Thread Theory

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


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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!


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A New Canadian Fabric Store! Blackbird Fabrics

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In case you haven’t already heard, there is a new online fabric shop based out of Vancouver!  It’s called Blackbird Fabrics and its proprietress is the Caroline, the skilled seamstress with a warm smile  who you will probably recognize as a regular contributor to the Sewaholic blog.

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Blackbird Fabrics specializes in high quality fabrics for garment making.  The shop carries a gorgeous selection of carefully curated prints and solids as well as an excellent variety of unique textures (check out the quilted knits!).  There is also an ever-growing collection of quality dress-making tools and supplies including really nice high quality interfacing which I find difficult to source locally.

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When Blackbird Fabrics was launched, I promptly emailed Caroline to introduce myself and congratulate her on her new shop (it was a great excuse to make a new sewing friend in B.C!).  Caroline is super friendly and has kindly taken the time to respond to my long-winded questions about her new shop.  Get ready for a great behind-the-scenes peek at the Blackbird Fabrics Studio!  And…make sure you read to the bottom of the post because Caroline has generously provided a 10% discount to her shop for all Thread Theory readers 🙂

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Caroline!  First off, can you introduce yourself and your new fabric store to our readers?

Of course. My name is Caroline – most people know me as Caroline from Sewaholic! I’ve been lucky enough to work with Tasia over the past few years, but up until a couple of months ago, I was doing it while working a full time job! I recently left my job of 5 years in the fashion textile industry to set up Blackbird, my new online fabric shop. I’m based in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My online shop carries fashion fabrics and my favorite dressmaking supplies and tools.

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What are your current goals for Blackbird Fabrics (i.e. what fabric types do you plan to emphasize, what tools do you dream of stocking?).

The emphasis will always be on garment fabrics. I’m working hard to find new suppliers so that I can have a diverse selection. Right now I’m focusing on finding more knits and woven prints in natural fibers. I’m also excited to add new fabrics based on customer feedback! The goal to begin with was to fill a hole in the market. So I’m definitely taking requests and suggestions seriously and keeping them in mind when I’m sourcing new fabrics. 

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I’m SUPER excited about your fabric store as I know that there is a dire need for online garment fabric resources in Canada and I love how local you are for me!  From your experience so far, have Canadians been your main customer or have you been selling your fabric mostly internationally?

I was actually really surprised when I launched, to see that there were lots of international customers ordering! So far it’s primarily Canadians, but I get plenty of US orders and a good chunk of international too. It’s super exciting to see people on the other side of the pond interested in my fabrics!

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What does a typical day at Blackbird Fabrics include?

I’m lucky that I work from home, and my studio/sewing room/inventory storage is in a separate room within my apartment. I’m not exactly an early riser, and I’ve learned not to fight it as much anymore. I usually wake up at around 8am, make breakfast, and answer e-mails for both my business and Sewaholic. Some days I work on a blog post, other days e-mails and other computer work takes up most of my morning. Lately I’ve been working on finding new suppliers, which can take a lot of digging!

If I don’t have any errands to run, I spend my afternoon/evening in the studio packing orders, and sometimes photographing products for the shop. Some afternoons I’ll focus on Sewaholic, so I’ll cut and sew samples for new patterns we’re developing.

Honestly though, so far, no day has been all that typical! Ask me again in a year I guess, haha. I’m still finding my groove, and trying to balance my business work and contract work. It’s been a lot of late nights! No complaints here though – I’m truly loving every minute of it.

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You must be very knowledgeable about fabrics after working for Telio!  Can you explain how this career in the fabric industry has aided you in launching your own business?

It’s funny, because when I was in school studying fashion design, I never thought I would have a career focused on fabric. I got an internship at Télio in Montreal right out of school, and over that summer I fell in love with textiles. After that, I worked for a year in the merchandising department, building the line, developing color stories, choosing and recoloring prints. I spent lots of time putting together trend reports for the sales reps, and working on graphics for the website. That year really shifted my focus. I learned so much about fabric resourcing, and what makes a cohesive and sellable collection. Not many wholesalers do it as well as Télio does! Then I heard about an opportunity to open a showroom in Vancouver, and I decided to go for it. That’s what brought me to the west coast! I set up the showroom, and spent the next 4 years developing business out here and working directly with clients. I think my experience in merchandising and then sales really gave me insight into what types of fabrics people truly love to buy and work with. I’ve also bought a lot of fabric over the years, for myself, so I’ve had the chance to test out different qualities and I really have learned what to look for in a great quality fabric.

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Of course, you have been a big part of Sewaholic over the last year and I hear that you plan to remain so!  You guys are single-handedly making Vancouver into a super sewing destination!  What plans do you have for working together with your businesses?  Have you established a few tricks for juggling two jobs? (I think Matt would love to hear any you might have! :P)

I’m thrilled to continue to work with Tasia! She has been a huge inspiration for me because she is a business superwoman. Personally, I’ll continue to do what I have been doing; sewing samples, customer service, and weekly blogging.

