Thread Theory

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


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Behind the Scenes: 2017 recap and looking forward

2018 has just begun and it’s time for Matt and I to look back on our last year and look forward to the next!  This post is a summary of Thread Theory developments in 2017 and a little glimpse at what we have planned pattern-wise for the coming months.

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January 2017

Last January we held a Lazo Hack Contest for our freshly launched women’s trouser pattern.  I really enjoyed seeing your Lazo sewing plans popping up on social media and still wear the cozy lounge pants that I created as my contribution to the contest.  You can view the Lazo Lounge Pant tutorial here.

Our Lazo Trousers were launched to celebrate Thread Theory’s 5th birthday.  A portion of their proceeds has been donated to a Vancouver Island organisation that is close to my heart: Help Fill A Dream.  You can read all about this organisation in the Lazo Trouser pattern description.  In 2017 we donated $1278.  Thank you so very much for making this possible!

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February 2017

February 2017 was when we began the idea of stocking vintage menswear sewing patterns in our shop.  We also launched a variety of new tools and held a knitting supply sale.

The Drapery Belvedere Waistcoat

March 2017

In March we put out the call for pattern testers for our Belvedere Waistcoat pattern.  We were inundated with generous offers by sewists eager to volunteer their time!

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April 2017

April saw the launch of our Spring Capsule Collection of bamboo knits and hemp fabrics.  We also launched the first collection of vintage sewing patterns that blog readers world-wide sold or donated to our shop.

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May 2017

May was a pattern release month!  We launched the Belvedere Waistcoat and promptly hosted a sew-along so you would be ready for Father’s Day gift giving.  I loved the photoshoot that we did with my family at our local pub.

Jalie sewing patterns for summer

June 2017

In June our focus was increasing our menswear pattern collection – we added more vintage menswear patterns and also began stocking Jalie, Kwik Sew, Burda and Vogue designs.

Welcome Jaymee to the Thread Theory Team

July 2017

In July we introduced our wonderful new team member, Jaymee!  I don’t know what we would have done without her diligent work responding to emails, working with wholesale clients and posting on social media over the last half year.  I look forward to growing her role on the Thread Theory team in 2018.  July also saw the release of our summer fabric collection of breezy and environmentally conscious staples.

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August 2017

In August we held our first remnant sale to make way for our upcoming Fall fabrics.  Most remnant items were sold out within 24 hours!  It was nice to see that these small cuts of fabric would not be going to waste.  I also launched some visible mending supplies and showed you the summer mending I had done using Sashiko stitching.

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September 2017

September was a little quiet on the blog as we focused on our family but I managed to share a few interesting posts including a video tour of our tissue patterns and a video introducing an inspiring sustainable menswear designer.  We also held a sale on our Jutland Pants pattern.

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October 2017

We released some cozy winter sweater fabrics in October and added the option to order swatches in our fabric shop.  We also launched four new French translations for our patterns that can be downloaded for free.  Our entire line of garment patterns could now be accessed in both English and French.

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November 2017

November was another pattern launch month!  This time we added 3 mini patterns to our shop – the Elastic Wallet, the Card Wallet and the Bifold Wallet.  We also offered these as a kit of three patterns at a discounted price.  Then, to add to the excitement, these new patterns, along with the rest of our PDF patterns went on sale for 50% off near the end of November!  I hope that there were many lovingly sewn wallets under your Christmas trees this winter.

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December 2017

The last month of the year included a pre-Christmas photographed tutorial to accompany our Bifold Wallet pattern and a small launch of Merchant & Mills goodies.  We wound up the year a little bit quiet on the blog with a wish of Merry Christmas and a small inventory clear out sale (which is still going on in our sale section).  Now we have empty shelves and refreshed minds, ready to face 2018 with high hopes!

What will 2018 bring?

This year we will be focusing on pattern development!  We currently have five garment patterns under construction.  These five patterns will include a greatly expanded size range (up to 4XL for tops and size 50 for bottoms) to accommodate the many requests we receive by email and on the blog.

