Thread Theory

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


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Rivets (and more!) sold individually and in bulk

ZippersRivets-001Ever since we added our Jeans & Pants Essential Notions kits to our shop, I’ve received requests from many of you who would like to purchase rivets in bulk or individually.  Until recently I’ve been making up Paypal invoices each time I received a request and this has worked okay…but it isn’t the most efficient or professional solution!  We made a new order of some of our notions so that we can finally offer the materials from our kits as separate products in our shop!NewNotions-008

Now you can find rivets, no sew jeans buttons, jeans zippers and waistband elastic in the supplies section of our shop!

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While we are on the topic of new products: Some of you may have noticed that last Friday I accidentally sent our newsletter out with the title “Fall Sewing – Flat Rate Shipping Sale and New Tools.”  Upon opening and reading the newsletter you were probably disappointed to see that no new tools were mentioned!  We had planned to release some beautiful and very useful new sewing tools (including more wood ones from local artisan Wray Parsons!) but have been faced with some technical difficulties at our new studio.  Matt has been trying very hard to recreate the lighting that we had at our old studio so that our product photos match the rest that are currently on our website.  So far he has had no luck (and I’m a very critical client :S).  I’ve put up the photos that Matt took of the rivets, zippers and waistband elastic but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to share the less than ideal photos of our new sewing tools.  Matt will be working on a new photography set up next week and I hope we will be able to launch the tools soon!  Sorry for the false newsletter title!

Happy sewing!


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Fall Preparations – $10 Flat Rate Shipping Sale!

FallSewing-001It has been very apparent in the sewing blogosphere of late that, despite the sunny weather, ripening tomatoes, and time spent at the beach, sewers of the Northern Hemisphere are turning their minds to Fall sewing plans.  My mind has been wandering in that direction lately as well so I am currently in the midst of gathering supplies for a few upcoming projects – fun!

To help you along with your Fall sewing plans, we are holding a flash sale featuring flat rate shipping.  For today, Saturday and Sunday only, shipping will be $10 for any size parcel to anywhere in the world!

This sale is the perfect opportunity to purchase those heavy or bulky things that you have been wishing to add to your shopping cart but have avoided due to higher shipping costs.  I hope that if you are in Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia you will take advantage of the flat rate because I know shipping rates can sometimes be prohibitive.  Matt and I are often shocked to see how much higher the shipping rates are for you compared to those lucky sewists in the US!  It bemuses us, especially, that it is far more expensive to ship within our own country (Canada) than to the far reaches of the United States.

Anyways, shipping woes aside, I hope that you enjoy the chance to stock up on Fall sewing patterns, fabric and tools without the worry of shipping rates!


 

Now, let me show you my Fall menswear sewing plans:

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Before the weather cools, I’ll be making Matt some fresh Strathcona Henley t-shirts using these Anna-Maria Horner knits.  They are very stable which I like for a men’s t-shirt and I think the florals are just abstract enough to make them wearable (and unique) for Matt.

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Next, I will be sewing some fresh Jedediah Pants and Shorts out of some really beautiful twills from Stylemaker Fabrics (the green is brushed and the grey is un-brushed).  You have to feel the brushed twills in person, they are SO soft and luxurious feeling and they are an excellent weight for pants.  I think they are just thick enough to make the belt loop layers manageable on most sewing machines.  The green twill will be a pair of shorts (likely featuring an aqua and green floral binding to complement the fabric and aqua zipper…we will see what prints I can find!).  The grey pair will be a nice basic pair of pants.

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After these projects are finished I anticipate the weather will begin cooling so I will sew up a pair of rugged Jutland Pants for Matt to wear while chopping wood and working in the shop.  I haven’t quite decided whether I will sew the cargo pockets or not.  We will see which style Matt prefers just before I go to cut out the fabric!  The fabric is another brushed twill from Stylemaker in my favorite rusty orange color (I usually call this colour the ‘Carhartt colour’ but I could just as accurately call it the ‘Thread Theory’ colour since this is the colour from our logo!)

