Thread Theory

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


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Jutland Sew-Along: Schedule

Welcome to the first post of our Jutland Pants Sew-Along!

As I mentioned in our announcement blog post, this sew-along will be a little different than a classic sew-along.  Instead of covering each step of the Jutland Pants construction process, we will be offering a week of blog posts that show you how to customize this pattern to truly make these pants personalized!

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Also, I’d mentioned in the announcement post that we would be offering a number of videos…um…that’s not going to happen :P.  Matt and I valiantly struggled through a large number of flawed takes and many hours of work before becoming completely exasperated with the quality of instruction we were producing.  We’ve had a few customers request video tutorials from us so, to those who have, I’m sorry that we aren’t able to provide these for you!  In short, we have discovered that my shy personality paired with Matt’s obsession with perfection leads to VERY long filming days and videos complete with a squeaky, stuttering me and inferior lighting, coloring and angles.  Considering how much time we invest into a photographed sew-along (read LOTS), we just aren’t able to add more time to this by attempting to create videos.  For now at least!

Tuesday’s post will feature a few videos (minus sound) that we were able to produce but the rest of the posts will be the usual detailed photographs, write ups and a number of diagrams.  I hope they will be really helpful to you while you work on your pants!


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Finished Minoru Jacket

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I finished my Minoru!  I posted in-progress photos a while ago and today I have the final photo shoot with Luki as my assistant.MinoruJacket-14

I made a number of small changes to the pattern to suit my fabric choice and my preferences.  First, I attached the hood to the base of the collar instead of adding it as a ‘hidden hood’ within the collar.  This is because I made this jacket as a rain jacket with waterproof fabric so I figured, any time I was wearing this jacket, I would likely be needing the hood!  No need to hide it :).
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I shortened the collar considerably and still find it sufficiently cozy.  I lined the collar with flannel which really makes it feel nice against my skin.  I had intended to add a zipper shield with a flannel lining as well but forgot to sew it in…which is too bad because this fabric didn’t handle stitch-ripping very well (the holes from the needle don’t really disappear).  It would have been a nice addition to the coat because, without the shield, the cold zipper rests against my chin when the coat is closed!

You can see I had a bit of trouble dealing with the fabric – especially along the front zipper plackets.  They dragged and shifted no matter how careful I tried to be (I used LOADS of pins).  When I edited these photos I had to adjust the shadows and highlights considerably so you could see the seamlines in the jacket…I think this made the ripples on the plackets more obvious than they look in real life (I hope!).

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I graded between sizes at the hips so that the jacket doesn’t flare out quite as much at the hips.  I also shortened the hem slightly and added inseam pockets to store treats and poop bags for Luki :P.

The biggest change I made to the construction process is that I skipped the lining (everywhere except the sleeves which I lined with slippery mesh).  While I love lined jackets, it seemed a shame to line this jacket because my fabric is really unique – it has a waterproof exterior and a fleece interior which is fused together.  I didn’t want to cover up the cozy fleece!

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I love the gathering included in this design, especially at the waist – it’s really flattering!  I’m happy with the fit too – it is loose enough that I can layer a sweater and even another jacket underneath it for added warmth (since I finished my ‘fall jacket’ well after the first chilly frost!).  At the same time, the sleeves look pretty slim and I don’t feel overly bundled when I wear this jacket.
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Well, I think it’s safe to categorize this Minoru Jacket as a win!  I’m heading to Vancouver to hang out with the actual designer (Tasia of Sewaholic) tomorrow – I think I’ll be a little cheesy and wear the jacket for the trip  :P.


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Artist Made Wooden Sewing Tools

When Matt and I were at CREATE recently, a woman who took my Comox Trunks sewing class told us that her dad made beautiful wooden sewing tools.  He had some on display at the front entrance to CREATE so we went to check them out – and knew they would be a wonderful addition to our shop!

Wooden Sewing Tools

Wray Parsons is a skilled wood worker on Vancouver Island who specializes in creating sewing tools.  He is very particular with his selection of woods – he uses local wood or sustainably harvested exotic woods and creates precision instruments in very small batches.

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Each and every one of his tools is unique because of his wood choice and the different design elements he likes to add.  We’ve added a drop down wood selection list to each item in our store so you can choose the wood you like best!

As you can tell, I really admire Wray’s woodworking but, as a fellow designer, I perhaps relate even more to the time and effort he has put into creating very functional designs.

