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


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New Merchant & Mills Sewing Patterns: Women’s Workwear and Bags

We often receive requests to make patterns for menswear inspired women’s fashion – especially workwear (modelled after our Jutland Pants).  While the idea really appeals to me, I haven’t embarked on this project yet since there are still so many gaps to fill in the world of menswear sewing patterns.  Thus, I was thrilled when Merchant & Mills released their recent batch of patterns – all of their latest designs are based on historic men’s workwear but they are cut and sized for women!

We now stock my favourite of the patterns in our shop so our Canadian and US customers need not pay for shipping from Great Britain.  Have a look at these hard wearing designs:

Merchant and Mills Victor Apron

This is the Victor Apron which is a practical (and trendy) full coverage design.  It includes a large pocket and a separate pocket meant to hold scissors.  I can imagine this working well for gardening, in the workshop, for a shop owner (I’d like to keep my scissors handy when packing your orders…I always misplace them!).  Of course, this full coverage design would be lovely in the kitchen too!

Merchant and Mills TN31 Parka

Next we have the TN31 Parka.  It is a relaxed take on the classic fishtail parka.  I love that it uses ribbing for the neckline – this adds a really sporty touch that would be soft against the skin.  It also leaves the neck free of bulk so you can bundle up with a scarf.  It includes both side seam pockets and angled welt pockets which look perfectly placed to keep your hands warm.

Merchant and Mills Ottoline Jacket

The rest of the women’s workwear is designed for denim (but would work well in other woven fabrics too, of course!).  Their jean jacket, called The Ottoline, is described by Merchant & Mills as a boxy workwear jacket but I think it manages to look quite elegant due to the cuff design and the dark denim they chose for their sample.

Merchant and Mills Herione Jeans

The Heroine Jeans are straight legged roomy jeans with a high waist and a large hem turn-up.  They would be great paired with a selvage denim because you could show off the coloured selvage at the hem.

Merchant and Mills Francine

The Francine is a versatile design that can be sewn as a blouse or dress.  It is inspired by the fishermen of Brittany with its yoked collar.

In addition to the women’s workwear, we’ve also added two more of the Merchant & Mills bag designs to the shop – the Costermonger:

Costermonger Bag Pattern

And the Field Belt:

Field Bag Pattern

In addition to the paper pattern, you can buy the kit for each bag which includes high end notions necessary to make each bag.

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Here is a sample of the components – including gorgeous leather strapping.

Costermonger Kit Contents

Have you sewn any of these Merchant & Mills designs?  Which ones inspire you?

Head to the shop to check out our Merchant & Mills offerings.

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Bag Making with Merchant & Mills – new patterns and kits in our shop!

The team at Merchant & Mills always manage to perfectly pair respect for tradition with modern practicality when they design a tool or a pattern.  Since this is what I look for when choosing a daily bag, I was very excited to add the British haberdashery’s Bag Making collection to our shop.

Have you had a chance to peruse their comprehensive selection of bag making offerings yet? Check out the M&M Bag Station!

In our shop you will find the patterns, kits, notions, and even a couple of fabrics that work very well to create your own waxed backpack, tote or bucket bag.  Let’s have a look:

First, here is Merchant & Mill’s take on the back pack – the Right to Roam Rucksack sewing pattern!

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I love that it includes the option for a cross body handle.  This pattern could be sewn up several times to create a large variety of bag styles depending on your handle choice and the type of fabric that you use (oilcloth, denim or canvas, for instance).

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Since the correct notions can be tricky to source, there is also a complete kit available which includes some impressively high quality hardware and leather.

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Inside the paper sack you will find nickel roller buckles…

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A pack of double cap rivets…Menswear Sewing Tools-3Menswear Sewing Tools-4

A magnetic snap…Menswear Sewing Tools-6

Sturdy nickel eyelets (they are big and seriously tough!)…

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And a roll of thick leather pre-cut to the ideal strap width…

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All you need to do is choose your fabric!  I’ve just listed our burnt orange bag making canvas by the 1/2 m in the shop.

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Pair this cotton canvas with a bar of Otter Wax to achieve this gorgeous lustre!

