Thread Theory

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


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Sell us your pattern stash! Plus it’s now possible to write reviews.

Vintage sewing patterns for men-13

I was just sent a fresh selection of vintage boy’s and men’s sewing patterns all the way from Oklahoma!  They are now available in our shop for you to peruse.

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You might remember when I asked you to sell me your vintage menswear patterns last winter.  Since then, Cyndi, from Oklahoma, has been gathering together each gem that she finds at her local thrift shops.  She packaged them up for me and I paid for them to be shipped to our studio.  Cyndi opted to trade her vintage patterns for a few Thread Theory tissue patterns she has had on her wishlist for a while.  We are also happy to pay you for your sewing patterns!

Vintage sewing patterns for men-17

If you love to shop at thrift stores or if you have menswear sewing patterns languishing in a storage box somewhere, please email me so we can work out a similar deal!  I’m really enjoying sorting through these old patterns and it is heartening to think that these patterns will avoid the trash bin and instead continue their life as useful templates for your unique menswear projects!

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Head to our shop to check out the selection of $3 vintage patterns.  While you are at it, you might notice that we have a new feature on our website – you can now review our patterns, fabrics and tools!

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The first 10 people to leave a review on our website will receive 10% off their next order.  Thanks for sharing your opinions, projects and plans!

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Check out our vintage pattern selection >


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Spruce up your sewing machine (and the 2nd contest winner!)

January always finds me in a frenzy of cleaning, revamping and generally refreshing.  This year Matt and I are taking that concept a step further by installing new floors in our house…it’s been fun but it also makes me very pleased to walk in to my tidy studio and close the door on all the dust, piles of wood, and tools spread everywhere throughout the rest of the house.

I’m keeping the new year frenzy to a minimum in my studio by simply giving my machines a good clean and the attention they deserve (yet rarely receive).  I thought you guys might like to do the same so I’ve added a few interesting tools and accessories to the shop to help you refresh and renew!

First off, here is something extremely simple but beautiful: A lint brush.sewing-tools-thread-theory-45As you can see below, the only lint brush I had in my studio before acquiring this one was NOT doing a good job of removing lint.  It was poor quality to start with and was completely worn out.sewing-tools-thread-theory-44The fine and soft bristles on this brush do a much nicer job of getting in to tiny crevices and I think they are flexible enough to stand up to quite a lot of wear.  The beautiful twisted wire handle will allow the brush to hang nicely in a visible spot so that we are all more likely to give our machines a clean!sewing-tools-thread-theory-42

Once your machine is clean, it’s time to add a few useful accessories.  I feel very lucky to have a handy measuring tape printed right on the work table on my industrial sewing machine.  It is useful to take quick measurements while I’m in the middle of sewing.  I’m excited that I’ve found a similar tape to add to your sewing table!

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It is adhesive so you just need to peel off the backing and stick it on to your table.  It is 60″ long features both metric and imperial.

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Even if you have seam markings engraved on to your machine’s throat plate, your sewing will likely benefit from the use of a magnetic seam guide.  Just place it on top of the metal throat plate so that the fence is positioned at your desired seam allowance.  That way you can’t accidentally swerve if your attention lapses momentarily or if you lose your grip on the fabric.

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Keep in mind that this little upgrade for your machine features a magnet so you might want to do some research before using it on a computerised machine.  The back of the package warns against use with computerised machines but I have read several articles which explain that you would need a VERY strong magnet to wipe a hard drive in a sewing machine (this is a great article which leads me to believe that any household magnet is safe to use) but I want you to be aware that some people worry about placing magnets near or on their machines.

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The last upgrade you might want to make to your sewing table is a tool tray straight out of a mechanic shop!  If you live in fear of your toddler (or you) stepping on a stray pin, this is the pin dish for you:

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If features a huge magnetic base and a large metal tray.  I have turned it upside down and given it a vigorous shake with good results…not a single pin shifted position or fell to the floor!

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This tray is big enough that you could use it to store all sorts of metal items – use it to contain your thread snips and sewing needles while you are working on a hand sewing project or fill it with bobbins!

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Ready to give your machine a spa day?  It deserves it!  Head to our tool shop >


Now, to finish up today’s post, it’s time to announce the second winner of our Lazo Hack contest.  This week’s prize is your choice of three PDF Thread Theory patterns!

And the winner is…@nique_et and her fabric inspiration post!  Yesss…that print would be awesome!  I can imagine those trousers worn rolled up casually with a beaded white gauze blouse and leather gladiator sandals.

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Thank you for posting a photo using #lazotrousers!

Next week’s prize will be a $25 (CAD) gift card to Blackbird Fabrics so you can pick up some of the gorgeous tencel twill or sweater knit that Caroline has in stock.


