Thread Theory

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


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A Newcastle Cardigan for Women

This weekend, in celebration of the pouring rain and occasional thunder outside our studio window, we are having a Newcastle Cardigan Sale so that you can sew yourself or someone else something cozy as Fall approaches!

From now until midnight, September 22nd (PST) (while I am on my Sew-cation) you can buy the Newcastle Cardigan PDF sewing pattern at 20% off!  Simply enter the code RAIN at check out (using capslock).  Happy sewing!

Since Selfish Sewing Week is coming up, I sewed something yesterday that will ease me into this weekend’s much anticipated ‘selfish’ sew-cation.

This project is both, in essence, completely selfish and decidedly thoughtful…I sewed a Newcastle Cardigan for myself!  Its selfish because I used work time to sew something that I will wear and skipped over the list of several cardigans I’ve agreed to make for family members and investors (woops!) to make my version first.  It’s thoughtful because I can now wear a ‘stolen from the boyfriend’ style cardigan without actually stealing it…not that I’ve managed to steal Matt’s more than once or twice.  Every time I’m chilly and go to grab it, he’s already wearing it!

I love my green wool version.  It’s my absolute favorite colour and I treated myself to all my favorite features: military-esque brass buttons, huge patch pockets, extra long sleeves, leather details…the works!

I kept the fit really slouchy and exaggerated by cutting a size XS (way too big for me!) and then limiting my sizing adjustments to narrowing the shoulders and only slightly exaggerating the curve of the waist.  That way, the arms are still really wide and it is too long for me, making it the coziest of cozy sweaters to put over top of bulky layers for fall evening walks and to wear while sewing in my chilly sewing studio.

The rest of the adjustments I made were a bit of an experiment to see if I could eliminate the use of facings and also add a zipper.  As you can see, the zipper was a dismal failure and was quickly ripped out.  I think that a shawl collar, super slouchy fit, and stiff zipper could never co-inhabit the same sweater happily.  The zipper sat so stiffly that it pointed out, away from my chest at the top and looked really ridiculous.  Instead, I decided to treat my bound seam allowances as a built in facing by interfacing them, folding them over and adding button holes.  I added buttons on a slight asymmetrical angle to make the sweater fit slightly smaller in the chest and I kept the bottom of the sweater open to accommodate for my hips as I didn’t add width here (if you wanted to make a buttoned Newcastle for a female without many alterations to the pattern you would have to add width to the pattern pieces at the hips while likely taking away width at the waist to better fit the female form).

All my experimenting led to a sweater I really love but it certainly didn’t result in the no-facing, no buttons tutorial that I was planning to make!  It was really easy to eliminate the facing pieces though so I’ve included the tutorial photos Matt took just in case anyone is interested to see how I did it:

Resized-1You’ll need rulers (a curved on is preferable but you can always eyeball the curves if you don’t have one!), a pencil or marker, scissors and tape.

These are the pieces that I eliminated for my sweater: The Back Neck Facing, the Front Facing, and the Button Placket.

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I eliminated the Button Placket by extending the Cardigan Front by half the placket amount on each front because I was planning to add a zipper so I didn’t want the Cardigan Front to overlap.  As you can see, I added 1 5/8″ because I mistakenly thought I should add a seam allowance to the centre front…I forgot that there was already a seam allowance included to sew the Cardigan Front to the Front Placket!  So I really should have added a total of 1″

In the end, of course, all of this was irrelevant because I added buttons instead of a zipper after all and fudged things, trusting that the forgiving wool would hide that I was pulling and tugging things off grain by making the front overlap and button up asymmetrically!

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After adding width to the front of the cardigan I adjusted the neck curve so that it would extend to the new CF.  I tried to keep the old neckline and the new neckline as close to the same measurement as possible but I ended up needing to add a little length to the collar pattern pieces so that they would still reach the centre front of the cardigan.

