Thread Theory

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


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Studio Update: Refinishing the cork board and thread holders

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything about my ongoing studio ‘renovations’.  I have been working on the Thread Theory studio VERY slowly when time allows and the mood strikes so there are a couple projects which are in varying stages of completion that I have yet to show you.  This week I flew through two projects (instead of finishing the ongoing ones…oops) and love how they turned out!

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I stripped my cork board of the random business cards and boring lists that I had been pinning onto it over the last two or three months and made it into an inspiration board.  Now, whenever I am ironing I can look up at my inspiration board to be filled with the warm fuzzy feeling of looking at something beautiful (I think!).

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I painted the board using a paint sample jar from Home Depot (those little ones that are under $5).  I picked the dark greyish brown colour we have used in our Thread Theory logo.  I bought some brass brackets to decorate and reinforce the corners as the board I have is very flimsy.  The brass was shiny builders brass so I sanded off the laquer and oxidized them a little by soaking them in apple cider vinegar and salt and then baking them at 450F (I did this twice before much change began to occur…even now they are only a slightly richer golden brown.  Apparently if you do this process thoroughly enough they turn green!).

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Once the board was prepared, I gathered all the bits and bobs that I had around the house.  Really, that is the entire extent of things Matt and I own that are in some way pin-able and I was super lucky that they all happened to work together to suit the Thread Theory aesthetic!  I love the few pops of orange and yellow that match the colour of the Thread Theory logo.

My next project was to update the wonderful thread holders my Dad made for me several Christmases ago.  The serger thread holder didn’t really need any changes but I figured I would paint it since I had purchased some nice Thread Theory orange paint.

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The regular thread holder had a few updates planned for it.  My dad had made a huge amount of cross bars but only assembled about 2/3 of them when he originally made the thread rack since it was getting so large.  When it comes to thread racks, larger is better in my opinion so I decided to add a couple more cross bars to it.  I also decided to remove the rope system he had used and instead screw the cross bars to two vertical 1X2 pieces.  I painted the cross bars and stained the vertical pieces to match my ironing table.  I screwed them all together using brass screws to match the cork board brackets.

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Matt was in bed sick with the flu while I was working on this so I was a one-girl work crew and thus ended up with a slightly wonky thread rack.  I thought I measured well but apparently I am far less precise with a power drill and screw driver than I am with sewing scissors and a needle!  Nonetheless, I am proud of how it turned out and am glad that it doesn’t swing around on the wall any time I grab a spool or thread as it did before when it was joined together by rope.

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The best improvement I made to the thread rack stemmed, I am very pleased to announce, completely from the workings of my own brain and involved no Pinterest what-so-ever!  I stumbled upon a roll of sticky magnet tape at Home Depot when I was looking for screws and decided to apply strips of it to the underside of each cross bar (I ended up using hot glue gun because the tape part of the magnet wasn’t strong enough).  Now, whenever I have a partially full bobbin I can stick it to the magnet that corresponds with the thread colour above it!  Feel free to copy it if you are so inclined 😀 …I’m rather pleased with how it turned out and bet it would make a great addition to any sewing studio.  I’ve already added a strip to my ironing table as well so I can stick pins to it instead of bringing my pin cushion with me from the sewing machine.  I bet it would work well attached to a tin lid if you store your thread in a tin or you could even attach it to the underside of your sewing machine table.

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Here are links to other posts I have made about my sewing studio renovations…you can see how many months (and houses!) this project has been spread over…slow and steady wins the race:

First Post (The sewing studio in our old house.  You can see ‘Before’ photos of the thread racks and cork board in this post.)

Sewing Table (Check out the tutorial of how we made the cabinets my father-in-law built for me into an ironing and pinning table!)

What’s your most ingenious sewing space idea?  Want to share any fabric storage pointers or button organizing ideas with me?

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Under the Tree

 

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Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday!  Here’s another little peek at our new printed patterns.  They are currently on boats and planes shipping to stockists all over the world and will very shortly be available to you!

My family Christmas was excellent – and complete with both a fondu (Christmas eve with my side of the family) and a turkey dinner (Christmas day with Matt’s family).  Soooo much wonderful food and even more wonderful company!  I received a few unusual and very thoughtful sewing related Christmas presents under the tree and thought you might be interested to see what people managed to get for the sewer who [almost] has everything when it comes to the sewing studio!

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend (the talented graphic designer, Sonia Bishop who has designed our packaging!) found this solid piece of sewing gold disguised as your average vintage sewing guide.  Many books claim to be ‘complete guides’ but this REALLY is a complete guide to sewing!  I’m so thrilled with it!  Does anyone else have this book?  I think I might remember a comment several months ago in which it was referenced.

