Thread Theory

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


We’re home!

We’re back from our U.S. road trip (we arrived home Friday afternoon) and I’m excited to tell you about all the sewing related adventures we had!  I’ve made a page on our blog that includes a photo diary of the entire trip (for those that are interested) but I won’t subject you to dozens of scenery shots and the like unless you are interested.  The post that follows is specifically sewing related since I know that you are most certainly eager to read and see anything that belongs to that theme!


Our first stop along the 3000 mile tour was Portland, Oregan.  We found it to be a beautiful, walkable city, even with the rain and chilly temperatures.  Our sewing related stops were numerous in this town because the arts and crafts community is thriving so thoroughly that there were too many fabric stores to choose from!  We went to the Mill End and feasted our eyes on the huge warehouse of every fabric I could imagine.  We enjoyed talking to the extremely friendly staff who were eager to take our pattern catalog to show to all their male customers.  We know that they did just that because only a few days later we received an email from a male sewer who had seen our catalog in their store!

Our next place to visit was the Pendleton Woollen Mills store because I am a sucker for wool.  We wandered in and were greeted by a lovely riot of colours and textures.  The wools were gorgeously smooth and rich feeling and they also carried an eco-friendly wool that uses less water in production and can be washed without felting.  We were surprised to see indie pattern companies featured all over the store and had not even thought to bring our samples in to show the staff.  Matt raced out to grab them and we received a very warm welcome from the staff and managers.  Our Goldstream Peacoat and Jedediah Pants will now be stocked in their store – so if you are ever in Portland and hope to make the most sumptuous tailored peacoat in the world, pop by Pendleton to get your pattern and fabric!

I thought it was neat that they sold all their scraps by the pound – one can imagine all the possibilities for those little colourful bits of wool!


They also had an antique mechanical display that used to be featured in their Disneyland Pendleton outlet.  It was beautifully detailed and, when turned on, each wooden figure moved to demonstrate the entire manufacturing process!Resized-14

Of course, we couldn’t go to Portland without visiting our wonderful stockist, Modern Domestic!


We met Lupine and Meredith who were very welcoming and let us wander the store endlessly to pick out little prizes for future blog contests (I think you’ll love them!) and ask all sorts of questions about Bernina feet for Sue’s new sewing machine.


The store had a wonderful selection of some of my very favourite things – a whole slew of Merchant & Mills products, a colourful selection of chambrays, pretty much every indie pattern you could imagine, and a huge selection of the best sewing-related books, including Colette’s new book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits.  And these were only the things that stood out the most to me!  Aside from all the sewing goodies and beautiful fabrics, if you are a Bernina lover, then this is the place to go.  All the machines and attachments were beautifully displayed and Meredith, who helped Sue, seemed to know everything there was to know about each and every foot.

After a couple days in Portland, we headed east to Boise for a night (no sewing stops there as our driving schedule was quite demanding!) and then to Salt Lake City.  In Salt Lake City, we popped in to see Sunni in her store, A Fashionable Stitch.  It was great to meet her as I must admit, she is categorized in my head as a “sewing and blogging celebrity” so I was a little nervous!  She was very friendly and jumped at the chance to stock our patterns (thanks, Sunni!).  We’re really excited to have our patterns in her store as she has a really great thing going there.  Unfortunately we forgot to take photos with her 😦 but here is a shot from her website of the basement classroom area under her store to give you a taste of how lovingly organized her shop is:


Her fabric selection is gorgeous (I especially loved all the interesting and unusual wools she had and couldn’t help but admire the stunning laces).  Everything is meticulously organized, right down to her displays of colour coded zippers in pretty glass jars and prettily bundled ribbons.  I picked out, as another future give-away prize, some brightly striped knits that will make super funky Comox Trunks!  We met Sunni’s husband downstairs overseeing some awesome fabric swap tables.  Matt left with a scrap of leather to make himself a wrist strap for his camera and I walked away with a burgundy ribbed knit to sew into a Newcastle Cardigan.

I left Sunni’s store on a sewing/creativity high after meeting one of my favourite bloggers and seeing just how awesome and beautiful a sewing store has the potential to be!

Later that night we happened upon an altogether entirely different sewing related experience – we witnessed the tail end of Comic Con!  I’ve never read comics or, for that matter, really understood what Comic Con involves, but it was really neat to see all the lovingly created costumes being paraded about and to see how so many people, both male and female, had worked with fabric and all sorts of other mediums to create some pretty bizarre and amazing fashions.

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The conference building was almost deserted when we walked in and everything was being packed away.  We still got a kick out of seeing some of the straggling signs and people :).

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After a couple days in Salt Lake City (Easter weekend in fact), we moved on to the day that seemed to loom darker and scarier ahead of me the entire trip – the day we taped the Sew It All TV episode.

You’ve probably figured out by various blog posts in the past that I am a pretty (read VERY) shy person.  Matt and I were, of course, absolutely thrilled to be offered a slot in the Sew It All TV season 8 but it only really dawned on me as we drove south-east that I had no idea what was involved in taping a tv episode and I had also spent my entire life, up until the taping date, avoiding unscripted public speaking like the plague!  I hid away in my hotel room the night before the taping to iron all our samples and steel myself for the day ahead of me while Matt and his parents went to explore Golden (Matt was nowhere near as nervous as I was, thank goodness!).

