Thread Theory

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


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A New Voice, A New Face

Just under a year ago, I heard about a fantastic new pattern company that had started up, right in our beautiful little valley. As I was about to leave the valley to spend the winter in Toronto, I wasn’t able to meet the designer until our return, but I made contact after enthusiastically buying up all their patterns to date. I found even online the personalities of Morgan and Matt warm, intelligent and interesting and I quickly let them know that we would be friends upon my return. That’s the kind of thing I do- send emails to people and while trying to seem as non-creepy as possible, try to strike up friendships. Let’s call it an extroverts approach to the internet.

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Well, since my return to the valley this summer, we’ve become fast friends. They’ve spoiled me with their fantastic cooking, we’ve spent Fridays sewing late into the night (and deep into the red wine) and we’ve even found an occasional enthusiastic babysitter in Morgan. My four year old daughter immediately warmed to her and jumps for joy when I say she gets to spend time with Morgan. All this to say we have bonded and formed what I hope will be a very long and strong friendship, but also a great opportunity to work with some people I admire tremendously.

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In our evenings of sewing, we talked about the idea of my contributing to the Thread Theory blog on a regular basis. In part to add to the voice of Thread Theory but also to free up some of Morgan’s time to do more designing of fantastic patterns- YAY! So not only will you all get to enjoy my take on all things Thread Theory and sewing on a weekly basis, but it will ultimately mean more Thread Theory fun, more Thread Theory patterns and more projects for YOU!

But who is this crazy chick, just suddenly blogging it up at Thread Theory, you may ask? Well, you can get a pretty good idea of who I am at here, which you may already be familiar with since Morgan’s been linking to me regularly (perhaps she’s been secretly planning this for a while and wanted her dear readers to be familiar with me!). I am an enthusiastic and driven intermediate sewist who teaches in a home studio one full day per week, and sews almost every night. I also teach yoga three times a week in Courtenay, work four days a week at an office, and spend a lot of time with my four year old. it adds up to a pretty full, varied and fantastic (if harried) life.  I love sewing for myself and my family; and I love adapting Thread Theory patterns to fit a four year old or myself (of course in the case of the four year old it’s more a matter of adapting the style using another pattern).I’ve made, and blogged about, a few of Thread Theory’s patterns, and look forward to making many more. I also love to sew other indie patterns, from Sewaholic, Grainline, Shwin Designs and more. When students ask for suggestions I try to always steer them to indie patterns- not only to support the “little guy” but because I genuinely believe in the quality, design and instructions of the indie patterns.

So you can look forward to my weekly posts about my sewing, Thread Theory, teaching, and gathering together what you’ve sewn too!


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A standing desk for the Thread Theory Studio

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Matt and I have been re-configuring our studio a little bit of late. As we get busier and busier (yay!) we have been finding ourselves sitting at our dining room table in front of the lap top answering customer service queries and packing orders for increasingly larger amounts of time each day.  Our dining room table was never intended to be our “office desk”.  In fact, up until recently, we had quite an unreasonable amount of desks to choose from crowding up our studio (read: our entire house :P).  We had a big corner desk complete with a hutch, all in laminated ‘wood’ set up in one room which rarely got used because I find corner desks and hutches to both be pretty clausterphobic and dark.  I like to work on big, open surfaces with lots of daylight.  Our next desk option was the corner desk’s matching table which we had moved into my sewing area resulting in it’s surface area being too crowded with sewing machines to use as an office desk.  Lastly, we had a big old government desk (solid wood with a really large and useful table top) in Matt’s little workshop area which we used to hold absolutely everything despite Matt’s desire to use it as the perfect shop bench.

And yet, despite all these desk options, we were sitting hunched over our dining room table because it is the one surface in our studio/house that is bathed in natural light and big enough to spread computers, papers and partially packed orders all over it’s nice open surface.  Unfortunately, the chair and table height really don’t work well for computing.  Our lower backs have been getting more and more sore and we have been noticing that, in order to use the keyboard, our shoulders have to hunch up awkwardly for long periods of time.