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This beautiful dotted chambray will be a sample for our upcoming button up shirt pattern.  I mistakenly bought this forgetting that I was halfway through making a button up shirt for myself in the olive green colorway of this fabric…woops, I guess Matt and I will run the risk of matching :P.

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Lastly, once I am in the full swing of sewing menswear, I’m going to launch in to tailoring a Goldstream Peacoat out of my most prized fabric possession – jet black wool from the Pendleton Woollen Mill store!  This fabric was gifted to me by the store when they began stocking our patterns – it was a surprise thank you gift when I sewed for them a sample of our Goldstream Peacoat.  So nice of them!  While my first version of the Peacoat headed straight to their store for display, I have had plans ever since to recreate it for Matt to wear!  I plan to follow our Tailored Peacoat Series for this project and Matt is very excited about the results!  Hopefully this coat will be ready for the frosts and potential snow in November or December.

So, what menswear projects do you have lined up for the Fall?  I hope you are able to take advantage of the Flat Rate Shipping Sale!  Happy daydreaming…


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The ‘Truth’ Revealed about the Vintage Dior Suit

Thread Theory Dior Suit (5 of 15)

Now that Matt’s parents are back from their vacation, I’ve had a chance to ask for details about the vintage Dior suit that I shared on the blog two weeks ago.  It turns out there are two variations to the tale, you can decide which version you think has the ring of truth to it and which may just be made colorful by the passing of time and the flexibility of the memory!

Matt’s dad told me that he went into a little consignment shop in Vancouver in the early 1980s around the time when he and Sue purchased their first home.  They are currently a very stylish couple with an eye for unique clothing and I imagine Rick’s sense of style was at it’s peak while living in the big city!  Upon entering the consignment shop he found a huge load of fresh clothing that had been delivered that very morning.  The fresh pile was in the process of being sorted onto racks by the shopkeeper who told Rick that it was the entire contents of a judge’s wardrobe.  The wardrobe consisted of many beautifully tailored suits hailing from the long decades of this man’s distinguished career.

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This is where the story breaks into alternate realities…just think of it as one of those “choose your own adventure” stories!

Reality 1: The retired judge had recently been discovered as having cheated on his wife of many decades.  She was a private and proud woman who chose to express her anger by getting rid of her husband’s most prized possessions – his designer suits.  Rather than throwing these suits out onto the lawn in that classic and very public gesture of disgust, she carefully drove down to the local consignment shop early the next morning and discreetly donated the wardrobe so that it might be enjoyed by future generations of suit enthusiasts.

Reality 2: The retired judge had enjoyed many happy years of golfing, dining and going to the opera with his wife after he ended his successful career.  He passed away peacefully at home and his wife promptly and tidily sorted through his will and arranged his funeral.  He had requested that his wife donate his designer suits rather than gift them to family because all of his sons were either larger than his narrow frame or did not have occasion in their lives to wear such formal attire.  He hoped that by donating the suits to a consignment shop, the suits might be picked up by someone who would care for them correctly and appreciate them for many decades to come.

Thread Theory Dior Suit (12 of 15)

As you can see, the story does not help us date the Dior suit very precisely (other than informing us that it was certainly created prior to 1983) but my father-in-law’s best guess is that it was likely from the 1960s or early 1970s just as the comment by ciclismodesign suggested in response to my previous blog post.

I also posted a photo of the suit on Instagram where sewklahoma_savvy commented:

I would say early 70s because this is when Hart, Schaffner joined with Dior to make tailored suits. I guess without the central heating we have today, men needed warmer suits. Beautiful!

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Thanks for your thoughts on this vintage piece!  I hope that Matt will find occasion to wear it this winter.  And thanks, Rick, for gifting the suit to Matt, for finding such a great piece, for saving it for decades, and for telling us the suit’s story!


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Sewing Indie Month is coming up!

