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


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Thinking about making trousers…

With the Jutland Pants Sew-Along coming up on December 1st, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about sewing pants.  Next week we will be filming the ‘video diary’ so that it is ready for the sew-along start date.  In the meantime, here are some of the resources I’ve been referring to while brainstorming and researching before we begin to film!

Ginger Jeans sew-along

Have you seen Closet Case File’s latest pattern?  Heather Lou has put epic amounts of work into this pattern and is currently hosting a sew-along on her blog.  I am not usually one for following sew-alongs but this Ginger Jeans Sew-along has got me hooked!  Heather has thought of every single question someone might want answers to as they embark on their first pair of jeans.  She has beautifully photographed her steps (including how to sew the fly!).  I’m glad we haven’t been working on a photographed sew-along because, when it comes to sewing casual pants, Heather’s got your classic sew-along completely and perfectly covered!

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During our sew-along I will be sewing two pairs of pants – one of each variation included in the pattern.  One of these will be put in the mail, once finished, for my Uncle.  He recently visited my parents (around the time of our Jutland Pants release date) and by the time his visit was over, he wanted a pair of pant’s just like my dad’s heavy duty Jutlands (my dad wears them constantly).  My Uncle’s favorite trouser brand is Kuhl and so I’ve decided to include some classic Kuhl details on his pair of Jutlands.  I borrowed a pair of his pants one evening and took some relevant measurements:IMGP2268

As I mentioned in the sew-along announcement post, this pair will include a gusset for ultimate flexibility,  custom pockets (including a screw-driver pocket), and I hope to adjust the fit of the Jutlands a little to match his favorite Kuhl fit.IMGP2267

Speaking of fit, I’ve been planning out some of the alterations I want to show you in our video diary.  My favorite fitting guide in my library is a single page in Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear.  These fitting adjustments are specifically suited to men (which is hard to find in the sewing world!) and they are presented very simply and clearly.IMGP2266

I’ll cover these adjustments in our video as I find it is really helpful to see pattern adjustments in motion rather than photographed or sketched.  Since most pattern adjustments involve slashing and pivoting, I think the dynamic format of video will be perfectly suited to explaining these!
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And last but not least, here’s a little sneak of what our new pup, Luki is up to while I work this afternoon!  He’s trying to dry off after a stormy mid-morning walk by snuggling deeply in his (ever-growing) pile of cozy blankets!  Happy Friday!


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Connecting with the Objects in our Lives

You guys are sewers (or soon will be!) so perhaps the idea of having a direct relationship with the objects in your life is familiar. Or maybe it is but you haven’t put much thought into it. Either way, it’s something I am interested in exploring and always have been. I’ve rarely been a big shopper, but I definitely am a bit of a collector. I thought it could be an interesting topic to discuss over the next few months (not exclusively of course!)

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In the spring I (Nicole) am going to be teaching a five day retreat/workshop at the incredible summer camp for grown ups, Hollyhock (click on the link to see 2015, and watch the short video about Hollyhock!). It’s on a secluded little island, ocean front and surrounded by woods. The food is incredible, the views spectacular and the presenters are phenomenal (wink wink). I went on a meditation retreat last summer, and I swear if I didn’t have a family I probably would have never left! :) The reason I mention it in this post is because A) They just posted the line up for 2015 last week! and B) Because a major theme of the week will be reconnecting with the objects in our lives. We will be exploring what it means to put mindfulness and effort into an object, and talking about what kind of difference it makes compared to spending money on a similar object.

We will also explore meditation and making. Bringing awareness to each. little. stitch.

Did I mention there will be sewing? Oh, so much sewing.

So let me ask you: how has sewing changed your relationship with the objects in your lives? How do you feel about buying clothes, once you started making them?


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Christmas Wishlist

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It’s time to start thinking about wishlists and presents so Matt and I have been busy adding more sewing tools and stocking stuffers to our store!  In celebration of this, we’re holding a sale until December 1st so that you can order all your Christmas sewing projects and gifts for your sewing friends at once.  Enter the code WISHLIST upon checkout to receive 15% off orders over $100.