The morning of the taping we headed to the Creative Crafts Group studio and spent a whirlwind couple hours meeting all the super people and filming the episode.  Our TV experience began by being made up for the camera (even Matt was powdered and prettied!):

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And then we were introduced to Ellen and the team.  Everyone was very friendly and incredibly professional and efficient.  I needn’t have worried about my ironing quite so much because our step-outs were nicely ironed by staff.  We were very well taken care of – we were given water whenever we needed it (my mouth was permanently dry from fear haha!) and people joked around with us to calm us down.  We had microphones installed on our garments to suit our voices which was really nice.  Mine was installed hidden in my dress’s collar (which, by the way, is Tilly’s awesome Coco pattern!) to block out other peoples voices and more easily catch my quiet voice…this was a relief because I was worried I would be told to speak up the entire time!


Ellen is currently pregnant with twins and was a total trooper.  I can’t believe how hard she works and how tired she must have been!  She tapes three episodes a day (on top of doing a billion other things I am sure) and I was exhausted for days after taping only one episode…


The studio wasn’t equipped with male mannequins (those aren’t something you find in most sewing studios I imagine!) and so the team got a bit creative and flipped the mannequins backwards to display the V-neck tank that we demonstrated how to sew.  The waists looked a little curvy and the poor guy’s backs had two strange bumps 😛 but all in all, I think the you could tell the fit of the garment well enough.Resized-134

Some of our other samples and patterns were displayed throughout the studio and they took some shots of them after we taped our episode and were having lunch.  I look forward to seeing how the show looks once all the clips are put together!Resized-133

I was surprised by how big the studio was and by how many people were involved in the taping.  I made myself avoid looking at anyone for quite a while before the cameras started rolling because it was beginning to feel like I was embarking on the dreaded ‘group project’ presentation from university days…eek!

Resized-132Matt ended up with very little to do during the actual episode.  He introduced our company but the main focus of the episode was explaining and showing how to sew the Thetis Tank – something that Matt confessed he didn’t know anything about :P.  We had him help with ironing but then, as the camera rolled, I found myself correcting his ironing technique which Ellen found pretty funny!

Rick and Sue got to sit and watch from the director’s room.  They got some shots of the monitors as filming began.  See how nervous we look?Resized-136 Resized-140 Resized-138 Resized-137

Despite my fears and nerves it was still an amazing experience to be on Sew It All TV and we are so greatful to Ellen and Jessica and everyone at the studio for having us there!  The season airs later this year (our episode will likely be shown on PBS in November) and I can’t wait to see how it turned out (though at the same time I am terrified to see what resulted from all my nervous babbling and shaky hands :P).

Later that same day, we rushed to Denver to meet blogger and fellow sewist, Sara who’s blog is An Elemental Life.  She met us for a Mexican dinner (it was very nice of her to take the time to show us one of her favourite restaurants and it was great to meet another fellow blogger!) and then the whole group of us went to the trunk show that our lovely stockists, Fancy Tiger Crafts, hosted for us.  I wasn’t 100% sure of what to expect from a trunk show (or what we were expected to do) but I must say, it ended up being my favorite part of the trip and, despite being super tired from the show taping, I had a total blast!

Jaime, Amber and all the staff at Fancy Tiger were really welcoming and wonderfully laid back (and beautifully clothed in an assortment of handmade pieces…I couldn’t help but comment when I recognized certain patterns!).


It was craft night, which meant that a huge group of enthusiastic crafters were enjoying chatting, crafting and a drink or two around a huge table at the back of the store.  The store doors were open until 9pm and a table, mannequin, a selection of our patterns and a garment rack were all carefully set up and waiting for us to fill with samples!  We brought garment tag packs to give away and I had tagged all of our samples with a story about who sewed it for whom and with what fabric.  People seemed to really enjoy reading them and both men and women happily tried on Newcastles and Goldstream Peacoats.Resized-143I had so much fun talking with all sorts of people who had exactly the same interests as me.  It seemed as though most people I talked to had already been to our website and knew about our pattern selection.  A few people had already sewn up some of our patterns!  It was especially exciting to talk to male sewers and knitters who were thrilled by the style and fit of our garments.

The Fancy Tiger ladies generously provided us with a much welcomed glass of wine (and a craft brew for Matt).  Matt’s dad got a kick out of the awesome wine ‘glasses’!


The whole evening was exactly as I had imagined the sewing world could be if I lived where all the other bloggers and sewers I follow happened to live.  I could seriously live in Fancy Tiger Crafts and would certainly never miss one of their Tuesday night craft nights!

So that sums up the sewing-related portion of our trip!  The next few days were mostly endless driving (and beautiful scenery) to get back home in time for work obligations.  All four of us were pretty tired by the end of our whirlwind tour and were doing a lot of this:


Where would you go if you could have a sewing-themed holiday?  What is your ideal ‘business’ trip?  I must say, travelling for our business certainly felt more like an awesome holiday than work to me :).