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I also removed some width from the shoulders (I didn’t adjust the sleeve heads as I technically should have because, since this was all an experiment I again trusted that the forgiving wool would allow me to ease them into the new, bigger armholes).  Lastly, I exaggerated the curve of the waist to create a slightly less boxy fit:

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Of course, if you were to adjust the shoulder width and planned to use the yokes from Version 1 of the pattern, you would have to also remove width from these pieces:

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To create the patch pockets, I cut rectangles of wool 7 1/2″ tall X 6 1/2″ wide and sewed them to the Cardigan Front pieces with exposed raw edges (I like how the edges felt and look fluffy when this wool is washed and dried).  You could easily serge and turn under the edges if your fabric frays or you don’t like the look of the raw edges.  Instead of sewing all the way up to the top of the pocket outside edge, I stopped half way up and then folded over the loose flap and tacked it down with a decorative button.  This pocket, with the angled top opening is really comfortable to put my hands in!

Before sewing the shoulder seams together, I top-stitched on strips of leather in the same way the Shoulder Yoke is sewn on.  I also bound the CF because I was envisioning adding a zipper at a later point and wanted finished seam allowances.  If I had known I was going to be turning under approx. 1 1/2″ as a self-facing I would have interfaced this strip before adding the binding.

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To eliminate the Back Neck Facing I sewed the collar on, as per the directions (minus the facing piece) and then carefully graded the seam allowance before enclosing the allowance in an open piece of binding.  This creates visible stitching on the right side of the collar but it will be hidden when the collar is folded over:

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All the binding made for a very pretty garment, but really, in the end the sewing steps took just as long as using the facings would have and were much more fiddly (I guess it depends how comfortable your machine is with stitching woven binding onto thick and stretchy knit layers).  Both the facing and binding/self facing methods have their advantages and disadvantages and I am glad to have tried both for the Newcastle because I often worry that people will be a little put off by the idea of a cardigan with facings.  In the end, I like the facing method more as it creates a sturdier garment with less visible exterior stitching and less fighting with the tricky combination of woven and knit fabrics.

Would you consider converting the Newcastle Cardigan pattern into a women’s version?

Thanks for the fun photo shoot Matt!

 

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Quarterly Report: Now that we have three patterns launched…

Wardrobe builder image-01-01 Thank you, everyone, for all the enthusiasm and support over the last few weeks.  Now that we have three patterns launched and only the Goldstream Peacoat left to tackle in the Parkland Casual Menswear Collection (a BIG project!), we are looking forward to our next collection and our many plans for Thread Theory. Here is a bit of an overview of where we are sitting with Thread Theory right now seeing as we have completed our first quarter of sales and are well into our second – the Newcastle Cardigan was launched May 15th.  I can’t believe how much has been accomplished since then! We have been absolutely in awe of the Jedediah pants that have been popping up on Kollabora for the Jedediah Sew-Along contest – good luck to everyone who is  entering!  I am glad that the winner will be chosen based on public voting because I could never choose my favorite…I’ve been ‘hearting’ them all (head on over to ‘heart’ your favorite before September 16th!).

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We have also been receiving a large selection of requests from websites and brick and mortar stores all over the world who would like to become stockists.  As you may have noticed on the blog and website, we currently have two web-based stores stocking our PDF patterns: Stitch 56 based out of Australia, and Pattern Review from the United States.  Most stockists would, of course, prefer to sell printed versions of our patterns so, while we are still accepting stockists for our PDF patterns if they have a system put in place for selling digital downloads, we are busily gathering a list of stockists who would like to open wholesale accounts for printed patterns…

