Thread Theory

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


Leave a comment

Spruce up your sewing machine (and the 2nd contest winner!)

January always finds me in a frenzy of cleaning, revamping and generally refreshing.  This year Matt and I are taking that concept a step further by installing new floors in our house…it’s been fun but it also makes me very pleased to walk in to my tidy studio and close the door on all the dust, piles of wood, and tools spread everywhere throughout the rest of the house.

I’m keeping the new year frenzy to a minimum in my studio by simply giving my machines a good clean and the attention they deserve (yet rarely receive).  I thought you guys might like to do the same so I’ve added a few interesting tools and accessories to the shop to help you refresh and renew!

First off, here is something extremely simple but beautiful: A lint brush.sewing-tools-thread-theory-45As you can see below, the only lint brush I had in my studio before acquiring this one was NOT doing a good job of removing lint.  It was poor quality to start with and was completely worn out.sewing-tools-thread-theory-44The fine and soft bristles on this brush do a much nicer job of getting in to tiny crevices and I think they are flexible enough to stand up to quite a lot of wear.  The beautiful twisted wire handle will allow the brush to hang nicely in a visible spot so that we are all more likely to give our machines a clean!sewing-tools-thread-theory-42

Once your machine is clean, it’s time to add a few useful accessories.  I feel very lucky to have a handy measuring tape printed right on the work table on my industrial sewing machine.  It is useful to take quick measurements while I’m in the middle of sewing.  I’m excited that I’ve found a similar tape to add to your sewing table!

sewing-tools-thread-theory-13

It is adhesive so you just need to peel off the backing and stick it on to your table.  It is 60″ long features both metric and imperial.

sewing-tools-thread-theory-14

Even if you have seam markings engraved on to your machine’s throat plate, your sewing will likely benefit from the use of a magnetic seam guide.  Just place it on top of the metal throat plate so that the fence is positioned at your desired seam allowance.  That way you can’t accidentally swerve if your attention lapses momentarily or if you lose your grip on the fabric.

sewing-tools-thread-theory-15

Keep in mind that this little upgrade for your machine features a magnet so you might want to do some research before using it on a computerised machine.  The back of the package warns against use with computerised machines but I have read several articles which explain that you would need a VERY strong magnet to wipe a hard drive in a sewing machine (this is a great article which leads me to believe that any household magnet is safe to use) but I want you to be aware that some people worry about placing magnets near or on their machines.

sewing-tools-thread-theory-16

The last upgrade you might want to make to your sewing table is a tool tray straight out of a mechanic shop!  If you live in fear of your toddler (or you) stepping on a stray pin, this is the pin dish for you:

sewing-tools-thread-theory-52

If features a huge magnetic base and a large metal tray.  I have turned it upside down and given it a vigorous shake with good results…not a single pin shifted position or fell to the floor!

sewing-tools-thread-theory-55

This tray is big enough that you could use it to store all sorts of metal items – use it to contain your thread snips and sewing needles while you are working on a hand sewing project or fill it with bobbins!

sewing-tools-thread-theory-50

Ready to give your machine a spa day?  It deserves it!  Head to our tool shop >


Now, to finish up today’s post, it’s time to announce the second winner of our Lazo Hack contest.  This week’s prize is your choice of three PDF Thread Theory patterns!

And the winner is…@nique_et and her fabric inspiration post!  Yesss…that print would be awesome!  I can imagine those trousers worn rolled up casually with a beaded white gauze blouse and leather gladiator sandals.

nique_et-lazo-hack-contest

Thank you for posting a photo using #lazotrousers!

Next week’s prize will be a $25 (CAD) gift card to Blackbird Fabrics so you can pick up some of the gorgeous tencel twill or sweater knit that Caroline has in stock.


3 Comments

Fitting the Lazo Trousers (and the 1st contest winner!)

