Thread Theory

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


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Papercut Patterns summer pajamas!

IMGP9755It’s been really hot and sunny here lately (love!)!  But…since we have to keep our window closed at night to prevent our cat, Jazzy, from climbing over our faces so she can meow into the night breeze for hours on end, we’ve been soooooo hot and uncomfortable when trying to sleep (don’t love!).

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To combat this, I’ve sewn up some summer pajamas using the Pneuma Tank from Papercut Patterns and Cloth Habit’s free Rosy Ladyshorts pattern!

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I really love the new Papercut Patterns Tri Collection.  The designs were presented in such a modern, and (for our yoga crazy, Lulu Lemon loving area of the world) relevant manner.  I’ve been planning an entire sports wardrobe around them for my sister and I.  For a little while now I’ve been sewing my yogi sister crazily patterned leggings.  Since the Pneuma release we have elaborated on our yoga gear plans and have been working towards creating her ideal sports bra – how awesome would crazy matching bra and legging yoga outfits be?!

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I’ve sewn up four versions of the Pneuma pattern at this point, each one improving by miles as I got used to working with thin stretch knits, with my new sewing machine and also with my sister’s very specific requirements and preferences (the first one is absolutely hideous, these are my second and third ones and then the fourth has happily headed off to my sister!).

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The tank version above has been sewn almost as per the pattern instructions.  I added bands of fabric on the front to make the intersection point between the straps and tank narrower and more gathered.  The width at this area made my sister and I look like football players since we already have very square shoulders.  This gathering is (hopefully) much more flattering on the both of us.

IMGP9777After sewing this second version of the pattern, I’ve made more elaborate changes to suit both my sister’s and my individual preferences.  Of course, this isn’t at all necessary – the garment that results from the instructions provided is just great!  My sister is REALLY picky though (love you KK! :P) so I want to make something that she deems to be PERFECT.  You can see the outcome of these changes on my third Pneuma – the blue sports bra.IMGP9753

I’ve begun avoiding bra strapping since I can’t find any locally that matches the printed fabrics I’ve bought and that is thin, soft and delicate enough to gain my sister’s approval.  I like these thick fabric straps I created because they are super easy to sew (and easy to turn right side out because they’re so thick!) and they are way more comfortable than bra straps.  It would be simple to put some elastic inside the tube so that they don’t stretch out over time (will do this on my next one!).IMGP9765

I also prefer the cross-over method I came up with because I am quite prone to getting myself tangled in garments as I try to put them on and would like to feel elegant when slipping into my sportswear or pjs rather than look like a salmon thrashing about at the end of a fishing line!  I have no idea if my sister is the same…hopefully she is a little more graceful at donning yoga wear since she is such a skilled yogi lol.

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My last change is that I lined the bra because my top stitching left MUCH to be desired when I sewed on the bra straps on my first sports bra.  By changing the construction methods, I could sandwich the straps between the lining and the self fabric on both the front and back and then later treat the self and lining layers as one when I folded up the thick bottom elastic (this will make sense to you once you’ve read over the pattern directions).  I think the lined version looks much tidier than the unlined version (below).  Probably mostly to do with how messy I am when zig-zagging!

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My goal is to add some more layering to match my sister’s favorite sports bras – hers tend to include an exterior layer (often with interesting seams and mesh vented areas), a mesh lining, and then a third partial lining that holds removable padding.  This partial lining and padding will be my next addition to the 5th sports bra!IMGP9747

As for the underwear, I have used the Rosy Ladyshorts pattern a couple times before and love it for everyday comfortable underwear.  Here is my original post on this pattern along with the two pairs I made last summer.

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The only problem I have with these underwear stem from the stretch lace that I use – of the many types I have tried so far, I find they are either lovely and soft but deteriorate extremely quick or they are scratchy and not stretchy enough but hold up over time.  I wish I could find some that lasts as well and feels as nice as the lace that is used on my store-bought underwear!  So for my ‘galaxy’ pair, I used elastic trim with a picot edge.  Hopefully this will help these undies last longer.IMGP9786

Aside from showing you my latest sewing projects, I have an important question to ask you today:  Matt and I are making some secret plans for future pattern releases which involve some thought on packaging and printing.  Also, just the other day, a worker at one of our local retailers was chatting with me about feedback she has had on printed patterns in general (not just pertaining to our company).  She said that she often hears customers complain about thin tissue patterns and that her customers in general prefer when patterns are printed on heavier paper.  I was very surprised to hear this because Matt and I had done extensive research when we initially planned our packaging and had come to the conclusion that most sewers prefer tissue to be used.  We found that this is because it is easier to flatten and re-use and it is also easier to pack away and store since it is not bulky to fold.  People, we read at the time, prefer to pin into tissue and generally trace off their patterns and thus don’t mind that tissue doesn’t withstand long term wear.