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Fitting the Lazo Trousers (and the 1st contest winner!)

Happy New Year!  I’m getting right in to the swing of things on the blog today now that the busy holiday season is over.  It’s finally time for the Lazo Fitting post!  Sorry for the delay on this one.  I just couldn’t fit it in before my Christmas break.

lazo-trousers-fit

I have included fit adjustments based on the feedback you gave me several blog posts ago.  If I missed a category or you didn’t have a chance to request a fit adjustment, shoot me a comment on this post so that I can try my best to provide you with some fitting help.

I have chosen the simplest solution for each fit problem so I hope this post won’t intimidate you!  Also, you will notice that a lot of my solutions use the Lazo’s unique style lines to help fit.  We will work with the waistband shape and also with the pleats to create a better fit when possible instead of performing more elaborate pattern manipulation.

Now, please, before we get started, please add a mock up (trial run) of the Lazo Trousers to your agenda!  All of these fitting suggestions are operating under the assumption that you have sewn a mock up using the size that best matches your hip circumference and a fabric that is fairly similar to the actual fabric you plan to use for your Lazos.  Once the mock up is sewn, you will be able to see how the Lazos fit you and you can pin them tighter where needed or cut them open where needed to get an idea of where you need to adjust the actual pattern pieces.  If you want to see this process in action, check out the photos that I took of Matt in his Fairfield Button-up mock up…he looked like Frankenstein but it was a great visual way to see where adjustments were needed!

Wide Hips

When choosing your Lazo Trousers size, I would recommend picking the size that matches your hip measurement most closely.  If your hips are proportionately wider than our fit model’s hip measurement, you will likely need to adjust the fit of your trousers at the waist.

Here is an example: Your hip circumference is 42 7/8″ so you choose to work with size 14.  Your waist measurement is only 29 7/8″ (which, is a size 10 for our Lazo Trousers).  Select the size 14 pattern and then adjust it to suit your other body measurements.

To bring the waist in to match your proportions, you can grade between sizes only on the waistband pieces.  The fullest part of the hip curve is positioned at the bottom edge of the waistband so you will need the bottom edge to remain the larger size to match your hips.  This makes it very easy to work with two sizes because you don’t need to worry about adjusting the pocket pieces!

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Of course, your wide hips might sit higher or lower than the Lazo Trousers hip curve.  I would recommend making a mock up after grading between sizes.  Try on the mock up to see if there is any strain or bagging along the curve of the hips.  Adjust the shape of the curve accordingly.  Note that you will need to adjust the pocket facing and pocket to match your new curve.  I find it is easiest to do this by lining up the pieces how they will be sewn together (as I have done with the pocket facing in the image below), that way you can copy the hip curve on to the smaller pieces:

adjust-hip-placement

 

It is remarkably common to have two different shaped hips – you will notice that your mock up pulls on just one side of the body.  This is because we generally have a dominant leg that gets used more often – it develops more muscles and becomes bigger.  During the pant fitting class that I took a couple of summers ago, my classmates and I were surprised to find that the majority of us needed to adjust for a hip that was higher or larger than the other hip.  For most of us, it was our right hip.  To make the pants look symmetrical on an asymmetrical body, you can adjust one hip but not the other.  I don’t think I would do this unless the larger hip was very noticeably causing asymmetrical strain lines.

Crotch Depth is Too Long

As I mention within the instruction booklet, the Lazo Trousers feature a very closely fitted seat seam.  This creates a flattering, fitted appearance to balance out the roomy double pleats.  It is very likely that the crotch depth of our fit model will not match your crotch depth exactly.  Don’t ignore this because you may end up with uncomfortably tight trousers that try to give you a wedgie!

crotch-depth

Measure your crotch depth as I illustrate in the booklet and then slash across your pattern pieces and spread them apart.  Adding crotch depth will ‘drop’ the crotch – a little adjustment goes a long way!  I recommend adjusting slightly less than you think you need in order to maintain the very fitted appearance of this seam.

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It is important to adjust the crotch depth before adjusting for a full tummy, flat tummy, full bottom or flat bottom.  Changing the crotch depth will change all other pressure points because the pants will sit lower on the body (the crotch length is increased).  Make up a mock up before proceeding to the other fitting issues – you may find that they no longer exist!

Full Tummy

This is a very important adjustment for the Lazo Trousers because the contoured waistband fits snugly and the bottom of the waistband will likely sit against the fullest part of the tummy – you do not want this to be cutting in to you!  You want it to match the width and curve of your body.

If you are unsure whether you require a full tummy adjustment, circle a measuring tape around your waist (the narrowest point).  If you have a full tummy you will find that the measuring tape naturally wants to ride up at centre front and sit lower at centre back.  This is okay, of course!  Let the measuring tape do this when you measure your waist…just know that you will need to add more length to the front of your trousers so they have room to curve over your tummy.