Happy New Year!  I’m getting right in to the swing of things on the blog today now that the busy holiday season is over.  It’s finally time for the Lazo Fitting post!  Sorry for the delay on this one.  I just couldn’t fit it in before my Christmas break.

lazo-trousers-fit

I have included fit adjustments based on the feedback you gave me several blog posts ago.  If I missed a category or you didn’t have a chance to request a fit adjustment, shoot me a comment on this post so that I can try my best to provide you with some fitting help.

I have chosen the simplest solution for each fit problem so I hope this post won’t intimidate you!  Also, you will notice that a lot of my solutions use the Lazo’s unique style lines to help fit.  We will work with the waistband shape and also with the pleats to create a better fit when possible instead of performing more elaborate pattern manipulation.

Now, please, before we get started, please add a mock up (trial run) of the Lazo Trousers to your agenda!  All of these fitting suggestions are operating under the assumption that you have sewn a mock up using the size that best matches your hip circumference and a fabric that is fairly similar to the actual fabric you plan to use for your Lazos.  Once the mock up is sewn, you will be able to see how the Lazos fit you and you can pin them tighter where needed or cut them open where needed to get an idea of where you need to adjust the actual pattern pieces.  If you want to see this process in action, check out the photos that I took of Matt in his Fairfield Button-up mock up…he looked like Frankenstein but it was a great visual way to see where adjustments were needed!

Wide Hips

When choosing your Lazo Trousers size, I would recommend picking the size that matches your hip measurement most closely.  If your hips are proportionately wider than our fit model’s hip measurement, you will likely need to adjust the fit of your trousers at the waist.

Here is an example: Your hip circumference is 42 7/8″ so you choose to work with size 14.  Your waist measurement is only 29 7/8″ (which, is a size 10 for our Lazo Trousers).  Select the size 14 pattern and then adjust it to suit your other body measurements.

To bring the waist in to match your proportions, you can grade between sizes only on the waistband pieces.  The fullest part of the hip curve is positioned at the bottom edge of the waistband so you will need the bottom edge to remain the larger size to match your hips.  This makes it very easy to work with two sizes because you don’t need to worry about adjusting the pocket pieces!

Adjust-for-wide-hips---grade-between-sizes.jpg

 

Of course, your wide hips might sit higher or lower than the Lazo Trousers hip curve.  I would recommend making a mock up after grading between sizes.  Try on the mock up to see if there is any strain or bagging along the curve of the hips.  Adjust the shape of the curve accordingly.  Note that you will need to adjust the pocket facing and pocket to match your new curve.  I find it is easiest to do this by lining up the pieces how they will be sewn together (as I have done with the pocket facing in the image below), that way you can copy the hip curve on to the smaller pieces:

adjust-hip-placement

 

It is remarkably common to have two different shaped hips – you will notice that your mock up pulls on just one side of the body.  This is because we generally have a dominant leg that gets used more often – it develops more muscles and becomes bigger.  During the pant fitting class that I took a couple of summers ago, my classmates and I were surprised to find that the majority of us needed to adjust for a hip that was higher or larger than the other hip.  For most of us, it was our right hip.  To make the pants look symmetrical on an asymmetrical body, you can adjust one hip but not the other.  I don’t think I would do this unless the larger hip was very noticeably causing asymmetrical strain lines.

Crotch Depth is Too Long

As I mention within the instruction booklet, the Lazo Trousers feature a very closely fitted seat seam.  This creates a flattering, fitted appearance to balance out the roomy double pleats.  It is very likely that the crotch depth of our fit model will not match your crotch depth exactly.  Don’t ignore this because you may end up with uncomfortably tight trousers that try to give you a wedgie!

crotch-depth

Measure your crotch depth as I illustrate in the booklet and then slash across your pattern pieces and spread them apart.  Adding crotch depth will ‘drop’ the crotch – a little adjustment goes a long way!  I recommend adjusting slightly less than you think you need in order to maintain the very fitted appearance of this seam.

adjust-crotch-depth

It is important to adjust the crotch depth before adjusting for a full tummy, flat tummy, full bottom or flat bottom.  Changing the crotch depth will change all other pressure points because the pants will sit lower on the body (the crotch length is increased).  Make up a mock up before proceeding to the other fitting issues – you may find that they no longer exist!

