Thread Theory

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


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Studio Tour

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My parents and grandparents were over for a family dinner last weekend (my Mom’s birthday).  After dinner everyone gathered in my studio to have a peek at some of the projects I’ve been working on.  It had been a while since they had been in my studio, and, since we only moved in to our home 5 months ago it had changed greatly since their last inspection!  After checking out all of the customising I have done, my dad said it was high time for a studio photo shoot to share my space with you on the blog.  So here it is!

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My studio space is really the reason we decided to buy the house (Matt and I joke when we say this but it is at least partially true).  It is a nicely converted garage with gabled ceilings, two huge windows and LOADS of lighting options.

When we first moved in, Matt’s mom and dad devoted a weekend of their time to paint the studio with us.  Matt’s mom was still painting the trim when Matt, his Dad, and I enthusiastically moved everything in to the room.  I was eager to start using my space!

Since then I’ve slowly puttered away at adding functional details to the room…my latest small additions are three hooks on the wall for my scissors:

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I set up my sewing machines in front of the window so that I have the best natural light (and a view of the kids playing on the cul de sac) while I sew.

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My most used work area is my big oak desk.  It is a beat up old provincial government desk that Matt and I purchased when we lived in Victoria and have lugged along with every move since!  It’s a bit of a beast but I really love having such a huge work surface (it is usually covered with all sorts of paperwork).

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My seat cushion features a lovely little bit of embroidery that I made using one of my friend Sarah’s gorgeous bug themed embroidery patterns.  She just released a bunch of Christmas themed embroidery patterns that would make gorgeous ornaments and a great project to work on while sitting by the fire.  She also has a vintage sewing machine pattern – I definitely need to add that one to my studio decor.

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All of the smaller items that I stock in the shop are sorted on large barn-wood shelves throughout the studio.

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The barn wood is salvaged from an old horse stall that we pulled down while house sitting last year.  The building was no longer structurally sound but, once dried out, some of the wood was in decent shape.

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It’s pretty tough to find such wide, long and beautiful solid wood boards these days!  I feel lucky to have these.  They are very practical for me (I like open storage) and they are full of character.

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I’ve affixed my most used bobbins to the underside of one of the shelves using a couple of magnetic strips.  They are directly above my thread rack so it is easy to keep track of matching colors.

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My yarn is stored in three massive baskets that I sewed using the canvas, strapping and screen prints that we include in our Carry-All Bag Making Kit.

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I used this great tutorial to create these…but increased the dimensions by A LOT to make massive versions.

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I found a male dress form (pinnable!) at a second hand consignment shop a few months ago and was over the moon about it as I have been longing for one ever since I left behind the great mannequins available at design school.

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The mannequin didn’t have a stand…but…I mentioned my desire for a stand to my parents while they were admiring the studio and, low and behold, I now have one!  Just two days ago, my Dad dropped by with one that he made for me!

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He re-purposed the disk brake from an old vehicle, painted it with left over spray paint from another old vehicle, lathe turned a beautiful wooden base out of a scrap of wood, used a stainless pole and mount from the sailboat that he recently refitted to sail to Hawaii, and rigged up a system to fit it to the mannequin’s empty attachment point!  My dad is the best sort of Renaissance man :D.

I would be remiss to give you a studio tour without showing you my studio companion and his favourite place to hang out!

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Luki may look serene here but in reality he is quivering with excitement while neighbourhood cat-watching.

Needless to say, my timid little cat, Jasmine, does not share office hours with Luki.  Even though she can easily boss him around, she generally likes to avoid him and prefers to come to work in the evening and night (she blooms at night, just like the Jasmine flower).  She likes to help me sew by sitting on my fabric (classic).

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She loves the corner of the studio I’ve devoted to her – it is complete with a great viewpoint, a selection of feathers, and a stash of homegrown catnip.

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I hope you found this peek into the Thread Theory studio interesting!  Time for me to get back to work!

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And, just to remind any of you who missed yesterday’s post – all PDF patterns are 50% off in our shop until Monday!  Check out the largest sale of the year >

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New Sewing Studio

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A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was moving Thread Theory into a new studio space.  Now that I’m all settled in it’s time to tell you all about it!

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Back track to early January when I had no immediate plans to move Thread Theory out of our home office.  After all, we only just moved in to our home last July!  I had only just finished working out an office set up in our new house!