So…in classic Matt and Morgan fashion, we put a bunch of our furniture up on Craigslist and decided to start again (this is a very ingrained habit for us)!  We sold the corner desk (we’ve never been a fan of fake wood anyways), the table from my studio, and, while we were at it, we sold our coffee table too.  We went from having an excess of not very useful tables and desks to having only the dining room and Matt’s government desk to work with!

That was a good thing though: It left us with the space in our house/studio to start imagining the perfect studio set up – which, we decided, was to switch to a standing desk.

When we started up a sewing pattern company, I perhaps naively imagined myself blissfully sewing all day.  Of course, within almost no time at all, we realized that the reality of an online business is far different than this – we are probably at our computers just as much as if we had conventional office jobs as our careers.  Since I don’t see this really changing any time in the future, we hope a standing desk will at least improve the situation.  We’ve been reading some articles on the benefits of standing for the majority of the day and it really sounds desirable to me!  (See this article in the Smithsonian magazine for example.)  I’ve always been proud of my straight posture but, over the last two years I have been noticing I’m no longer so naturally inclined to sit or stand with a really straight back.  Eeek!  I don’t want to developed a rounded ‘computer back’!standing-desk ergonomics

Standing desks are pretty expensive and they seem to usually be a little too narrow for my liking.  I didn’t want to compromise on my desire for a big flat work surface!  So Matt decided to build us a desk so we wouldn’t have to purchase one that didn’t suit all of our criteria.  He’s new to woodworking but whipped this up in no time!  He’s constructed a coffee table and a desk in the last two weeks!  He used this tutorial for the standing desk with a number of revisions.  We decided to tilt the desk on a slight angle like a drafting table and we used 2X6 boards to create a table top rather than purchasing a thinner one.  Matt also added an angle to one side since we are pretty limited for space in our office area and we wanted to still be able to walk through the door to our kitchen!

What do you think?

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We’re mid way through sanding it and then we have to settle on a stain/oil color.  These are the two main candidates at the moment:

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And then we’ll need to figure out some solutions for office organization.  We’re part way through sorting this out since we just bought a filing cabinet!!! (It’s probably a little odd that I love filing cabinets so much…I, along with my mom and my sister, am a bit of an office furniture and stationary geek…we used to look forward to shopping for school supplies even more than we looked forward to back to school clothes shopping!).

The filing cabinet we had before was part of the laminate corner desk unit so we had to sell it when we sold the desk.  It was nice and big and we didn’t have too many complaints about it, but, since we had the opportunity to pick a new cabinet, I decided I preferred a tall and skinny cabinet to a short and wide one since this will give us more wall space to add more office furniture! The filing cabinet we found is a bit battered and well loved, but I’m calling this a ‘vintage patina’ lol.

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I actually kind of like the chipped paint!  What truly won me over though, were the brass handles.  They’re perfect!IMGP1956

Now that we have a standing office desk I have been curious about standing sewing set ups.  Recently, when Oona posted her sewing area tour, she showed us that she sews at a standing height desk.  I tried this out by placing my little Kenmore on my ironing table once my laminate sewing table was sold but I don’t think I’m won over to standing sewing.  It was pretty awkward because all my weight was on my left leg while my right foot stayed raised over the foot pedal.  I tried to force myself to keep my heel on the ground so I could distribute my weight more evenly but my heel simply wouldn’t co-operate.

I hope I’ll have more success with standing computing!  I’ll let you know how it turns out when we’ve finished the desk and I’ve had a chance to try it out for a few weeks.

 


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In the Studio: I presented a seminar at my kitchen table!

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In the studio is a weekly feature where I show you a little sneak peek at what I’ve been up to this week.  Here’s this week’s edition!
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I think I’m going to sound a little cliche and maybe a little old fashioned when I say, “Isn’t technology mind boggling?”  This morning, I presented a seminar sitting in my coziest sweater, which a cup of honey lemon water in my very own kitchen!  No need for business attire, long expensive trips across the country or the nerves associated with presenting to a lecture hall of upturned faces full of anticipation!  Usually, if you explained this scenario to me I would sigh a little and exclaim about the sad loss of personal connection in this technology filled world…but I must admit, as I sat nervously in my own dining room this morning, I was REALLY glad I could instruct the BurdaStyle Web Seminar from home!