Now, let me introduce you to some of the newest items in our shop!  First up is a small side project that our graphic designer and I started brainstorming during a sailing trip together last summer:

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Thread Theory drink coasters!  My sewing table is the recipient of many wine, coffee and tea stains because I can’t seem to sew without having a drink to sip at my side.  I hope these will prevent a few water stained rings from developing on your tables!  Also, with the Christmas party season coming up coasters will be in high demand.  We made these coasters very subtly sewing themed so that they can spread into the rest of your home without causing you to look too sewing-obsessed!Coasters-15

The coasters come in packs of six and include two of each design.  The first design is The Anatomy of the Goldstream Peacoat.  Use it to thoroughly impress non-sewing relatives with your vocabulary over eggnog and rum punch :P.Coasters-14

The second design features our Knolled Thread Theory Workstation.  Have you heard of knolling?  I first heard this term mentioned by Jen on the Grainline Studio blog.  I followed her link to the video definition and ended up watching the whole (super funny) video series featuring Tom Sach’s rules of conduct that must be learnt before entering his studio.  Needless to say, Matt and I have been obsessively knolling ever since!Coasters-13

The last design is a geography lesson – this coaster features the locations of the four parks that we were inspired by when designing the Parkland Collection patterns.  You can see that Strathcona Park and Goldstream Park are both on Vancouver Island while Jedediah is actually an island between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  Newcastle is also an island just off the coast of Nanaimo, Matt’s hometown.

I had so much fun working on this coaster project – it was a nice change from pattern design and instruction writing!  I hope they will be a welcome addition to your home as they have been in mine (they’re seriously everywhere…).  Head here to check out the dimensions and other specific details about the coasters.

Also new in our store are three Merchant & Mills tools!  We restocked all of the tools we currently carry and couldn’t resist adding a few new ones to our order.

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Let me introduce you to the most glorious Tailor’s Shears you will ever meet!  These smoothly operating beauties were created in Sheffield, England, the home of British Steel.  They are forged from high carbon tool steel which will retain its sharp edge and includes inner corrosion protection.NewProducts-14

They feature a very practical 8″ blade (not too long, not too short) which is side bent so that the bottom blade rests flat against your cutting surface. NewProducts-13

In classic Merchant & Mills fashion, these quality scissors are beautifully presented in a style perfect for gift giving.  Their blade is stamped with the Merchant & Mills logo and they are packaged in an embossed box complete with stamped tissue, a description of the scissors, and a pretty outer sleeve.NewProducts-12

We also added to our essential notions.  My goal is eventually stock every tool I find to be necessary when working in my sewing studio.  With that in mind, we added a metal sewing guage with a red plastic slider to our shop.
NewProducts-8This is a tool that is never far from my hand when sewing – it is perfect for measuring seam allowances, buttons, buttonholes, topstitching and pretty much every other precise little measurement you might require. NewProducts-9 Lastly, we now carry two styles of thread snips!  The first style has been in our shop for a while and has received enthusiastic reviews.  If you haven’t checked them out already, you are welcome to go examine my favorite Wide Bow Scissors.  While these scissors are my choice for snipping threads, I understand there are two camps when it comes to thread clippers – classic scissors or spring loaded snips.NewProducts-5

Matt is a spring loaded snip devotee and so he wouldn’t let us place another Merchant & Mills order without adding these beauties to our store.NewProducts-3

These polished stainless steel thread clips are larger and far heavier duty than Matt and I have ever come across in our search for thread clips (which was Matt’s main past time while visiting stockists on our U.S. road trip last spring).  They are 4.5″ long and include a comfortable finger ring that is designed to fit over your 3rd finger so that they can hang from your hand, ready to use, as you sew.NewProducts-2

These clips were also made in Sheffield, England and have been packaged beautifully by Merchant & Mills.  They sit glistening in a black jewelry box on a velvety black pillow.  They are wrapped in another pretty sleeve as you can see below:NewProducts-1

 

I hope you love these new additions to our store as much as I do!  If you are looking to stock up on sewing tools and kits for yourself or to use as gifts, all of our stock has been refreshed.  We have received many inquiries ever since our Bag Making Supplies Kit sold out so we have added this back in our store (along with the sold out Chicago Screws!).

Good luck with your Christmas shopping!


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Standing desk: Follow-up (sort of a ‘before & after’)

It’s been just over a month since I posted about our new standing desk so it is time to update you on how it has worked out for us!

Here is our old office space (pre-standing desk):

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Here is the standing desk when it was first built:

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And here is what it looks like today!

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As you can see, we stained it a very pretty walnut color.  I haven’t fully decorated/organized the area yet but it looks better than the old office arrangement did, in my opinion.

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I like things to look a lot more minimalist than the corner desk monstrosity allowed.IMGP2210

The best part of our new office arrangement is how Matt and I feel.  Since beginning to use the standing desk my lower back pains are totally gone!  Matt reports the same thing :).  At first the back pains were replaced by tired legs and feet but we built up stamina within two weeks.