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Fashion Revolution Day

Today, April 24th, marks the one year anniversary of the collapse of the textile factory in Rana Plaza, Dhaka, Bangladesh.  In honour of this anniversary, and in the hope that action and awareness will create change in the way we regard clothing as a consumer good, Matt and I are marking this date by photographing some of our Thread Theory sample garments inside out.  Have you heard of Fashion Revolution Day?  Here is the website where you can read more information about this movement.Resized-1

Fashion Revolution day (today!) is being honoured by 140 bloggers who blog about sewing and fashion and many other organizations.  There are many ways to be involved in this movement but this is the basic concept: We are photographing our clothing worn inside out to demonstrate how much work, care and time is put into every garment that every human wears.   We are using social media to ask “Who made your clothes?”  If awareness over the skill and commitment needed to create fashion is increased, we hope that consumers will be less tolerant of the abysmal conditions that their cheap and fairly disposable garments are created in.


Sewers and recipients of lovingly sewn garments are well aware of the hours, the thought, and the love that goes into every home sewn garment.  Each seam is carefully finished in anticipation of years of hard wear.  Each design detail is chosen to suit the wearer.  As sewers, we have chosen to take an active role in the creative process of visually displaying who we are through garments.


I hope that Fashion Revolution Day has, and will for years to come, confirm to sewers and creators that they have chosen one of the most fulfilling and sustainable approach to clothing themselves and their families and friends.  I hope that Fashion Revolution Day will create awareness among consumers that there are other ways to creatively and beautifully clothe oneself than popping into the nearest or trendiest store.


Fashion need not be instantaneous and disposable.  In fact, fashion gains more meaning and purpose in society if it is something that takes time, thought and skill to create and display as a lasting visual of an individual’s personality.


Matt and I just finished a 12 hour drive through the United States today on our way home from filming a Sew-It-All TV episode, so please excuse the tardiness of this post and the hurried nature of these photos!  Matt was wearing a full Thread Theory ensemble so he quickly whipped everything off and put it back on inside out when we got to our Anacortes hotel room.


Despite this lack of planning and prepardeness, I am pleased with how tidy both the interior of Matt’s Newcastle and Jedediah pants appear!  Matt was tempted to show you the inside of his Comox Trunks but I thought you might have had enough of the scantily clad men parading across our blog of late!


Even though Fashion Revolution Day is almost over, don’t hesitate to spread the message.  Clothing is not disposable and should not be created as such.  The creation of clothing is an art form and a trade that requires a high level of skill.  The creators of clothing should be treated and respected as the skilled workers that they are.  It is time for change to occur and it needs to start with the consumer.  Tweet, blog and facebook about Fashion Revolution Day.  Add the tags #InsideOut and @Fash_Rev.  Let’s find out…who made your clothes?


Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Photographing your Comox Trunks sans sexy model


What’s that?  You finished your Comox Trunks and really want to put your name in for our awesome prize pack but don’t have a super willing and sexy model at your disposal?  Not to worry!  There are plenty of other ways to show us your Comox Trunks.  And even if you aren’t very skilled with a camera, you still have a chance to win our prize because we’re picking the winner at random and not based on how great your trunks (or your photos) look.

Here are some options to show us your Comox Trunks:

1. Grab a clothes line or a pretty patch of grass/sofa/carpet and shoot your shorts in 2D.  Just because your shorts aren’t filled in by a masculine body doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate your gorgeous fabric choice and careful top stitching!


2. If you’re really set on showing us a ‘filled in and rounded out’ sample, why not have a look around the house for male models of the non-human variety?  Who is more loyal and helpful…Teddy? Dog?  We will soon find out!teddy in boxersdog in underwear


3. Recruit models from elsewhere!  I gave David Beckham a ring and he was more than happy to set aside some of his modelling time to help out in the Thread Theory studio:
David in Comox Trunks

***ahem…my Photoshop skills are rather lacking but you get the idea…***

Now all you need to do is snap some pictures and upload them to an area of the internet of your choice (your blog, Facebook, Kollabora, Burdastyle, Thread & Needles, Pinterest, Flickr…etc.) and then add a link to them in the comments section of this post.  Alternatively, email your photo to  Do this by May 5th for a chance to be entered in the draw for our prize pack!  The winner will be drawn on May 8th.  Happy sewing and photographing!


Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Attaching the elastic waistband

By the end of today’s post you will have finished Comox Trunks that are ready for you to photograph for your chance to win our awesome prize package (that includes everything you need to sew a whole underwear drawer of trunks).

Today we’ll be attaching the elastic waistband.

First, I will show you the method included in the instruction booklet to create an exposed elastic waistband as you would find on most store-bought trunk style underwear.

After that, I’ll show you my attempt at a fabric covered elastic waistband.  ***Full disclosure – I’ve somehow managed to avoid sewing fabric covered elastic waistbands my entire sewing-life and so am not sure if my technique is the best one available.  You might have some tips for me about how to make this process smoother 🙂 ***

Okay, lets get started on our exposed elastic waistband.  First, we need to form a loop by sewing the two narrow edges together.  I used a reinforced stitch for this but you could also use a narrow zig zag (and sew over the seam at least twice) or even a straight stitch if you sew over it several times to ensure that your threads won’t snap when the elastic stretches.