Have you ever worked with seminar hosting technology?  Does technology effect your experiences with sewing?  What role does it play in your careers?  I’d love to hear what you think!


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BurdaStyle Web Seminar – Demystifying Menswear

I thought you might be interested to know that I’ll be talking about menswear over at BurdaStyle this Thursday!  I am really excited (and even more nervous!!!) to be giving an hour long live web seminar called Demystifying Menswear: Style, Fit and Professional Sewing Techniques.

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BurdaStyle was my introduction to the online sewing community and it is still one of the websites that I visit for my daily dose of sewing inspiration.  It was a great honor when they contacted me requesting I give a web seminar about menswear and so I swallowed by (IMMENSE) public speaking fears and accepted the challenge as a bit of a pathway towards self improvement and as another way to do one of my favorite things: show people that sewing menswear garments really isn’t that scary (unlike public speaking haha).

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I’ve broken the presentation into several categories, all aimed at familiarizing you with some key menswear sewing techniques (think flat fell seams, the pants fly, and basic elements of tailoring).  We will be discussing these sewing techniques in the context of Button Up Shirts, Trousers and Jackets.  We will then take a look at menswear sewing resources such as my favorite books, what I consider to be the most inspiring blogs, and great places to look for tools and tailoring supplies.

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The web seminar is $19.99 and takes place on Thursday, Oct. 9th, 11:00 am (EDT).  It is a live presentation, which means that you will be able to sit at your kitchen table with a cup of coffee and your notes while I sit at my kitchen table with the same!  The BurdaStyle webinar format consists of a slideshow presentation and live speaking.  Matt has set up a really nice microphone for me so I should sound pretty clear and the slide show that I’ve made is full of lots of inspiring menswear photos and is quite visually pleasing (if I do say so myself!).  I’ve dozed through my fair share of university PowerPoint presentations laden with lists of facts so I’ve done my best to avoid overwhelming you with text.  Most of the information I plan to give will be verbal so I suggest you have pen and paper ready (or simply listen/watch to the recorded version of the presentation whenever you need to refer to the information in the future!).

If you aren’t available this Thursday, you can still register for the webinar and listen/watch it as many times as you like as a recording.

I hope you’ll join me this Thursday as it would be really nice to have a few familiar faces (not that I’ll be able to see you) in the audience!


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Introducing our Jeans & Pants Essential Notions Kit!

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I’ve been so excited to show you the newest item in our shop:  Matt and I have assembled Jeans & Pants Essential Notions kits!
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We’ve included all the notions you will need to give your carefully sewn pants that professional finishing touch.  The kit comes in two themes: Antique Brass and Gun Metal so you can match the tones of your fabric choice to the warm or cool tones of the kits.
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Each kit includes a zipper, a jeans button and six rivets.  To help you install your zipper, you can refer to our Fly Front Video which we created as part of our Jedediah Shorts Sew-along.  And, to learn how to apply your button and rivets, all you need do is to read Matt’s excellent tutorial! Plus, to REALLY encourage you to get pants sewing, our Jedediah Pants are currently 25% off until Friday, October 10th! Use the discount code “HAMMERTIME”!JeansKit-24

The zippers we chose are 6″ (Aqua/Brass) and 7″ (Grey/Gun Metal) to suit most casual pants patterns.  For instance, our Jedediah Pants require a 6″ zipper but a 7″ zipper would do nicely for the larger sizes or can be shortened to suit your needs using tutorials such as this excellent one by Jacque Goldsmith for Threads Magazine.JeansKit-15

The zippers are Talon 42 metal zippers which are strong and very classic in appearance.  Talon is an American company who began in 1893 under the name Universal Fastener Company and they were and still are used by many of the major jeans manufacturers.  After all, they are the company that actually invented the zipper!    You can read an interesting short article on the history at Rawr Denim.JeansKit-26

The rivets are unmarked with brand names and look very professional when added to pockets.  Matt’s tutorial is extremely in depth so that you will be confident when you apply them to your pants, but really, it is VERY simple to do!