And I guess that leads me to the next activity that we have been working on in the Thread Theory studio:  we are currently in the process of putting our first three patterns into print!  The process has gone very smoothly so far and we are so excited for the moment when we will have our gorgeously designed envelopes in our hands (expect a thorough photo shoot of the moment…this is something that has to be thoroughly recorded for the Thread Theory yearbook :P). We are working with Sonia Bishop, a talented graphic designer who just so happens to date Matt’s brother, Mike.  It has been fun to keep it in the family – because of this, we even got to hold a ‘business meeting’ on the back of Mike’s sailboat as we dried off after a dip in the ocean, complete with sunshine and beers in hand!  Now THAT is a reason I like owning my own business!  Apart from the benefits of working with someone we enjoy hanging out with, Sonia has a ton of enthusiasm for the image we want to create with our packaging and I have no doubt that you will all love what she comes up with! Edited-23 We are also beginning to work with a very admirable printing company based out of Vancouver who operates so efficiently that they are officially carbon neutral.  We love the range of recycled papers that they have to offer and their sales team has really taken the effort to understand what we are envisioning for the pattern packaging and have offered some really interesting options that I think will make the packaging really work for the sewer.  I hope I am right in imagining that no one wants another crinkled and ripped envelope to add to their already chaotic pattern boxes or shelves – I think we have figured out a way to make our packaging super sturdy and easy to re-use so that our patterns will become staples to be used many times!

In blogging news, I want to show off Maider’s really well sewn version of the Newcastle Cardigan.  She made the cardigan for her boyfriend’s birthday and when he opened up his present, he thought that it was store bought!  I can see why, she did a great job of finishing the insides and the wine coloured fabric that she chose works really nicely with the design.

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Beautifully finished interior!

I like that she included the shoulder details but kept them in self fabric instead of using a contrast.  This created a really subtle detail which was a perfect spot to highlight her VERY straight top-stitching!

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Look at that perfect top-stitching!

Also, thank you to Laura of Behind the Hedgerow for including Thread Theory in her list of her “Top 10 Autumn Selfish Sewing Patterns”…even if menswear garments wouldn’t really be selfish sewing for her!  We are flattered to be mentioned in her list of amazing pattern companies and I couldn’t agree more with her choice of Victory Pattern’s Roxanne pattern – I have been meaning to make up that pattern for ages because I LOVE that collar.  Sown Brooklyn’s version is pretty much the TOP item on my list of things that get me inspired to sew at the moment.

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Sown Brooklyn’s absolutely gorgeous version of Victory Pattern’s Roxanne.

Are you curious about what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ at Thread Theory?  I always love reading Tasia’s monthly reports over at Sewaholic patterns and probably wouldn’t have had the courage to start my own pattern company without her very matter of fact and wonderfully open reports on her own experience.  I hope that we are fairly transparent over here in the menswear corner of the indie pattern company world and would love to answer any questions you ever have about us!


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The Parade – some of your finished garments!

Today I’ve compiled a few of the really outstanding finished (and in progress) garments that have been popping up in the last couple weeks.

I was going to post a parade of finished pants and shorts yesterday as a finale for the sew-along but I thought it might be better to wait until the end of the Kollabora Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along contest as I know there are a quite a few of you still steadily working away on your versions.

Instead, here is a smattering of inspirational projects covering the whole range of our patterns (all three, anyways! I guess that might be too few to properly describe our offerings as ‘a range’…but we have more patterns in the works so it won’t be too long until the selection grows again!).

First off, are Jana’s amazing Jedediah Shorts which she completed as the sew-along came to an end (a miraculous feat since her sewing machine was giving her no end of problems…you would never be able to tell from the beautiful stitching on her end result!).  I love the hand embroidery she placed on one of the back pockets!  After seeing it, Matt is wanting something similar on his next pair.

Jana used a black variegated linen for these with a great pop of yellow as contrast.  She added double top-stitching to the hem as per her boyfriend’s RTW pants and she customized the fit of the pattern by shaving off a bit of the width.  I hope these shorts will get lots of wear ; I bet the black linen will look really nice and comfortable as it ages – I love how linen does that!

Thanks for sharing these pictures Jana!  And thanks for following along and commenting on the sew-along; it was really fun to be working away on our shorts at the same time!

 

Next up is Layla’s Strathcona Henley!  She was one of our test sewer’s for our newest pattern and she wrote a great blog article about her experience over on her blog, The Old Fashioned Way.  Layla miraculously whipped this up on short notice after her email sneakily sorted our response confirming her as a test sewer into junk mail.  I think she is a sewing super-hero for completing this in time to give us her two-bits before the Strathcona Henley and T-shirt pattern launch.  There is nothing I hate more than sewing to a deadline…it’s the only time I ever seem to break needles as I sew!

