Thread Theory

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


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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I hope your final days of 2018 have been restful, peaceful and were full of time to sew!  We are so grateful for the many sewists who sew their Christmas gifts using Thread Theory patterns and for the enthusiastic support that you show for our little business all year long!  Thank you!

This year has been filled with many highlights for both Thread Theory and Matt and I in our personal life.

We’ve launched four menswear patterns:

Patterns

From left to right: Quadra Jeans, Sayward Raglan, Eastwood Pajamas, Fulford Jeans

Our baby, Noah, was born:

Noah

And we’ve had the privilege to see our patterns sewn into many absolutely stunning garments!

Thread Theory Pattern makes

From left to right:

  1. Finlayson Sweater sewn by Jocelyn Buggie for her brother’s Christmas gift and shared on the Thread Theory Sewing Community Facebook page.
  2. Another Finlayson sewn by Kayla Kissane for her uncle as a Christmas gift and shared on the Facebook community page.
  3. A paisley Fairfield Button-up sewn by James Nacy and shared on the Facebook page – he altered the collar to become a large 70’s style one to suit his fabric choice.
  4. A Goldstream Peacoat sewn by Léa Provost for her father’s Christmas gift and shared via email.

Matt and I are so excited for the coming year.  We have a nice collection of patterns already drafted so that I can delve into instruction writing once little Noah and I have settled into a routine (we are getting close…as you can probably tell because I’ve actually managed to write a couple of blog posts lately!).  Since last year’s wallet patterns were such a success, the first pattern on my list to write instructions for is a bag.  Instead of a quick bag making project (as our wallets are), this is an involved project which is a lot of fun to sew!  I look forward to sharing the MANY features with you when the pattern is ready!

The rest of the waiting patterns are garments…but I won’t give away any hints about those yet 😀

Happy New Year!


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Merry Christmas!

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Matt and I hope you are enjoying the company of family and friends by a warm fireplace this winter!  Whatever you choose to celebrate, please accept our best wishes as we reflect upon the past year and all of the support that you have given our little menswear sewing shop.  Even after 6 years of existence, I find myself wondering daily how I ever got so lucky as to work from home, employed at doing something I find interesting and enjoyable, surrounded by a supportive world-wide community.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I will be back on the blog in the new year with a ‘behind the scenes’ look at 2017 and a dreaming and scheming examination of the coming year.

In the meantime, why not check out #threadtheorydesigns and our Facebook community?  There have been many wonderful Christmas gifts posted as of late.


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Merry Christmas from my Mom and I (in our Lazo Trousers)!

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Merry Christmas!  I hope that the next few days find you surrounded by loved ones and in good health.  I am about to begin my holidays (I will be back to blogging in the first week of January) so I wanted to sign off with a fun ‘editorial’ style shoot of my Mom and I decked out for Christmas in Lazo Trousers.

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The purpose of the shoot isn’t to show you the trouser design details (since I have been overwhelming you with posts about the particulars of the pattern!).  These photos are meant to give you a glimpse of the Lazos in action!  We both chose to style our Lazos the way we would wear them to Christmas dinner.  My mom’s pair is made out of a synthetic fabric that was terrible to work with (loads of static and it frayed like crazy!).  I like how it has a bit of body though and does not wrinkle easily…it also doesn’t press easily :S.  My pair are made out of the beautiful tencel I was telling you about from Blackbird Fabrics.  They are VERY comfortable but perhaps turned out a bit big because my weight has been fluctuating lately and I thought I was ready to size up (only to fluctuate back down by the time the trousers were finished).  I am usually a size 2 but sewed a size 4 this time.  As a result, they sit about 1-2″ lower on my waist than intended and perhaps look quite casual because of this.

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-10I paired my Lazos with a cozy angora sweater and, as per normal, tucked my sweater in.  I like to emphasise my waist (and wear heels) when dressing up because doing so makes my legs feel a bit longer.  My Mom wore a flowing silk blouse and vest over her Lazos because she never tucks her blouses in.  I think the tapered legs pair nicely with a loose top and long vest.