As for our businesses, I think they compliment each other really well. We’ve tossed around the idea of doing a pop-up shop together in Vancouver, and so far the feedback is great so we might try to plan that for the spring.

Right now I think the most exciting thing is that I’m going to work on stocking lots of the fabrics that we feature on the Sewaholic blog. Often we get those fabrics from Télio (a wholesaler that is not open to the public), and we don’t always have a retailer to direct readers to. This way, it will be easier than ever for readers to get their hands on those fabrics, because they’ll be a click away in my shop! 

On juggling two jobs… I think the most important thing is to know when to take a break. Working too hard can only lead to a burnout! So I try to take time during the day to get fresh air, make a nice lunch for myself, or go to a yoga class.  I also find that I get the most done when I compartmentalize. If I need to spend an afternoon focusing on Sewaholic, then I step away from everything else and try not to get distracted by e-mail or instagram or whatever. Oh yes and lists! I’m a list fiend, I write everything down. Recently Tasia and I started using Trello to organize our to-do lists, and it was pretty life changing. I use it for everything now.

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I’m really excited for your store’s blog to start up!  What sort of content do you hope to include?  I see Blackbird Fabrics is on Facebook and Twitter.  Where can customers connect with you the most?

I’m excited about the blog too! I’m going use it to feature new fabrics, show some behind the scenes peeks, and I’ll write about my own sewing projects too! I’d also love to feature customers’ finished projects sewn with Blackbird fabrics. I’m hoping to have the blog set up in the next few weeks, so I’ll definitely announce it on social media when it’s up and running. Speaking of social media! I’ve personally caught the Instagram bug – I just love it – so that’s probably where you’ll see me the most. But I try to stay active on Twitter and Facebook as well. You can also sign up for my newsletter on my homepage, I’ll be sending out shop updates every so often and I’ll give advance notice of any upcoming sales!

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Thank you, Caroline, for taking the time to chat with me on the Thread Theory blog!  And, of course, thank you for offering Thread Theory readers a discount to your store!  To receive 10% off everything at Blackbird Fabrics, enter the discount code “THREADTHEORY10” upon checkout.  The code is valid until this Sunday, November 9th 2014, midnight PST.  Happy shopping!


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In the Wild, November 4- Wild Jutlands Sighted!

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(Nicole’s Post)

Are you all as excited about the Jutland Pants as I am? My husband has been big into building this summer, so I definitely have these pants high on my (always growing) sewing list now. There’s nothing quite like a sturdy pair of pants. We’ve had a few images coming in from the test sewers, so I thought I would share the Jutlands in Action!

First though, did you know that the names Morgan comes up with are mountains on Vancouver Island? Makes a gal feel proud to be here, and also points out that I do not know any mountain ranges here. Good old Wikipedia shared with me this lovely photo of Jutland Mountain:

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I don’t know about you, but I would want some pretty rugged pants to clamber around that terrain. Preferably with flat-felled seams 🙂 Admittedly, no rugged pant is actually going to make me climb mountains, but sometimes it helps the ego to look the part of the alpine explorer.

First up for today, is test sewer Sophie-Lee. She wrote up a wonderful posts with lost of pictures, so head over there to check out her experience with the Jutland. Here, though, is my favourite- Jutlands at Work:

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Tool belt not included, but complements the pants very well. Take a look throughout the rest of Sophie-Lee’s blog too, it’s great!

Next up is from MaLora who is probably experiencing similarly wet weather to us on Vancouver Island since she is in soggy Seattle WA.

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You should definitely check out her post about the Jutlands because there are adorable pictures of her kid let wearing a matching pair of pants. When I showed my husband that, he seemed pretty enthusiastic about Lena and he having matching pants (which would be extra cute with the matching Newcastles they already have). Make sure you notice the Strathcona Henley- and the matching one for wee mister!! EEEEE!

Of course, with a new pattern out in the shop, it’s a good time to revisit patterns you’ve loved making, and the ones that have been sitting around waiting for your courage (Looking at you Goldstream) or just the right knit (Strathcona…..)

Here’s a little inspiration for you to finish up those unfinished Thread Theory projects before you get to the Jutlands:

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If you can read french, you will read that Clotilde is quite pleased with the pattern- “Vive Thread Theory!” I admit, it was slow going for me to read that one simple post. my french is a bit rusty having left Montreal nearly a year and a half ago (where did the time go?). Lena and I decided to spend our mornings in french, but since I tend toward foggy and cranky in the mornings (hey! I sew late! not my fault! ok, it is…), we will have to see how long that lasts…

Wally and Grace sent along this picture of a new Finlayson- looks cozy!

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In other news, this weekend there is a little Makers Festival happening in the Comox Valley called “CREATE!” and Morgan is teaching a Comox Trunks class (which I am taking, and refer to as the ‘underwear party”) and she will also be showing how to make the waxed bag. There will be a table there with Thread Theory goodies! I want to spend the whole day there with them, but will be teaching all day saturday, so I only get to go to the underwear party. Happy face/sad face.

Have you started your Jutlands yet? What adventures would you want to take them on?