Full Tummy

This is a very important adjustment for the Lazo Trousers because the contoured waistband fits snugly and the bottom of the waistband will likely sit against the fullest part of the tummy – you do not want this to be cutting in to you!  You want it to match the width and curve of your body.

If you are unsure whether you require a full tummy adjustment, circle a measuring tape around your waist (the narrowest point).  If you have a full tummy you will find that the measuring tape naturally wants to ride up at centre front and sit lower at centre back.  This is okay, of course!  Let the measuring tape do this when you measure your waist…just know that you will need to add more length to the front of your trousers so they have room to curve over your tummy.

Here is my preferred way to add a combination of length and width to accommodate a rounded stomach.  You will need to adjust the Waistband Front and the trousers Front.

full-stomach-adjustment

Cut your pattern piece vertically down to the knee.  Turn your scissors 90 degrees and cut across the knee leaving a hinge at the side seam and the inseam.  Cut horizontally at the hip as well (at the bottom of the slash pocket).  Spread open to add as much width at the waist as needed.  Add the same amount of width to the waistband.

If you wish to avoid any fancy pattern manipulation, a very simple way to add some width to the Lazo Trousers front could be simply letting out one (or both) of the pleats!  You would need to add width to the waistband accordingly.  If you only sew one pleat on each pant leg, you would add 3/4″ to the waistband (for an extra 1 1/2″ overall).  If you do not sew any of the pleats you would need to add 1 1/2″ to the waistband (for an extra 3″ overall…a very large adjustment!).

sew-only-one-pleat

If you do not need the extra width at the top of the waistband because you have a narrow waist, you could add width in a wedge shape instead of spreading them apart evenly.  The wedge would tapers to less or nothing at the top of the waistband.

Flat Bottom

There are no darts on the Lazo Trousers since the shaping needed for the curve of your bottom is built in to the waistband seam.  If you have a flat bottom you will likely notice two fit issues when you sew a mock up:

  1. The waistband appears to be wrinkled and sagging because it provides too much room for your bottom.
  2. There are folds of fabric below your bottom at the back of your legs – this is because the back of the pants are too long since they do not have to curve over a round bottom.

These two issues mean that the trousers do not need as much width or length to curve across your bottom horizontally or vertically.

Try adjusting the curve of the waistband.  I show you how to adjust the curve in the instruction booklet to suit a full bottom in the last illustration within the “Fitting the Waistband” section.  The adjustment needed for a flat bottom is the opposite.

flat-bottom-adjustment

This is equivalent to making shallower darts.  You will likely need to decrease the width of the trousers slightly since your straightened waistband seam is shorter than the original curve.

Now that the Lazo seat has been made flatter to suit your bottom, you will probably still need to reduce the length of the seat seam only on the back pattern piece.  This will get rid of the fabric that pools just below your bottom.  This adjustment is quite easy!  Just cut in to the Back pattern piece somewhere near the middle of the seat seat seam and leave a little paper ‘hinge’ near the side seam.  Using the hinge, overlap the paper so that you remove the excess length.  You will likely only need to overlap 1/2″ or so.

flat-seat-adjustment

Full Tummy paired with Flat Bottom

Okay, this might seam a bit repetitive, but this combination of fit adjustments is very common so it is worth giving a category of its own so that you can recognise the problem and then head for the correct solution.

You will notice, if you sew a mock up of the Lazo Trousers, that there is excess fabric pooling around your bottom while there are diagonal wrinkle lines over your crotch…it may feel a bit intimidating to be faced with trousers that are too tight and too loose simultaneously!  To top it off, your side seams will not fall straight since they are being pulled towards the front.  Don’t worry, all of these issues stem from the fact that the crotch curve does not fit your body. – you need to add length to the front to accommodate your lower tummy and you need to remove length from the back since the trousers do not need to curve much over your bottom.  Perform the previous two adjustments!

