Thread Theory

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


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Finlayson Sew-Along: Choosing your fabric and supplies

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Let’s go fabric shopping!


Welcome to the Finlayson Sweater Sew-Along! Today we will be discussing fabric and notion choices. The Finlayson Sweater is a very flexible pattern – it will sew up nicely in just about any knit!  It looks great as a light summer sweater in knits with hardly any body (for example, a cotton rib knit) and it looks entirely different but just as awesome in a thick and cozy sweatshirt fleece.

To choose your fabric, you will only need to keep a few simple guidelines in mind:

Warmth: The Finlayson looks equally nice in a classic sweatshirt fleece (with a smooth right side and fuzzy wrong side) or in a thin waffle or ribbed knit.  A thicker, warmer Finlayson is perfect to wear over a t-shirt with jeans while a thin Finlayson would be really stylish worn under a blazer with slim-fit Jedediah pants!

Drape: Very drapey knits look lovely with the Finlayson but keep in mind that most men are not used to wearing drapey fabrics and that slinky knits tend to look a little feminine…so choose how drapey your fabric will be based on who you are sewing your Finlayson for!

Thickness (for your sewing machine): The Finlayson cannot be made with heavy-weight knits because the overlapped collar creates quite a few layers to sew through at center front.  Domestic machines can easily handle these layers when sewing through a light or medium weight knit but might struggle with a super thick fleece!

Stretch: The Finlayson body is quite loose and boxy and the neckline is wide enough to fit over the head even if the fabric you choose has very little stretch.  The only areas of the Finlayson Sweater that require a bit of extra stretch are the cuffs and the hem band.  This is because they are drafted considerably smaller than the body of the garment to create a tighter fit in these areas.  If your fabric doesn’t have much stretch it can be a little more difficult to ease in the excess fabric when sewing the bands to the garment.  Not to worry though!  We’ve included a second longer cuff piece that will be easier to sew in more stable knits!  Or…you could choose a contrast stretchy rib knit for the cuff and hem bands as is often seen on store bought hoodies (good luck finding a matching color though!).

 If you can’t find any suitable fabric at your local fabric shop, there are plenty of options online!

Finlayson Fabric choices

  1. Striped Black & White Cotton Blend Waffle Knit – Britex Fabrics
  2. Black Ethnic Diamond Baby French Terry Knit Fabric – Girl Charlee
  3. Sandalwood Cotton Modal Lycra French Terry Knit Fabric – Girl Charlee
  4. Rose Red Cotton Jersey Sweatshirt Fleece Knit Fabric – Girl Charlee
  5. Mid-weight Drapey Loden Green Wool Knit – Britex Fabrics
  6. Summer Sweater Knit Red – Harts Fabric
  7. Midweight Black Cotton Fleece Knit – Britex Fabrics
  8. Terry Backed Sweatshirt Grey – Harts Fabric
  9. Navajo Indian Blanket Red Mushroom Hacci Sweater Knit Fabric – Girl Charlee
  10. Organic Bamboo Charcoal Fleece – Simplifi Fabric
  11. Red Heather Sparkle Hacci Sweater Knit Fabric – Girl Charlee

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And now let’s talk notions


Since there are no tricky closures on the Finlayson, there aren’t many necessary notions.  All the same, I’ve got a few ideas and tricks up my sleeve to create a really professional and high-end hoodie or sweater, so if you prefer to take the extra sewing time, you can jazz up your hoodie with trims and stabilizers to your heart’s content!

Within the instruction booklet I’ve included options for finishing the neckline and the kangaroo pocket openings with twill tape.  Aside from twill tape, you can use all sorts of decorative trims to finish these areas.  For the neckline it is best to use something with considerable flexibility because the trim has to fit to the slight curve of the neckline.  Consider twill tape as recommended, cotton lace (soft and supple), or, hem tape or bias binding.  For the kangaroo pocket you can use just about anything because the curve of the pocket opening is so very slight.  Try any sort of ribbon or trim you would like!  Here are the ones I’ve collected for my sweaters (I went a little over-board choosing these…I obviously won’t be able to use them all :P).

