Thread Theory

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


Pattern Release on Monday!

Fairfield Button Up Shirt (27)

Big news:  The Fairfield Button-up Shirt PDF pattern will be released to the world this Monday, May 2nd!

Along with this new pattern there will be a comprehensive selection of shirt making tools, fabrics and notions added to our shop.  All of the resources necessary for your shirt making endeavors will be at your fingertips!

Fairfield Button Up Shirt (28)

The Fairfield Button-Up PDF will be 20% off for newsletter subscribers next week!  In case you are curious, the newsletter subscription isn’t the same thing as subscribing to our blog.  We only send out the occasional newsletter to let you know about new patterns, products or sale prices. Subscribe now to make sure the discount arrives in your inbox on launch day!

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How to use PDF Patterns – updated tutorial

How to use a PDF pattern (3 of 13)

We have received several emails lately from people who are excited to get sewing but are unsure of how to best assemble their PDF patterns.  I usually refer people to our How to Assemble a PDF Pattern tutorial but have been increasingly inclined to send people to tutorials found elsewhere on the internet because our tutorial has been looking quite dated and a bit inaccurate of late!  Matt and I made the tutorial very quickly three years ago one sunny Spring morning while we were simultaneously packing for a camping trip with my sister.  She was waiting in the car for us to join her while we frantically uploaded the photos to the blog so that we could check the tutorial off of our to-do list before the weekend adventure.

After three years and many improvements to the design and function of our PDF patterns, it is time to give this tutorial the attention it deserves so that it can serve its purpose as a clear guide for anyone who is new to working with our digital patterns!


Download and Open the Pattern

When you purchase a Thread Theory PDF sewing pattern, a download link will appear on your computer screen.  The same download link will also be sent to the email address that you entered during the checkout process.  Click either of these download links to save the pattern folder to your computer.


The pattern folder will likely be saved to your Downloads file.  Find it straight away (before you forget where it has been saved!) and move it to a location on your computer where you will be able to find it in the future – perhaps in your Documents folder.

The pattern folder is a zipped folder – this means that multiple files have been compressed into one tidy folder so that they take up less space.  To unzip the folder with a Windows computer, right click and select Extract All.  To unzip the folder with a Mac, option click and select Extract All.  To access the files from an ipad, you will need the iZip app to unzip the folder.

Examine the Files

Within each PDF pattern folder you will find several PDF files.  To view and print these files you will need a PDF reader installed on your computer.  Many computers will have this reader already but if you do not, you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software here.

  1. Read Me First – Read this first!  This is a small introduction on how to assemble the Print at Home pattern.  You don’t need to print this but it is important to read it and refer to the page layout chart when you are taping together your pattern.
  2. Instructions – You can either print these off or you can keep them on your laptop or tablet to refer to while you are sewing.
  3. Print at Home (depending on the pattern, there may be one or several of these) – The rest of this tutorial will explain how to print and work with the Print at Home pattern.
  4. Print Shop – Roll Feed – If you prefer to avoid taping or don’t own a printer, give this file to your local print shop.  Specify that the file must be printed without scaling – the pattern pieces need to be full sized.  The Roll Feed file is designed to work with 36″ wide wide format printers.  These are commonly found throughout North America.
  5. Print Shop – A0 – This file can be sent to print shops that print on A0 size paper.  Depending on the pattern you are using, you will likely need to tape one or two sheets together (for instance, a trouser leg is longer than one sheet of A0 paper and so it will be spread over two pages).  A0 printers are common in Europe and Australia.  As with the Roll Feed print option, make sure to specify that you would like the file printed full size (without scaling).


Print at Home

Let’s talk more about using the Print at Home file.  This option is very convenient – you can purchase a pattern and get started with the sewing process immediately!  There is no need to wait for the pattern to ship to you or for the print shop to print your file.  The entire process is in your control.

While Print at Home PDF patterns offer advantages, there are also disadvantages to (depending on your perspective).  Our Print at Home files are designed to print on Letter or A4 sized paper.  This means that you will need to tape or glue together many small sheets of paper to prepare your pattern.  This is a time consuming process.  Some people dislike doing this and others (myself included) find this to be relaxing and even meditative.  I like to spend the assembly time contemplating my fabric and design choices.  Assembling the pattern allows me to familiarize myself with the pattern pieces – it has become part of my creative sewing process!