Here is my preferred way to add a combination of length and width to accommodate a rounded stomach.  You will need to adjust the Waistband Front and the trousers Front.

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Cut your pattern piece vertically down to the knee.  Turn your scissors 90 degrees and cut across the knee leaving a hinge at the side seam and the inseam.  Cut horizontally at the hip as well (at the bottom of the slash pocket).  Spread open to add as much width at the waist as needed.  Add the same amount of width to the waistband.

If you wish to avoid any fancy pattern manipulation, a very simple way to add some width to the Lazo Trousers front could be simply letting out one (or both) of the pleats!  You would need to add width to the waistband accordingly.  If you only sew one pleat on each pant leg, you would add 3/4″ to the waistband (for an extra 1 1/2″ overall).  If you do not sew any of the pleats you would need to add 1 1/2″ to the waistband (for an extra 3″ overall…a very large adjustment!).

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If you do not need the extra width at the top of the waistband because you have a narrow waist, you could add width in a wedge shape instead of spreading them apart evenly.  The wedge would tapers to less or nothing at the top of the waistband.

Flat Bottom

There are no darts on the Lazo Trousers since the shaping needed for the curve of your bottom is built in to the waistband seam.  If you have a flat bottom you will likely notice two fit issues when you sew a mock up:

  1. The waistband appears to be wrinkled and sagging because it provides too much room for your bottom.
  2. There are folds of fabric below your bottom at the back of your legs – this is because the back of the pants are too long since they do not have to curve over a round bottom.

These two issues mean that the trousers do not need as much width or length to curve across your bottom horizontally or vertically.

Try adjusting the curve of the waistband.  I show you how to adjust the curve in the instruction booklet to suit a full bottom in the last illustration within the “Fitting the Waistband” section.  The adjustment needed for a flat bottom is the opposite.

flat-bottom-adjustment

This is equivalent to making shallower darts.  You will likely need to decrease the width of the trousers slightly since your straightened waistband seam is shorter than the original curve.

Now that the Lazo seat has been made flatter to suit your bottom, you will probably still need to reduce the length of the seat seam only on the back pattern piece.  This will get rid of the fabric that pools just below your bottom.  This adjustment is quite easy!  Just cut in to the Back pattern piece somewhere near the middle of the seat seat seam and leave a little paper ‘hinge’ near the side seam.  Using the hinge, overlap the paper so that you remove the excess length.  You will likely only need to overlap 1/2″ or so.

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Full Tummy paired with Flat Bottom

Okay, this might seam a bit repetitive, but this combination of fit adjustments is very common so it is worth giving a category of its own so that you can recognise the problem and then head for the correct solution.

You will notice, if you sew a mock up of the Lazo Trousers, that there is excess fabric pooling around your bottom while there are diagonal wrinkle lines over your crotch…it may feel a bit intimidating to be faced with trousers that are too tight and too loose simultaneously!  To top it off, your side seams will not fall straight since they are being pulled towards the front.  Don’t worry, all of these issues stem from the fact that the crotch curve does not fit your body. – you need to add length to the front to accommodate your lower tummy and you need to remove length from the back since the trousers do not need to curve much over your bottom.  Perform the previous two adjustments!

Full Bottom

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to fit a figure with a fairly full bottom in relation to the waist measurement (an hourglass figure).  All the same, if you make a mock up and notice that there is strain across the widest point of your bottom (or, maybe you notice that fabric is pooling directly above the widest point of your bottom), you might like to give yourself a little more room.  If the strain is near the waistband seam, you can create more room by exaggerating the curve of the waistband (as I illustrate in the instruction booklet).  Exaggerating this curve will simultaneously add a little more width (the seam becomes longer) and more shaping.  You will likely need to add more width to the pants back as well so that they can be easily sewn to this longer waistband seam.

full-bottom-adjustment

If the widest part of your seat falls below the waistband seam or if a fairly large adjustment is needed, you will likely want to add more length to the seat seam by adding a wedge at centre back in addition to addition to the extra width.  Just as I described for the Flat Bottom adjustment, slash across the back pattern piece and leave a “hinge” at the side seam.  This time, spread the slash apart and redraw the seat seam curve smoothly.

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Straight Figure

Someone with a straight figure will likely find that, when they choose their size based on their hip measurement, the waistband is too small for them.  This is because they do not have a tapered waist.  You can make small adjustments to the way the waist tapers by adjusting the side seams within the 5/8″ seam allowances so that they are much more straight.

straight-figure-shaped-waistband

You might like to change the style of the waistband to better suit your figure.  I would recommend reducing the height of the waistband by at least 1″ or possibly even 2″ so that the pants are mid-rise instead of high rise.  If you prefer not to highlight your waist, you will find this rise much more flattering!

