Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Carmanah Sweater – our new pattern has landed!

Meet the newest pattern in our menswear line – the Carmanah Sweater!

This sweater pattern is part of our menswear Alpine Collection which means that it is designed as hardwearing activewear.

As such, it includes details reminiscient of high end adventurewear: Notice the twill tape seam finish, the chin guard, reinforced grommets, a well-shaped three piece lined hood, and lots of topstitching.

This pattern was designed to be a very versatile one that can be sewn up over and over to create a whole wardrobe of comfortable sweaters fit for many occasions.

There are a myriad of variations and an excellent array of color-blocking options so that each sweater you sew will look unique.

Instead of creating ‘Variation 1′ and Variation 2’ as per usual, we’ve created five mix and match sections.

Choose between a full zipper or a quarter zipper. Sew a collar or a hood. Add a kangaroo pocket or leave it off. Sew your sweater with one fabric or select contrast yokes and a pocket.

One of the great joys of sewing is the ability to choose your own fabric and style. This pattern is quite flexible – as long as your knit has at least 10% stretch and a medium weight, you can choose anything from cozy jogging fleece to a sporty ribbed knit to elegant boiled wool!

Indeed, with the right fabric and zipper choice your Carmanah could even look quite dressy (think soft boiled merino with a fine antique brass zipper with leather pull tab).

Two cuff pattern pieces are included so that you can use self fabric or a contrast rib knit depending on the stretch and bulk of your main fabric. The instructions include details on how to avoid ripples when installing your zipper. In fact, the instructions are very thorough so if you are new to working with knits, this sweater might be a great project to tackle after your first t-shirt. The more involved details are reminiscient of a woven jacket project and there are tips on how to set up your machine and handle your materials so that you do not need to struggle with stretch.

When I designed this sweater I imagined it would complement our very popular Finlayson Sweater pattern. Just like the Finlayson Sweater, its boxy shape makes it simple to fit and thus easy to sew as a gift (it’s possible to just guess the size or have a sneaky peek at the recipient’s closet).

It’s mix-and-match design allows sewists to cater the garment exactly to the recipient’s tastes – do they want a high-tech wicking hoodie to wear as a mid-layer while hiking? No problem! Do they want a ‘slightly more dressy than a crew-neck’ quarter-zip sweater to wear to the office or to Christmas dinner? Check! Just like the Finlayson, the high-end finishing details make it both a wardrobe basic and something that can be uniquely customized to suit the wearer’s personality.

Add a funky hood lining fabric and choose an interesting patterned or colored twill tape to add personality within the sweater. Finally, again like the Finlayson, this knit sweater is just involved enough to be an interesting and rewarding sewing project but still much simpler than sewing, say, a button-up shirt or jeans. It’s a nice in-between project to tackle when you don’t want to get overwhelmed by tailoring but still want to get creative with the details.

The size range for this pattern is: XS-4XL (36 1/4″-50″ Chest). 5/8″ seam allowances are included within the pattern.

We will be launching this pattern as a paper pattern during our next pattern re-print. If you order the PDF now but prefer the tissue pattern when it is available, please feel free to take advantage of our usual offer: Email us when the paper pattern is released and we will discount the cost of the PDF from your order – this way you get the format you prefer but, in the meantime, you can get sewing!

You could even sew the Carmanah Sweater this weekend! It is 20% off until Friday to celebrate it’s arrival to the shop. Happy sewing!


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And now it is Summer at the farm!

Wow, Summer is certainly our busy season this year! Since the pandemic began Thread Theory has become exceptionally active so we are actually thankful that Matt’s usual work is at a stand still so he can join in to pack orders, do runs to the post office, and keep up on emails. I have been helping with this and also chugging along at pattern development. One pattern is completely done and just waiting for our graphic designer (my sister-in-law) to come back from maternity leave and add in our test sewer feedback. The next pattern is well under way! I’ve got most of the instructions roughed in. This has been more time consuming than our past couple of patterns because it is a very involved design full of all manner of construction details – topstitching, a full lining, zippered pockets, elasticated cuffs and much more. Perhaps you can guess what it is?

Outside of Thread Theory, homestead life is, predictably, at it’s most busy time too! We’ve finally settled on a name for our property – Forgotten Pond Farm – after setting out to put a small tadpole pond in our fern garden only to discover a huge concrete-lined pond is already there! It had simply been filled in with stones and dirt at some point. We have been excitedly digging and cleaning it out. After one last chance to dry in the sun we will build some rock ledges for plants and then fill it with water! I can’t wait for the frogs to take up residence!

Our garden is pumping out zucchini, kale, collards, garlic, potatoes, beans and more. The only disappointing harvest has been tomatoes so far as they have a very dismal case of late blight. We have built a bit of a cold room off our kitchen (it used to be an unused entry way that we’ve closed in and put up shelving and added ventilation). I can’t believe how quickly it is filling up with food! So far most of my preserving efforts have involved dehydrating, curing, and freezing but I plan to launch into canning once blackberries and tomatoes are fully ripe in a week or two.

