Thread Theory

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


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DIY Ironing Table

Hello blog world!

Morgan and I were too excited about the most recent addition to the sewing room to wait for the Friday post! So, without further ado, here it is!

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This DIY tutorial is for an ironing table that is specially designed to pin together duvets, which Morgan sews for The Heather Company. It is also the perfect table for ironing as well as a great cutting mat surface.

This tutorial is for the working surface of the table (which contains several important layers), as the shelves can really be made of anything (but more on that later!)

Here are some things you will need!

  • A sheet of plywood
  • Carpet padding
  • Heavy canvas (12oz to 14oz)
  • Cotton needle punch batting
  • A staple gun
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • Liquid glue

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The first step is to determine the size you want your table to be. We decided to make it the full width of our spare bedroom (a.k.a. the sewing studio) and 24″ deep. This allows the cutting mat to easily sit on top without any overhang. Then, simply cut a piece of plywood to the size you want! The thickness of the plywood all depends on how wide the gap between the shelves will be; ask your local handy-man for help!

Next, get your carpet underlay and cut it with scissors or a box knife to cover the entire surface of the plywood.

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Do a dry fit first, and then cover your plywood with glue squiggles. I used an all-purpose liquid super glue made by Titan.

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Next, wait for the glue to dry enough that it holds the carpet padding in place (it doesn’t have to completely set). Lay out your canvas with the cotton needle punch on top, then flip the plywood and carpet padding upside-down on top of it all. You should now have the underside of the plywood showing with a layer of carpet padding, cotton needle punch, and canvas underneath. We let the needle punch overlap a couple inches on each side, and then canvas quite a bit more than that – about 6-8 inches.

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Now comes the fun part! With one person on each end, pull the canvas nice and tight, doing your best to get it stretched in both directions. Fold it up and over the raw side of the plywood and staple it down!

Resized-0008Work your way around the whole surface stapling every 6 inches or so. If you get a few staples sticking up, tap them down with a hammer.

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Next, flip the whole kit-and-kaboodle over and admire your handy-work!

Resized-0012 Resized-0013 Resized-0014The canvas might not be super tight at this point, but as you iron on it, the canvas will shrink and it will make a nice smooth surface.

Next, put it on top of some cupboards/side tables/saw horses/anything you want! My mum and dad had promised Morgan some custom-made cabinets for her birthday, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to cash in! We designed them to have enough space to hold Morgan’s Husqvarna machine and her serger, and to have a small slot for her cutting table. My parents went above and beyond and built the cabinets up on small risers and made slide out platforms! We were totally blown away by their sturdy-ness, and we sanded them and applied a coat of black walnut Danish Oil and set them up!

Resized-0001 Resized-0003 Resized-0004 Resized-0005 Resized-0007 Resized-0008 Resized-0006All in all, the ironing table-top was a VERY simple process. We did the entire thing (except cutting the plywood) on our living room floor and only had to do a quick vacuum to clean up after! The carpet padding makes a bit of a mess when you cut it… We weren’t keeping track of time, but this project could EASILY be done in an an afternoon/evening. And, once the table-top is done, you could put it on anything from filing cabinets to Ikea Expedit cubes!

Have any questions on the process? Feel free to post below and I’ll do my best to help!


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Special Delivery!

What’s that, you want another sneaky Wednesday post from Matt full of hints of things to come?

You got it.

First up, an itty-bitty box full of brown paper!

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That’s right, after being an incorporated business for 10 months and selling our product for 5 months (jeeeez, has it only been 5 months?!), we finally got around to ordering business cards! They were designed by the lovely and incredibly talented Sonia Bishop (who also designed our logo) and printed by ClubCard printing out of Vancouver, BC. They are a vertical design done in plain black and white ink on 24pt natural kraft paper. And we love them.

Next up are some significantly larger boxes. 6 of them, to be exact, weighing in at a total of 180 lbs.

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That’s right, tissue patterns! Our first three patterns have arrived and they look GREAT! We knew it was going to be a pretty big load, but we had NO idea how much space 3,000 packets of tissue paper would take up. Turns out it’s a lot; Morgan is currently painting our closets so we can have everything looking pretty and organized for a later photoshoot. And they are HEAVY! Step 1 of going to print: Complete.