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Full Thighs

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to have very roomy thighs (due to the double pleats) so I don’t anticipate you will feel any strain across the thighs when you sew a mock up.  There were a few requests for this adjustment though, so here it is in case you need it!  If the pant legs are too tight at the thigh you will notice horizontal or diaganol wrinkles across the legs just below the crotch.  You will also notice strain at the bottom of the slash pocket.  Add more room only on the pants Front pattern piece since a large thigh is caused by a very developed muscle on the front of the leg.

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Add the room by extending the crotch at the inseam.  If your adjustment is fairly large it might be necessary to lower the center front waist to remove the length that unfortunately has to be added to the crotch while you are adding width.  You probably won’t need to do this though – wait until you’ve sewn another mock up to see if the front crotch seam has become pouchy and too long.  Here is a PDF from Sew News magazine that includes a very succinct description of this whole adjustment…in case you need a second opinion! 😛

Full Calves

Since the Lazo Trousers feature tapered legs and since the cropped variation includes wide cuffs, you will need to ensure there is enough room for your calves.  You can compare the pattern pieces (minus 5/8″ seam allowances) with a comfortable pair of pants that have no stretch and a bit of roominess across the calves.  Or you can sew a mock-up of the pattern as is (while working on other fit adjustments) and note if the knees or calves feel restricted when you bend your leg or flex your muscles.  To add width, simply redraw the side seams and inseams from just above the knee downwards.  Decrease the amount of tapering.

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Adjusting the side seams by hand allows you to shape the trousers how you feel they will be most flattering. Make sure to add an even amount of width to the front and back, inseam and side seam so that you don’t end up with wonky twisted legs!  You can avoid having to draw new seamlines by hand slashing the pattern and pivoting.  This is more complicated but can be a great way to ensure your side seams remain even and straight.  You can view an excellent interpretation of this adjustment (along with loads of other useful pants fitting tricks in this post on the Closet Case Files blog).

Oh, and if you are sewing the cropped variation, don’t forget that you will need to add width to the Cuff piece as well!


Whew!  Did I miss anything?  Keep in mind that these suggestions are simply my preferred approach to fitting and that there are MANY ways of going about fitting!  Google your fit problem using this wording: _______ _______ Adjustment (i.e. Full Hip Adjustment, Flat Seat Adjustment).  You will find all manner of excellent tutorials!

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Let’s close for tonight by drawing the first Lazo Hack contest winner!

contest-winner

I’m pleased to announce that Robynne (@adelajoy) is the winner of a $50 (US) gift card to Stylemaker Fabrics!  Congratulations and thanks for playing along!  Here is her lovely sketch of a nautical pair of shorts inspired by the Lazo Trousers pattern.

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She posted this entry on Instagram using #lazotrousers.

We still have three weeks of prizes to draw.  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca, or use #lazotrousers on Instragram or Facebook to enter the contest.  Simply share your plans for working on the Lazos or your finished Lazo masterpiece.

The next draw will be on Friday, January 13th.  Enter as many times as you want for a chance to win your choice of any 3 Thread Theory PDF patterns.  Which patterns are on your wishlist?

 

 


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Lazo Trousers: Style Inspiration (and pattern hack ideas!)

lazo-hack-contest Christmas is quickly approaching so this will be my 2nd to last post about the Lazos before a short holiday.  I will be posting about some Christmassy Lazo outfits on Friday and then will be taking a break from blogging until January 2nd.  We will be kicking off the New Year with all the fitting posts, tutorials and Lazo Hacks that I have been promising to you!lazo-trouser-drawings-1 Today’s post is meant to get your creative juices flowing before you have a chance to cut into your Lazo Trousers fabric.  I imagine many of us will be too busy spending time with family until the end of the month to actually delve in to sewing something for ourselves – that’s no problem!  It just gives you more time to daydream about your creations and post about your pattern hack ideas!merchant-and-mills-back-in-stock

As you are aware, I am hosting a Lazo Hack contest that runs until the end of January.  I will be awarding prizes at random until January 31st so the more often and sooner you enter, the higher your chance of winning a prize!  Prizes will include digital gift certificates to a great selection of sewing shops and all sorts of goodies that will be mailed to you (worldwide!).  Yes…some of our gorgeous Merchant & Mills tools and books will be given away as prizes!

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To enter the contest, draw a sketch, share an inspiring photo, take a snap shot of the supplies you’ve gathered, post your WIP, create a tutorial, or share a photo of your finished Lazos!  Use #lazotrousers on Instagram or Facebook or email me at info@threadtheory.ca with your images.

