Thread Theory

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


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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.)


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Look a little closer – sewing pattern gold

We have a fresh batch of vintage patterns in our shop courtesy of Susan, a very generous sewist who emailed me to say that she would send me a huge box of menswear patterns from all the way across Canada.  In lieu of payment she asked me to donate the money I would have given her to the Red Cross and their efforts to help those affected by the massive wildfires we had in central British Columbia this summer.  When I received Susan’s email I was very touched by her awareness of the troubles going on in my province and her concern…especially since Matt was away fighting those fires when she asked me to make the donation!

As is often said on sewing blogs and social media…isn’t the sewing community filled with just the most supportive and thoughtful of people?

I have yet to add the rest of the patterns she mailed (it really was a massive box) but I’ve begun to make headway and found the box to be filled with gems.  Here are a few of my favourites (there are loads more in the shop!):

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Every time I add a vintage caftan pattern to our shop it heads off almost immediately to a new home.  I wonder if this one will become a linen shirt with subtle embroidery around the yoke?

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The technical illustrations for this zippered sweater or jacket show lots of promise.  If it were sewn in a soft shell material rather than fleece (with lots of topstitching and perhaps a reflective zipper) it would create a very modern and high end jacket similar to those designed by Patagonia or Arc’teryx!

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I often receive emails requesting a pattern for a workshirt that can be worn atop another layer.  While I haven’t yet designed such a pattern, this McCall’s design could fill the void!  While the workshirt is the main draw for me when examining this pattern, it handily includes a pattern for a vest and trousers to complete the outfit.

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I love the idea of a contrast bias band on this tie!  What a great way to mix and match small scraps of silk.  While the fabrics chosen for the sample don’t especially appeal to me, I can imagine a more subtle use of solids to create an ombré effect or perhaps a combination of florals.

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This Father & Son pattern would make a great base to use for Christmas pajamas!

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I really love this jacket pattern and was tempted to keep it for myself if I could ever find time to sew my dad a jacket from charcoal boiled wool with a brass zipper!  The side entry pockets would be very practical for him and I can imagine finishing off the chest pockets with antique brass snaps.  He would also love that quilted vest…if only my sewing time were limitless!

To see the rest of the vintage menswear patterns (as well as unisex and boys) head on over to the Vintage section of our shop. >


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Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory team!

Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory Team

Matt and I would like to introduce you to Jaymee, the third member of our little Thread Theory team!  Jaymee joined us a month ago as our Customer Service and Wholesale Relations Manager.  If you’ve emailed us at info@threadtheory.ca recently you will likely have chatted with her already!

Jaymee is a very strong addition to the Thread Theory team.  She keeps the email inbox happily under control and has been posting to our Instagram and Facebook accounts each week.  Since I am no longer busy accomplishing these daily tasks I have been free to work on upcoming patterns and search for new inspiring menswear fabrics and tools at a far more rapid pace than I was able to in recent months!

Aside from quickly taking on the daily tasks of Thread Theory business, Jaymee is brimming with energy and enthusiasm for the future which we will be putting to good use – there are some great plans in the works for improved communications with our wonderful retailers!

So that you can get to know Jaymee and feel comfortable speaking to her when you comment on Instagram or email us at info@threadtheory.ca, I have asked her a few questions:

Morgan: What brought you to the Comox Valley?

Jaymee: My partner and I had been working on an exit strategy from Vancouver for years! We wanted to live anywhere along the west coast. Finally we were both finished with school and my partner got a job in the Valley.

Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory Team 4

Morgan: When you saw the Thread Theory advertisement, what was your first thought?

Jaymee: Working from home? With a local company? An excuse to seriously get into sewing? Yes please! I never thought I would get the job and even sent Morgan an email explaining how inspired I am by Thread Theory and how I would be a great fit even though I am new to sewing. I love creating with my hands; bread, pottery, gardening, ALL of it. I grew up doing all sorts of sewing projects with my Grandma but it didn’t really translate as I got a bit older and moved out west. So making my own clothes has been on my personal to-do list for years now. Luckily I strongly believe that surrounding myself with those who inspire me and are doing what I want to be doing and learning speeds up the process -it’s working!