New Menswear Patterns

Here are a few fun hints about each new pattern (hopefully without giving too much away!):

  1. The most complicated and intricate of the garment designs will be part of our Alpine Adventure Menswear Collection…and we are drafting two separate versions of this one, one for men and one for women!
  2. One of the bottoms will be the perfect pattern for beginners to try.  I designed this one with sewing instructors in mind.
  3. Two of the bottoms will fill a big void as far as menswear sewing patterns go.  One of the designs will be part of our Parkland Collection and the other will be part of our Cityscape Collection.  Both will include in depth information on finishing details as you might expect of all of our patterns…we want the results to wear as well or better than store-bought!
  4. The last design will be a nice quick sew and is something that many people have emailed us to request.  There will be two variations that can be used to easily replace a large variety of garments in the menswear wardrobe.

While our focus will be on new pattern releases this year, you can still expect to find a nicely stocked and curated selection of menswear supplies in our shop.  Very shortly we will be receiving a huge order from England so expect to see some exciting new Merchant & Mills patterns, kits and tools coming out soon!

What would you like to see on the blog and in our shop this year?

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Merry Christmas!

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Matt and I hope you are enjoying the company of family and friends by a warm fireplace this winter!  Whatever you choose to celebrate, please accept our best wishes as we reflect upon the past year and all of the support that you have given our little menswear sewing shop.  Even after 6 years of existence, I find myself wondering daily how I ever got so lucky as to work from home, employed at doing something I find interesting and enjoyable, surrounded by a supportive world-wide community.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I will be back on the blog in the new year with a ‘behind the scenes’ look at 2017 and a dreaming and scheming examination of the coming year.

In the meantime, why not check out #threadtheorydesigns and our Facebook community?  There have been many wonderful Christmas gifts posted as of late.


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New Tools & Merchant & Mills Buttons

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I’ve added a small selection of Merchant & Mills tools and notions to the shop this week and thought you might like a close look at them.

If you are finishing up a Fairfield Button-up Shirt right now or have a button-up in your new year sewing plans, these buttons might intrigue you.  We have four versatile colours in stock, all with a lovely distressed finish.  They are 3/8″ (1 cm) in diameter just like our Thread Theory Corozo buttons but are a little bit thicker and thus suitable for heavier flannel and wool winter shirts in addition to cotton shirts.

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These Merchant & Mills buttons are comprised of Urea (a heat resistant plastic).  You can choose from tan (above), charcoal (below)…

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…brown…

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…or light grey.

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Each set of 10 buttons comes in a sturdy tin with a sliding lid.

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Also packed in a tin, we now have Merchant & Mills’ cute and functional Rapid Repair Kit!

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This small tin is packed full of everything you need to perform emergency first aid on your garments while you are away from the sewing machine.  It also makes a nice gift (and not so subtle hint!) for a friend who doesn’t sew and is always asking you to mend things for them.

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The kit is filled with tiny thread snips, a selection of safety pins, some versatile buttons, a glass vial of hand sewing needles, a paper sleeve of pins, two cardboard bobbins of thread, and a paper measuring tape.

The scissors included in the Rapid Repair Kit are the smallest (and cutest!) that Merchant & Mills has to offer.  On the other end of the scissor spectrum, let me introduce to you the Tailor’s Board!

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These hefty scissors with one knife blade and a blunt tip are often known as bookbinder’s shears.  They are designed with constant cutting of heavy duty fabrics in mind (such as wool and leather).

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The long blade cuts through cloth swiftly while the blunt tip does not snag on multiple layers of material.

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They measure approximately 9″ (22 cm) from tip to handle.  They come engraved with the Merchant & Mills logo and wrapped in stamped paper.  They are nestled in a gift box and would make an excellent gift for someone who has serious tailoring, upholstery or leather working plans.

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The last little addition to the tool section of our shop isn’t from Merchant & Mills but is instead a nifty Dritz tool also suitable for someone interested in serious tailoring – a bound buttonhole guide.

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This simple little tool comes with surprisingly in depth instructions that are very well illustrated.  For those unfamiliar with the bound buttonhole process or for those unsatisfied with their buttonhole attempts, this guide and instruction set will really help you!

