Thread Theory

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


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Musings on Sewing as my Career

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(Back when Thread Theory was just getting started – the school fashion show)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what shape I want sewing as a career to take for me.  Only a few months ago I made the transition from part to full time work on Thread Theory while, around the same time, Matt switched from working on Thread Theory half time to working full time at the local fire hall.  All of a sudden, almost all the tasks that Matt had been doing regularly for our business were now to be done by me.

It has been a struggle to learn tasks that I am not naturally inclined to do – for example, Matt has always taken and edited our photos but since he doesn’t get home until the light is already too dim to do a photoshoot, photography is now up to me.  Matt also used to create our cutting layouts and sizing and fabric requirement charts.  I have now learned to do these and am quite proud of the system that I use!

This transition has taken several months and has been slow and frustrating at times.  I’ve been careful only to assume Matt’s old duties at a pace that I can manage because I didn’t want to just quickly memorize the steps and then not understand them enough in the future to adapt to unforeseen issues when they arise.  Instead, I’ve learned Matt’s process and then analyzed it and changed it to better suit my way of working.   For example, I’ve changed our wholesale ordering system, I’ve re-formatted our filing system, I’ve revised our deadlines and the manner in which we create business goals, and I’ve been working on creating a more effective and systematic blog (still lots to do on that).

I guess why I’m discussing all of this is that I have seen quite a few very inspirational blog posts about sewing careers of late.  For example, take a look at Megan Neilson’s lovely post about her decision to put family before writing a book, Heather Lou’s announcement about quitting her previous career to take the leap into running her pattern company full time, Sarah’s really inspiring discussion about what success means to her, and Andrea’s discussion on sewing for money.  All of these thoughtful articles, paired with my recent switch to working on Thread Theory full time, have got me ruminating…

While Matt and I went through the long process of transitioning how we operate Thread Theory over the last few months, pattern development slowed down considerably.  This is back to being in full swing and it feels to me like Thread Theory is at the start of a new era!

When we began the transition process, I came up with two key themes I wanted the new Thread Theory era to include.

The first is systematic pattern and product development.  This has been the goal for an entire business quarter now but I think this will likely take up to a year to become a reality.  Plus, I must also keep the realistic expectation that kinks and speedbumps will always occur no matter how hard we try to avoid them!  All the same, I would like, and have plans, to develop a certain number of patterns each year under pre-set themes and a season-relevant schedule.

The second key theme is the largest and maybe the most complicated because it is a psychological change.  Matt and I are changing how we approach owning a business – in the last era it consumed our lives (happily!) but in this new era it will be a tool for us to live the lifestyles we want.  We have decided that the Thread Theory honeymoon phase is over.  Nothing dramatic caused this but we suddenly find ourselves less inclined to talk at (not to) family members for hours on end about Thread Theory whenever they ask what we’ve been up to.  We want our lives to include more than the tunnel vision we have developed that pushes us ever forward towards our next Thread Theory goal.  So we’ve been working to give poor old Thread Theory a little bit of breathing room.

For me, this psychological change is a big challenge (it ended up being quite easy for Matt because his increased involvement at the fire hall helped pull him away from a single-minded Thread Theory existance).  But I’ve been really working hard to use Thread Theory as an excuse to actively forge connections and opportunities with the sewing community, both online and in real life.  I’m sure many more changes will come over the next year if I stick to my plans to use Thread Theory as a tool…but here are the triumphs so far!

  • I began with the small step of purchasing a new phone (my last one was so old that it couldn’t operate Instagram!) and am loving connecting with other sewers through Twitter and Instagram.  If you have either Twitter or Instagram and I don’t already follow you, let me know as I would love to do so!
  • Next, I’ve signed up to help with Comox Trunk and Newcastle Cardigan workshops in Victoria.  These workshops are being held at The Makehouse, which is an amazing studio in Victoria where you can rent sewing machines, attend classes, meet other sewers, and even borrow from the extensive library of sewing patterns!  If you live in the Vancouver Island area, I highly recommend the Makehouse workshops…and I’d love to meet you at one of the Thread Theory ones!  Check out the schedule here (note: I won’t be at every one so email me at info@threadtheory.ca if you’d like to make sure we can meet!).
  • Thread Theory is also signed up to be part of CREATE, a brand new sewing event in the Comox Valley (held Nov. 7 & 8)!  This fair is being hosted by Island Sewing and Embroidery whose owner, Christa, has so kindly and persistently persuaded me to step out of my comfort zone and teach two classes during the event!  I’ll be teaching two Comox Trunks classes and will also be doing two bag making demos (using our Bag Making Supplies kit).  I’m really excited for my first foray into teaching.
  • Lastly, Nicole (the new sewing friend that I mentioned last week) and I are starting a local sewing group called The Makers – Comox Valley.  I’ve been reaching out to friends and strangers alike to talk sewing and see if they are interested in the group (if you know me in real life, you would know that I’m super shy and that this is quite the feat for me!).

