Thread Theory

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


Studio Tour


My parents and grandparents were over for a family dinner last weekend (my Mom’s birthday).  After dinner everyone gathered in my studio to have a peek at some of the projects I’ve been working on.  It had been a while since they had been in my studio, and, since we only moved in to our home 5 months ago it had changed greatly since their last inspection!  After checking out all of the customising I have done, my dad said it was high time for a studio photo shoot to share my space with you on the blog.  So here it is!


My studio space is really the reason we decided to buy the house (Matt and I joke when we say this but it is at least partially true).  It is a nicely converted garage with gabled ceilings, two huge windows and LOADS of lighting options.

When we first moved in, Matt’s mom and dad devoted a weekend of their time to paint the studio with us.  Matt’s mom was still painting the trim when Matt, his Dad, and I enthusiastically moved everything in to the room.  I was eager to start using my space!

Since then I’ve slowly puttered away at adding functional details to the room…my latest small additions are three hooks on the wall for my scissors:


I set up my sewing machines in front of the window so that I have the best natural light (and a view of the kids playing on the cul de sac) while I sew.


My most used work area is my big oak desk.  It is a beat up old provincial government desk that Matt and I purchased when we lived in Victoria and have lugged along with every move since!  It’s a bit of a beast but I really love having such a huge work surface (it is usually covered with all sorts of paperwork).


My seat cushion features a lovely little bit of embroidery that I made using one of my friend Sarah’s gorgeous bug themed embroidery patterns.  She just released a bunch of Christmas themed embroidery patterns that would make gorgeous ornaments and a great project to work on while sitting by the fire.  She also has a vintage sewing machine pattern – I definitely need to add that one to my studio decor.


All of the smaller items that I stock in the shop are sorted on large barn-wood shelves throughout the studio.


The barn wood is salvaged from an old horse stall that we pulled down while house sitting last year.  The building was no longer structurally sound but, once dried out, some of the wood was in decent shape.



It’s pretty tough to find such wide, long and beautiful solid wood boards these days!  I feel lucky to have these.  They are very practical for me (I like open storage) and they are full of character.


I’ve affixed my most used bobbins to the underside of one of the shelves using a couple of magnetic strips.  They are directly above my thread rack so it is easy to keep track of matching colors.


My yarn is stored in three massive baskets that I sewed using the canvas, strapping and screen prints that we include in our Carry-All Bag Making Kit.


I used this great tutorial to create these…but increased the dimensions by A LOT to make massive versions.


I found a male dress form (pinnable!) at a second hand consignment shop a few months ago and was over the moon about it as I have been longing for one ever since I left behind the great mannequins available at design school.


The mannequin didn’t have a stand…but…I mentioned my desire for a stand to my parents while they were admiring the studio and, low and behold, I now have one!  Just two days ago, my Dad dropped by with one that he made for me!



He re-purposed the disk brake from an old vehicle, painted it with left over spray paint from another old vehicle, lathe turned a beautiful wooden base out of a scrap of wood, used a stainless pole and mount from the sailboat that he recently refitted to sail to Hawaii, and rigged up a system to fit it to the mannequin’s empty attachment point!  My dad is the best sort of Renaissance man :D.

I would be remiss to give you a studio tour without showing you my studio companion and his favourite place to hang out!


Luki may look serene here but in reality he is quivering with excitement while neighbourhood cat-watching.

Needless to say, my timid little cat, Jasmine, does not share office hours with Luki.  Even though she can easily boss him around, she generally likes to avoid him and prefers to come to work in the evening and night (she blooms at night, just like the Jasmine flower).  She likes to help me sew by sitting on my fabric (classic).

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She loves the corner of the studio I’ve devoted to her – it is complete with a great viewpoint, a selection of feathers, and a stash of homegrown catnip.


I hope you found this peek into the Thread Theory studio interesting!  Time for me to get back to work!


And, just to remind any of you who missed yesterday’s post – all PDF patterns are 50% off in our shop until Monday!  Check out the largest sale of the year >


Standing desk: Follow-up (sort of a ‘before & after’)

It’s been just over a month since I posted about our new standing desk so it is time to update you on how it has worked out for us!

Here is our old office space (pre-standing desk):


Here is the standing desk when it was first built:


And here is what it looks like today!


As you can see, we stained it a very pretty walnut color.  I haven’t fully decorated/organized the area yet but it looks better than the old office arrangement did, in my opinion.


I like things to look a lot more minimalist than the corner desk monstrosity allowed.IMGP2210

The best part of our new office arrangement is how Matt and I feel.  Since beginning to use the standing desk my lower back pains are totally gone!  Matt reports the same thing :).  At first the back pains were replaced by tired legs and feet but we built up stamina within two weeks.