Ribbon types

To stabilize the shoulder seams (always a good idea when sewing knit garments so they don’t stretch out and sag after a day of wear), you can use any of the following options:

Stabilizing notions

I like using strips of lining or selvages because I always have them on hand and they’re free!  Make sure to choose a thin fabric so you don’t add too much bulk to your shoulder seams.

My second favorite choice is clear swimwear elastic.  It is a little slipper to handle when sewing but it is very strong and resilient.  I also like to add this elastic to all the horizontal seams – such as the cuffs and hem band.  That way these seams won’t stretch out when the sweater is being put on and taken off!

A pretty option for stabilizing the shoulders is to use rayon hem tape.  I find vintage packages of these at almost every thrift store I go to and they are so cheap!  These tapes are very stable and very thin and you can find them in almost any color you need.

Have fun choosing your fabric and notions!  Please ask away if you are unsure of what to choose.  I’ll leave you now with my favorite fabric shopping tip: When in doubt about what type of fabric to choose, simply open up your closet or head to a thrift store/clothing store and examine garments that are similar to the pattern you are working with.  If you like how cozy your Lululemon hoodie is, for example, have a look at the care tag and jot down the fiber content.  Make a note of the fabric’s thickness and texture.  Or simply bring the garment to the fabric store and compare the fabric’s stretch and drape with your potential choices right on the bolt!


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Five Things of Intrigue

Happy Friday!  Matt and I are really excited for the long weekend :).  We’re heading back out to our new favorite camping spot for three nights!  We’re bringing fishing gear and a kayak this time as well as enough rain gear and tarps to allow for a fun weekend despite the rainy forecast.

In the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of five sewing-related things that I’ve found inspiring and intriguing of late.

teach me fashion

First off, a fairly new pattern company has come to my attention, called Teach Me Fashion.  They are a mother and son team based out of Australia who are approaching the idea of an indie pattern company a little bit differently.  Their patterns are for sale through their Etsy store but instead of receiving both a pattern and instructions, you receive the pattern and then sew the design while watching the corresponding Youtube video!  The video’s can be viewed by anyone, even before purchasing the pattern, so I highly recommend you head on over to watch one or two of them – you’re going to be impressed!  The filmography is incredibly clear, the pace, in my opinion, is absolutely perfect, and Heather’s voice is lovely and calming.  One interesting aspect of instructing through video is that Heather has been able to provide very clear instructions for draping techniques – something that is not very easy to do through illustration and written instructions!  And, as the cherry on top, they offer a free design, their two-tone singlet, so head on over to download it right away!

denimhunter

The second thing inspiring me, of late, is a website called Denimhunters.  Denimhunters is an online men’s lifestyle magazine with, of course, a focus on jeans.  They currently have a feature on making your own jeans which, I think, is certainly relevant to us sewists!  I’ve really enjoyed reading several of their articles such as this one on zippers, their round-up of jeans for women (I’ve never been able to find comfortable jeans and would choose a dress over jeans any day), and this article on denim worthy sewing machines.

 

 

In relation to this last website, the third interesting site I’ve been visiting is one that I have mentioned in the past but is worth reminding you of: TaylorTailor.  On this blog, Taylor, a male sewist, documents his sewing experiences in the most amazingly clear and detailed manner.  I can only dream of slowing myself down enough to approach sewing in the careful and systematic way that he does (why can’t I????).  Not only does he blog about his high quality hand-sewn jeans, canvas bags, and self drafted patterns, he also has a small online store in which he carries the essential notions and fabric needed to make jeans yourself!

To finish off my list of inspiration, I have number four and number five to present to you – two very inspiring sewing projects!