And here is our loop after I’ve pressed open the seam allowance:


I like to force the seam allowances to lay flat by zig zagging them to the main elastic.  This will help prevent them from being too scratchy.


This is how the trapped seam allowances appear from the inside of the waistband:


In the instruction booklet I give two options for attaching your garment tag (which comes with the paper sewing pattern).  I’ve gone with my favourite option.  While I am all for proudly displaying our brand on the exterior of our garments (lol I hate clothing with visible brand names usually but it’s a different story with my own brand :P) I prefer to place the tag over the elastic seam allowance.  Our tags are nice and soft so they’ll provide one extra layer between the wearer and the scratchy seam allowances.  If you don’t have a garment tag you could use a fabric scrap or ribbon instead.



And now it’s time for us to add the waistband to the shorts.  This step is very straight forward (indeed, it can sometimes be a little confusing to people because they are expecting it to be more difficult!).  All you need to do is line up the trunks and elastic exactly how they will look when they are finished and then sew them in place!  Here is how to line them up:



You will need to line up the right side of the shorts with the wrong side of the elastic so that the elastic overlaps the fabric 3/8″.  The elastic is the outermost layer.  Position the elastic seam at centre back and pin in place.  Also pin centre front.

At this point, I like to divide the elastic in quarters and place pins where side seams normally would be.


I then place pins between each of my four pins to result in eight pins that evenly distribute the trunk fabric around the elastic.9798

Here, you can see how this will look from the inside once you have placed your pins:


And now it is just a matter of stitching the two layers together!  I used a zig zag stitch but you can also use a twin needle for a lovely professional finish.  You will need to stretch the elastic slightly as you sew to ease in the excess fabric.  Depending on whether you created a custom fit waistband or not (by wrapping it around the wearer to determine the length needed) will depend on how much easing you need to do.100

Don’t worry if the fabric looks a little gathered in areas by the time you are done (see mine below – especially in the front area) because this will stretch out when the wearer puts the trunks on and sit perfectly smoothly.


I went over my zig zag stitch a second time for added strength.  You could even do this a third time if you wanted because of all the seams in these trunks, this is the one that is under the most pressure and is the most likely to snap.


Once I finished stitching I cleaned up my seam allowance by trimming the fabric closer to the zig zag stitches.


Wahoo! Our trunks are done! (Unless you are holding out for the fabric covered waistband of course).

Here is what I did to create a fabric covered waistband:

I sewed the elastic into a loop as I explained above (including stitching the seam allowances flat).


Next I needed to create a fabric loop that could sandwich the elastic and still have enough seam allowance to attach to the trunks.  To create this, I cut two rectangles of fabric (you could cut one long rectangle if you only want one seam, I just didn’t have enough scrap fabric to do this).  The rectangles each measured as follows: The length of your elastic loop (i.e. roughly the width of your trunks)  plus two seam allowances + double the width of your elastic plus two seam allowances.

Sew the narrow edges together to form a tube and you will end up with this:

And here is a better view so you can see how the fabric tube relates in size to the trunks:IMGP7176
Now sandwich the elastic in your fabric by folding the loop in half over the elastic (with wrong sides together).


To keep everything lined up, you can baste the fabric loop closed along the bottom.  I used a zipper foot so that I could get close enough to the elastic to prevent the elastic from sliding around.


Here is the elastic-stuffed and basted loop:


Now I pinned the elastic/fabric loop to the trunks with right sides together and the seams lined up at either side.


And I serged the entire loop.  This is more or less effective – the only problem is that you can’t get very close to the elastic edge with the serger so the fabric waistband looks a little floppy and loose.  The only way to create a narrower fabric tube would be to leave a hole in the tube and thread the elastic into it AFTER the tube is attached to the main trunks.


I just used the reinforced straight stitch and a zipper foot to stitch closer to the elastic:


And there we go, finished trunks with a super soft and comfy fabric covered waistband!


I’m really looking forward to seeing your trunks!  Check back in two days to see my final post for this sew-along which will detail how to do a photo shoot of your trunks if you don’t have attractive and confident underwear model at your beck and call ;).


Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Hemming the trunks

After all of the progress during the last sew-along session, today we’ll just be sewing the hem.  Easy peasy!  I’ve sewn the charcoal pair using Option 2 from the instruction booklet (a double fold hem finished with a zig zag stitch) and the maple leaf version is hemmed using Option 1 (a serged edge and a twin needle) so you can examine my process and choose which method you prefer.

For the zig-zagged option, start by folding up the hem about 1/4″ and pressing:


Fold the hem again, this time about 3/8″ and press.  Pin as you press and don’t slide your iron along the fabric, instead, lift it up and press down – this way you won’t ‘drag’ the fabric with you and twist the hem (a common issue when hemming thin and stretchy knits).


I changed the settings for my zig zag stitch slightly for the hem to make a larger, stretchier stitch.  I increased the length ever so slightly and increased the width to match the length.  This zig zag stitch will be very visible so it is nice to have a very even looking stitch.