You may have noticed I have been silent on social media. I must say, I don’t miss it! Personally, I was finding Instagram, in particular, to be a huge drain on my positivity and confidence. Professionally, Matt and I felt we had to clear the airwaves to leave these platforms free for those who need them for social change rather than marketing right now. We purposely didn’t make any statement on the pandemic or on racial equality since we have the perspective that any such statement would not be truly genuine – as a business, any post we make is a form of marketing (whether we intend it to be or not) and thus we don’t feel an important social statement would come across as genuine on the social media account of any business. Personally, I am more than happy to talk with you about the subject! Our business will not though.

Now that we’ve stepped off of social media and given ourselves some time to digest how we feel about using such platforms as a business, I am feeling quite happy with my decision. I feel like I can connect with other sewists most genuinely by blogging and reading blogs so I am reverting to that format of engaging with the sewing community online regardless on the impact this might have on Thread Theory financially.

Please feel free to continue using various Thread Theory hashtags if they are helpful to you… but please never feel obligated to do so when you post about our patterns! If you prefer to keep your sewing projects private or shared just amidst your friends and family, there is absolutely no obligation on your part to promote our patterns using hashtags. We have always been a little mystified by the sense of obligation I have read many people express when they sew with indie sewing patterns. Despite being a small family run company and despite the fact that we love how a community of menswear sewists has developed through use of our patterns (I can’t believe how active the Facebook group is) I have never felt comfortable with the role many of our customers set themselves. You have purchased our patterns and we thank you for that! You do not need to spend your precious creative time reviewing them, sharing them and otherwise marketing them unless this is also something that enriches your life!

All that being said, the Thread Theory social media accounts will remain active for now as I have committed many years of work on them and I know many of you enjoy engaging with them. I’ll just refrain from engaging myself and may make a more permanent decision later. For now it seems to me there is no reason to actually close them.

Now, I’ll get back to my sewing machine and pattern development (and hanging out with little Noah!), as that is really why you all check in with Thread Theory, after all… you are waiting for more sewing patterns so you can get busy at your machines too! Happy sewing to all of you and thank you ever so much for reading about my life and my current perspective on social media. Please don’t hesitate to share your opinions in the comments as I know many of you differ in how you expect small businesses to act on social media. I look forward to hearing the diverse array of perspectives.


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Spring at the Farm

It’s time for a seasonal update about life at our homestead. This spring has been an unusual one, to say the least, but since it is only just our second Spring on the property (we moved here March 2019) life hasn’t been that abnormal for us as it has been for most…we have very little with which to compare this confinement at home! Matt is out of work right now as one would expect so we are trying to make the most of his extra time by ticking off as many projects as possible.

The vegetable garden and irrigation system have been our main focus. This last winter the garden was only a patch of layered cardboard, leaves, compost and straw. The chickens enjoyed many months of scratching though the debris for bugs until we were ready to plant.

I am attempting to use the No Dig method (by Charles Dowding) which I have used successfully on past gardens. This year though, we did not have a thick enough layer of quality compost to recreate past year’s flourishing spring gardens. The garden area was a market vegetable plot about 7 years ago but since then had been converted to pasture for small livestock. The soil is deep and dark but infested with wireworms which ate basically every seed I put in the soil and most of my early spring starts. Once the soil warmed up the wireworms moved deeper so my main season veggies seem to be chugging along nicely. According to some colleagues at the farm where I volunteer, the wireworm problem should become less over time since they thrive on grasses. I’ve hedged my bets and put cut up potato pieces in the garden as traps (I take out the pieces every few days and feed the wireworms to our chickens) and I’ve also applied beneficial nematodes. Between volunteering at the farm down the street and battling with this new-to-me pest, I have learned a lot about growing vegetables this spring!

While I’ve been battling wireworms Matt has been puzzling through the design and installation of a rainwater collection system. It has been a big cost in time and money but is necessary on this property because our well is not equipped to irrigate more than a single household. The larger our garden area becomes the more pressure this will put on our well and pump so we need to supplement with rainwater. We now have a 3000g tank installed by the shop and gravity fed drip tape spread throughout the orchard, berry hedgerow and vegetable garden. We hit a bit of a snag when the timer that Matt purchased would not work with the low pressure system he designed but we’ve set the idea of an automatic system aside for this year at least and are now just happy that the gravity fed system works with the turn of a few nozzles! The last piece to the puzzle will be extending the irrigation from Matt’s shop gutters (new last week) to the tank using PVC. That will happen in the next week or two…just in time for the summer dry spell. I hope there will be enough rain to fill the tank but I don’t really expect that to be the case! We will probably have to truck in one fill of water at least.

