Thread Theory

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


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Fashion Show!

 

I must admit I am still struggling to come off the high that accompanied last Saturday’s end of year fashion show, and, based on the endless recaps I’ve been hearing, so are my classmates!

The fashion show went so smoothly and professionally.  The whole day I kept gazing around and finding myself surprised by just how ‘real’ a student show could seem.  There was a huge (approx 150 ft.) carpeted runway, there were gorgeously long-legged models swanning around, there was a press pit (where Matt got to set up his tri-pod, much to his delight!), and there was a big audience of about 350 to 400 people.  I would say those are all the ingredients for a great show – plus some new designers with a shocking range of design styles of course!

There are a ton of pictures on Facebook and I have added a gallery of Terrance Lam’s photos (the Pacific Design Academy’s photographer) to Thread Theory’s facebook page.  In this post are the photos Matt took on his Pentax ME film camera.  He had a blast in the pit with his little camera while professional set-ups hovered over either of his shoulders.  I think the results are quite nice if you are a fan of the aesthetic colour film creates.

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The first years (missing Kaitlind though…we couldn’t find her!)

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Me…this was how excited I looked the entire day. It was exhausting!

My models were absolutely amazing.  Everyone showed up just when they said they would and they were all so encouraging to me!  My sister, Kayleen, did an absolutely amazing job of make-up and hair and also of modelling (she’s the one in the brown linen dress).  She was on her feet backstage all day chugging away styling model after model while I flitted around excitedly (doing nothing especially productive) and then, just before the show, she whipped into her own outfit and rocked the runway!

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Each student made an information board highlighting their collection.  I took the opportunity to do a bit of plugging for Thread Theory and offered rack cards with our website on them and featured my Dad’s Newcastle cardigan (pleasantly worn in by now…with dog hair and all!) on a mannequin beside the board.  By the end of the night the stock of rack cards was greatly depleted!

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A huge bouquet of flowers from my supportive parents.

I was so proud of how my collection presented on the runway as I found it very difficult to see it as a whole before the big day.  I’m sure most sewers will relate to the frustrating inability to see beyond messy back-tacks or an imperfect button-hole to the final garment when you are done a project…if you ever have the opportunity all you need to do to solve this problem is find a beautifully made-up model, some bright lights and an audience and before you know it you will see your garment as simply a pleasing flash of colour and flowing fabric! 🙂

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Now that the show and school are both over, I am working with my lovely co-workers, Heather and Rhonda, at the Heather Company sewing studio several days of the week and the rest of my time, I am pleased to be able to say, is Thread Theory time!  The Jedediah Pants were just graded into their multi-sized format yesterday so I will be sewing up the first pair of size 30s on holiday Monday in an effort to finalize the instruction package before sending it out to test sewers.

To those who celebrate it, have a wonderful Canada Day long weekend!

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Birthday Post!

Today is the first day of summer, the day before my school’s fashion show…and it’s my birthday!

It’s been a great week…earlier this week we had an enormous increase of people viewing the Thread Theory website which was really exciting.

Also, Louisa of Damselfly’s Delights sent us photos and a report on her newly completed Newcastle Cardigan.  It is so exciting to see such a successful version of our pattern!


NewcastleCardi_front

Louisa reported a few adjustments and choices that she made during the sewing process:
“Thom has a 40″ chest and 36” waist so I made a size M. It’s quite close-fitting
and I was glad that I took the waistline curve out or it might
have been a little too tight to fit nicely over the jeans, belt, cell phone,
wallet, etc. that he carries around. I had to chop 2″ off the sleeves and
the cuffs are still quite long enough to be warm. He commented on how
stylish his new jacket is! That is a profound compliment coming from him.
Obviously I have to do more sewing for him now, right?”
NewcastleCardi_back
She chose what sounds like similar fabric to the fleece that I used for my dad’s shoulder and back yokes on this cardigan.  I love how she utilized both sides of the fabric:
“My fabric was a synthetic fleece with pile on one side and a smooth knit on
the other. I used the fuzzy side out for the yokes and the smooth side for
everything else.”
Louisa very kindly sent us and posted a detailed review of our pattern with some intriguing suggestions on how to improve the sewing experience for beginners (we could offer a zipper and binding option to replace the need for facings…what an awesome idea!).
zipper shawl collar
If a zippered version looked something like this, I think it would be very stylish!
With only a day left of school commitments I am eagerly planning to add these adjustments and will let everyone know when they are uploaded…and of course, anyone who would like the revised version and has already purchased the pattern can simply email (info@threadtheory.ca) to receive their copy!  Stay tuned!