I bought a rug off of Craigslist which helps keep our feet comfortable and warm.  Even though it’s not a super thick rug, having something to remove us from the linoleum and concrete floor just slightly made a really big difference.  We might add a rug underlay in the near future as the weather continues to become colder.

…By the way, say hi to our new dog, Luki (below)!  We adopted him a couple weeks ago!  I have a feeling most photo-shoots will now include a dog as one of the main features :P.


I like the natural light the desk receives from the window beside it.  I was worried at first that I wouldn’t like staring at the wall ahead of me and I still think this would be the case if it weren’t for the window beside me.


We have several plans for the desk in the future – we would like to add some sort of shelving to the bottom or maybe add a separate unit elsewhere in the room to house the printer, scanner and office supplies.  This would clear up the desk space considerably which would make it more useful for packing orders (which I still do on the dining room table).


We’ve already added some hooks to the side of the desk to start making the surface more functional:


The next improvement I’d like to make is to figure out some sort of covering for the big power cord that extends to the outlet – maybe a galvanized steel tube to match the sawhorse brackets?


Matt did a great job of cable management – just look at all those wires!  It is very difficult to make such a ‘bare bones’ desk design house so many different electronics without looking like a rats nest!


We’d also like to add two hanging pendant lights like these ones to light each of our workstations.  It can get a bit dark when the blinds are down.  Whenever it is sunny it’s necessary to close the blinds to prevent glare on the computer screen :(.


So, as you can see there are still quite a few changes to make to our office arrangement.  For now, though, I’m really pleased with the more active lifestyle this desk has created!  I find I’m less prone to seamlessly transitioning from work to personal computer use when I am at the standing desk.  I feel more focused when I am standing and far less ‘vegetative’.


I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this change to our work day!  I would love to hear suggestions for office organization if you have any – especially if they correspond to the printer, scanner, cable management, or lighting issues that I mentioned throughout this post :).


In the Studio: Final Preparations for our New Pattern!

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This week Matt and I have been fully immersed in the final preparations for the launch of our next pattern!  I’m sewing the final sample at the moment, our graphic designer, Sonia, has been busy altering our instructions based on the thorough and ever-so-helpful feedback provided by our test-sewers, and Matt has been revising the actual pattern pieces to suit the test-sewer’s suggestions.


We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on!  I won’t be long now!


In the Studio: I presented a seminar at my kitchen table!

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In the studio is a weekly feature where I show you a little sneak peek at what I’ve been up to this week.  Here’s this week’s edition!

I think I’m going to sound a little cliche and maybe a little old fashioned when I say, “Isn’t technology mind boggling?”  This morning, I presented a seminar sitting in my coziest sweater, which a cup of honey lemon water in my very own kitchen!  No need for business attire, long expensive trips across the country or the nerves associated with presenting to a lecture hall of upturned faces full of anticipation!  Usually, if you explained this scenario to me I would sigh a little and exclaim about the sad loss of personal connection in this technology filled world…but I must admit, as I sat nervously in my own dining room this morning, I was REALLY glad I could instruct the BurdaStyle Web Seminar from home!

Have you ever worked with seminar hosting technology?  Does technology effect your experiences with sewing?  What role does it play in your careers?  I’d love to hear what you think!


In the Studio: Friday Night Sewing!

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Last Friday, Nicole and I sewed together for an evening (after both sewing for our jobs all week :P).  We both had big plans for productive sewing but ended up talking more than we sewed :P.  I guess that’s probably pretty common when sewing in a group – I’m so used to intense and quiet focus while sewing!

Blog-1Nicole began sewing a Finlayson Sweater for herself and I finished sewing a Grainline Studio Portside Duffle and began a Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night’s Dream dress – totally not seasonal but I really wanted to work on a super pretty, ‘icing’ style project :).

I’ll show you the finished projects in a later blog post!  I love how my dress turned out!  You can see Nicole’s Finlayson and a bunch of her other amazingly productive recent sewing projects in her latest blog post.


In the Studio: Preparing to Teach

DSC03390With a few teaching possibilities coming up in the near future, I have been working on assembling a mobile Thread Theory ‘store’ to bring to these events.  I love seeing all our products in one location like this – I think our brand looks really consistent!DSC03391

We ran out of business cards recently and so have just received a big carton of fresh ones, ready to hand out to students and potential stockists.DSC03389

And here is my mobile ‘classroom’ that I can alter to suit whatever subject the class or presentation might be about.  I’ve included my favorite sewing resources, my tin of garment tags (to pin to a selection of Thread Theory garments), my binder of construction samples, folders of relevant information for each student, and all the sewing tools that might be needed during the class.

I think I’m ready for whatever event might come our way!