Now for some Goldstream Peacoat action: Morgan has finished the second prototype of the pattern, and it turned out beautifully!

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There are still a couple tiny changes to be made before it is graded and prettied up, but we’re getting close! More details coming soon…

Last, but certainly not least, there is a super-secret project that Morgan and I are working on. I can’t say much more about it other than one of our previous posts contained a photo hint (remember a cardboard box?). It is involving quite a bit of planning and logistics, but we’re VERY excited to show you once it’s ready!

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to follow our blog for updates!


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Sue’s Spectacular Jeds!

My mother-in-law, Sue, has been quietly working away on her own version of the Jedediah Pants and blew us out of the water when her husband, Rick, arrived for Thanksgiving dinner in the absolutely spectacular results! She used a high-end cotton twill from Gala Fabrics in Victoria, BC and carefully applied all the lessons that she learned by following our sew-along. We took a few photos that day of Rick wearing the finished version, and Sue graciously sent in some of her own as well as a review so that we could show you her very successful return to the sewing world after a several decade hiatus! Without further ado, here is what she wrote to us:

Hi Morgan and Matt,

I just wanted to send a note to let you know about my experience with sewing the Jedediah pants. I noticed a few people who commented on your blog about being a bit afraid to take on what seems to be a more difficult project, and I thought my experience might help sway them to give it a try.

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I have not sewn an article of clothing since I made my high school graduation dress in the 1970s… Don’t bother doing the math, suffice it to say that was a long time ago! I never took any formal sewing training, but was just taught by my mom and through my own experimentation. Your enthusiasm for sewing and designing has been infectious and has inspired me to pick it up again, and it was the sew-a-long that gave me the confidence to get started back again. One would think that pants would be a tough project to wet your feet with, but in reality, with the well fitting pattern, great instructions, the video for the fly installation, the feedback from the sewers, and the ability to write in and ask questions, it was amazingly simple.

I wasn’t able to start the pants until well after the sew-a-long was finished but that had it’s benefits, as I was able to read all the instructions, comments and feedback before even cutting out my material and was therefore able to incorporate the suggestions that others had made. I actually started out to make shorts, but when I laid the pattern out, I had so much material left, I thought why not see if I had enough for pants, and sure enough I did. I know you made the comment that the allowances were generous to allow for pattern matching, and this worked to my benefit, as I had no pattern.

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I used Katie’s method of sewing the back patch pockets to eliminate the raw edge inside, and I added my own touch by interfacing the pocket to give it a little more strength. I sewed the inseam before the side seam, as this made more sense to me. I’m glad I did this, as I had a little trouble with the flat felled seams. The material I used was an organic twill and it really wanted to fray, so folding it over and sewing with the smaller seam allowance was a little fiddley. If I had done the leg seams in the reverse order, I would have had to do “fake flat felled seams” as you had suggested when I wrote in. They would have looked the same, but I would know they were fake. Also, I didn’t use seam binding as I thought it would become too bulky (and because I was too lazy), but I am still happy with the finish of the pants. If I made them again, I might be tempted to bind just the inner waistband as I like the finished look of the ones I’ve seen.

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I found the pattern pieces really fit together well. The only markings that didn’t make sense to me were on the ends of the waistband, but then I figured, as long as I had enough room for a seam at each end of the waistband, there wasn’t a problem, and it all went together well. The fly went in without a hitch, just by following step by step, the video and written instructions. The most difficult part of the pants was the buttonhole. I did several test buttonholes that came out beautifully of course, and then the real one was not so good. I think it was because of the bulk of the waistband seam, that my auto buttonholer on my old machine couldn’t hold the material firm enough to keep it correctly aligned. I will do as you suggested and use a hook closure, and hubby always wears a belt, so no one will be the wiser.

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The pants seemed to sew up quite quickly (even though it took me about a month overall as I was only able to pick them up for little bits at a time) and I was able to break the project easily into manageable pieces. I am really pleased (and hubby is too) with the overall result, and I must say that this is the first article of clothing that I have ever sewn that looks store bought, and fits extremely well. I will most certainly be testing out more of your patterns in the future, and I think the men in my life will be quite happy about that!