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My Dad and my parent’s dog, Jake, joined us for the photo shoot (and Matt was behind the camera, of course).  It ended up being a bit of a family portrait session!  We can’t help ourselves at Christmas: We hammed it up and embraced the cheesiness by attempting to create a continuous loop of Christmas crackers.  Jake was trying to help:

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It was difficult, but in the end, we managed 😛  You might notice my Dad is wearing his buffalo check Fairfield shirt…he reports that he wears it very often.  In fact, he wears a t-shirt under it so that he doesn’t have to put it in the wash daily and thus can wear it more!  So there you go – we are a family of red handmade clothing this Christmas (unintentionally matchy-matchy but I kind of like it!).

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I’ll leave you with one last photo to round off 2016…Jake!

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Happy holidays!  May the new year bring many great projects for you (and us!).  Thank you for giving us such a stable, fruitful, and connected year!  We look forward to many more like it.


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Sew a Gift this Christmas!

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Some of you might have noticed I didn’t write a blog post last Friday (my mom and my mother-in-law both joked that they worried I was ill and dying…fortunately, this was not the case!).  You guys must have some big Christmas sewing plans because, last week in particular, I spent every day madly packing up your menswear sewing supplies so I could cart them to the post office as quickly as possible.  I simply didn’t have time to prepare a blog post!

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While in line at the post office I was wearing a red wool coat, a big white scarf and had a whole shopping cart of Christmas parcels.  The man in front of me said I looked just like Mrs. Claus!  I certainly felt like a Christmas elf at least!

With Christmas gift giving on my mind, I’ve gathered together a selection of sewing inspiration to give you an extra boost as you fill all the items on your Christmas gift list.

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Let’s start with this year’s gift ideas!  Usually I do a blog post about my ideas (see last year’s and one from a couple of years ago) but this year I was invited to chat with Rachel on the Canadian podcast MakerStyle.  We talked about my top five gifts to sew for men.  Be sure to check it out – there are a couple of ideas that wouldn’t take too long to assemble so you still have time to get into the DIY gift giving spirit!

And here is some more gift inspiration for you from the Thread Theory community!  Do you see anything your husband, boyfriend, brother, son, or friend would love for Christmas?

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These two gorgeous wintery blue Fairfield Button-ups would look great worn to Christmas dinner!  On the left is a Fairfield sewn by the proprietress of the German fabric shop, Brinarina.  You can find more photos of her Fairfield on Instagram.  The close up shot of the Fairfield on the right is from Anna who just shared this beautiful photo on her Instagram account (@grosgary).

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Comox Trunks make such a fun stocking stuffer…plus they are very quick to sew and are a great way to recycle t-shirts or use up fabric scraps!  I love the whimsical fabric that @adlesim used for the pair on the left.  If you don’t end up having time to sew the trunks, no need to worry! You could take a leaf out of Jenny’s book and wrap them up as an appealing kit…maybe along with the offer to teach your recipient to sew?  Jenny sells these bright kits and finished trunks in her glorious sewing shop, the Makehouse (in Victoria, B.C.).

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The Finlayson Sweater is always the first pattern that I recommend for gift giving.  It is pretty safe to just guess a size with this boxy design!  I absolutely adore the lengthened version that Jessica made at Handcraft Workshop.  On the right is an incredibly cozy looking quilted Finlayson made by @mllechouchou.

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The photo on the right was emailed to me by Matthew recently – he turned the Newcastle Cardigan into a classy jacket featuring herringbone cotton, bemberg lining and a lapped zipper!

And, to wrap up our show and tell, on the above left is a photo by @kristieinbc featuring her Thread Theory purchase beside a pretty basket of wintery pinecones.  This is how I like to wrap up your orders – they are sent as brown paper packages tied up in string!

The last thing I want to share today isn’t a menswear gift idea but, is instead, a heartwarming tale about a man learning to sew!  Every time I hear such a story, I feel inspired to continue with Thread Theory’s emphasis of sewing menswear.

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Christopher recently emailed me to share a link to a blog post detailing his new passion for sewing.  I HIGHLY recommend giving it a read…especially if you would like to find out how he wound up with such a gorgeous vintage Elna!


