Kitty’s January Threads Challenge

Originally I was quite excited about Jane’s “I Saw It In Threads Magazine” challenge idea. However, the January challenge proved quite difficult for me! As soon as the theme was announced I flipped through my stack of Threads, purchased from a public library out-of-date magazine sale years ago. With my love of all things vintage, I thought it wouldn’t matter that the projects within were not au courant. I assumed it’d be a no-brainer for me to find a project for the challenge, but no such luck. I did see several interesting ideas while perusing my outdated issues, but for one reason or another, I ended up scrapping all of those possibilities as unworkable.

My favorite project in those vintage Threads magazines was from the August/September 1992(!) issue. It’s a boiled wool jacket with intricately applied top-stitching patterns. The project technique involves decorative stitching with a twin-needle on felted wool – the stitching patterns create the effect of a knitted fisherman’s sweater. I wanted to make an above-the-knee length skirt with this technique, but I was unable to locally source the exact type of wool called for in the article. This project is something I’d like to make this winter, but because the look depends on using the right wool, it isn’t something I’d attempt without the correct fabric.

Although the search for a project in my old Threads magazines was frustrating, it did lead me to actually open and look at the Threads Magazine Archive DVD I bought in 2012. (Umm, yes it was still in the shrink-wrap, I never opened it. My forte is buying sewing stuff, not using it!) The DVD includes every Threads issue from 1985 through 2011. If you’re anything like me, and you have tons of sewing fabrics, notions, patterns, books, and magazines, the Threads Archive DVD will save you quite a bit of shelf space. Ditching your magazines for the DVD creates room for more fabric, so I highly recommend that you buy the DVD immediately! (But unlike me, you should actually get rid of your magazines once you buy the DVD…)

After wasting so much time looking for a project, I was running out of time to sew, so I searched “Quick To Make” in the Threads DVD table of contents. This was so much faster than flipping through the magazines – I would have saved hours of time if I had just looked at the DVD first. “Quick To Make” was a Threads feature that ran from September 1995 through July 2010, so I had quite a few fast-to-sew projects to choose from.

I decided to make the “Stylish Notebook Cover” from the May 2005 issue for the challenge. Since I was already in my “lost sewing mojo” phase, I figured a non-garment project would be the safest bet, and not making a garment would practically guarantee decent results. After all, there wouldn’t be any fitting issues, which is my sewing Achilles heel. But since this project was made during my sewing slump, my first notebook cover was a complete fail, and of course I had done lots of time-consuming fabric piecing on it.

For some reason the dimensions given for the pattern piece didn’t fit very well on my notebook, even though my notebook was the recommended 5″ by 8″ mini legal pad size. I didn’t even think it was possible for a non-garment project to have fitting issues! What an unpleasant surprise. After getting over my disbelief, I measured the excess fabric on the ill-fitting cover, removed that amount from the pattern piece, and made a second (and much simpler) cover. Which is still a tad too big. Sigh.

Although the January challenge didn’t go well for me, I’ve continued to be inspired by Lynne’s “Use A Machine Stitch You’ve Never Used Before” challenge from November. I used some really cute stitches I’d never tried before to attach the ric-rac and ribbon embellishments on my second notebook cover. The fabrics and button on this version are left-overs from my Pattern Review Handbag Contest purse. Once my sewing slump is over, I might give the Stylish Notebook Cover another go. They’re pretty fun to make, especially if you like to embellish, and it would give me a feeling of accomplishment to do all the intricate piecing of my first version and produce a cover that actually fits!


  1. That looks cute. Was the extra size to be able to slip the notepad in more easily? Doesn’t sound like it.
    What do you think your fitting issues are? I’d be willing to work on some fitting shells to help you figure out your needs. Maybe I could meet you at a JoAnns in Arvada or someplace halfway.
    Keep up the fun projects to show everyone.


  2. Cute! I can’t believe you had fitting issues on a notebook, LOL. I have an untouched copy of the Threads archive too, but at least it’s not in the shrink wrap because I bought it used? And here I was complaining about only being able to get it on my iPad. Doh.


  3. I join you in your buy-it-not-use-it and raise the stakes with my library of purchased Craftsy classes and The Sewing Party! Good article. Where’s a pic of the cover? I want to see!


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