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Why not try adding couture bound buttonholes to your Goldstream Peacoat or Belvedere Waistcoat Project?

For those of you wondering when we will be restocking the many items that have recently sold out in our shop, please check back in January (and expect a newsletter)!  After a year end studio clean out and some time with family over Christmas, Matt and I will be turning our efforts towards freshly restocking our shop come the new year.


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The Bifold Wallet Tutorial

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Today I’m going to walk you through the construction of our new Bifold Wallet sewing pattern.  Of the three wallet designs in our shop, this one is the most complicated – but don’t worry, it is still perfectly suitable for a beginner sewist and it is certainly a very quick project for someone with experience!

We will be creating the fabric variation complete with the optional zippered coin pocket today.  This way you can have a set of photos and extra tips to help you through the trickiest details.  If you are absolutely new to sewing, I would recommend giving the Felt & Specialised Materials variation a try first.  If you prefer to sew the Fabric variation, consider leaving the zippered coin pocket off on your first go.

Let’s get started!

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Print your PDF pattern as instructed within the Read Me First document.  If you need extra help determining the correct printer settings, have a look at our PDF Pattern tutorial.Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-2

Cut the right hand margin off each page – there are little scissors pictured along each margin to show you where to cut.Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-3

Align the numbered and lettered triangles so they make a perfect diamond and connect the four pages with either glue or tape.

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Cut out the pattern pieces so that they are ready to use:

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For this wallet project I am using a scrap of cotton shirting fabric.  If you are new to sewing you might like to choose a light and stable fabric such as cotton shirting or quilting cotton.  You can also select a large range of other woven materials such as sturdy canvas, linen, or even flannel.

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Iron any creases out of your fabric and fold it in half.  Place the Main Wallet pattern piece on top of your fabric and either pin it in place to cut around or trace it with chalk or another marking implement.

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For the optional Contrast Insert, I have chosen a scrap of lightweight cotton batiste.  Sewing wallets sure is a great way to use up small leftovers from bigger garment projects!

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Fold the fabric in half to create two layers just as you did for the Main Wallet.  Trace or pin the Contrast Insert.

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Since my main plaid shirting is so light-weight, I chose a very stiff sew-in interfacing for this project.  You can choose between medium or heavy weight interfacing to suit your fabric choice.  If you are working with a stiff canvas you will not need a sturdy interfacing to provide structure but if you are working with a lightweight fabric like mine you will need to rely on the structure of the interfacing to create a wallet with substance and strength.  Both fusible and sew-in interfacings will do the job!

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Cut out all of your fabric pieces – you should have two main wallet pieces, one interfacing piece, and two contrast inserts.

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Apply your interfacing to the wrong side of one of your main wallet pieces – it doesn’t matter which one!  If you are using fusible interfacing you will need to iron the interfacing on to the fabric.  I am using sew-in so I stitched my interfacing to my fabric within the 1/4″ seam allowance:

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Now is a good time to transfer the Main Wallet markings on to the fabric.  Transfer them to the interfaced piece.  Here is how I like to do this:

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Lay the fabric on your work surface with right side up.  Lay the paper pattern piece on top.  Shift the pattern piece up slightly (as photographed above) and continue each fold line onto the fabric with chalk.

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Repeat this process on the top edge of the wallet by shifting the paper pattern piece down:

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Use a ruler to connect the two vertical lines.

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Transfer the zippered pocket markings by placing a pin through each corner.  The pin is piercing the paper pattern piece and the fabric.

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Flip the pinned pieces to the interfaced wrong side so you can see the sharp ends of the pins poking through.  Place a new pin exactly where the sharp ends pierce through the fabric.

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Here’s how this looks from the other side when you’ve finished adding pins:

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Now remove the paper pattern piece and the first set of pins by pulling the paper off of the fabric.  You will be left with the sharp ends of four pins sticking up:

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Now use a ruler and chalk to “connect the dots” between the pins.

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Prepare to add the zippered coin pocket by adjusting your stitch length to very short and trace the chalk marking with stitches.

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These stitches will prevent the zipper window from becoming stretched and misshapen during the next steps.