 

I really enjoy rounding up my favourites from the Thread Theory sewing community but I’m sure there are many other inspiring projects and stories out there that I’ve missed!  I have received a few requests lately to create a Facebook group for Thread Theory patterns.  I am relatively clueless when it comes to using Facebook but it seems as though this is a pretty easy and also common way to create a sewing themed discussion group or forum.  The purpose of the group would be to share your finished projects and to discuss ideas for our patterns amongst yourselves (topics could include fabric selection, modifications and questions about tricky sewing steps for instance).  Does this sound like something that would be useful to you?  From your experience, do you think Facebook is the best platform for this kind of community?  Or would you suggest a different sort of forum or community board?  I would love your input!


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Holiday Announcement

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The last day to order tissue patterns, tools, fabrics and kits from us so that they will arrive in time for Christmas is today!  Matt has stayed home from work today to help me pack all of your parcels and we will make sure they get to the post office before the end of the business day.

Now that Christmas is only two weeks away (yay!) it is time for me to announce that I will be on holiday from December 23rd until January 4th.  Any shippable orders placed in our shop during that time will be shipped when I turn my computer back on the first Monday of 2016.

I will keep an occasional eye on the email inbox to make sure that any of your questions or concerns are answered in a timely manner but will otherwise be taking a break from the office in order to spend time baking Christmas goodies, taking on the hosting duties for Christmas dinner (for the very first time!), and spending some time up our local mountain to snow shoe, toboggan and ski!

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Matt and I have invited my family over to join us around the fire tonight as we set up our Christmas Tree so I am full of the Christmas spirit today!  With that in mind, here is a small round up of Christmas-related blog posts that I have written in the past:

Gift Guide Photos


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Gift Guide for Sewers

The Gift Guide for Sewers

As you could probably tell by my last blog post, I am always brimming with gift ideas around this time of year!  I just LOVE giving themed gifts because of the thoughtfulness required to compile all of the elements to create the theme.  Any person opening a themed gift knows that their interests and personality have been on the gift giver’s mind as they assembled their selections.  And thinking about the people you love is what gift giving is all about!  Plus, themed gifts can be creatively wrapped to suit the theme – so much fun!…As you may have suspected, I was voted “most likely to become Martha Stewart” in high school…it was quite embarrassing.
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With my love of themed gifts in mind, here is a large selection of ‘sewing themed’ gifts.  If you are a sewer who has family members that are unfamiliar with the world of sewing, direct them here and tell them they are very welcome to ask me questions if they are not quite sure what to choose.  Anyone is welcome to email me (Morgan) at info@threadtheory.ca!

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We also have digital Gift Cards in our shop!  You can have them emailed to yourself so that you can print them out and put them in a nice card under the Christmas Tree or you can have them emailed directly to a long distance sewing friend.

 


 

Themed Sewing Gift Ideas for 2015:

Under $25.00

Gifts for Sewers

The PDF Collection

Print these patterns off yourself (using our tutorial) or have your local print shop do it for you.  Roll the assembled patterns up and festoon them with ribbon to create an enticing package under the Christmas Tree.  Your favorite sewer will be delighted to skip assembly and get straight to sewing!

Cost of Gift: $22.00 (and no shipping fees!)

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The Perfect Tote

Teach a friend or significant other to sew by giving them the Carry-All Bag Making Kit and the promise of a fun evening spent together during which they will finally learn to sew!

Cost of Gift: $17.00

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Inspiration to Create

If the person in your life prefers complete free reign when choosing their next project, encourage them to create without getting too specific!  Sewers, knitters and embroiderers would all love to receive this pretty little gift package:

Cost of Gift: $23.50

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Custom Trousers

Give the promise of perfect trousers by presenting all the notions and the pattern along with the promise of a trip to the fabric shop.