Aside from these large projects, we’ve been enjoying lots of smaller homestead tasks. This Spring has really marked the beginning of a new era on this property. Since moving in we have mostly been removing things: Junk, smelly flooring, accumulated wood scraps, overgrown brambles, overgrown trees, decrepit buildings. Around May we began to notice that some of our projects were actually centered around adding something new to the property…and then as May came to a close they transitioned one step further to include some projects that aesthetically as well as functionally improved the property. How exciting! Here are a few photos of the smaller tasks that we’ve tackled:

My parents (and their tractor) helped us to build this play area for Noah over the winter. This spring Matt planted the back levelled portion with clover seed and has been babying it with watering and mowing. I don’t have a current picture of the lush clover but you’ll have to believe me when I say it is the perfect spot for a picnic table!

The gorgeous fernery/grotto next to our sun room just keeps getting prettier! We’ve added a wood chip path through it and cleared out a lot of the overgrown ground cover so that I could add to the diversity of the garden by adding a variety of new ground covers. My grandparents just gave me a tadpole pond form for my birthday. I’m really looking forward to installing it in the middle of this garden. I think Noah will be the perfect age to investigate the tadpoles as they turn into frogs next spring!

Much of my May gardening time was spent watering by hand since the irrigation wasn’t ready yet. It was such a hot May and a very rainy and cool June.

Matt built a Lil’ Chick Cottage (as we’ve named it) using the only remaining decrepit building on the farm – a very sturdily built dog house. Noah enjoyed ‘helping’.

My dad built me these beautiful herb planters for our back patio and my mom filled them with soil and herbs. I’m just thrilled with them! They make the steps quite a bit safer feeling and are very convenient to access from the kitchen.

I’ve begun to paint the inside of the house at long last – the kitchen is now done and is much brighter (it used to be dark green and this picture is after one coat of slightly cream coloured white). I’ll continue the big job room by room and will tackle the easiest ones first as they can mostly be done in evenings and nap times. For the main living areas we will need to bring in painting or childcare help I think!

Matt’s dad built us a really handy TV bench to contain some of Noah’s toys. These sorts of projects really make our home feel ours…just ignore that dark burgundy wall (complete with many, many scratches and outright holes) for now, I can just picture how nice and fresh it will look white!

Lastly, we have some adorable Spring chicks in residence. We bought six chicks in hopes that most would be female since the vast majority of the chicks we raised last year turned out to be roosters. It turns out, we have three roosters this time. So in total, we will have a flock of five laying hens after purchasing fourteen chicks in two years. I don’t think those are especially good results but we are happy to have met and supported local farmers by purchasing chicks through them rather than buying sexed chicks from a farm and feed at least.

To close, a small tidbit of Thread Theory news: We just completed a photo shoot and our latest pattern is with testers right now! If all goes well I plan to launch it in August since it would make a nice Fall sewing project. If there are some more involved changes due to feedback we will, of course, adjust the timeline. Fingers crossed!


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Our Pattern Collections and Names

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I don’t think I’ve ever really fully explained how we name our patterns or organize them into collections. Since I’ve received many queries about this over the years, it is about time!

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We began by developing four collection names as a framework to design our patterns within. The collections are Parkland Casual Wear, Alpine Activewear, Cityscape Urban Menswear, and Meadow Women’s Wear. You can see our very first four patterns marked out on the map above. They range in location from central to southern Vancouver Island. Let’s delve into these collections and the place names we’ve selected in more detail:

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-6

Garments within the Parkland Collection must be suitable to wear while strolling or picnicing at one of Vancouver Island’s many beaches or parks. Alpine Collection garments, on the other hand, must be suitable for more strenuous hiking or climbing throughout the mountain ranges on our island. Cityscape garments are great for either casual or business use in Victoria (Vancouver Island’s largest city which is still very small as far as cities go). Meadow Women’s Wear is simply comfortable women’s garments, there aren’t any restrictions on these designs as they have always been special releases for Thread Theory’s birthday and are simply garments I would like to wear!

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-4

Within the Parkland Collection you will find the Newcastle Cardigan, named after Newcastle Island near central Vancouver Island. This island was a great place to visit when we were kids. Both our families boated recreationally (and we probably came across each other at anchorages but, knowing my shy sister and I, we wouldn’t have joined in with whatever antics Matt and his brother were getting up to!

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-14

The Jedediah Pants were named after the island Matt and I visited (also near central Vancouver Island) by borrowed sailing boat when we were engaged. We climbed to the top of the highest mountain on the island where Matt proposed by writing a note to me and placing it in the stone cairn!

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The Strathcona Henley is named after Strathcona Park which is an enourmous conservation area extending from mid to north Vancouver Island. Within this park are many spectacular hike in camping locations but also some lovely day walks, including my favourite, Paradise Meadows. This walk is a circle route with many boardwalks, alpine lakes, wildflowers and whiskey jack birds.

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The Goldstream Peacoat was named after Goldstream Park in Victoria. This park is right near the main highway but upon taking several steps from the parking lot you are immersed in anothe world of ancient forests and babbling streams. When we lived in Victoria we loved to camp here. The Goldstream design would be a nice choice to wear here when taking a day trip from the city.

