In today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re discussing developing a specialty notion with my guest Jenn McMillan of Sew Fine Thread Gloss.

Jenn is a graphic designer, quilter, and fabric-obsessed sewist living in rural Ottawa, Ontario Canada. She likes to call herself the thread whisperer. 

Sewing since she can remember, Jenn was taught to sew on an old Singer Featherweight and has dabbled in various forms of textile arts her entire life. Growing up around family members who sewed, Jenn was always curious about the various trinkets and notions that were used and collected. She remembers digging through her grandmother’s sewing kit and pulling out a gnarled chunk of beeswax, later finding out what she used it for – taming her threads. She’s also excited that Sew Fine Thread Gloss is celebrating its 5-year anniversary this year!

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We begin this conversation with Jenn talking about her childhood and being creative, doodling and taking art classes in high school. Jenn went to college to study marketing and it was in her final year that she was introduced to graphic design. After graduation, she went back to school to focus on graphic design and now works full-time as a graphic designer.

She also had a small business selling handmade quilted items at markets as well as designing a few quilt patterns, but the idea for Sew Fine Thread Gloss came about when Jenn heard the news that Thread Heaven, a beloved thread conditioner among quilters, was going out of business.

Jenn walks us through the steps she took to come up with her own thread conditioner that would fill the hole in the market. Beginning with beeswax sourced from a local apiary that she melted down in an old pot in her kitchen, Jenn eventually created a more permanent setup in the basement of her home where she now makes Sew Fine Thread Gloss.

She talks about how she named the business and created the packaging. Jenn also explains the efforts she took to begin getting the product into the hands of quilter designers she admired and how this eventually led to several surprising and satisfying partnerships. Jenn explains why she doesn’t currently sell to distributors, and why she really values working with brick-and-mortar quilt shops.

Finally, we talk about sponsoring events. Jenn has sponsored QuiltCon in the past and will be doing so again this year and she explains the benefits of being involved in this way in the premier event for modern quilters in the Us.

And, of course, I ask Jenn to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Jenn recommends:

Keep up with Jenn on Instagram and shop for some Sew Fine Thread Gloss and other hand-sewing notions on the website.

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