In the Studio: Studio Tour

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Matt did a studio photo shoot this week!  Our quest for nice, lit up photos of my sewing room have constantly eluded us until now because the light coming in from the window is so direct and bright (great for sewing but it keeps making the rest of the studio look dark and gloomy in our photos).  Matt came up with a DIY flash diffuser solution to achieve the best results we’ve had yet.  He held some white cotton fabric over his flash and suddenly my studio looked much more bright and sunlit very close to how it looks in reality!  And I was pretty pleased that it was my fabric scraps that came to the rescue :P.


We’ve taken some pretty shots of the details:


But also some realistic ones that show how my studio is slowly being invaded by overflowing baskets of scraps:Web-3

Here are my sewing machines.  Meet Mr. Industrial:Web-7

And my lovely little Kenmore (courtesy of my mother-in-law for my birthday!):Web-6 Web-5


I store my stash of patterns in filing boxes – most of them are PDFs and are stored in manilla envelopes within the folders.  I have folders for each of our Thread Theory collections in one box and in the other is a folder for each indie pattern company.  The McCalls and Vogue patterns are stored seperate in a little box in my closet (until I get another filing bin).


We store our huge stash of Thread Theory tissue patterns in plastic bins in hopes of protecting them if ever we had a flood or some other paper-destroying sort of disaster.  It’s scary having so much money invested into such an easily ruined medium as paper!


Matt insisted on photographing my speaker cord :P.  I have it attached to my cutting/pinning table since this is usually where my lap top ends up sitting while I sew.  That way I can answer customer emails and listen to audio books while I sew (I’m listening to Phryne Fisher Murder Mysteries right now :D).

Now for another realistic view of my studio: Here is the disaster that is hidden behind my closet doors…Web-10

I like using the hanging fabric shelves for fabric storage as they expand a little to fit whatever dimension the fabric is folded into but they don’t look especially tidy, do they?Web-11

Web-12And lastly, meet Stella!  We are dog-sitting this week (much to the disgust of our cat, Jazzy).  Stella a real sweety and is so patient with Jazzy.  They’ve even progressed to voluntarily hanging out in our bedroom together (both looking decidedly uncomfortable).  Stella is a pretty good sewing dog – the sound of the sewing machine doesn’t bother her and she loves to sleep beside me as I sew!


In the Studio: Fabric Shopping

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Last weekend my friend Nicole and I went fabric shopping at our local Fabricland.  I picked up fabric for the upcoming Finlayson sew-along and Nicole flew around the shop systematically picking out an entire wardrobe worth of fabric – I was so impressed!  My style of fabric shopping consists of confidently striding in through the fabric store’s front door only to slow to an overwhelmed shuffle once I reach the first display of fabrics.  I then walk around for way too long running my fingers over all the fabrics until I have successfully forgotten what I had come in to buy.  At that point, I find myself at the cutting table with completely random (but gorgeous!) bolts of fabric.  Nicole evidently has a lot to teach me!  Check out all the fabric she purchased to create a work wardrobe for her new job in a physiotherapy office over on her blog!

Here we are very natural and un-posed as we considered the lining selection. Decisions, decisions!

Fabric Shopping edited


In the Studio: New Pattern Photoshoot!

In the Studio banner - mediumThe studio, this week, has been full of hustle and bustle – we’ve been on photo shoots and we’ve been working away with our graphic designer.  All of this activity will be leading to great results this Saturday: We are launching a NEW PATTERN!  To get you as excited as I am, here is one of the photos from our recent photo shoot:

Finlayson photoshoot

Matt was sweating buckets pretending that it is early Fall while modelling during a summer heat wave.  Ah the trials and tribulations of the fashion business :P.  All the same, we are thrilled to have a Fall-worthy pattern ready for you to sew with lots of time before the season changes!  If you’re looking for a quick and cozy project so you’re ready for when the weather begins to chill, visit our website at 10:00 am (PST), Saturday Aug. 2nd!


In the Studio: Sewing for a Fireman

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Hello from the TT studio!  After a day of instruction booklet writing earlier this week, I spent the evening working on a super random sewing project (as I often do).


Matt works at the local fire hall and so he sometimes brings home uniforms and asks me for a favor.  I usually hem pants for his co-workers, but this time I sewed on some patches to make their new shirts look nice and official!  I like doing these little projects because I kind of see it as a way to use sewing to ‘do my bit.’   Even though I’m not running into burning buildings or rescuing cats from trees (they actually do that…isn’t that awesome?) at least I’m ‘doing my bit’ by helping to make them look good while they do theirs! (Lol, that’s probably stretching things a little but at least it makes me motivated enough to get through the monotony of simple alterations…maybe…)