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The Sayward Raglan was named after the northern Vancouver Island town of Sayward. Matt and I were considering buying a property in this tiny town around the time that we developed this pattern. While not named after a park, it still felt like a fitting name because the main reason we were drawn to this town is that it felt like the entire town and surrounding mountains were one big park! We found gorgeous free camping beside a stream while we visited, watched some great baseball games, and climbed the local mountain.

EastwoodPajamas

The Eastwood Pajamas were named after the woods that we frequented daily when we lived in the Comox Valley. We joked that the woods were such an extension of our home we would almost be comfortable wearing pajamas there. It was the best place for blackberry picking, was right near our foster children’s school, and was Luki’s place to socialize with other dogs. We’ve found some great walks close to our new home but we still miss Eastwood!

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The Quadra Jeans are named after Quadra Island, another location that Matt and I tried to buy a property (our offer was turned down). It is a gorgeous little island just off of Campbell River and features some of our favourite cruising grounds – sandy beaches, a hut filled with driftwood art left by boaters from decades past, excellent crabbing and prawning, and some lovely walks.

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That brings us to the Alpine Collection now! The first pattern in this collection was the Comox Trunks. They were designed with hiking in mind – they are close fitting and seamed in such a way to avoid chaffing. They were named after my hometown, Comox, because we returned to this community after attending school in the city while we were in the midst of designing this pattern. The Comox Valley is nestled between the mountains and the ocean so it is always only a short drive to reach a hilly hike.

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Next in the collection was the Arrowsmith Undershirt (our free pattern), paired with the Comox Trunks you have a nice base layer to wear while on adventures. Arrowsmith is the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island and features a challenging hike.

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The Jutland Pants were named after one of the mountains just outside of the Comox Valley. It can be reached by avid hikers with Paradise Meadows as the starting point for the hike. I suspect shoulder season hikers would appreciate the lined Jutland Pants!

Finlayson Sweater Photo Contest-4

The Finlayson Sweater was named after Mount Finlayson which is right near Goldstream Park. We thought it a fitting name because, despite being part of the Alpine Collection, it can be made to be more of a casual or dressy garment depending on fabric choice (sew it in merino for hiking, in terrycloth for cosy loungewear, or in a textured sweater knit for a smart and dressy sweater). A mountain close to the city sort of bridges that gap between wilderness and civilization!

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The Fulford Jeans were named after Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island (one of the Gulf Islands near southern Vancouver Island. This was yet another area that we tried to buy a homestean unsuccessfully! It is a hilly region for such a small island. The Fulfords would have been excellent jeans to wear while working to clear and build on the land we tried to buy!

Our upcoming pattern will also be part of the Alpine Collection. It is called Carmanah which is named after the next hike I would like to do once Noah is ready for this sort of adventure. The Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is on the west coast of Vancouver Island (all our other garments have been named after locations on the east coast which is where we live). The park has a beautiful hike through truly ancient Sitka spruce trees.

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Moving on to the Cityscape Collection, which is currently our smallest collection. You may notice that our daily lives don’t involve a lot of formal wear or time spent in cities anymore! All the same, everyone needs a smart outfit or three in their closet to wear to special occasions. Plus, sewists have the flexibility to vary the aesthetic of a design based on the fabric they choose! Matt still wears his flannel Fairfield Button-up every week at least once through the entire year (he insists it is actually quite cool and comfortable as a light layer to put on in the morning and evening throughout the summer!). The Fairfield Button-up was named for the street that we lived on while I attended my Fashion Design program in Victoria.

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The Belvedere Waistcoat was named for the apartment building near ours (while in Victoria) with, what I thought to be, the classiest of names!

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The Qualicum Bag, the final garment in this collection (though I am sure it will continue to grow over the years) was named after the town in which Matt’s parents live. The Qualicum Bag can pack a lot – perfect for our weekend trips to visit!

Camas Blouse

The final collection, The Meadow, features the Camas Blouse and Lazo Trousers. I named these garments after my favourite meadow locations on Vancouver Island. Camas refers to the Camas flower meadows found in the Garry Oak ecosystem of southern Vancouver Island. We often walked through the famous Camas meadow at Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park which was just across the road from our apartment building.

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Cape Lazo is in the Comox Valley and consists of a sandy and windy spit with a beautiful beach and some stunning seaside homes. Many of these properties  feature resiliant wild grasses that turn golden in the summer and sway in the wind. I’ve always enjoyed driving along the peninsula road during summer windstorms to watch the waves and the wind in the grass.

And there you have it, the story behind our garment and collection names! I’ve also added collection buttons on our shop home page so it is easier to view our patterns by collection. Scroll to the bottom to see!

Have you visited Vancouver Island? What landmark would you want to remember by naming one of our patterns?

 

 


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Comparing our trouser/pant patterns

We get quite a few emails asking about the fit differences between our men’s pant patterns, and just recently received a helpful suggestion from sewist, Heidi – why not make a visual blog post comparing the differences in all of our pant patterns? Sure thing!

 

In this post you will be able to compare the Jedediah Pants (our take on chinos), the Jutland Pants (our take on cargo pants), the Quadra Jeans (slightly tapered jeans) and the Fulford Jeans (straight leg jeans).

