Thread Theory

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


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What everyone else has been sewing:

This morning I’ve been busily linking away so that I can show you some of the great things currently happening around the world that involve our sewing patterns.  It’s so rewarding to see what our patterns have inspired.  Matt and I may not have time for an in depth sew-along for every single pattern (though, we do have more planned, don’t worry!), or to sew up the millions of different cardigan’s, pants and henleys I have swirling around in my head, but that is okay because there are many other people out there who are doing exactly those things!

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If you are a Spanish speaker then you really are in luck – our Spanish stockist, Telaria, is mid-way through a thorough and easy-to-follow sew-along for the Newcastle Cardigan pattern!  Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you might want to make use of Google Translate and have a look at all the hard work Miren has put into documenting her Newcastle Cardigan sewing process.  We are thrilled that she has taken this large project up and love how her cardigan turned out.

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Once you’ve had a look at the Telaria “Just for Men” sew-along, make sure to add your Newcastle to the Flickr group that Miren has set up!  If you enter your photo by March 17th you will be entered in the draw for a chance to win one of three awesomely manly prizes (including manly fabric, a Japanese menswear pattern book and even some of our patterns).  Even though you missed the beginning of the Newcastle Cardigan portion of the sew along, you still have time to get ready for the third segment of the “Just for Men” series.  The Strathcona Henley sew-along will begin on March 3rd.  If you are nervous about sewing with knits, this will be an invaluable resource for you!

The next thing I want to share with you is a brand new blog called Tinker, Tailor, Sewster…Spy? created by a male sewer based out of Brisbane, Australia.  He began his blog to document his Jedediah Pant sewing process and also has plans in the works to sew up the rest of our Parkland Collection.  He is a very careful and thorough sewer who seems to have an endless pool or patience to pull from.  His most recent blog post details his decision to scrap his original plan to use bright blue top stitching (pictured below) and instead switch to gray.  This means he will be redoing the back pockets that he embroidered, blogged about and even filmed!

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I really admire his commitment to making the perfect garment.  After all, why put all that effort into sewing if you are only going to produce something that you aren’t really happy with?  To me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of sewing menswear.  Since menswear is dictated by details and fit, imperfection in either of these areas will stand out very obviously in a finished garment.  While it might be incredibly frustrating mid-sewing process to re-do top stitching over and over again or to make multiple mock-ups, the result is something that is very easy to feel proud about!

You would never guess that the author of Tinker, Tailor, Sewster…Spy?  is new to blogging – his posts are full of information, inspiration, lots of photos and videos.  Head on over to comment, follow his blog and encourage him in his new blogging endeavor.  It is great to see another male sewer join the sewing and blogging community!  Good luck to him on his quest for the perfect Jedediah Pants!

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Last but certainly not lease in today’s parade is a new project from the most prolific Thread Theory customer: Huff Makes Stuff.  I can’t believe how many Jeds and Straths Jen has whipped up over the last few months!  Her goal is to create a new outfit for her husband and herself each month for 12 months.  She has already completed four outfits for her husband which include four Jedediah Short and Pant variations and four Strathcona Henley, Sweater and T-shirt variations.  I love how her husband’s taste for colour and print is displayed in each outfit and I especially love how all of these garments display how versatile these two patterns are.  Each outfit looks well planned and stylish and must make Darron’s wardrobe very easy to pick from each morning!

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The latest outfit is wonderfully summery and bright and makes a nice Australian contrast to the dark mid-winter renditions of the patterns that I always sew.  She has mixed and matched the Strathcona variations to create a short sleeve henley without buttons.  She is toying with the idea of adding buttons to the placket but I think she should leave them off because I love how casual and cool it looks – perfect for a day at the beach or on the backyard patio!  She has paired this orange henley with awesomely out-there postage stamp Jedediah Shorts.  Her husband is fearless when it comes to prints (Matt has something to learn from him – he even steers clear of stripes!).  She made the legs slightly less tapered and did not cuff this version of the shorts.  Check out all of her outfits (both those sewn for her husband and those she’s sewn for herself) to see how rewarding an organized outfit-oriented approach to sewing can be!

Do you have any menswear projects, blog posts or tutorials to share with us?  We would love to feature them on the blog!  Send us an email at info@threadtheory.ca to let us know what you have been working on.


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Finished Garment Eye Candy!