– Sue

Congratulations, Sue, on an excellently finished garment! We look forward to seeing your versions of the rest of our patterns!

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Goldstream Peacoat Contest!

Happy Friday, blog world! Welcome to a made-by-Matt special post!

Our world in the Thread Theory studio has been focused entirely around peacoats lately, so this week we wanted to immerse you in a bit of the inspiration behind the Goldstream Peacoat pattern that we are chugging away at! I think there is no outerwear, for men, more classic yet versatile as the standard issue navy peacoat. The history of the British Navy peacoat is fuzzy at best; there are many stories as to how it got the name and where it was first issued, but there is one thing for certain: The dense navy-blue wool double-breasted coat kept those sailors warm!

The double-breasted front keeps the wind at bay (pun DEFINITELY intended), while the collar can be popped up and buttoned straight across the neck for the ultimate protection from the elements. The slightly shorter body was designed to allow for sailors to easily climb rigging while wearing the coat. This means that even in a nicely fitted jacket, sailors had full range of motion.

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(http://www.sehkelly.com/shop/jackets/tobacco-brown-wool-tweed-peacoat/)

 

Morgan and I are crazy busy with moving (we got the keys to our new place yesterday!) so this post is going to be short, sweet, and full of eye-candy! Morgan is currently in the midst of (hopefully) the final test-version of our pattern in a black wool with pea-green lining. She hasn’t decided yet whether to do gold, pewter, or black “fouled anchor” buttons (the anchor wrapped up in line); we’ll keep you posted!

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(http://fashionablethings.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/81_nordstrom-theory-peacoat.jpg)

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(http://i.nordstromimage.com/images/Store/blog/men/2012/9_10/peacoat_sure_bets_fall_catalog6.jpg)

Like I said earlier, this is a short one! Our internet is getting hooked up tomorrow, which means I’m posting this using a mystery neighbour’s connection (sorry! We really can’t miss a Friday post!) which is spotty, to say the least. We’ll be adding more photos once we’re plugged in!

This week, we would like you to comment on this blog post with your favourite tailoring, traditional menswear sewing, or jacket-related sewing techniques and resources! If your comment is relevant, we will enter you in a draw to win the Goldstream Peacoat pattern (or another pattern of your choice) once it has been released! The draw will close by next Friday, October 11th, and the winner will be announced in our weekly blog post! We hope to use your favourite resources (be them on-line classes, on-location classes, books, blogs, YouTube videos, or a technique of yours that you explain) to compile a Goldstream Peacoat sewing encyclopedia on our blog.

Thank you in advance for all of your great suggestions! Feel free to suggest something even if you haven’t tried it yourself as Morgan will be investigating anything that is mentioned.


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Guest Posts: Katie’s Back Pockets

Today we have another guest post treat – this time from Katie, the author of the blog, The Creative Counselor.  She is the test sewer who made this version of the Jedediah Pants.  She used a gorgeous recycled hemp and organic cotton blend and widened the legs to create a totally different style of pants than our slim fit originals – I love how well these pants display the versatility of a well fitting pants pattern – all you have to do is adjust the width or length of the legs to create endless varieties and styles!

Kathryn of The Creative Counselor's recycled hemp and organic cotton pants.  She has altered the leg width to create boot-cut pants!

Kathryn of The Creative Counselor’s recycled hemp and organic cotton pants. She has altered the leg width to create boot-cut pants!

Here is what Katie has prepared for us – super strong pockets with absolutely no raw edges – I love it!:

Hello Thread Theory readers!  I’m Katie and I blog about my sewing and crafty creations over at the Creative Counselor.

I was one of the lucky three ladies who got to be pattern testers for the Jedediah Pants, and got my greedy little hands on the pattern before the rest of the world.  I know you will all soon come to love this pattern as much as I do, if you don’t already!

One of my favorite things about the Jedediah pattern is the beautiful seam finishes that Morgan has included throughout the pattern.  When starting my pants, I told my husband that this would likely be the only pair of pants that he owned with actual flat-felled and bound seams on every single seam.  And I was right!

