Thread Theory

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


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Day 1 – Cutting out Your Fabric (Jedediah Shorts Sew-along)

Thanks so much for joining me for the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along.  I’m so excited, after all this preparation and after seeing how enthusiastic people have been about the pants pattern, to finally start sewing with you!  We will be doing a progress post on Thursdays to Sundays for two weeks (so that you finish your shorts while the weather is still warm!) and will be concluding with a parade of your finished shorts and pants photos on Thursday, August 29th.  If we are going too fast (or too slow) for you, don’t worry!  The posts will remain as links on our Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along page for you to refer to whenever you would like and we would be more than happy to receive photos of your finished project  (and show them off on our blog!) any time that you finish the sewing process…or can convince your wearer to model them!

Today we will be cutting out the pattern pieces from our fabric.  If you haven’t already assembled your pattern pieces or determined the size you will use, refer to these past posts for some tips and tutorials.  Before cutting out your fabric, be sure to wash and dry the material (using the same temperature and settings as you will be using when washing the finished shorts).  Iron your material and lay it out, folded in half with right sides together and the finished selvages lined up.  I like to pin the selvages together so that I don’t have to worry about the fabric shifting and cutting the pieces out off grain while I cut through two layers.

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Gather together your paper pattern pieces, your scissors or cutting blade and mat and of course some good music and a refreshing drink.

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To beat the heat today I’ve poured myself an ice cold orange juice with a sprig of mint and I’ve got the amazing Joan Armatrading, “Get in the Sun” blasting on my record player…awesome 🙂

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Now that we have everything gathered together and we’re pleasantly refreshed and focused, lets discuss what method we’re going to use to cut out our pattern pieces!  I’ll show you two options that I regularly use and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Option #1 is to trace your pieces and transfer markings using chalk (or any sort of marking device – a pencil works nicely if your fabric isn’t too dark).  Option #2 is to pin your pieces to the fabric and cut around them while the paper is still attached.  I often transfer my markings using pins if I am choosing to use this method but you could also use chalk just for the markings.

Either way I decide to approach cutting out my fabric, I first lay out the pattern pieces on my folded fabric.  Here they are (pictured below) laid out according to the diagram in the Jedediah Pants instruction booklet but feel free to save fabric by experimenting with different layouts.  We were a little generous in our estimates in the instruction booklet because we hate the thought of someone coming home with 10cm too little fabric!

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I have set the pocket lining piece aside to be cut out of my pocketing material and will also cut interfacing pieces for the waistband and zipper shield after cutting them out of self fabric.

To make sure that the pieces are being placed on-grain (very important with long pant legs especially, as if they are off grain they may end up twisting like a spiral around the wearer’s leg!) I measure from either end of the grain line to the fabric fold or selvage (whichever is closest to the pattern piece) like so:

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Once I am happy with the placement I cover the pattern piece with all manner of solid objects (much more fun and certainly cheaper than buying pattern weights!) so that it will not shift while I am tracing.

To trace the pieces I use one of my favorite sewing tools, the spectacular Clover chalk pen.  Oona has perfectly described how handy and indispensable these little tools are over on her blog.  Check it out if you have any doubts – she echoes my thoughts and amazement exactly.

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To even further prevent possible fabric shifting (can you tell I really hate twisty pant legs?) I like to pin around the outside of the pattern through both layers of fabric so that the only thing I have to worry about while tracing is creating a smooth line.

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Once I’ve traced the entire outline and the markings, I set the paper pattern piece aside.  In the photo below you can see how I transfer notches using chalk.  To transfer the two notches at the top of the fly facing I simply drew a line outwards (away from the pattern piece) exactly where the notch was on the paper pattern.  When the paper pattern was removed I extended the chalk line down into the pattern piece for 1/2″.  That way I don’t have to cut into the paper pattern at each notch or awkwardly fold up the paper to draw the little notch line.

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I also wrote a big, clear “X” at the zipper placement dot by sticking a pin up through the fabric and the pattern piece, removing the paper pattern piece and then lining up the chalk “X” so that it’s center is where the pin is coming up through the layers.  Then I removed the pin and Voila my zipper dot is marked!