The contest is meant to inspire creative interpretations of our Lazo Trousers pattern – meaning you could alter the pattern to suit a figure other than the recommended hourglass shape, you could change the pleats to gathers, you could add width to the legs, or you could even just sew the pattern as is but style it differently than I have done!  Anything is fair game!

You don’t need to actually sew your Lazo Hack idea – you could post sketches of a dozen ideas and then pick your favourite to sew.  The more entries, the merrier 🙂

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I will be contributing to the Lazo Hack contest by hacking the Lazos into the comfiest and prettiest sweatpants featuring a mock fly, a drawstring waistband, and deliciously cozy terry knit fabric.  Stay tuned for a tutorial to create this in January!


Now that you know the details about the Lazo Hack contest, here are some of the inspiration photos that I gathered before drafting the Lazo Trousers in school:

 

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The image on the left is a sketch that I made for my Lazo Trousers design.  Sorry for her creepy blank stare – we were told to turn our sketch into a vector (so it could be coloured in digitally on the computer) and I discovered that this is NOT something I excelled at naturally 😛  All of the other images come from a Pinterest Board that I have created for the Lazos.  Click on any of the collages in this post to link to the Pinterest board.  Unfortunately, I believe you need a Pinterest account (which is free) to view the board but I’ve displayed most of my inspiration in this post for you to view anyways!

As you can see from the five images of modern store bought trousers, I was taken with the idea of a loose, pleated front with stovepipe legs.  I noticed, as I was selecting images, that I always preferred the overall silhouette of trousers that sat at the natural waist (instead of the hips).  This was a bit of an epiphany for me since, prior to creating an inspiration board, I was sure I preferred very low rise trousers!

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Next up, we have these tiny skirt and palazzo trouser images above.  They come from Pinterest…which is a great source of inspiration and an exellent way to organize thoughts but it can be hard to find high quality images or original sources! A fitted waistband with a full skirt attached (a dirndl skirt) is my most comfortable silhoutte…but I find I can never wear it because all that fabric is not very practical for dog walking, bike riding, and generally living actively.  The free feeling of wearing one of these skirts or palazzo pants paired with the practicality of trousers = my goal for the Lazo Trousers.

lazo-trousers-inspiration-vintage

The fashion line that I created while in school was called ‘Rationed Fashion’ and it was inspired by British women’s fashion during the second world war.  Rationing led to an appreciation of hard wearing fabrics.  Women had to select their clothing to suit their new jobs (and often wore uniforms for their work).  Design details were subtle and functional so that the garments would remain wearable for many years.  I hadn’t watched the show Land Girls yet when I designed the Lazo Trousers but, the Land Girls uniform was exactly what I had in mind (second image from the right, above).  As you can see in the photos above, jodhpurs or breeches have often been a working or adventuring woman’s go-to pair of trousers in the last 100 years.  They were popular for aviators and equestrian women in the 1910s and 1920s.  They were a staple of wartime working women in the 1940s.  And there have been periods throughout the 1970s and 80s when trousers with fitted waists, roomy thighs, and fitted calves were in vogue.  It is a functional style because it allows full range of movement without excess fabric getting in the way.

lazo-trousers-inspiration-waistband

The wide Lazo Trouser waistband and slash pockets provide a great blank canvas for small design details.  Leather or vinyl buckles are my go to choice but you can also feature self fabric buckles, statement buttons, self fabric covered buttons, or even those beautiful frog closures that are always in fabric stores but rarely get used!

 

Quite a few of you have shared your ideas for the Lazos with me so far (not as contest entries, but instead as comments…you guys should sketch your ideas and submit them as contest entries!).  There are many people planning to make safari style Lazos and there are a couple of you planning to cut in to tartan wool and use kilt buckles.  And a number of you want to add width to the legs to create elegant palazzo pants.  I’m so excited to see your creations!

Download the Lazo Trousers >

Check out my Lazo Trousers Pinterest Board >


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#makemenswear winner!

It’s November 1st which means that our Thread Theory Menswear Supply Shop is up and running – and it also means that today I get to select the winner of our #makemenswear giveaway!  Thank you for the hundreds of entries we received on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (I only sorted through these forms of social media but thank you, also, to people who have been using the hashtag on other forms!).  I used a random number generator to select the winner.  Drum roll please!

Congratulations to wouter.vdub on Instagram!

 

I’ve commented on his post and look forward to hearing back from him soon!  He has been given the choice between a physical prize package worth $100 CAD full of goodies from our new shop or a $100 CAD gift card to the shop so he can select his own prize.

I hope that people will continue to use #makemenswear – I have REALLY been enjoying the huge variety of project styles that have been added to this collection.  In case you are curious, it would seem that Instagram is by far the most successful platform for this hashtag (there are currently 268 posts on Instagram while there are only 15 posts on Twitter and 18 on Facebook – and most of the Facebook ones have been posted by me).  So, you don’t already use Instagram and wish to be part of a vibrant worldwide menswear making community, it would seem that Instagram is the place to go!

