Thread Theory

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


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Our Pattern Collections and Names

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I don’t think I’ve ever really fully explained how we name our patterns or organize them into collections. Since I’ve received many queries about this over the years, it is about time!

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We began by developing four collection names as a framework to design our patterns within. The collections are Parkland Casual Wear, Alpine Activewear, Cityscape Urban Menswear, and Meadow Women’s Wear. You can see our very first four patterns marked out on the map above. They range in location from central to southern Vancouver Island. Let’s delve into these collections and the place names we’ve selected in more detail:

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Garments within the Parkland Collection must be suitable to wear while strolling or picnicing at one of Vancouver Island’s many beaches or parks. Alpine Collection garments, on the other hand, must be suitable for more strenuous hiking or climbing throughout the mountain ranges on our island. Cityscape garments are great for either casual or business use in Victoria (Vancouver Island’s largest city which is still very small as far as cities go). Meadow Women’s Wear is simply comfortable women’s garments, there aren’t any restrictions on these designs as they have always been special releases for Thread Theory’s birthday and are simply garments I would like to wear!

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Within the Parkland Collection you will find the Newcastle Cardigan, named after Newcastle Island near central Vancouver Island. This island was a great place to visit when we were kids. Both our families boated recreationally (and we probably came across each other at anchorages but, knowing my shy sister and I, we wouldn’t have joined in with whatever antics Matt and his brother were getting up to!

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The Jedediah Pants were named after the island Matt and I visited (also near central Vancouver Island) by borrowed sailing boat when we were engaged. We climbed to the top of the highest mountain on the island where Matt proposed by writing a note to me and placing it in the stone cairn!

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The Strathcona Henley is named after Strathcona Park which is an enourmous conservation area extending from mid to north Vancouver Island. Within this park are many spectacular hike in camping locations but also some lovely day walks, including my favourite, Paradise Meadows. This walk is a circle route with many boardwalks, alpine lakes, wildflowers and whiskey jack birds.

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The Goldstream Peacoat was named after Goldstream Park in Victoria. This park is right near the main highway but upon taking several steps from the parking lot you are immersed in anothe world of ancient forests and babbling streams. When we lived in Victoria we loved to camp here. The Goldstream design would be a nice choice to wear here when taking a day trip from the city.

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The Sayward Raglan was named after the northern Vancouver Island town of Sayward. Matt and I were considering buying a property in this tiny town around the time that we developed this pattern. While not named after a park, it still felt like a fitting name because the main reason we were drawn to this town is that it felt like the entire town and surrounding mountains were one big park! We found gorgeous free camping beside a stream while we visited, watched some great baseball games, and climbed the local mountain.

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The Eastwood Pajamas were named after the woods that we frequented daily when we lived in the Comox Valley. We joked that the woods were such an extension of our home we would almost be comfortable wearing pajamas there. It was the best place for blackberry picking, was right near our foster children’s school, and was Luki’s place to socialize with other dogs. We’ve found some great walks close to our new home but we still miss Eastwood!

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The Quadra Jeans are named after Quadra Island, another location that Matt and I tried to buy a property (our offer was turned down). It is a gorgeous little island just off of Campbell River and features some of our favourite cruising grounds – sandy beaches, a hut filled with driftwood art left by boaters from decades past, excellent crabbing and prawning, and some lovely walks.

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That brings us to the Alpine Collection now! The first pattern in this collection was the Comox Trunks. They were designed with hiking in mind – they are close fitting and seamed in such a way to avoid chaffing. They were named after my hometown, Comox, because we returned to this community after attending school in the city while we were in the midst of designing this pattern. The Comox Valley is nestled between the mountains and the ocean so it is always only a short drive to reach a hilly hike.

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Next in the collection was the Arrowsmith Undershirt (our free pattern), paired with the Comox Trunks you have a nice base layer to wear while on adventures. Arrowsmith is the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island and features a challenging hike.

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The Jutland Pants were named after one of the mountains just outside of the Comox Valley. It can be reached by avid hikers with Paradise Meadows as the starting point for the hike. I suspect shoulder season hikers would appreciate the lined Jutland Pants!

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The Finlayson Sweater was named after Mount Finlayson which is right near Goldstream Park. We thought it a fitting name because, despite being part of the Alpine Collection, it can be made to be more of a casual or dressy garment depending on fabric choice (sew it in merino for hiking, in terrycloth for cosy loungewear, or in a textured sweater knit for a smart and dressy sweater). A mountain close to the city sort of bridges that gap between wilderness and civilization!