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I bought a rug off of Craigslist which helps keep our feet comfortable and warm.  Even though it’s not a super thick rug, having something to remove us from the linoleum and concrete floor just slightly made a really big difference.  We might add a rug underlay in the near future as the weather continues to become colder.

…By the way, say hi to our new dog, Luki (below)!  We adopted him a couple weeks ago!  I have a feeling most photo-shoots will now include a dog as one of the main features :P.

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I like the natural light the desk receives from the window beside it.  I was worried at first that I wouldn’t like staring at the wall ahead of me and I still think this would be the case if it weren’t for the window beside me.

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We have several plans for the desk in the future – we would like to add some sort of shelving to the bottom or maybe add a separate unit elsewhere in the room to house the printer, scanner and office supplies.  This would clear up the desk space considerably which would make it more useful for packing orders (which I still do on the dining room table).

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We’ve already added some hooks to the side of the desk to start making the surface more functional:

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The next improvement I’d like to make is to figure out some sort of covering for the big power cord that extends to the outlet – maybe a galvanized steel tube to match the sawhorse brackets?

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Matt did a great job of cable management – just look at all those wires!  It is very difficult to make such a ‘bare bones’ desk design house so many different electronics without looking like a rats nest!

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We’d also like to add two hanging pendant lights like these ones to light each of our workstations.  It can get a bit dark when the blinds are down.  Whenever it is sunny it’s necessary to close the blinds to prevent glare on the computer screen :(.

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So, as you can see there are still quite a few changes to make to our office arrangement.  For now, though, I’m really pleased with the more active lifestyle this desk has created!  I find I’m less prone to seamlessly transitioning from work to personal computer use when I am at the standing desk.  I feel more focused when I am standing and far less ‘vegetative’.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this change to our work day!  I would love to hear suggestions for office organization if you have any – especially if they correspond to the printer, scanner, cable management, or lighting issues that I mentioned throughout this post :).


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Comox Trunks Pattern Hack- Lady Trunks!

Last weekend was the CREATE! event in Courtenay BC- demos, classes and vendors in the lovely Old House Hotel. Morgan and Matt had a table there and Morgan ran a couple of classes as well. She did some demos using the bag kit and an evening class for the Comox Trunks on Friday night. I was coming straight from work, feeling a little tired and rushed, but I was so glad I went. There were snacks, Comox Trunks Kits, and a very cozy atmosphere (though I feel bad for the people whose hotel rooms were beside the sewing room!).

There were about seven of us, including experienced quilters, Morgan’s mom, and an eleven year old girl. Morgan talked about the pattern, the fabric and the elastic and we all got to work. Every once in a while she would see most people ready to move on and she would introduce and demo the next step. It was fun being walked through and of course as an extrovert, I always love to turn this solitary activity into a party!create collage

The only thing was- I was feeling a little selfish. The bamboo jersey is so so nice, I wanted it for my very own tush. So I talked to Morgan about making them for myself. It turns out to be super easy- in fact it takes away all the tricky stuff at the beginning!  So in case there are others out there like me, who want cozy lady trunks, I decided to throw together a second pair, sharing the modification you make when you don’t need quite so much room in the…ahem.. pouch.

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As you can see, the boxers fit just great, and you too can feel like a super hero (especially if you wear them over tights)

The first step would be to get the Comox Trunks kit, or whatever fabric and elastic you are using, and of course your Comox Trunks pattern. You can follow most of the Sew-along, except we are going to start a little differently. After you’ve cut your pattern and fabric, we are basically skipping the “Sewing the Trunks front” post, since that is all about the pouch.

1. You will not need the binding piece, nor Pattern Piece #2. When you’ve cut out your size, draw and cut a straight line down piece #3 as follows:

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2. You may notice the centre seam in the front panel in my above pair. For my second pair, I decided it would be nicer, and easy, to skip that seam just by cutting on the fold.

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3. Here I forgot to photograph this step (Bad tutorialist!). But just put the two pieces wrong side together and baste about the edge (i suggest 1/4″ SA so it doesn’t show when you to a 3/8″ seam to attach). After basting, we will attach to the legs just as in the pattern and sew-along

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And that’s it! I mean, obviously the trunks aren’t done yet, but that’s how simply the modification is. Follow the rest of the directions to attach the back, gusset and elastic and then you are really done. I have to say- with both pairs I’ve made, I look at the butt and I think “NO WAY” -they seem huge and saggy but they hug the body really well. Don’t worry, you are more three dimensional than the undies are.