Read Me First

To print the pages, open up your Read Me First document.  This page of instruction will tell you what page you will find the 3″ test square.


Open up the Print at Home file.  Select File > Print and your printer dialogue box will open.  Every dialogue box is slightly different (based on your printer’s software) but it will include the same basic options:

  • Printer Scaling: Ensure that ‘scaling’ is off so that your pattern pieces print at their full size.  Printers tend to default to scaling so that the text or images fit nicely on a page of paper – we don’t want this when printing a sewing pattern!  To turn off scaling you will likely need to deselect “Fit to Page” or “Scale to Fit” (depending on your printer software).  Ensure that Scaling is at 100%.
  • Single Sided: Also, if your printer has the ability to print double sided pages, make sure that your printer is set to “Single Side” printing…don’t print double sided!  You will likely find this option in Properties.
  • Econo Mode: If you would like to save ink/toner and paper, you can often find an “EconoMode” or “Draft Quality” printer setting that allows you to print with less ink. You will likely find this option under Properties > Paper/Quality.  You can also replace the regular paper in your printer with recycled paper.  I like to save up any paper that I have used (but only printed on one side) rather than throwing it in the recycling bin.  That way I can print my PDF pattern on the unused side of the paper!

Print the page with the test square first by selecting the page mentioned in the Read Me First document.  Measure the test square with a ruler.  It should measure exactly 3″.  If it does not, your printer still has scaling turned on.  Don’t print the rest of the pattern until the square measures 3″.

How to use a PDF pattern (1 of 13)

Print the rest of the pattern by printing all pages.  If you like, you can number each page in the blank margin so that the pages are easy to keep in order even if they get knocked to the ground by a mischievous cat (speaking from experience…).

Assemble the Print At Home Pages

The pages are like tiles that need to be assembled into a single rectangle before you cut out your pattern pieces.  Often times, people that are new to working with PDF patterns try to assemble each pattern piece individually.  It is actually less time consuming and more accurate to tile all of the pages so that you are left with one large page – after which you can cut out your pattern pieces.

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Begin by trimming the right and bottom margins off of each page.  We include scissor markings on every margin that needs to be trimmed.  Trim on the outside of the black border.

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Assemble the pages one row at a time.  It is most accurate to assemble each row and then join the rows together.  It is a common mistake to try to assemble a PDF pattern one page at a time left to right, top to bottom – this can lead to frustration because any inaccuracies in taping will grow larger by the time you get to the bottom right corner.  Assembling in rows is much easier and it doesn’t take up so much space on your table or floor!

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You can use glue or tape (or both) to attach each page together.  Place the pages so that the remaining margin overlaps underneath the next page.  The two triangles featuring a number and letter will match together to create a diamond.  Spread glue along the entire margin or place a piece of tape or two on each pattern piece.

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Once all of your rows are assembled, you can tape or glue them together to create one large rectangle.  If you are lacking in floor or table space you can tape together two or three rows and then cut out any whole pattern pieces roughly.

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How to use a PDF pattern (10 of 13)

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Continue to tape two or three rows at a time until all pattern pieces are cut out.  You will be left with a manageable pile of pattern pieces to trim carefully.  I use this method on my dining room table and my outdoor picnic table – it’s very handy because it means I don’t have to crawl around on my hands and knees around a big rectangle of paper on the floor!

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Use and Store the Pattern

You can also leave the entire rectangle assembled and trace out the pattern in the size that you need.  This way you can roll up the rectangle and store it as a complete ‘master’ pattern so it is ready to use when you want to sew a different size or variation of the same pattern.  Alternatively, you can just print out and assemble the pattern any time you need a new copy – that is one of the best aspects of using a PDF pattern!

There are many ways that you can store your printed PDF patterns – you can roll them up with an elastic or ribbon or you can fold them up and put them in an envelope or in a plastic insert within a binder.