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The second bag design Merchant & Mills offers is my favourite – the Jack Tar Bucket Bag.

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This bag looks simple on the outside but contains three divided compartments within.  I like the combination of a leather shoulder handle and the short fabric handles that will not bang around or be annoyingly heavy when the shoulder handle is in use.

Of course, there is also a kit available for this pattern:

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The brown sack includes the necessary D-rings…Menswear Sewing Tools-12

A magnetic clasp…

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A few double cap rivets…Menswear Sewing Tools-4

And a pre-cut leather strap…Menswear Sewing Tools-13

If you prefer to head off on a bag making adventure without the full kit, we’ve listed some of the hardware individually in our shop too.  The double cap rivets and eyelets can be found in several finishes.  They are useful for bag making but can also be used for garment sewing too (reinforcing pockets and adding drawstring waists respectively).

The last bag making project you’ll find new in our shop is the Oilskin Bag Kit.

This kit really sets you up for success.  I bet it would be a great gift to initiate a friend into the world of sewing!  The gorgeous oilskin has been pre-cut into all the panels necessary to create the bag design included within the instructions.  One of the panels is even stamped with a Merchant & Mills emblem.

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Also included within the kit are natural leather straps that have their holes pre-punched and all of the necessary hardware.  Simply follow the instructions to sew the bag together!

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While I’m talking bags, I thought I’d let you know that I found an excellent tutorial to make a tote similar to the one that I sewed for my mom a couple of years ago using our burnt orange canvas and Otter Wax.

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We get emails very often requesting that I design a pattern for this tote but I just haven’t got around to that yet (sorry!).  In the meantime, check out this very clear tutorial on the blog Inspired By Wren.  It is lined, just like the tote I constructed but with some different design features.  You could easily add a metal zipper to the front pocket to achieve the same aesthetic and functionality as mine!  Of course, instead of cutting the tote from contrasting fabrics you could cut the panels all from one colour of canvas like I did.  I like the strength of handles that extend onto the bag rather than handles that attach at the top (so the tutorial features an improvement on my design!).

To make the bag, here is what you will need:

  • The tutorial on Inspired By Wren
  • 1 yard/1.1 m of the Burnt Orange Cotton Canvas from our shop
  • 1 regular bar of Otter Wax
  • A zipper for your pocket
  • 1/2 yard/1/2 m of lining (perhaps this navy paisley?)
  • The tutorial doesn’t include it but you might like to interface with fusible fleece or another sturdy interfacing, though it depends how floppy or rigid you would like your bag to be.  I interfaced my bag with medium weight fusible cotton interfacing so it remained quite floppy (which I like for a bag this size).

I hope that helps some of you out!  I think it will get a few waxed canvas tote bag makers headed in the right direction.

Happy sewing!

Check out the Bag Making Collection in our shop >>


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New Tools & Merchant & Mills Buttons

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I’ve added a small selection of Merchant & Mills tools and notions to the shop this week and thought you might like a close look at them.

If you are finishing up a Fairfield Button-up Shirt right now or have a button-up in your new year sewing plans, these buttons might intrigue you.  We have four versatile colours in stock, all with a lovely distressed finish.  They are 3/8″ (1 cm) in diameter just like our Thread Theory Corozo buttons but are a little bit thicker and thus suitable for heavier flannel and wool winter shirts in addition to cotton shirts.

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These Merchant & Mills buttons are comprised of Urea (a heat resistant plastic).  You can choose from tan (above), charcoal (below)…

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…brown…

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…or light grey.

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Each set of 10 buttons comes in a sturdy tin with a sliding lid.

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Also packed in a tin, we now have Merchant & Mills’ cute and functional Rapid Repair Kit!

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This small tin is packed full of everything you need to perform emergency first aid on your garments while you are away from the sewing machine.  It also makes a nice gift (and not so subtle hint!) for a friend who doesn’t sew and is always asking you to mend things for them.

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The kit is filled with tiny thread snips, a selection of safety pins, some versatile buttons, a glass vial of hand sewing needles, a paper sleeve of pins, two cardboard bobbins of thread, and a paper measuring tape.