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I used Anna Maria Horner’s Saffron Thistle fabric for the legs (which matches this shirt, maybe I will wear them together), which is nice and soft and sturdy. For the hem, I serged the raw edge, the did a scallop stitch in contrasting thread. I used the same stitch for attaching the elastic. To cover the elastic seam, I made a little tag of thistle and put that on the outside. No scratchy edges! The funny thing is, with the contrasting legs, from the back it sort of looks like normal underwear! You can see here, that despite looking weirdly big on the table, they hug the form quite well. You can also somewhat see that the front is flat where the original pattern would bulge out with a pouch.

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I swear, I am going to replace all my undies with these!!


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Announcing the Jutland Pants Sew-along

Jutland Sew Along

If you would like some help sewing your Jutland Pants, not to worry – help is on its way!  Join us on the blog starting December 1st for a week of back to back video and photo posts.  This sew-along will be a little different from our normal format.  Instead of posting every few days at what we hope is the pace that you might be sewing, we will be posting a new post once a day for one week.  This way you can refer back to them at whatever pace you desire.  Each post will include a ‘Video Diary’ of my sewing process along with the most important stills from the video posted as photos for you to examine.

Since we already created a thorough step-by-step photographed sew-along that teaches you how to sew the Jedediah Pants, this new sew-along will instead assume a base level of knowledge (never fear, if you don’t have that pants sewing knowledge, simply refer to the Jedediah Pants sew-along as the main construction process for both pants is very similar).  The Jutland Pants sew-along will delve beyond the basic instructions and will focus on making the pattern your own.  We’ll will discuss fitting your pants, we will take a look at how to add a gusset to this pattern (perfect for rock-climbing and other agility based activities), we will add removable knee pads to our pants, we’ll create custom pockets suited to our needs, and we will wax our pants to create a water resistant pair of canvas trousers.

Are there any other elements you would like to see included in this sew-along?  Send in your requests and we will get working on them!


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A New Canadian Fabric Store! Blackbird Fabrics

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In case you haven’t already heard, there is a new online fabric shop based out of Vancouver!  It’s called Blackbird Fabrics and its proprietress is the Caroline, the skilled seamstress with a warm smile  who you will probably recognize as a regular contributor to the Sewaholic blog.

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Blackbird Fabrics specializes in high quality fabrics for garment making.  The shop carries a gorgeous selection of carefully curated prints and solids as well as an excellent variety of unique textures (check out the quilted knits!).  There is also an ever-growing collection of quality dress-making tools and supplies including really nice high quality interfacing which I find difficult to source locally.

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When Blackbird Fabrics was launched, I promptly emailed Caroline to introduce myself and congratulate her on her new shop (it was a great excuse to make a new sewing friend in B.C!).  Caroline is super friendly and has kindly taken the time to respond to my long-winded questions about her new shop.  Get ready for a great behind-the-scenes peek at the Blackbird Fabrics Studio!  And…make sure you read to the bottom of the post because Caroline has generously provided a 10% discount to her shop for all Thread Theory readers :)

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Caroline!  First off, can you introduce yourself and your new fabric store to our readers?

Of course. My name is Caroline – most people know me as Caroline from Sewaholic! I’ve been lucky enough to work with Tasia over the past few years, but up until a couple of months ago, I was doing it while working a full time job! I recently left my job of 5 years in the fashion textile industry to set up Blackbird, my new online fabric shop. I’m based in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My online shop carries fashion fabrics and my favorite dressmaking supplies and tools.

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What are your current goals for Blackbird Fabrics (i.e. what fabric types do you plan to emphasize, what tools do you dream of stocking?).

The emphasis will always be on garment fabrics. I’m working hard to find new suppliers so that I can have a diverse selection. Right now I’m focusing on finding more knits and woven prints in natural fibers. I’m also excited to add new fabrics based on customer feedback! The goal to begin with was to fill a hole in the market. So I’m definitely taking requests and suggestions seriously and keeping them in mind when I’m sourcing new fabrics. 

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I’m SUPER excited about your fabric store as I know that there is a dire need for online garment fabric resources in Canada and I love how local you are for me!  From your experience so far, have Canadians been your main customer or have you been selling your fabric mostly internationally?

I was actually really surprised when I launched, to see that there were lots of international customers ordering! So far it’s primarily Canadians, but I get plenty of US orders and a good chunk of international too. It’s super exciting to see people on the other side of the pond interested in my fabrics!

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What does a typical day at Blackbird Fabrics include?