 

The third gallery of photos on display are of Erin’s rendition of the Newcastle Cardigan.  Her blog post, complete with a funny story explaining how this first menswear project came to be realized, is over on her blog, Seamstress Erin.

We’ve had steady rain for the last week and suddenly I feel more like sewing with cozy wools and sweater knits again rather than linens and light cottons.  Erin’s version of the cardigan has really inspired me to sew up another version of my own (and this time, I actually mean MY own because I’m going to make a women’s version so that I don’t have to steal Matt’s anymore!).  I love the purple and black knit that she used – it’s drape really makes it look soft and cozy.  It pairs really well, I think, with the structured contrast shoulders and cuffs that she cut out of a heavy sweatshirt material.

She took some great photos – I especially like the cell-phone ‘action’ shot!  Thanks for sharing a link to your post on Facebook, Erin!  I am thrilled to have seen your version of the pattern! (And by the way, I love your anatomically correct heart embroidery pattern!  I don’t know how you find time for all your projects while working on your Ph.D. – very impressive!)

 

To finish off this parade, here are a few single shots that I’ve found around the internet.  Below, is an in-progress photo of Sarah’s cowboy pocket lining that she is using for her Jedediah Shorts – she’s uploaded the work in progress over on Kollabora so head on over to ‘heart’ her wonderfully whimsical fabric choice to give her a chance to win the Kollabora Jedediah Sew-Along contest!

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And last, but certainly not least is a Newcastle Cardigan sewn by a man for HIMSELF – this is the first finished version I have seen that has been sewn by a man – something that Matt and I really want to encourage through Thread Theory.  So we’re stoked to have seen this posted on Reddit!  I really love the contrast band that he added, it turns the Newcastle into more of a bomber jacket than a cardigan which, I think, really works well with the silhouette created by the shawl collar.  For someone who claims to not be very skilled at sewing yet, I think his results are SUPERB!

Im not that great at sewing yet, but I finally finished my Newcastle Cardigan. - Imgur

Thanks, everyone, for sharing photos of your projects!  Seeing happy sewists sew up versions of our patterns is the reason I continue to love running my own sewing pattern company – nothing makes me happier than encouraging people to sew!  If you have a photo of your work in progress or finished project made from one of our patterns, email us the photos at info@threadtheory.ca or send us a link to your blog post because we would love to add your photos to one of our blog posts or slide shows!


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The Wednesday Special!

Calm down everyone; it’s not quite Friday yet — sorry to get your hopes up! We just couldn’t wait to show you the most recent finished Newcastle Cardigan. This time the cardigan has been done up in a cozy winter color-scheme of black and burgundy with the full size collar option.

 

Martha Nicholson wrote us:

“Hi, I really enjoyed making the Newcastle cardigan.  Easy to follow instructions and no issues with construction.  And it looks awesome, I have a VERY happy hubby who is already requesting another version.”
We are thrilled that the Newcastle Cardigan is so popular with the Australian and New Zealand winter sewers and thank Martha very much for sharing her photos with us!


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Birthday Post!

Today is the first day of summer, the day before my school’s fashion show…and it’s my birthday!

It’s been a great week…earlier this week we had an enormous increase of people viewing the Thread Theory website which was really exciting.

Also, Louisa of Damselfly’s Delights sent us photos and a report on her newly completed Newcastle Cardigan.  It is so exciting to see such a successful version of our pattern!