 

I have added Louisa’s photos to our Newcastle Slideshow.  We look forward to receiving more emails as the finished cardigans start popping up throughout the internet sewing world!

 

At school this week, every day has been complete chaos in the fashion department.  Matt came into the school on Monday to help me with the photo shoot (isn’t the shot he took of my coat with fur collar pretty?)  and witnessed the general panic and confusion as the fashion show draws nearer and nearer (it’s TOMORROW!).  There have been people crying, models changing in all corners of the building, fabric piles being spread high and low in the sewing room, and a steady feeling of jittery excitement at all hours throughout the week.
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I’ve been chugging through my to do list and only have a pair of leggings and some hook and eyes left to sew today.
Lookbook page
A couple days ago I finished off my ‘lookbook’ featuring my collection’s designs and I even included prices for the runway sample garments in case anyone at the show or online are interested in purchasing my designs 🙂  In fact, Kendra, the beautiful model in the pictures, has already staked her claim on the green tencel pants!

If anyone is interested in receiving a PDF of the lookbook to see my pricing or just to have a browse (is this just wishful thinking?  It’s worth a shot!), send me an email (info@threadtheory.ca)!


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Here is what I’ve been busy with!


line inspiration (blog)

My year at fashion design school is quickly coming to an end – our runway show will take place on June 22nd!  It has been a whirl-wind of a school year.  With only three weeks left my classmates and I are all rushing to complete our runway lines.

My line will include six looks for women and one menswear look (which includes the Newcastle Cardigan and the Jedediah Pants!).  The inspiration is British 1940s wartime sensibilities of “Make Do and Mend” and non-disposable fashion paired with natural fibers and the earthy tones of the B.C. coastline.

I’ve named each garment after a different city or town near the area of England that my family comes from.  I love L.S. Lowry’s paintings of Manchester and have used his common colourway for my line – it is interesting that when the colours have been removed from the context of his grubby cityscapes they perfectly echo the tones one would expect to see on a west coast beach – periwinkle blue, chestnut brown, camel tones, and clay colours.

(c) Ms Carol Ann Lowry/DACS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

colourway correct

I’ve currently finished several of the outfits but still feel like there is so much to do!  Here is the result of a practice photoshoot taken on a fitting evening with my models (my sister and her field-hockey team mates – aren’t they beautiful?):

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As you can see, from the picture above, the fitting night was lots of fun!  We were told to try to find professional models for our show (I will be using three amazing professionals who are volunteering their time) but I am really glad that I have also included my sister and her friends because, not only are they stunning, they are lots of fun!  The ‘fitting session’ consisted of mojitos, snacks, the goofiest photo shoot ever, and lots of hilarious walks down an imaginary runway.  Much more fun than your standard fitting session!

Here are the technical drawings of my designs – some shown in various stages of completion in the photos and some yet to be made:

finished outfits flats (blog)

Salford: An easy-fitting shirt-dress with contrast shoulder details, flattering princess seams, slim fitting 3/4 length sleeves with a knit sleeve band for comfort, and a flirty flared skirt.
Bolton Shirt and Manchester Pants: A comfortable and elegant pant outfit featuring a linen knit button up with shoulder details and feminine gathering along with high-waisted tencel pants that display the ankle and emphasize the waist.