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It’s the second ever Sewing Indie Month this September!  If you haven’t heard about it yet, I will explain what this month is all about.  It is a month celebrating independent sewing pattern companies and the sewists who use them.  This celebration was begun last year by Mari of Seamster Patterns.  You may remember how I took part last year by offering a tutorial on the Tilly & the Buttons blog, interviewing the ladies at By Hand London, and publishing a tutorial from Seamster Patterns on my blog.  This year I decided just to enjoy the month rather than being involved behind the scenes because we were pretty busy moving homes and settling in.  Mari very kindly offered to include me in the blog post tour though so that I could take part in the sewing fun (but avoid all of the work!).

This year, for Sewing Indie Month, you can expect more collaborative blog posts, lots of tutorials and another sewalong contest with loads of prizes.

Sewing Indie Month is kicking off early this year by launching a pattern bundle sale featuring a pattern from each of the companies involved this year.  This first bundle is released early to give you lots of time to sew a few muslins before any of the contests begin.  The bundle will be on sale until August 12th (this coming Wednesday).  The pattern bundle is being offered as a “pay what you want” bundle and 20% proceeds will be donated to the International Folk Art Alliance.  This organization provides education and exhibition opportunities to folk artists around the world.  You can read more about the many projects this alliance is involved in here.

In order to purchase the bundle, you can head to the Sewing Indie Month HQ at Sew Independent.  You will notice that the bundle is tiered so, you can unlock extra patterns to add to your bundle by electing to purchase it for a certain price:

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As you can see, the bundle is huge selection of varied and unique indie patterns including a few of my favorites such as Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers and Dixie DIY’s Bonnel Dress (perfect for the last month of summer!).  I think the entire set would make an excellent Fall wardrobe this year and it is also a great opportunity to try out a few indie pattern companies that you may not have sewn from before.  Patterns and their corresponding companies include:

If you haven’t yet heard of the Saltbox Top by Blueprints for Sewing or the Sorrel Dress & Top by Seamster, this is because these are brand new pattern releases that are currently only offered within the bundle.  Both would make lovely tops to go with the Ultimate Trousers or the Cressida Skirt!

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I decided to sew the Mississippi Ave Dress by Sew House Seven to pair with this blog post – I hadn’t heard of Sew House Seven before and I thought that their dress design was very unique and pretty.  It looked like a quick project (which was necessary to convince me to leave my veggie gardening efforts and step into the sewing room at last!).  It has been really hot here at night so I sewed up the pattern as a cool cotton night dress.

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I used a a rich teal hand stamped and dyed cotton from Stylemaker Fabrics.  I purchased it a couple of months ago and see now that there is only 1 1/4 yards of it left and it is on sale!  Wow, it sold quickly!  I really enjoyed playing with the border print for this pattern because the panels and shape of the dress are quite unusual.  I positioned the bodice and main skirt pieces so that like colours would be together on the dress – I’m pleased with how the red design radiates out from the high waist.

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The dress is quite comfortable with an elastic waist and modest neckline.  It would also be flattering in a drapey rayon as the pattern suggests – next time!
Feel free to check out what some of the other bloggers have made from Pattern Bundle #1 – there are lots of inspiring projects already posted with more to come before the sale is over!

I hope you’ll enjoy Sewing Indie Month this year and that you might consider taking part in the events to come.   Thanks, as always, for choosing to be a maker and for choosing to support small pattern companies such as Thread Theory!

 


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The Story of A Vintage Dior Suit

Thread Theory Dior Suit (1 of 15) Ever since I posted about David Coffin’s Shirtmaking Workbook and the beautiful (and inspiring!) photos of RTW garments within it, I’ve been thinking about photographing the garments I have on hand to analyze.  I’m hoping you can help me examine this vintage piece – it’s a Dior suit which was handed down to us by Matt’s Dad.  He is on vacation right now otherwise I would ask him for a more detailed story about its origins.  Maybe that can be a follow up post in a couple of weeks after we’ve had a chance to make up our own story for the suit!

As you can see, the suit is cut from a beautiful thick navy wool with a subtle white pinstripe…

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It is a far thicker wool than I see in many modern suits which makes it very striking but also not that easy to wear.  It would really only work if you knew you were going to be in a pretty cold environment all day – I pity any man who ever tried to wear it to a winter wedding because as soon as he walked into the heated dining room he probably greatly regretted his decision!