Here are a few inspiring #makemenswear entries to close off this post and to get you in a menswear-making mood this Sunday.

 


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Your Fall Menswear Sewing Projects

It’s so exciting to see the photos that have been added daily to #makemenswear.  Thanks for participating!  I hope you’ve found the hashtag inspirational.

Head here to read more about the #makemenswear contest.  There is still time to enter the giveaway since it ends on November 1st.  Each entry added to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will be counted (even if you add the same photo to all three social media platforms, all three photos would be counted as three separate entries for simplicity).  Also, you might want to add #makemenswear to photos that you posted in the past – these will still count as an entry!

Most people have been using the hashtag on Instagram so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from there in case you are not an Instagram user:

View this post on Instagram

Just a little something for my Dude

A post shared by Victoria Bain (@veebane) on

 

I look forward to seeing many more photos added to #makemenswear!

We’ve also received some great emails lately from people wanting to share their finished projects with us (the best kind of email)!  Here are a few recent ones:

Strathcona with lengthened t-shirt sleeves

This Strath features lengthened short sleeves to suit Steve’s preference.  It is sewn in a beautiful merino wool by Sonia for her husband.  See more on Sonia’s blog.

Jedediah Pants with decorative topstitching

I love the subtle decorative topstitching on the pockets of these Jeds (click on the photo to see a larger version if you can’t see the detail).  Natasha is doing a Sewing For Men theme on her blog at the moment and recently posted photos of three pairs of Jedediah Pants that she made along with details about the learning process.

Newcastle Jacket

I love this Newcastle that Bego emailed to me.  She sewed it as a ‘test version’ before sewing a final version for her brother.  She used wool (rather than a knit fabric) and lined the entire cardigan with a sheet.  She was so happy with how the test version came out that she’s kept it to wear herself!  I love the patch pockets with rounded bottoms that she added.  I want one of these in my closet this fall!

 

Lastly, something that really put a smile on my face when it popped up in my email inbox!

10th Dr Who Goldstream Peacoat

The 10th Dr. Who’s coat!  Jo made this modified Goldstream Peacoat for her son who is a big Dr. Who fan. The coat is beautifully sewn and Jo reports that it was one of the best gifts she has ever given to him due to his excitement over it :).


Thanks for sharing your projects everyone!  Have a great weekend – I’m at an indigo dying workshop this weekend on nearby Denman Island so I know I will be having a great one!


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The #makemenswear Giveaway

makemenswear hashtag - Thread Theory Designs

Help me to create a hashtag for DIY menswear!

Every time I post photos to Instagram and add hashtags I find myself wishing there was a general hashtag that I could use and peruse that featured everything to do with making menswear.  There are a number of specific hashtags that provide me with a constant source of inspiration (#menwhoknit #menwhosew or your amazing projects that you’ve tagged #threadtheorydesigns) but I have been unable to find a general category featuring DIY men’s garments.

So let’s make one!  From this point onwards I will be using #makemenswear as my go to hashtag when using Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  Will you do the same?

makemenswear contest  - Thread Theory Designs

If you use #makemenswear between now and Nov. 1st you will be entered in a draw to win a secret DIY menswear prize package (valued at $100 CAD!!!).

Why is the prize secret?  Matt and I are working on a very exciting project that will be released on Nov. 1st – your prize pack will be created using the contents of this secret project!  Over the next two weeks we will be releasing hints and sneak peaks about our secret project and the prize contents…and of course we will be tagging these sneak peeks with #makemenswear!

I imagine #makemenswear will become an inclusive way to be inspired by menswear projects of all types.  I hope to see:

  • Menswear sewing projects
  • Elaborate tailoring projects
  • Lovingly knitted sweaters
  • Rugged leatherwork
  • Needlework patches
  • Screen printing designs
  • Garment mending and dying
  • Shoe-making projects
  • Waterproofing endeavors
  • Gear-making projects (backpacks, camping gear, laptop bags, camera cases…anything intended for use by a man)
  • Menswear fashion inspiration (exhibits, ready-to-wear, books and films)
  • Lots of WIP shots
  • Tips on sourcing menswear making materials (posted by shops and makers)
  • Whatever else you might be making or inspired by as long as it is related to menswear!

I hope this hashtag will not be brand specific or focus predominantly on one area of the making community (I don’t intend for it to be mainly Thread Theory projects, mainly sewing, or mainly knitting for instance).  It would be so amazing to search #makemenswear to get access to everything from places to source selvedge denim to natural dying recipes!