Full Bottom

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to fit a figure with a fairly full bottom in relation to the waist measurement (an hourglass figure).  All the same, if you make a mock up and notice that there is strain across the widest point of your bottom (or, maybe you notice that fabric is pooling directly above the widest point of your bottom), you might like to give yourself a little more room.  If the strain is near the waistband seam, you can create more room by exaggerating the curve of the waistband (as I illustrate in the instruction booklet).  Exaggerating this curve will simultaneously add a little more width (the seam becomes longer) and more shaping.  You will likely need to add more width to the pants back as well so that they can be easily sewn to this longer waistband seam.

full-bottom-adjustment

If the widest part of your seat falls below the waistband seam or if a fairly large adjustment is needed, you will likely want to add more length to the seat seam by adding a wedge at centre back in addition to addition to the extra width.  Just as I described for the Flat Bottom adjustment, slash across the back pattern piece and leave a “hinge” at the side seam.  This time, spread the slash apart and redraw the seat seam curve smoothly.

add-room-for-full-seat

Straight Figure

Someone with a straight figure will likely find that, when they choose their size based on their hip measurement, the waistband is too small for them.  This is because they do not have a tapered waist.  You can make small adjustments to the way the waist tapers by adjusting the side seams within the 5/8″ seam allowances so that they are much more straight.

straight-figure-shaped-waistband

You might like to change the style of the waistband to better suit your figure.  I would recommend reducing the height of the waistband by at least 1″ or possibly even 2″ so that the pants are mid-rise instead of high rise.  If you prefer not to highlight your waist, you will find this rise much more flattering!

Lower-the-waistband-height.jpg

Full Thighs

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to have very roomy thighs (due to the double pleats) so I don’t anticipate you will feel any strain across the thighs when you sew a mock up.  There were a few requests for this adjustment though, so here it is in case you need it!  If the pant legs are too tight at the thigh you will notice horizontal or diaganol wrinkles across the legs just below the crotch.  You will also notice strain at the bottom of the slash pocket.  Add more room only on the pants Front pattern piece since a large thigh is caused by a very developed muscle on the front of the leg.

adjust-for-thigh-muscle

Add the room by extending the crotch at the inseam.  If your adjustment is fairly large it might be necessary to lower the center front waist to remove the length that unfortunately has to be added to the crotch while you are adding width.  You probably won’t need to do this though – wait until you’ve sewn another mock up to see if the front crotch seam has become pouchy and too long.  Here is a PDF from Sew News magazine that includes a very succinct description of this whole adjustment…in case you need a second opinion! 😛

Full Calves

Since the Lazo Trousers feature tapered legs and since the cropped variation includes wide cuffs, you will need to ensure there is enough room for your calves.  You can compare the pattern pieces (minus 5/8″ seam allowances) with a comfortable pair of pants that have no stretch and a bit of roominess across the calves.  Or you can sew a mock-up of the pattern as is (while working on other fit adjustments) and note if the knees or calves feel restricted when you bend your leg or flex your muscles.  To add width, simply redraw the side seams and inseams from just above the knee downwards.  Decrease the amount of tapering.

add-width-to-calves

Adjusting the side seams by hand allows you to shape the trousers how you feel they will be most flattering. Make sure to add an even amount of width to the front and back, inseam and side seam so that you don’t end up with wonky twisted legs!  You can avoid having to draw new seamlines by hand slashing the pattern and pivoting.  This is more complicated but can be a great way to ensure your side seams remain even and straight.  You can view an excellent interpretation of this adjustment (along with loads of other useful pants fitting tricks in this post on the Closet Case Files blog).

Oh, and if you are sewing the cropped variation, don’t forget that you will need to add width to the Cuff piece as well!