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The large, three legged velvet pin cushion, for instance, features a stable wooden base that prevents pins from slipping deep into the cushion or poking out the bottom (my pet peeves with the classic tomato shaped cushion!).

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The needle minders he makes include very strong magnets so that your pins won’t slip off.

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He includes one magnet embedded within the needle minder and a second one is loose so that you can sandwich non-magnetic things (a table leg perhaps?) and your needle minder will always be within easy reach!

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The seam rippers are probably my favorite item – the tapered handle really showcases the interesting grains in each type of wood.

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Wray has chosen high quality metal blades which include a safety ball.  Several years ago I cut myself really badly using a seam ripper that didn’t have a safety ball so this little feature is very necessary to me!

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To make these seam ripper’s even safer, Wray creates matching wooden lids that fit extremely snugly (unlike those silly clear plastic ones that are forever sliding off and cracking in my sewing box!).

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If you’d like to see all the wood choices and read more details, head on over to our store!

And one last note before I post this: In case anyone is reading this while planning gifts for me (***hint*** Matt, my darling hubby :P), a Zebra Wood Seam Ripper is on my wishlist!


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In The Wild- A Pair of Jutlands and a Strath

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The Jutland Pants Sew-Along begins on Dec. 1st (we’re working on creating the custom pocket pattern pieces today!).  To give you some inspiration as you plan your pants, today I want to feature Duncan Macleod’s Jutlands.

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To read all the construction and fitting details about this pair of Jutlands, head to Duncan’s blog: dmacleodsmusings.  Duncan offer’s an inspiring approach to DIY.  On his blog he states:

“I can’t help but do for myself what might easily be done for me.”

Duncan discusses the similarities of sewing and welding and demonstrates the importance of spatial intelligence when creating something 3D from a 2D raw material.

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I really like Duncan’s choice of contrasting top stitching and the flat felled seams on these Jutlands look very professional.

Next, let me show you an excellent rendition of the Strathcona Henley!

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This Strathcona was made by Devon of Miss Make for her brother.  She chose a motorcycle themed fabric and worried a bit that it might be too cutesy.  She had no need to fear as her brother loves the shirt (enough to agree to model!) and I think he suceeds in making it look really chic!  When I read that this was a motorcycle themed Strathcona I had to squiiiint to see the motorcycles – I really like how subtle they are.

Thanks for sharing you finished projects guys!

 


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Thinking about making trousers…

With the Jutland Pants Sew-Along coming up on December 1st, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about sewing pants.  Next week we will be filming the ‘video diary’ so that it is ready for the sew-along start date.  In the meantime, here are some of the resources I’ve been referring to while brainstorming and researching before we begin to film!

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Have you seen Closet Case File’s latest pattern?  Heather Lou has put epic amounts of work into this pattern and is currently hosting a sew-along on her blog.  I am not usually one for following sew-alongs but this Ginger Jeans Sew-along has got me hooked!  Heather has thought of every single question someone might want answers to as they embark on their first pair of jeans.  She has beautifully photographed her steps (including how to sew the fly!).  I’m glad we haven’t been working on a photographed sew-along because, when it comes to sewing casual pants, Heather’s got your classic sew-along completely and perfectly covered!

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During our sew-along I will be sewing two pairs of pants – one of each variation included in the pattern.  One of these will be put in the mail, once finished, for my Uncle.  He recently visited my parents (around the time of our Jutland Pants release date) and by the time his visit was over, he wanted a pair of pant’s just like my dad’s heavy duty Jutlands (my dad wears them constantly).  My Uncle’s favorite trouser brand is Kuhl and so I’ve decided to include some classic Kuhl details on his pair of Jutlands.  I borrowed a pair of his pants one evening and took some relevant measurements:IMGP2268

As I mentioned in the sew-along announcement post, this pair will include a gusset for ultimate flexibility,  custom pockets (including a screw-driver pocket), and I hope to adjust the fit of the Jutlands a little to match his favorite Kuhl fit.IMGP2267

Speaking of fit, I’ve been planning out some of the alterations I want to show you in our video diary.  My favorite fitting guide in my library is a single page in Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear.  These fitting adjustments are specifically suited to men (which is hard to find in the sewing world!) and they are presented very simply and clearly.IMGP2266

I’ll cover these adjustments in our video as I find it is really helpful to see pattern adjustments in motion rather than photographed or sketched.  Since most pattern adjustments involve slashing and pivoting, I think the dynamic format of video will be perfectly suited to explaining these!
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And last but not least, here’s a little sneak of what our new pup, Luki is up to while I work this afternoon!  He’s trying to dry off after a stormy mid-morning walk by snuggling deeply in his (ever-growing) pile of cozy blankets!  Happy Friday!