Photoshoot for makemenswear giveaway - Thread Theory Designs

There is currently only 1 post on Instagram featuring #makemenswear and it is a photo that I took two days ago as a hint about the big project that we’ve been working on.  I hope you will help me to fill this hashtag over the next two weeks!

Here are some specifics about the giveaway:

The prize is a physical package of menswear making goodies worth $100 CAD.  We will ship the prize worldwide for free.  The winner will be selected at random.  Entries will be compiled from all photos using the #makemenswear on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  You are welcome to enter more than once – every photo that you use #makemenswear on will count as another entry!  The same photo posted on multiple social media platforms will count as multiple entries.  The contest will close at 5pm PST on Nov. 1st 2015.  The winner will be contacted using any contact information featured on the social media platform that their photo was posted on – make sure your contact info is up to date and that you check your social media pages on Nov. 1st!

I hope you join me in my #makemenswear mission!


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Sewing Indie Month is coming up!

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It’s the second ever Sewing Indie Month this September!  If you haven’t heard about it yet, I will explain what this month is all about.  It is a month celebrating independent sewing pattern companies and the sewists who use them.  This celebration was begun last year by Mari of Seamster Patterns.  You may remember how I took part last year by offering a tutorial on the Tilly & the Buttons blog, interviewing the ladies at By Hand London, and publishing a tutorial from Seamster Patterns on my blog.  This year I decided just to enjoy the month rather than being involved behind the scenes because we were pretty busy moving homes and settling in.  Mari very kindly offered to include me in the blog post tour though so that I could take part in the sewing fun (but avoid all of the work!).

This year, for Sewing Indie Month, you can expect more collaborative blog posts, lots of tutorials and another sewalong contest with loads of prizes.

Sewing Indie Month is kicking off early this year by launching a pattern bundle sale featuring a pattern from each of the companies involved this year.  This first bundle is released early to give you lots of time to sew a few muslins before any of the contests begin.  The bundle will be on sale until August 12th (this coming Wednesday).  The pattern bundle is being offered as a “pay what you want” bundle and 20% proceeds will be donated to the International Folk Art Alliance.  This organization provides education and exhibition opportunities to folk artists around the world.  You can read more about the many projects this alliance is involved in here.

In order to purchase the bundle, you can head to the Sewing Indie Month HQ at Sew Independent.  You will notice that the bundle is tiered so, you can unlock extra patterns to add to your bundle by electing to purchase it for a certain price:

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As you can see, the bundle is huge selection of varied and unique indie patterns including a few of my favorites such as Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers and Dixie DIY’s Bonnel Dress (perfect for the last month of summer!).  I think the entire set would make an excellent Fall wardrobe this year and it is also a great opportunity to try out a few indie pattern companies that you may not have sewn from before.  Patterns and their corresponding companies include:

If you haven’t yet heard of the Saltbox Top by Blueprints for Sewing or the Sorrel Dress & Top by Seamster, this is because these are brand new pattern releases that are currently only offered within the bundle.  Both would make lovely tops to go with the Ultimate Trousers or the Cressida Skirt!

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I decided to sew the Mississippi Ave Dress by Sew House Seven to pair with this blog post – I hadn’t heard of Sew House Seven before and I thought that their dress design was very unique and pretty.  It looked like a quick project (which was necessary to convince me to leave my veggie gardening efforts and step into the sewing room at last!).  It has been really hot here at night so I sewed up the pattern as a cool cotton night dress.

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I used a a rich teal hand stamped and dyed cotton from Stylemaker Fabrics.  I purchased it a couple of months ago and see now that there is only 1 1/4 yards of it left and it is on sale!  Wow, it sold quickly!  I really enjoyed playing with the border print for this pattern because the panels and shape of the dress are quite unusual.  I positioned the bodice and main skirt pieces so that like colours would be together on the dress – I’m pleased with how the red design radiates out from the high waist.

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The dress is quite comfortable with an elastic waist and modest neckline.  It would also be flattering in a drapey rayon as the pattern suggests – next time!
Feel free to check out what some of the other bloggers have made from Pattern Bundle #1 – there are lots of inspiring projects already posted with more to come before the sale is over!

I hope you’ll enjoy Sewing Indie Month this year and that you might consider taking part in the events to come.   Thanks, as always, for choosing to be a maker and for choosing to support small pattern companies such as Thread Theory!

