Thread Theory

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

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Goldstream Peacoat Sew-along and 30% off sale

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-11

Just a quick note to let you know our Goldstream Peacoat Sew-along begins shortly!

I will be posting it straight to our website where the schedule is already live. Weekly recaps will be sent out to newsletter subscribers so be sure to follow our newsletter if you would like to sew or read along with me! The sew along will not be posted to this blog (regular posting will continue with a Fall homestead update coming along in a week or two…I’m waiting for one of the chickens to lay their first egg!).

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-9

To prepare you for your coat sewing adventure we’ve made a tailoring section in the shop which is 30% off right now – including the PDF and tissue Goldstream patterns and our gorgeous corozo nut fouled anchor buttons:

Thread Theory Peacoat Sewing-3

Who will you be sewing Goldstream for?


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Plans for a Menswear Capsule Wardrobe

The other day I was doing a bit of painting on the exterior of our workshop and needed to sacrifice an old shirt to become my new painting shirt. None of mine were worn out enough to warrant ruining in this way so I seized the opportunity to grab Matt’s oldest t-shirt. It is a grey t-shirt, one of those ones that are handed out for free at events complete with advertising all over the back. He’s had it for 10 years and worn it every week as it is, by far, his favourite t-shirt.

I have always agreed with him that the fit is excellent, the blue-grey colour flatters him and the quality of the material is surprisingly rugged…it looked smart on him…or at least it did 5 years ago! Since then it has gathered holes, lost all but hardened speckles of the former screen printing, and achieved this strange fluid drape that hangs off his body heavily in a very rag-like way.

Matt doesn’t see the wear and tear though and has remained certain that it is still his best t-shirt. I’ve sewn him about a dozen t-shirts over the years in hopes he will get rid of his oldest when the newest arrives. We’ve also gone online and researched the brand and style of shirt to try to order several of the exact t-shirt, only to be disappointed that the fit and quality of fabric has changed for the worse over 10 years. Long story short, the shirt has done its duty admirably but, since Matt insisted on wearing it, armpit holes and all, into town, I really was thrilled to commandeer it as a painting shirt (it’s very comfortable…now that I’ve been wearing it I can see the appeal!).

Despite feeling like I was doing Matt a favour by putting the poor shirt out of its misery, I also definitely need to apologize for taking such a drastic actions. And what better way than by sewing him something fresh!

Matt’s birthday is coming up in September so I’m going to use that as an excuse to freshen up his entire wardrobe. Luckily for me, no one does a tiny capsule wardrobe better than Matt! He loves minimalism and rotates through the same few pieces on a weekly basis. Aside from this daily wear he keeps a few nice Fairfield Button-ups, a couple of special Belvedere Waistcoats and a pair of dress pants for holidays and weddings. He also likes to have a Goldstream Peacoat and a sporty daily wear coat (currently his Hemingway Windcheater) as outerwear. I have a partially completed Goldstream that I’ll be finishing this September at long last (stay tuned for a fresh sew-along on our website!).

I pulled out his current daily wear items (aside from the shorts, Finlayson Sweater and T-shirt that he was wearing) to assess how worn out they were. Of course, the garments here are his summer go-to items which differ slightly from his winter ones (which consist of flannel pjs, the same t-shirts and jeans and heavier sweaters).

Ok, so let’s start analyzing how each garment has fared and what I’ll need to sew: His linen Eastwood Pajamas are in excellent condition since they are only just over a year old. The linen is softening beautifully and they look very nicely fitted on him.

His Comox Trunks (the only underwear Matt wears) are quite worn out. I sewed him seven pair three Christmases ago as stocking stuffers and added a few fresh pairs the following Christmas. The oldest ones (a few of which are shown here) have stretched out elastic. The fabric is still in great condition though so I might take off the elastic and add new. If I have knit scraps from other sewing projects I will sew two or three fresh pairs.