blog flats castletown blackpool

Castletown: A draped silk cocktail dress with vintage details such as a keyhole back opening with a row of covered buttons, fluttering kimono sleeves, and sprinkled glass and brass beading.
Blackpool, Eccles and Manchester: A relaxed blazer and pant outfit featuring a soft blazer with curved style lines and elegant wool and leather shoulder and back details. Accompanied by a gauzy tank top and a variation on the high-waisted Manchester pants sewn up in hard-wearing bamboo with ankle zippers.

blog flats chester eccles

Chester: Not yet photographed – a camel coloured wool coat with leather shoulder details, pleated and gathered front and feathered embroidery along the main pleat. Features interchangeable wool and vintage fur collars for versatility.
Eccles Tank and Appley Skirt: Not yet photographed. A simple knit tank with nettle and bamboo neckline paired with a glamorous asymmettrical peblum skirt sewn in periwinkle raw silk. Boned waist and flared peblum features the waistline.

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This outfit looked really pretty on the model with the shirt untucked for the photoshoot but I think I will be tucking it in for the fashion show to display the waistband on the pants.

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Doesn’t this model’s gorgeous dark curls look stunning against the pale pink silk?  I had always drawn and imagined the dress on a blond model (the model who will be wearing this on the runway has blond curls) but I do love how it shows off her pretty dark hair!Edited-24Edited-21

This blazer has already been featured on a previous blog post and I am really glad I had it finished so early in the year so I don’t have to worry about such a complicated pattern at this point in the sewing process.  I have yet to hem the shirt (made out of cheesecloth!!) or to make the pants for this outfit…that is next week’s challenge!

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Thank you to everyone who replied last week with suggestions and comments about PDF patterns!  We have sent out the single sheet version to those of you who have already purchased the pattern and preferred to have it printed on a plotter and we are currently working on making this version available along with the multi-page format on our website.  For anyone who purchases the pattern in the meantime and would prefer the single page format, just send us an email at info@threadtheory.ca and we will send you the single page file directly!


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Why do I want to own my own business?

Here in Victoria, B.C. there is an ad plastered on the back of a few of the public transit buses that depicts a woman in her mid-20’s sitting cross legged on a comfortable armchair with her pajamas on, her cell phone beside her and her laptop on her lap. The ad is for a school who claims you should enroll so that your future will include the depicted daily work-life.

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My ‘office’

As a small business owner, I know that working from home is NOT like this for me and I don’t really want it to be. So far I have really enjoyed the challenge and also the pride that goes along with owning my own business. Also, on the flip side, I have already experienced just how easy it is to let work consume me when there isn’t a set hour when I am finished work each day. While there are many challenges to come (I’ve only just begun!), I am extremely happy with my decision to take the risk and follow my dreams.

In case you were curious (and because this blog post just happens to have been a school assignment), the reasons I have decided to start my own sewing pattern company are as follows:

1. My Personality: I have always felt that my biggest skill is working hard and maintaining motivation. Once I set my sights on a goal, I will persevere doggedly to reach the goal and check it off my list regardless of all outside strains or difficult barriers. Running my own company uses that skill and makes me feel like my personality and lifestyle are an asset to my business. I am often quite hard on myself and I really enjoy this chance to realize that I am good at something.

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I can truly say I’m proud of the Newcastle Cardigan!

2. Timing: I realized, as I finished my bachelor degree and started exploring how I wanted my live to move forward, the industry I am most interested in (hobby sewing) has a gaping hole that to me seems desperately in need of being filled. Also, starting an indie pattern company is suuuuper popular right now making me feel as though a way to fill this hole was very possible. There are all sorts of amazing companies to be inspired by and a huge community of sewers that have connected on the internet and are willing to give advice and support.

3. Lifestyle: This point is probably a fairly obvious one to anyone who has chosen to own their own business – I like the independence and the confidence it gives me as well as the cohesiveness it creates. Working amid a hierarchy of other employees in a large company has never appealed to me. I don’t like the competition or the rules for the sake of rules. It has frustrated me in the past when employers expect “home life” to be completely removed from “work life” as though one must be considered more important than the other for a worker to succeed. I like how owning my own business seamlessly combines my personal life, my work life, my hobbies, and my work-related skills so that my life is the unbroken whole that I experience as rather than something artificially segmented by someone else.

