Thread Theory

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


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Tips on Manly Knits

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

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

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

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

Types of Material You’ll be needing:

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

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

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

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

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

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Fusible knit interfacing

Great blogs with resources on sewing knits:

Cutting knits – Tasia of Sewaholic

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

Knits – Stretch Yourself Series – Made By Rae

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

Online Knit Fabric Retailers:

Based in the United States:

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

A couple intriguing stores located in other countries:

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

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

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

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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