If you fold your pattern pieces, flatten them out before using them again by putting an iron on low heat with no steam.  Use a pressing cloth underneath and on top of the pattern piece (so that you don’t melt the tape or transfer the printer ink to your ironing board or iron) and press gently.

This is how I store my PDFs – I love being able to rifle through my pattern selection!

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If you have any unanswered questions about working with PDF patterns, please have a look at our FAQ page or email me (Morgan) at  I would be happy to help you out!





Pattern Testing Success – The Fairfield Button-up

Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (16 of 16)

For as long as I can remember, my Grandpa (a.k.a. Grampie), has proudly worn the impeccably sewn button-up shirts be-decked with wild prints that my Grandma (a.k.a. Nonnie) sews for him.  A few of my favorites have included a leafy green shirt covered in tree frogs, and a warm brown number complete with giraffes and other safari animals.  The two of them have lots of fun picking out wild cotton prints and, as a result of their awesome choices, he receives compliments everywhere he goes for his memorable shirts.

Of course, when I was finishing the final touches on our upcoming Fairfield Button-up Shirt pattern, my Nonnie was the first person I decided to ask to test sew our shirt.  She is very familiar with the construction of a button-up shirt and she is also very clear, after years of sewing for my Grampie,  about what style and fit he prefers.  Also, my Nonnie makes an excellent pattern tester because she is very detailed oriented and meticulous while she sews.  She is also an experienced editor so she is likely to catch errors while reading the instruction booklet.  I sure am lucky to have such a willing and devoted pattern tester in my family!

Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (2 of 16)

As you can see, the end result of her hard work is stunning!  The cotton that the two of them chose is a Kanvas Studio cotton designed by Maria Kalinowski called “Eclipse”.  It is a fairly thick cotton that presses nicely but frays quite a bit (which my Nonnie reported was a little annoying while sewing the details such as the sleeve placket).  I think the print suits my Grampie very well – it looks very dressy on him while still being unusual and fun!Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (9 of 16)

The fit of our Fairfield is more slim than my Grampie is used to.  I tested for range of movement by having him stretch his arms out in front of him and cross them – he had full range without any pressure being placed on the fabric across the shoulder blades.  Perfect!  I think the slim fit looks very modern and proportionate on him but not to ‘trendy’ or conspicuously youthful.  He always tucks his shirt in and the Fairfield was plenty long enough to allow him to do this.  It blouses over his waistband just the right amount in my opinion.Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (3 of 16)

My Nonnie and Grandpa agreed that they liked the narrow collar stand and collar included with the pattern.  My Grampie has a fairly short neck so the trendy narrow collar really suits his proportions.  I’ve also created some alternate collars, cuffs and pockets which we will be including as free downloads – so if you prefer a wider collar or even a band collar, you are in luck!

My Nonnie really took care with the details on this shirt.  For instance, she perfectly matched the print on the pocket – have a look at that!
Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (11 of 16)

She didn’t have to worry about matching the print on the button placket because we decided to go with a ‘grown-on’ or ‘built-in’ placket that is folded over and topstitched rather than sewn to the shirt front.  This makes matching prints and plaids very easy!  It also leads to less fabric bulk caused by seam allowances.
Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (13 of 16)

The back of the shirt features a proper yoke with two layers and a crisp pleat (though we are also including a version for darts at the back with no pleat).  The sleeves and side seams are sewn using flat fell seams.  My Nonnie’s sleeves are impeccably stitched!Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (14 of 16)

Best of all, the Fairfield includes a proper one piece tower placket.  The inside and outside of the placket feature no raw edges.  This placket style is very strong and is simply a must on a classic menswear button-up shirt.  My Nonnie gave me some great feedback about my instructions for the placket sewing process and I will be modifying the folding technique at the top of the placket so that it is really easy to create an even triangle!  I’m thrilled that she pointed out an alternative folding system because I have never seen it done the way she described before yet it achieves very consistent results with little fiddling.Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (15 of 16)

She also commented that she loves the placement of the pleat on the sleeve because it lines up exactly with the crisp line that she likes to iron down my Grandpa’s sleeves.  The end result is a very slick, formal looking sleeve.Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (10 of 16)

I received the rest of the pattern testing feedback via email this week (it is all so thorough and incredibly helpful – thank you test sewers!!!) so I know what I will be doing this weekend. 😛  Not long now until we can set a firm launch date!  The Fairfield PDF pattern will easily be launched in time to sew Father’s Day presents and prepare for summer weddings.


