Thread Theory

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


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All Sorts of Pant and Short Sewing Assistance (and my me-made undies!)

This week I have been sewing the first mock up of the Strathcona Henley and also took a small break to try out Cloth Habit’s wonderful free pattern for Rosy Ladyshorts.  One of the comments on the pattern page was as follows:

“I just found your blog recently when someone linked to it in a comment on Sewaholic’s blog post about sewing panties. I just wanted to let you know that I made up not one, but TWO Rosy Ladyshorts tonight! All while my husband made dinner! It’s a great pattern!” Emily cloth habit screen shot

If Emily could squeeze in time to sew two pairs of new underwear before dinner, then surely I could afford myself a little “me sewing time” for an evening!  Especially when the sewing project was so frilly and satisfyingly girly compared to all the menswear I have been doing lately.  It was so nice to give myself a chance to putter away (with a Downton Abbey episode in the back ground) with a selection of lace at my sewing machine table.  I finished two in an evening (and a few extra minutes the next morning) and that time frame also included a large amount of time trying to get my serger operating smoothly! Edited-1 I love how the Ladyshorts turned out!  They are very comfortable and pretty.  The thorough and friendly instructions made the sewing process almost mindless.  Talk about a tiny sewing project that results in a lot of satisfaction! For the first pair I used an old t-shirt of Matt’s that had a hole in it and some very soft white stretch lace.  These are the comfiest pair of the two and resulted in underwear that are more like shorts (as the name would suggest) than briefs. Edited-3   When I cut out the second pair I got a little creative and experimented by removing some of the coverage along the side and back leg opening.  I used a mystery stretch fabric that feels like sportswear but has a raised floral print more suited to evening wear.  I bought it quite some time ago in hopes of making a dress but my love of natural fibers has since taken over and so this plasticky feeling fabric isn’t especially inspiring to me any more.  Fortunately, Cloth Habit’s pattern includes a crotch lining piece that Amy suggests you cut out of a cotton knit; as a result, the fact that the rest of the underwear are very synthetic isn’t too important. I used a pretty cream lace to finish off the legs and waist opening. Edited-2 If you’ve ever had the urge to get onto the DIY lingerie bandwagon that seems to have engulfed the sewing blog world over the last year or so, this is a perfect pattern to start with!  I can see myself making loads of these in the future and I am excited to find some prettier lingerie fabrics to use. Now, back to menswear sewing: Before cutting into our fabric for the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along it might be useful to familiarize yourself with a few of the (MANY) amazing online resources regarding different issues with fitting and sewing pants.  I’ve compiled a few that I especially like in the following two categories: Preparing to Sew your Pants:

  • Measuring Men – the Jedediah Pants are athletically graded, meaning that they fit quite slim.  Carefully take your measurements and don’t cut your fabric simply based on the ready to wear size you usually buy.  Matt generally fits a size 29 or 30 in RTW and perfectly fits a size 30 in our pattern.
  • Colette’s Guide to Fitting Pants – this is a fitting guide for sewing women’s pants, but, since there doesn’t seem to be any information online for fitting men’s pants, it is the best available option!  Fitting men’s pants, especially a casual pair such as the Jedediah Pants, is not quite as tricky as fitting women’s pants because we don’t have to deal with curving hips or (much of) a bottom!  It is still advisable to make a muslin of the Jedediah Pants to see if there are any obvious issues.

Sewing Your Pants: Lisa G. of Notes from a Mad Housewife has recently posted some great tutorials on sewing pants:

  • Perfect Waistbands (using a two piece waistband…the Jedediah Pants have a one piece waistband but this tutorial is still helpful for getting a crisp corner where the waistband and zipper meet!)
  • Sewing a Pant Fly like a Pro (she isn’t exaggerating – her flys look amazing!)

Here is a great You-Tube  video to help you really understand how all the strange looking pieces of fabric come together to form a fly: VIDEO: How to Sew a Fly by Michael Coates – The Sewing Guru

  • Note: Disregard his seam allowance amounts and other sewing specifics if sewing the Jedediah Pants (he is working with quite a different pattern with a different order of construction)…otherwise this is an EXCELLENT video where you can see the entire fly construction process done very carefully and professionally.
  • 10:00 – Begin the video at this point to match as closely to the Jedediah Instructions as possible (this is where he begins to sew the zipper shield and assemble the fly)
  • 13:30 – When he presses the seam allowance over to attache the zipper shield, we would press the curved fly facing piece over that is included on both pant legs in the Jedediah Pants Pattern.


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Announcing the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along!

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On August 15th, in the full heat of summer, we will be starting the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along.  Set your sewing machine and lap-top up pool-side (or at least near a fan!), grab an iced drink and get ready to make the perfect summer shorts!

The full length pants version of the Jedediah Pants Sewing Pattern.