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Connecting with the Objects in our Lives

You guys are sewers (or soon will be!) so perhaps the idea of having a direct relationship with the objects in your life is familiar. Or maybe it is but you haven’t put much thought into it. Either way, it’s something I am interested in exploring and always have been. I’ve rarely been a big shopper, but I definitely am a bit of a collector. I thought it could be an interesting topic to discuss over the next few months (not exclusively of course!)

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In the spring I (Nicole) am going to be teaching a five day retreat/workshop at the incredible summer camp for grown ups, Hollyhock (click on the link to see 2015, and watch the short video about Hollyhock!). It’s on a secluded little island, ocean front and surrounded by woods. The food is incredible, the views spectacular and the presenters are phenomenal (wink wink). I went on a meditation retreat last summer, and I swear if I didn’t have a family I probably would have never left! 🙂 The reason I mention it in this post is because A) They just posted the line up for 2015 last week! and B) Because a major theme of the week will be reconnecting with the objects in our lives. We will be exploring what it means to put mindfulness and effort into an object, and talking about what kind of difference it makes compared to spending money on a similar object.

We will also explore meditation and making. Bringing awareness to each. little. stitch.

Did I mention there will be sewing? Oh, so much sewing.

So let me ask you: how has sewing changed your relationship with the objects in your lives? How do you feel about buying clothes, once you started making them?


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Christmas Wishlist

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It’s time to start thinking about wishlists and presents so Matt and I have been busy adding more sewing tools and stocking stuffers to our store!  In celebration of this, we’re holding a sale until December 1st so that you can order all your Christmas sewing projects and gifts for your sewing friends at once.  Enter the code WISHLIST upon checkout to receive 15% off orders over $100.

Now, let me introduce you to some of the newest items in our shop!  First up is a small side project that our graphic designer and I started brainstorming during a sailing trip together last summer:

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Thread Theory drink coasters!  My sewing table is the recipient of many wine, coffee and tea stains because I can’t seem to sew without having a drink to sip at my side.  I hope these will prevent a few water stained rings from developing on your tables!  Also, with the Christmas party season coming up coasters will be in high demand.  We made these coasters very subtly sewing themed so that they can spread into the rest of your home without causing you to look too sewing-obsessed!Coasters-15

The coasters come in packs of six and include two of each design.  The first design is The Anatomy of the Goldstream Peacoat.  Use it to thoroughly impress non-sewing relatives with your vocabulary over eggnog and rum punch :P.Coasters-14

The second design features our Knolled Thread Theory Workstation.  Have you heard of knolling?  I first heard this term mentioned by Jen on the Grainline Studio blog.  I followed her link to the video definition and ended up watching the whole (super funny) video series featuring Tom Sach’s rules of conduct that must be learnt before entering his studio.  Needless to say, Matt and I have been obsessively knolling ever since!Coasters-13

The last design is a geography lesson – this coaster features the locations of the four parks that we were inspired by when designing the Parkland Collection patterns.  You can see that Strathcona Park and Goldstream Park are both on Vancouver Island while Jedediah is actually an island between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  Newcastle is also an island just off the coast of Nanaimo, Matt’s hometown.

I had so much fun working on this coaster project – it was a nice change from pattern design and instruction writing!  I hope they will be a welcome addition to your home as they have been in mine (they’re seriously everywhere…).  Head here to check out the dimensions and other specific details about the coasters.

Also new in our store are three Merchant & Mills tools!  We restocked all of the tools we currently carry and couldn’t resist adding a few new ones to our order.

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Let me introduce you to the most glorious Tailor’s Shears you will ever meet!  These smoothly operating beauties were created in Sheffield, England, the home of British Steel.  They are forged from high carbon tool steel which will retain its sharp edge and includes inner corrosion protection.NewProducts-14

They feature a very practical 8″ blade (not too long, not too short) which is side bent so that the bottom blade rests flat against your cutting surface. NewProducts-13

In classic Merchant & Mills fashion, these quality scissors are beautifully presented in a style perfect for gift giving.  Their blade is stamped with the Merchant & Mills logo and they are packaged in an embossed box complete with stamped tissue, a description of the scissors, and a pretty outer sleeve.NewProducts-12

