Thread Theory

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


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In the Studio: Final Preparations for our New Pattern!

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This week Matt and I have been fully immersed in the final preparations for the launch of our next pattern!  I’m sewing the final sample at the moment, our graphic designer, Sonia, has been busy altering our instructions based on the thorough and ever-so-helpful feedback provided by our test-sewers, and Matt has been revising the actual pattern pieces to suit the test-sewer’s suggestions.

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We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on!  I won’t be long now!


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Comox Valley Makers/ Charity Sewing Edition

Nicole HeadshotSomething that is very important to me as an extrovert (and as a member of the human race) is to have close friendships as well as varied friendships. When Morgan and I met, we discussed the idea of forming a casual group of like-minded individuals to meet regularly with sewing as the excuse. Whether we actually sewed in the gatherings was irrelevant, but sewing could be the thread that binds the group together (pun totally intended), much like a book club where you don’t have to read the book.

 

At the end of September we got a few people together to eat homemade treats (Salsa! Banana Bread! Wine!) and talk about making. We talked about sewing, knitting, and veered off onto the topics of homeschooling, kids, the Valley and oh gosh who knows what else! Unfortunately we were too busy having fun to take any pictures, but I am sure you can imagine the cozy little scene. :) We had a brief show and tell of recent projects and we worked together to cut some fabric for some charity sewing.

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I’d heard of Craft Hope‘s Project 25 for We Are Kenya through Facebook somewhere and wanted to help out. I wasn’t up to making a whole quilt in time, and knew there were many quilters who would jump to send one along, but I was pretty affected by the request for cloth sanitary pads. The idea that young women would have to leave school for a week every month for lack of pads was heartbreaking. Morgan found this tutorial at Little House Living and we spent our group evening cutting out flannelette and terry cloth. Morgan and I have been puttering away at them over the last couple of weeks and just last night we finished them up!

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Okay, we could have found some more adult fabric than cartoon fishies, but we used what we had and I’m hoping that young women, newly menstruating, will appreciate something a little silly.

The deadline is November 15th to send some pads, or stuffies, or scarves and hats and mittens to We Are Kenya so if you’d like to get involved, we definitely encourage you. Because sewing is basically a super power and as you know: “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility”


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Life Without Internet (sort of…)

EditedHello!  I hope you liked Nicole’s post yesterday :).  Matt and I are thrilled to have her as part of the Thread Theory team!

It was great to know Nicole was working away on a blog post this week as I didn’t have the ability to…I had no internet this week!

Last Friday, once we had finished staining our new stand up desk, Matt began to perform some cable management magic by installing all of the mysterious (to me) boxes associated with having internet to the underside of the desk.  It was all going swimmingly until he accidentally broke our fibre-optic cable! Little did we realize, this would mean going for a week without internet until the internet company could schedule us in for an appointment!

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At many points in my life, a week without internet would have seemed perfectly normal to me – my whole childhood was for the most part internet-less, I’ve gone months without much internet on summer vacations, and even in university, I used to come home from school and not head back on to the computer until the next day of classes!  This last week has made me realize how VERY different the last few years of my life have been in comparison to my past fairly internet-free existence.

For the first two days internet free, Matt and I were habitually opening our Thread Theory email program and pressing the ever-so-addictive “Send and Receive Mail” button to refresh the screen before even beginning to catch ourselves.

We were constantly stopping mid-conversation to say, “Let me Google that!” We would then look towards the sad little unused computer and sigh…

I was, without thinking, pausing mid work day when I needed a break from focusing to do a quick scroll through Pinterest…only to stop myself as my mouse hovered over the internet icon.

BUT, before you send Matt and I to rehab for internet addiction, I am proud to say that things drastically improved after the first two days.  All of sudden I found my mind feeling freer and the cadence of my thoughts completely changed.