Matt’s one pair of jeans are store bought as I didn’t make him a Quadra or Fulford sample when developing those patterns. He loves the fit of his jeans but the fabric has not worn very well. He got them perhaps 2 to 3 years ago and within several months the fabric was thinning at the knees and at the pockets where he stores his car keys and wallet. I think I’ll try to do some visible mending like I did on his last pair but will also sew him a fresh pair of Quadra Jeans so he can have his ‘dressy’ pair and his work pair.

While I have sewn Matt many Fairfield Button-ups out of beautiful quality shirtings, the one he wears all seasons, all the time, is the cheap flannel one that I made as an early sample of the pattern! He receives compliments on it all the time and, despite the constant wear over several years, it still looks quite nice (comfortably worn in).

I’d like to sew another flannel shirt for Matt since it is so gratifying seeing a garment I’ve made worn and loved so thoroughly. I won’t make that project a priority though as I have white linen set aside to make into a Fairfield and should really do that first (realistically, I probably won’t sew that one this year either as my sewing time is still quite limited, I hate sewing with white fabric due to the risk of staining it before the garment is even finished, and I’d rather have the jeans as my big, involved project for this wardrobe update since I love sewing pants).

Pictured above are Matt’s two most worn t-shirts aside from the one I commandeered. They are threadbare. I was surprised, when looking through his t-shirts that most of the ones I sewed a few years ago have since become rags due to holes or stains. I better make a couple more and will have to ask Matt if he would prefer the Strathcona Henley or the Sayward Raglan.

The one handmade t-shirt that Matt frequently wears still is this Strathcona Henley. In the winter he switches out this white cotton knit one for a green and grey wool one that I sewed many years ago. The winter one has accidentally been shrunk in the dryer a couple of times but is still wearable (albeit quite tight) with the sleeves pushed up to hide how short they are! This white one is in good condition but I’ve never loved how my placket turned out. I think, if I find time to add a fresh Henley to Matt’s wardrobe, a wool winter one would be most worthwhile. He will likely wear it a lot while working on our property and in his chilly uninsulated shop.

Aside from Matt’s trusty Finlayson (complete with fraying cuffs), this store bought quarter-zip light sweater receives heavy wear. Both the heavier Finlayson and light quarter-zip are looking a bit saggy and worn but are still functional at this point. I have fabric set aside for a new Finlayson to sew in time for his birthday and will sew him a new quarter-zip in no big hurry once this one has more signs of wear. Fortunately, one of our upcoming patterns is for a top quite similar to the sweater above!

A while ago I posted about my sewing dreams since I could accomplish little to no sewing while my baby had sleep issues. Those issues are thankfully resolved (hallelujah!) and I’ve been working away at my machine every few days in the evening or during a nap. Of course, I’ve already changed my sewing plans (as I am prone to do) and have allowed the new Estuary Skirt by Sew Liberated to jump the cue. I love wearing skirts like this but find fitted waistbands to be uncomfortable since giving birth…this pattern features elastic at the back so I think it will be a perfect daily wear garment!

I’ll start with this navy and white stripe cotton fabric that I bought from my friends shop, The Spool, and will probably sew a floral tencel one and solid green or rust coloured linen one in the future if I find myself wearing this one a lot.

I have the blush pink shirt cut out and the blue one mostly sewn. I hope these two knit shirts will pair nicely with the Estuary Skirt. The pattern is an interesting take on a raglan from Burda Style magazine (issue 4/2009). There is a seam along the top of the shoulder so that the sleeve is a two pieces and very fitted. I love the long cuffs!

While this dress wasn’t in my post on sewing plans, it really should have been. I was daydreaming about sewing a new nursing friendly dress needlessly as I’ve had three completely finished dresses sitting amidst my sewing things since last August. They were made with the Sew Over It Penny Dress pattern and Liberty of London florals that were so generously given to me by my aunt who lives in England. I made them while heavily pregnant but did not account for my increased chest size. The delicate tana lawn ripped at the underarm within minutes of wearing one of the dresses due to the strain. Recently I tried wearing a second thinking I was back to my old chest dimensions but it also ripped. Instead of sewing entirely new dresses I buckled down and made some repairs and alterations to these ones. I ended up adding a gusset at each underarm and now they are the most light, comfortable and (I think) flattering dresses in my closet! The busy prints hide Noah’s food stains really well too (any garment in my closet needs to pass that test these days). I feel quite pleased that I didn’t just cut these up to become bias binding (which a very tired and overwhelmed shadow of myself had considered while packing for our move with a newborn last winter!).

