Thread Theory

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


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Spring Wardrobe – End Result!

Spring Wardrobe - dresses and skirtsSpring Wardrobe 2015

Spring Wardrobe - pants, underwear, shirts

With the first day of summer (and my birthday!) arriving on Sunday, now is the time for me to wrap up my spring wardrobe project.  I first posted about my spring sewing plans on January 1st when I was dreaming of warmer weather.  I included some patterns I hoped to sew and a couple of different color themes that I planned to choose from:

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I ended up sticking with the blue and off-white color scheme and added in black and grey as neutral colors.  I’m glad I used this color scheme rather than the green and pink one I had been considering because until I sewed up these garments my closet contained only earthy browns and olive greens.  It feels much fresher and brighter now with bold blues and clean blacks smattered here and there!

I didn’t get all of my sewing plans finished this spring but I came pretty close.  Here were the key pieces I hoped to create for this wardrobe along with which patterns and fabrics I ended up using for them:

Two blouses: Complete

Two sweaters: Halfway done

  • The Coppelia Cardigan: Sewn in an off-white linen knit (so dreamy to wear!!!) using Variation 1 which is a wrap sweater.  Fabric sourced locally.  Blogged with my Ginger Jeans here!
  • The Coppelia Cardigan: I also sewed version two in a beautiful forest green wool knit but it ended up not fitting me very nicely and all my adjustments to try to fix this sadly led to a sweater that is considerably too small.  I’ll have to try again!

Two to three basic tops: Incomplete

  • The Nettie Bodysuit: Despite the fact that basic tops are what I most lack in my wardrobe, I never got around to making a few Netties because I haven’t found the perfect fabric yet.  I would like something with a bit of body that won’t stretch out throughout the day.  I have my eye on a really interesting compression fabric from the fabric wholesaler that we get our Comox Trunk kit fabric and Bag Making Supplies kit canvas from.  I’ll be working on these tops fairly soon!

Two trousers: Complete (but not fully photographed)

  • The Ginger Jeans:  Sewn in a thick and soft black denim that I purchased during a winter trip to Vancouver.  These have been a big success and I have plans to make a second pair soon.  Blogged here!
  • The Lazo Trousers:  I’ve sewn a couple samples of our upcoming Lazo Trousers pattern but all our photographs of them are featuring our model rather than me.  I’ll probably blog about these when the pattern is finally ready to release :).

Two skirts (one dressy and one casual): Complete

  • The Cascade Skirt: Sewn in a rich purple faux suede with a brass button.  Fabric sourced locally.  I wore this occasionally in late winter and early spring but it is quite fancy (and warm) so I’ll be bringing it back out in the Fall.  Blogged here!
  • The Brumby Skirt: I had originally planned to sew a second Cascade Skirt in a more casual fabric but then Megan Nielsen switched up my plans by releasing her Brumby Skirt pattern.  I’m glad I ended up sewing this skirt since the wide, shaped waistband is incredibly comfortable I love the pockets and top stitching!  Tencel Denim from Blackbird Fabrics.  Scroll down for more photos of this!

Two bras and six underwear: Complete

  • The Watson Set: Sewn using kits from Blackbird Fabrics (there are new kits in the shop today!!!).  I went a bit nuts in January and February sewing loads of bras and underwear.  I’ve shown my favorite ones in the collage above.  Blogged here!

Two sundresses: Complete

Scroll down for more photos of these!

  • The Kim Dress: Sewn using a limited edition floral print from By Hand London.  The stiff cotton paired with the full skirt and pin tucks really makes this into the perfect sundress for wandering through meadows of wild flowers…I just needed a big straw hat to complete the picture!  I love the shaping of the bodice on this pattern.  The straps are set quite far apart and so they fit my wide shoulders far more nicely than most sleeveless dress patterns do.  I look forward to sewing up the second variation of this pattern (with a slim petal-like skirt) this winter…maybe in velvet?
  • The “Have it your way” Dress: This is a dress from Lauren Guthrie’s book (Learn to Sew with Lauren) but I found this pattern in the first issue of Simply Sewing and it was called “Two Ways Dress” within this magazine.  This style, with its high neckline and peter pan collar, is something I have never worn before.  I have always admired this look (it seems very sophisticated and French to me) but was nervous it would make me look like a toddler with a round face!  In the end, I really love it and am not sure why I’ve avoided high necklines for so long.  I was able to skip the back zipper completely since the dress has quite a loose fit at the waist.  Next time (there will be a next time!) I will be cutting the back skirt and bodice on the fold to eliminate the center back seam.  This dress was sewn in a very soft rayon from Blackbird Fabrics.