Thank you, Nonnie, for spending so much time working on this pattern for us!  All of your feedback is very valuable.  And thank you, Grampie, for making your modelling debut on the Thread Theory blog!  You look very smart, as always.


Menswear Knitting Projects

Erika Knight Yarn (18 of 21)

I completed my very first knit sweater (and two hats)!!!  I had given up on knitting a couple of years ago after falling down a miserable rabbit hole of snarled yard, hours wasted watching YouTube tutorials, and many attempts at ambitious projects that were eventually simplified until they became yet another poorly knit scarf.  My lack of improvement was demoralizing compared to how steadily I was adding to my arsenal of sewing skills.  I finally decided that knitting just wasn’t for me.

That was until a very talented knitter and patient teacher became my sister-in-law (thanks Sonia!)!  And also, that was until I stumbled upon British yarn and pattern designer Erika Knight’s book for knit menswear projects, Men’s Knits: A New Direction!  I loved all of the classic and minimalist designs and the photographs were so inspiring.  When we decided to launch our menswear supply shop in November, I added knitting as a category within the Thread Theory shop – that way I could stock Erika Knight’s awesome menswear designs and beautiful yarns!

Thread Theory Menswear Supply Shop-31

As soon as I saw the Funnel Neck Sweater, I knew it would suit Matt perfectly.  I wanted to use Erika Knight’s Maxi Wool in Storm rather than the chunky-weight Rowan yarn that the pattern recommends.  The Maxi Wool is thicker than the recommended yarn so Sonia helped me to choose a smaller needle size and knit a test swatch.  We knew it would be a bit of a gamble for fit but, fortunately, I have the complete size range of men in my family so I could knit it for whoever it happened to fit!

Thread Theory Studio-46

The project was actually a perfect one for a new knitter who is set on knitting a big sweater rather than a nice manageable hat or scarf (everyone thought I was crazy for taking on such a big item!).  I was prepared for the scale of the project and was relieved by it’s simplicity.  The ribbed chest was actually really easy and Sonia wasn’t even around to help me with that part!  I actually found sewing together the sweater to be the most difficult part – sewing with wrong sides together and with the stitches on the right side of the garment blew my mind a little :P.

Erika Knight Yarn (6 of 21)

In the end, the sweater was too large for Matt which was quite a shame because the tall neckline suited his long neck perfectly!  The shoulders are meant to be dropped and the sleeves are meant to be fairly wide but not to the extent that they were when Matt tried it on!

As soon as Matt tried it on I realized that it would be the perfect size for my Dad!  The only element that doesn’t perfectly fit him is the area that fit Matt well – the neckline.  As you can see above, it buckles a little bit because my dad has a short to regular length neck (and the beard also tends to push the neckline down a little I imagine).

Erika Knight Yarn (1 of 1)

I really love the rest of the sweater on my dad though!  It’s the perfect length for him and I think the “V” at center front looks really smart.

Erika Knight Yarn (8 of 21)

The yarn has more than enough body to create the funnel neck but perhaps isn’t as stiff as the Rowan yarn used for the photographed sample.  The Maxi wool is deliciously soft and squishy so it creates a softer shape at the neckline:

Erika Knight Yarn (9 of 21)Erika Knight Yarn (14 of 21)

The sleeves are the ideal length and I love how the rib section looks with the bulky yarn.

Erika Knight Yarn (16 of 21)

Below you can see the hem – the ribbing causes it to be quite a bit thicker than the stockinette stitch used for the main sweater which, I think, looks immensely cozy!

Erika Knight Yarn (13 of 21)

My Mom has decided to roll the collar over and hand stitch it down at the shoulder seams for my Dad.

Erika Knight Yarn (22 of 21)

It doesn’t really want to roll over at the shoulder seam due to the funnel shaping of the neckline but I think rolling it will work great for the majority of the neckline and will serve double duty as a sort of shoulder stabilization – rolling the neckline over pulls the shoulders inwards so that they will be less likely to stretch out and become to wide/saggy over time.