I like to start sewing on a seam, especially one that isn’t very visible from the front, so that the back stitching doesn’t look obvious or messy.  In this case, I started on the back gusset seam.  As you can see, I chose to sew from the inside of the trunks so I could make sure that I was perfectly catching the folded hem.  This isn’t necessary if you are a perfectionist and have a perfectly even hem – you could sew from the outside and keep an even distance from the bottom fold and know that you are catching the top fold the entire time.  As you might guess from my approach, I don’t trust myself to have a perfectly even hem (especially with knits that like to shift around a lot!) and so find it saves me a lot of headaches and stitch picking to just sew it from the inside.


And here is the finished zig zagged hem!  Super easy!



If you choose to try out the twin needle hem, the key is to make sure your twin needle is functioning smoothly before starting to sew – test on scraps until it is jam-free and even.  My machine doesn’t really like working with a twin needle since my tension disks are quite faulty – it will be chugging along beautifully for a couple centimetres and then all of a sudden jam into the biggest snarl you could imagine…ug…regardless, I managed to sew the darned hem after starting and stopping a million times (don’t be scared away by my experience, I have had many snarl-free twin needle sewing experiences…just never on this silly machine!).

Many people like finishing their hem with only a twin needle since the stitch made by it forms a zig zag on the underside of the fabric that nicely encloses the raw edge.  Of course, this requires you to have a lovely even hem and precise stitching.  To save myself the worry that my raw edge wouldn’t be totally enclosed, I simply serge first and use the twin needle to stitch below the serging.

Here is my serged edge folded up once:


And here is my funny little double thread set up!  I have two thread holders on the top of the machine but when I use both of those, the first tension disk doesn’t engage properly and I can’t get a single nice stitch.  Placing a serger cone of thread behind the machine seemed to work well enough though:


The twin needle gives a lovely finish that is strong and very professional looking.  Voila:




Well, that’s it for today and our next post will be the last one for the sewing segment of this sew-along!  Are you looking forward to finally finishing your trunks?  We’ll be adding the elastic waistband and I will also be discussing some ideas for adding a fabric covered waistband if that is more your style.  See you in two days!


Comox Trunks: Sewing the trunks back

Today we are going to make big progress with our trunks – I have this post labelled ‘Sewing the Trunks Back’, but really, before we can really call the backs of these undies done, we need to have pretty much the whole trunks assembled.  That may sound like a large task, but really it is just four curved seams and a quick rectangle!  Here comes the first two curved seams:

It’s time to attach the trunk Front to the Main Shorts – the biggest two fabric pieces in your pile.  You’ll notice that the smallest curved section on this piece has one notch.  This will line up with the bottom of the bound fly as I point out below:

Pin the Front and Main Shorts with right sides together along this notched curve.  Here you can see the notch near the centre of the curve:


And in this photo you can get more of a sense of how you will have to ‘reshape’ the Main Trunks curve when pinning it to the opposite curve of the Front:40

I sewed this seam using a zig zag stitch and then, for good measure and extra strength, sewed over my seam again. This is how the seam looks from the Main Shorts side:

And from the trunks Front side:


And this is what my multiple layers of zig zag stitch looks like!


I like to trim the seams even though the seam allowance isn’t very big (only 3/8″) because it allows me to make everything tidy looking and even and reduces a little bit of the bulk.

Now we need to attach the second Main Shorts piece the same way that we did our first piece:


I pressed the seam allowances away from the front and didn’t finish them (aside from the trimming).  This light jersey doesn’t fray and the seam allowances tend to roll up tidily and softly so I thought that the less stiff thread that could potentially cause rubbing, the better!  If you are using a material that tends to fray you could finish these seams with a second wider row of zig zag stitching.

To serge these seams, it is the same process as we just covered (minus the trimming).  Here is what it will look like if you choose to use the serger:

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When serging, it is perfectly okay to leave your seams looking like they do in the photo above, but I thought you might be interested to see the topstitching that I decided to do along these seams to ensure that the serged seam allowance remains pointing away from centre front and lies flat against the body (see photo below).  I ended up using a simple straight stitch because my reinforced straight stitch was causing the fabric to slide around and I couldn’t keep the top-stitching from wobbling all over the place.  On other fabrics the reinforced straight stitch worked really well for me and I find it is a great way to do top-stitching on many knits. I didn’t mind using a straight stitch on these trunks though because the fabric doesn’t have much stretch anyway so I don’t think Matt will end up with broken stitches when he wears these.


And now we move on to attaching the Back piece!  This will attach to the other long curved edge of the Main Shorts:


As you can see, below, the Main Trunks curve and the Back curve are opposite just like the front and will take a bit of pinning before they line up.52


I sewed this seam twice again using the zig zag stitch.  Might as well make it extra strong!


And then I trimmed the seam just like we did for the front.  I pressed the seam towards centre back.


And now we have to repeat this process with the other back seam to create a closed loop!


Would you look at that?  The trunks are starting to resemble trunks :).