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It is a Reader’s Digest book from 1976.  It has extremely thorough and easy to understand illustrations (which I’m sure will be very useful to refer to whenever I am writing pattern instructions) and it is cleverly organized so that relevant information can be accessed within seconds.  Whenever a subject is also mentioned in a different part of the book, the page number and title of the section are in bold at the top of the page – I have never seen that in a reference book before and think that will prove to be incredibly handy.

Best of all, and much to my surprise, there is a little ‘Men and Boys’ section hidden near the back of the book which was at first a laughing point for Sonia and I when we compared the number of pages to other sections of the book.  I flipped to this section and was shocked to find that it is not an empty bunch of repeated sewing tips that have been shared with the women’s section.  In fact, the short chapter manages to fit in everything from properly and fully tailoring a high end coat (AMAZING!) to constructing shirt collar stays and a classic yoke for a button-up.

I’m really excited about the tailoring techniques that the chapter teaches.  The straight forward instructions and detailed illustrations make pad-stitching and constructing a chest piece seem like challenges that could readily be conquered rather than mysterious techniques better left to old-world tailors. While these high end tailoring techniques won’t be included in the Goldstream Pea Coat instructions (they are written for sewers who are completely new to sewing outerwear), you can certainly expect to see tutorials in the future so that you can apply some of these tailoring techniques to our pea coat pattern!

From my parents I received two very useful sewing tools.  I had coveted the Lee Valley stork-shaped thread snips that a girl used in my fashion design program for quite some time so I was very pleased to receive a set of my own!  Aren’t they lovely?  Coincidentally, I also gave a pair of these to my mother-in-law, I hope she will like them as much as the whole fashion program did (the poor girl who owned them was constantly having to ‘borrow’ them back from other classmates).

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The other tool my parents gave me was was also for Matt.  Matt is constantly (but good-naturedly) complaining about pins on the floor (and in his feet).  While I think Matt is equally as handsome as Ryan Gosling, he somehow doesn’t quite have the patience for pins that the dream man does! lol

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Behold the end of Matt’s worries and pain!  It’s a magnet ‘broom’ that I can quickly run along the sewing room floor (and wherever else I dragged my projects and pins to in the house) after I sew each day.  Easy as that!

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Did you receive any sewing related presents this year?

 


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How Thread Theory Sees Sewing

Hey everyone! For this week’s blog post, Morgan and I decided to do a little feature on a company that has greatly inspired us in both our business and personal life: Merchant and Mills.

Merchant and Mills is a UK company that embodies everything we aspire to be: Understated, of quality and substance, whole-hearted and eager to pass on their mission to others!

Seriously though, just watch their promotional video, even if you’ve never sewn a stitch in your life you will be itching to pick up a needle and thread by the time it is over:

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Amazing, right? The whole “purchase quality – purchase once” ideal has always been important to me, and I think Merchant and Mills is an excellent example of this. I also, being a man, love the way they treat sewing. It makes me want to take up sewing and still feel masculine about it! They present a pair of thread snips as something as solid and serious such I would expect a hammer and chisel, for instance, to be presented.

Morgan and I are on a mission to create a Thread Theory studio that embodies these values and is a place that, each time we walk in the door, makes us feel inspired to create something that matches the branding we want our company to have.  You’ve seen Morgan’s dream ironing board/sewing cabinet.  Now we’re moving on to smaller projects to finish the room up.  Here are some recent images from Pinterest that we have been using as a source of inspiration:

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Our next project is to add something like this to her thread organizers:

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On that note, I want to wax on about a tool we already have that fits our criteria for a sewing tool and studio space: Morgan’s amazing scissors. As much as I love my own tools, I get a ridiculous amount of joy every time I pick these bad boys up. They feel nice and heavy in the hand and have steel all through the handles. Most importantly, they are insanely sharp and precisely machined so that each “snip” cuts evenly all down the length of the blade (you know how some scissors cut best at the base of the blade or right near the middle? Not these!).

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They are the Kai 7205 8″ Professional Shears and can be found here!

What are your favourite sewing tools? Do you like to spend the extra money on a high quality item, or do you save your money and hope for the best?


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DIY Ironing Table

Hello blog world!

Morgan and I were too excited about the most recent addition to the sewing room to wait for the Friday post! So, without further ado, here it is!

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This DIY tutorial is for an ironing table that is specially designed to pin together duvets, which Morgan sews for The Heather Company. It is also the perfect table for ironing as well as a great cutting mat surface.