 

Matt did a really nice photoshoot of my latest unblogged outfits on Wednesday.  We were walking Luki at a park called “Wildwood Forest” that was completely filled with beautiful tall grasses and daisies.  It made an excellent backdrop and Luki enjoyed exploring while we ignored him for half an hour :P.  It was a quiet enough location that changing into new outfits wasn’t too nerve wracking!

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Well…I must say, that feels pretty satisfying to have most of my personal sewing projects from the last 6 months gathered into one place to examine!  It hasn’t really felt like I’ve been doing much sewing lately since I’ve been so focused on computer work for Thread Theory, on packing boxes for moving (in one week!) and on gardening.  Here is an example of how going slow and steady can pretty much winn the race (or at least mostly complete the race).  A few of these projects haven’t had much wear throughout the Spring seeing as I only finished them a week or two ago but at least they were completed while it is still technically Spring.  I never had more than one personal project on my sewing table at a time and sometimes went up to half a month without working on my wardrobe items.  I like this style of sewing – there was no rushing or stress involved and I got to enjoy some new items in my closet as the weather warmed up.  Now I’ll have a complete capsule wardrobe waiting for me next Spring (though, reality is, in our temperate climate I will be wearing these garments most of the year!).

Now it is time to welcome the Summer – it is going to be a long and wonderful one!


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Silk Tie Sewing Tutorial

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 1

Would you like to try your hand at tie-making this Father’s Day?  It isn’t difficult to make your Dad a tie since the internet abounds with beautiful tutorials and even free patterns for all skill levels!  Since a quick search for “tie tutorials” can lead to fairly overwhelming results, I decided to compile the fruits of my research into one handy blog post and a tutorial that brings together all of my favorite elements from the instructions already available on the web!  Britex has a wealth of tie making supplies that can be very difficult to find elsewhere.  For my tie I used this sunshine yellow Italian silk faille featuring nothing less than hot pink embroidered crabs!  Since ties are cut on the bias, this silk was ideal for my purposes – the crabs run 45 degrees to the selvage!  The silk is from Britex Fabrics and is currently sold out – there are all sorts of other gorgeous silks in their online shop though!

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I consulted Matt (the prospective wearer) on the direction of the crabs – he elected to point them downwards so they wouldn’t be aggressively pinching at his neck.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 3

While you will find my tutorial below, first (or afterwards) you might like to read all of the tutorials and other resources that I found so that you can truly immerse yourself in the world of tie-making.  Here are all ofthe links sorted into the various categories that I researched:

The Anatomy of a Tie:

Tutorials geared towards the average home sewer:

Tutorials geared towards the advanced home sewer/menswear enthusiast:

Videos on Tie-making:

Particular Tie-Making Techniques:

Pattern Options:

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Now that we’re prepped, let’s move on to my tutorial!  For this project you will need:

  • 1 yard silk of medium weight.  This may seem like a lot of fabric but remember that your tie must be cut on the bias!  You may be able to squeeze a tie out of less if you are careful.
  • 1 yard interlining (described below).  This will also be cut on the bias.

Most ties are created with a sewn in (rather than fusible) interlining comprised of wool or a wool/nylon blend.  This interlining gives the tie body (a good tie shouldn’t be flat, it should be lightly pressed so it maintains a three dimensional quality) and also a bit of rigidity.  It is important to match the interlining with the fabric otherwise you run the risk of making your tie too stiff and negating the point of cutting your tie on the bias!  You want your tie to look fluid and smooth…achieving this is probably the trickiest aspect of tie-making.
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Since this silk faille was quite stiff I decided to use a loose wool interlining.  In retrospect, I wish I had chosen an option with a touch more rigidity such as this classic wool interlining.  Aside from the lack of rigidity, the color black was not the best pairing with the yellow silk – it shows through ever so slightly on the finished tie.  All the same, the amount of body this wool gives the tie is ideal and I am happy that the tie ended up fluid enough to allow it to hang nicely (though I worry it might become misshapen over time).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 9

Since there is quite a bit of hand sewing involved in tie-making, it’s a good idea to use fine silk thread to avoid knots.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, establish the exact bias on both your silk and interlining.  Some tie patterns represent the entire tie so they must be cut on one layer of fabric while other tie patterns require that you cut them out on the fold (making it easy to fold your fabric on a 45 degree angle).