Whew!  Did I miss anything?  Keep in mind that these suggestions are simply my preferred approach to fitting and that there are MANY ways of going about fitting!  Google your fit problem using this wording: _______ _______ Adjustment (i.e. Full Hip Adjustment, Flat Seat Adjustment).  You will find all manner of excellent tutorials!

lazo-contest

Let’s close for tonight by drawing the first Lazo Hack contest winner!

contest-winner

I’m pleased to announce that Robynne (@adelajoy) is the winner of a $50 (US) gift card to Stylemaker Fabrics!  Congratulations and thanks for playing along!  Here is her lovely sketch of a nautical pair of shorts inspired by the Lazo Trousers pattern.

adelajoy-lazo-hack-entry

She posted this entry on Instagram using #lazotrousers.

We still have three weeks of prizes to draw.  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca, or use #lazotrousers on Instragram or Facebook to enter the contest.  Simply share your plans for working on the Lazos or your finished Lazo masterpiece.

The next draw will be on Friday, January 13th.  Enter as many times as you want for a chance to win your choice of any 3 Thread Theory PDF patterns.  Which patterns are on your wishlist?

 

 


8 Comments

Merry Christmas from my Mom and I (in our Lazo Trousers)!

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-3

Merry Christmas!  I hope that the next few days find you surrounded by loved ones and in good health.  I am about to begin my holidays (I will be back to blogging in the first week of January) so I wanted to sign off with a fun ‘editorial’ style shoot of my Mom and I decked out for Christmas in Lazo Trousers.

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-14

The purpose of the shoot isn’t to show you the trouser design details (since I have been overwhelming you with posts about the particulars of the pattern!).  These photos are meant to give you a glimpse of the Lazos in action!  We both chose to style our Lazos the way we would wear them to Christmas dinner.  My mom’s pair is made out of a synthetic fabric that was terrible to work with (loads of static and it frayed like crazy!).  I like how it has a bit of body though and does not wrinkle easily…it also doesn’t press easily :S.  My pair are made out of the beautiful tencel I was telling you about from Blackbird Fabrics.  They are VERY comfortable but perhaps turned out a bit big because my weight has been fluctuating lately and I thought I was ready to size up (only to fluctuate back down by the time the trousers were finished).  I am usually a size 2 but sewed a size 4 this time.  As a result, they sit about 1-2″ lower on my waist than intended and perhaps look quite casual because of this.

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-10I paired my Lazos with a cozy angora sweater and, as per normal, tucked my sweater in.  I like to emphasise my waist (and wear heels) when dressing up because doing so makes my legs feel a bit longer.  My Mom wore a flowing silk blouse and vest over her Lazos because she never tucks her blouses in.  I think the tapered legs pair nicely with a loose top and long vest.

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-1

My Dad and my parent’s dog, Jake, joined us for the photo shoot (and Matt was behind the camera, of course).  It ended up being a bit of a family portrait session!  We can’t help ourselves at Christmas: We hammed it up and embraced the cheesiness by attempting to create a continuous loop of Christmas crackers.  Jake was trying to help:

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-4

It was difficult, but in the end, we managed 😛  You might notice my Dad is wearing his buffalo check Fairfield shirt…he reports that he wears it very often.  In fact, he wears a t-shirt under it so that he doesn’t have to put it in the wash daily and thus can wear it more!  So there you go – we are a family of red handmade clothing this Christmas (unintentionally matchy-matchy but I kind of like it!).

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-5

I’ll leave you with one last photo to round off 2016…Jake!

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-2

Happy holidays!  May the new year bring many great projects for you (and us!).  Thank you for giving us such a stable, fruitful, and connected year!  We look forward to many more like it.


1 Comment

Lazo Trousers: Style Inspiration (and pattern hack ideas!)

lazo-hack-contest Christmas is quickly approaching so this will be my 2nd to last post about the Lazos before a short holiday.  I will be posting about some Christmassy Lazo outfits on Friday and then will be taking a break from blogging until January 2nd.  We will be kicking off the New Year with all the fitting posts, tutorials and Lazo Hacks that I have been promising to you!lazo-trouser-drawings-1 Today’s post is meant to get your creative juices flowing before you have a chance to cut into your Lazo Trousers fabric.  I imagine many of us will be too busy spending time with family until the end of the month to actually delve in to sewing something for ourselves – that’s no problem!  It just gives you more time to daydream about your creations and post about your pattern hack ideas!merchant-and-mills-back-in-stock

