriendy thing, with at least one or more adults. I have two sewing machines, both very basic and easy to use, so that could be fine. Hmmm...there are just so many benefits to getting people into sewing, for them and for us sewers. The more, the merrier!


          6. amyL | | #229

            I love the girfriendy thing! That would be a lot of fun, I have had gals tell me they would love to do a small quilt but they do not have a machine or the skills. You could do so many things and have so much fun. Amy

          7. carolfresia | | #230

            I once, as part of my job (what a perk!), got to attend a crazy-quilt pursemaking class in Birmingham, AL, with Barbara Randle, who wrote "Crazy Quilting with Attitude." It was a total blast--she's a marvelous teacher, and treats the whole thing as a kind of creativity party, with dishes of candy scattered around and cool drinks amply supplied. Better than a day at the spa, although I don't say that from actual spa-going experience!


          8. amyL | | #231

            What a great idea! I would love to have details on this. Was there a pattern? I can think of a few girlfriends who would love this and it also would make a great donation party as well. I am also wondering do you know anything about Martha Pullen's Sewing school?? Alabama is a long way from Portland, OR but I have been thinking maybe someday it would be a fun treat to myself (when I am an emptynester) to do this.
            Thanks, Amy

          9. carolfresia | | #232

            I don't know anything about Martha Pullen's school, although I've heard that people love it.

            The crazy-quilt class was based on some designs of Barbara Randle's, but you could choose (or design) any kind of purse or bag yourself. What was fun there is that Barbara had a huge assortment of beautiful fabrics in wonderful colors, all cut into patchwork-sized pieces; she has a fabulous sense of color, and would help each person select a group of fabrics that would work well in their purse. You could do this with a bunch of fat quarters and scraps and stuff too. Check out "A crazy workshop" in issue 104 to see an account of the workshop I attended.

            My feeling is that, although sewing is usually solitary (and is quite satisfying that way), sometimes it's just fun to do it with a bunch of other people. You often end up trying thing you wouldn't on your own, and learning new skills.


            Edited 12/8/2004 10:36 am ET by CAROLFRESIA

          10. amyL | | #233

            You mentioned issuew #104 is that Threads??

          11. carolfresia | | #234

            Yes, it is--sorry for not specifying!


          12. PatricaA | | #235

            Carol and Amy,

            Sewing is not a solitary thing. Have neither of you heard of the Sewing Guild http://www.asg.org. I am a member of the Sewing Guild in Australia and it was only started recently after the founder had seen the US one in action while working in the US.

            I have not been to a Martha Pullen school, but I also have heard good things of it. Her book on Six Easy Patterns is reather simply. You might consider the Palmer/Petsch group. I know of a few people who have travelled from Australia to attend and/or teach in both these schools.

            Good luck with your fitting ans sewing ladies.

          13. amyL | | #236

            Thanks for the encouragement to join the asg. After reading your e-mail I immediately joined. I am excited to meet other people who love to sew! Amy

          14. juliamae | | #244

            Hi, Amy. I am an Alabama girl and met Martha Pullen one spring at the Puyallup WA SEW-EXPO years ago. What a gal! She is so personable and so talented. I watch her TV series on OPB whenever possible, but it comes and goes with the seasons. I now live in Bend and can't easily get back to Birmingham to check out Martha and what she is doing. I got a notice by mail recently, and maybe you did, too, that she is coming the Pasco WA May 19-22. I WANT TO GO!! But the experience is sorta spendy, especially for a gal with little talent besides sewing and no day job. My daughter-in-law goes to Paris and Moscow (she is from Russia) to study her painting lessons. Why can't I go see Martha? Unfair. You could probably find details for the Pasco show on Martha's web site if you are interested. Not the same as her Birmingham(?) school, of course, but would be fun. You probably won't see me there because of the expense, plus air fare and lodging. But I'm not giving up. Social Security goes only so far, darn it.
            Sorry I just jumped in and didn't have the answer to your main question.

  49. lize | | #239

    I am far from a novice.  Yes I have returned to sewing from many years of doing nothing but sewing curtains and sundresses but i still have my basic and advanced skills.  I enjoy reading the advanced articles and I often go back to the past issues for ideas  and lessons that i may need help with. Threads magazine is not a magazine for beginners and that is why people buy it and quite frankly pay the price for it.  I enjoy the advanced ideas i get from reading every issue.  If you have an article in each issue that touches on basics it is not a big deal but if you start devoting a good portion of the issues to beginner basic articles i will not renew my subscription.  I like being challenged, I like learing techniques that make my products look professional.  Please keep in mind that there are hundreds of magazines dedicated to arts and crafts and it is difficult to find quality articles that deal with the art of sewing in terms of fashionable upto date styles that look like they were just picked up in the fashon districts of New York and Paris.  Serious Seamstress' want to master there trade not just make summer sundresses.  We want to do both. 

    1. juliamae | | #240

      Lize, you are so right. I have sewed since about age six, sitting under my mother's sewing machine and using whatever scraps she threw down from her current projects. I started out sewing with needle and thread by hand and have not stopped, although now my Bernina 1630 does the work. If Threads changed its attitude toward sewing, I would drop Threads as I have dropped the artsy-crafty sewing magazines I have also subscribed to in the past. I want to sew in a way that says I know how to sew. I want to learn designer methods of making my garments look like designer garments. I now sew dresses for little girls in a small business of my own, also making women's accessories such as casual hats and bags. It is very satisfying to see articles in threads about "new" techniques that I discovered and have been using for years, such as David Page Coffin's method of doing collar stands and sleeve cuffs. Sewing is so much fun! The best part of sewing is designing, starting with my slopers and working outward. Sewing is a challenge, and Threads feeds me with a countinuous flow of new ideas. So I am willing to pay the high price for a REAL sewing magazine.
      I only wish that Threads would publish a comprehensive magazine article index covering all the issues from #1 to the present. But they don't now do that. I asked. If I am wrong, I would be glad to know about it.