When I next sew this pattern (I can’t wait to make some fall and winter versions!) I’ll just adjust the pattern pieces to flare out at the underarm instead of sewing a separate gusset.

I think, between this dress design, the Estuary Skirt, some knit tops, my existing button-up Archer shirts, my go to Lazo pants and my trusty pair of Gap Curve jeans, I’ve unintentionally stumbled on my own perfect capsule wardrobe for my new lifestyle (being a mom, nursing, working around our property). I’ll just add wool tights to the skirt and dress outfits in cold weather.

I’m quite thrilled with these outfits as it was an awkward adjustment after giving birth. I was so excited to get back to wearing my lovingly sewn non-maternity clothes only to find that my go to outfits of fitted t-shirts and jeans or tunic and leggings were either uncomfortable (fitted t-shirts with light colours and low necklines are entirely impractical for me these days due to Noah’s grubby and grabby hands) or not nursing friendly. It’s nice to wear these dresses, in particular, and feel like myself again!


Summer Days around the “Farm”

I wonder when I will feel comfortable calling our property a farm without giggling or adding quotations…One day I would love to refer to it as our homestead or farm without feeling like we are playing house but we aren’t there yet! In the meantime, playing house is a lot of fun!

July has brought us one step closer to my schemes and dreams of a bustling homestead though – our chickens have graduated from their brooder in our bathroom to free ranging and coop life! They are very obviously pleased with their new home, I was quite surprised by how obvious their happiness was when they moved in. They scampered, hopped and flapped their wings joyously the moment they entered the spacious coop and haven’t slowed their playful antics since!

Now that the chickens are running around our property I can’t wait to add more animals! I like listening to their chirps and awkward teenage voices crackling as Noah and I water the garden. So far I adore the routines created by caring for them. They won’t be laying until the Fall but just letting them in and out of the coop and checking their water is a very grounding and peaceful routine already. I wonder if I’ll feel the same way on cold and wet winter mornings? I think so…but you never know! Next spring we hope to add goats or a pig to our menagerie but I’ll try my best to hold off until then so that we can get used to raising chickens first and make sure we enjoy all aspects.

Aside from fixing up our coop for the chickens and enjoying their antics, July has been a busy month of visitors both two and four legged. It would seem our spacious property has resulted in us becoming the official dog-sitters for my family now, and our pup, Luki is quite pleased about that.

We’ve looked after my sister’s sweet dog (Luki’s one true love ) several times this June and July and now we are looking after my parent’s dog while they travel around Ireland for a month. Noah squeals with delight each time one of our visitors heads in his direction. He loves dogs!

We’ve also had quite a few overnight visits from Noah’s grandparents. Matt’s mom and dad keep spoiling us by bringing dinner ingredients and cooking for us which is such a treat!

We had a lovely time with my great aunts who came all the way from England. They cheered Noah on as he spent his first morning playing on the beach in the sand and grinning like mad as he went down the slide.

As you can see in the photo above, Noah was so comfortable and relaxed with his Great Great Auntie Edina!

I look forward to they day when our property will be a little more polished and set up for weekend visitors. I have dreams of running a small guest house and farm stand one day, but in the meantime, family and friends have been enjoying the fire pit that Matt and my sister built and our picnic table.

One day a flower garden, lounging area and a pond will add to our guest’s comfort. I love daydreaming about big landscaping plans as an occasional restful treat while Noah naps.

Right now guests just expect that relaxing will wait for later and seem glad to be put to work on whatever project we are currently focussed on!

Each visit my mom and dad arrive just fit to burst with excitement and energy to tackle the next big project. My Dad worked so hard in the scorching sun earlier this month to replace the workshop roof with Matt.

My garden, as I mentioned last homestead update, isn’t especially productive, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so since we had little to no time to prep beds when we moved in the spring.