The full length pants version of the Jedediah Pants Sewing Pattern.

For those who have never taken part in a sew-along before, here is how ours will work:  We will begin a sew-along page on the blog where we will post, starting August 15th, three times a week.  Each post will include photographs and explanations of several of the sewing steps involved in making the Shorts Variation of our soon-to-be released Jedediah Pants sewing pattern.

Jedediah Information page

You will have the option to follow along sewing your own shorts as we post each step or you can simply sew at your own pace as the posts will be compiled and kept accessible for you to refer back to.

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If you REALLY want to get involved, feel free to grab our Sew-Along button and post it on your blog.  Just copy and paste this text wherever you want it!

<a href=”https://threadtheoryblog.wordpress.com/jedediah-shorts-sew-along/”><img src=”https://threadtheoryblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/sewalong-button2.jpg&#8221; /></a>

Also, comment on our blog with any questions or tips you might have throughout the sewing process…the more information and photos we can compile on our Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along page, the more valuable a resource it will be for sewers working on their own pants in the future!

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Throughout the sew-along, we will document each and every step of sewing up a pair of Jedediah Shorts.

Topics will include:

1. A Question and Answer post

2. A guide to buying supplies and a discussion of styling possibilities

3. A post on assembling your PDF pattern (including a lengthening and shortening tutorial)

4. Information on cutting out and marking your fabric

5. Photos of every sewing step to accompany the detailed line diagrams included in the instruction booklet

6. Tutorials for optional extras such as adding rivets to your pockets and making your own bias binding

7. A gallery of all the inspiring finished projects

Now, by this point you might be wondering, “When will the Jedediah Pants pattern be released so I can get ready for the Sew-Along?”  Very very soon!  We have been working day in and day out on the extremely detailed instruction booklet…which we are both super proud of!  We will have the pattern launched by the end of the month so you will have approximately two weeks to buy your pattern and supplies.

In the meantime, you can start sending questions about the sew-along, the Jedediah Pants pattern, menswear sewing or anything else you would like to have addressed during the Question and Answer post – any question is fair game!  You can pose a question by leaving a comment on this blog post or emailing us at info@threadtheory.ca.


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Jedediah Pants and Sewing Room Make-over

This week we’ve made lots of progress on two fronts: the Jedediah Pants are graded and the first sample using the final pattern is complete!  AND Matt and I finally completed the sewing room makeover that I’ve been day dreaming about!

First, I’ll show you the room make over as this was completed earlier in the week (and, as you can see from the ‘before’ photos, was a necessary preparatory step to complete the Jedediah pants).

The obligatory BEFORE and AFTER shots:

Over the course of the last two weeks of my fashion design program my sewing space became a dumping grounds for anything to do with my end of year fashion line.  I started to do all my sewing at school (on a fairly ancient industrial machine) rather than using my nice new machine simply because there was so little room to work.

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The view from my sewing chair – much nicer than looking at a wall!

Once school finished up, the first thing on my to do list was to unearth my sewing supplies and make the half-room into a more use-able space.  As you might be able to tell from the photos, my roommate kindly agreed to switch sides of the room with me so that I could have room to turn my machine perpendicular from the wall.  This was the single most important change to the sewing room as it instantly made me feel less cramped and claustrophobic at my machine.   While sewing the Jedediah Pants after this change being in the ‘open air’ instead of crammed against the wall made it easier for me to focus and stay patient while sewing.

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The handy new-to-me fabric storage shelf alongside my Diana dress form (my grandparents found my dress form advertised for sale in their antique car club newsletter – what a find!)

I also bought a small book shelf (the tall and skinny white one pictured) for $10 off of Craigslist to hold my fabric, Burda Style and Threads magazines and the rest of my sewing library.  When I bought the shelf it was covered in crayon marks and sticky hand prints but these cleaned up considerably with the help of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I like that the shelf gives me storage space but is small enough that my fabric has no choice but to stay folded and in order.

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My super sharp scissors hanging from the hook Matt installed for this exact purpose.

For my birthday I got some amazing new sewing treasures which I have yet to share.  Firstly, my parents gave me the most amazing scissors I’ve ever laid my hands on.  It is actually quite scary grading seam allowances with them because they are so sharp and smooth I am sure I wouldn’t notice if I cut into several extra layers of the garment by accident!

Also, my mother in father in-law have offered to make me custom sewing shelving (exciting!!!) since they knew I had my eye on the Ikea Expedit shelves.  I’m really thrilled about this as I am hoping to design cubbies that will fit my serger and domestic machine (the Ikea Expedit cubbies are too small to do this).  I also think it might be neat to have the top surface of the shelving as a multi-purpose area.  It could have a removable ironing surface on it, a desk surface and also be able to hold another unit on top of it if I want to expand on the shelving in the future.  I’m going to wait to come up with my final design for Rick and Sue as Matt and I will be moving the Thread Theory studio shortly and I want to make sure the unit fits in the new space.