JeanRivets-27Simply push the silver pin through the fabric and into the rivet cap.  Hammer lightly against the silver base until the rivet is tight against the fabric.  The pins are long enough that they can be used through several thick layers of denim but can be snipped with pliers or side cutters to suit whatever thickness you are encountering.JeansKit-17

The buttons we chose are light but strong with a classic oak leaf design.  I love the dark background against the antique brass color!  The buttons are applied in the very same manner as the rivets using a slightly larger pin.  The metal shank on these buttons makes it easy to button or unbutton even heavy denim jeans. JeansKit-27
I hope our Jeans & Pants Essential Notions kit will help you in your pants sewing odyssey this winter!  I plan to use the Gun Metal colored kit with a couple meters of our new Grease Canvas to make my dad some pants – I’ll show them to you once they are done!


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More Finlaysons!

I hope you aren’t tired of looking at Finlayson Sweaters yet because I have loads more to show you today!  The weather is really cooling down here (we turned the heat on for the first time in months last night) so looking at cozy sweaters while simultaneously being bundled up in one is a great way for me to embrace the chill!

Thanks to the talented sewists who shared these photos either on line or by emailing them to me!  I hope you are enjoying your Finlaysons!Finlayson collage Marielle

Mariëlle van Toor (submitted by email)

Nicole's sweater

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more Finlaysons

Ellen Sand | Anna (submitted by email)

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Sewing Dutch | Sewing Dutch | A Needle For Your Thoughts | Ana (submitted by email)

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Erin (submitted by email)

What a talented bunch of sewists!  Even though the Finlayson Contest is now over, please don’t refrain from sending me photos of your Finlaysons – as you can tell from all my blog posts lately, I love nothing more than seeing what amazing garments you make with our patterns.  Happy Sewing!


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Finlayson Sew-Along: Winners Announcement!

Today I am really excited to announce the winners of our Finlayson Sew-Along Contest!  Thank you to everyone who busily sewed and submitted their entries.

Let me tell you, it was a super tough decision to choose these winners!  But, we managed to whittle the choices down and, without further ado, here they are!

The winner of the Canadian Entry Prize: $30 Gift Certificate to Simplifi is Natasha for her innovative use of shoe laces!

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Natasha used a printed shoe lace instead of twill tape to finish the neck seamline and the raw edges of her kangaroo pocket.Natasha

I think the result looks really professional and goes with her fabric choices perfectly (organic cotton sweater fleece and corduroy cut from a pair of old pants).  I’ve seen all sorts of interesting printed  and coloured shoe laces at department stores, shoe stores and even skate shops so I think it would be far easier to find a nice printed cotton shoe lace for your Finlayson Sweater than the same quality printed cotton twill tape (judging by what is available at my local fabric stores).  Thanks for the great idea Natasha!Natasha3

The winner of the Third Prize: A $30 Gift Certificate to Girl Charlee is Tina Wheeze for her awesome alpine sweater!

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The contrast sleeves are a great way to make such a bright print less overwhelming and I really like how she used the print for the cuffs.
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Second Prize: $50 gift certificate for Britex Fabrics, goes to Jackie for her Star-Wars themed Finlayson.Angua4

The contrast collar looks lovely paired with the textured blue knit.  And I really like how she used both the twill tape and facing to completely personalize the sweater.

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PLUS, I love the effort and humor that went into Jackie’s Star Wars comic!
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And, drum roll please!  First Prize is a $100 shopping spree at Hart’s Fabric and this awesome gift certificate goes to Ann Kin for her impeccably sewn Finlayson Sweater.  The fabric choice is so classy, the fit is spot on and the contrast collar is such a nice detail.

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Most impressive, though, is Ann’s careful stitching.  Just look at THAT:Ann Kin 2

Congratulations to all of the winners and a huge THANK YOU to all the participants of our Finlayson Sweater Contest!  Emails will be going out to the individual winners so that you can claim your prize :).