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The Fulford Jeans were named after Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island (one of the Gulf Islands near southern Vancouver Island. This was yet another area that we tried to buy a homestean unsuccessfully! It is a hilly region for such a small island. The Fulfords would have been excellent jeans to wear while working to clear and build on the land we tried to buy!

Our upcoming pattern will also be part of the Alpine Collection. It is called Carmanah which is named after the next hike I would like to do once Noah is ready for this sort of adventure. The Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is on the west coast of Vancouver Island (all our other garments have been named after locations on the east coast which is where we live). The park has a beautiful hike through truly ancient Sitka spruce trees.

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Moving on to the Cityscape Collection, which is currently our smallest collection. You may notice that our daily lives don’t involve a lot of formal wear or time spent in cities anymore! All the same, everyone needs a smart outfit or three in their closet to wear to special occasions. Plus, sewists have the flexibility to vary the aesthetic of a design based on the fabric they choose! Matt still wears his flannel Fairfield Button-up every week at least once through the entire year (he insists it is actually quite cool and comfortable as a light layer to put on in the morning and evening throughout the summer!). The Fairfield Button-up was named for the street that we lived on while I attended my Fashion Design program in Victoria.

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The Belvedere Waistcoat was named for the apartment building near ours (while in Victoria) with, what I thought to be, the classiest of names!

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The Qualicum Bag, the final garment in this collection (though I am sure it will continue to grow over the years) was named after the town in which Matt’s parents live. The Qualicum Bag can pack a lot – perfect for our weekend trips to visit!

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The final collection, The Meadow, features the Camas Blouse and Lazo Trousers. I named these garments after my favourite meadow locations on Vancouver Island. Camas refers to the Camas flower meadows found in the Garry Oak ecosystem of southern Vancouver Island. We often walked through the famous Camas meadow at Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park which was just across the road from our apartment building.

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Cape Lazo is in the Comox Valley and consists of a sandy and windy spit with a beautiful beach and some stunning seaside homes. Many of these properties  feature resiliant wild grasses that turn golden in the summer and sway in the wind. I’ve always enjoyed driving along the peninsula road during summer windstorms to watch the waves and the wind in the grass.

And there you have it, the story behind our garment and collection names! I’ve also added collection buttons on our shop home page so it is easier to view our patterns by collection. Scroll to the bottom to see!

Have you visited Vancouver Island? What landmark would you want to remember by naming one of our patterns?

 

 


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Orange Leaves, Orange Pumpkins, Orange-haired Baby

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As it turns out, Fall is an excellent season for our new property. Our land is covered in many maple trees and the decorative plantings around our house feature showy decidous trees as well. Once the weather cooled and the leaves turned, even the rainiest of days was made brighter by the Fall display.

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The fire pit has really come into its own in the last couple of months. Matt had a lovely fire going all afternoon and evening when we hosted a big family Thanksgiving potluck several weekends ago.

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I was thrilled that everyone managed to make themselves comfortable around the fire on all manner of scavenged dining chairs and stumps. We brought out the appetizers and drinks and people passed a lovely couple of hours before dinner enjoying the warmth from both the fire and the October sunshine.

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Noah turned one this October (already!?) so the Thanksgiving feast also served as a bit of a birthday party for him and the other October babies in the family. As a birthday gift, my sister and her partner spent some time setting up a classic tire swing and she took this gorgeous photo of him enjoying it.

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Our chickens are fully grown now but, unfortunately, six of the eight turned out to be roosters. As a result, four of the roosters are now in the freezer which was a tough introduction to homesteading but necessary for the health and happiness of the two little hens. Now that the days are so short, I don’t think the hens will be inclined to lay their first eggs until the spring.

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Next year I hope to either buy two more hens or perhaps let one of our hens hatch her own eggs if she goes broody in the spring. Matt and I have to decide whether we are willing to face culling more roosters should the hatched chicks turn out to be male…at this point it seems that it would be more enjoyable to find some grown hens but I worry they won’t integrate happily with an existing flock. Does anyone have experience with integrating mature hens? I’d love some tips!