The scissors included in the Rapid Repair Kit are the smallest (and cutest!) that Merchant & Mills has to offer.  On the other end of the scissor spectrum, let me introduce to you the Tailor’s Board!

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These hefty scissors with one knife blade and a blunt tip are often known as bookbinder’s shears.  They are designed with constant cutting of heavy duty fabrics in mind (such as wool and leather).

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The long blade cuts through cloth swiftly while the blunt tip does not snag on multiple layers of material.

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They measure approximately 9″ (22 cm) from tip to handle.  They come engraved with the Merchant & Mills logo and wrapped in stamped paper.  They are nestled in a gift box and would make an excellent gift for someone who has serious tailoring, upholstery or leather working plans.

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The last little addition to the tool section of our shop isn’t from Merchant & Mills but is instead a nifty Dritz tool also suitable for someone interested in serious tailoring – a bound buttonhole guide.

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This simple little tool comes with surprisingly in depth instructions that are very well illustrated.  For those unfamiliar with the bound buttonhole process or for those unsatisfied with their buttonhole attempts, this guide and instruction set will really help you!

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Why not try adding couture bound buttonholes to your Goldstream Peacoat or Belvedere Waistcoat Project?

For those of you wondering when we will be restocking the many items that have recently sold out in our shop, please check back in January (and expect a newsletter)!  After a year end studio clean out and some time with family over Christmas, Matt and I will be turning our efforts towards freshly restocking our shop come the new year.


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A Wool Coat For Fall (and new Merchant & Mills tools!)

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I had the treat of receiving an email recently from a man named Yves, who is new to sewing.  Seeing as Matt and I began Thread Theory with the hope that we would encourage more men to sew, the, fact that Yves is male and a sewist is a thrill in itself.  Even more thrilling though was the fact that he included photos of his recent project using the Goldstream Peacoat pattern!

He did some simple modifications to the pattern and, in doing so, created a very different coat than the original design.  I just love the minimalism of this single breasted jacket!

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Yves was kind enough to do a bit of a write up for me so that I could share his modifications and styling choices on the blog.  Here is what he writes about his thought process while creating this coat:


“The fabric is a medium weight woollen with a houndstooth pattern.  For the lining I decided to go with paisley.

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Being a fall coat I tried to choose earthy tones that start to make their appearance this time of year.

I found the coat’s tones pair well with darker accessories, as you can see with the chocolate brown scarf. When I feel too brown I can switch it up with a deep burgundy scarf.

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The buttons are wooden buttons I salvaged from an old jacket. I had a nice selection to choose from at the store, but in the end wooden buttons seemed appropriate for the woodsy earthy theme that was was starting to come out through the coat.

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I love the style of the Goldstream Peacoat and already owned a few of them.  So I tried my hand at a couple modifications to try to get a different look.

  1. I shortened the bottom length so that is sits just around the crotch. This seems to give it a modern “sporty” look.
  2. I shortened the width of the front sides and brought them in 3″ each (on the Small pattern).
  3. I moved the buttons so they are centre aligned down the front of the coat.
  4. I trimmed the collar height 1/2″ off the top edge.  I like wearing the collar up and found this was a better length.  As well, since I shortened the width of the lapels, things seemed out of proportion when the collar was down (really wide collar and really thin lapels). So this change made things look a bit more proportional.

I also added 1/4″ top stitching along the center back, side seams and sleeve seams.”

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Thank you, Yves, for sharing your modifications and for taking the time to photograph your gorgeous finished project!  I hope this jacket receives many years of wear and even more compliments!  Good luck with your upcoming button-up shirt class.

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Two things get me excited to sew – viewing the amazing results of other people’s sewing efforts (as above) and testing out some new tools.

We just received a fresh shipment from the UK (the Merchant and Mills workshop in Rye to be specific) so there are plenty of new tools to show you today.

You’ll be glad to know that high demand items such as Tailor’s Beeswax, the Workbook, Toilet Pins, and Tailor’s Shears are now back in stock.