Cost of Gift: $23.95

Under $30.00

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Underwear  Sewing Session

This could be a fun gift for a significant other who doesn’t share your passion for sewing but enjoys the results of your efforts.  Invite them into your sewing space for an evening of sewing undies (they don’t necessarily need to do any actual sewing)!  You could even add a bottle of wine or beer to this gift to enjoy together.  You might like to remind them that sewing in the nude makes the fitting process much more convenient…

Cost of Gift: $28.00 + your booze budget 😉

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Holiday Relaxation

Encourage relaxation during the holiday by giving a book to peruse by the fire along with a set of needles that eliminate the need for clenched teeth and a magnifying glass (even after the Christmas Punch has been served).

Cost of Gift: $29.70

Under $50.00

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The Tools Every Sewer Needs

This gift is both beautiful and completely practical.  These would make an excellent addition to any sewer’s tool kit:

Cost of Gift: $45.75

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Bag Making Supplies Kit

If you are not really sure which patterns and tools your favorite sewer already owns, this kit is an excellent gift choice – it is like a goody bag of notions and materials that you wouldn’t find in most sewing shops!  The kit offers creative freedom with enough fabric and waterproofing wax to create any style of bag the recipient might like to make.  Plus, here’s a bonus – the gift is already wrapped!

Cost of Gift: $32.00

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The Luxury T-shirt

If you are a sewer and dream of creating a hand sewn gift for every person on your Christmas list, here is a way to save yourself some stress:  If you run out of sewing time in the lead up to Christmas, this t-shirt making kit is pretty enough to give unassembled with the promise of sewing it at a later date.

Cost of Gift ($45.00)

Under $75.00

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A Cozy Winter Knitting Project and Tools

This is a great themed gift for anyone who knits or is interested in learning to knit – just add knitting needles!  The pattern poster includes four patterns and this gift includes the supplies to make the beanie hat which is a cozy hat that could be worn by men or women.

Cost of Gift: $62.50

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The Intro to Thread Theory Gift Set

If the sewer you are giving gifts to loves indie pattern companies but hasn’t tried out our patterns yet, this is a great way to introduce them to our designs!

Cost of Gift: $67.50

Under $100.00

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The Luxe Wooden Tool Set

Imagine these stunning lathe-turned wooden sewing tools wrapped carefully in silk scarves (my favorite luxury wrapping paper – and if you buy them at the thrift shop, silk scarves are very cheap!) and tied up with a satin ribbon.  Such a unique and special gift!

Cost of Gift: $92.50

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Jewelry for Sewers

If your significant other covets sewing tools rather than diamond earrings, compromise by giving the sparkling sewing equivalent to jewelry this Christmas.  You could even thread the pretty brass thimble on a chain to be worn around the neck!

Cost of Gift: $96.65

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Menswear Fashion School

An excellent choice for a budding menswear enthusiast or fashion designer – introduce them to the elements of menswear with How to Tie a Tie.  After reading this during those relaxed, tree-side hours on Christmas Day they will be ready to delve into two of the very best textbooks on menswear fashion:

Cost of Gift: $96.90

Under $200.00

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Tailor’s Paradise

Challenge the sewer in your life to embark on one of the biggest and most satisfying sewing projects – a tailored double breasted coat!  We have all sorts of tips and tricks available in the Tailored Peacoat Series on our website.  Show your admiration for their skill and your belief in their ability to stitch!

Cost of Gift: $184.60

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For the Merchant & Mills Enthusiast

The most popular Merchant & Mills tools available in our shop along with the incredibly detailed and beautiful Merchant & Mills Sewing Book.

Cost of Gift: $172.10

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The Tissue Pattern Collection

Every single pattern in the Thread Theory Collection for under $150.00!  Give this to a sewer interested in making a menswear wardrobe or give it to the person you have big plans to sew for.  This pattern collection could keep someone clothed stylishly for a life time (plus, it includes one women’s pattern to sew for yourself or for someone special!).

Cost of Gift: $146.50

 

Do you have any sewing related gift ideas you would like to share?  Have you received such a gift in the past?  Please share!


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Under the Tree

 

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Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday!  Here’s another little peek at our new printed patterns.  They are currently on boats and planes shipping to stockists all over the world and will very shortly be available to you!