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As the weather becomes wetter and colder I am trying to keep a routine in place that has Noah playing and me working on the property daily. His new rain suit really helps with this but I think the biggest factor that will allow me to prep garden beds this winter will be his ability to walk.  I expect he’ll be walking (and running!) very soon! Right now he loves to walk outside while holding my hands but, understandably, is not interested in crawling around and exploring on his own like he does when indoors. The ground is wet and cold on his hands (and he whips gloves off within seconds of me wrestling them onto him). Once he’s walking he’ll have more independence and we can both play and work in the same area of the property. Am I way too optimistic in imagining this? Maybe I’ll just be busy chasing him at that point!

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As winter approaches we are fine tuning the operation of our big wood furnace and are thrilled that it can heat the house overnight. It is very cosy! We will be having an arborist over to fall a dead tree near the workshop. When he’s here I’ll ask him to limb a couple of the big cedar trees to give the trees below them a bit of space. I look forward to decorating the porch with boughs! I think the house will look so pretty bedecked with cedar in the snow!

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As per usual, I’ll finish this seasonal homestead update with a bit of Thread Theory news. We have a pattern launching soon (VERY soon!)! It really is any day now! Be the first to know and receive the special launch day discount by signing up for our newsletter.

I will be working on the next pattern instructions over the winter. The pattern is already mostly finished! I hope to launch this next one in early Spring 2020.

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Well, that’s it for now! Happy Halloween everyone! I hope yesterday included and perhaps this weekend includes pumpkins, Fall leaves and fireworks!


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Welcome Baby Noah!

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I wasn’t sure I should post this on here but since I have so many family members following this blog, I have been receiving many enquiries as to whether I would introduce our new baby in a blog post!  I won’t be posting about him very often online (this blog is supposed to be about menswear sewing after all), but here is one of what I’m sure will be the occasional exception!  This is Noah, our baby boy, who arrived on October 19th.  He’s filled Matt and I with endless love!  We have been pleased to be surrounded by helpful and loving family who obviously feel the same way that we do about our little baby.

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To honour all the love our family has already given to Noah, this post is sort of a ‘handmade where’s Waldo’…can you spot the lovingly handmade items in each of these photos? As sort of a game I will refrain from telling you about the items within this post but will add a comment with the answers so you can check them out once you’ve had a chance to guess!

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As you can imagine, we are fairly busy with our new baby right now but Matt has been a super-dad so far and has been managing to feed me (while I feed Noah) and provide all of the customer service for Thread Theory.  If you have sent us an email lately or made an order that required shipping, it is likely Matt who you have been in touch with.  I’m grabbing the occasional 10 minutes of Thread Theory time here and there but am more or less on maternity leave at the moment (our jeans sew-along posts were pre-scheduled…don’t worry, I wasn’t sewing jeans while in the hospital!).  I hope to phase back in to accomplishing more Thread Theory work over the next couple of months as I am very excited to dive into the instructions for our next pattern.  The pattern is sitting on my shelf all drafted and ready to go and is proving to be a great incentive to get back to work once Noah and I have found our rhythm.

Until then, I look forward to connecting with you via the occasional blog post!  Happy sewing!


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What I’ve Been Making Lately

I think it’s high time for an update on what I’ve been working on outside the realm of Thread Theory lately!  I’ve been a bit quiet on this front for the last year because Matt and I were foster parents from August until the end of this June…this took up every ounce of energy we had and so we pared our lives down to Thread Theory and caring for the children exclusively.  Fostering also required that we keep our family life very private for the confidentiality of the children, hence why I haven’t mentioned this phase of our lives on the blog yet.

Now that the children have moved on to more permanent situations, we are delving into making things in a big way!  The biggest project I have in the works is this:

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Our baby boy, due on October 10th!

Thus, my sewing projects in the last couple of weeks have been much smaller and cuter than what you might usually see on my sewing table.

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Perhaps you recognise some of these fabrics from our shop in the past…what a great way to use up off cuts!  The patterns I’ve used for this cute little wardrobe are as follows:

Booties: Twig & Tale Animal Baby Shoes.  I highly recommend this pattern, it was so much fun to sew and the instructions were impeccably detailed.

Pants: Sew 4 Bub Grow With Me Pants. A free pattern!

Hats: How Does She? Knot Hard At All Hat.  An easy tutorial.

Scratch Mittens: 5 Little Monsters No Scratch Baby Mittens.  Another great tutorial.

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Menswear sewing will recommence shortly since Matt really needs a new pair of shorts this summer.  I also hope to finish a fresh Goldstream Peacoat for him to wear this winter.  I’ve been sewing it very slowly and photographing the steps as I go to create a Goldstream Sew-along to launch this fall.