As you are aware, I am hosting a Lazo Hack contest that runs until the end of January.  I will be awarding prizes at random until January 31st so the more often and sooner you enter, the higher your chance of winning a prize!  Prizes will include digital gift certificates to a great selection of sewing shops and all sorts of goodies that will be mailed to you (worldwide!).  Yes…some of our gorgeous Merchant & Mills tools and books will be given away as prizes!

lazo-trouser-drawings-2

To enter the contest, draw a sketch, share an inspiring photo, take a snap shot of the supplies you’ve gathered, post your WIP, create a tutorial, or share a photo of your finished Lazos!  Use #lazotrousers on Instagram or Facebook or email me at info@threadtheory.ca with your images.

The contest is meant to inspire creative interpretations of our Lazo Trousers pattern – meaning you could alter the pattern to suit a figure other than the recommended hourglass shape, you could change the pleats to gathers, you could add width to the legs, or you could even just sew the pattern as is but style it differently than I have done!  Anything is fair game!

You don’t need to actually sew your Lazo Hack idea – you could post sketches of a dozen ideas and then pick your favourite to sew.  The more entries, the merrier 🙂

lazo-trouser-drawings-3

I will be contributing to the Lazo Hack contest by hacking the Lazos into the comfiest and prettiest sweatpants featuring a mock fly, a drawstring waistband, and deliciously cozy terry knit fabric.  Stay tuned for a tutorial to create this in January!


Now that you know the details about the Lazo Hack contest, here are some of the inspiration photos that I gathered before drafting the Lazo Trousers in school:

 

lazo-trousers-inspiration-modern

The image on the left is a sketch that I made for my Lazo Trousers design.  Sorry for her creepy blank stare – we were told to turn our sketch into a vector (so it could be coloured in digitally on the computer) and I discovered that this is NOT something I excelled at naturally 😛  All of the other images come from a Pinterest Board that I have created for the Lazos.  Click on any of the collages in this post to link to the Pinterest board.  Unfortunately, I believe you need a Pinterest account (which is free) to view the board but I’ve displayed most of my inspiration in this post for you to view anyways!

As you can see from the five images of modern store bought trousers, I was taken with the idea of a loose, pleated front with stovepipe legs.  I noticed, as I was selecting images, that I always preferred the overall silhouette of trousers that sat at the natural waist (instead of the hips).  This was a bit of an epiphany for me since, prior to creating an inspiration board, I was sure I preferred very low rise trousers!

lazo-trousers-inspiration-dirndl-skirt

Next up, we have these tiny skirt and palazzo trouser images above.  They come from Pinterest…which is a great source of inspiration and an exellent way to organize thoughts but it can be hard to find high quality images or original sources! A fitted waistband with a full skirt attached (a dirndl skirt) is my most comfortable silhoutte…but I find I can never wear it because all that fabric is not very practical for dog walking, bike riding, and generally living actively.  The free feeling of wearing one of these skirts or palazzo pants paired with the practicality of trousers = my goal for the Lazo Trousers.

lazo-trousers-inspiration-vintage

The fashion line that I created while in school was called ‘Rationed Fashion’ and it was inspired by British women’s fashion during the second world war.  Rationing led to an appreciation of hard wearing fabrics.  Women had to select their clothing to suit their new jobs (and often wore uniforms for their work).  Design details were subtle and functional so that the garments would remain wearable for many years.  I hadn’t watched the show Land Girls yet when I designed the Lazo Trousers but, the Land Girls uniform was exactly what I had in mind (second image from the right, above).  As you can see in the photos above, jodhpurs or breeches have often been a working or adventuring woman’s go-to pair of trousers in the last 100 years.  They were popular for aviators and equestrian women in the 1910s and 1920s.  They were a staple of wartime working women in the 1940s.  And there have been periods throughout the 1970s and 80s when trousers with fitted waists, roomy thighs, and fitted calves were in vogue.  It is a functional style because it allows full range of movement without excess fabric getting in the way.

lazo-trousers-inspiration-waistband

The wide Lazo Trouser waistband and slash pockets provide a great blank canvas for small design details.  Leather or vinyl buckles are my go to choice but you can also feature self fabric buckles, statement buttons, self fabric covered buttons, or even those beautiful frog closures that are always in fabric stores but rarely get used!