My family Christmas was excellent – and complete with both a fondu (Christmas eve with my side of the family) and a turkey dinner (Christmas day with Matt’s family).  Soooo much wonderful food and even more wonderful company!  I received a few unusual and very thoughtful sewing related Christmas presents under the tree and thought you might be interested to see what people managed to get for the sewer who [almost] has everything when it comes to the sewing studio!

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend (the talented graphic designer, Sonia Bishop who has designed our packaging!) found this solid piece of sewing gold disguised as your average vintage sewing guide.  Many books claim to be ‘complete guides’ but this REALLY is a complete guide to sewing!  I’m so thrilled with it!  Does anyone else have this book?  I think I might remember a comment several months ago in which it was referenced.

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It is a Reader’s Digest book from 1976.  It has extremely thorough and easy to understand illustrations (which I’m sure will be very useful to refer to whenever I am writing pattern instructions) and it is cleverly organized so that relevant information can be accessed within seconds.  Whenever a subject is also mentioned in a different part of the book, the page number and title of the section are in bold at the top of the page – I have never seen that in a reference book before and think that will prove to be incredibly handy.

Best of all, and much to my surprise, there is a little ‘Men and Boys’ section hidden near the back of the book which was at first a laughing point for Sonia and I when we compared the number of pages to other sections of the book.  I flipped to this section and was shocked to find that it is not an empty bunch of repeated sewing tips that have been shared with the women’s section.  In fact, the short chapter manages to fit in everything from properly and fully tailoring a high end coat (AMAZING!) to constructing shirt collar stays and a classic yoke for a button-up.

I’m really excited about the tailoring techniques that the chapter teaches.  The straight forward instructions and detailed illustrations make pad-stitching and constructing a chest piece seem like challenges that could readily be conquered rather than mysterious techniques better left to old-world tailors. While these high end tailoring techniques won’t be included in the Goldstream Pea Coat instructions (they are written for sewers who are completely new to sewing outerwear), you can certainly expect to see tutorials in the future so that you can apply some of these tailoring techniques to our pea coat pattern!

From my parents I received two very useful sewing tools.  I had coveted the Lee Valley stork-shaped thread snips that a girl used in my fashion design program for quite some time so I was very pleased to receive a set of my own!  Aren’t they lovely?  Coincidentally, I also gave a pair of these to my mother-in-law, I hope she will like them as much as the whole fashion program did (the poor girl who owned them was constantly having to ‘borrow’ them back from other classmates).

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The other tool my parents gave me was was also for Matt.  Matt is constantly (but good-naturedly) complaining about pins on the floor (and in his feet).  While I think Matt is equally as handsome as Ryan Gosling, he somehow doesn’t quite have the patience for pins that the dream man does! lol

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Behold the end of Matt’s worries and pain!  It’s a magnet ‘broom’ that I can quickly run along the sewing room floor (and wherever else I dragged my projects and pins to in the house) after I sew each day.  Easy as that!

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Did you receive any sewing related presents this year?

 


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Merry Christmas! How To Create a Wreath

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It’s snowy here in the Comox Valley and things are starting to look very much like Christmas!  We hope everyone has a safe and merry holiday this coming week filled with family, friends and Christmas spirit.  A couple weeks ago I helped my Mom out in her elementary school class while she taught all the kids to make wreaths.  All the children came ups with such individual and festive wreaths, I was so impressed what they could do in such a small time frame!

My mom sent me the photos she took of the kid’s finished products and the photo presentation she made of our ‘practice’ wreath which we used as a tutorial for the kids.   Even though it isn’t sewing related, I know most people reading sewing blogs enjoy a tutorial, so here is the presentation as a quick wreath making tutorial to help you get into the Christmas spirit!  What results is a natural and rustic wreath that is cheap, smells beautiful and looks nicely home-made!  Enjoy!

Wreath Making Tutorial

Materials Required:

  • Wire (must be stiff enough to hold its shape but flexible enough that you can twist it by hand)
  • Wire clothes hanger
  • Scissors or pruning sheers
  • Wire snips
  • Greenery (we used evergreen branches and holly – you will need more than you think to make a wreath – grab a huge armful!)
  • Christmas decor (ribbons, baubles, tree decorations, bows)

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Step 1: Bend the clothes hanger until it forms a circle to become your wreath form.  Snip branches into various sizes ranging from 1 foot long to small 5″ twigs.

