Thread Theory

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


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My mom sewed clothes for a boat…

My mom just finished a massive sewing project that I need to show off!

She sewed clothes (or chaps) for their new dinghy! My parents live on their large sailboat and have invested huge amounts of love, effort and money into their home over the last 15 or so years. This latest project is an example of the lengths they will go to keep things ship-shape!

Dinghy chaps protect the inflatable pontoons from wearing in the harsh sun. When my parents sailed to Mexico they came back, after a year, with a dinghy that had basically melted from the glare of the sun. The rubber was sticky, mottled and weakened. These chaps will prevent this new dinghy from experiencing the same fate!

My mom did all the patterning for this project herself and photographed the process. She followed a tutorial from Sailrite which is the go-to website and shop for sailors who sew. It’s actually worth checking out as a garment sewist as their video tutorials are amazing and could teach new skills for dealing with heavy fabrics while their shop carries some very interesting tools that you wouldn’t find at your average fabric store.

Whenever my mom creates a canvas structure for the boat (hatch covers, canopies, sail covers, window covers…a boat actually requires a huge amount of textiles!) she begins by shaping clear plastic and using a marker to note the many details.

The plastic pattern then needs seam allowances and hem allowances added just as one would for a garment pattern. The scale of everything is just far bigger…the shape of the dinghy looks just as complicated to fit as a human body!

She has become very skilled at knowing which points will need reinforcement when sewing for the boat. Because her canvas work is exposed to the elements and also to a lot of friction, many areas are beefed up with the addition of leather Or vinyl and heavy bindings.

All of her sewing is done on a special machine designed for sewing sails. It is very heavy duty and only does zig zag. When I sit down to use the machine I feel like a novice. It has a walking foot and the timing is very finicky but, unlike many machines designed for the home sewist, every aspect of the machine is meant to be adjusted as you sew. When the timing goes off while a sailor is fixing their sails miles out at sea, it is necessary to be able to fix it themselves! That used to be a huge procedure for my mom when she first got the machine (complete with snarled bobbins and a snarling sewist) but she’s quite quick at it now.

When my mom isn’t sewing for the boat, she sews for my Dad using our patterns. She tends to sew him some new clothes each time she’s off of work for a stretch (she is a school principal). Her latest makes were a Finlayson Sweater and some Fairfield Button-ups. She shares her Thread Theory makes on the Thread Theory Sewing Community on Facebook. It’s a happening place these days, so be sure to check it out if you are a Facebook user!

Thanks for sharing your progress photos, Mom. I hope the new chaps get plenty of use and hold up well…and, of course, I love the name of the new dinghy (named after our baby, Noah)!

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Packing patterns…the reality

Our long awaited order of seven printed Thread Theory tissue patterns arrived on Wednesday and Matt and I have both photographed a few glimpses of how our week has progressed since.

We are swimming in tags, envelopes and instruction booklets!

I’ve been packing them each time I’m able to get Noah to play independently, nap independently, or nap on me (the ergo paired with a short dog walk is nap time magic). Matt’s been packing patterns every moment he isn’t photographing them, doing customer service emails or sleeping. I think he packed somewhere in the vicinity of 250 patterns yesterday afternoon and evening!

The first of the orders headed out to retailers this weekend. Be sure to check out the hugely expanded menswear collection at your favourite fabric shop next time you’re there!

This is a short post as I have to get back to packing orders. I think we will have the last of the stockist pre-orders shipped by Saturday. And then we can launch the new patterns in our shop! Wahoo!


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A little tour

I’ve been packing patterns each nap time this week so we can get all of the retail orders featuring our new printed patterns mailed as quickly as possible. I can’t wait to add all seven patterns to the shop! You guys have been so patient waiting for them! As per usual, we will do the discount that allows you to purchase the tissue pattern minus the cost of the PDF if you already purchased it in that format in the past.

In the meantime, here’s a little photo tour of our property and a few of the garden projects I’ve started:

Noah and I head out at least once a day for a walk and some time in the garden. We start by walking the property trails.

Behind the house there is a fern laden ridge with a little path going up to a dry and sunny meadow that reminds me of the arbutus lined and crunchy lichen covered meadows found atop the local mountains in the summer.

It is quite dry and hot up here even in early spring due to the southern exposure. We won’t be growing anything up here since it is rocky and isn’t irrigated but it’s an amazing spot for sunbathing and a picnic!