I’ve now come to realize that my ‘internet dependent’  thinking is characterized by short, abrupt thoughts which I tend to equate with the pace of asking a question, Googling it, and having the question resolved within 30 seconds.  My internet influenced thoughts seem to flit from one subject to the next after something on a screen has encouraged my thoughts into a new direction.  For instance, if I am thinking about the next pattern we are developing while working on the instructions on my computer, my thoughts can be quickly and completely diverted when I hear the chime that a new email has come into our inbox.

Edited-4 My thinking changed drastically by the end of the week – my thoughts became longer and more organic.  They flowed, unhampered from one subject to the next related subject.    My internet free thoughts allowed me to focus on the pattern instructions for as long as my own mind and body allowed – there were no outside influences to artificially shorten my attention span.

Without internet, I felt that my own opinion and problem solving skills gained strength.  If I was unsure on how to proceed with something (for instance, if I couldn’t think of a word to include in a sentence that I wrote), I had to rely on my own mind to come up with a solution rather than expecting the internet to provide the answer for me.

Without internet, I also felt that I had more time.  Matt and I were travelling to my parent’s house each day to use their internet to answer pressing Thread Theory emails (so we weren’t completely internet free!).  Having this separation from the internet forced me to answer emails efficiently clear the inbox all at one time rather than biting off chunks of it throughout the day.  That way we could return home to proceed with the non-internet based portion of the work day.  Working like this for a week made me realize how skewed my work day had become.  When we had internet in our home, the internet based portion of the work day had been constantly increasing until my time in the sewing room had shrunken to the bare minimum.  This last week, with only a couple hours to provide online customer support, I suddenly had the majority of the work day to step away from maintaining our company and instead focus on expanding it!

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Obviously, this last week was a bit of an anomaly – ideally I would prefer more time to devote to connecting with our customers and the online sewing community through social media and email as I feel quite distant from it all after my week “away”.  But, I certainly learned that I prefer the way I think and feel without being so internet dependent.  I also am thrilled with how much I can get done when I am not allowing the internet to dictate the length of my attention span!

Hopefully, having Nicole active on the blog as our resident Thread Theory extrovert, will help maintain a better balance so that I can feel connected with you guys but still have enough time to focus on non-internet based Thread Theory work.  I’m excited for this change in routine!

Have you ever analyzed how internet has changed your life?  Have I just revealed to you that I am creepily dependent on internet or is this dependency just the reality of modern daily life?


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A New Voice, A New Face

Just under a year ago, I heard about a fantastic new pattern company that had started up, right in our beautiful little valley. As I was about to leave the valley to spend the winter in Toronto, I wasn’t able to meet the designer until our return, but I made contact after enthusiastically buying up all their patterns to date. I found even online the personalities of Morgan and Matt warm, intelligent and interesting and I quickly let them know that we would be friends upon my return. That’s the kind of thing I do- send emails to people and while trying to seem as non-creepy as possible, try to strike up friendships. Let’s call it an extroverts approach to the internet.

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Well, since my return to the valley this summer, we’ve become fast friends. They’ve spoiled me with their fantastic cooking, we’ve spent Fridays sewing late into the night (and deep into the red wine) and we’ve even found an occasional enthusiastic babysitter in Morgan. My four year old daughter immediately warmed to her and jumps for joy when I say she gets to spend time with Morgan. All this to say we have bonded and formed what I hope will be a very long and strong friendship, but also a great opportunity to work with some people I admire tremendously.

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In our evenings of sewing, we talked about the idea of my contributing to the Thread Theory blog on a regular basis. In part to add to the voice of Thread Theory but also to free up some of Morgan’s time to do more designing of fantastic patterns- YAY! So not only will you all get to enjoy my take on all things Thread Theory and sewing on a weekly basis, but it will ultimately mean more Thread Theory fun, more Thread Theory patterns and more projects for YOU!