We also added to our essential notions.  My goal is eventually stock every tool I find to be necessary when working in my sewing studio.  With that in mind, we added a metal sewing guage with a red plastic slider to our shop.
NewProducts-8This is a tool that is never far from my hand when sewing – it is perfect for measuring seam allowances, buttons, buttonholes, topstitching and pretty much every other precise little measurement you might require. NewProducts-9 Lastly, we now carry two styles of thread snips!  The first style has been in our shop for a while and has received enthusiastic reviews.  If you haven’t checked them out already, you are welcome to go examine my favorite Wide Bow Scissors.  While these scissors are my choice for snipping threads, I understand there are two camps when it comes to thread clippers – classic scissors or spring loaded snips.NewProducts-5

Matt is a spring loaded snip devotee and so he wouldn’t let us place another Merchant & Mills order without adding these beauties to our store.NewProducts-3

These polished stainless steel thread clips are larger and far heavier duty than Matt and I have ever come across in our search for thread clips (which was Matt’s main past time while visiting stockists on our U.S. road trip last spring).  They are 4.5″ long and include a comfortable finger ring that is designed to fit over your 3rd finger so that they can hang from your hand, ready to use, as you sew.NewProducts-2

These clips were also made in Sheffield, England and have been packaged beautifully by Merchant & Mills.  They sit glistening in a black jewelry box on a velvety black pillow.  They are wrapped in another pretty sleeve as you can see below:NewProducts-1

 

I hope you love these new additions to our store as much as I do!  If you are looking to stock up on sewing tools and kits for yourself or to use as gifts, all of our stock has been refreshed.  We have received many inquiries ever since our Bag Making Supplies Kit sold out so we have added this back in our store (along with the sold out Chicago Screws!).

Good luck with your Christmas shopping!


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Standing desk: Follow-up (sort of a ‘before & after’)

It’s been just over a month since I posted about our new standing desk so it is time to update you on how it has worked out for us!

Here is our old office space (pre-standing desk):

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Here is the standing desk when it was first built:

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And here is what it looks like today!

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As you can see, we stained it a very pretty walnut color.  I haven’t fully decorated/organized the area yet but it looks better than the old office arrangement did, in my opinion.

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I like things to look a lot more minimalist than the corner desk monstrosity allowed.IMGP2210

The best part of our new office arrangement is how Matt and I feel.  Since beginning to use the standing desk my lower back pains are totally gone!  Matt reports the same thing :).  At first the back pains were replaced by tired legs and feet but we built up stamina within two weeks.

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I bought a rug off of Craigslist which helps keep our feet comfortable and warm.  Even though it’s not a super thick rug, having something to remove us from the linoleum and concrete floor just slightly made a really big difference.  We might add a rug underlay in the near future as the weather continues to become colder.

…By the way, say hi to our new dog, Luki (below)!  We adopted him a couple weeks ago!  I have a feeling most photo-shoots will now include a dog as one of the main features :P.

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I like the natural light the desk receives from the window beside it.  I was worried at first that I wouldn’t like staring at the wall ahead of me and I still think this would be the case if it weren’t for the window beside me.

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We have several plans for the desk in the future – we would like to add some sort of shelving to the bottom or maybe add a separate unit elsewhere in the room to house the printer, scanner and office supplies.  This would clear up the desk space considerably which would make it more useful for packing orders (which I still do on the dining room table).

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We’ve already added some hooks to the side of the desk to start making the surface more functional:

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The next improvement I’d like to make is to figure out some sort of covering for the big power cord that extends to the outlet – maybe a galvanized steel tube to match the sawhorse brackets?

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Matt did a great job of cable management – just look at all those wires!  It is very difficult to make such a ‘bare bones’ desk design house so many different electronics without looking like a rats nest!

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We’d also like to add two hanging pendant lights like these ones to light each of our workstations.  It can get a bit dark when the blinds are down.  Whenever it is sunny it’s necessary to close the blinds to prevent glare on the computer screen :(.

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So, as you can see there are still quite a few changes to make to our office arrangement.  For now, though, I’m really pleased with the more active lifestyle this desk has created!  I find I’m less prone to seamlessly transitioning from work to personal computer use when I am at the standing desk.  I feel more focused when I am standing and far less ‘vegetative’.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this change to our work day!  I would love to hear suggestions for office organization if you have any – especially if they correspond to the printer, scanner, cable management, or lighting issues that I mentioned throughout this post :).


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Comox Trunks Pattern Hack- Lady Trunks!