Turning to the right, there is a woodland trail that takes me swooping over to the other side of the property. My parents have purchased this land alongside us (we own the house and established homestead, they own the rest of the forest) and are considering building a house or at least part time cottage in this area one day. It would be a lovely spot as it is elevated and off to one side from our house so it would be very private.

The trail continues back down the ridge, this time on the other side of the property. At the bottom of the hill it is the dampest area with lush grass, deciduous trees, salmon berries and potentially two very old crabapple trees (I hope…I’m waiting for them to leaf out to confirm this).

Turning right, we are now level with the house and are heading back toward it.

To the left is a beautiful section of forest that is a bit different than the rest of the property, as it is predominantly large cedars and little underbrush. I wonder if it was left untouched when the rest of the land was cleared.

There is a beautiful old barn/garden shed tucked in the darkest part of that forest. I couldn’t get a photo as it was just too dark!It isn’t in usable condition right now but I dream of somehow moving it to the homestead area and fixing it up. I don’t know if that would be cost effective or realistic, it might make more sense to build a new garden shed and leave this one to it’s retirement deep in the forest.

Continuing along the grass path towards the house brings us to the most splendid sight on the property this spring. I’m not sure what this blooming tree is yet but I love it! There is a smaller one right outside Noah’s nursery window too. I’ve seen many of these trees in this area. Perhaps it’s a cherry tree but I don’t really think so…

Back at the house we walk by this grotto garden complete with stone walls, a cherry blossom tree and many ferns.

My parents worked very hard to clear this area out so it can grow back lush and fresh. It looked like an almost wild secret garden before all the brambles and ferns were cut back. I look forward to when it fills out again! As you can see, the sunroom windows look over this garden. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy our morning coffee.

Continuing on the walk, we turn left at the grotto to head down the driveway. This takes us along the homestead fence, past the carport, and past several naturalized patches of spring bulbs and wildflowers.

A past owner of our property (who now operates an organic veggie farm with a great market stand not far down the road) told us to look forward to naturalized chocolate lilies later this spring!

I love how the driveway curves and meanders. The forest at the front of the property is fairly young, I think we will be able to forage some nice spring greens from its fertile edges. I wonder if we will find mushrooms anywhere on the property this fall?

Now we’ve toured the bulk of the property, let’s head back down the driveway to visit the fenced homestead area on the left (on the right in the photo above which was taken while I was walking up to the road still).

About an acre of the 5 acres is fenced and cross fenced. Luki is loving the freedom of roaming this acre! Within the fencing is Matt’s shop, a small orchard with six dwarf apple trees, a chicken run, a field, and an area for our future goats or pigs. Also within the fencing is the house and a front lawn and garden.

Matt’s focus is the shop this summer. He’s cleared it out and will re-roof and insulate (and maybe even add a wood stove) before winter. The existing roof is very whimsical and unique (it isn’t caving in, it’s meant to be saddle shaped!) but we are adding a metal roof so it will become the standard shape soon.

My focus is the orchard and existing raised beds. It’s too late to prune the apple trees this year but we will get to that much needed task next winter. In the meantime, I’ve topped the raised beds with compost and am slowly adding compost beds around the fruit trees. I’m doing it all ‘no-dig’ inspired by British gardener Charles Dowding and other permaculture gardeners that I watch on YouTube (I used to do a lot of that while nursing Noah as a newborn!). It’s easiest to layer on top of the grass while carting a baby around, it puts our moving boxes to good use, and most importantly it doesn’t disturb the soil structure and apple tree roots.

We’ve added blueberry shrubs, a grape, sorrel, and calendula so far. I hope to create several layers of plantings in the orchard space with an emphasis on fruits and perennial vegetables.

While I’m doing the veggie garden in the raised beds this year, my long term goal is to move that to a large veggie garden in the big field. This is where the market garden was when the veggie farmer owned the property. He said he worked hard to make excellent soil for a couple of decades.

We planted an apple tree (a lovely housewarming gift from Matt’s aunt and uncle) in this area the other day and could tell it was excellent soil since it was dark and there were many worms!

Behind that field is a fenced area featuring a very sturdy chicken coop which just needs a good clean, a new door and some bedding. We will remove the rotted temporary coops that are sitting in front of it. We hope to get chickens in a couple of months if we can prepare the coop so it is clean and cozy for them!

Next door to the chicken run is the final paddock which was most recently used by the last owner’s dogs. Once it is spruced up I hope it will become the home of our future goats or pigs. Not this year though as we have our hands full enough as it is!

Now our tour has come full circle to the house, this time to the front door. The front lawn is proving to be a lovely spot for dappled afternoon sunshine.