I’ve laid out huge tarps in the main field and hope, once they’ve solarized (used the heat of the sun to kill the grass and weeds), I can lift them and plant a cover crop this Fall. In the spring I can turn the cover crop under with the help of the chickens and a tiller so that it will be ready for my first big vegetable garden. Once we have a pig and goats, I think they’ll be able to replace the work of the tiller each spring. I’m new to gardening out of raised beds though, so please give me your two cents if you have experience with a big victory garden style veggie plot!

Our computer broke earlier this week which just about had me selling Thread Theory (I’m joking but only just) because we thought we lost the only file that wasn’t backed up: The nearly completed instructions and pattern for our upcoming bag pattern release! When the computer died it seemed upon first inspection that our dual hard drives had not been backing files up as intended…well, two very long days of tinkering later, Matt saved Thread Theory and my sanity by not only fixing the computer but also saving the pattern and all of my hard work! So, if all goes well, the pattern will be headed to test sewers by the end of the day or perhaps by the end of the weekend. It’s very close! And, needless to say, Matt has added one more back up system so that this won’t be happening again. Phew…

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Thank you!


Thank you to the over 40 volunteers who offered their bag making expertise to me last week!  The majority of you have sewn far more bags than I have in my repertoire (I’ve always been a garment sewist first and foremost) so I am incredibly excited to work with a select few of you on this upcoming bag pattern.

Those who were selected have been sent an email.  To those who did not hear from me, thank you VERY much for volunteering all of the same!  Here is a discount code for you (and all of the people who take the time to read my posts) to thank you for your support: BAGVOLUNTEER Enter the code upon checkout in our shop to receive $5 CAD off of your order.  There is no expiry!

I can’t wait to make progress in leaps and bounds on this bag.  There is nothing like a public and self imposed deadline to inspire me to work every moment our baby is sleeping (one to two weeks left until I send the testers their pattern!).

Have a lovely weekend!


Pattern testing idea (call for testers now closed)

The pattern that I am currently developing is a pretty elaborate bag, which, obviously, is a departure from our usual focus on garments! While I have some unique and versatile garments planned for release after the bag pattern, I wanted something a little more straight forward as my first pattern project post baby. Our wallet patterns are always a big hit for birthday gifts and Christmas so I thought a proper unisex bag would complete the set!

As I am prone to do, I’ve allowed the bag to morph from basic to elaborate with variations to suit a wide range of sewists and very detailed instructions…I can’t help myself, I like to be thorough! So I’m now wondering if any of you are bag sewing aficionados who would be interested in helping me out with a test sewing project that is a bit different than normal:

Usually I send garment patterns to testers when the instruction booklet is more or less complete and has already been formatted by our graphic designer. The pattern itself has been made beautiful and branded by Matt. And all illustrations have been created by me. This time, since bag patterns are new to me, I was wondering if two or three sewists who have sewn bag patterns from more than one pattern company would be interested in sewing up the pattern while it is still very much a rough draft.

This would mean that you would work from written instructions with no illustrations. The pattern would include basic markings and labels but would not be ‘prettified.’ There are a LOT of pattern pieces to navigate. So you would need to be quite familiar with the general process of sewing a lined bag with many pockets! The main feedback I would be looking for is your opinion on the order of construction. Do you have a method that you prefer to mine for sewing straps? For inserting a zipper? For adding a lining? Does the level of detail I’ve included in the instructions help or is it overwhelming? Details such as typos and grammar can be left for the next phase of testing (unless you feel like pointing them out to me, which, of course, is welcome!).

After I receive this feedback I can make large alterations to the pattern and instructions without having to re-do illustrations or spend lots of time going back and forth making revisions with our graphic designer (much as I like the chance to chat with my sister in law, she has a baby too and time is precious!).

What do you think? Do you have bag making skills and techniques you would like to compare to the ones I’ve been developing? I’m excited to brainstorm with you!

The pattern will be ready for this stage of testing in two to three weeks (if baby Noah cooperates) so you would be sewing it late July and early to mid-August (with lots of flexibility as there is no especially strict deadline for you to complete the project).