 


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Giveaway Winner and Shirt Pattern Research

Corrupt Gentleman Shirts

(Click on images in post to be directed to their source)

Wow, thanks everyone for your very thoughtful and detailed comments on my blog post last week!  We ended up reaching 123 comments, 122 which were entries for the giveaway of David Coffin’s Shirtmaking Workbook.  I drew the winner today using a random number generator and am pleased to announce that Bechem, hailing from Australia, will be receiving the book in the mail shortly!  Here is the comment that she posted:

So exciting Thread Theory was included in this amazing book! I would be sewing for my husband, who wears a size 41 shirt here in Australia. While he does wear business shirts for work, if I were to sew him a shirt it would a more “smart casual” style for weekends, etc. I’d love to see a slim fitting shirt with long sleeves (and sleeve tabs to roll up). A 2-part collar, as well. Modern & trendy & the perfect shirt to go with his Jedediah shorts 🙂

Even if you didn’t win David’s book, I highly recommend checking it out in whatever format you most prefer (be it from the library, from you local book shop, on Amazon, or from a friend!).  After all, you might be wanting to use it when you go to sew our upcoming button-up shirt pattern that we (and you!) are very excited about!

Just to be clear after all of last week’s excitement, our shirt pattern is still in the very early stages of production so please don’t hold your breath or switch up your sewing plans while you wait for it’s release!  I hope to have it ready for late Fall this year but this is certainly not a deadline because I want to continue to work on perfecting it as much as possible and will only release it to you guys when I feel that it is ready.

I’ve been sifting through all of your comments and have been unearthing some very interesting commonalities.  I made a big chart and tallied various themes.  I thought you might like to see some of the trends that emerged in your shirt design requests:

Fit

The large majority of commenters are looking for a fairly slim fit shirt (but not overly fitted).  A good number of people are hoping the shirt will include options for two levels of fit – one with a looser back and one with a more fitted back.

I VERY much appreciated hearing what your specific fit issues are.  The majority of the comments mentioned struggling with arm length when buying RTW shirts.  Clearly it will be necessary to include lengthen and shorten lines as per usual and also a detailed section within the instructions on how to figure out what length of sleeve and body you need.Frank and Oak Oxford

Many commenters struggle with fitting tricky areas such as the neck, shoulders and belly.  Men who work out often tend to develop large necks and shoulders but require a more fitted waist which can be tricky to find in store bought shirts.  As men age, it is common to develop a little bit of a belly.  Men who prefer slim fit shirts will need to have the shirt adjusted to allow for their mid-section.

It is very clear that there are a large size range of men waiting for custom sewn shirts.  I will do my best to include as large a range as possible without making an overwhelming nest of size lines during grading!  I wonder if it would be a good idea to include the very largest and very smallest sizes only in our PDF patterns.  This way we can offer an increased size range for digital customers.  We are often limited in our size range due to the size and weight of the tissue paper in our printed patterns.

Design Features

It was almost unanimous that you are looking for a shirt with a collar stand and a proper tower or house placket on the sleeves.  Don’t worry, these features will most definitely be included!  I will be putting a large emphasis on writing and illustrating clear instructions for these portions of the shirt and will of course do a photographed sew-along.

Band Collar - J Crew

When it came to collar and cuff options, I was quite surprised to see how popular mandarin/band/grandad collars are and also how many of you would like the option for French Cuffs.  I’m glad that you let me know this because, while I had originally had these two features on my list of design options that I wanted to include, I had been thinking of removing them…but I won’t do so now that I know that you would like them included!

Thanks, also, to those who mentioned they would like the option for sleeve tabs so that long sleeves can be rolled up and to those who would like the option for short sleeves.  I wasn’t sure how commonly these design elements would be sewn but it seems they are requested enough to warrant including them.

Many of you mentioned that you would like to sew the button-up in some sort of flannel/plaid.  This is a great idea and I think it would be nice to include instructions for cutting out plaid either within the instruction booklet or at least as a tutorial on the blog.

I need to do a bit more thinking about what pocket styles and yoke styles I would like to include.  I am partial to simple pockets and a nice medium size yoke with a straight bottom but it seems that quite a few of you are looking for a bit more flare!  More pocket and yoke options would be an interesting thing to include as a separate download from the pattern if we end up having an overwhelming number of pattern pieces included within the main pattern.

Lastly, when it comes to design/fit, there is no consensus on how the back of the shirt should be shaped.  I had been intending to shape the back with a small centre pleat for a very nice middle ground between slim fit and comfortable (erring towards slim fit).  Some of you mentioned that you prefer darts on the back.  I  had been hoping to avoid these because they limit fabric options considerably (stripes and plaids wouldn’t look so great with darts) and I worry that darts are a bit too “Euro-fit” to please the majority of people.  After reading your comments though, I wonder if it would be worth including a seperate back piece without any pleat and with darts instead…hmm, that’s a tough decision.

PLEATS

 

Thank you very much for your feedback!  Please feel free to keep commenting with your shirt pattern requests as I have been really enjoying feeling as though I am working with a big team of you rather than working to design the pattern in my isolated office while I worry away about what it is you actually want in the pattern :P.


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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!