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Behind the Scenes: 2017 recap and looking forward

2018 has just begun and it’s time for Matt and I to look back on our last year and look forward to the next!  This post is a summary of Thread Theory developments in 2017 and a little glimpse at what we have planned pattern-wise for the coming months.

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January 2017

Last January we held a Lazo Hack Contest for our freshly launched women’s trouser pattern.  I really enjoyed seeing your Lazo sewing plans popping up on social media and still wear the cozy lounge pants that I created as my contribution to the contest.  You can view the Lazo Lounge Pant tutorial here.

Our Lazo Trousers were launched to celebrate Thread Theory’s 5th birthday.  A portion of their proceeds has been donated to a Vancouver Island organisation that is close to my heart: Help Fill A Dream.  You can read all about this organisation in the Lazo Trouser pattern description.  In 2017 we donated $1278.  Thank you so very much for making this possible!

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February 2017

February 2017 was when we began the idea of stocking vintage menswear sewing patterns in our shop.  We also launched a variety of new tools and held a knitting supply sale.

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March 2017

In March we put out the call for pattern testers for our Belvedere Waistcoat pattern.  We were inundated with generous offers by sewists eager to volunteer their time!

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April 2017

April saw the launch of our Spring Capsule Collection of bamboo knits and hemp fabrics.  We also launched the first collection of vintage sewing patterns that blog readers world-wide sold or donated to our shop.

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May 2017

May was a pattern release month!  We launched the Belvedere Waistcoat and promptly hosted a sew-along so you would be ready for Father’s Day gift giving.  I loved the photoshoot that we did with my family at our local pub.

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June 2017

In June our focus was increasing our menswear pattern collection – we added more vintage menswear patterns and also began stocking Jalie, Kwik Sew, Burda and Vogue designs.

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July 2017

In July we introduced our wonderful new team member, Jaymee!  I don’t know what we would have done without her diligent work responding to emails, working with wholesale clients and posting on social media over the last half year.  I look forward to growing her role on the Thread Theory team in 2018.  July also saw the release of our summer fabric collection of breezy and environmentally conscious staples.

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August 2017

In August we held our first remnant sale to make way for our upcoming Fall fabrics.  Most remnant items were sold out within 24 hours!  It was nice to see that these small cuts of fabric would not be going to waste.  I also launched some visible mending supplies and showed you the summer mending I had done using Sashiko stitching.

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September 2017

September was a little quiet on the blog as we focused on our family but I managed to share a few interesting posts including a video tour of our tissue patterns and a video introducing an inspiring sustainable menswear designer.  We also held a sale on our Jutland Pants pattern.

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October 2017

We released some cozy winter sweater fabrics in October and added the option to order swatches in our fabric shop.  We also launched four new French translations for our patterns that can be downloaded for free.  Our entire line of garment patterns could now be accessed in both English and French.

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November 2017

November was another pattern launch month!  This time we added 3 mini patterns to our shop – the Elastic Wallet, the Card Wallet and the Bifold Wallet.  We also offered these as a kit of three patterns at a discounted price.  Then, to add to the excitement, these new patterns, along with the rest of our PDF patterns went on sale for 50% off near the end of November!  I hope that there were many lovingly sewn wallets under your Christmas trees this winter.

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December 2017

The last month of the year included a pre-Christmas photographed tutorial to accompany our Bifold Wallet pattern and a small launch of Merchant & Mills goodies.  We wound up the year a little bit quiet on the blog with a wish of Merry Christmas and a small inventory clear out sale (which is still going on in our sale section).  Now we have empty shelves and refreshed minds, ready to face 2018 with high hopes!

What will 2018 bring?

This year we will be focusing on pattern development!  We currently have five garment patterns under construction.  These five patterns will include a greatly expanded size range (up to 4XL for tops and size 50 for bottoms) to accommodate the many requests we receive by email and on the blog.

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Here are a few fun hints about each new pattern (hopefully without giving too much away!):

  1. The most complicated and intricate of the garment designs will be part of our Alpine Adventure Menswear Collection…and we are drafting two separate versions of this one, one for men and one for women!
  2. One of the bottoms will be the perfect pattern for beginners to try.  I designed this one with sewing instructors in mind.
  3. Two of the bottoms will fill a big void as far as menswear sewing patterns go.  One of the designs will be part of our Parkland Collection and the other will be part of our Cityscape Collection.  Both will include in depth information on finishing details as you might expect of all of our patterns…we want the results to wear as well or better than store-bought!
  4. The last design will be a nice quick sew and is something that many people have emailed us to request.  There will be two variations that can be used to easily replace a large variety of garments in the menswear wardrobe.