I’m lucky that I work from home, and my studio/sewing room/inventory storage is in a separate room within my apartment. I’m not exactly an early riser, and I’ve learned not to fight it as much anymore. I usually wake up at around 8am, make breakfast, and answer e-mails for both my business and Sewaholic. Some days I work on a blog post, other days e-mails and other computer work takes up most of my morning. Lately I’ve been working on finding new suppliers, which can take a lot of digging!

If I don’t have any errands to run, I spend my afternoon/evening in the studio packing orders, and sometimes photographing products for the shop. Some afternoons I’ll focus on Sewaholic, so I’ll cut and sew samples for new patterns we’re developing.

Honestly though, so far, no day has been all that typical! Ask me again in a year I guess, haha. I’m still finding my groove, and trying to balance my business work and contract work. It’s been a lot of late nights! No complaints here though – I’m truly loving every minute of it.

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You must be very knowledgeable about fabrics after working for Telio!  Can you explain how this career in the fabric industry has aided you in launching your own business?

It’s funny, because when I was in school studying fashion design, I never thought I would have a career focused on fabric. I got an internship at Télio in Montreal right out of school, and over that summer I fell in love with textiles. After that, I worked for a year in the merchandising department, building the line, developing color stories, choosing and recoloring prints. I spent lots of time putting together trend reports for the sales reps, and working on graphics for the website. That year really shifted my focus. I learned so much about fabric resourcing, and what makes a cohesive and sellable collection. Not many wholesalers do it as well as Télio does! Then I heard about an opportunity to open a showroom in Vancouver, and I decided to go for it. That’s what brought me to the west coast! I set up the showroom, and spent the next 4 years developing business out here and working directly with clients. I think my experience in merchandising and then sales really gave me insight into what types of fabrics people truly love to buy and work with. I’ve also bought a lot of fabric over the years, for myself, so I’ve had the chance to test out different qualities and I really have learned what to look for in a great quality fabric.

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Of course, you have been a big part of Sewaholic over the last year and I hear that you plan to remain so!  You guys are single-handedly making Vancouver into a super sewing destination!  What plans do you have for working together with your businesses?  Have you established a few tricks for juggling two jobs? (I think Matt would love to hear any you might have! :P)

I’m thrilled to continue to work with Tasia! She has been a huge inspiration for me because she is a business superwoman. Personally, I’ll continue to do what I have been doing; sewing samples, customer service, and weekly blogging.

As for our businesses, I think they compliment each other really well. We’ve tossed around the idea of doing a pop-up shop together in Vancouver, and so far the feedback is great so we might try to plan that for the spring.

Right now I think the most exciting thing is that I’m going to work on stocking lots of the fabrics that we feature on the Sewaholic blog. Often we get those fabrics from Télio (a wholesaler that is not open to the public), and we don’t always have a retailer to direct readers to. This way, it will be easier than ever for readers to get their hands on those fabrics, because they’ll be a click away in my shop! 

On juggling two jobs… I think the most important thing is to know when to take a break. Working too hard can only lead to a burnout! So I try to take time during the day to get fresh air, make a nice lunch for myself, or go to a yoga class.  I also find that I get the most done when I compartmentalize. If I need to spend an afternoon focusing on Sewaholic, then I step away from everything else and try not to get distracted by e-mail or instagram or whatever. Oh yes and lists! I’m a list fiend, I write everything down. Recently Tasia and I started using Trello to organize our to-do lists, and it was pretty life changing. I use it for everything now.

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I’m really excited for your store’s blog to start up!  What sort of content do you hope to include?  I see Blackbird Fabrics is on Facebook and Twitter.  Where can customers connect with you the most?

I’m excited about the blog too! I’m going use it to feature new fabrics, show some behind the scenes peeks, and I’ll write about my own sewing projects too! I’d also love to feature customers’ finished projects sewn with Blackbird fabrics. I’m hoping to have the blog set up in the next few weeks, so I’ll definitely announce it on social media when it’s up and running. Speaking of social media! I’ve personally caught the Instagram bug – I just love it – so that’s probably where you’ll see me the most. But I try to stay active on Twitter and Facebook as well. You can also sign up for my newsletter on my homepage, I’ll be sending out shop updates every so often and I’ll give advance notice of any upcoming sales!

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Thank you, Caroline, for taking the time to chat with me on the Thread Theory blog!  And, of course, thank you for offering Thread Theory readers a discount to your store!  To receive 10% off everything at Blackbird Fabrics, enter the discount code “THREADTHEORY10″ upon checkout.  The code is valid until this Sunday, November 9th 2014, midnight PST.  Happy shopping!

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