1000 jeans

The first is a recent project and is in theme with the rest of my inspiration list: $1,000 Jeans blogged at The Confident Stitch.  Don’t these look amazingly professional?!

military minoru

The second is an older project (last January I believe) that I have been admiring of late: The Military Style Sewaholic Minoru Jacket blogged at Cut Cut Sew.  Matt and I met Tasia, the owner of Sewaholic, recently during her Vancouver Island holiday.  She was just as lovely, easy to talk to and brilliant as she appears on her blog.  We had a SUPER long lunch talking and talking about the million things we had in common when it comes to running an indie pattern company and being small business owners.  I am glad we live fairly close together because I really look forward to hanging out with her again!  Now that I have met the inspirational woman behind my favorite pattern company, I am even more eager than I previously was to sew myself a Minoru Jacket for the Fall.  This will be the next project I sew for myself and, before I start it, there is a pleasantly large rabbit hole of inspiration for the Minoru Jacket on the internet!  This Military Style Minoru is perfect, in my opinion, and it really makes me look forward to spending time creating careful and straight top stitching :).

Have a great weekend!


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Finlayson Sew-Along Prizes!

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I’ve been preparing for our Finlayson Sew-Along this week and have gathered together four excellent prizes to award to four excellent Finlaysons that I am sure will result from your sew-along efforts!

Four generous fabric stores, who carry a wonderful selection of Finlayson-worthy knits, have kindly partnered with us to provide gift certificates.  Here  are the details:

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First prize is a $100 gift certificate to Hart’s Fabric (plenty enough for a proper shopping spree!).

Second prize is an excellent $50 gift certificate to Britex Fabrics.

Third prize is a satisfying $30 gift certificate to Girl Charlee.

The final prize is a special “Canadian Entry” prize which will be awarded to a Canadian sewist.  This sewist will receive a $30 gift certificate to one of our newest stockists, Simplifi.

To win one of these gift certificates you can send us a photo of your finished Finlayson either by email (info@threadtheory.ca), by commenting with a link to your sweater on our blog (comment on any post!).  We will choose our favorite four sweaters from this selection and award their skilled sewists a gift certificate each.  Submit your entries by October 1st for a chance to win!


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In the Wild: Sunday Breakfast Strathcona

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I have a Strathcona Henley to show you this week!  This professional looking Henley was sewn by Jane of Jane’s Sew & Tell for her husband.  The Strath looks great in a cheerful red and was perfect for a (delicious looking!) Sunday breakfast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To see more photos and hear about the sewing process, head on over to Jane’s blog!  I think this Henley will be a great piece to transition into Fall (my mind is on a Fall wardrobe at the moment).  What garments and patterns are on your Fall sewing list?  If the Finlayson Sweater is on it, head on over to our store because it’s 25% off right now :).  Enter SEWSWEATERS as a discount code upon checkout.


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A Super Useful Fabric Covered Elastic Waistband Tutorial

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Let me introduce to you Emily Adams of Dressing the Role!  She kindly put together a tutorial for us as part of our Tutorial Contest.  Thanks for taking the time to teach us your elastic sewing methods Emily!


 

A tutorial by Emily Adams

www.dressingtherole.wordpress.com

Want to make a pair of Comox Trunks with a fabric covered elastic waistband but aren’t sure how? You’re in luck! There are several different ways to do this – Morgan covers one way in her tutorial. I like to use a slightly different method that sews the elastic directly to the waistband, eliminating twisted elastic and creating a nice, clean finish.

So, first off, a little info about elastic – not all elastics are created equal! You want to find an elastic that you can sew through without damaging it. A knitted elastic would be good for this project, since it’s not too bulky but is safe to sew through. Be careful not to use braided elastic – this stuff is cheaper, but will lose its elasticity when sewn through. A quick way to tell the difference between these two elastics is that the braided elastic will get thinner when stretched, but knitted elastic will stay the same width. For more detailed info about elastic, visit this helpful site: The Sewing Directory.

So, that being said, here’s my little tutorial:

1. Cut a piece of fabric the circumference of your trunks plus seam allowances and twice the width of your elastic plus generous seam allowances – I’d give yourself a good inch and a half.  This will give you a little “wiggle room” when attaching the waistband to the trunks. Note: unlike in Morgan’s tutorial, here we’re going to make our waistband out of a single strip of fabric instead of two.

2. Sew the short ends of your waistband using a narrow zig zag.

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3. Trim seam allowances to 1/4″ and press. This helps reduce bulk.

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4. Pre-stretch your elastic before cutting it.  This ensures that the elastic won’t stretch out too much after the first few wearings, as elastic tends to stretch out a little the first time it is used. Then cut your elastic to the exact size you want for the finished waistband – do NOT add seam allowances!