First, let’s look at the styling differences by examining the technical illustrations (right click and open image in new tab to see larger versioins of each image):

 

 

Important differences to note include: front pocket shape, yoke shape (or no yoke with darts instead), back pocket shape and size, leg style and fly styling.

  • Front Pockets: Jedediah = slash, Jutland = swooped jean pockets, Quadra = standard jean pockets, Fulford = standard jean pockets
  • Back Pockets: Jedediah = shaped and smaller patch pockets, Jutland = boxy and large patch pockets or welt Quadra = large patch pockets, Fulford = large patch pockets
  • Seat Shaping: Jedediah = deep yoke, Jutland = darts, Quadra= narrow yoke, Fulford = narrow yoke
  • Fly: Jedediah = narrow and long, Jutland = wider and two rows of stitching, Quadra = average width and two rows of stitching, Fulford = average width and two rows of stitching
  • Legs: Jedediah = very obviously tapered, Jutland = straight and wide, Quadra= subtly tapered, Fulford= straight and moderate width
  • Size Range: Jedediah = 30-40″ waist, Jutland = 30-45″ waist, Quadra = 26-50″ waist, Fulford = 26-50″ waist
  • The Jedediah Pants have slash front pockets, a deep yoke, narrow fly, and tapered legs.
  • Other notable differences include the following: The Jedediah Pants include a shorts option with rolled cuffs, the Jutland Pants include an optional full lining and all manner of work pant details, and the Quadra and Fulford Jeans include very detailed instructions for finishing the pants in a classic jeans style (topstitching tips and rivet installation).

Next, we will use the actual pattern pieces to compare fit. I’m comparing size 34. Below you can see the Jedediah Pants (yellow), Jutland Pants (brown), Quadra Jeans (blue) and Fulford Jeans (green).

Rise

The Jutland Pants and Jedediah Pants both have a high rise (just a little below the waist) while the Fulford has a mid rise and the Quadra Jeans are just slightly lower (I would still classify them to be mid-rise or perhaps mid-low rise…they are certainly not low rise). I’ve stacked the two most comparable trouser patterns so the rise and other differences are more obvious.

Crotch Curve

Let’s compare the crotch curve now: The crotch curve on the Jedediah Pants results in a close fit at the inseam (you can see how much higher it is compared to the Quadra Jeans). This high crotch creates a nice fitted appearance despite the roomy hips. The Jutland Pants feature a high crotch close fit in this area too and an even closer fit at along the center back seam. This means the design is well suited to men who have smaller bottoms and straight figures. This is because it was part of our athletic size chart that we have since relaxed slightly on our newer patterns – including the Quadra and Fulford Jeans. The athletic size chart caters towards ‘athletic slim figures’ so it is great for lankier men! The Quadra and Fulford Jeans are newer so you can see they have a lower more relaxed crotch curve to accomodate a fuller figure. The Quadra Jeans fit roomier than the Fulford jeans – you can tell this because the Quadra Jeans crotch is more of a J shape – meaning there is more room for a larger bottom at the curviest point of the ‘J’. The Fulfords, since they are intended to be a straight fit, are slimmer across the bottom. Again, look at the stacked pattern pieces to see how vastly different the crotch curve is for each design (the same stacked image is included in each section so you don’t have to scroll up and down to have a look).

Hips

Moving on to fit in the hips: The Jedediah Pants feature the most exaggerated hip curve since this is a classic feature of a chino fit. The Quadra Jeans feature a moderate hip curve. The Jutland Pants curve very slightly at the upper hip (but would still be considered quite straight in this area). The Fulford Jeans feature almost no hip curve (which is why many people like to sew these using selvage denim!).

Legs

And lastly, let’s compare the legs: Of the four designs, the Jutland Pants feature the most tapered lower leg (and this is visually exaggerated by the wide hip), the Quadra Jeans are next (almost the same taper but less obvious when worn since the hip is narrower), followed by the Fulford Jeans and then the Jutland Pants which have the wide straight leg of a work pant.

If you would like to read very detailed written descriptions about the fit and style of each garment, head to these older blog posts:

Comparison of the Jedediah Pants and Jutland Pants

Comparison of the Quadra Jeans and Fulford Jeans

To wind up this post, please admire this beautiful pair of Jutland Pants that Mathias shared with us via email. He wrote that these were the first pants he has ever sewn. Look at those slick bar tacks:

He created this pair in linen and modified them to include a gusset so that he could use them as flexible rock climbing pants. If you would like to add your own small gusset to any of our trouser patterns, check out the tutorial I made during our Jutland Pant Sew-Along.

 

I hope that this post has helped you decide on the trouser pattern that suits your purposes best. If you are still uncertain, please don’t hesitate to email me at info@threadtheory.ca with your questions!

 

[All photos of rust-colored linen trousers, including the photo at the top of the post were taken by and are property of Matthias and have been used with permission.]