While constructing my Jedediah Pants, I decided that I wanted the back pockets to have a similarly beautiful finish that enclosed all of the raw edges.  With that in mind, I examined some of our nicer RTW jeans and puzzled out how to finish the back patch pockets so that all of the raw edges were enclosed and the whole pocket looked neat and tidy.

If you’d like to include a similar finish on your back pockets, here’s how you can do it:

1.  Attach bias binding to the top edge of your back pocket piece, following the instructions included in the pattern.  Alternatively, if you don’t want to bind the top edge of the back pocket piece, you can serge or sew a zig zag on this edge, or turn the top edge down ¼” (wrong sides together) and press.  Personally, I like the bound edge here — those small hidden details make a pair of handmade pants special and truly unique.

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2.  Fold the top pocket edge along the marked fold line right sides together.  Do not press this edge at this point.  Pin it down and stitch the fold down vertically ⅝” in from each side (also per the pattern instructions).

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3.  Here, the pattern instructions will tell you to trim your seam allowance to ¼”, meaning that you will trim off about ⅜”.  Do trim your seam allowance to ¼” but rather than stopping where your stitching stopped, trim off that ⅜” all the way around your pocket piece.

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4.  Flip your top edge over so that the wrong sides are now together, and use a point turner  or a chopstick to push out the corners, making them nice and pointy.  Press the top edge of your pocket.

5.  Carefully fold in the other edges of your pocket piece (remember, your allowance has now been reduced to ¼”) and press them.  Be very deliberate here so that all edges are crisp and the point at the bottom is nice and clean-looking.

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6.  Stitch down the folded top edge of your pocket.

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7.  Position the pocket on the back pants/shorts piece and pin in place.

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8.  Topstitch the pocket down using a ⅜” allowance.

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9.  Once the pocket is attached to the shorts, you’re going to sew a second parallel line of stitching by edgestitching around the very edge of the pocket piece.  This ensures that the raw edges of your fabric are neatly enclosed between these two seams.

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You could, of course, do this edgestitching first, but I find that it is far easier to control the stitching and get a really nice-looking edge stitch if the pocket is already secured with the inner row of stitching.

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10.  Strengthen the top edge of the pocket either by stitching triangles in each top corner, or by placing a bar tack in each corner.

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You’re done, and ready to continue on with your shorts!  Take a moment to sit back and admire the prettily-finished back pockets.

Thanks so much for having me Morgan!  I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished shorts!


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Guest Sew-Along Post: How to Save Fabric When Cutting Out the Jedediah Pants

Meg, of Made By Meg was one of the test sewers for our Jedediah Pants pattern.  She was the sewer who produced this spectacular pair of denim pants (with musical themed pocket linings!):

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Not only is she a thorough and enthusiastic test sewer for us, she has also agreed to write a guest blog post to show you how she improved upon our cutting layouts…and saved a bunch of fabric!  Thank you, Meg, for taking the time to do this!  Without further ado, here is Meg’s very helpful tutorial to save you fabric when cutting out your pants or shorts for the sew-along!:

It’s no secret that I don’t always follow the rules, and this holds true for the Jedediah Pants
Testing the pattern for the fabulous Thread Theory, I made sure to follow most of the instructions: I carefully flat felled my seams, cut with the grain, and even followed the exquisite directions to french seam the pockets – and I was glad I did! But there was one area where I differed from protocol: the cutting layout. When I got the A-OK from Thread Theory, I figured I’d share it with you! So, here is an alternate suggestion for a cutting layout:

A bit of background: While it is usually wise to follow pattern instructions (ask me how I know!), cutting layout is one area where you can sometimes take a bit of liberty. For one, manufacturers often have to do a one-size-fits-all approach to the cutting layout, and your smaller or larger pattern pieces may work in a few different ways than suggested. On the user side, you may have to make adjustments for different fabric widths, a directional print, or even need to make do with just barely enough fabric. This is where it may be a good idea to experiment with a few different layouts before cutting.