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The lining is clearly labelled with the Dior logo and is a lovely rich burgundy.  It looks to me to be silk.

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The pants are lined with a thicker material that I would probably use for something heavy duty such as a Goldstream Peacoat.  There is no chance of getting a nice cooling breeze through the legs while wearing these!

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On one front panel a Dior label is stitched to the inner welt pocket.

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On the other front panel, a label is sewn to the welt pocket that states, “Tailored by Hart Schaffner & Marx,” with an embroidered bugle player, and below, “Raleighs.”

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The suit has been tailored to fit someone very close to Matt’s size which is quite the thrill!  Despite the garment likely being at least a few decades old, Matt feels really slick and timeless while wearing it.  The pants are conservatively slim and straight (they aren’t ’70s bell bottoms and they aren’t ’60s super slim fit).

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The vest has quite a few buttons which maybe makes it look slightly dated.  Matt looks excellent in it though – he’s a vest kind of guy (maybe I’ll show you a picture of him all dressed up next time I post about this!).

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The crowning glory is the suit jacket though – it is such a conservative and timeless style that I don’t think anyone would guess that Matt is wearing a vintage piece.  The arms sadly fit a bit short for Matt but this is a common occurrence with any suit jacket for him.

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I love the beautifully sewn details such as the felt undercollar…

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Thread Theory Dior Suit (13 of 15)

…and the beautifully finished pant waistband and fly…

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So…can you guess this suit’s story?  How old do you think it is?


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Giveaway Winner and Shirt Pattern Research

Corrupt Gentleman Shirts

(Click on images in post to be directed to their source)

Wow, thanks everyone for your very thoughtful and detailed comments on my blog post last week!  We ended up reaching 123 comments, 122 which were entries for the giveaway of David Coffin’s Shirtmaking Workbook.  I drew the winner today using a random number generator and am pleased to announce that Bechem, hailing from Australia, will be receiving the book in the mail shortly!  Here is the comment that she posted:

So exciting Thread Theory was included in this amazing book! I would be sewing for my husband, who wears a size 41 shirt here in Australia. While he does wear business shirts for work, if I were to sew him a shirt it would a more “smart casual” style for weekends, etc. I’d love to see a slim fitting shirt with long sleeves (and sleeve tabs to roll up). A 2-part collar, as well. Modern & trendy & the perfect shirt to go with his Jedediah shorts :)

Even if you didn’t win David’s book, I highly recommend checking it out in whatever format you most prefer (be it from the library, from you local book shop, on Amazon, or from a friend!).  After all, you might be wanting to use it when you go to sew our upcoming button-up shirt pattern that we (and you!) are very excited about!

Just to be clear after all of last week’s excitement, our shirt pattern is still in the very early stages of production so please don’t hold your breath or switch up your sewing plans while you wait for it’s release!  I hope to have it ready for late Fall this year but this is certainly not a deadline because I want to continue to work on perfecting it as much as possible and will only release it to you guys when I feel that it is ready.

I’ve been sifting through all of your comments and have been unearthing some very interesting commonalities.  I made a big chart and tallied various themes.  I thought you might like to see some of the trends that emerged in your shirt design requests:

Fit

The large majority of commenters are looking for a fairly slim fit shirt (but not overly fitted).  A good number of people are hoping the shirt will include options for two levels of fit – one with a looser back and one with a more fitted back.

I VERY much appreciated hearing what your specific fit issues are.  The majority of the comments mentioned struggling with arm length when buying RTW shirts.  Clearly it will be necessary to include lengthen and shorten lines as per usual and also a detailed section within the instructions on how to figure out what length of sleeve and body you need.Frank and Oak Oxford

Many commenters struggle with fitting tricky areas such as the neck, shoulders and belly.  Men who work out often tend to develop large necks and shoulders but require a more fitted waist which can be tricky to find in store bought shirts.  As men age, it is common to develop a little bit of a belly.  Men who prefer slim fit shirts will need to have the shirt adjusted to allow for their mid-section.