      1. carolfresia | | #241


        No, we don't publish a comprehensive index at this point, but you can always try the online index. It's quite complete, although I believe that in the early years they didn't index some of the departments. Still, it's a start--I use it all the time!


        1. juliamae | | #245

          Thanks for that hint. I have visited the on-line index, and it is good. But I still want one in print for my almost-complete, beginning to present, Threads back-issue collection. Every issue is packed with great information. I just want to be able to have them all organized in a book. Of course, I could go to the trouble of copying all the pages from the index, of course.
          See you again,

          1. Jean | | #246

            I assume that you didn't even bother to check out Maria's index. It has been discussed before and I gave you a link to that discussion which will give you her link and another index link. I'm only posting this on the chance that you are a newcomer and didn't know what you were supposed to do.  You click on the link that's in color. Go ahead, try them. You may like them.


          2. juliamae | | #247

            Jean, you made a speedy and erroneous assumption. The index is good, and I have saved it as a link for future use. But I still want a printed one.
            I really don't understand your tone and am wondering if I have violated some order of protocol for this site. If I have, it was totally unintentional. I AM new, but then, we all have to start somewhere, don't we. This forum was recommended to me by a contact at Taunton Press.Juliamae

          3. Jean | | #248

            Nah, I was feeling cranky and thought my "help" was being ignored.  I don't like to be ignored. No big deal, my family does it all the time. ;) I'll crawl back in my hole now.

            Oh, PS. I'm not scared of your contacts at Taunton, they are good people.

            And I suppose you could print off the index if you need a paper copy.

            Edited 2/3/2005 10:08 am ET by Jean

          4. SewNancy | | #249

            That is what I have done for all the issues that I have and it really is a nice help and not all that time consuming.  Of, course it helps to have a scanner at home so that I don't have to drag all the relevant issues to the library or copy shop!  It is definitely a help and I didn't find the on line index to be simple to use.


          5. juliamae | | #250

            Thanks, Nancy, for your kind comments. You and I are in total agreement.

          6. pinkit | | #251

            Back to the subject of KNITS.  Many years ago I had a long black knit skirt which was very comfortable to wear in winter.  I live in VT and we see plenty of snow and cold.  However, the skirt hung in my attic for a very long time but when the fashions of yesteryear started to return, I pulled out the skirt and offered it to my grand daughter.  Well, she fell in love with it and wears it constantly, in winter, where she is a restaraunt hostess.  We desperately need to make a new skirt but as you all know knit is not the same fabric that it was in the 70's.  I would like to find something, not polar fleece, to make the girl a new skirt, this one is falling apart,  but need something sturdy.  Any ideas?

          7. ktc | | #252

            Maybe stretch moleskin?

          8. SewNancy | | #253

            How about wool double knit?  It is easy to sew and very comfortable and warm.  You can find it at a number of mailorder sources,  http://www.manhattanfabrics.com , http://www.emmaonesock.com,  and Christine Jonson has heavy cotton and lycra knit that is perfect for what you want.  http://www.christinejonsonpatterns.com Not sure of this address. 


          9. pinkit | | #254

            Thanks for the input Nancy. I have been laboring over this idea for too long.  I will look into the e-mail addresses you have suggested. 

      2. Jean | | #242

        Re. Threads Indexes..

        Here's a couple of non-Taunton indexes for you to check out.


      3. lize | | #243

        sewing has always been my mainstay of hobbies.  three years ago i had a stroke and the first thing i was concerned about was my ability to sew.  At first i had problems with the feeling in my feet but i have managed to regain some sensation in the right foot and i have been able to get back to the machine.  I have started back at the eaiser projects and I want to go on the the more complicated again.  My daughter has followed me and taken it step further she has studied fashion and now is trying to break into the theater business in Chicago.  Threads magazine is there for the experienced serious sewers.  As a matter of fact maybe that is our problem maybe we should stop calling ourselves "sewers"  For us it is more than just a hobbie  years ago women weren't sewers it was all part of their lifestyles it was the odd ones who didn't design and make their childrens clothes and they didn't call themselves "sewers"  So Maybe Threads Magazine should start referring to there loyal readers as "Clothiers for fun"  and teaching  the "how tos' of custom stiching.  The other thing Threads should consider is putting some features on DVD and making some advanced ideas available for demonstration.   So if anybody at Threads is out there I'm available for hire hahaha!!! I have tons of ideas.  Seriously  Please do not cave in to beginners there are a lot of resources for them let them work up to Threads.  It's a great Goal!  I remember when I was able to understand my first issue, I was very proud.  Keep your base, keep us challenged we don't want to know how to make an apron we want to make ball gowns. So for all of us out there who have been voicing our opinion about this for the last couple of months don't give in without us there would be no Threads Magazine.  Stay strong and if the magazine doesn't listen we just don't renew our subs.  Bottom line.  Show me how to make my projects look professional don't show me how to make a dart unless you have a new way of making that dart.    Well now that I have bored everyone to death I will get off my soap box and go make a pillow  hahahaha!!!!

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