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Slice open the zipper window by cutting horizontally along the middle of the window.  Stop approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ from both sides.  Cut the shape of a Y towards each corner.

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When cutting in to each corner, clip as close to the stitching as you can without actually cutting through the stitching.  The closer you manage to cut to the stitching, the more square and precise your window corners will become.

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From the wrong side of the wallet, press the zipper window open.  Take your time with this pressing to ensure the stitching is not visible from the right side and that the corners are square.

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Now it is time to add our zippers!  The zipper window is 3 3/4″ wide so we need to shorten our zippers to suit the window.  If you are new to inserting zippers you might like to work with a plastic zipper for your first go as bulky metal teeth can make it tricky to create neat topstitching.

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Begin your zipper preparation by closing the zipper and hand sewing the top of the zipper closed.  This isn’t necessary but it is very helpful because you will need to open your zipper during the sewing process and the stitching will keep to top of it from splaying open while you stitch.

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Measure 3 3/4″ (9.5 cm) from the top of your zipper to find the new end.  Stitch around the zipper teeth by hand to create a new zipper stop.

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Trim off the excess zipper tape.  If you are using a metal zipper you may want to use pliers to remove excess teeth so that you don’t have to worry about breaking a needle when you sew over them.  Alternatively, you can use precise scissors to cut the teeth off.

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Place the zipper under the zipper window and pin in place.  Make sure that the zipper teeth are centered in the window and that your hand stitched zipper stops are not visible.  Fiddle with the window until none of the staystitching is visible (add as many pins as you like!).  As you can see below, my window corners need some more fiddling and pinning:

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Using a narrow zipper foot on your sewing machine, topstitch around the zipper window.  Take your time at either end of the zipper and possibly hand crank the machine to ensure your stitching is straight as you go over your zipper teeth.  Also, open the zipper when you reach the zipper pull so that it is out of the way and does not interfere with your straight stitching.

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Once you have finished your toptsitching take a look at your corners to see if you are happy with how they turned out.  If you see too much staystitching and your corners are not square, you may want to rip out your stitches and try again.

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If you have used a plastic zipper, you have the option to cover up the two messy ends by creating a buttonhole stitch (a zig zag stitch with a very short stitch length) along the left and right sides of the window.  If you have used a metal zipper you do not have this option because it is impossible to zig zag over the metal zipper teeth.  Don’t stress yourself by aiming for perfection, by the time the wallet is finished small glimpses of staystitching will not be very noticeable!

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Now we are ready to assemble the main wallet.  Begin by placing the two main wallet pieces right side together and pinning.

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Stitch around the entire wallet leaving a 4″ opening along the bottom so that it can be flipped right side out.  The extra row of stitching in the photo below is the basting that attached my sew-in interfacing to my main fabric.

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Here you can see the 4″ opening along the bottom:

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Trim one seam allowance shorter than the other if you are using a bulky fabric.  Since my interfacing is very stiff and bulky, I trimmed it extensively.

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Clip across the corners so that they are easier to turn right side out without bulk and bunching.

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Flip the wallet right side out through the 4″ opening.  I used a point turner tool to ensure all my corners were nice and crisp.  You can also use a pencil or chopstitck for this job!

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Give the wallet a careful press and press under the seam allowances on the 4″ opening.

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Handstitch the opening closed:

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Close the side of the zippered coin pocket by topstitching down the center of the wallet.

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The left side of the coin pocket will be closed by more topstitching later.

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Now let’s make this long strip of fabric actually look like a wallet!  Begin by pressing the wallet in half (in the picture below the zippered coin pocket is against the work surface.

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Open the wallet back up and press along fold line 1.

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Open it back up and then press along fold line 2.

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Press along fold line 3 and 4 so that the slanted card slots slope down towards the side of the wallet.  Notice that there is a small gap at the spine of the wallet – this is to reduce bulk in the middle of the wallet so that it can close flat easily.

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If you are sewing the optional cash insert, now is the time to stitch the two layers with right sides together.  Leave an opening at the bottom so that you can flip it right side out.  Before flipping, trim any bulky seam allowances and clip across the corners:

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Press the insert crisply.  Open your wallet flat and place the insert on top of the wallet between fold lines 1 and 2.  Notice that the insert does not quite extend from fold line 1 to 2 (it’s a bit narrower).Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-61

Refold the wallet and pin the insert in place so that the left and right sides sit exactly at fold lines 1 and 2.