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Embracing Change

I shed a few grateful tears the other day when I first opened up the early results of our survey. Hundreds of you have not only taken the time to answer the basic survey questions, but you’ve also written beautiful paragraphs of encouragement and support. When I made up the survey I was only hoping to receive some concrete opinions and perhaps a little enthusiasm to help launch me into the initial design phase for our next batch of patterns. Instead, I received that plus so much more. Even though I thought I was keeping my insecurities and concerns to myself, so many of you are perpceptive or have perhaps walked a similar path before. You took a big nebulous cloud of unexamined fears and anxiety, named it all for me and then showed me how to move on. Thank you!

Here are a few of the comments that I am just so grateful for:

“I really value the work you’re doing. I know balancing work & family needs is a real challenge. The challenges don’t go away – they change as everyone gets older – kids, parents, & you. But so do the rewards ( or maybe out standards drop 😉). Hang in there. Trust your gut. You got this.”

“Thank you for some lovely patterns, superb instructions, helpful sew alongs and tutorials. I sew these patterns again and again because they produce well fitting, beautiful and hardwearing garments. I love the details and finishes, the henley placket and the cuffs of the Strathcona, the hood lining of the Finlayson being smaller than the hood which gives a lovely fold back finish. The welt pockets excellent instructions of the Belvedere waistcoat and all the tips in the online sew along.”

“Keep up the amazing work! As a male sewist there isn’t much out there that I get to make for myself, and finding your site years ago was what made me brave enough to try making clothes for myself.”

“I also live in BC and have a small acreage, so I really love the updates to your blog about your property, even though they have nothing to with sewing!”

 

Some of you were concerned that I plan to depart from menswear design entirely. Don’t worry, menswear patterns will remain the main focus for Thread Theory. I only seek to refresh and envigorate myself by approaching things from a slightly different direction for a while.

The survey results are still streaming in steadily and I have a lot of thinking yet to do so it is far too early to say what my plans will be for this shift of focus. In the meantime, your outpouring of understanding has made me feel so much more connected to the sewing community and, as a result, I am newly eager to get designing!

 

Another unanticipated outcome from the survey results is that I am now clear that many of you have been enjoying my homesteading blog posts. In the “Any other comments?” answer box at the end of the survey, person after person wrote that they have been enjoying these posts and hope I keep writing them. Wow! I had considered stopping them as I suspected they were tolerated at best…I’m glad to hear that isn’t the case! I really enjoy writing about our new lifestyle and will continue with much more confidence now. With that in mind, here is a little peek into our long post-Christmas winter days:

While driving Noah into the little town nearest us earlier this week (we attend an action packed toddler group at the local community hall) he fell asleep when only minutes away from home. He’s usually only napping in the afternoon now but has had at least four teeth coming in over the last few days so that wore him out enough to fall asleep as early as 9:30 in the morning. Rather than wake him I decided to just keep on driving and head 45 minutes south to a big menswear retail chain to do a little RTW research for Thread Theory. Once Noah woke we headed into the shop and he pushed a buggy (he just won’t sit in it lately!) while I looked at pocket details, fabric choices, fit differences between brands and all of the other details that serve as inspiration when I am beginning new designs. I plan to draw up some techical illustrations and start a mood board while Matt and Noah are at their swimming lesson this Sunday. After that, I’ll mull over the construction process in an attempt to create a garment that is a pleasure to sew. This will invariably lead to a number of design changes after which the pattern can be drafted…and onwards the process will go!

These late winter days are an excellent time of year to dig into design work as, although my seed starting station is partially set up, only peppers and celeriac have been sown and the rest must wait until closer to the last frost date. Outdoors the landscape has been covered with frost, snow, or, for the majority of the time, puddles and mud. We have been working at pruning (Matt has taken on the dwarf fruit trees while I’m working on ornamentals and blueberries) but the soil itself is still far too wet to do all that much. This is changing quickly though! This weekend I’m going to do some weeding during nap time as I’ve noticed the weeds have suddenly taken off in the herb bed. That way I’ll be ready to order a big load of mulch to unload over the freshly tidied beds when my parents visit next weekend.

In the meantime though, the evenings are still dark and long so I can work away indoors on pattern development once Noah has been put to bed (ahem…on the nights I have energy to work, that is!).

Another wintery sort of project we have taken on of late is a general shift and tidy of some of our living spaces. We spent two evenings last week as ‘date’ nights. We headed out to our workshop to put on music and tidy and hang tools and create storage systems. After that little bit of effort the workshop is so much more useable! Our house has received the same treatment. We moved all of my sewing equipment and office station to the main floor of our house. Now we have lived here for almost a year (as of this coming March), our daily rythym has taken shape and it has become clear that our lovely second floor studio with windows overlooking the property and a balcony to off one side will just not be used! The nursury is directly across from this room…and I only work when Noah is sleeping! Sewing, typing, and creaking floor boards interfere too much with his sleep.

Thus, the studio will now become our inventory and shipping station. This is just as well because we have another restock of 3000 tissue patterns arriving next week! Matt and his dad are spending the weekend building some sturdy wooden shelving to hold the inventory. Up until this point, our tissue pattern boxes have been piled high in our second floor landing which I would really like to clear up to make into a craft and play room.

