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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!


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New in our store! More dreamy sewing tools

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We have a huge selection of new Merchant & Mills tools in our shop!  I went on a shopping spree for this order and not only re-stocked any sold out tools but also purchased a whole bunch of new ones that have been on my wishlist for the last couple of years.  Let me introduce you to the newest tools in our supply shop:

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First off, meet these beautiful polished steel buttonhole scissors hailing from Sheffield, England (home of quality scissors and traditional scissor makers).  I’ve been coveting these for quite some time due to their short blades which make for really precise snipping capabilities.  I have a pair in my studio now that I have been using for everything from snipping exact notches, to grading and clipping seams, to actual buttonhole slicing.NewMMProducts-37

They operate incredibly smoothly (they are the smoothest out of all the Merchant & Mills scissors that we carry) and are a nice practical size that makes them convenient to grab – not too heavy but not too small.  Above you can see them in Matt’s hand and below you can see the wide bow scissors that we carry for size comparison.NewMMProducts-11

I decided to increase our stock of pins and needles as well.  Personally, I love my glass head pins (a best seller in our shop) as an all purpose pinning solution but, since every sewer has their preferred pin type, and since menswear fabrics can really fluctuate in weights, having a variety of pins on hand can be useful.
NewMMProducts-15This box of dressmaking pins is absolutely crammed full of classic metal-headed pins that are excellent for medium weight fabrics.  You won’t have to worry about running out of these pins while pinning multiple projects since you will have a whole ounce at your disposal (that doesn’t sound like that many, but believe me it is!).
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I’m very excited about this next pin option which I think is particularly suited for menswear projects:

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Toilet pins are especially large and strong pins that were traditionally used as closures on garments long before the invention of zippers.  Women (and their maids) would pin themselves into their clothing for the day!  Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you skip zipper installation on your Jedediah Pants!  Instead, use these pins when you are working with heavy, rugged menswear materials.  They would do particularly well pinning cargo pockets on heavy canvas Jutland Pants and would easily pin thick denim waistbands and belt loops in place.  You won’t ever need to worry about bending these pins!NewMMProducts-26

Here is a photo for size comparison (the dressmaking pin is on the left, my favorite glass head pin is in the middle and the toilet pin is on the right):NewMMProducts-28

I’ve been researching visible mending lately using Sashiko stitch so this next addition to our shop is with this sort of sewing in mind – darning needles!

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Each wooden case comes with 10 needles of assorted sizes.  All include long heads that would work nicely with Sashiko or pearl cotton thread.

I also added the best thing since sliced bread to our shop:

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Easy-thread needles!  These will save you loads of frustration if you are short of sight (or patience).  All you needed to do is press the thread down into the groove at the top of the needle head and it will lock into place with a tiny spring action!
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To store all of your hand sewing and machine needles, we are now carrying Merchant & Mills beautiful hand crafted leather needle wallet sets.  Each needle wallet comes in a rustic embossed cardboard box and is made from “happy English cows.”  The wallet comes full of essential hand sewing tools:

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How cute are these baby bow scissors?!  They measure only 3″ in length!  You will find the scissors tucked into the left pocket and a complete set of hand sewing needles and threader perfectly slotted into the right pocket.  The needle wallet includes two felt pages to store all of your needles.  I think I will pack the first page with hand sewing needles and the second with partially used machine needles (such as my ball point and twin needles).

While I was happily shopping away, I also added a few little essential notions to our Merchant & Mills order.
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This tiny seam ripper is perfect for travelling to sewing meet-ups or for packing in your sewing machine’s tool cupboard.  It would also make the perfect insert for hand carved or lathe turned seam ripper handles!  At one point a couple of summers ago, Matt started carving me a seam ripper handle while we were camping.  He was on the lookout for a seam ripper like this to complete it but never got around to it – maybe I can convince him to finish it now!

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Do you know what a bodkin is?  I didn’t either.  But now I do!  It is a handy little tool that helps to thread elastic, cord, yarn (or even shoelaces!) through narrow channels.

