Thread Theory

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


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Menswear Knitting Projects

Erika Knight Yarn (18 of 21)

I completed my very first knit sweater (and two hats)!!!  I had given up on knitting a couple of years ago after falling down a miserable rabbit hole of snarled yard, hours wasted watching YouTube tutorials, and many attempts at ambitious projects that were eventually simplified until they became yet another poorly knit scarf.  My lack of improvement was demoralizing compared to how steadily I was adding to my arsenal of sewing skills.  I finally decided that knitting just wasn’t for me.

That was until a very talented knitter and patient teacher became my sister-in-law (thanks Sonia!)!  And also, that was until I stumbled upon British yarn and pattern designer Erika Knight’s book for knit menswear projects, Men’s Knits: A New Direction!  I loved all of the classic and minimalist designs and the photographs were so inspiring.  When we decided to launch our menswear supply shop in November, I added knitting as a category within the Thread Theory shop – that way I could stock Erika Knight’s awesome menswear designs and beautiful yarns!

Thread Theory Menswear Supply Shop-31

As soon as I saw the Funnel Neck Sweater, I knew it would suit Matt perfectly.  I wanted to use Erika Knight’s Maxi Wool in Storm rather than the chunky-weight Rowan yarn that the pattern recommends.  The Maxi Wool is thicker than the recommended yarn so Sonia helped me to choose a smaller needle size and knit a test swatch.  We knew it would be a bit of a gamble for fit but, fortunately, I have the complete size range of men in my family so I could knit it for whoever it happened to fit!

Thread Theory Studio-46

The project was actually a perfect one for a new knitter who is set on knitting a big sweater rather than a nice manageable hat or scarf (everyone thought I was crazy for taking on such a big item!).  I was prepared for the scale of the project and was relieved by it’s simplicity.  The ribbed chest was actually really easy and Sonia wasn’t even around to help me with that part!  I actually found sewing together the sweater to be the most difficult part – sewing with wrong sides together and with the stitches on the right side of the garment blew my mind a little :P.

Erika Knight Yarn (6 of 21)

In the end, the sweater was too large for Matt which was quite a shame because the tall neckline suited his long neck perfectly!  The shoulders are meant to be dropped and the sleeves are meant to be fairly wide but not to the extent that they were when Matt tried it on!

As soon as Matt tried it on I realized that it would be the perfect size for my Dad!  The only element that doesn’t perfectly fit him is the area that fit Matt well – the neckline.  As you can see above, it buckles a little bit because my dad has a short to regular length neck (and the beard also tends to push the neckline down a little I imagine).

Erika Knight Yarn (1 of 1)

I really love the rest of the sweater on my dad though!  It’s the perfect length for him and I think the “V” at center front looks really smart.

Erika Knight Yarn (8 of 21)

The yarn has more than enough body to create the funnel neck but perhaps isn’t as stiff as the Rowan yarn used for the photographed sample.  The Maxi wool is deliciously soft and squishy so it creates a softer shape at the neckline:

Erika Knight Yarn (9 of 21)Erika Knight Yarn (14 of 21)

The sleeves are the ideal length and I love how the rib section looks with the bulky yarn.

Erika Knight Yarn (16 of 21)

Below you can see the hem – the ribbing causes it to be quite a bit thicker than the stockinette stitch used for the main sweater which, I think, looks immensely cozy!

Erika Knight Yarn (13 of 21)

My Mom has decided to roll the collar over and hand stitch it down at the shoulder seams for my Dad.

Erika Knight Yarn (22 of 21)

It doesn’t really want to roll over at the shoulder seam due to the funnel shaping of the neckline but I think rolling it will work great for the majority of the neckline and will serve double duty as a sort of shoulder stabilization – rolling the neckline over pulls the shoulders inwards so that they will be less likely to stretch out and become to wide/saggy over time.

Erika Knight Yarn (20 of 21)

This project ended up using exactly 11 skeins of Maxi Wool in Storm.  I used size 6mm and 6.5mm needles rather than size 6.5mm and 7mm that the pattern calls for.  I chose the smallest size (which would normally fit Matt).