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Louisa reported a few adjustments and choices that she made during the sewing process:
“Thom has a 40″ chest and 36” waist so I made a size M. It’s quite close-fitting
and I was glad that I took the waistline curve out or it might
have been a little too tight to fit nicely over the jeans, belt, cell phone,
wallet, etc. that he carries around. I had to chop 2″ off the sleeves and
the cuffs are still quite long enough to be warm. He commented on how
stylish his new jacket is! That is a profound compliment coming from him.
Obviously I have to do more sewing for him now, right?”
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She chose what sounds like similar fabric to the fleece that I used for my dad’s shoulder and back yokes on this cardigan.  I love how she utilized both sides of the fabric:
“My fabric was a synthetic fleece with pile on one side and a smooth knit on
the other. I used the fuzzy side out for the yokes and the smooth side for
everything else.”
Louisa very kindly sent us and posted a detailed review of our pattern with some intriguing suggestions on how to improve the sewing experience for beginners (we could offer a zipper and binding option to replace the need for facings…what an awesome idea!).
zipper shawl collar
If a zippered version looked something like this, I think it would be very stylish!
With only a day left of school commitments I am eagerly planning to add these adjustments and will let everyone know when they are uploaded…and of course, anyone who would like the revised version and has already purchased the pattern can simply email (info@threadtheory.ca) to receive their copy!  Stay tuned!

 

I have added Louisa’s photos to our Newcastle Slideshow.  We look forward to receiving more emails as the finished cardigans start popping up throughout the internet sewing world!

 

At school this week, every day has been complete chaos in the fashion department.  Matt came into the school on Monday to help me with the photo shoot (isn’t the shot he took of my coat with fur collar pretty?)  and witnessed the general panic and confusion as the fashion show draws nearer and nearer (it’s TOMORROW!).  There have been people crying, models changing in all corners of the building, fabric piles being spread high and low in the sewing room, and a steady feeling of jittery excitement at all hours throughout the week.
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I’ve been chugging through my to do list and only have a pair of leggings and some hook and eyes left to sew today.
Lookbook page
A couple days ago I finished off my ‘lookbook’ featuring my collection’s designs and I even included prices for the runway sample garments in case anyone at the show or online are interested in purchasing my designs 🙂  In fact, Kendra, the beautiful model in the pictures, has already staked her claim on the green tencel pants!

If anyone is interested in receiving a PDF of the lookbook to see my pricing or just to have a browse (is this just wishful thinking?  It’s worth a shot!), send me an email (info@threadtheory.ca)!


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Launch Week!

Here we are: Half a week before the launch of the Newcastle Cardigan – our first pattern!

This week, one of our test sewers, Kate, got back to us with a stunning version of the cardigan modeled by her boyfriend, Geoff! He even sewed on his own buttons! Without further ado, here are a few photos of her hard work:

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We love the fabric Kate chose – the cuffs are ironed so crisply and the wide shawl collar drapes very nicely!

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Thank you so much, Kate, for pattern testing for us (and Geoff for modeling)! Your comments and thoughts were invaluable.

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Look out before May 15th for our interview (and our pattern give-away) at House of Pinheiro! And of course, join us on Wednesday, May 15th when our first pattern will be up for sale! In the meantime, here are some inspirational photos from our Pinterest Board to get you excited to sew a shawl collar sweater:

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We want to thank everyone for the amazing support! Without the encouragement of our little sewing corner of the internet, we wouldn’t have made it to the launch date of our first Thread Theory menswear pattern. Thank you for your comments and for following our blog! Your support means to the world to us!


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Pattern Review by Meg

This week, over at Made By Meg, Meg posted a great review of our Newcastle Cardigan pattern.  She was a speedy and wonderfully thorough test sewer for us and her results are fantastic (and her boyfriend makes a great model!).  She used a lightweight sweater knit and faux leather vinyl to create the classic “hard and soft” menswear look.

We’re excited that she enjoyed sewing up the cardigan and noticed the effort we put into creating easy-to-follow instructions.  She also told us that she was glad we had minimized the amount of paper that the cardigan pattern prints out on as paper usage can often be quite huge with PDF patterns…Matt is thrilled she noticed as getting the pattern down to only 24 pages took hours of work!

Thank you Meg for testing our pattern!  Check out Meg’s blog for all sorts of interesting reading and great project pictures…also, be sure to check in on May 15th when she will be offering a give-away to celebrate the launch of our Newcastle Cardigan!