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The one on the left includes a tapered hole that can lock your cord in place while the one on the right has an especially wide head for heavy elastics and a handy capped tip.  I’ve already used the one on the right to save me immense frustration while trying to re-lace my hiking boots!  The laces don’t have plastic coated tips and I was just about to cave and buy new laces when I remembered my bodkin.  It worked a charm.

Now, last, but certainly not least, meet my absolute favorite purchase from this Merchant & Mills order – the thimble.

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This stunning thimble is solid brass that has been lacquer coated so it won’t tarnish over time.  It features the Merchant & Mills logo engraved along its base and handy divets that keep the needle head in place as you push through layers of fabric.  The best feature of all is that the top of the thimble is completely open which allows it to slip down on to the finger for a custom snug fit.  It also keeps the finger tip free to manipulate fabric.
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I’ve never found a thimble that I’ve wanted to wear until this one!  It feels secure on my finger (it is pictured above on Matt’s finger; on my smaller finger it sits slightly lower) and I feel so uninhibited by it that I can even wear it while pinning a hem and even while typing (I didn’t want to take off my pretty thimble once I first tried it on lol!).

Head to our shop to check out many more photos and thorough descriptions for all of these tools!  If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email so I can add the answers to our product descriptions.  I hope some of these tools will fill a hole in your sewing tool box!


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Spotlight on the humble tape measure

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While reading the much anticipated first issue of Simply Sewing recently (have you heard of this new magazine?), I came across a little note within an article on essential sewing tools.  The note mentions that it is worth spending a little extra on a good quality flexible tape measure so that it will not stretch out easily and render your measurements inaccurate.

This note reminded me of my orientation day when I began sewing for an interior designer a few years ago.  The very skilled and knowledgable seamstress that I was working with told me to handle our tape measures very carefully and to drape them softly over their hook on the wall each time I put them away.  This careful handling would prevent them from stretching out – something that is very important to someone who is sewing precise roman shades!  When she told me this I nodded quietly while guiltily visualizing my tightly rolled tape measure within it’s plastic case in my sewing box at home!  When I got home I inspected my tape measure closely – it was a cheap plastic blue one (rather than coated fabric or strong, reinforced plastic) and, after several years of use it featured visible stretch marks along it’s entire length!  Needless to say, when I compared it’s measurement markings to my metal pattern drafting rulers, they were quite off!

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Ever since this experience I have been much more careful with handling my tape measures and have now switched to using coated cloth measures that are far less prone to stretching.

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Aside from resistance to stretch, there are a couple other features I like my tape measures to include.  I prefer to use tape measures with very clear and simple markings – I find it annoying when inches and centimeters are crammed onto one side of the measure – the Merchant & Mills tape measures that we carry in our shop are particularly simple and clear to read since one side is black and one side is white making it very easy to refer to your desired unit of measurement instantly.  Lastly, I like to use tape measures that feature no blank space at the beginning or end of the measure.  I prefer tape measures to start at “0” exactly where the metal tip begins and to include measurements right up to the other metal tip.

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While I only own basic tape measures, I have seen some really useful specialized ones when working with other sewists at pattern drafting workshops and school that I would like to add to my tool box.  For instance, I have noticed drapery weighted tapes are a common tool within many seamstress’s sewing boxes.  They drape the chain over the body to measure various rounded areas (for instance, the front shoulder to waist measurement that extends over the bust).  They pinch the chain at either end point and then remove the chain to a flat surface where they measure its length.

Have you tried working with circumference tapes that feature a slider and locking button to measure the circumference of various areas of the body?  Or, have you attached an adhesive tape measure to your sewing table?  Or are you a fan of working with quilting rulers while garment sewing?

I’d love to hear your measuring tips and tricks!

If you are feeling the need to update your measuring tools like I am, our Merchant & Mills measuring tape is currently 25% off this weekend!


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Christmas Wishlist

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It’s time to start thinking about wishlists and presents so Matt and I have been busy adding more sewing tools and stocking stuffers to our store!  In celebration of this, we’re holding a sale until December 1st so that you can order all your Christmas sewing projects and gifts for your sewing friends at once.  Enter the code WISHLIST upon checkout to receive 15% off orders over $100.