 

Well…there you have it…this is the direction I am going with my sewing and Thread Theory.  I’m know this direction will change organically but I am glad that I’ve made the conscious psychological shift that will allow it to do so in a direction that I am pleased with.  Now that I’ve begun creating and taking opportunities with this new mindset, I can imagine many more arising in the future! A gorgeous light filled studio perhaps?  A trip to the sewing mecca that is New York? Raising children without the restricting 9-5 lifestyle of work in an office.  All sorts of possibilities await!  Thanks for listening to my musings and, as ever, I would love to hear your thoughts – either about my decisions or about similar situations that have arisen in your lives.  Happy Friday!


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In the Studio: Sewing for a Fireman

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Hello from the TT studio!  After a day of instruction booklet writing earlier this week, I spent the evening working on a super random sewing project (as I often do).

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Matt works at the local fire hall and so he sometimes brings home uniforms and asks me for a favor.  I usually hem pants for his co-workers, but this time I sewed on some patches to make their new shirts look nice and official!  I like doing these little projects because I kind of see it as a way to use sewing to ‘do my bit.’   Even though I’m not running into burning buildings or rescuing cats from trees (they actually do that…isn’t that awesome?) at least I’m ‘doing my bit’ by helping to make them look good while they do theirs! (Lol, that’s probably stretching things a little but at least it makes me motivated enough to get through the monotony of simple alterations…maybe…)


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In the Wild: Comox Trunks and Jeds for Women

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Here we are in the second week of my new In the Wild feature.  Today I have some perfect stripe matching and lovely bright colors to show you!  Check out these Comox Trunks by Mariëlle!
Comox Trunks by Marielle

Mariëlle reported to me by email that she has been happily working her way through our selection of patterns lately.  This has resulted in the dire situation that more menswear has been leaving her sewing room than clothing for herself!  She’s contemplating sewing some Jedediah Pants for herself next to begin to turn this situation around…and I really can’t wait to see how they turn out!

I think they’ll make an excellent pair of relaxed and boxy ‘boyfriend jeans’.  In fact, I’ve tried on Matt’s Jeds, and aside from being a couple sizes too big, I can see that a smaller size would actually suit me quite nicely!  I think to make this style work for my own fit preference (I don’t like wearing a belt so I like the waistband to be quite snug) I would likely grade from the smallest size at the waistband to once size larger at the hips to make the hip curve more pronounced.  I would keep the larger size for the rest of the pants (to keep them loose and casual looking).  If you prefer the relaxed/boxy fit that menswear pants offer I think you could sew these pants up for yourself without any adjustments (as long as you don’t have too big of a booty as these pants are designed for pretty straight/curve-less men! :P).

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(Photo from stylecaster.com)

Would you consider making boyfriend jeans with the Jedediah Pants pattern?  I made a Pinterest board featuring women in chinos to get you inspired (be warned lots of floral pants are involved…I got a little carried away with my ideas about feminizing the pattern!).


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Tutorial Contest Winner Announcement

Tutorial-Contest-title It’s the start of a new week and the end of another contest.  As you can probably anticipate, there were FAR fewer entries for our Tutorial Competition than our Girl Charlee fabric give-away.  After all, creating a tutorial is a lot of hard work and quite time consuming!  The ones we received though were absolutely splendid and I think you will find them really useful.  It’s great to see other people’s take on our patterns and also on the way they instruct and present a tutorial.    Thank you to the ladies who put in all that hard work – I look forward to sending off your prize packages!

Today I’ll present the winners along with a snippet of their tutorial.  The full tutorials will be presented in separate posts on the blog and also on our website in the near future.