If you’re using a serger, the back process is again very similar to using a domestic machine:



Now, the last step for today is to create and attach the gusset.  While the word ‘gusset’ might intimidate you a little but really, a gusset is just a piece of material that is sewn into a garment to make it wider or stronger (in the case of the trunks, our gusset performs both jobs!).

Our gusset is formed from two rectangle pieces that are double layered for extra strength:


Pin the two pieces with wrong sides together and notches matching.


Baste around the outside.  I used a zig zag stitch within the seam allowance but you could also use a long, straight basting stitch and just remove it after the seams are sewn.


Now our gusset is ready to attach to the trunks to create wider legs!  Line up your main trunks so that the centre front seam lines up with the notch on the long edge of the gusset:

I used two layers of zig zag stitching once again and then pressed the seam open.


Now we can move on to the back seam!  This time the notch lines up with Centre Back.697071

And, once the seam is sewn, it again gets pressed open.  You can trim both of these seams if you like or you could finish them with a wide zig zag stitch.73

And here is how my trunks look at the end of today’s sewing session…now that’s progress!


If you’re using a serger, you will still need to baste the two gusset pieces together with a domestic machine.  I used a straight stitch to baste because I knew it would be trimmed off by the serger in the next step so wouldn’t interfere with the ability of the seam to stretch.IMGP7165

And now we serge the two seams:


I pressed the serging in towards the gusset on both sides:

And then, because this is an area that is quite likely to be sensitive to rubbing, I topstitched the seam allowances in place to keep them flat (again, it is advisable to use a stitch that can stretch such as the reinforced stretch stitch or even a small zig zag stitch but I didn’t do this because my fabric really doesn’t stretch too much):


Are your shorts coming along nicely?  In two days we will be hemming them!  And then it’s on to adding the elastic waistband and…the hardest part of the whole sew-along…finding a model on which to photograph your shorts for the contest ;P.  Happy sewing!


DIY Travel Wardrobe


As you will see by the end of this post, I have recently developed a bit of a back-log of finished projects that I haven’t posted about.  For the last couple months I’ve been madly sewing away whenever I have a spare 10 minutes (yes, it is possible to sew garments in 10 minute chunks!) in hopes of having some fresh handmade clothes to wear during out trip to the US.  I’ll be meeting lots of sewers and fabric store staff who I know will ask the big question, “So, did you make what you’re wearing?”  Since I’ve spent the last year mainly sewing menswear, my handmade wardrobe has become a little tired and frayed around the edges.  But I’ve taken a small step to fix this and, since this is the last Friday before we leave to the states (we leave next Wednesday!)  there is no better time than now to show you what I’ve finished!

First up is one of two modified Grainline Studio Hemlock Tees – which is an awesome (and free!) pattern, as I am sure you have heard by now!  I left off the sleeves, created a HUGE and slouchy neckline and lengthened the body to create a high-low hem.  I added a cute little pocket too.  Its a bit of a different look for me.  Usually I like things that are nipped in at the waist and fairly fitted but I bet it’s going to be super comfy and breezy to wear when it gets hot this summer!


I really admire the aesthetic of Jen’s pattern company and love her writing style and tutorials on her blog.  I’ve been on quite the Grainline Studio kick and started with her patterns that are the quickest to sew due to my time constraints. I have not yet got around to sewing two of my favorite patterns of hers: the Archer Button-up Shirt and her Portside Travel Set (which would have been fitting for this trip…darn, if only I had the time!).

Here is my second Hemlock Tee:


I lengthened the sleeves on this one and lowered the neckline so it has more of a scooped shape.  You can’t see from the photos but I also lengthened the hem on this one though wish I hadn’t in the end because the fabric is a medium-weight t-shirt knit that is very comfy but not especially drapey so the longer and wider hem doesn’t hang overly well.  I’ll probably chop it off to Jen’s original intended length before we leave so that it will look good with skinny jeans too.

I’m not sure if this outfit is a bit out there…it’s my first attempt at print-mixing.  I love the look but tend to find it much easier to dress matchy-matchy.


This skirt is my favorite thrifted piece of clothing – it’s silk and has the most dramatic pleating.

IMGP7293I never know what to wear on the top (hence the print-mixing!) but I think it would look pretty nice with a chambray Archer button-up like this one if I ever get around to sewing one (I swear, my entire wardrobe would be perfect if only I had that one shirt haha)

And, since I’ve been into quick projects, I decided to whip up a dress from my go to dress pattern, the Sewaholic Cambie dress.  This is my third Cambie (the first two are here and here) so I thought I would be practised enough to sew it REALLY fast.  I would have been able to do so but I got carried away with all sorts of little details…I think due to the months and months of dress-free sewing, when I started getting into the girly details, I couldn’t stop!


I added a contrast waistband using thick upholstery fabric (probably not the smartest idea as it split open my perfectly installed invisible zip and I had to use a regular zip instead).  I accented with all sorts of other red details to match the waistband – including the aforementioned exposed red zipper…


…subtle red embroidery along the neckline…


…and red lace along the blind-stitched hem.