Now, let me introduce you to some of the newest items in our shop!  First up is a small side project that our graphic designer and I started brainstorming during a sailing trip together last summer:

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Thread Theory drink coasters!  My sewing table is the recipient of many wine, coffee and tea stains because I can’t seem to sew without having a drink to sip at my side.  I hope these will prevent a few water stained rings from developing on your tables!  Also, with the Christmas party season coming up coasters will be in high demand.  We made these coasters very subtly sewing themed so that they can spread into the rest of your home without causing you to look too sewing-obsessed!Coasters-15

The coasters come in packs of six and include two of each design.  The first design is The Anatomy of the Goldstream Peacoat.  Use it to thoroughly impress non-sewing relatives with your vocabulary over eggnog and rum punch :P.Coasters-14

The second design features our Knolled Thread Theory Workstation.  Have you heard of knolling?  I first heard this term mentioned by Jen on the Grainline Studio blog.  I followed her link to the video definition and ended up watching the whole (super funny) video series featuring Tom Sach’s rules of conduct that must be learnt before entering his studio.  Needless to say, Matt and I have been obsessively knolling ever since!Coasters-13

The last design is a geography lesson – this coaster features the locations of the four parks that we were inspired by when designing the Parkland Collection patterns.  You can see that Strathcona Park and Goldstream Park are both on Vancouver Island while Jedediah is actually an island between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  Newcastle is also an island just off the coast of Nanaimo, Matt’s hometown.

I had so much fun working on this coaster project – it was a nice change from pattern design and instruction writing!  I hope they will be a welcome addition to your home as they have been in mine (they’re seriously everywhere…).  Head here to check out the dimensions and other specific details about the coasters.

Also new in our store are three Merchant & Mills tools!  We restocked all of the tools we currently carry and couldn’t resist adding a few new ones to our order.

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Let me introduce you to the most glorious Tailor’s Shears you will ever meet!  These smoothly operating beauties were created in Sheffield, England, the home of British Steel.  They are forged from high carbon tool steel which will retain its sharp edge and includes inner corrosion protection.NewProducts-14

They feature a very practical 8″ blade (not too long, not too short) which is side bent so that the bottom blade rests flat against your cutting surface. NewProducts-13

In classic Merchant & Mills fashion, these quality scissors are beautifully presented in a style perfect for gift giving.  Their blade is stamped with the Merchant & Mills logo and they are packaged in an embossed box complete with stamped tissue, a description of the scissors, and a pretty outer sleeve.NewProducts-12

We also added to our essential notions.  My goal is eventually stock every tool I find to be necessary when working in my sewing studio.  With that in mind, we added a metal sewing guage with a red plastic slider to our shop.
NewProducts-8This is a tool that is never far from my hand when sewing – it is perfect for measuring seam allowances, buttons, buttonholes, topstitching and pretty much every other precise little measurement you might require. NewProducts-9 Lastly, we now carry two styles of thread snips!  The first style has been in our shop for a while and has received enthusiastic reviews.  If you haven’t checked them out already, you are welcome to go examine my favorite Wide Bow Scissors.  While these scissors are my choice for snipping threads, I understand there are two camps when it comes to thread clippers – classic scissors or spring loaded snips.NewProducts-5

Matt is a spring loaded snip devotee and so he wouldn’t let us place another Merchant & Mills order without adding these beauties to our store.NewProducts-3

These polished stainless steel thread clips are larger and far heavier duty than Matt and I have ever come across in our search for thread clips (which was Matt’s main past time while visiting stockists on our U.S. road trip last spring).  They are 4.5″ long and include a comfortable finger ring that is designed to fit over your 3rd finger so that they can hang from your hand, ready to use, as you sew.NewProducts-2

These clips were also made in Sheffield, England and have been packaged beautifully by Merchant & Mills.  They sit glistening in a black jewelry box on a velvety black pillow.  They are wrapped in another pretty sleeve as you can see below:NewProducts-1

 

I hope you love these new additions to our store as much as I do!  If you are looking to stock up on sewing tools and kits for yourself or to use as gifts, all of our stock has been refreshed.  We have received many inquiries ever since our Bag Making Supplies Kit sold out so we have added this back in our store (along with the sold out Chicago Screws!).

Good luck with your Christmas shopping!