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In addition to this we have added a rugged oilskin tool roll (complete with the tools to match each fitted pocket):

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Another kit you will find in the shop is a comprehensive kit featuring Merchant & Mill’s most loved notions:

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The last kit I added to the shop is a selection of fine pins.  I’ve included thorough descriptions of each pin and its uses in the product description, so you might like to check that out to find out why entomology pins are an invaluable addition to the sewing tool box!

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Last, but not least, I selected two new scissors to add to our line up.  First, something for you left handed sewists:  Left Hand Tailor’s Shears!

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And secondly, some everyday scissors that strike me as the perfect balance between comfort and utility.  They are sturdy with their all steel construction but are just small enough to be very light.  The Merchant & Mills team suggests that you can use these scissors for fabric or paper (but don’t switch between both, of course).  I think they would be a nice choice for light quilting cottons or dress fabrics but I wouldn’t choose them for heavier fabrics.  I plan to use these as my household paper scissors – they will be great for cutting out patterns!

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I hope this post has been a nice dose of inspiration to prepare you for some weekend sewing projects.  Judging by how much fabric I have mailed out in the last week (the majority of the Dintex colors are either sold out or very close to sold out), there are some great sewing plans in the works!


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The Landgate Jacket (Unisex Pattern)

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It’s chilly and the rain is pouring down this morning.  Time for pumpkins, hooded jackets and mushroom hunting!  Nicole (my sewing friend and proprietress of The Spool Sewing Studio) created this rain jacket with Fall weather in mind.  She used The Landgate pattern by Merchant & Mills and our burnt orange cotton canvas that we include in our Bag Making Kits.

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Since I took these photos she has been working away at waxing this jacket with Otterwax in hopes of waterproofing the garment and creating the gorgeous patina that resulted when I waxed my Mom’s bag.  Of course, a jacket is a lot more work to wax than a bag so she hasn’t quite finished it yet.  She reports that she is struggling to work the wax into the fabric.  I remember, when I first finished my Mom’s bag it looked chalky, as though the wax had hardened on the surface.  I put the bag in the dryer with an old towel and was pleased with how the wax soaked in.  Nicole tried this without being satisfied with the results so we have some more experimenting to do!  Sometimes I think the best way to create a nice patina on waxed fabric is just to use the garment or bag for a while…kind of in the same way you would wear in new shoes or denim.  I will try to update you when we’ve finished the waxing process (I think I will step in and help her out since she so kindly modelled the Landgate for me!).

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Now, let’s talk more about this awesome pattern!  It is a unisex design but I’ve only seen it on women in person (but Google “Landgate Pattern” to see some amazing menswear versions!).  I shall have to get Matt to try on Nicole’s Landgate once it is fully waxed.landgate-jacket-pattern-9

This pattern features a gorgeous yoke detail paired with raglan sleeves and a deep hood which includes a tall, built in collar.

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The hood features draw strings.  The partial zip at centre front includes an insert to protect the chin and neck from the wind (and from the zipper!).  These details work together to provide ultimate protection from stormy weather. With the draw strings pulled tight and the neck zip done up you could walk into driving rain with only your eyes exposed!

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The sleeves are quite long and wide and the body is boxy which makes the jacket an excellent shell.  There is a lot of room to layer a heavy wool sweater underneath.  Nicole made a size Medium I believe – correct me if I am wrong, Nicole! – to ensure an extra roomy fit.  She also wanted to make sure there was enough length for full bum coverage when biking.

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Even though the jacket is boxy, it doesn’t need to look like a sack.  The waist drawstring can be cinched as tight as you would like.  I think it would be best kept loose or only slightly cinched if worn by a man but it looks quite flattering cinched on a woman!

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The pockets are probably my favourite detail on this jacket. There are sneaky side pockets which are set forward from the side seam.  Side seam pockets can be a tad uncomfortable to use since they are set so far back.  These are far better!  On top of these pockets are very roomy patch pockets with flaps.  I like the two pocket options because your wallet and phone can be protected in the patch pockets leaving lots of room for your hands in the other pockets.landgate-jacket-pattern-13

The Landgate is unlined as you can see in the photo below.