Last weekend was the CREATE! event in Courtenay BC- demos, classes and vendors in the lovely Old House Hotel. Morgan and Matt had a table there and Morgan ran a couple of classes as well. She did some demos using the bag kit and an evening class for the Comox Trunks on Friday night. I was coming straight from work, feeling a little tired and rushed, but I was so glad I went. There were snacks, Comox Trunks Kits, and a very cozy atmosphere (though I feel bad for the people whose hotel rooms were beside the sewing room!).

There were about seven of us, including experienced quilters, Morgan’s mom, and an eleven year old girl. Morgan talked about the pattern, the fabric and the elastic and we all got to work. Every once in a while she would see most people ready to move on and she would introduce and demo the next step. It was fun being walked through and of course as an extrovert, I always love to turn this solitary activity into a party!create collage

The only thing was- I was feeling a little selfish. The bamboo jersey is so so nice, I wanted it for my very own tush. So I talked to Morgan about making them for myself. It turns out to be super easy- in fact it takes away all the tricky stuff at the beginning!  So in case there are others out there like me, who want cozy lady trunks, I decided to throw together a second pair, sharing the modification you make when you don’t need quite so much room in the…ahem.. pouch.

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As you can see, the boxers fit just great, and you too can feel like a super hero (especially if you wear them over tights)

The first step would be to get the Comox Trunks kit, or whatever fabric and elastic you are using, and of course your Comox Trunks pattern. You can follow most of the Sew-along, except we are going to start a little differently. After you’ve cut your pattern and fabric, we are basically skipping the “Sewing the Trunks front” post, since that is all about the pouch.

1. You will not need the binding piece, nor Pattern Piece #2. When you’ve cut out your size, draw and cut a straight line down piece #3 as follows:

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2. You may notice the centre seam in the front panel in my above pair. For my second pair, I decided it would be nicer, and easy, to skip that seam just by cutting on the fold.

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3. Here I forgot to photograph this step (Bad tutorialist!). But just put the two pieces wrong side together and baste about the edge (i suggest 1/4″ SA so it doesn’t show when you to a 3/8″ seam to attach). After basting, we will attach to the legs just as in the pattern and sew-along

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And that’s it! I mean, obviously the trunks aren’t done yet, but that’s how simply the modification is. Follow the rest of the directions to attach the back, gusset and elastic and then you are really done. I have to say- with both pairs I’ve made, I look at the butt and I think “NO WAY” -they seem huge and saggy but they hug the body really well. Don’t worry, you are more three dimensional than the undies are.

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I used Anna Maria Horner’s Saffron Thistle fabric for the legs (which matches this shirt, maybe I will wear them together), which is nice and soft and sturdy. For the hem, I serged the raw edge, the did a scallop stitch in contrasting thread. I used the same stitch for attaching the elastic. To cover the elastic seam, I made a little tag of thistle and put that on the outside. No scratchy edges! The funny thing is, with the contrasting legs, from the back it sort of looks like normal underwear! You can see here, that despite looking weirdly big on the table, they hug the form quite well. You can also somewhat see that the front is flat where the original pattern would bulge out with a pouch.

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I swear, I am going to replace all my undies with these!!


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Announcing the Jutland Pants Sew-along

Jutland Sew Along

If you would like some help sewing your Jutland Pants, not to worry – help is on its way!  Join us on the blog starting December 1st for a week of back to back video and photo posts.  This sew-along will be a little different from our normal format.  Instead of posting every few days at what we hope is the pace that you might be sewing, we will be posting a new post once a day for one week.  This way you can refer back to them at whatever pace you desire.  Each post will include a ‘Video Diary’ of my sewing process along with the most important stills from the video posted as photos for you to examine.

Since we already created a thorough step-by-step photographed sew-along that teaches you how to sew the Jedediah Pants, this new sew-along will instead assume a base level of knowledge (never fear, if you don’t have that pants sewing knowledge, simply refer to the Jedediah Pants sew-along as the main construction process for both pants is very similar).  The Jutland Pants sew-along will delve beyond the basic instructions and will focus on making the pattern your own.  We’ll will discuss fitting your pants, we will take a look at how to add a gusset to this pattern (perfect for rock-climbing and other agility based activities), we will add removable knee pads to our pants, we’ll create custom pockets suited to our needs, and we will wax our pants to create a water resistant pair of canvas trousers.

Are there any other elements you would like to see included in this sew-along?  Send in your requests and we will get working on them!