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Make sure to transfer all notches and markings to the other side of the folded fabric too so that you will have them when you cut out and separate the two pant legs (and other pattern pieces).  I tend to forget this step and it is frustrating and time consuming to have to line up the paper pattern piece with the unmarked fabric piece to transfer the markings when I am in the middle of sewing the garment.

Now, if you were using Option #1, simply cut along the chalk outline through both layers of fabric.  There is no need to cut the notches (and it is best not to if you  are planning to follow along with the sew-along and use flat fell seams – the whole seam allowance is needed to make these).

If you are cutting out your pattern using Option #2, line up your grain lines using the measuring trick already mentioned and then pin the pattern pieces down through both layers of fabric.  Since the fabric I am using is a mid-weight Denim with a grippy texture, I didn’t need to use very many pins.  Also, the stiffness of the pattern paper (since it was printed and taped together from a PDF) makes it sit nice and flat without the crinkles and folds I find tissue paper to be prone to.

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And then I cut out my pattern pieces, carefully avoiding the paper pattern (since I love my nice sharp new scissors so much and would hate to dull them on pins and paper!).

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When I’m choosing to pin rather than use chalk, I often like to stick to pins to transfer my markings as well.  This is the process I mentioned when I discussed transferring the zipper placement dot during Option #1, this time used to transfer all markings, including the pocket placement dots.

I stick a pin down through the center of the dot that corresponds to the size I am using, through the paper and both layers of fabric.

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I then turn the piece over so I can see the tips of all the pins sticking up.

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I place a pin going in the opposite direction exactly where I had stuck in the first set of pins.

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I then pull away the paper pattern from the fabric, like so:

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This removes the first set of pins I placed so I pick them out of the paper and stick them back in through both fabric layers.

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Then I pull apart the fabric layers so a set of pins stays with each layer, the head staying on the wrong side of the fabric and the sharp tips on the right side.

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I leave the pins in as I sew and use them as ‘markers’ when I reach the step I need them for in the sewing process.  I know this process of pinning instead of marking seems long repetitive but I actually find it very fast and easy as my pins are already on hand and I don’t have to refresh my markings as I often have to with chalk (as they wear off when the fabric is handled).  I also like how the pins serve as a quick reminder as to which is the wrong and right side of the fabric.

As for the pros and cons of Option #1 and Option #2 – here is my analysis:

Option #1: Chalk

Pros: Chalk (when using the Clover tool) is extremely precise and, since the fabric is not lifted very often from the tracing surface, does not lead to the fabric shifting.  It is easy to cut exactly on the inside of the chalk mark so that the fabric piece does not end up slightly bigger than the paper pattern piece.  Chalk is a fast and easy way to mark notches.

Cons:  My chalk tends to rub off quickly and I often don’t notice this is the case until the marking is completely gone (this can get awkward if I am about to insert a zipper and no longer have a zipper placement notch!  Chalk also adds a little extra time because tracing tends to take me a bit longer than pinning.

Option #2: Pinning

Pros:  Since I already have pins on hand (all the time) I don’t have to rummage around for my chalk…which I always seem to lose 😛  It is very fast and I often like to leave my pieces pinned to the pattern pieces so it saves time later on in the sewing process too because I don’t have to examine the stray pieces of fabric trying to figure out which piece they are and which is the right and wrong side.

Cons:  It is less accurate because the fabric can shift slightly when being pinned and also later when cutting (with not chalk outline to ensure I cut correctly despite shifting).  The fabric pieces could potentially end up slightly bigger than the paper piece…especially if I’m very anxious not to cut paper with my new scissors!

Now that we’ve analyzed these two cutting out processes, choose the one you like best to cut out your fabric pieces from your self fabric and don’t forget to cut out the necessary interfacing and pocket lining using the same process.