4. Support: I am extremely lucky to have the support of my husband, my family, and my school to help me through the more challenging parts of starting up a business. A huge reason that I have chosen to start a menswear sewing pattern company is that Matt, my husband, is equally interested in such an opportunity and his skill sets have, so far, perfectly complimented mine making the start up process much smoother and cheaper than it would have been if I had done this on my own. I have the sewing knowledge while Matt and has the computer and coding skills. I enjoy learning about marketing while Matt has been eager to study bookkeeping. I cringe at the thought of paperwork (and Matt jumps right in) while Matt is overwhelmed by the many revisions needed to the instructions and patterns (and I see this as a logical and simple progression).

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Some of my classmates

At school I am surrounded by inspiring classmates and extremely knowledgeable teachers (not to mention, lots of useful equipment). My teachers, especially, have been so helpful in critiquing my ideas, designs, and website, providing me with connections both for design inspiration and patternmaking, and of course teaching me the base knowledge needed when designing and sewing professionally.

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My dad as a model

My family have been constantly eager to jump into brainstorming sessions and have helped me out with financing, modeling, and pattern testing.

All this support is the perfect example of why I want to own my own business – what is more rewarding than having all areas of my life united and full of excited energy to create something new! This leads me to my last reason…

5. Blending Academic and Creative Skills: While I am probably more of a logical than a creative person, there is nothing I like more than the excitement and passion that accompanies creativity. Owning my own sewing pattern company allows me to blend my penchant for writing, thinking and researching with my love of creating and designing. Many other career options I have considered have been parked clearly in one camp or the other and it pained me to have to choose between the different styles of thinking, learning and doing that I enjoy. I am glad to have a use for my writing through this blog and I am thrilled to dress a model in a garment that I designed. I enjoy the logical puzzle of writing instructions and also the creative outlet of photographing the collection. Thread Theory allows me to explore every area I am interested in and has also led to me learning about other areas that I was previously fairly oblivious to (such as legalities and budgeting).

Would you consider owning your own business? If so, what business are you dreaming of? What are the perks for you?


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The Newcastle Cardigan Pattern has been Drafted!

good pattern pic

Great news!  Early yesterday Sabine of Suncoast Custom emailed me to announce that she had finished drafting the medium size of the Newcastle Cardigan.  It was ready for me to mock up to approve the fit before she grades it to all the sizes!  We met at my school (The Pacific Design Academy) because she had an appointment there regarding an evening patternmaking course that she will soon be teaching and she handed over the big white roll of paper that represents the beginning of the Parkland Collection.

fabric

This morning I got right to it and cut out the pieces from 1.5m of a 150cm wide olive knit called Oslo Plain (85% Acrylic, 15% wool).  I bought it from Gordon Fabrics Ltd. in Vancouver as a good mock up material because, as far as knits go, I thought it was pretty cheap, a medium weight, and had a medium amount of stretch.  After completing the sample though, I think the cardigan will look better in a heavier weight and maybe in something with a little more stretch to it.

pattern on fabric

I sewed up the sample and made notes on the process which will eventually become the instructions.  I concentrated on accuracy of seam allowances and simply serged all the raw edges for now because for the first mock up, I am mostly just examining the fit and style.

sewing

The arms and shoulders fit Matt very well which is good because he has medium sized shoulders but the body was quite snug.  Matt has a size small body so, seeing as the mock up was supposed to be a medium fit, the width of the garment will have to be increased quite a bit.  I’ve let Sabine know the fit adjustments I would like and next time I mock the garment up I’ll test it out on as many size medium men as I can get my hands on 😛

full front

full back

Before sewing the next sample I’ll be brainstorming different finishing techniques to use – should I add stabilizing elastic at the shoulders?  Should the collar be interfaced?  Should the main seams be french or maybe flat felled seams?  All those answers are still to come but for now, I’m really happy with the appearance of the cardigan.

front detail

For this sample, I haven’t added the button placket as Sabine, my patternmaker, chose to include a full width body piece which could be cut narrower to make room for the placket.  I think I’ll continue to use the placket I designed though because it will provide options for stitching the facing firmly in place so it doesn’t flap around (which, I’m sure you can agree, is the most annoying thing for a facing to do!)

back detail

Next step – finalizing the pattern, writing the instructions and sending it out to pattern testers (for free!) – anyone interested?  Leave a comment or email me at mmmeredith@hotmail.ca.