The Jedediah layout: For the Jedediah Pants, the cutting layout places one pant leg above the other, with the waistband running vertically next to the pant leg (illustration below). While this works great to make sure that the pattern pieces in any size will fit on your fabric, it takes up a lot of yardage (3 yards at least)! Furthermore, if your fabric has a one-way print such as pinstripes, a one-way print such as a plaid, or even a 2-way stretch, a vertically cut waistband will not face the same way as the rest of your pants.

Cutting Layout

The modifications: To save fabric and make sure my waistband stretched in the same direction as the rest of the pants (I used a fabric with 5-10% stretch), I rearranged my pattern pieces, squeezing them on to under 2 yards of fabric! Here’s what the new layout looks like, based on how I cut K’s pants (left) and what that line drawing might look like (right):

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In order to make the waistband modification, I cut the the waistband along the fold of the fabric. As shown above (bottom right-hand corner), half the waistband is placed along the folded edge of the fabric. When the fabric is cut and unfolded, you’ll have a full-size waistband facing the same direction as the rest of your pants! Now my waistband will better match the rest of the pants.

You might call me a slacker, but I just love little sewing shortcuts that save me some fabric space!

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Friday Guest: The Hubby!

Hello folks of the sewing world! I’m Morgan’s husband, Matt, and it is a pleasure to be picked as the first guest poster!

Morgan has been insanely busy this last week (and the one before that, and before that…) with school work; designing, creating patterns for, and sewing seven full outfits for her Fashion Design program is quite the task! Not to mention all the hard work she is putting into getting the Jedediah Pants ready to send to test sewers AND sewing pillows, shams, and duvet covers for a local interior design company. So with her jam-packed schedule in mind, I have been asked to be the first guest blogger for the Friday post!

First, a little about me:

I like to do little wood-working projects!

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I like to rebuild/restore old bikes!

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I like to build computers!

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And I loooove film cameras!

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And, of course, I love photography. There are many more examples, but you get the gist of it: I have a fairly wide variety of hobbies and interests. This has made Morgan and I an excellent team for starting Thread Theory, and life in general! While Morgan creates the designs, coordinates with our pattern maker, and builds the instructions until she wants to throw her laptop out the window, I handle the more tedious stuff like bookkeeping, website maintenance (super easy thanks to Big Cartel – but shhhh… Don’t tell her that!), and e-mail replies (although I have to get her help with 90% of the sewing questions that come through)! I also do the photography for the clothes she makes, which I really enjoy. In my personal life, I hardly ever take pictures of people; I mainly shoot wildlife, land/seascapes, interesting textures, patterns, etc… so being forced to take pictures of people and make awkward attempts at interacting with them has really helped push me out of my comfort zone!

Another big thing that I do for Thread Theory is receive the digital pattern from our pattern maker and make it ready to sell. The first thing I have to do is take the poster-size PDF and shuffle the pattern pieces into three layouts: one for 45″ wide fabric, one for 60″ wide fabric, and one with no limitations except for being as small as possible. This last one is what I use to split the pattern into pages, which is a tedious process to say the least. I take the new layout, export it to a multi-page PDF with 7.5″x10″ pages, import each page into Photoshop, add the alignment markings and labels, export all the pages as JPEGs, and rebuild them into a single, multi-page PDF file! Then it’s just a matter of finding the right amount of compression (the raw PDF files are HUGE!) and uploading them to the website. At least I only have to do that a couple times for each pattern!

But enough of the technical mumbo-jumbo! Working with Morgan on Thread Theory has been a truly wonderful experience. It’s hard to describe the feeling we get every time an e-mail comes in from someone thanking us for making men’s patterns. Although I’m not a sewer, I really enjoy a quality made garment and I love that Morgan has been able to sew me clothes that actually fit! Like many guys out there, I’m pretty lanky and I can never find a shirt that has long enough sleeves and DOESN’T fit like a parachute. Hand-made for the win!

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First Attempt at Menswear!

 

I’d like to end this post with a great big shout out to everyone in the blog world that has supported us, sent us encouraging comments, and (of course) bought our pattern! You guys and gals make this project so rewarding for us!

Happy sewing,

– Matthew