Erika Knight Yarn (20 of 21)

This project ended up using exactly 11 skeins of Maxi Wool in Storm.  I used size 6mm and 6.5mm needles rather than size 6.5mm and 7mm that the pattern calls for.  I chose the smallest size (which would normally fit Matt).

While this sweater didn’t end up fitting its intended recipient due to the fact that I used a different yarn than the pattern calls for, I’d still consider it to be a huge success!  It was my first project knit using a pattern (aside from one dishcloth several years ago) and it looks so nice on my Dad.

He won’t get much of a chance to wear it this year since the weather is warming so quickly but now it will be sitting ready in his closet to keep him warm next winter and for many winters to come!


Aside from my big winter project, I also knit a couple of quick toques when I needed a break from the sweater.  They were just enough ‘instant’ gratification to encourage me to keep working on the sweater.Erika Knight Yarn (4 of 21)

Matt’s toque was knit using the pattern from the Erika Knight “Knit for the Boys” pattern poster that we stock in our shop.  I used a selection of Vintage wool yarns.

Erika Knight Yarn (2 of 21)

My toque was knit using some of the yarn scraps from Matt’s toque as well as some Rowan yarn that I impulse purchased (oh dear, now that I’ve gotten into knitting I have to worry about restricting my yarn stash as well as my fabric stash!).  I used the Erika Knight toque pattern as a base for sizing but then just got creative and made up my own pattern by mashing together the decreasing technique from a free baby toque pattern (sorry, I can’t find it now so I’m unable to link to it!) and my desire for a very wide fold over ribbed band.  I finished off my one-of-a-kind hat with a really big pompom made from the Rowan yarn scraps.



Now that I’ve enthusiastically shown you my first successful knitting projects, please don’t look at the photos too closely lol!  I know they are all riddled with mistakes.  I imagine I will one day feel as embarrassed looking at these photos as I do looking at sewing projects that I completed 8 years ago.  Right now though, looking through the rose colored glasses that I’ve worn since I jubilantly finished the last stitch on my dad’s sweater, these projects look pretty darn good to me and I’m really proud of overcoming my initial struggle with knitting.


Here are the links to the patterns and yarns that I used for these three garments:

Men’s Knits: A New Direction by Erika Knight

Maxi Wool (used for my Dad’s sweater)

Knit for the Boys pattern poster by Erika Knight

Vintage Wool (used for the toques)




Pattern Updates – Print Shop

Thread Theory Studio-9

All of our PDF patterns now include A0 Print Shop files!

If you have purchased one of our patterns in the past, you will have received an email yesterday with a new download link to your pattern.  This new download link will give you access to the A0 print shop files (no other changes have been made to your pattern).

If you have purchased one of our patterns in the past but have not received an email with the updated pattern link, don’t worry, you can still receive the updated pattern!  Just send me an email to with one of the following: Your order number, an email from us confirming your order, or your old pattern attached to the email as proof of purchase.  I will email you the new pattern file!

This pattern update means that you now have access to these three files when you order a PDF pattern from us:

1. Print Shop Version – Roll Feed:

Our original print shop file.  Give this file to a print shop that has a 36” wide roll feed printer (these are common in North America).

2. Print Shop Version – A0:

Our new print shop file.  Give this file to a print shop that prints on A0 sheets of paper (common in Europe and Australia).

3. Print At Home:

A PDF pattern classic.  Print this file at home on any printer that can print on letter or A4 sheets of paper.  Assemble the sheets of paper with tape or glue (this is a meditative activity for me but can be a little cumbersome for others – hence the print shop options).



If you have any questions about using a PDF pattern or sending your pattern to a print shop, please check out some of our PDF specific questions in this FAQ page or feel free to ask away by commenting on this blog post!

I will be updating our “How to Assemble PDF Patterns” tutorial soon since it is the very first tutorial that we ever made for Thread Theory – it could use a spring cleaning!  With this update in mind, I would love to hear of any stumbling points you might have had when first learning how to work with digital pattern downloads.  Or, if you have remained a steadfast user of tissue patterns, I would love to know what prevents you from giving PDFs a try!