There are some intriguing looking shrubs surrounding it. I think it’s probably too late to trim and tidy them this year as they are leafing out but I have invited my Nonnie (my grandmother) over mid April to investigate this area as she is a talented gardener. We will be having lunch together and tackling what we can in front of the house to clean things up.

I look forward to seeing this beautiful piece of land in all seasons! When we viewed this property in mid winter we were struck by how sheltered and calm it felt despite the fact that there had just been major wind storms in this area. The feeling of calm has persisted into the spring. It is very tranquil here and the diversity of the landscape really adds to this feeling in the spring – as I walk each pathway I hear different bird calls and smell different spring blossoms. It’s hard to force myself back inside to work…it’s a good thing I love working on Thread Theory so much or I might stay outside until Fall!


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We are home

6D1E74F2-6BFD-4269-A716-A61785854952We’ve moved, a very rough and ready version of our Thread Theory studio is up and running and we are back in business! Thank you for your patience while we moved. As our store banner explained, we were not shipping orders for a few days but now we are here, all orders that were placed during our move shipped out early this week.

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The moving process went smoothly thanks to the very enthusiastic help of our friends and family…they were pretty surprised that half of the massive moving truck was packed tightly with Thread Theory inventory and furniture! We almost moved double the volume we would have if we didn’t have a home based business.

We moved out, stayed at Matt’s parents house for a very relaxing 5 nights and then moved in to our new homestead.

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Matt’s Mom (wearing a modified Strathcona Henley) hanging with her grandson for 5 days – happy grandma and happy grandson!

My parents then generously stayed several nights to settle us in. They helped tackle some big garden maintenance that needed to be done before Spring sprung any farther than it already had.

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My mom cooked all our meals while she stayed with us giving me a chance to unpack. Thanks mom!

Meanwhile Matt doggedly set up the Thread Theory shelving, kept on top of customer emails, and arranged for a huge shipment of paper patterns to arrive (probably today!). I’ve been busy with Noah, of course, but have also started my veggie garden seeds during moments when Noah was hanging out with his grandparents (Matt’s family also came to visit a couple of nights once my parents left).

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This morning was our first morning on our own in the house. It feels lovely with all of the bright windows and Spring sunshine streaming in. The birds are chirping and we see a rabbit hopping through the meadows at least once a day (though I suppose that won’t continue once the poor rabbits realize our dog, Luki, is not fond of them!)

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Once our paper patterns arrive we will chug away at packing orders for our stockists (if you are a retail store and are reading this post, please expect a newsletter announcing we are ready for your order very soon). Once their orders have shipped off the following tissue patterns will be added to our shop at long last: The Belvedere Waistcoat, The Sayward Raglan, The Eastwood Pajamas, The Quadra Jeans and the Fulford Jeans. The Comox Trunks and Fairfield Button-up will also be restocked. Needless to say, we will be inviting many of our enthusiastic friends and family back to the homestead for a pattern packing party (will they still be enthusiastic by this point? I think we owe a lot of friends and family some help on future moves or life changes!).

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Aside from the excitement of launching seven tissue patterns at once, I’m just bubbling with zest for life in our new home right now. I’m so happy to be surrounded by forests and meadows, to watch spring flowers emerging, and to start my veggie garden. I love that my daily walk with Noah and Luki takes me past horses, sheep and even a ‘wonky donkey’ (named after the character in one of Noah’s most hilarious books…search Wonky Donkey on YouTube, you won’t regret it!).

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Matt is thrilled with the view from the Thread Theory studio as we have placed it in the second story of our house and it overlooks a good chunk of the homestead. When he’s not working he is out with his chainsaw and fixing up the property. The project he is most thrilled with is setting up his workshop. It looks like it will need a new roof this summer and has required major clearing out due to most of the cupboards being filled with rat droppings and rot…yuck!

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We won’t have any glamorous photos of the Thread Theory studio to share with you for a while since, as I said before, it’s just roughly set up while we focus on actually working in it and maintaining the property. Next winter we will do lots of work inside the house and at that point I hope to paint the studio and set it up beautifully. Do you have any recommendations of studio tour blog posts? I’d love to start assembling ideas!

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Well, I better get back outside to get more seeds planted! It’s good to be back on the blog! See you next Friday and have a lovely weekend.


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New direction for the blog…and I’m really excited for it!