First of all, thank you everyone for your overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to our call for peacoat test sewers!  We have selected our group of test sewers after a lot of deliberation.  It was so difficult to choose from all the detailed emails and comments we received!  Even if we didn’t select you this time, that didn’t mean you won’t have a chance to test sew in the future as we added everyone how applied to our test sewing mailing list!

Now, moving forward, did you notice the changes we made to the photos on our website this week?  Check them out! We added a new version of the Strathcona Henley and decided to feature the beautiful Jedediah Pants that my mother-in-law sewed up.

It was my dad’s birthday last weekend so I sewed him a Strathcona Henley as per his request.  This time, I chose a beautifully soft cotton knit with hardly any ribbing and a fairly stable jersey for the placket.  The sewing process was so much easier than it was with the heavily ribbed knit I had used for Matt’s henley because both my serger and sewing machine decided they agreed with my fabric choice!  We’ve updated the website photos to show my dad skillfully modelling his new shirt.  He’s become quite a pro; we quickly walked to the park and he matter-of-factly began to strike poses…even though there were kids and parents watching at the play ground!  Who would of thought my dad would be our easiest model!

While we were on a roll we also photographed the cardigan that my Mom had sewn my dad when we were in the pattern testing phase with the Newcastle Cardigan last spring.  Even though the cardigan has been worn by everyone from my school’s fashion show model to my grandpa when he’s visiting and chilly the cardigan has never been properly photographed.  My mom did an excellent job on it using a heavy (and thus difficult to handle) sweatshirt fleece and gorgeous leather details.  She even added leather elbow patches which make the cardigan look so sophisticated!  My dad loves wearing it when he walks their dog, Jake, now that it is getting pretty cold in the evenings.  As you can see, it looks really nice on him!

Last but not least, I have another excellent version of the Newcastle to show you.  Diana sewed this version and included a couple top stitching and fit modifications.  She added a strip of fabric at the side seam to increase the width of the body and I think that the extra seam lines create a really nice structured look.  The fabric and buttons she chose are just perfect and the tag she stitched in using a contrast thread makes the cardigan look like it has just been purchased from a high end menswear boutique!   Great job Diana and thanks for sharing your photos with us!

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I hope everyone had a fun Halloween!  Matt and I are really excited that it is now November…we have a lot of big things planned for Thread Theory this month!  


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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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Launch Day: The Strathcona Henley and T-Shirt

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Today we have released the third pattern in our Parkland Collection!  Head on over to our pattern store to download your copy of the Strathcona Henley and T-shirt sewing pattern.  Yes, I said henley and t-shirt pattern!  We decided to make the pattern more versatile so that it will become your go-to pattern every time you need to refresh the closet with staple tees.

The pattern includes instructions for two variations:

1. The long sleeved henley-style knit shirt with a three button placket, cozy cuffs and an easy-to-sew hem band.

2. The short sleeved classic crew-neck t-shirt with short sleeves and a twin needle (or zig-zagged) hem.

Go ahead and mix and match these variations to create endless t-shirts!  I can wait to see all the short sleeved henleys, the super easy and quick crew neck longsleeve t-shirts, and the awesome t-shirts with contrast hems and neck bands!  Really, the possibilities are endless!

Here are a few of the variations that have come to life so far both in my sewing studio and around the world in the test-sewer’s sewing rooms (more test sewer versions to come in future blog posts!):

My version of Variation 1 made in a relaxed rib knit:  The warm, slightly rusty colour and the loose, relaxed fit created by the very stretchy ribbed fabric make this version the perfect top to wear while sitting around an early fall campfire!

Blogless Anna’s version of Variation 1 using an awesome striped jersey paired with a bold black contrasting placket (see her great blog post for all the details of her sewing process):  This version of the henley looks so classic and RTW!  I imagine it would be awfully difficult to grab any other shirt when this is sitting in your closet!

My mix of Variation 1 and 2 to create a sporty hiking and mountain biking top for my dad:  I made things easy on myself by using snaps instead of buttons and by cutting off the bottom of the sleeves to use this fabric as small sleeve bands – no twin needle needed!

Do you like what you see?  Head on over to download the pattern and you can whip up one for yourself or a lucky recipient in no time at all!