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A tie shell is comprised of three main pieces (pictured below from left to right): The blade (the wide front), the neck (the middle), and the tail (the narrower back).  The interlining is usually cut from one piece but I joined two pieces of fabric for mine by abutting the seams and zig-zagging them together so as to avoid adding extra bulk.  On the right hand side of the photo below you can see my two “tipping” pieces – the tie I have made is “self-tipped” rather than “decorative-tipped” because I used the same silk rather than a contrast material as the lining.  I also added a garment tag and a little strip of fabric to create a keeper loop.  A man can choose to feed his tie tail through it if he desires (though some fashion blogs say this is not currently fashionable…who knew?!).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 11

I chose to start making my tie by sewing the tips.  Some people like to join the three main tie segments together before embarking on the tip but I wanted to avoid handling the tie as a long strip too much since the weight of the tips could cause the bias cut fabric to stretch out of shape.  Here is an example (of a store bought tie) so you can see what we are aiming for when sewing a tie tip:
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It is not easy to achieve something this precise (as you will soon see!).  While all the sewing involved in tie-making is basic, the precision and skill employed is key to a high-end tie.  I think I have a long ways to go before I could consider calling my version a ‘luxury’ tie!

If your tie pattern came with two pattern pieces for the tips, they will likely be the same size as the blade and tail tips.  Trim them down 1/4″ on all four sides (not along the top).

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Starting at the top edge, sew the tie and tie tip together with right sides together and a 1/4″ seam allowance (you can see my stitching on the right hand side of the photo below).  Stop sewing 1/4″ from the end of the tie tip.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 15

Here is a detailed photo showing you where to stop sewing:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 16

Pull the tie tip over to the other side of the tie so raw edges meet and sew the other side of the tie tip in the same manner.  You should sew up to but not over the previous stitching to form a precise point.  Be careful to push the excess tie blade fabric out of the way (it will form a bubble).
Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 17Here is a close up of the tie tip with the bubbled tie blade below:
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And here is a photo of the bubble from the wrong side of the tie blade:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 19

And a close up of this bubble:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 20

Finish the tie point by folding the blade in half and stitching across the point from the center of the blade to the raw edge.  This stitching will be perpendicular to your stitched point and within the seam allowance  it should not cross your previous stitching.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 21

When you turn the tip right side out, try pinching the point seam allowance to stop it from crunching up and becoming misshapen as you fold.  The goal is to have your point seam allowance fold neatly within the tie.  I wouldn’t advise trimming the point when you are working with silks since the danger of fraying drastically is very great!Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 22

My point did not turn out perfectly but stitch ripping was only an option once due to the amount of fraying I was experiencing!  The point is not 100% angular but it is certainly passable from the distance most will be viewing it.  From the underside you can see why it did not end up appearing precise:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 23

Practice will hopefully make perfect!

 

Now it is time to sew the three tie segments together.  Carefully press open the seam allowances (don’t push the iron along the fabric as this will cause your bias cut fabric to stretch out of shape, instead, just lift the iron up and move it to the next position).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 24

Now that the points are assembled and the tie segments are joined, it is time to insert the interlining and prepare to hand stitch the final seam!Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 25

Turn under the seam allowances 1/4″ along the entire length of the tie (again, make sure to press instead of iron!).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 26

Press the tie edges inwards to meet in the middle.  As you can see in the store-bought tie below, sometimes this seam can be slightly overlapped – depending on how you like to slip stitch, you can either abut the seam or overlap!  You can also see how the keeper loop is inserted into this seam prior to stitching it down.  We will do this now:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 27

Create your keeper loop using a scrap of the silk.  Ideally you would create a tube and turn it right side out.  You could also avoid the frustration by simply creating binding and top stitching the open edge closed (keep in mind this makes the keeper loop a little stiff).