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Noah turned 4 months old on the 19th! Matt and I are beginning to settle into a bit of a routine that allows us to keep Thread Theory operating smoothly while we still focus the majority of our time on little Noah and his entertaining determination to master the next skill (right now he is very determined to sit up).  Matt packs orders and replies to emails first thing in the morning while I play with Noah and formulate a couple small goals and plans for the day. After lunch we generally head to the forest or around the neighbourhood to walk our pup and I try to fit in my goals between nursing sessions while Matt plays with Noah mid afternoon.

When Noah is a month or two older I plan to make my goals a little larger (i.e. writing pattern instructions!) but right now, all I am able to accomplish for Thread Theory is the occasional sewing related customer service email, social media, and adding the occasional product or blog post to our website. I’m ok with that! That’s why I worked so hard to launch 4 patterns over the last year!

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Actually, of late, most of my time when I’m able to sneak away during a nap or when Matt is with Noah has been devoted to packing our house and studio! After 2.5 years in our current home and 6 years living in the Comox Valley we will be moving 1 1/2 hours drive south to Yellow Point in mid March! We have been searching for our ideal property on which to live the life we dream for some time now. Those of you who listened to the Seamwork Radio podcast that I was featured on a couple of years ago might remember the dominant theme: living a simple life where we are connected to our daily activities through making…and for Matt and I that frequently extends beyond sewing! Our new home will feature the forest, meadows, homestead and community that we want to immerse ourselves in. I can’t wait to set up the Thread Theory studio, raise some chickens (there’s a coop already on the property!) and start my garden.

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I’ll certainly share lots of photos and stories about our new home and mini-farm once we have moved, in the meantime, this brings me to the main purpose of this blog post:

In the plentiful quiet and still time while I sit and nurse Noah at night I have been brainstorming how to reorganize Thread Theory avenues of communication to better suit life with a baby and our new routines in Yellow Point. Right now I communicate with all of you through the blog, our newsletter, Instagram, Facebook, and the Thread Theory Sewing Community. There is a lot of overlap here which I find repetitive and time consuming to create and I worry it is repetitive and dull for you to read! I also feel disconnected from you because fostering children last year and having a baby recently has cut in to my sewing time. I no longer share many personal projects or anecdotes on the blog…and I miss that (and the resulting conversation in the comments)!

So here is my plan to both simplify and reinvigorate my connection with everyone who follows the story of our menswear pattern company:

First, the blog, which existed long before we ever launched a pattern, will go back to its roots as a platform for stories about my sewing projects (using Thread Theory patterns or otherwise). I used to post about things going on in our life as well. Back when I wrote the blog more prosaically, most of what was going on in my life had to do with the thrill of developing a new business. Now that Thread Theory has grown up and become so stable, I’ve filled my life with many other passions in addition to our little company. Most of these are related to homesteading and generally involve making (while wearing handmade) so I think you might relate and enjoy my stories. In short: If you follow the blog you will read about projects and our life as the family behind Thread Theory patterns. The blog will no longer be the place to read about pattern releases, product launches or sales.

Which brings me to our newsletter. To stay up to date on Thread Theory patterns and sales, subscribe to this (enter your e-mail at the bottom of our homepage)! It will arrive in your email inbox. It is already and will continue to be the very best way to be the first to hear about pattern launches. Traditionally, though, I’ve shared in-depth examinations of our new patterns on the blog…these detailed posts will move to the newsletter instead so you can gain an understanding of our new patterns even if you don’t follow the blog.

Sew-alongs will be posted directly to our Thread Theory website instead of on the blog. I’ll announce sew-alongs through the newsletter and social media. This means sew-alongs will no longer be on the blog.

Instagram will continue to be my main form of social media as it is a great way to find your Thread Theory projects and share them with Thread Theory followers. Don’t expect videos or ‘stories’ from me on Instagram anytime soon…I’m too shy for that! I love sharing your projects and my photos on the main feed though. I’ll probably continue to share an image from each new blog post on Instagram too since I know many of you click through to read intriguing  blog posts instead of following the blog via email or a blog feed.

Lastly, while I don’t personally use Facebook, I know that MANY of you do (but don’t use Instagram). With that in mind I will continue to push all Instagram posts to our Facebook page so you can stay nicely in the loop. If you want to share your projects or read what other people have to say about our patterns, the best place for Facebook users to go is our Thread Theory Sewing Community. That group has become so large, active and vibrant! I don’t always answer questions in a timely manner in that group though as I consider it a platform for Thread Theory sewists to interact candidly without interference from me. The best way to contact me with questions and comments will always be by email at info@threadtheory.ca!

So, to sum things up:

– Matt and I are so excited for our move to our dream homestead. Follow the personal side of Thread Theory, which will involve sewing and homesteading  through the blog.