Morgan: Can you tell us a little bit about your past?

Jaymee: I grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario and I could not wait to move out west, which I did when I was 17 to attend UBC. Like many young people I had no idea what I wanted to work towards. In the end I graduated with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Eco-Health, a cross-discipline approach to exploring the health of social and ecological systems. I had also, until we moved, been rocking the health and wellness industry with my juicing (and entrepreneurial) skills by working at the best health forward shops in Vancouver (@thejuicetruck and @tightclub).  Now that we are in a more rural area, I’ve come full circle and I can’t wait to have my own land one day.

Morgan: Now that you have had a month to immerse yourself in Thread Theory and the indie pattern sewing community, what are your top 3 favourite things about working in this industry?

Jaymee:

  1. Realising that I can make really anything I want is pretty freeing! It feels like I cracked a secret code that the Industry doesn’t want anyone to know #freeyourwardrobe #freeyourself
  2. Obviously I am very new to sewing, but I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such a tight knit sewing community! Learning about other sewists like @sewciologist (who considers himself pretty new to sewing as well) is so inspiring.
  3. I love how sewing kits make the whole experience of learning to sew more approachable. I’m planning to try out the Comox Trunks kit soon!

 

Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory Team 5

Morgan: Describe what a day working for Thread Theory looks like for you.

Jaymee: Until I get to know the ins and outs of the industry and of Thread Theory, I am working part time. So on most days I wake up, make a latte or a tea and answer emails (you may have received one from me already!) and wholesale inquiries.  I’ll then eat some breakfast and switch modes: Social Media! Getting to know all of you has been a treat! Once a week Morgan I have been meeting at a local coffee shop or brewery to touch base and make goals for the future.

Morgan: What projects do you have in the works for Thread Theory?

Jaymee: My #1 job right now is connecting with our wholesalers and getting feedback from them. I am eager to make very convenient for shops to carry our patterns so that more sewists can make menswear! So if you have a favourite local shop that may not know about Thread Theory patterns yet, drop me a line at info@threadtheory.ca and I’ll introduce myself to them!

I’m also really excited about a new pattern series that we have in the works (shhhh!). Morgan is working on some sewing patterns suitable for new sewists and I LOVE being part of the process. So far I have had the opportunity to test out the patterns and have also given my input on the designs. I feel so lucky that I get to be creative and brainstorm for my job!

Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory Team 2

Morgan: What are your hopes and dreams for your future in the Comox Valley?

Jaymee: I am looking forward to growing my family and creating a home here. I feel so lucky that we landed in the Comox Valley! Living here feels like adult summer camp; everyone I meet is starting a new business or doing something that inspires them, in return I feel like I too must do what inspires me. It’s contagious!  

Morgan: And how about your hopes for your future with Thread Theory?

Jaymee: I’m hoping my role will grow with the company. Currently I am still figuring out my pace, working from home is new to me and it takes a lot of discipline! As I become more comfortable with my current position I hope to start packaging up orders and assisting in sourcing quality tools and fabrics. I want to help inspire those new to sewing by helping to remove the barriers that have kept me from making and creating until now. I want to inspire seasoned sewers to create with quality materials that have as little impact on the environment as possible. The health of our communities is directly linked to the health of our environments and I believe this stands true for the sewing community as well.

Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory Team 3
Morgan: As a new sewist, what are you most excited to create?

Jaymee: There are so many things! So I will name just a few:

  • Underpants
  • Stanfield (a wool knit Henley)
  • Rain Jacket
  • Bread bag

Obviously they are not in order from easy to hard- but those are a few items that are on my maker’s bucketlist. I recently began experimenting with natural dye and I hope to combine these skills to create truly one of a kind items.


 

Thank you for your candid answers, Jaymee!

To sum things up, Matt and I are so glad to have Jaymee on the Thread Theory team! Her enthusiasm to learn about the sewing community, friendly writing style, love of the west coast, environmental consciousness, and energetic and systematic approach to her work have made her a perfect fit for the Thread Theory team.