The crew-neck version, when paired with sleeve and hem bands is the perfect beginner knit sewing project and the henley placket variation is a great challenge for more intermediate sewers.  If you are scared of sewing knits, you don’t need to be anymore!  The instructions include suggestions for setting up your sewing machine (even if you don’t have a serger!) to correctly deal with the fabric you chose.  They also include different tips and tricks for beginner or intermediate sewers.  Both variations are quick to make and result in a casual, slim-fitting t-shirt that will be a perfect hand-made wardrobe staple.  Happy sewing!

 


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The Strathcona Henley Photos!

Here is Matt looking dashing (I think!) in our photographed sample of the Strathcona Henley!  The pattern is out to test sewers so it won’t be long now until it is available for purchase in our online store (in case you are wondering…before the end of the month…wahoo!).

The henley is a nice casual top that is quick and quite easy to sew.  It is a great shirt for early fall camping and weekend mountain biking.  It can be sewn up in everything from rib knits (as I have done here), more stable medium weight knits, to woven stretch athletic materials.

I sewed up this sample in the most difficult, unstable rib knit I could find (Matt and I just loved the colour too much to pass it up) and despite its less than perfect top stitching it still compares for tidiness and precision with several of Matt’s go-to RTW knit shirts…so that’s acceptable for this particularly unruly knit in my books!

I look forward to making an athletic top shortly to display the pattern’s versatility and have a tutorial in the works for once the Jedediah Shorts Sew-along is over that will explain how to convert this long sleeve henley pattern into a classic short sleeved (or long sleeved) crew neck t-shirt.

By the way, as already tested, the Strathcona is great to steal from the closet and will likely become your favorite lounge-wear and night shirt!


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Two More Patterns Ordered!

Today I have some Thread Theory pattern company news and a finished project to show off.  This week, despite life being pretty busy, I was able to prepare the spec sheets and send off the Jedediah Trousers and the Strathcona Henley to Suncoast Custom to have the patterns made up!  I can’t wait to get back the patterns and see how my designs look as real garments!  I’m especially excited for the Jedediah Trousers which I designed to be very a flattering and comfortable fit.

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 Spring is officially here and suddenly June and the pattern store launch date seems to be approaching at an alarming pace.  We’ll see what we can do – things will feel like they are progressing more smoothly once the Newcastle Cardigan has been sent to the main test sewers.  This has been delayed slightly due to our decision to split the test sewing into two phases – the first group which is currently sewing up the pattern is comprised of local people (namely my grandma and my mom!) and the second group will be volunteers from around the world – one is as far away as Australia! That way we will have two opportunities to hear and respond to suggestions/critiques.IMGP0488

At school my classmates and I have been gearing up to start the production our end of the year runway lines.  I have completed a blazer as part of one of my outfits so I thought it would be fun to bring back some of my sewing for women to the blog since I am proud of how this project turned out!IMGP0506

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I designed, made the pattern and sewed up this garment.  It was drafted to fit a size six so it is a bit ill-fitting on me – especially in the chest area – but will hopefully look nice on the model as it does on our school mannequins.IMGP0507IMGP0501IMGP0512

My end of year line is called “Rationed Fashion” and is inspired by 1940s British wartime sensibilities paired with modern Pacific Northwest aesthetics.  The result of this inspiration is garments with strong shoulders, nipped in waists, sturdy fabrics, a casual feel and classic lines that will stand the test of time to be recycled into new outfits each season.IMGP0498

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In other sewing news, I have just this last week started working in the studio of an admirably energetic interior designer, Heather Draper, who is the owner of The Heather Company, a home decor company that currently sells beautiful soft furnishings online and will be opening their first brick and mortar store in June in Alberta.  It’s been very inspiring working with such beautiful fabrics!  They look wonderful turned into pillows and duvets…but man, a few of them would make the most spectacular dresses!


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Tips on Manly Knits

turtle.mirrorEvery day, Thread Theory Designs Inc. is inching closer to the tipping point from being just an idea to becoming an actual menswear sewing pattern company.  This week the Newcastle Cardigan, the first pattern in the Parkland Pattern Collection, was graded.  After some thorough testing right here in our sewing room it will be sent out with sewing instructions and a satisfaction survey to test sewers.  To volunteer to be a test sewer for the Newcastle Cardigan or for any (or all!) of the other patterns in our Parkland collection, comment on one of our blog posts or send an email to mmmeredith@hotmail.ca. You will receive the pattern for free in exchange for your opinions and suggestions (and maybe a little bit of help spreading the word about Thread Theory around the internet!).