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One day I was checking Facebook and happened to see that my sewing friend and fellow entrepreneur, Nicole, (who owns and operates the Spool Sewing Studio) had found a very affordable second floor studio space right downtown.  She was looking for someone to share the space with her.  I spent about a week daydreaming but not actually intending to act on the idea.  One evening, during our weekly squash game, I asked her if she had found a studio buddy and was, within minutes, swept up by her enthusiasm for the space and agreed to share the rent with her!

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We spent a few weeks scrubbing, painting, building furniture, and moving everything in to the space.  I occupy one room (it’s filled with Thread Theory inventory and my sewing machines) and The Spool Sewing Studio occupies the other.  I have plans to move my computer and other office supplies into the studio this summer but have decided to take the move in phases so that Thread Theory can continue to operate smoothly.

We held an open house last weekend and were thrilled to meet a steady stream of sewing enthusiasts throughout the day!  It was so much fun to be in a public atmosphere after three years of operating Thread Theory from the quiet (and sometimes lonely) office in my home.

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In the photo above you can see Nicole’s room compete with a long sewing table, lots of festive banners, a big bright window, a tea centre, and a super helpful 5 year old (Nicole’s daughter who is already becoming a talented sewist!).

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Tea is a real staple at the studio.  While our two businesses operate entirely seperately, the one thing we have agreed to do together is share the cost of a well stocked tea station.  We take turns buying tea from the local tea shop one street over.  Priorities, right?  We also have a big closet space that we’ve set up with a bar fridge and snack baskets so, aside from tea, we always have a steady supply of chocolate and other snacks.

The Spool Sewing Studio classes usually take place in the evenings and on weekends so I am generally alone while working in the studio on weekdays.  Even though no one is working alongside me, it is still much more interactive than working from home – the large window in my space gives me a great view of the town library and all the people coming and going.  Every once in a while someone pops in to say hi or to ask a sewing related question.  Sometimes I see someone that I know walking down the street and can wave to them from our second floor window.  It’s so nice to be connected to the community!  I am a complete introvert so I feel comfortable and cozy working from home.  I never feel cabin fever too drastically and sometimes dread leaving my nice quiet space to head out into society :P.  Even though I enjoy working from home, it can sometimes feel too comfortable.  It is much healthier for me to be out in the public engaging with other human beings!  I’m glad the new studio gives me the opportunity to do this.


 

I’ll show you more photos of my actual space (since most of the ones in this post feature Nicole’s side of the studio) in the future…I couldn’t share them right now because our inventory shelves are currently laden with secret new items that have yet to be released in our shop!  I don’t want to spill the beans!  Until I am able to take photos of my space, I’ll leave you with this super cute family photo which Matt snapped while Nicole’s husband, Scott, was using the sewing machine for the first time.  He’s a talented wood worker and remarked that the process was very much like operating his power tools.  He very quickly got the hang of it and now, one of the batik pendants that adorn the studio space was made by him!

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If anybody reading this post happens to visit Courtenay, B.C. please feel free to drop by the studio to say hi and have a cup of tea!  We are at #1-345 6th St. Courtenay.  I am at the studio most weekday afternoons but you can always email me at info@threadtheory.ca to make sure I will be there.


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While on my staycation…

Staycation (20 of 24)Thanks for your patience while I’ve been MIA on our moving stay-cation!  I ended up giving myself an entire week from Sunday June 28th onwards screen free.  It was so nice to settle into enjoying our new home and studio without the distractions of the internet and emails in particular!  I even removed Instagram from my phone temporarily and refrained from texting as much as possible.  When I turned everything on again a week later I was surprised to find that I hadn’t missed checking Facebook or Instagram at all.  On the other hand, it felt really great to catch up on Thread Theory and personal emails this week.  If you had asked me at the beginning of my vacation, I would have told you I was dreading returning to emails and would greatly miss Instagram…very strange…

It was wonderful to come back from our staycation to find that our holiday sale was a huge success!  I spent all of last Monday packing orders and spent most of Tuesday catching up on emails.  I’m still trying to catch up on a few small things and, while I have most of our Thread Theory boxes unpacked, I have quite a bit more organizing to do in the studio.  I’ll keep puttering on this over the weekend and will be ready to launch into developing more patterns starting on this coming Monday.  Exciting!

We are loving our new house and yard.  The house we are renting is on two acres with many old fruit trees which I have been marveling at daily as the fruit grows.  My family and Matt’s family have both been spending lots of time here helping us get settled in.  Here are a few photos from my week long stay-cation and of the new studio!

Priority number one was creating a fenced side yard for our dog, Luki.Staycation (5 of 24)He happily spends most of his day out there basking in the sun and watching the horse in the neighbor’s paddock.