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Nicole did a lovely job of finishing all of the seams with her serger.  Just because a garment is unlined doesn’t mean it will  be ugly on the inside!  Check out her beautiful batik pocket linings.  The print reminds me of onions! 😀

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You did an excellent job sewing up this pattern, Nicole!  I hope your next version goes just as well (yes…she already has another one on her list of sewing project ideas!).

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You can find the Landgate pattern in our shop >


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The Perfect Menswear Sewing Pattern for Beginners

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I sewed my dad a t-shirt made from woven fabric!  He was a bit skeptical of the idea at first but once he tried it on and got used to the feeling of cool, light hemp and no stretch, he realised it was very comfortable.

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The pattern is designed by Merchant & Mills and is called The Tee.  It is available in our shop!

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The fabric is a hemp and organic cotton blend from the summer collection (also in our shop).  It is the only colorway remaining from the three colors that I used to have in stock.  I must say, I was surprised that this one didn’t sell out first (the pale blue was the most popular) since this charcoal grey is such a versatile color!

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I find the idea of a woven tee to be very appealing because I receive many emails from beginner sewers who are looking for an easy menswear project.  A woven tee combines two elements that make it the perfect candidate for a beginner sewer: 1. It contains only four pattern pieces and 2. You can sew it up in a very stable fabric that does not stretch as you work with it.

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Of course, because this pattern is designed for woven fabrics, it features a fairly roomy, loose fit.  The actual shape of the t-shirt is somewhat boxy (especially compared to our Strathcona Tee which includes curved side seams).  I like that The Tee fits as closely as possible though – for instance, the shoulder seams end at the shoulder bone as you can see in the photo below.  They are not ‘dropped’ shoulders as is often the case in loose, baggy t-shirts – these can easily look sloppy.  I think this nicely fitted sleeve cap gives the shirt a vintage vibe and an overall polished appearance.  The close fitting crew neck also adds to the vintage feel of this garment.  It is the only part of the t-shirt made in a knit (a ribbing in fact).  The instructions for applying the ribbing are excellent (the best I’ve come across in a t-shirt pattern) so, even though this could be a tricky step for a beginner sewer, you will be guided through it thoroughly.

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As you can see in the next photo, the width across the shoulder blades is the perfect amount to allow for a full range of (mostly) unrestricted movement.  My dad commented that the sleeves felt a bit snug when he extended his arms in front of him but we both agreed that my Mom’s work blazers (for instance) are far more restricting.  He is just very used to a t-shirt stretching to suit any movement.

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If I were to sew this t-shirt for my dad again I would likely lengthen the hem by 1″ to 2″ since it is currently a touch too short to tuck in without it pulling out of his waistband when he moves.  I would also play around with the fit at the waist and hips since my dad has a broad shoulder width and a narrow waist and hip circumference.  I would likely taper the side seams from the armpit to the hem by 1″ on each seam.  While this would be a proportionate adjustment for my Dad, I think many men would suit the straight side seams very well.  In fact, my Dad mentioned that he thought the combo of woven fabric and straight side seams would be very comfortable and flattering if he had a beer belly to hide.

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My Dad just got home from an almost 3 month long sailing journey to Hawaii and back!  He lost quite a bit of weight in this time period (since the crew mostly survived on lentil soup and a horrifying lack of cookies).  I sewed the shirt using measurements I took before he left and thus did not account for his slim waist.  I might still take the side seams in if I can borrow the shirt from him in the future!

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My dad’s new dashboard decor for his Ford F-100 ’53 (his only souvenir from Hawaii!).

Thanks, as always, for being such a cooperative model Dad!


Let’s finish off this post with a quick update on how the wedding dress turned out!  I blogged some progress photos a few weeks ago and wrote about how enjoyable the sewing process had been (and how nervous I was for the final fitting!).  Needless to say, the final fitting went so smoothly.  I hardly had to make any changes!

Mika looked absolutely stunning and the wedding was very romantic.  It was in the couple’s home and was wonderfully casual (as you can tell by the groom’s attire).  I felt very proud to see Mika excitedly try on the dress and comfortably wear it the entire evening.  Thanks for such a wonderful opportunity, Mika!  (The photos above were taken by Bayoush Mengesha.)  Congratulations Mika and Mitch!