 

Stitch the loop to the seam allowance on the tie blade:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 28

You can see the positioning of the keeper loop below:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 29

Pin the entire seam together and prepare your thread for hand stitching!  It is a good idea to run your thread through beeswax because you will likely be working with a very long piece of thread if you are trying to stitch the entire seam in one go.  While it is possible to stitch the seam using several shorter lengths of thread, this is not ideal due to the nature of the slip stitch you are about to sew.  Adding too many anchored points will cause the thread to restrict the natural fluidity of the tie (you will see what I mean in a moment!).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 30

Begin stitching by anchoring the thread at one end of the tie:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 31

Create a large and loose slip stitch all the way along the seam (I allowed the thread to travel up the silk 1/2″ between each stitch).  See the list of tutorials above to learn how to slip stitch.  Be very careful when stitching to avoid stitching into the front of the tie!Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 32

To end your stitching you will be creating another anchor/tack – but this time, the first loop of the anchor will not be pulled tight.  Leave a loop of thread (as pictured below but about half the size) that you can tuck into the tie.  This loop will allow your slip stitch to adjust in tension as the tie is worn and rolled over time – it will seem strange to leave your hand stitching so loose and seemingly fragile, but it is very necessary when trying to achieve a fluid tie.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 33

Now it is just the finishing touches left!  Press the keeper loop flat and tack each side to the back of the tie.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 34

Bring your thread and needle down through the inside of the tie to stitch on the garment tag.  Make tiny stitches along either short edge of the tag.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 35

Your tie is complete!  Give it a final gentle press and examine your work:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 36 Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 37

Before giving it to the wearer, fold the tie in half and roll it gently – this will allow the bias cut fabric to settle smoothly so that it is not stretched in any off-kilter sort of way.  Your loose stitching and anchored loop of thread will have a chance to work while you do this!
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I hope this tutorial saves you a lot of time researching before you embark on tie-making!  Have you tried making a tie in the past?  What resource or tutorial did you find most helpful?  Did I miss any key resources during my research?


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Online Fabric Shopping

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Have you heard of Style Maker Fabrics yet?  They are a fairly new online fabric shop featuring a large selection of fabrics carefully curated by current trends, garment type, color and fabric type.  There is also a nice selection of trims in the shop (including jersey bias tape!) and a few excellent sewing tools.  The fabric enthusiast behind this new shop is Michelle who I have found to be very friendly and helpful – when I placed a recent order of fabrics for my own sewing projects she included a selection of fabric samples that would be excellent matches for some of our Thread Theory patterns!

I decided to do a post about Michelle’s shop after receiving my fabrics and finding myself pleased with the entire order (that’s a rare thing for me not to find one dud in an online purchase!).  This post isn’t sponsored in any way, I just thought you might be happy to find a new source for quality fabric (with lots of menswear options!).  And it’s always nice to justify my fabric purchases as ‘research for the blog’. 😀

I asked Michelle to send along a few ‘behind the scenes’ shots so you could get to know her shop a little:

Click on the photos to see full size versions of each – you can see her fabric storage is chock full of gorgeous Breton stripes, the Robert Kaufman line, and beautiful whimsical border prints.

Here is what arrived at my door last week (happy mail!):untitled-31

I pared my big wishlist down to four fabrics that work with the largely blue color scheme I have been using for my wardrobe update. untitled-33

My first choice was this gorgeous plaid shirting to make a spring Archer button up.  This shirting is densely woven and crisp.untitled-35

I most commonly see plaid designs that I like offered only as brushed cottons and flannels so this smooth shirting is a nice fresh way to wear a plaid like this in the spring and summer. untitled-36

My next choice is a soft rayon jersey featuring a Breton stripe.  It is a really nice thickness for a Coco or maybe a Hemlock Tee.  It has great recovery so it could even make a Nettie (I really can’t decide what to make with it, there are too many possibilities!).  Michelle includes the stripe widths on her site which I found really helpful.  The width of these stripes are: Blue – 1/2″ and White – 1/4″.  There are also a few other breton stripe choices including a cute black and white version with 3/4″ black stripes and thin white stripes.  Maybe I’ll get that next time!

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Next up I chose a really beautifully handcrafted double borderprint cotton.  The main background colour is really rich and full of depth because it is slightly mottled.  I think it’s going to make an excellent By Hand London dress!  I’m thinking it would be nice for the Kim Dress but I might still change my mind and go for the Flora.
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The last fabric I chose ended up being my favorite.  It is a double gauze cotton featuring a greyish blue background and metallic gold print.untitled-46