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Of course, as far as priorities go, the Thread Theory office and sewing room were not far behind our fence building efforts!  My friend Nicole helped me set up the majority of the sewing room and I spent a few hot afternoons tucked away in my nice cool office getting things sorted.

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Last weekend I tore myself away from my unpacking to spend a hot but very enjoyable weekend with my family riding around the Cowichan Valley on a bike tour of the many vineyards

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The Cowichan Valley is a couple hours south of us on Vancouver Island.  The ride was in support of the MS society and was a pretty big accomplishment for us considering the extreme heat we were riding in!

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We rode approximately 53 or 54 kilometers the first day and 33 kilometers the second day. on our second day, we were riding under eerily orange skies and falling ash due to the huge wildfires that have been burning all over British Columbia.

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Matt and I planned a house warming party that took place this Wednesday.  Matt’s parents arrived on Sunday to visit and help us host the party but, just as they arrived and as I got home from my weekend bike ride, Matt was called out to fight his very first wildfire! He has been away in Sprout Lake (fairly near where I had been biking) ever since.  I just heard word that he will be arriving home safe and sound this evening!

Even without Matt around, his parents and I got lots of work done on the property this last week, including building a gate for Luki’s fenced area (Rick built it with old cedar from on the property!).

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Matt was greatly missed at the housewarming party (and throughout the week in the Thread Theory studio).

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All the guests are gone now and things are settling down to normal routines.  I look forward to updating you as I continue to work on setting up my studio space and, of course, I can’t wait to complete our next two patterns!


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Plans for our new studio!

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We have big changes coming up this Summer both personally and professionally as Matt and I will be moving – and, by default, our in-home Thread Theory studio will also be changing locations!  We’ve been in a small duplex rancher for the last year and a half and, what with our many boxes of Thread Theory patterns and our recent acquisition of a large, rambunctious dog, we have become pretty cramped!  Fortunately, we recently stumbled upon the most amazing long term house sitting opportunity.  So this summer we’ll be moving into what Matt and I consider to be our dream house.  It’s a 2500 sq ft home on 2 acres.  The house overlooks some beautiful farmland and mountains and the owners have lovingly renovated it to take full advantage of the view.  The entire house is completely filled with bright, open light and just walking into it I feel inspired to live life to the fullest!  It’s going to be VERY difficult to move out when the owners arrive home from their travels!

While I’m obviously really excited to move for personal reasons, I am also looking forward to creating a more workable and inspiring space for Thread Theory.  I don’t often show photos of the current Thread Theory studio on the blog because it isn’t the light, airy, brick walled space that so many other sewing professionals seem to occupy (sigh…so envious of Tilly’s studio and the Colette Patterns studio!).  But, in the interest of full disclosure and accurate ‘before & after’ photos, here is what we are currently working with as of today:

The current Thread Theory studio includes a computer station created in a re-purposed dining room/entry hall…

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A bedroom stuffed with my sewing machines, cutting table and fabric…

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A corner of Matt’s ‘shop’ (a tiny spare bedroom) filled with packaging materials…

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…and a hallway of shelved closets with the doors removed as our pattern storage and Thread Theory ‘store’.

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While the spaces themselves aren’t ideal, I love some of the elements within our current Thread Theory studio – I would just prefer these elements to be arranged in a more open concept and spacious manner.

Here are a few things I love and plan to transition to the new space:

I really enjoy working on my pinning and cutting table (view the tutorial to create this padded table top here)…

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I love my industrial sewing machine…

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…and our standing desk has done wonders for my back and my ability to focus.

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In the new space I hope to add a few new features:

Fabric Bolt Storage and Packaging Station

I hope to switch from this:

To something like this:

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Lighting – Natural and Artificial

Pendant lights would be lovely above the standing desk and my cutting table.  And I hope to position the studio furniture to take full advantage of the amazing natural light throughout the house!

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Organization – Shipping Station, Seating, Office Supplies

This will be a dramatic change.  We’ll get rid of this chaos:

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And we will try to incorporate some practical elements such as shelving topped by work tables, seating that takes up very little space (my current sewing chair is way too massive), and movable organization carts.

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In case you are also planning to re-organize or upgrade your sewing room, here are a few more really inspiring links to check out!