Now back to quick makes – the last one I’ve managed to fit in – I sewed up a Scout Tee dress!  Another of the much loved Grainline patterns, this was made using some leftover fabric from a sample for one of our future patterns.  Its a really cozy and soft flannel and is one of only two plaid garments I own (I love plaid, I don’t know why I wear it so little!).  Here it is photographed without a belt but I almost always wear it either with a belt or with a cardigan done up over top of it to cinch in the waist.



Also, I might as well mention the accessories I made to go with my new outfits a couple months ago – some long necklaces!


I have all sorts of random jewellery that I keep stuffed in my jewellery box but don’t often wear because I don’t especially like it for one reason or another.  I was on the verge of giving it to the second hand store (it’s mostly just costume jewellery) but lots of it has sentimental value so I decided to re-purpose it to make it wearable!  It worked really well – these three necklaces that I have layered in the above photo were originally seven different pieces of unworn jewellery! And isn’t the little sewing machine cute?  My local machine repair shop gives out sewing related charms each time you make a purchase :).

Later on this weekend I’ll post some photos of the clothes I made for Matt’s travel wardrobe – his are the most important because, of course, they are Thread Theory garments and will likely be examined closely at stockists and on the TV show set!

***By the way: Sorry for the slightly blurry photos.  I was a one-woman photography crew today because Matt has been so busy lately and can now understand the frustration of bloggers who aren’t married to photographer husbands!***


Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Sewing the trunks front

It’s time to get sewing!  It’s nice to have our machines already set up after the last post so that we can get right into the fun part today!

Firstly, we have to prepare our two strips of binding.  For my charcoal pair I went with self binding but for my Maple Leaf pair I used a contrast dark red – feel free to experiment with different combinations!

Start by folding each long edge into the middle and press:


Fold this segment almost in half.  I like to make one “half” just a touch wider than the other so there is less chance of me missing the bottom layer of the binding sandwich in the next step (because that is SO frustrating…especially since knits are a bit tricky to un-pick).


Once your binding is pressed, pin it to both Front 1 sections along the sharp curve.  Keep the narrower side of the binding facing you so that when you sew along the edge of it, the wider binding will be underneath the fabric and will be caught easily.  In the printed instruction booklet I state: “DO NOT treat the two Front pieces as mirrored pieces.”  Since we revised the cutting layout, as mentioned in this post and in the errata section of our website, you will now be treating these as mirrored pieces.  Sorry for the confusion!  The PDF pattern has been revised so if you are using the PDF instruction booklet, align your Front Pieces as illustrated (mirrored).23

Now it’s time to sew the binding to Front 1.  Before I show how to do that, I have a handy little tip that has saved me much sewing strife.  It is a good habit when sewing both knits or wovens to start a seam with your needle down in the fabric.  I must have lost this good habit somewhere along the way (I remember being taught to do it!) and so was continuously frustrated when I began to sew knits because my machine seemed to “eat” the knit at the beginning of seams about 50% of the time!  It would suck the thin knit down into the bobbin chamber and create a huge mess.  This problem was eliminated when I put my needle in the full “down” position before I even get my foot near the peddle to start the seam.  If this tip helps save at least one person the frustration I felt when beginning to sew knits I will be thrilled to hear it!


And here is our attached binding.  I used a zig-zag stitch for this version but you could also use a straight stitch or reinforced straight stitch as the binding itself doesn’t need to stretch:


Here you can see a close up of the stitching:


The binding is a little longer than the curve (especially if it has stretched while you sewed it.  Just trim off the little bits of excess:


Now it is time to attach Front 1 to Front 2.  Align with right sides together and pin along the long curve.  From this point onwards I will include photos of both the charcoal pair that I’ve sewn with a regular machine and the Maple Leaf pair that I sewed with a serger:



Note that I sewed the binding to the front of the serged pieces after I sewed Front 1 and Front 2 together – you can sew the binding on either before or after, whatever you prefer!

By the way, look at my Maple Leaf placement!  I was chatting with Sophie from TwoRandomWords about how I had forgotten to worry about pattern placement when I cut this pair out and was sad that I wouldn’t end up with the Canadian version of the classic fig leaf across the trunk fronts…to my surprise, luck would have it that the leaf lined up almost perfectly!


Now that the two layers of the front are assembled, we can sew them together to create the right exit fly.  In the first version of the printed instructions the cutting layout would lead to front sections that are sewn with WRONG sides together (a nice way to eliminate a raw seam from the inside centre front of the trunks but this will lead to the wrong side of your fabric peeping out of the fly).  Our revision instead instructs you to sew the two fronts with RIGHT side facing WRONG side.  Here is how it will look:




When you go to baste these pieces together, remember to ensure that the bound edge is curved out of the way as much as possible – the hole needs to be open wide enough to allow for use ;).


I zig zagged within the seam allowance around the edges.  You could also use a long straight basting stitch but then you’ll probably have to remove this stitching later on so that the seams can stretch without snapping threads:



I used a straight stitch for my serged version since it would be trimmed off by the serger later anyways:


And just like that, our fronts are done!  We’re moving on to sewing the backs in a couple days and before you know it they will actually look like underwear (not much to try on for fit now!!!).  Please feel free to ask any questions, especially if you are confused about the changes we made to our cutting layouts after our first print of the instructions.