I’ve often read about how nice double gauze is on blogs but I hadn’t really looked at this type of fabric closely in person until now.  Before washing this fabric it was pretty crisp and the two layers were not immediately apparent.  After washing and drying, the top layer has remained crisp and quite sophisticated looking but the wrong side of the fabric is really soft and feels very slightly like light flannel.  It’s going to make the most comfortable dress! untitled-43As a nice gesture along with the fabrics I purchased, Michelle sent a whole envelope of swatches featuring some of her bottom weight fabrics.  There are a number which will perfectly suit our upcoming Lazo Trousers (I will feature these fabrics at a later point) and many of them would also be excellent matches for the Jedediah and Jutland Pants.
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Imagine the Jedediah Pants in a snazzy Glen Plaid or Shepherd’s Check?!  They would be so dapper!untitled-53

My favorite bottom weight fabric that Michelle included was a new brushed twill that she will be carrying in seven colorways perfectly suited for spring and summer.  I see lots of twills at various local fabric shops but I often find them to be too heavy for Matt’s preferences when it comes to pants that he would like to wear daily.  And it isn’t often that I come across a brushed twill.  I love brushed twill for pants because it maintains the crisp and very slightly dressy appearance that twill provides while being extremely soft, cozy and comfortable.  Brushed twill creates pants that feel as though they have already been lovingly worn in!

* Update 11/05/15: The twills have been added to the Style Maker website!  Here is a link to my favorite colorway.

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The colors available at Style Maker are quite unique – I especially like the green which I think I’ve managed to photograph fairly accurately.  The brown is really interesting too – it’s more muted than Carhartt orange but more unusual than just a regular brown pant.  I think it would be a good choice for a conservative dresser who wants something a little different than his regular black, grey, navy and dark brown color scheme.untitled-58

 

Well, thanks for listening to me wax on about fabric shopping :P.  And to reiterate – this post wasn’t sponsored by Michelle/Style Maker – I was just really pleased with the quality of the fabrics I bought and with how accurately they were portrayed on the Style Maker website.  For the first time in quite a while, I didn’t have any online fabric purchase surprises!


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Way too much lingerie!

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Last February, shortly before Valentine’s Day and not long after my blog post about my Spring wardrobe plans, I caught the lingerie sewing bug.  I knew it was bound to get me eventually seeing as it has made it’s way through the blogosphere several times now!  The bug was passed to me by Caroline of Blackbird Fabrics and Tasia of Sewaholic during a trip to visit them in the winter.  They were stocking up on gorgeous lingerie elastics and laces at a local fabric shop and suddenly my shopping list looked so dismally colorless and lacking in frills!  It wasn’t long before I was in the checkout lineup with a shopping basket of pale pinks and nudes of my own.

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Of course, Caroline’s gorgeous Watson Bra Kits, which she released not long after my Vancouver trip, did nothing to help matters – my mailbox soon contained three of these beauties and I spent quite a few late winter evenings sewing up lingerie.  It was so much fun!

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In case you haven’t already read elsewhere, the Watson Bra is really quick to sew, very easy to fit and quite comfortable to wear.  It’s certainly a different silhouette than I am used to but I’m pleased with how many shirts I find myself happily wearing it under.  It suits my Camas Blouses very nicely and is great under cozy sweaters.  I don’t find myself inclined to wear it with thin t-shirts or sports clothing because I prefer something with padding and more coverage in these instances.

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The findings in the Blackbird Fabrics kits really make the bra – the hook and eye closures are very plush and comfortable and the jewelry quality sliders and rings make the bra feel very high quality compared to the plastic ones I have on most of my RTW lingerie.  The quality of the elastics is far superior to anything I have available locally.  I’ve been very frustrated with underwear sewing in the past because after a couple delicate washes (no dryer) the elastic already starts to break down!

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It drives me nuts…especially since I have found that the very cheap La Senza underwear that I used to purchase included elastic and lace that lasted longer than the fabric itself!  So far, all of the Blackbird elastics show no sign of wear.  The stretch lace that I purchased while in Vancouver (the peach lace on the blue bra) is looking brand new as well.

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On the other hand, the black stretch lace and black elastic that I purchased locally already features fraying portions and exposed inner elastic fibres.  To be fair, I find myself wearing my grey bamboo mock up Watson more often than my other two sets because it is so stretchy and comfortable so this might be contributing to the wear.untitled-33

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The pretty burgundy and blue sets that I made using Caroline’s kits offer much more support than my bamboo knit version and a tiny bit less comfort (but this is all relative – they are more comfortable than any of my RTW underwire bras).  I also view them as my ‘fancy’ sets so I only wear them if I am putting them on under something a bit dressy.