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This will mean that the main wallet buckles slightly at the spine – this encourages the wallet to close flat as well.

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Edgestitch around the sides of the wallet and along the bottom.  Leave the spine free of edgestitching.  It is important to keep all the fabric layers even so that you don’t miss the card slots or cash insert while edgestitching.  I like to stitch from the outside of the wallet to make sure that my stitching looks attractive and straight on this side (after all, this is where the stitching will be most visible).

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In the two photos below you can see where I edgestitched – in the first photo edgestitching is visible on the left hand side (this closes the left hand side of the coin pocket) and along the bottom.  The stitching stops before it reaches the gap at the spine.

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From the inside of the wallet you can see the stitching along the right hand side (where it keeps the cash insert in place) and along the bottom.  The stitching stops prior to center where the card slots end.

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And that’s all there is to it!  Fill up the wallet with your cards or perhaps fill it with gift cards, notes and photos if you are giving it as a gift.  In the photos below I’ve filled it up with everything I carry in my wallet on a daily basis – this includes 8 cards, approx. 5 or 6 coins and a bit of cash.

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Please don’t hesitate to comment if you have questions about the sewing process!  I would love to help!

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Have fun sewing such a quick and practical project!

Get the Bifold Wallet here.

Get the Wallet Gift Giving Set (includes 3 projects) here.


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50% off all PDF sewing patterns – even wallets!

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I hope that you are enjoying the start of a cosy (long) weekend snuggled up with family and friends!  Or perhaps you are carving out some quality time with your sewing machine and your project plans for home-made gifts?

We have put every single PDF pattern in our shop on sale for 1/2 price to encourage you to stay home and make gifts rather than head out to the shops this weekend.  Here’s to spending time with those that matter to you and here’s to thoughtful making!

Download your weekend project at our PDF 50% off sale >

(The lovely image of a couple sewing together was found on a very relevant and well-written blog post by Justine of Sew Country Chick. Her post is all about minimalism and sewing and was written for Black Friday two years ago.)


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Launch Day: Wallet sewing patterns!

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The wallet is an essential item for most men (and women) so it was only a matter of time before we added our take on the wallet to the growing collection of Thread Theory menswear sewing patterns!  Meet our 3 new mini PDF patterns: The Elastic Wallet, The Card Wallet, and The Bifold Wallet.

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The goal for these wallet designs was to produce a minimalist cash and card storage solution that carries all of the necessities while remaining very slim.

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An equally important goal while designing these patterns was to create the most storage options with the fewest pattern pieces possible.  This way, each wallet is a true beginner-friendly project and the project is compatible with all home-sewing machines regardless of the material that you choose to use (even leather).

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An added advantage of their minimalist design is that these wallets are shockingly quick to sew – making them ideal for gift-giving!  Sew any of these wallets in well under an hour (seriously, some of these take mere minutes to sew) and fill them with a gift card to create a great Christmas or birthday gift!

Now you know our motives, all that remains is to decide which wallet suits you best.  Let’s get to know them:

The Elastic Wallet

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The Elastic Wallet is the simplest of our three new patterns.  It features a length of cleverly folded 2″ elastic and a top stitched cash pocket.  Instructions are included to add an optional tag that can be attached to a lanyard or key ring.

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This tiny wallet can carry a surprising amount of cards and cash!  The strong elastic expands to hold 6 cards easily (more can fit in snugly if you really want to take the whole stack with you).

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If you prefer to carry less or to use this wallet as a single gift card holder, it still keeps a small load very secure.

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It slips in a front or back pocket or can fit in even the smallest clutch or purse.

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Unlike many elastic wallet designs, this wallet looks attractive and can easily be personalised by mixing and matching printed elastics with a contrast cash pocket.

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I think the contrast pocket paired with a ribbon, leather or grosgrain tag really elevates this wallet from pure functionality to a lovely combination of function and fashion!