While this sweater didn’t end up fitting its intended recipient due to the fact that I used a different yarn than the pattern calls for, I’d still consider it to be a huge success!  It was my first project knit using a pattern (aside from one dishcloth several years ago) and it looks so nice on my Dad.

He won’t get much of a chance to wear it this year since the weather is warming so quickly but now it will be sitting ready in his closet to keep him warm next winter and for many winters to come!


 

Aside from my big winter project, I also knit a couple of quick toques when I needed a break from the sweater.  They were just enough ‘instant’ gratification to encourage me to keep working on the sweater.Erika Knight Yarn (4 of 21)

Matt’s toque was knit using the pattern from the Erika Knight “Knit for the Boys” pattern poster that we stock in our shop.  I used a selection of Vintage wool yarns.

Erika Knight Yarn (2 of 21)

My toque was knit using some of the yarn scraps from Matt’s toque as well as some Rowan yarn that I impulse purchased (oh dear, now that I’ve gotten into knitting I have to worry about restricting my yarn stash as well as my fabric stash!).  I used the Erika Knight toque pattern as a base for sizing but then just got creative and made up my own pattern by mashing together the decreasing technique from a free baby toque pattern (sorry, I can’t find it now so I’m unable to link to it!) and my desire for a very wide fold over ribbed band.  I finished off my one-of-a-kind hat with a really big pompom made from the Rowan yarn scraps.


 

 

Now that I’ve enthusiastically shown you my first successful knitting projects, please don’t look at the photos too closely lol!  I know they are all riddled with mistakes.  I imagine I will one day feel as embarrassed looking at these photos as I do looking at sewing projects that I completed 8 years ago.  Right now though, looking through the rose colored glasses that I’ve worn since I jubilantly finished the last stitch on my dad’s sweater, these projects look pretty darn good to me and I’m really proud of overcoming my initial struggle with knitting.

 

Here are the links to the patterns and yarns that I used for these three garments:

Men’s Knits: A New Direction by Erika Knight

Maxi Wool (used for my Dad’s sweater)

Knit for the Boys pattern poster by Erika Knight

Vintage Wool (used for the toques)

 

 

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Looking for Manly Knits?

I am sure you can all relate to how frustrating it is to look for masculine knits when planning to sew an Arrowsmith, Strathcona or Newcastle.  Sometimes I wish Matt would be just a little less picky over which style of stripe or tone of orange he likes (it’s incredibly mysterious and I fail to predict his answer every time I ask his opinion)…but, what would be the point spending loads of time and care to make him a custom garment if I started by asking him to compromise when choosing fabric?

girl charlee website

Way back when Thread Theory was brand new (actually not that long ago :P) I wrote a post called “Tips on Manly Knits” that included a list of online retailers that I thought sounded like promising sources for knits.

Since I am always on the lookout for great knit sources, I had better update this old blog post by letting you know about the latest source for knits that I have tested out and been thoroughly satisfied with: Girl Charlee – an online fabric store that carries only knits!

(Please note that I am not sponsored by or affiliated with Girl Charlee in any way, I am just really pleased with my fabric shopping experience!)

girl charlee purchase

I got a little carried away of late and ordered a whole pile of knits for myself and my sister to make Soma Swimsuits and Pneuma Tanks.  I neglected to add any menswear fabrics to my shopping cart in my fabric buying frenzy, but, once fabric-excited-me had a chance to calm down after my AWESOME box of knits arrived, I went back online and was able to fill a whole design wall with loads of Matt-approved fabrics.

Would you like to see some of my favorites?  Check these out!

Just click on each picture to be taken to the fabric description on the Girl Charlee website.