You will need:

Self

  • 2 Front (shorts length or pants length depending on which variation you’ve chosen)
  • 2 Back (shorts length or pants length depending on which variation you’ve chosen)
  • 2 Pocket Facing 1
  • 2 Pocket Facing 2
  • 2 Back Pocket
  • 2 Back Yoke
  • 1 Waistband
  • 2 Zipper Shield
  • 3 Belt Loops

Interfacing

  • 1 Waistband
  • 1 Zipper Shield

Pocketing (strong, thin cotton or cotton blends)

  • 2 Pocket Lining

Now we’ve finished cutting out our fabric, we have a nice tidy pile of pieces ready to use when we start sewing tomorrow – wahoo!

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Our Very First Stockist!

Today we are proud to announce that Thread Theory Designs Inc. officially has a pattern for sale with it’s first stockist!

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We are so excited to have our patterns available for download on Stitch 56, a skillfully curated selection of “beautiful sewing notions, tools, patterns and other necessary items.”  The website is Australian based and sells an excellent selection of indie sewing patterns (we are the first downloadable pattern, the rest of the patterns offered are currently printed patterns) as well as the traditional and very manly sewing tools from Merchant & Mills which we absolutely LOVE!

In other news, Matt couldn’t wait for his blue Jedediah Sew-Along shorts since it has been so wonderfully hot lately…so in order to stop him from wearing his ancient cut-off Dickies every day I whipped up a simple version of the Jedediah shorts with no cuff and an extra short (hipster?) hem.  Matt loves them and has received compliments on them already.  He wore them after a swim at a local lake yesterday so we took a few quick shots while he was still drying off!


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Preparations

sewalong button

Now that our Jedediah Pants pattern is out to test sewers, Matt is eagerly anticipating putting on his pair of “Dream Shorts” after a successful sew-along!  In case anyone might be interested in a little back story:  The Jedediah Pants pattern was named after Jedediah Island, a spectacular boating destination in the Straight of Georgia off of Vancouver Island, B.C.

Since the Jedediah pattern was designed to produce Matt’s DREAM pants and shorts, the name Jedediah is only fitting since this island is where he proposed and became engaged to his DREAM girl!

My grandparent's little sailboat, Teal, (snuggled up in one of Jedediah's cozy bays) that we borrowed to sail to our favorite island back in 2010.

My grandparent’s little sailboat, Teal, (snuggled up in one of Jedediah’s cozy bays) that we borrowed to sail to our favorite island back in 2010.

In preparation for the Jedediah shorts sew-along I thought it would be helpful to include a post that would provide everything a sewist needs to buy their fabric and notions in time for the sew-along start date on August 15th!  Below you will find the materials required page straight from our instruction booklet PDF, as well as the garment and body measurements for easy reference.
Materials Required

Measurement Clip

I have purchased my fabric already (a sturdy but soft coloured denim in royal blue) and today I prepared my bias binding.  As you can see in the materials required chart, I have estimated 5.5-6 meters.  This is a very generous estimate as this is how much you will need if you are binding all major seams (aside from the flat-felled inseams).  If you plan to just bind the outseams you will likely need something closer to 1m per leg.

 

To make my binding, I used a vintage handkerchief (part of a collection given to me by my great grandma!) and Colette Pattern’s amazing and fabric-saving tutorial to make continuous bias tape.  This method is perfect for making seam binding because it doesn’t use very much fabric but, because of this, also results in binding with a lot of seams.  These seams might not look very nice when used as trim on the outside of a garment, but they aren’t really noticeable when used as binding on the inside.

My handkerchief was a 20″ square before I cut it up and made 4.3m/4.7 yards of bias tape.  Instead of cutting 1″ wide strips of fabric as the Colette Pattern tutorial suggests, I cut 2″ wide.  This made 1/2″ wide binding which I find to be less fiddly to use.

You don’t need to make your own binding for the sew-along as store bought will work nicely…but I love how the possibilities of prints and colors are endless when you make your own!

Good luck fabric shopping!  I was overwhelmed with the enormous collection of twills and denims at my local Fabricland…I hope you have the same huge choice of summery fabrics!