Please comment below if this sounds like a fun project for you! And please mention approximately how many bags you’ve sewn because I’m really hoping to receive feedback from people who already have preferred bag-making techniques. Pattern testers will receive the finished pattern and a credit to our shop as a big thank you for your help!

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The workshop of Wray Parsons Pt. 2

We popped by woodworker, Wray Parson’s workshop again to pick up another order and this time Noah and I were able to tag along. Wray showed me his entire catalog of sewing and needlework tools that he makes or has made in the past. I enjoyed hearing the design process stories! He usually works with needlework artists who are looking for specific tools. They explain how they want the tool to function and look and then together they figure out how to create such a tool in wood, specifically on a lathe. He also puts a lot of thought into streamlining production so that the tools can be made in small or large batches as demand from shops and artists worldwide ebbs and flows.

When we first stepped into the shop Wray pointed toward the table where the orders sat and I went over to what I thought was our usual cardboard box. He stopped me and directed me to a very special pile instead…our little bag of wooden tools was sitting atop the most beautiful wooden bench complete with inset blocks spelling out Noah’s name! As soon as we got home Noah set the stool upside down and had great fun playing with the legs and watching as the letter blocks tumbled out for him to grab. I’m sure he will be using this stool, first as a toy and then as a seat, for many years!

While we carry most of Wray’s sewing related tools, there are a few designs that are new or I had forgotten about since I originally viewed his catalog years ago.

This little spool-shaped contraption is a combo pin cushion and beeswax block (used for conditioning thread to prevent tangles and to strengthen it when hand sewing). Wray uses 100% beeswax and, as always, stuffs his pin cushion with sheep’s wool so that the lanolin will protect your pins from rust.

While we carry his lovely acorn tape measures, he also makes these elegant bell shaped ones. To put the tape away, you spin the handle of the bell. When we are at craft fairs it is so fun to see people’s eyes light up in childlike wonder when they start spinning the acorn stem…this tiny bell sized to suit a doll or fairy would certainly have ignited my imagination as a child!

These wooden thimbles are very cute. I have never stocked them as they are decorative rather than functional but I thought you might enjoy looking at this one all the same!

From what I understand, the above tool is a form of bunka brush which is a brush used to set the nap of threads or fabrics all in one direction. It is intended for a very specific needlework but I wanted to photograph it to show you the three tiny wooden rings that float freely as decoration around the handle. So intricate! Wray includes this ring design on several of his long handled needlework tools.

Lastly, I am just so excited to show you this new project Wray has been working on at the request of an embroidery artist. These pin cushions are a take on his usual design but instead of adding velour fabric he’s packed the sheep’s wool in a fine mesh. He’s also altered the way it’s constructed so that the cushion can be removed. Any guesses why these changes have been made?

They are a DIY kit! These little changes mean you can add your own fabric or embroidery to create a custom cushion! What a unique way to feature a very special piece of fabric or an embroidery project! I’m definitely going to include these in our next order and can’t wait to work on some embroidered linen to decorate one for my own studio.

I laughed when Matt came home from his first visit to Wray’s workshop with a camera full of pictures of tools…Wray and his woodworking were nowhere to be found! I took these photos of his work to rectify the situation and Wray shared a favorite action shot of himself with me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what has turned into a two part meet-the-maker series! I’d love to work with Wray to design a few more sewing tools. So far I am thinking of a magnetic pin dish (much larger than his needle minders since I love the convenience of being able to toss my pins in the general direction of a dish while I’m in a sewing frenzy). I’d also love to figure out some sort of wooden bobbin storage but I haven’t had any great ideas about how to convert this to something that could be turned on a lathe. Do you have any ideas for wooden sewing tool designs?

View Wray Parson’s tools in our shop.

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Homestead in June

It’s time for an update on the garden, our new chicks and Father’s Day sewing!

Our property looks VERY lush compared to when we moved here in March. Above is now and the photo below is from March.

It’s so exciting to see the greenery fill in as we continue to ‘discover’ plants we hadn’t yet noticed and get to know our land.