The Peacoat Mafia

Today I interrupt our Comox Trunks Sew-Along to bring you a rare insider’s photoshoot of the elusive and very dangerous PEACOAT MAFIA…
IMGP6746 Meet Will “The Grandfather” Whitehouse, Farrell “The Rosso” VanderRee, Clayton “The Boss” Whitehouse, and Matthew “Hitman” Meredith.  All are dangerously armed with Goldstream Peacoats…


…And are not afraid to use them!


The Peacoat Mafia couldn’t spare much time for a photo shoot – they interrupted things to make a deal:

And things just about went down right in front of the camera!  Weapons were reached for from their concealed positions in the peacoat interior patch pockets…


But I made them “an offer they couldn’t refuse” and things cooled down…

I asked them to move closer together and crack a smile but Matthew “Hitman” lowered his shades and coldly whispered, “You talking to me?”


With that, the mob turned their backs to scope out their next piece of work…


And I escaped with my life only to become a “rat” by showing these photos to you!

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Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Cutting out your fabric and preparing your machine

It is officially Day 3 of the Comox Trunks sew-along and today we are finally going to start working with our fabric!  Today we will be cutting out our fabric and preparing our sewing machines to work smoothly with thin knits.  By now you should have gathered together your pre-washed knit fabric, corresponding thread, a length of medium weight pre-shrunk knitted elastic (elastics will normally specify on the roll/packaging whether they have been pre-shrunk or not…if they aren’t it is advisable to wash them with your fabric as that’s what you’ll be doing when the trunks are finished, after all!).  You should also have picked your size.

If you have not yet chosen your materials, have a look at the fabrics and elastics I suggest throughout this post.

Okay, let’s begin!  Lay out your pre-washed fabric by folding it in half and matching up the selvages.  I like to pin the selvages together, especially with knits that are prone to curling, so as to ensure that all the pattern pieces will be properly lined up with the grain of the fabric.  See how the knit likes to curl?



In the first edition of our printed instruction booklets, I have made fabric layouts that specify you should cut pattern piece 2 and 3 on a single layer of fabric.  We’ve since revised these layouts so that this is no longer necessary – simply cut them on the folded fabric along with all the other pieces so as to create two ‘mirrored’ versions of each piece.

The only pattern piece that needs to be cut ‘on the fold’ is piece 4 which is the back of the trunks.  Cutting this on the fold will result in a single fabric piece that is double the width of the paper pattern piece.

Also, if you are using a fabric with 4 way stretch which is a recommended fabric choice for these trunks (this means that the fabric stretches length-wise and width-wise), you don’t necessarily need to cut piece 6 (the binding) on the bias.  We placed the grainline in this manner so that you have the option to use contrast colours or prints for your binding regardless of if they are 4-way or-2 way stretch (or even a woven fabric if you are feeling adventurous!).


When cutting out your fabric, mark notches by clipping triangles outwards our using chalk or a pin.  Avoid clipping into the seam allowance partly because it is quite small (only 3/8″) but mostly because some knits have a tendency to run when nicked (even after you’ve sewn the seam).


Here’s a close up of the little notch I made:


Now that all of our pieces are cut out, its time to set up the machine!

For this sew-along I am sewing one pair of trunks with my regular domestic machine:15

…And a second pair of trunks using my serger:


This way, you will be able to see how to construct your trunks with any available machine.  It is well worth your while to play around with the settings on your machine with a scrap of your fabric until the machine works smoothly and your stitches are even.  My little domestic doesn’t have a huge amount of stitch options but I find the zig-zag stitch works well for the main seams with a narrow width.  Also, it really helps to adjust the presser foot pressure so it is lighter than normal.

Also, I like to use a ball point or stretch needle when using knits.  After all of our careful cutting of outward notches it would be a shame to cause a run in the fabric because the sharp needle has snapped some of the fibres!


This next picture is not very clear but hopefully you can see how I played around with adjusting the width of the zig-zag stitch.  After creating a seam of varied zig-zag widths using two layers or knit I pulled open the layers to examine which width of zig-zag was the most invisible from the right side.  If your stitch is too wide you will see threads and ripples on the right side of the garment – not good!


Here are the settings that I found worked best on the charcoal jersey for my machine (remember that the number scale and settings are different on every machine so don’t be tempted to blindly use my numbers….test test test on your scraps!):

When I use the reinforced straight stitch for seams that need lots of strength (this works well on some knits but it is too rough on delicate knits and can cause holes because the needle punches the same area three times):
85 8681

When I use the zig-zag stitch for major seams:


81I didn’t take photos of my serger’s settings because it turned out that the stitches looked best on the Maple Leaf fabric that I used for my serged sample when I set the Differential Feed to “0”.  You might notice in the instruction booklet that I mention you should adjust the Differential Feed when sewing knits.  I think this wasn’t necessary for the Maple Leaf knit because it has very little stretch and acted more like a woven.

If you are confused about what I mean by Differential Feed, you need look no farther than this excellent blog explanation to have this dial de-mystified!

Are you raring to get sewing yet? We’ll get started on Thursday by sewing the trunk front which is the most fiddly bit of this really fast project.  Looking forward to it!