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5. Cut a small swatch of woven fabric (3″ by 3″ should be enough). Sew one end of the elastic to the swatch using a regular zigzag stitch; go over this seam several times for reinforcement.

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6. Butt the other end of the elastic right up against the attached end and sew several times using a regular zig zag. Make sure the elastic is not twisted!

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7. Trim off the excess swatch fabric. This method helps eliminate bulk at the center back seam.

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8. Fold your waistband in half lengthwise and sandwich the elastic right in the middle. Try to match up the center back of each to avoid a strange lumpy spot in the middle of your waistband.

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9. Carefully pin the waistband to the trunks. Make sure to mark and match the center front and center back to evenly distribute the fabric.

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10. You may notice at this point that your elastic loop is a little smaller than your waistband loop. That’s ok – you will just need to stretch the elastic a tiny bit as you sew. This will slightly gather the waistband, but that’s ok – it’s just underwear!

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11. Sew the waistband to the trunks, stitching through the edge of the elastic as you sew. To do this, pinch out the waistband seam allowances with your right hand so that the elastic is butted right up against the center of the waistband – you want to avoid having a gap between the fabric and the elastic at the top of your finished waistband (and this is why you gave yourself a little extra – to leave room for your fingers!).

At the same time, use your left hand to slightly stretch your elastic, as discussed above, if necessary. This is a bit of a juggling act, so take it slow!

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If you are using your serger for this, you want to be very careful not to cut through the elastic! Try to line up your trunks so that the edge of the elastic is just to the left of the serger knife. This will ensure that you stitch through the elastic but don’t cut it.

If you are using your regular machine, sew one line of regular sized zigzag stitches to attach the waistband to the trunks, sewing through the edge of the elastic as you go. Then sew another row of zigzags directly to the right as a seam finish (and as a second line of protection just in case!). Trim the excess fabric right up to the second row of zigzags.

And you’re done!

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You may notice that the gathering on my waistband isn’t even – that’s because I didn’t stretch my elastic evenly as I sewed it. But no biggie, you can’t even tell when it’s being worn, and husbands (and other dudes :)) tend to be pretty forgiving if their clothes aren’t perfect!

Ta-da!

Thank you for the great tutorial Emily!  I look forward to trying out your techniques on my next pair of trunks!


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In the Studio: Preparing to Teach

DSC03390With a few teaching possibilities coming up in the near future, I have been working on assembling a mobile Thread Theory ‘store’ to bring to these events.  I love seeing all our products in one location like this – I think our brand looks really consistent!DSC03391

We ran out of business cards recently and so have just received a big carton of fresh ones, ready to hand out to students and potential stockists.DSC03389

And here is my mobile ‘classroom’ that I can alter to suit whatever subject the class or presentation might be about.  I’ve included my favorite sewing resources, my tin of garment tags (to pin to a selection of Thread Theory garments), my binder of construction samples, folders of relevant information for each student, and all the sewing tools that might be needed during the class.

I think I’m ready for whatever event might come our way!


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In the Wild: Camping in a Finlayson

In the wild banner - smallcamping finlaysons 2camping finlaysons 4We thought you might like to see the Finlayson samples in action!  They’ve been getting loads of wear this summer – both on Matt and on me!  We wore them camping and they were the perfect weight to keep our backs cozy as we sat around the fire and the evening air became chilled.camping finlaysons 3

Isn’t the lake lovely?  It is about an hour away from our house and is called Gosling Lake.  There are all sorts of campgrounds in this area but I think the one we found is the best one :P.  It is a completely free camping site complete with a rickety little dock, our own personal beach, a gorgeous lake over which the sun set directly in front of us, a resident beaver…and we were the ONLY ONES THERE!

camping finlaysonscamping finlaysons 5 Our little yellow Volkswagen barely made it over some of the boulder-sized obstacles along the gravel logging roads but it was well worth the struggle to get away from the full and load common campsites.  We plan to head back up to our secret site soon, this time equipped with our kayak and some scrap wood to reinforce the crumbling dock.

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