But who is this crazy chick, just suddenly blogging it up at Thread Theory, you may ask? Well, you can get a pretty good idea of who I am at here, which you may already be familiar with since Morgan’s been linking to me regularly (perhaps she’s been secretly planning this for a while and wanted her dear readers to be familiar with me!). I am an enthusiastic and driven intermediate sewist who teaches in a home studio one full day per week, and sews almost every night. I also teach yoga three times a week in Courtenay, work four days a week at an office, and spend a lot of time with my four year old. it adds up to a pretty full, varied and fantastic (if harried) life.  I love sewing for myself and my family; and I love adapting Thread Theory patterns to fit a four year old or myself (of course in the case of the four year old it’s more a matter of adapting the style using another pattern).I’ve made, and blogged about, a few of Thread Theory’s patterns, and look forward to making many more. I also love to sew other indie patterns, from Sewaholic, Grainline, Shwin Designs and more. When students ask for suggestions I try to always steer them to indie patterns- not only to support the “little guy” but because I genuinely believe in the quality, design and instructions of the indie patterns.

So you can look forward to my weekly posts about my sewing, Thread Theory, teaching, and gathering together what you’ve sewn too!


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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.

 


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In the Studio: I presented a seminar at my kitchen table!

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In the studio is a weekly feature where I show you a little sneak peek at what I’ve been up to this week.  Here’s this week’s edition!
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I think I’m going to sound a little cliche and maybe a little old fashioned when I say, “Isn’t technology mind boggling?”  This morning, I presented a seminar sitting in my coziest sweater, which a cup of honey lemon water in my very own kitchen!  No need for business attire, long expensive trips across the country or the nerves associated with presenting to a lecture hall of upturned faces full of anticipation!  Usually, if you explained this scenario to me I would sigh a little and exclaim about the sad loss of personal connection in this technology filled world…but I must admit, as I sat nervously in my own dining room this morning, I was REALLY glad I could instruct the BurdaStyle Web Seminar from home!

Have you ever worked with seminar hosting technology?  Does technology effect your experiences with sewing?  What role does it play in your careers?  I’d love to hear what you think!


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BurdaStyle Web Seminar – Demystifying Menswear

I thought you might be interested to know that I’ll be talking about menswear over at BurdaStyle this Thursday!  I am really excited (and even more nervous!!!) to be giving an hour long live web seminar called Demystifying Menswear: Style, Fit and Professional Sewing Techniques.

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BurdaStyle was my introduction to the online sewing community and it is still one of the websites that I visit for my daily dose of sewing inspiration.  It was a great honor when they contacted me requesting I give a web seminar about menswear and so I swallowed by (IMMENSE) public speaking fears and accepted the challenge as a bit of a pathway towards self improvement and as another way to do one of my favorite things: show people that sewing menswear garments really isn’t that scary (unlike public speaking haha).

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I’ve broken the presentation into several categories, all aimed at familiarizing you with some key menswear sewing techniques (think flat fell seams, the pants fly, and basic elements of tailoring).  We will be discussing these sewing techniques in the context of Button Up Shirts, Trousers and Jackets.  We will then take a look at menswear sewing resources such as my favorite books, what I consider to be the most inspiring blogs, and great places to look for tools and tailoring supplies.

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The web seminar is $19.99 and takes place on Thursday, Oct. 9th, 11:00 am (EDT).  It is a live presentation, which means that you will be able to sit at your kitchen table with a cup of coffee and your notes while I sit at my kitchen table with the same!  The BurdaStyle webinar format consists of a slideshow presentation and live speaking.  Matt has set up a really nice microphone for me so I should sound pretty clear and the slide show that I’ve made is full of lots of inspiring menswear photos and is quite visually pleasing (if I do say so myself!).  I’ve dozed through my fair share of university PowerPoint presentations laden with lists of facts so I’ve done my best to avoid overwhelming you with text.  Most of the information I plan to give will be verbal so I suggest you have pen and paper ready (or simply listen/watch to the recorded version of the presentation whenever you need to refer to the information in the future!).

If you aren’t available this Thursday, you can still register for the webinar and listen/watch it as many times as you like as a recording.

I hope you’ll join me this Thursday as it would be really nice to have a few familiar faces (not that I’ll be able to see you) in the audience!

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