It is very clear that there are a large size range of men waiting for custom sewn shirts.  I will do my best to include as large a range as possible without making an overwhelming nest of size lines during grading!  I wonder if it would be a good idea to include the very largest and very smallest sizes only in our PDF patterns.  This way we can offer an increased size range for digital customers.  We are often limited in our size range due to the size and weight of the tissue paper in our printed patterns.

Design Features

It was almost unanimous that you are looking for a shirt with a collar stand and a proper tower or house placket on the sleeves.  Don’t worry, these features will most definitely be included!  I will be putting a large emphasis on writing and illustrating clear instructions for these portions of the shirt and will of course do a photographed sew-along.

Band Collar - J Crew

When it came to collar and cuff options, I was quite surprised to see how popular mandarin/band/grandad collars are and also how many of you would like the option for French Cuffs.  I’m glad that you let me know this because, while I had originally had these two features on my list of design options that I wanted to include, I had been thinking of removing them…but I won’t do so now that I know that you would like them included!

Thanks, also, to those who mentioned they would like the option for sleeve tabs so that long sleeves can be rolled up and to those who would like the option for short sleeves.  I wasn’t sure how commonly these design elements would be sewn but it seems they are requested enough to warrant including them.

Many of you mentioned that you would like to sew the button-up in some sort of flannel/plaid.  This is a great idea and I think it would be nice to include instructions for cutting out plaid either within the instruction booklet or at least as a tutorial on the blog.

I need to do a bit more thinking about what pocket styles and yoke styles I would like to include.  I am partial to simple pockets and a nice medium size yoke with a straight bottom but it seems that quite a few of you are looking for a bit more flare!  More pocket and yoke options would be an interesting thing to include as a separate download from the pattern if we end up having an overwhelming number of pattern pieces included within the main pattern.

Lastly, when it comes to design/fit, there is no consensus on how the back of the shirt should be shaped.  I had been intending to shape the back with a small centre pleat for a very nice middle ground between slim fit and comfortable (erring towards slim fit).  Some of you mentioned that you prefer darts on the back.  I  had been hoping to avoid these because they limit fabric options considerably (stripes and plaids wouldn’t look so great with darts) and I worry that darts are a bit too “Euro-fit” to please the majority of people.  After reading your comments though, I wonder if it would be worth including a seperate back piece without any pleat and with darts instead…hmm, that’s a tough decision.

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Thank you very much for your feedback!  Please feel free to keep commenting with your shirt pattern requests as I have been really enjoying feeling as though I am working with a big team of you rather than working to design the pattern in my isolated office while I worry away about what it is you actually want in the pattern :P.


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The Shirtmaking Workbook – Our feature and a giveaway! (Giveaway closed 24/07/15)

Shirtmaking Workbook review (1 of 1)

Quite likely, if you are interested in sewing menswear, you will have heard of David Coffin by now.  If you haven’t you will likely want to find out about him!  He is the author several books that could be considered essential resources within a menswear sewing library (or any sewing library for that matter).  Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing and Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop are both filled with excellent construction guides.  His newest book, which was just published this Spring, is called The Shirtmaking Workbook: Pattern, Design, and Construction Resources.  David has taken a different approach to this volume on shirtmaking and has focused much of this book on design through the manipulation of pattern blocks.  While you would find his first book on shirtmaking to be very useful during the actual construction process of a button-up shirt, you would likely use his newest book as a reference and as inspiration during the planning process of your projects.

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David interviewed me well over a year ago during his research for the book and included a segment of this interview within the hardcopy book under the “Featured Designer” sections included within each chapter.  I was very flattered to be included amidst some extremely talented designers and tailors – how exciting!  Once the book was published, we were sent two copies – one which I’ve happily added to my library and one that I will be giving away to you!  (See details on the giveaway at the end of this post.)Shirtmaking Workbook (6 of 15)

I have come across several extensive reviews of The Shirtmaking Workbook since it’s publication date.  Be sure to check these ones out:

Instead of reviewing the book completely, I’d like to talk about how I have been using this book within my studio and show you how it has been helping me as we begin the development of our upcoming menswear button-up shirt pattern (yay!).