 

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Step 2: Place the wreath form flat on your work surface and lay the branches down on top of the wire to form a rough circle.  For a smooth wreath, lay all the branches in the same direction.  For a more rough and rustic looking wreath, place branches in any direction.

 

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When placing the branches, hid the thick twiggy ends underneath green foliage.

 

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If you would like a medium sized wreath stop placing branches when your wreath looks this full:

 

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Step 3: Add decorative greenery such as holly or pine cones.

 

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Step 4: Cut an arms length of wire to wrap around the greenery and hold it to the wreath form.

 

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Step 5: Secure your wire by twisting as though it were a twist-tie.  It is easiest to secure the wire around the hanger’s hook rather than around the greenery (not pictured…we did it the difficult way!).

 

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Twist the wire tightly around the greenery and metal wreath form. If your run out of wire, add more wire to your length by twisting the ends or a new piece onto the old piece.  Finish wrapping your wire once you meet up with the beginning twist and again twist the end of the wire to the hanger’s hook.

 

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Step 6: Camouflage the wire wraps by pulling out leaves and branches just enough so that the wire is covered (but don’t get too enthusiastic with your pulling or your branches may come loose from their wire wrap!).

 

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Step 6: Decorate your wreath.  We used ribbon to twist around the wreath in the same manner as the wire.

 

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We also used a nice garishly glittery Christmas bow! 😛

 

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Lastly, we used ribbon to tie on some glass ornaments (one of which I promptly broke) and curled the ribbon ends with scissors.

 

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Hold your wreath at arms length to check if there are any bare spots or fly-away branches.  Fill in with extra branches or trim them away accordingly.  And now you have a nice home made wreath to hang on your door for Christmas!  It sure beats buying one from the grocery store for $20!

 

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Below are a couple shots of the kid’s wreaths.  They were so proud of them and the younger kids were in awe.  A couple teachers took their classes on a walk by to have a look at them – there is nothing that creates Christmas spirit more than watching a class full of kindergarteners walking hand in hand by the Christmas wreaths and positively shivering in anticipation for Christmas!

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Have a lovely holiday everyone!  And thanks for inviting me into your class for the Christmas project, Mom!


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DIY Manly Gift Guide

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It always drives me a bit bonkers when I excitedly click on a Pinterest picture or blog link claiming to provide a list of gifts you can sew for men only to find a half-hearted lists of just BARELY unisex gifts such as tissue cases, aprons and mug cozies.  These are nice sewing project ideas and could be lovely stocking stuffers but I am fairly certain Matt’s eyes would not light up in excitement if he were to open up a quilted wallet on Christmas morning – even though he is likely a lot more aware of the love, time and work put into sewing projects than most men are.  In fact, he would probably loyally use it for years to come but secretly wish that I had just purchased him a traditional leather one from the nearest department store.

In fact, just such an incident occurred last year when, a couple days before Christmas, I was struck with the urge to sew Matt slippers to put in his stocking.  I had made slippers for myself in the past with great success and so set about making his confidently.  Unfortunately, since this gift was a surprise, I couldn’t use his foot to measure or determine the angle for the heel or length of the toes etc.  What resulted were two horrible items that [sort of] resembled slippers when off of his feet but when on, they were ALL WRONG – I had made the heel too low and loose while the front of the slippers were too long and snug.  Despite these really clear faults Matt graciously insisted on wearing them Christmas morning until I tore them from his feet and threw them out.

In hopes that none of you will gather such stories of your own, I’ve assembled a list of DIY Manly gifts that I hope are a little more realistic than you might find in your average list and also contain aspects to them that (I hope) make them into something a man would actually choose to put on his Christmas wishlist!