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Entries for the Super Useful Tutorial category were required to fill a gap we had in our selection of tutorials.  Emily, of Dressing the Role, did this just that when she created her Fabric Covered Elastic Waistband tutorial for the Comox Trunks.  I had mentioned, when creating the Comox Trunks Sew-Along, that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the way I covered my elastic waistband with fabric (for the maple leaf version of the trunks) and hoped somebody could suggest an alternative way.  Emily has come up with a really clear tutorial filled with really neat tricks.  Her writing style is really approachable, honest and realistic…something that I think many sewers appreciate when learning new techniques.  Congratulations Emily on winning a $50 gift certificate to our store, a Comox Trunks Supplies kit and some Goldstar pattern drafting tools!  Thank you for your tutorial!

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Beautiful-tutorial The next winner is Nicoletta of DiNuvole DiCouri!  She submitted a tutorial that explains, from start to finish, how to sew the Arrowsmith Undershirt.  She’s included lots of photos and even goes so far as to discuss her mistakes and the learning process she went through.  So helpful!  Even though this tutorial could be a submission for the Super Useful category, I’ve awarded Nicoletta the Very Beautiful Tutorial Prize because she has also been working on another large project to do with the Arrowsmith Undershirt.  While writing up her tutorial, Nicoletta created a translated set of instructions so that the Arrowsmith instructions are now available in Italian through her blog!  She went to a large amount of effort to replicate the aesthetic of the English instructions by matching our Thread Theory colours and our instruction layout.  Thank you, Nicoletta, for making your English Arrowsmith tutorial and ALSO for making this pattern far more accessible to Italian sewists!  A $50 gift certificate to the Thread Theory store, two Thread Theory tissue patterns of your choice (you can request to be sent future releases), and a selection of my favorite sewing tools will be heading your way shortly!

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I look forward to sharing these tutorials with you over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, be sure to check out both of these ladies’ excellent blogs (Emily’s blog & Nicoletta’s blog).  Both are filled with inspiring sewing projects and lots of great tutorials!

*Note: I haven’t selected a winner for the Social Butterfly Tutorial category because we didn’t receive any entries that met the criteria for this category…it you feel inclined to create an entry for this category in the future, feel free to send me an email and the prize pack will be waiting for someone whose tutorial fills the criteria! :)


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Girl Charlee giveaway WINNER!

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Wow, I’ve been completely overwhelmed by how many of you have shared all your sewing and fabric shopping plans as part of the Girl Charlee gift card giveaway!  So many of you mentioned Girl Charlee fabrics I hadn’t noticed yet (the Vintage Motorcycle knit is AWESOME!) and your ideas for combining prints and solids as well as for using more subtle prints for our Strathcona Henley and Comox Trunks patterns were really inspiring.  Thank you, everyone, for entering the draw!

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I used a random number generator from RANDOM.ORG to come up with the winner.  There were 97 posts (not including extra posts by the same people or any of my responses) and the generator chose post 79.  I counted from the oldest entry towards the newest.

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Now I will reveal the lucky winner!  DRUMROLL PLEASE….

Lisa said:

Henley! I love your patterns and I can’t wait to make some for my husband.

I hope your Henley turns out amazing, Lisa!  I’ll be emailing you momentarily.  Thanks, Girl Charlee, for providing the gift card – I am sure Lisa will have no problem finding the perfect fabric to suit her husband.


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In the Studio

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Welcome to the second weekly feature that I will be including on the blog (the first is the In the Wild feature that I began on Tuesday)!  Thursdays will include a little pictorial look at the Thread Theory studio.  And here is the first scheduled glimpse!
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Matt and I have been busy packing patterns with the very generous help of my blogger – and now real life – friend Nicole Bertram!  She’s a sewing instructor (and yoga instructor) who has just recently moved to the Comox Valley so if you are from the valley and have been following this blog with hopes of learning how to sew – she is the sewing instructor for you!  Check out her website for all sorts of sewing inspiration (and her many awesome versions of the Newcastle Cardigan).

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I know a sewing studio isn’t normally comprised of a living room floor and a kitchen counter…but ours most certainly is!  Thread Theory is largely fueled by home made pizza (yum!) and pattern packing parties (fun!).  Thanks for your help Nicole!

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