This tutorial is for the working surface of the table (which contains several important layers), as the shelves can really be made of anything (but more on that later!)

Here are some things you will need!

  • A sheet of plywood
  • Carpet padding
  • Heavy canvas (12oz to 14oz)
  • Cotton needle punch batting
  • A staple gun
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • Liquid glue

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The first step is to determine the size you want your table to be. We decided to make it the full width of our spare bedroom (a.k.a. the sewing studio) and 24″ deep. This allows the cutting mat to easily sit on top without any overhang. Then, simply cut a piece of plywood to the size you want! The thickness of the plywood all depends on how wide the gap between the shelves will be; ask your local handy-man for help!

Next, get your carpet underlay and cut it with scissors or a box knife to cover the entire surface of the plywood.

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Do a dry fit first, and then cover your plywood with glue squiggles. I used an all-purpose liquid super glue made by Titan.

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Next, wait for the glue to dry enough that it holds the carpet padding in place (it doesn’t have to completely set). Lay out your canvas with the cotton needle punch on top, then flip the plywood and carpet padding upside-down on top of it all. You should now have the underside of the plywood showing with a layer of carpet padding, cotton needle punch, and canvas underneath. We let the needle punch overlap a couple inches on each side, and then canvas quite a bit more than that – about 6-8 inches.

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Now comes the fun part! With one person on each end, pull the canvas nice and tight, doing your best to get it stretched in both directions. Fold it up and over the raw side of the plywood and staple it down!

Resized-0008Work your way around the whole surface stapling every 6 inches or so. If you get a few staples sticking up, tap them down with a hammer.

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Next, flip the whole kit-and-kaboodle over and admire your handy-work!

Resized-0012 Resized-0013 Resized-0014The canvas might not be super tight at this point, but as you iron on it, the canvas will shrink and it will make a nice smooth surface.

Next, put it on top of some cupboards/side tables/saw horses/anything you want! My mum and dad had promised Morgan some custom-made cabinets for her birthday, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to cash in! We designed them to have enough space to hold Morgan’s Husqvarna machine and her serger, and to have a small slot for her cutting table. My parents went above and beyond and built the cabinets up on small risers and made slide out platforms! We were totally blown away by their sturdy-ness, and we sanded them and applied a coat of black walnut Danish Oil and set them up!

Resized-0001 Resized-0003 Resized-0004 Resized-0005 Resized-0007 Resized-0008 Resized-0006All in all, the ironing table-top was a VERY simple process. We did the entire thing (except cutting the plywood) on our living room floor and only had to do a quick vacuum to clean up after! The carpet padding makes a bit of a mess when you cut it… We weren’t keeping track of time, but this project could EASILY be done in an an afternoon/evening. And, once the table-top is done, you could put it on anything from filing cabinets to Ikea Expedit cubes!

Have any questions on the process? Feel free to post below and I’ll do my best to help!


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Jedediah Pants and Sewing Room Make-over

This week we’ve made lots of progress on two fronts: the Jedediah Pants are graded and the first sample using the final pattern is complete!  AND Matt and I finally completed the sewing room makeover that I’ve been day dreaming about!

First, I’ll show you the room make over as this was completed earlier in the week (and, as you can see from the ‘before’ photos, was a necessary preparatory step to complete the Jedediah pants).

The obligatory BEFORE and AFTER shots:

Over the course of the last two weeks of my fashion design program my sewing space became a dumping grounds for anything to do with my end of year fashion line.  I started to do all my sewing at school (on a fairly ancient industrial machine) rather than using my nice new machine simply because there was so little room to work.

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The view from my sewing chair – much nicer than looking at a wall!

Once school finished up, the first thing on my to do list was to unearth my sewing supplies and make the half-room into a more use-able space.  As you might be able to tell from the photos, my roommate kindly agreed to switch sides of the room with me so that I could have room to turn my machine perpendicular from the wall.  This was the single most important change to the sewing room as it instantly made me feel less cramped and claustrophobic at my machine.   While sewing the Jedediah Pants after this change being in the ‘open air’ instead of crammed against the wall made it easier for me to focus and stay patient while sewing.

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The handy new-to-me fabric storage shelf alongside my Diana dress form (my grandparents found my dress form advertised for sale in their antique car club newsletter – what a find!)

I also bought a small book shelf (the tall and skinny white one pictured) for $10 off of Craigslist to hold my fabric, Burda Style and Threads magazines and the rest of my sewing library.  When I bought the shelf it was covered in crayon marks and sticky hand prints but these cleaned up considerably with the help of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I like that the shelf gives me storage space but is small enough that my fabric has no choice but to stay folded and in order.