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Newcastle Cardigan Supplies:
Main Body (Blue Knit):25% Acrylic 70% Cotton
Contrast Shoulders (Gray Suiting): Cotton-Poly blend with 2-way stretch

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Newcastle Cardigan Supplies #2:
Main Body (Brown): Bamboo Fleece
Contrast Shoulders (Gray Suiting): Cotton Poly with 2-way stretch

With the Newcastle Cardigan pattern coming closer to completion I’ve been on the search for knits.  I’ve found that it is often quite difficult to source menswear fabrics that are similar to those found in ready to wear garments – especially when it comes to knits.  Since our first line of patterns includes two garments that require knit materials, I thought it would be best to provide a list of great online stores, specific fabrics, and info on choosing knits so that it can be used for reference when you go to sew the Newcastle Cardigan or the Strathcona Henley!

Types of Material You’ll be needing:

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Heavy Bamboo Fleece – beautifully soft inside, strong and hard-wearing on the outside. Perfect for a casual and sporty Newcastle Cardigan.

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A cotton/acrylic knit that holds its shape lengthwise but stretches crosswise. An elegant color and slightly knobbly texture to create a dressier Newcastle Cardigan.

Newcastle Cardigan: Sweater knits – look for knits that are medium-weight or heavier.  Knits with wool content are especially attractive as a cardigan.  You could also use a terry-knit to create a sweater that is quite casual and cozy.  Try to avoid anything that drapes too much (rayon blend knits or most jersey knits) as fabric clinging to the arms and body results in a more feminine looking sweater.  The sample I sewed last week used too light of a knit and made Matt’s arms look surprisingly slender and feminine…not the result he was hoping for even though he didn’t want the arms too loose fitting.

Strathcona Henley:  Waffle knits or t-shirt knits are the best choice for this pattern.  Waffle knits would give this shirt the cozy and casual appearance of long-johns.  T-shirt knits – cotton, hemp or bamboo with maybe a little polyester blended in – would make the henley into a nice basic worn with jeans.  To create the outdoorsy look similar to Stanfield’s henleys use a wool and nylon rib knit.

Both: As interfacing, make sure you use a fusible type meant for knits because it will allow for a little bit of stretch.

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Fusible knit interfacing

Great blogs with resources on sewing knits:

Cutting knits – Tasia of Sewaholic

A Big List of Tips For Sewing Knits – Tasia of Sewaholic

Knits – Stretch Yourself Series – Made By Rae

Rae Talks about Shopping for Knit Fabrics Online – Made By Rae

Online Knit Fabric Retailers:

Based in the United States:

  • NearSea Naturals – North Carolina –  a great source for the most beautiful high quality organic knits – with some good deals too!
  • Harts Fabric – California – section specifically for sweater knits…there are a few heavier weight ones in here that would be good for menswear
  • Emma One Sock – Pennsylvania – designer discount fabric with a section for sweater knits. The word online is that the owner gives wonderful personal service and her fabric quality is excellent.  She warns on her website that shipping estimates are often too high and she will let you know the actual price once you check out.
  • Gorgeous Fabrics – A nice selection of sweater knits with thorough and personal write-ups.
  • Nick of Time Textiles– Pennsylvania – a discount wholesaler with what seems to be no minimums and a very large selection of extremely affordable knits…shipping is quite pricey to Canada but the affordability of the fabric might make the extra shipping worth it.
  • Fabric.com – Georgia – A huge selection with a specific section for sweater knits.  Currently,  most of the selection is light weight and a little more feminine than you might want for either the Newcastle or Strathcona patterns but that could be because we are already prepared for spring sewing.

A couple intriguing stores located in other countries:

  • Crose Fabric -Hong Kong – An Etsy shop from Hong Kong (but ships everwhere with a discounted price to the US) – a silk and wool store that is currently selling a gorgeous heavy oatmeal colored wool knit
  • The Remnant House – UK – Ships to a variety of places in Europe – it doesn’t look like it ships to North America or elsewhere but I could be wrong.  Search in their “Dress Fabric” category for apparel fabrics.

Does anyone know of online retailers of knit fabrics based out of Canada?  Or maybe some based in Australia or Europe?  I’ll add to my list if you have a favorite or two to mention!

P.S. Isn’t this nice packaging?Edited-8The buttons I just bought from my local fabric store (Gala Fabrics) were packed in this small envelope made from pattern instructions – isn’t that a nice way to recycle?