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I really enjoyed adding to the fabrics included in the kits with additional fabric from my stash, lace, bows and even a lace garter belt (using some of the indestructible lace from one of my old pairs of RTW underwear).  Due to the additional trims and fabrics I added, I was left with quite a bit of the kit materials – enough to sew a couple more pairs of underwear if I included additional lace and accent fabrics once again.

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The patterns that I used for these sets are: The Watson Bra (all are the longline version), The Watson Underwear (included with the bra pattern), and the Ladyshorts (a free pattern by Cloth Habit).

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I’m taking a break from lingerie sewing for a while now but I’m really happy with how this mini sewing obsession led to a completely updated and fresh lingerie drawer to go with my spring outfits!  Now its back to nice sturdy denims and rugged canvases for me :).


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New: Large Otter Wax! (Plus an examination of Matt’s waxed Jutlands two months later)

Otter-Wax-New-12 Blog  The Otter Wax bars that we carry in the ‘Supplies‘ section of our shop are constantly on the verge of selling out – so, with our most recent order from Portland, Oregon, we decided to branch out and add a new Otter Wax bar to our inventory!  We now stock both the regular size of Otter Wax and the new-to-us large Otter Wax bar.

Otter-Wax-New-13 Blog If you are interested in waxing large projects such as a pair of Ginger Jeans or a Cascade Duffle Coat, the large Otter Wax bar, weighing in at 5 oz, is the bar for you!  To give you an indication of how much you can wax with this new, larger bar, I have thoroughly waxed a pair of Jutland Pants for Matt using two regular Otter Wax bars (and had a little nugget of wax left over ready for touch ups).  Since the large Otter Wax bar weighs just over double the regular bar, you should easily be able to wax a pair of jeans with a single bar!  If you are planning to wax a smaller project (shoes, for instance), the regular size bar will still be your best choice – you will be able to wax two to three pairs of shoes with a single regular bar.

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In case you have been wondering, here is a bit of an update on how Matt’s Otter Waxed Jutland Pants (originally posted here) are faring.  With all the early Spring rains we’ve been having lately, Matt has been getting a lot of wear out of them.  Despite walking our dog, Luki, through many mud puddles, splitting wood, going on a number of hikes, and generally wearing the Jutlands like a second skin, Matt’s pants still look like new.

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The dirt that he invariably covers them with on each outing brushes off on it’s own.  Apparently a quick once-over with a stiff bristled brush will remove any stubborn mud from Otter Waxed fabric but, as of yet, we have not needed to do this as the mud sloughs off on its own.  The way it self cleans like this kind of reminds me of a dog’s coat – as the mud dries the fur switches from a muddy/sandy mess to a nice clean coat – though I couldn’t say the same for the floor around the dog!  Because we haven’t needed to hand wash the pants yet, there has been no need to touch them up with a light coat of wax.  I imagine, over time, it might be a good idea to re-coat the hems and possibly the fly area as these are the sections of the pants that receive the most wear.

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Matt finds his waxed pants very comfortable to wear because they are heavier and warmer than nylon rain pants and, of course, don’t make an annoying swishing sound as he walks (as rain pants are prone to do).  They also dress up nicely and he has received compliments on his ‘trendy’ and ‘stylish’ waxed pants in more posh atmospheres (which is pretty funny since I am used to thinking of them as his rugged work pants and chide him for refusing to dress up when going out for dinner!).  As he’s worn the pants, the wax has sunk further into the weave of the fabric and so they feel softer than they originally did when I waxed them just over two months ago.

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They don’t bead the water quite as much as they did when they were originally waxed but, like I said, the wax is still very effectively protecting the fabric and, despite the lack of beading, Matt reports that they keep him dry quite a bit longer than un-waxed canvas pants or jeans do when he is walking in the rain.

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This Spring I have plans to use Otter Wax on a number of new projects – some that involve sewing and some that feature existing clothing.  I’d like to wax a ball cap for my Dad and some Carhartt coveralls for Matt (they were pretty expensive so waxing them should help them last longer).  For myself, I plan to wax the black denim Ginger Jeans that I’ve had in progress for quite some time now!

In the meantime, here is a bit of waxing inspiration:

  • A thorough documentation of Otter Waxing a canvas computer bag.  Two coats of wax are applied – the first with a hair dryer so it sinks into the fabric, the second without heat so that it sits on the surface.  Water is applied after each coat as a ‘beading’ test.
  • A waxed canvas vest that beads water and looks pleasantly ‘worn in’.
  • Are you craving an outdoor adventure?  Here’s a pretty little video featuring an Otter Waxed hat and fly fishing in the rain.