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My super sharp scissors hanging from the hook Matt installed for this exact purpose.

For my birthday I got some amazing new sewing treasures which I have yet to share.  Firstly, my parents gave me the most amazing scissors I’ve ever laid my hands on.  It is actually quite scary grading seam allowances with them because they are so sharp and smooth I am sure I wouldn’t notice if I cut into several extra layers of the garment by accident!

Also, my mother in father in-law have offered to make me custom sewing shelving (exciting!!!) since they knew I had my eye on the Ikea Expedit shelves.  I’m really thrilled about this as I am hoping to design cubbies that will fit my serger and domestic machine (the Ikea Expedit cubbies are too small to do this).  I also think it might be neat to have the top surface of the shelving as a multi-purpose area.  It could have a removable ironing surface on it, a desk surface and also be able to hold another unit on top of it if I want to expand on the shelving in the future.  I’m going to wait to come up with my final design for Rick and Sue as Matt and I will be moving the Thread Theory studio shortly and I want to make sure the unit fits in the new space.

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My massive thread organizers made by my Dad – they’re actually starting to fill up!

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The quilted pin cushion that my husband’s Grandma, a very skilled quilter, made for me. It’s filled with glass beads so it’s nice and heavy and stays in place on my sewing machine’s thread holder.

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In the background of this photo is the Thread Theory bulletin board I made to keep To Do Lists organized and to keep Matt and I inspired and on track.

With my sewing room now in a usable (and inspiring!) state, I jumped into sewing up the freshly graded Jedediah Pants in a size 30, the smallest size we are offering.  The pants are a slim-fit chino inspired trouser with big slash pockets on the front and easy-to-sew patch pockets on the rear.  After sewing up the full length option I am really excited to try making shorts as I think the leg width in the upper leg area will be really conducive to creating comfortable but stylish slightly above the knee shorts.

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The fit is on the smaller side for these pants, similar to what sewers have noticed for sizing with the Newcastle Cardigan (an athletic sizing chart).  For instance, Matt usually prefers a store bought pant in size 29 but often settles for a 30 due to lack of availability in smaller sizes.  The size 30 of the Jedediah pant fit him perfectly on the waist and were an inch too long in leg length.

I’m currently finalizing the sewing instructions and will be sending out the pattern to test sewers within the next week (FINALLY!).  We are so excited to make the Jedediah Pants available for sale as Matt and I think that his pants pattern is the perfect modern fitting base for endless menswear pants variations.  Simply changing the lower leg width could create everything from skinny jeans to a wider casual trouser.  I can imagine these sewn up in everything from denim to a dressy wool blend and am looking forward to sourcing some bright summer cotton twills for shorts.  My Dad suggested I try adding metal rivets to a heavier duty pair of Jedediah pants for a really professional finish – a detail I am eager to try out after using them on the leather purse I made for my line.  They are so easy to tap in with a hammer and have a big effect on overall appearance and strength.


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Moving Week

This week Thread Theory Designs Inc. moved across the city to join us in a new home just begging to be decorated!  I’ve compiled a Pinterest gallery of drool-worthy sewing rooms that I hope to glean ideas from for the new office/sewing space.

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Meg of Made By Meg’s prettily framed sewing samples.

Meg, over at Made By Meg has come up with a great way of displaying sewing samples.  I’ve compiled a huge binder of them over the last year of construction classes so am contemplating putting the ones I use most up on my wall in a similar manner.  Meg’s space looks so pretty and personalized!

Tasia, of the indie pattern company Sewaholic, has made great use of Ikea’s Expedit cabinet.  I love how her patterns fit so perfectly in them…I can’t wait until the day when I can have an Expedit of my own filled with prettily packaged Thread Theory patterns!

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Tasia of Sewaholic’s organized Expedit.

 

Aside from moving and unpacking since last Friday, we have been busy refreshing various websites in eager anticipation of new comments about Thread Theory Designs Inc…we’re both a little giddy with the unexpected and sudden attention our company has received in the sewing world of late!  Thank you to House of Pinheiro for featuring us in a blog post last Saturday (April 27th).  We were very excited this week by all the views generated for our pattern store stemming from their blog post!

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Also, we found Thread Theory mentioned on Pattern Review…we’re so glad that news is spreading like wild fire across the sewing corner of the internet just in time for the Newcastle Cardigan pattern release on May 15th!

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Do you have any sewing room decor or organizing tips to share?  I can’t wait to get my room in ship-shape!