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Call for pattern testers! (Closed: 21/03/17)

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Update 21/03/17: Thank you for such an enthusiastic response to this call for testers!  The testers have all been selected now (from hundreds of responses!) and I look forward to hearing their feedback.  The details that you sent in your blog comments and emails were extremely helpful to me.  I can’t wait to share the finished pattern with you!

Yes, we have a new pattern coming this Spring!  The third draft of the instructions will be sent off to our graphic designer this afternoon so I am ready to hear your feedback.

I haven’t been keeping our upcoming pattern a secret from you and have mentioned it several times on the blog.

Usually I strive to keep upcoming designs a secret simply for the fun of it!  Many other pattern companies do this and I think it adds a sense of fun and excitement to impending pattern releases for both the pattern designer and the eager sewists.  The menswear patterns I am trying to develop for Thread Theory are a bit different though; our patterns are predominantly classic designs that can be used as building blocks for any men’s wardrobe.  I don’t try to create garment designs that are innovative or unique, instead, my main goal is to create a comprehensive collection of well fitting staples that use quality construction techniques.

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So…if I think about my aims, it seems a bit silly to keep my designs a secret!  Instead, I could be sharing them with all of you as I create the pattern to receive as much feedback as possible!  When I did this with our Fairfield Button-up pattern I was beyond thrilled with the feedback that you guys generously gave me.  I tallied up all of your blog comments and was surprised to discover that many of you preferred the option for darts on a men’s shirt pattern.  This is not a common feature on most menswear shirts where I live and so I likely would have left the pleated back as the only option…thanks to your feedback, Variation 2 of the Fairfield featuring back darts was born and has since been a favourite style for Matt and for many of you!

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Our impending spring pattern release is a classic men’s waistcoat pattern.  This is an important garment to add to our pattern line for several reasons:  It is a key layering piece for formal outfits (and I think the more men need to realise how comfortable and versatile a vest is for both casual and formal outfits!).  It is an approachable and very satisfying ‘first piece of menswear’ for novice sewists.  It is quick and profitable to sew – you can create a whole bridal party worth of vests with only a small investment of time and fabric.  It is an excellent introduction to tailoring before you launch into larger projects such as a suit jacket or coat.

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Waistcoats + Summer Weddings = ideal combo.  Photos from this Pinterest board.

With those characteristics in mind, I’ve designed our waistcoat pattern to include two variations – one for novice sewists and one for sewists who would like to try their hand at more involved techniques.

I am looking for test sewers to try out my pattern and instructions that fall in to both those categories.  Please comment on this post or email me at info@threadtheory.ca if you match either of these categories:

  1. You are fairly new to sewing and have not sewn a lined garment before.  You are opinionated about menswear styles and would like to give me feedback on both the instructions (are they intimidating, easy to understand, too detailed, not detailed enough?) and the style of the vest.
  2. You are experienced sewing waistcoats.  You have tried at least one waistcoat sewing pattern in the past and are willing to give me your opinion on the construction techniques that I have used.  You would be willing to have a look at some of the resources I have been referring to as I write the instructions and discuss the nitty gritty of order of construction, understitching, the size of the lining in relation to the main garment and that sort of thing.  I am looking for some very particular feedback that I will discuss with you over email!

I value tester feedback highly and appreciate that it takes a lot of time and effort on your part!  Please, only volunteer if this is something that you enjoy doing and would like to spend time chatting with me over the next three to four weeks!  There is no need to have a blog or any form of social media and you do not need to sew a presentable final garment if you do not want to (but I would prefer if you follow all of the steps, from understitching to adding buttons, even if it is just in scrap fabric).

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Waistcoats – useful for all seasons and styles!  Photos from this Pinterest board.

If you don’t want to test sew but still have an opinion about waistcoats (be it construction or styling), comment on this post!  Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  1. Have or would you sew a vest?
  2. How many pockets do you like? None, 2, 3, 4?
  3. How many buttons do you like?
  4. Do you prefer vests with a back panel made from lining fabric or from the main wool fabric?
  5. A vest worn without a suit jacket…yay or nay?
  6. What do you call them: Waistcoats or vests?