The veggie garden is giving us a nice daily salad but isn’t even close to providing all the vegetables we need this summer…that will be my goal for next year’s garden and in the meantime we have plenty of wonderful local sources for produce. (I don’t have photos of the various places I talk about in the following paragraphs so I’ve interspersed ones of our property instead!)

We’ve been shopping at the farm stand run by the man who used to own this very property 6 years ago. He operates a larger market garden now that is only a short 5 minute drive away.

We’ve also been loving the farmer’s market. It is more of a mixed market than the one we frequented in the Comox Valley. This one has pottery, sewing, weaving and plants along with produce making it lots of fun to peruse!

Our most recent source for veggies began last week. Noah and I headed to the farmer’s cooperative between naps to volunteer a couple of hours picking peas, carrots and garlic scapes. I’ve been excited to do this because we walk by the farm every day with our dog and the owners are very friendly and mentioned that they have work and volunteer opportunities. What a great way to learn about growing and meet like minded people in the community!

I tried to go without Noah while Matt watched him a couple of weeks ago but, since Noah would have none of that, Isabelle, who is one of the farmers, told me she used to just bring her kids along when she began to farm. So I loaded Noah in the ergo on my back and he enjoyed watching the other people picking and chatting for 1 hour 45 min. It was so nice to hang out with adults (and veggies)! They surprised me by giving me a paper bag of ‘farmer food’ (veggies that weren’t able to sell for one reason or another) as I left and we’ve enjoyed some delicious meals using them since! Matt joked that it’s more cost effective than if I were to get a part time job because he’s able to focus on Thread Theory while I’m gone (rather than childcare) and we have fewer reasons to go to the grocery store and spend money. Plus I won’t be worried if Noah wants to stay home and play and we miss a planned volunteer day! Anyways, I’m wanting to do it more for the sense of community than the produce anyways.

In other news, our chicks arrived! They were hatched by the kindergarten class in the elementary school where my mom is the principle. Thanks, Mom, for setting this up for us and for sending exciting photo updates each time an egg hatched! Unfortunately, something went wrong during fertilization or incubation and only four of the fifteen eggs hatched. These four chicks are so lovely though!

They are amber, black, and classic butter yellow. I love the variety of colours! We ended up buying four more chicks yesterday (Blue Australorps) to keep our first four company.

My last two snippets of news are somewhat linked. A while ago I mentioned my baby sleeping woes on the blog and many of you emailed and commented with commiseration, tips and your own stories. It was such a relief to feel supported by other moms! I sifted through all the advice to try to find something that matched our situation and was thrilled to receive an email from Erin of Tuesday Stitches patterns and Maternity Sewing. She said that the Sleep Lady Shuffle was a life saver for her. I’d already read pretty much every other sleep book out there so I figured, what the heck, may as well read that one too! We began the shuffle last weekend and low and behold, Noah’s sleep has improved for the first time since he was born!!! Until now it had been steadily getting worse so I am over the moon. Even better, the shuffle allows Matt to take the reigns and I suddenly have entire free evenings and only need to wake for a couple feedings. Its really mind boggling how much this has changed my life…I can garden and work all evening, have alone time, and sleep more than 45 min stretches all while knowing my baby is resting better than he has for months and will be happier in the morning. So, THANK YOU, Erin and everyone for your support. I think the result of your tips will be an increase in pattern production rate at last (and a far happier mom and baby)!

Finally, my last related tidbit: I sewed a shirt for my dad thanks to Noah’s newly rested levels of patience! He played with my fabric scraps happily while I cut and played with his dad while I sewed. It’s the Nice & Easy Tee by Hot Patterns (available in our shop) in superfine merino wool. I think it’ll be a nice base layer for him while skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer. It ended up a bit big but my mom says she can bring it in at the side seams and my dad likes the comfort of it being roomy.

Well, I hope you all have a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day! Matt’s requested a sleep in and French toast. Are you sewing anything for your dad for Father’s Day? Our PDF patterns are 25% off until end of day Sunday! You could even let him choose his preferred design on the day-of so you don’t need to marathon sew this weekend.