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We’ve added a great selection of printed and solid 2″ elastics to our shop so that you can get creative with your design choices…isn’t this embroidered elastic stunning?

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Here are a few of the new elastics – aside from being perfect for the Elastic Wallet pattern, many of them are also great choices for our Comox Trunks:

The Card Wallet

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Our second new wallet pattern is a versatile Card Wallet.  It can be sewn up in everything from quilting cotton to industrial felt!

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I’ve created two separate patterns and two sets of instructions depending on the material type you choose.  This way there is no guess work about how to pre-treat your material or where to top stitch, no matter the material you select from the wide range of possibilities.

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One of my favourite features on this wallet is an optional leather storage pocket which is the perfect size to hold a house key or, if you are inclined, a guitar pick.

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The angled design of the wallet holds cards very securely while also allowing them to be accessed with a quick swipe of your thumb.

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Depending on your material choice, this tiny wallet can hold a lot!  Stiff materials (such as Kraft-tex or leather) will hold fewer cards than materials such as cotton canvas or felt.

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Like the elastic wallet, the card wallet makes a lovely sewn gift because it takes mere minutes to make (the Felt & Specialized Materials variation only features several inches of actual sewing!) and holds a gift card very attractively.

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If you are looking for a gift for a musician, how about filling it with a gift card to the local music/record shop and a fresh guitar pick?

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Once the gift has been given, the gift card holder will become the recipient’s only wallet for years to come (Matt can attest to that…in fact, his felt Card Wallet is tucked in his jeans pocket right now!)

If you would like to create an industrial felt card wallet like the wallet pictured above, you don’t have to look far to find wool felt – I’ve just added it to the shop where you can purchase it by the square foot.  This way, you can buy only the small amount that you need for your tiny wallet project.

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The Bifold Wallet

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Our final wallet design is a classic Bifold Wallet with a twist!  This wallet contains all of the card holders and cash dividers that you would expect of a bifold.  It is a standard size and functions in the standard way you would require a bifold wallet to function…but it consists of only two pattern pieces!

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Instead of a whole stack of card slot pattern pieces and tricky seams, this wallet pattern allows you to construct a bifold with a few quick origami folds and some simple top stitching.

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Just as I did for the card wallet, I’ve included separate pattern pieces and instruction booklets to guide you through the construction process based on your material choice.

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You can sew this wallet in cotton, canvas, felt, Kraft-tex, Tyvek, leather or any other material you feel inclined to try!

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The contrast cash pocket is an excellent way to discreetly personalise your bifold by using printed cottons or elegant lining materials.

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I love how little fabric this project requires!  I attended an indigo dying workshop a few years ago and have had a tiny scrap of dyed cotton kicking around since then.  It almost ended up in the compost once or twice since it was too small to even make a pouch…I’m glad I saved it though since it was enough to make this gorgeous contrast cash insert:

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If you like to carry a bit of change in your wallet, the Fabric Variation of our Bifold Wallet pattern includes instructions to add a zippered pocket to the back of the wallet.  The pocket construction is uncomplicated and beginner-friendly.

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I sewed my favourite version of The Bifold Wallet in washable paper (Kraft-tex).

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It stores Matt’s entire set of essential cards and cash yet still manages to look pretty much empty!

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The Bifold Wallet is quite slim and very light so it is comfortable to wear in the back pocket of jeans.

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If you would like to try constructing a wallet or bag with Kraft-tex (otherwise known as washable paper), this is also a new addition to our shop!

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I’ll be writing a separate blog post about it soon, but in the meantime, check out this link to my bag-making Pinterest board for plenty of washable paper inspiration.  You can also read my very detailed description of Kraft-tex in our shop.


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Now that you’ve had a chance to get to know our three new patterns, it’s time to get sewing!  You can find the PDFs listed individually or you can download the entire Wallet Gift-Giving Set at a discounted price.  The Gift-Giving Set includes each PDF pattern and an extra PDF containing all of the pattern pieces for the three wallets puzzled together so you need only print 6 sheets of paper.  This is a great way of printing your projects if you plan to batch sew them as Christmas gifts!