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On Seamwork Radio and Around the Web

I was going to announce a few new tools and kits in our shop today but woke up to find my voice on Seamwork Radio this morning so I will share that first before moving on to product release news!
Seamwork Radio Sarai on Seamwork Radio

Seamwork Radio is a podcast hosted by Sarai of Colette Patterns.  It is a relatively new endeavor and, from what I understand, it has been a smashing hit with sewists!  Here is the description of Seamwork Radio that you can find on the Seamwork website:

Sewing your own clothing can change your perspective in surprising ways. Seamwork Radio brings you personal stories about all the ways designing, making, and wearing your own clothing can alter your life. We talk to artists, designers, and everyday creators about how the act of sewing has helped them slow down, get to know their bodies, discover their own identity, and take part in the growing movement to revive the art of sewing.

It is a thrill to be on Seamwork Radio and it was wonderful to finally have a chance to chat with Sarai.  When Matt and I travelled to Portland in April 2014 I agonized over whether I should pop by the Colette studio or not – I was so star struck by Sarai and her amazing company that I ended up chickening out and regretting my lack of courage after we left the city!  I don’t know what I was so scared of though.  Sarai is incredibly gracious and welcoming.  She was also very understanding of my nerves while being recorded for the radio episode~  I tend to lose my vocabulary when I am nervous and have a very high, squeaky voice – not the best situation for radio!

Anyways, if you would like to check out the episode I am featured in, you can find it here.  Thanks, Sarai, and the Seamwork Radio team for including me on your wonderful podcast!

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While I’m on a roll here talking about Thread Theory in the ‘public eye’, SewMamaSew featured my silk tie-making tutorial in their Luxe Gift compilation earlier this week.  The list features all sorts of luxurious gift ideas – some that feature sewing skills and others that do not.  I really love the leather tote bag and beautiful wool cape included within this list!  Thanks for the feature Sara (from Now Try This) and SewMamaSew!


 

Okay, moving on to the new goodies in our shop!  Let me announce the newest kit that I have put together for the holiday season:T Shirt Making Kit by Thread TheoryIt’s The Strathcona Henley & Tee Sewing Supplies Kit!  This kit features my favorite t-shirt making supplies and is prettily packaged and ready for gift giving!  As I assembled these kits I enjoyed imagining sewists giving them as Christmas presents to their non-sewist friends with the promise of an intro-to sewing t-shirt making session!  Wouldn’t that be a nice way to spread the joy and creativity of making this holiday season?

While this kit is designed to suit our Strathcona Henley pattern, it would be perfect to create all sorts of t-shirts – there is enough material included to sew any manner of men’s or women’s top.  You can check out all of the kit details on our website.

 

We also added a fresh shipment of Merchant & Mills books and tools in the shop this week!

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While the Workbook isn’t menswear related at all, I’ve received quite a few emails from Canadians hoping that we might stock this gorgeous pattern book so that they can avoid the cost of shipping from England!  For male sewists I’ve added another Merchant & Mills book to the shop:Merchant and Mills Tools Thread Theory-3

This is a great volume for men interested in learning how to sew because it is refreshingly unisex!  The Sewing Book introduces you to all of the basic sewing concepts and then walks you through a series of projects so that you can employ your new skills in a hands on manner.  By the time you have completed the series of projects you will be ready to tackle any project and pattern you might be interested in!

In addition to the new books, we’ve added these tiny glass vials of minuscule hand sewing needles.  Tailors swear by them for evenly stitched invisible hems and quilters swear by them for quick and even hand quilting stitches.

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And here is what is back in stock!  Beautiful, sharp buttonhole scissors and big, strong glass headed toilet pins!
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Both of these tools sold out almost instantly last time we added them to our shop so I ordered LOTS this time so that you can be sure to get your hands on them when you need them :).

Head on over to our shop to check out the new books and tools in detail.  Please send me an email (info@threadtheory.ca) or comment on the blog to let me know if there is a specific tool that you would like us to stock (Merchant & Mills or otherwise).  I’d love to know!

Have a great weekend!