While our focus will be on new pattern releases this year, you can still expect to find a nicely stocked and curated selection of menswear supplies in our shop.  Very shortly we will be receiving a huge order from England so expect to see some exciting new Merchant & Mills patterns, kits and tools coming out soon!

What would you like to see on the blog and in our shop this year?


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Studio Tour

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My parents and grandparents were over for a family dinner last weekend (my Mom’s birthday).  After dinner everyone gathered in my studio to have a peek at some of the projects I’ve been working on.  It had been a while since they had been in my studio, and, since we only moved in to our home 5 months ago it had changed greatly since their last inspection!  After checking out all of the customising I have done, my dad said it was high time for a studio photo shoot to share my space with you on the blog.  So here it is!

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My studio space is really the reason we decided to buy the house (Matt and I joke when we say this but it is at least partially true).  It is a nicely converted garage with gabled ceilings, two huge windows and LOADS of lighting options.

When we first moved in, Matt’s mom and dad devoted a weekend of their time to paint the studio with us.  Matt’s mom was still painting the trim when Matt, his Dad, and I enthusiastically moved everything in to the room.  I was eager to start using my space!

Since then I’ve slowly puttered away at adding functional details to the room…my latest small additions are three hooks on the wall for my scissors:

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I set up my sewing machines in front of the window so that I have the best natural light (and a view of the kids playing on the cul de sac) while I sew.

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My most used work area is my big oak desk.  It is a beat up old provincial government desk that Matt and I purchased when we lived in Victoria and have lugged along with every move since!  It’s a bit of a beast but I really love having such a huge work surface (it is usually covered with all sorts of paperwork).

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My seat cushion features a lovely little bit of embroidery that I made using one of my friend Sarah’s gorgeous bug themed embroidery patterns.  She just released a bunch of Christmas themed embroidery patterns that would make gorgeous ornaments and a great project to work on while sitting by the fire.  She also has a vintage sewing machine pattern – I definitely need to add that one to my studio decor.

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All of the smaller items that I stock in the shop are sorted on large barn-wood shelves throughout the studio.

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The barn wood is salvaged from an old horse stall that we pulled down while house sitting last year.  The building was no longer structurally sound but, once dried out, some of the wood was in decent shape.

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It’s pretty tough to find such wide, long and beautiful solid wood boards these days!  I feel lucky to have these.  They are very practical for me (I like open storage) and they are full of character.

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I’ve affixed my most used bobbins to the underside of one of the shelves using a couple of magnetic strips.  They are directly above my thread rack so it is easy to keep track of matching colors.

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My yarn is stored in three massive baskets that I sewed using the canvas, strapping and screen prints that we include in our Carry-All Bag Making Kit.

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I used this great tutorial to create these…but increased the dimensions by A LOT to make massive versions.

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I found a male dress form (pinnable!) at a second hand consignment shop a few months ago and was over the moon about it as I have been longing for one ever since I left behind the great mannequins available at design school.

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The mannequin didn’t have a stand…but…I mentioned my desire for a stand to my parents while they were admiring the studio and, low and behold, I now have one!  Just two days ago, my Dad dropped by with one that he made for me!

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He re-purposed the disk brake from an old vehicle, painted it with left over spray paint from another old vehicle, lathe turned a beautiful wooden base out of a scrap of wood, used a stainless pole and mount from the sailboat that he recently refitted to sail to Hawaii, and rigged up a system to fit it to the mannequin’s empty attachment point!  My dad is the best sort of Renaissance man :D.

I would be remiss to give you a studio tour without showing you my studio companion and his favourite place to hang out!

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Luki may look serene here but in reality he is quivering with excitement while neighbourhood cat-watching.

Needless to say, my timid little cat, Jasmine, does not share office hours with Luki.  Even though she can easily boss him around, she generally likes to avoid him and prefers to come to work in the evening and night (she blooms at night, just like the Jasmine flower).  She likes to help me sew by sitting on my fabric (classic).

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She loves the corner of the studio I’ve devoted to her – it is complete with a great viewpoint, a selection of feathers, and a stash of homegrown catnip.

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I hope you found this peek into the Thread Theory studio interesting!  Time for me to get back to work!

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And, just to remind any of you who missed yesterday’s post – all PDF patterns are 50% off in our shop until Monday!  Check out the largest sale of the year >