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A Stretch Cotton Camas – with little anchor buttons!

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Let me introduce to you our newest model – my Mom! I can’t believe that this is my Mom’s first time modelling for Thread Theory!  My Dad is such an old hand at modelling now that we can whip off a photo shoot with him in mere minutes.  He casually cycles through a variety of poses without prompting as Matt snaps the shutter – just like a professional model!  Now, with our first women’s pattern up on our site, it’s my Mom’s time to shine!

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I recently sewed a nautical themed Camas Blouse for her in a lovely soft stretch cotton from Blackbird Fabrics.  The tiny anchor motif is very subtle and so the blouse has a professional pin stripe and polka dot appearance from a distance.  I completed the anchor theme by using gold and navy shank buttons decked out with small anchors.

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Since stretch cotton does not have the weight and drape best suited to this pattern, I decided to replace all the gathers with a series of pleats.  By ironing these pleats flat, I hoped they would encourage the fabric to sit smoothly against the body.  While I like how the two small front pleats worked out, I wish I had done an inverted box pleat for the back of the blouse.  Even with the help of ironing (which a trip to the marina completely eradicated!), my mom finds the back pleats billow a little too much so I think this blouse would look best tucked into trousers or a pencil skirt.

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I keep suggesting to my mom that the blouse would look really cute with a thin belt circled around the waist – maybe a skinny red belt for a pop of color?  As it is though (un-tucked and untamed), it makes a lovely semi-dressy top that pairs well with my mom’s blazers and cardigans for work.  I like how she wears it with the navy blue tank top underneath for modesty (the white cotton is a touch transparent).

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Have you considered sewing the Camas in a woven fabric?  I’ve been spotting quite a few woven versions, many with no spandex content at all, popping up on Instagram and blogs.  Here are a few to inspire you!

Sources: 1. El ropero de mi tia 2. Neues vom Sonnenfels 3. New Model Lamé


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Secret Weapon: How to sew perfect buttonholes on to delicate fabrics

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I recently sewed an extremely delicate and drapey silk Camas Blouse as a guest blogger contribution to the Britex blog.  It featured a very soft silk jersey knit and I added a contrast panel to the back of the blouse using a floaty grey silk chiffon.  The result was a blouse almost as light as air!  To tell you the truth, it feels a bit disconcerting to wear – almost like I’m wearing nothing!  It was also quite disconcerting to sew – I had to employ some creative thinking and secret weapons to ensure the delicate fabric wasn’t destroyed by my sewing machine.  Apart from experimenting with a variety of needles (I chose a thin and sharp needle) and using fine silk thread (thoughtfully provided by Britex for my project), I also used my favorite trick for sewing buttonholes which I will share with you today:

Let me introduce to you my secret weapon for perfect buttonholes (even on the lightest, stretchiest or unruly of fabrics): Tear-away embroidery stabilizer!

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The stabilizer I chose features a very lightly sticky side that adheres to your project just enough to prevent slipping and doesn’t stretch or tear even the most delicate knit when it is removed.untitled-19When I was ready to stitch my buttonholes I cut a strip of tear-away stabilizer slightly wider than the button placket.
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I peeled off the backing (the half with blue markings on it) and applied it to the wrong side of the button placket (the inside of the shirt).untitled-23

This is what it looks like from the right side of the shirt:untitled-25

This is what it looks like from the wrong side of the shirt:untitled-26

Then I went ahead and stitched the buttonholes on my machine as per normal.  I placed the stabilizer/wrong side of the shirt against the bed of my sewing machine – this prevents the knit fabric from being sucked down into the bobbin chamber.untitled-27

And look at how beautifully the button hole turned out!untitled-29

From the wrong side you can see that the act of stitching the buttonhole has pretty much torn the stabilizer off of the placket.untitled-30

It takes hardly any effort to rip off the stabilizer from the placket:untitled-33

And voila!  A perfect placket of buttonholes!
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I hope you find this to be a useful trick when sewing your next buttonholed Camas Blouse!  It would be useful for all manner of detailed sewing tasks paired with delicate fabrics.  I’d like to try it out when sewing bras, I bet it would really help when top-stitching along the cradle of the Watson Bra!
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Have you tried sewing with tear-away stabilizer?  Do you have any tricks and tips to add to this tutorial?