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My massive thread organizers made by my Dad – they’re actually starting to fill up!

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The quilted pin cushion that my husband’s Grandma, a very skilled quilter, made for me. It’s filled with glass beads so it’s nice and heavy and stays in place on my sewing machine’s thread holder.

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In the background of this photo is the Thread Theory bulletin board I made to keep To Do Lists organized and to keep Matt and I inspired and on track.

With my sewing room now in a usable (and inspiring!) state, I jumped into sewing up the freshly graded Jedediah Pants in a size 30, the smallest size we are offering.  The pants are a slim-fit chino inspired trouser with big slash pockets on the front and easy-to-sew patch pockets on the rear.  After sewing up the full length option I am really excited to try making shorts as I think the leg width in the upper leg area will be really conducive to creating comfortable but stylish slightly above the knee shorts.

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The fit is on the smaller side for these pants, similar to what sewers have noticed for sizing with the Newcastle Cardigan (an athletic sizing chart).  For instance, Matt usually prefers a store bought pant in size 29 but often settles for a 30 due to lack of availability in smaller sizes.  The size 30 of the Jedediah pant fit him perfectly on the waist and were an inch too long in leg length.

I’m currently finalizing the sewing instructions and will be sending out the pattern to test sewers within the next week (FINALLY!).  We are so excited to make the Jedediah Pants available for sale as Matt and I think that his pants pattern is the perfect modern fitting base for endless menswear pants variations.  Simply changing the lower leg width could create everything from skinny jeans to a wider casual trouser.  I can imagine these sewn up in everything from denim to a dressy wool blend and am looking forward to sourcing some bright summer cotton twills for shorts.  My Dad suggested I try adding metal rivets to a heavier duty pair of Jedediah pants for a really professional finish – a detail I am eager to try out after using them on the leather purse I made for my line.  They are so easy to tap in with a hammer and have a big effect on overall appearance and strength.


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Fashion Show!

 

I must admit I am still struggling to come off the high that accompanied last Saturday’s end of year fashion show, and, based on the endless recaps I’ve been hearing, so are my classmates!

The fashion show went so smoothly and professionally.  The whole day I kept gazing around and finding myself surprised by just how ‘real’ a student show could seem.  There was a huge (approx 150 ft.) carpeted runway, there were gorgeously long-legged models swanning around, there was a press pit (where Matt got to set up his tri-pod, much to his delight!), and there was a big audience of about 350 to 400 people.  I would say those are all the ingredients for a great show – plus some new designers with a shocking range of design styles of course!

There are a ton of pictures on Facebook and I have added a gallery of Terrance Lam’s photos (the Pacific Design Academy’s photographer) to Thread Theory’s facebook page.  In this post are the photos Matt took on his Pentax ME film camera.  He had a blast in the pit with his little camera while professional set-ups hovered over either of his shoulders.  I think the results are quite nice if you are a fan of the aesthetic colour film creates.

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The first years (missing Kaitlind though…we couldn’t find her!)

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Me…this was how excited I looked the entire day. It was exhausting!

My models were absolutely amazing.  Everyone showed up just when they said they would and they were all so encouraging to me!  My sister, Kayleen, did an absolutely amazing job of make-up and hair and also of modelling (she’s the one in the brown linen dress).  She was on her feet backstage all day chugging away styling model after model while I flitted around excitedly (doing nothing especially productive) and then, just before the show, she whipped into her own outfit and rocked the runway!

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Each student made an information board highlighting their collection.  I took the opportunity to do a bit of plugging for Thread Theory and offered rack cards with our website on them and featured my Dad’s Newcastle cardigan (pleasantly worn in by now…with dog hair and all!) on a mannequin beside the board.  By the end of the night the stock of rack cards was greatly depleted!

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A huge bouquet of flowers from my supportive parents.

I was so proud of how my collection presented on the runway as I found it very difficult to see it as a whole before the big day.  I’m sure most sewers will relate to the frustrating inability to see beyond messy back-tacks or an imperfect button-hole to the final garment when you are done a project…if you ever have the opportunity all you need to do to solve this problem is find a beautifully made-up model, some bright lights and an audience and before you know it you will see your garment as simply a pleasing flash of colour and flowing fabric! 🙂

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Now that the show and school are both over, I am working with my lovely co-workers, Heather and Rhonda, at the Heather Company sewing studio several days of the week and the rest of my time, I am pleased to be able to say, is Thread Theory time!  The Jedediah Pants were just graded into their multi-sized format yesterday so I will be sewing up the first pair of size 30s on holiday Monday in an effort to finalize the instruction package before sending it out to test sewers.

To those who celebrate it, have a wonderful Canada Day long weekend!