So, now that we have a pretty broad customer base (when we were initially planning our packaging we didn’t have all of you guys to ask!), we want to hear what you think!  Thanks so much for your feedback!


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All Sorts of Pant and Short Sewing Assistance (and my me-made undies!)

This week I have been sewing the first mock up of the Strathcona Henley and also took a small break to try out Cloth Habit’s wonderful free pattern for Rosy Ladyshorts.  One of the comments on the pattern page was as follows:

“I just found your blog recently when someone linked to it in a comment on Sewaholic’s blog post about sewing panties. I just wanted to let you know that I made up not one, but TWO Rosy Ladyshorts tonight! All while my husband made dinner! It’s a great pattern!” Emily cloth habit screen shot

If Emily could squeeze in time to sew two pairs of new underwear before dinner, then surely I could afford myself a little “me sewing time” for an evening!  Especially when the sewing project was so frilly and satisfyingly girly compared to all the menswear I have been doing lately.  It was so nice to give myself a chance to putter away (with a Downton Abbey episode in the back ground) with a selection of lace at my sewing machine table.  I finished two in an evening (and a few extra minutes the next morning) and that time frame also included a large amount of time trying to get my serger operating smoothly! Edited-1 I love how the Ladyshorts turned out!  They are very comfortable and pretty.  The thorough and friendly instructions made the sewing process almost mindless.  Talk about a tiny sewing project that results in a lot of satisfaction! For the first pair I used an old t-shirt of Matt’s that had a hole in it and some very soft white stretch lace.  These are the comfiest pair of the two and resulted in underwear that are more like shorts (as the name would suggest) than briefs. Edited-3   When I cut out the second pair I got a little creative and experimented by removing some of the coverage along the side and back leg opening.  I used a mystery stretch fabric that feels like sportswear but has a raised floral print more suited to evening wear.  I bought it quite some time ago in hopes of making a dress but my love of natural fibers has since taken over and so this plasticky feeling fabric isn’t especially inspiring to me any more.  Fortunately, Cloth Habit’s pattern includes a crotch lining piece that Amy suggests you cut out of a cotton knit; as a result, the fact that the rest of the underwear are very synthetic isn’t too important. I used a pretty cream lace to finish off the legs and waist opening. Edited-2 If you’ve ever had the urge to get onto the DIY lingerie bandwagon that seems to have engulfed the sewing blog world over the last year or so, this is a perfect pattern to start with!  I can see myself making loads of these in the future and I am excited to find some prettier lingerie fabrics to use. Now, back to menswear sewing: Before cutting into our fabric for the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along it might be useful to familiarize yourself with a few of the (MANY) amazing online resources regarding different issues with fitting and sewing pants.  I’ve compiled a few that I especially like in the following two categories: Preparing to Sew your Pants:

  • Measuring Men – the Jedediah Pants are athletically graded, meaning that they fit quite slim.  Carefully take your measurements and don’t cut your fabric simply based on the ready to wear size you usually buy.  Matt generally fits a size 29 or 30 in RTW and perfectly fits a size 30 in our pattern.
  • Colette’s Guide to Fitting Pants – this is a fitting guide for sewing women’s pants, but, since there doesn’t seem to be any information online for fitting men’s pants, it is the best available option!  Fitting men’s pants, especially a casual pair such as the Jedediah Pants, is not quite as tricky as fitting women’s pants because we don’t have to deal with curving hips or (much of) a bottom!  It is still advisable to make a muslin of the Jedediah Pants to see if there are any obvious issues.

Sewing Your Pants: Lisa G. of Notes from a Mad Housewife has recently posted some great tutorials on sewing pants:

  • Perfect Waistbands (using a two piece waistband…the Jedediah Pants have a one piece waistband but this tutorial is still helpful for getting a crisp corner where the waistband and zipper meet!)
  • Sewing a Pant Fly like a Pro (she isn’t exaggerating – her flys look amazing!)

Here is a great You-Tube  video to help you really understand how all the strange looking pieces of fabric come together to form a fly: VIDEO: How to Sew a Fly by Michael Coates – The Sewing Guru

  • Note: Disregard his seam allowance amounts and other sewing specifics if sewing the Jedediah Pants (he is working with quite a different pattern with a different order of construction)…otherwise this is an EXCELLENT video where you can see the entire fly construction process done very carefully and professionally.
  • 10:00 – Begin the video at this point to match as closely to the Jedediah Instructions as possible (this is where he begins to sew the zipper shield and assemble the fly)
  • 13:30 – When he presses the seam allowance over to attache the zipper shield, we would press the curved fly facing piece over that is included on both pant legs in the Jedediah Pants Pattern.