My sewing station is now in our sunroom (the very furthest possible point from Noah’s room) and it is a great little corner in which to work. It needs some major work setting it up but it is functional for now and I love that I don’t feel too secluded but it isn’t in anyone’s way (though I have to pack my things up each time I sew so that the power cord and ironing board are not a hazard). I like that Noah can see my work station constantly so he will grow up very aware of what I do for work. Earlier this week we sewed together for the very first time. He plays with my sewing machine knobs quite regularly but, until now, I had never plugged the machine in to show him how it works. He sat in my lap with wide eyes while I sewed him a big pillow for his room. He had a blast stuffing it with me and ran to the sewing machine the next day when I mentioned I had more pillows that I wanted to make.

Outside of studio projects, we have a number of other developments going on this winter on our homestead. Since my Fall post, Matt and my dad have felled, limbed, bucked, and split all of the trees I had intended to hire an arborist to deal with! My dad bought a tractor and has made a new road through one section of the property.

The two of them also re-roofed the chicken coop to combat a frustrating rat problem due to the poor design of the original roof. With the rats long gone, our chickens are happy and have been laying eggs daily all winter long! Our two roosters get along famously and I’ve never once seen them fight. We definitely need at least two more hens though (more likely, three or four!) as Noah eats a lot of eggs and our rooster to hen ratio is still way off.

As winter draws to a close we will be tackling a large rainwater collection and irrigation project. I only had a small veggie garden last year and even then our well was more or less dry mid-summner. I have big garden plans for this summer so a huge rainwater cistern will be essential to irrigate the vegetable bed and orchard. We will be purchasing a 3000 gallon water tank shortly to install by the workshop that we roofed with metal last summer. Once we add gutters to the shop it will collect the rain and a drip system will run from the tank to both garden areas. My past gardens have always suffered mid-summer as I become more and more stingy with water. I hope a timer system and efficient drip tape will lead to happy and healthy plants, all while using the rainwater that is readily available to us throughout a West Coast spring!

To finish up this update with a touch more Thread Theory news: Our next pattern is inching closer and closer to the test sewing stage. Now that the initial sample is sewn, instructions are written and all design details are finalized, it is currently being graded. Next, Matt will format the PDF pattern while I get started on illustrations. I think I will leave the bulk of the illustrations until after I receive the test sewer feedback. We did this for the first time with our Qualicum Bag pattern and it worked very well. Since test sewers only had my written instructions to go by (no images), it really put the clarity of my writing to the test. It was also easier to change construction order and methods as per the tester feedback because I did not have to redo all of the diagrams to reflect the changes.

Anyways, thank you, once again, for the unexpected support and encouragement that you gave me through the survey. You’ve shown me how to embrace this phase of life that I am in and have made it clear that changes of pace and lifestyle should be embraced rather than resisted. I’ll be back with another post when the giveaway winner is announced on February 15th! In the meantime, head here to enter the giveaway, and head here to complete the survey.

 


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It’s now a giveaway!

[Edited Feb 17th: Giveaway closed! Thank you to all who participated!]

 

Oops! When I made the survey last night I neglected to add a contact info form at the end of the series of questions…and overnight I received an overwhelming number of survey responses! So first, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, and second, I need to change the survey gift certificate draw into an open giveaway!

Since I cannot contact a winner through our survey (because no contact form was provided), you will now need to enter the giveaway by commenting on this blog post. Please do so even if you already completed the survey! Simply tell me what your current (or next) sewing project is for a chance to win. Ensure the email you use for writing WordPress comments is correct so I can email the winner on Feb. 15th. The winner of the giveaway will receive $50 CAD to spend in our shop!

If you haven’t yet filled out our survey, feel free to do so here. Thank you!


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Future of Thread Theory – please take our survey

[Edited Jan 31st to add: I neglected to add a contact info form to the survey so I’ve changed the $50 gift card draw into a general giveaway. To enter, comment on today’s blog post. Thank you for the overwhelming response to our survey! I’m just thrilled with your thoughtful answers!]

For years now I’ve received requests to design ‘menswear inspired’ women’s patterns, women’s workwear patterns and boys/teen patterns. These ideas all intrigue me greatly but I’ve more or less refrained as I wanted to make sure that justice was done to our primary focus of menswear first. Sewists have been waiting too long for contemporary menswear pattern designs so I’m glad that we’ve filled that niche with a good solid base of West Coast casual garments!

The very first photo we ever took of a Thread Theory Design! Taken in early spring, 2013.

Now that we have 14 menswear garment patterns in our shop that we are very proud of in addition to two special release women’s designs (launched on past Thread Theory anniversaries to thank our predominantly female customer base), and two gender neutral accessory patterns, I feel ready to consider branching out. After all, we have stayed on a fairly focused trajectory since we first registered our business in Dec. 2012 – we had only one burning dream: Make it possible for sewists to make the same sort of menswear they would buy from a shop!