Let’s start with an ‘on-brand’ fabric choice – I am, after all, attracted to anything featuring the Thread Theory burnt orange! This ponte de roma would work nicely for a  Newcastle or a heavier Strathcona:

Burnt Orange Solid Ponte de Roma

 

If you are a fan of blended knits, there is no end of colour selection on the Girl Charlee website.  They feature a lovely heathered effect that makes a solid colour so much more interesting.  I find a little bit of poly in a t-shirt knit isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, it seems to make for a more weightless knit that comes out of the dryer without the wrinkles cotton t-shirts are prone to.  I’d love to see a classic Strathcona Henley with a placket in this denim coloured tri-blend knit:

Denim Blue Heather Solid Cotton Jersey Tri Blend

 

This burnout cotton jersey is a really unusual colourway and would make a really ‘designer’ style Strathcona Tee or Arrowsmith Tank.  I think it would look great as the Arrowsmith with solid grey binding and even a solid gray pocket as contrast:

Orange Gray Solid Burnout Cotton Jersey

Even though Matt always steers clear of much colour, I can generally convince him to wear shades of teal.  I think this teal blue cotton jersey featuring navy slubs would look very masculine as a short sleeved Strathcona tee and would bring out green or blue eyes very nicely (always my hidden motive when choosing menswear fabrics :P):
Teal Blue Mira Slub Solid Cotton Jersey

With those important solid basics covered, lets move on to some adventurous prints! This stunning ponte de roma print would make the PERFECT on-trend Newcastle.  I would certainly steal this one from Matt and might even be inclined to stop pretending it was for him and simply make myself an XS version 🙂 :

Navajo Arrow desert Tribal Ponte de Roma

If you’re man isn’t inclined to wear quite so many colours, this hacci sweater knit would be the perfect cozy alternative:

Navajo Indian Blanket Gray Black Hacci Sweater Knit

While we’re on the subject of sweater knits, this hacci sweater knit features my favorite colour (olive green) and would be great as a summery Newcastle because the white flecks lighten up the dark green quite a bit and, to my eyes at least, give this knit a bit of a laid back surfer/beachy vibe…can’t you just imagine your surfer-man putting on his Newcastle when the ocean breeze brings a bit of a chill at the end of a day on the beach? And, of course to complete this picture, the two of you are snuggled up watching the sunset…

Olive Green White Marble Hacci Sweater Knit

Are you inspired to start sewing some knit menswear?  I would recommend ordering fairly large quantities at a time because shipping tends to be a little pricey for smaller orders but becomes slightly less so as the package size increases (at least to Canada, I am not sure how affordable it is within the United States or worldwide).  Even with shipping, I found that I was paying about the same price or maybe just slightly more for the knit fabrics I purchased as I would have if I went to my local fabric store and bought the higher quality knits.  Of course, the selection is tiny locally and features mostly primary colors and feminine prints…so I would be willing to pay quite a bit more to buy knit fabric that is masculine and interesting and high quality!


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Newcastle Cardigan Photo Shoot

Beacon Hill Shoot-1

The Newcastle Cardigan has been graded and I sewed up our first proper sample this week!  We’ve updated the pattern store to include some of the photos and also have them on our facebook page.  The pattern is currently out with the first batch of test sewers and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of their work (we’ll include their projects on the blog).

This isn’t going to be a word heavy post as I’d like to let the pictures speak for themselves!  The first set of photos were taken at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria and the cardigan was modeled by Matt.  The second set of photos were taken at The Pacific Design Academy and the cardigan was kindly (and super stylishly!) modeled by Iain Russell of is this Menswear?  Check out his instagram, facebook and tumblr pages for endless photos of amazing menswear inspiration.

Without further ado, here it is – a size small version of the Newcastle Cardigan made up in brown bamboo fleece and stretch suiting as contrast:

Beacon Hill Shoot-2Beacon Hill Shoot-7Beacon Hill Shoot-5Beacon Hill Shoot-13Beacon Hill Shoot-11Beacon Hill Shoot-12Beacon Hill Shoot-16Beacon Hill Shoot-17Beacon Hill Shoot-14Beacon Hill Shoot-4Iain newcastle 1Iain newcastle 2Iain newcastle 3Iain newcastle 4


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Tips on Manly Knits

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

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

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

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

Types of Material You’ll be needing:

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

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

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

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

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

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Fusible knit interfacing

Great blogs with resources on sewing knits:

Cutting knits – Tasia of Sewaholic

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

Knits – Stretch Yourself Series – Made By Rae

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

Online Knit Fabric Retailers:

Based in the United States:

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

A couple intriguing stores located in other countries:

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

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

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