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Recent Sewing Projects

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any of my sewing projects on BurdaStyle or one of my blogs, so finally, here are a few of my latest favorites!

The first project is from last spring (See?  It really has been a long time!).  It was just a quick project using a bit of lacy material that I spotted on the way to the Fabricville cash register and pounced on.  I got home and abandoned all my more carefully picked fabric on the floor and set to chopping into (without washing…eeek!) my spontaneous choice.  I used an old McCall’s pattern (M5890) as the base and made numerous fit adjustments so that it wouldn’t look like the sack that my previous attempt at the pattern turned out to be.  My final ‘inspired’ touch was to add a little lace strip to the CB collar to insure the draped front panels would fall in a consistent manner.  It turns out that this is the most worn sweater in my closet – it’s never too cold and never too hot because it comes with its own ventilation system – PERFECT!January 022January 024

More recently, I sewed up a wearable mock up and a proper version of Tasia’s wonderful Cambie Dress pattern from Sewaholic Patterns. I love how both of them turned out!

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The mock up was made using a $2 sale suiting material which is a little heavy for the pattern but still worked out well. I kept this version the length the pattern intends which is maybe a little long for a short-legged girl such as me! I learnt a few things with the mock-up: The shoulder straps had to be angled and shortened (which I did slightly in the mock up but exaggerated in the final version) to make the neckline narrower to fit my chest. Also, it is a good idea to use the same fabric as lining for the bodice as it is likely to roll a little along the neckline due to the order of the construction process (there doesn’t seem to be a good time to add understitching to the neckline).

Neither of these points are a critique of the pattern because Tasia has done such an amazing job coming up with a clever method of construction that makes every step simple and makes customizing the fit through little adjustments of the sleeves incredibly easy! I also love sewing her slant pockets because she has managed to simplify the standard steps of creating this sort of pocket quite a bit. I’ll be using her version whenever I need to create slant pockets in the future!January 033January 036

For my final version I made the changes I came up with during the mock up and I also interfaced the bodice front because the rayon I used was silky and had a lovely drape. I wanted to ensure, in every way possible, that the neckline would be stiff and smooth. I somehow managed to have extra fabric at CF of the skirt when sewing it to the waste band (this wasn’t an issue during my mock-up so maybe my rayon stretched?) so I made a little pleat near each pocket which adds a bit of fullness to the front of the skirt which I’m actually quite pleased with.

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Both dresses have become a staple of my wardrobe – I love how they cover the shoulders and I also love the fit – the dress feels loose and comfy while wearing it but it gives the appearance of being quite fitted. The shortened hemline of the final dress looks cute with tights and I hope, when summer comes and I’m not so pasty, it will be comfortable and cool to wear on its own in the sun!

Lastly, here is a project that I completed for school (The Pacific Design Academy, Fashion Design Program in Victoria).  We were asked to create a dress entirely out of food labels that reflected the values of the Mustard Seed Foundation.  Our dresses were displayed in the local mall throughout the Christmas Season and the public could vote for their favorite by making a donation to the Mustard Seed.  My dress was called ‘Childhood’ and was meant to reflect a nostalgic view of what it means to be a child.  I wanted to show that every child deserves to look back on their youth with this feeling of happy nostalgia.  I used staple ‘snack’ products that, if donated to the foundation, would provide children with the sense of care and safety that the routine of eating an afternoon snack (and being regularly fed) creates.DSC02767