Our website as a newborn when it first launched in 2013.

At first we focused completely on designing our own patterns, we then started carrying kits and tools to make menswear projects more enjoyable to sew. We next forayed into menswear fabrics for a couple of years. We then scaled back on tools and cut out fabric completely (our new homestead doesn’t have the studio space necessary for fabric sales and I don’t have the toddler-free time necessary for frequent product photoshoots!) and shifted our focus back to patterns – this time adding many other amazing indie menswear designers to our shop. While I’ve greatly enjoyed this menswear focused journey, it’s just really starting to feel time to refresh. I don’t know what that will mean yet but perhaps you do!

I am just about to begin the design process for a new batch of patterns – I tend to design in batches of 4 – so I thought this could be a neat opportunity to hear from you on the matter! Should I make this next batch all menswear? Should I shift my focus elsewhere? Or perhaps the next batch should be a bit of menswear and a bit of something else? Tell me your opinion using our very short survey. It’ll probably take all of 5 minutes and will give you a chance to win a $50 CAD gift certificate to our shop! The draw for the gift certificate will take place February 15th.

Fill out the survey now >


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Sweater Weather

Here’s a sneak peek at our upcoming pattern! The first full sample of the garment came hot off the machine last night and Matt has been snuggled up in it to combat the snowy weather ever since!

I know these pictures aren’t all that sneaky but I’ll at least refrain from posting full shots of the garment until the pattern release.

Right now I am focussed on walking the fine line between ‘fun to sew’ and ‘high end finishes’. This sample was sewn using a lot of twill tape to finish the interior of the garment. The next sample will use a lining to accomplish the same effect. There are many advantages and disadvantages of each approach (indeed, listing them has been keeping me up at night more than my baby currently is!).

What camp are you in? Linings or seam finishes?


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Round-up of inspiring menswear patterns

 

I just finished adding a selection of five menswear patterns to our shop this week that are the creation of Danish pattern company, Wardrobe By Me. While typing up the descriptions and admiring the designs I found myself mulling over the amazing selection of indie menswear that has developed since we first launched Thread Theory way back in 2012.

While Thread Theory is still the only menswear focussed pattern line (that I know of), there are so many good menswear designs out there that have been developed as special releases by women’s or children’s pattern companies – much the way we have launched our women’s Camas Blouse and Lazo Trousers in the past.

Below you’ll find a few of the patterns that are really inspiring me to sew menswear right now. Some of them are currently available in our shop while others are only sold directly through the designer’s website.  Maybe some of these will be new to you and will fill a void in the menswear pattern world for you!

Although Twig & Tale pattern company is based all the way across the world in New Zealand, every one of their whimsical children’s clothes, beautiful women’s garments, and practical menswear designs would fit perfectly into our west coast lifestyle! Above you can see the vest pattern, shirt, jacket, fishing vest, and baby-wearing add on (available for each of the outerwear patterns) that really strike my fancy but there are other menswear and unisex patterns too so be sure to check out their website! I’ve sewn the animal booties for Noah in the past but look forward to sewing many of the other adorable themed garments for him in the future.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I just added a small selection of Wardrobe By Me patterns to our shop but there are many more menswear designs that I would like to add in time! They just launched their Overshirt pattern which is a style we have received a lot of requests for in the past. This design really seems to check a lot of boxes including some very useful slanted welt pockets that will keep your hands warm on a chilly winter walk. All the mainseams are topstitched for durability. Their Tropical Shirt, fleece jacket, and cargo shorts are all designs I could see my dad loving!

Many of you who have emailed me with a request for a specific pattern will now be familiar with the website FreeSewing. I love to recommend this unique resource when people are looking for a block they can manipulate into their own design, a size that is outside of our current range, or a nice modern blazer or trousers. FreeSewing is quite different from your usual pattern company – first of all, the patterns are free, second, they are digitally drafted to your unique measurements using some very involved coding. This site has been created through a labor of love by the designer, Joost. You can see that he tests many of his designs himself and I love the fit he has acheived on his trousers in particular (photo above)!

Next, fellow Canadian pattern companie, Jalie, is always a good seller in our shop since their garments feature such an enormous size range (many of the men’s patterns extend down to children’s sizing!) and realistically wearable designs. One of their newer patterns is the underwear design photographed above. I like that it has some different features than our Comox Trunks including an encased waistband, seamless or horizontal fly pouch, and various length options. Those full length ones would make excellent performance longjohns due to the close fit and gusset. With winter on the mind, their puffer coat and insulated overalls also appeal to me right now!

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Lastly, Friday Pattern Company has recently begun a pre-sale for their first unisex pattern, the Ilford Jacket, and I love the versatility of this design! There are two very different sleeve and body options along with a number of pocket styles so you can ‘choose your own adventure’.

Are any of these companies new to you? Do you have any unisex or men’s patterns to recommend? I’m always on the look out for new PDF or tissue patterns that we can stock in our shop so that we can compile these wonderful resources into one easy to find catalogue!