 

 

 


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A standing desk for the Thread Theory Studio

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Matt and I have been re-configuring our studio a little bit of late. As we get busier and busier (yay!) we have been finding ourselves sitting at our dining room table in front of the lap top answering customer service queries and packing orders for increasingly larger amounts of time each day.  Our dining room table was never intended to be our “office desk”.  In fact, up until recently, we had quite an unreasonable amount of desks to choose from crowding up our studio (read: our entire house :P).  We had a big corner desk complete with a hutch, all in laminated ‘wood’ set up in one room which rarely got used because I find corner desks and hutches to both be pretty clausterphobic and dark.  I like to work on big, open surfaces with lots of daylight.  Our next desk option was the corner desk’s matching table which we had moved into my sewing area resulting in it’s surface area being too crowded with sewing machines to use as an office desk.  Lastly, we had a big old government desk (solid wood with a really large and useful table top) in Matt’s little workshop area which we used to hold absolutely everything despite Matt’s desire to use it as the perfect shop bench.

And yet, despite all these desk options, we were sitting hunched over our dining room table because it is the one surface in our studio/house that is bathed in natural light and big enough to spread computers, papers and partially packed orders all over it’s nice open surface.  Unfortunately, the chair and table height really don’t work well for computing.  Our lower backs have been getting more and more sore and we have been noticing that, in order to use the keyboard, our shoulders have to hunch up awkwardly for long periods of time.

So…in classic Matt and Morgan fashion, we put a bunch of our furniture up on Craigslist and decided to start again (this is a very ingrained habit for us)!  We sold the corner desk (we’ve never been a fan of fake wood anyways), the table from my studio, and, while we were at it, we sold our coffee table too.  We went from having an excess of not very useful tables and desks to having only the dining room and Matt’s government desk to work with!

That was a good thing though: It left us with the space in our house/studio to start imagining the perfect studio set up – which, we decided, was to switch to a standing desk.

When we started up a sewing pattern company, I perhaps naively imagined myself blissfully sewing all day.  Of course, within almost no time at all, we realized that the reality of an online business is far different than this – we are probably at our computers just as much as if we had conventional office jobs as our careers.  Since I don’t see this really changing any time in the future, we hope a standing desk will at least improve the situation.  We’ve been reading some articles on the benefits of standing for the majority of the day and it really sounds desirable to me!  (See this article in the Smithsonian magazine for example.)  I’ve always been proud of my straight posture but, over the last two years I have been noticing I’m no longer so naturally inclined to sit or stand with a really straight back.  Eeek!  I don’t want to developed a rounded ‘computer back’!standing-desk ergonomics

Standing desks are pretty expensive and they seem to usually be a little too narrow for my liking.  I didn’t want to compromise on my desire for a big flat work surface!  So Matt decided to build us a desk so we wouldn’t have to purchase one that didn’t suit all of our criteria.  He’s new to woodworking but whipped this up in no time!  He’s constructed a coffee table and a desk in the last two weeks!  He used this tutorial for the standing desk with a number of revisions.  We decided to tilt the desk on a slight angle like a drafting table and we used 2X6 boards to create a table top rather than purchasing a thinner one.  Matt also added an angle to one side since we are pretty limited for space in our office area and we wanted to still be able to walk through the door to our kitchen!

What do you think?

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We’re mid way through sanding it and then we have to settle on a stain/oil color.  These are the two main candidates at the moment:

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And then we’ll need to figure out some solutions for office organization.  We’re part way through sorting this out since we just bought a filing cabinet!!! (It’s probably a little odd that I love filing cabinets so much…I, along with my mom and my sister, am a bit of an office furniture and stationary geek…we used to look forward to shopping for school supplies even more than we looked forward to back to school clothes shopping!).

The filing cabinet we had before was part of the laminate corner desk unit so we had to sell it when we sold the desk.  It was nice and big and we didn’t have too many complaints about it, but, since we had the opportunity to pick a new cabinet, I decided I preferred a tall and skinny cabinet to a short and wide one since this will give us more wall space to add more office furniture! The filing cabinet we found is a bit battered and well loved, but I’m calling this a ‘vintage patina’ lol.

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I actually kind of like the chipped paint!  What truly won me over though, were the brass handles.  They’re perfect!IMGP1956

Now that we have a standing office desk I have been curious about standing sewing set ups.  Recently, when Oona posted her sewing area tour, she showed us that she sews at a standing height desk.  I tried this out by placing my little Kenmore on my ironing table once my laminate sewing table was sold but I don’t think I’m won over to standing sewing.  It was pretty awkward because all my weight was on my left leg while my right foot stayed raised over the foot pedal.  I tried to force myself to keep my heel on the ground so I could distribute my weight more evenly but my heel simply wouldn’t co-operate.

I hope I’ll have more success with standing computing!  I’ll let you know how it turns out when we’ve finished the desk and I’ve had a chance to try it out for a few weeks.