For the Wood Worker:

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  • Instead of buying the latest screw-driver set on sale at your home hardware store and thoughtlessly wrapping it up, buy it and then customize it by creating an oilskin tool roll for screwdrivers, wrenches or any other tool that needs sorting by size and style.  Merchant and Mills makes a very inspiring Tailor’s Tool Roll out of oil cloth and there are also lots of knitting needle roll tutorials out there that could be re-purposed to create a manly project!  (See here for example)

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  •  If there is a speciality saw or other sharp tool on the man in question’s wishlist, combine this gift with a custom leather scabbard or canvas case.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to create leather products using rivets and a few simple tools.  Or you could try hand sewing them with an awl and tough thread.  If you need to learn some leather working techniques, check out Simon Herzog’s videos over at Kollabora.

For the Stylish Man:

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  • Indulge your man’s hipster tendencies and create a very trendy and desirable vintage-inspired shaving kit.  Choose from the hundreds of pouch tutorials spread all over the internet and sew it up using a heavy duty metal zipper, manly canvas (in Hunter Green perhaps?).  Fill the kit with custom pockets or straps to fit your choice of straight razor or safety razor, a shaving brush and a tin of shaving soap.  This custom made case is beautifully photographed and described if you are looking for ideas on how to elevate your kit to perfection.

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  • Grab some of your scraps and practice a rolled hem to create a selection of pocket squares to complete a dapper outfit – especially worth your while if you have some Liberty fabric lying around.  Have you seen how expensive those are????

For the Photographer:

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  • Of course, the camera strap is a classic DIY project if you have a photographer on your gift list.  Since it is difficult to find amazingly beautiful ones with all the right features for less than a pretty penny, why not try making your own complete with secret battery and SD card compartment!  Apartment Therapy has created a list of 20 tutorials that range from classic fabric straps to re-purposed belts to cozy scarf straps.

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  • While it’s a bit difficult to compete with all the amazing, purpose-built camera bags out there, if they are above your price range you could always purchase a readily available vintage camera bag from the thrift store or Etsy and customize it by adding specialized padded compartments to fit the intended camera, creating small soft lens bags, including bits and pieces such as lens cleaner, batteries and filters and personalizing it with an embossed monogram.  There is a perfect example of a customized vintage-style case over on this blog.

For the Sportsman:

  • The Strathcona Henley and T-shirt (were you wondering when I would sneak our own patterns into this list?) is the perfect base to create a customized athletic top.  You could use wicking sports fabric to create a hiking or mountain biking top with a placket and short sleeves or use merino wool or cashmere to sew a cozy long sleeve tee to wear while skiing or boarding (a bit more stylish than long underwear!).  I made my dad a hiking and biking top which he promptly test-drove on a hike to Ripple Rock last summer.

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  • Another neat idea is to sew a slim backpack to suit your man’s personal style and sport with a special compartment to fit a Camelbak water reservoir.  Whether the backpack will be used snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking or skim-boarding, different sizes, fabrics, compartments and styles will be necessary – none of which you can alter if you buy a Camelbak backpack from the outdoor store!  Think straps to carry your bulky coat when the sun comes out during spring skiing, a built in flashing light for late evening bike rides or a slim neoprene design that won’t go moldy when constantly being soaked in salt water.  You can buy the water reservoirs separately to insert into your custom back pack.

For the Tech Savvy:

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  • #1 that comes to mind for this type of man is something that Matt would be embarrassed to admit that he desperately would like – heated gloves!  After hours of working on the computer for Thread Theory, Matt complains of coming down with “keyboard fingers” which are icy cold and very difficult to warm up.  It would be super easy to alter a pair of basic gloves to include a stylish (maybe leather or tartan?) patch on top of the hand.  You could then fill these compartments with tiny remove-able and microwaveable hand warmers.  There are plenty of tutorials for microwaveable neck warmers that you could use as a starting point for this project!

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  • Leather or wool cases are a perfect quick gift that are much nicer than most of the laptop and cell phone cases you might find at your nearest technology store.  Simon Herzog, the afore-mentioned leather worker has a project on Kollabora that you can view for inspiration as well as all the videos on how to join and decorate leather.

I hope these ideas have helped break you out of the Christmas sewing box!  Of course, I would be remiss not to mention that the Newcastle Cardigan can be instantly downloaded and sewn up relatively quickly to create the perfect Christmas sweater!