– Stay up to date with our pattern company developments and sales via our newsletter.

– Join sew-alongs through the newsletter rather than the blog.

– See snippets of personal life, our company developments, and your amazing projects on Instagram and Facebook.

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Does this reformatting work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback as I don’t want to reformat in a way that displeases most! Mostly, I’d like to make sure: As blog followers, does my plan to bring back my personal, prose style posts and move business news to the newsletter appeal to you?


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Men’s Jeans Sew-Along: Setting up your machine and sewing the patch pockets

Today we begin to sew!  Let’s set up our machine with topstitching thread so we can complete the first step – sewing the patch pockets.

Load a full bobbin of regular polyester thread to use regardless of whether your needle is threaded with regular or topstitching thread.  Most machines create neater topstitching when the thick topstitching thread is only through the needle (and not on the bobbin).

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Set your stitch length a little longer than normal.  On my machine (the industrial machine pictured above), my normal stitch length is 2.5 but when I topstitch I increase the length to 3.5.  I used to only increase it to 3 but noticed that the results look more professional (and similar to storebought) when I use a longer length.

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Test out the stitching on a couple layers of denim.  Do you see skipped stitches, unbalanced tension or snarled threads?  You may need to change your needle, adjust your foot tension, or adjust your bobbin tension.  Tilly & the Buttons has a great post on troubleshooting these things that includes a detailed video.  A photo from this post is included above.

Is your machine all set?  Let’s get sewing!


 

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Let’s begin by assembling our patch pockets.  We’ll work on the back patch pockets and the coin pocket at the same time.  Press the top edge of each pocket to the wrong side 1/4″.  Press under again 1/2″ to enclose the raw edge entirely.

Edgestitch across the top of the pocket 1/8″ from the hem as pictured below.  If you are sewing the Fulford Jeans, create a second row of topstitching 1/4″ from the edgestitching.

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Alternatively, if you are sewing with a selvage denim, you might like to highlight the selvage on your coin pocket!  I did this for the Fulford sample by cutting the coin pocket out sideways (so the grain is going across the pocket rather than from top to bottom.  I placed the paper pattern piece so it extended 3/4″ over the selvage since I would not be hemming the top of the pocket:

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Press the remaining pocket edges under using the 5/8″ seam allowance.

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If you would like to reduce bulk and create a pocket with no raw edges inside, you can trim the seam allowances to 3/8″ or less so that they will be enclosed by the topstitching later.

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Now we are ready to attach our back pockets to the pants (we will be attaching the coin pocket in a later post when we construct the front pockets).

I like to mark the pocket placement on my jeans back pieces by using pins.  Place the fabric pieces with right sides together and place the paper pattern on top.  I then push a pin through all the layers at each pocket marking.  I then push a pin through the opposite direction using the sharp point of the first pin as a guide.

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I now have two pins going through the pocket placement marking.

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When I pull the layers apart, one pin stays with the paper and one pin stays with the fabric.  Now I add another pin to the top fabric layer so that both back pieces have their own marking pins:

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Place the top corners of the patch pockets so they line up with the marked placement points.  Pin the pocket in place and then create your topstitching as instructed.

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The Quadra Jeans feature tapered stitching along the pocket sides.  You might like to mark this with chalk to ensure you taper your topstitching evenly.

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The Fulford Jeans do not include tapered stitching so you simply need to keep your second row of stitching an even 1/4″ away from your first row.

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Finish off both the Quadra and Fulford pockets by placing a bartack between the two rows of stitching.  The bartack is a narrow zig zag stitch with very little length.  If your machine has trouble doing this or you do not have a zig zag stitch available to you, you can backstitch thoroughly using a straight stitch.  The results are not quite as pretty but will still give you the needed strength.

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Next post we will move on to our front pockets!  See you then!


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50% off all PDF sewing patterns – even wallets!

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I hope that you are enjoying the start of a cosy (long) weekend snuggled up with family and friends!  Or perhaps you are carving out some quality time with your sewing machine and your project plans for home-made gifts?

We have put every single PDF pattern in our shop on sale for 1/2 price to encourage you to stay home and make gifts rather than head out to the shops this weekend.  Here’s to spending time with those that matter to you and here’s to thoughtful making!

Download your weekend project at our PDF 50% off sale >

(The lovely image of a couple sewing together was found on a very relevant and well-written blog post by Justine of Sew Country Chick. Her post is all about minimalism and sewing and was written for Black Friday two years ago.)