In order to become acquainted with the book when I first received it, I took it as my only reading material on a camping trip and read it systematically from cover to cover.  For this kind of book, this style of reading is just enough to glean some of the basic information – this book certainly warrants an in-depth, hands on approach!  For example, throughout the book there are symbols indicating online content that accompany each piece of written info.  While not all of this online content is available yet (the book was published earlier than expected), David is working doggedly on assembling it.  During my first reading I familiarized myself with David’s approach to shirt patterns (he works with basic blocks that he manipulates into any style imaginable) and made note of what online content I might find interesting to explore right away.  I enjoyed the beautiful detail shots of ready-made garments that are profiled throughout the book to illustrate how certain collar styles, construction techniques and placket varieties can be integrated into shirt designs.  I carefully read the designer bios and, lastly, checked through the construction and pattern manipulation tips to see how they compare to my own practices.

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My second reading of the book is going to need to be far more hands on.  The book focuses a lot on the huge variety of collars and plackets that can be added to basic shirt blocks to create every design imaginable.  David has created full size collar and placket pattern pieces for every style that he discusses within the book.  These patterns are accessible online along with relevant construction information.  Once you have found the blocks that work best for you (David describes various approaches to doing this – one great one is to find your favorite existing pattern and simply use the main body pieces while switching out the collar, placket, pockets and any other design details whenever you want to achieve a new style of top), you can use these online pattern pieces to create your own shirt designs.  While I won’t be using David’s pattern pieces for our shirt pattern obviously, I look forward to examining their shapes and comparing the various collars to each other as a way of researching my preferences for our patterns.  I have found the section on dress collars to be especially helpful – David has systematically compared the subtle shape changes to the collar stand, undercollar and collar and explains how these three pieces relate to each other in a way that is far more straight forward than I have ever seen before!  He calls this “Dress Collar Geometry” and discusses the results of each pattern manipulation “experiment” very frankly and scientifically.  In order to fully assimilate all of this information I think it might be necessary for me to perform at least some of these experiments on my own while following along with the book – David recommends this hands on approach and I know, from my own experience, that this is the only way I will retain all of the information permanently!

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The third way that I hope to use this book is as a design inspiration reference.  David has used the book research process as an excuse to get his hands on all manner of vintage and designer garments so that he could photograph and analyze them.  Since I don’t have the funds (or closet space!) to gather my own library of inspiration garments, I’m excited to be able to flip through the photos within this book and online whenever I am curious about ready to wear designer finishing techniques or fabric choices.  Would you like to see what the inside of a Swanndri Wool Bush Shirt looks like or would you like to examine the ingenious double layered sleeve of a Filson Double Mackinaw Cruiser?  I have wanted to for years now!  David’s photos and accompanying text tour are almost as nice as having these elite garments at my sewing table to examine on my own.Shirtmaking Workbook (12 of 15)

Shirtmaking Workbook (14 of 15)

 

Now that I’ve told you how I plan to use this book, I better get busy actually using it!  I’ve downloaded a few of the collar varieties and look forward to comparing them with our own freshly drafted shirt collar today!

 


 

 

If you are interested in winning your own copy of The Shirtmaking Workbook, leave a comment below.  In your comment, I’d love for you to answer one of these questions to help me with my menswear button-up shirt pattern development:

  • What style and fit are you looking for in a menswear shirt pattern?
  • There are several men’s button-up shirt patterns already on the market.  What elements are not included in them that you would like to see in a shirt pattern (A certain collar style? A certain placket style?  A certain fit? A certain level of detail within the instructions)?
  • Who do you plan to sew button-up shirts for? (i.e. the person’s approximate age, their approximate body shape/size, or their style preferences)

No need to answer all of these questions or to write an essay!  I’d just love to hear your thoughts on menswear shirt patterns.  The giveaway will close on 9am (PST) Friday, July 24th.  A winner will be chosen at random from the comments on this blog post.  We will mail the book worldwide!

 

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