 

Quite a few of you have shared your ideas for the Lazos with me so far (not as contest entries, but instead as comments…you guys should sketch your ideas and submit them as contest entries!).  There are many people planning to make safari style Lazos and there are a couple of you planning to cut in to tartan wool and use kilt buckles.  And a number of you want to add width to the legs to create elegant palazzo pants.  I’m so excited to see your creations!

Download the Lazo Trousers >

Check out my Lazo Trousers Pinterest Board >


3 Comments

What type of fabric should I use for the Lazo Trousers?

It was lots of fun yesterday to receive all of your emails, blog comments and Instagram comments about our Lazo Trousers release!  As always, thank you so much for letting me know how excited you are to sew our patterns and also for asking all manner of questions before you delve in.  Your questions are helping me to direct my upcoming posts about the Lazos…so keep them coming!  Today I’m going to answer what is always the most pressing question when we launch a pattern: What fabric should I use?

The Lazos are a bit of a wild card when it comes to styling.  Depending on your fabric choice they can appear dressy, casual, cozy, or even a touch rugged.  Over the last few years I’ve sewn airy versions that are best for the hottest days of summer.  This is my favourite summery version in tencel (I added a big statement bow to the waist).  Of all my versions, I really cant beat these ones for comfort!

thread-theory-sewing-indie-month-7-of-7

My sweatpant version was a close contender though 😛  I hacked the Lazos while I was in school to create heather grey sweatpants with a satin ribbon draw string (that’s the only pair I’ve actually worn out…I guess that says something about my dressing habits!).  A sweatpant hack will be on the blog in January as part of our Lazo Hack contest!

I’ve also created some active wear cropped Lazos that were intended for summer hiking using a poly twill.  Photos of these will be on the blog soon (once Matt has had a chance to photograph me).

Lastly, of course, you can’t beat the classic ‘work’ trousers in a wool blend suiting:

lazo-trousers-17

Can you see what I mean about the pattern being a wild card?

So, when you ask what sort of fabric you should use…the answer is not a quick one!  Let’s dig in:

pattern-info-lt

Within the instruction booklet I recommend the following:

Light to medium weight fabrics that drape nicely. These trousers are especially comfortable if the fabric contains a small percentage of spandex for stretch.  Keep in mind that the pleats will look best if you choose a fabric that presses crisply. Great choices include suiting fabrics, tencel or rayons, crepe de chine and peach skin.  Self fabric or light weight wovens can be used for the waistband facing. Pocketing or tightly woven cotton can be used for the pocket lining.

The main information to take from this paragraph is the recommended weight, drape, stretch, and pressing ease of the fabric.  I’ll elaborate on these criteria without actually naming any types of fabric.  That way you can get a deeper understanding of what properties you are looking for.  If you’re excited to get shopping and just want some actual fabric options, scroll down to find them near the end of this post!

Weight

Most trouser patterns call for mid to heavy weight fabrics but the Lazo Trousers do not.  If anything, I recommend choosing something on the lighter side!  The reason I recommend light to medium weight fabrics is because there is a considerable amount of fabric situated across the belly and thighs – there are pockets, pleats, and an overlapping wide waistband all in one small area!  Using a lighter weight fabric, regardless of its ability to press or drape, will help to ensure that the Lazos do not look bulky across the lower tummy and upper thighs.  A light to medium weight fabric is more likely to sit close to the skin softly rather than fold and buckle rigidly.  Lastly, a light weight fabric matches the look and feel of a super comfortable full gathered maxi skirt that was my inspiration for this design.

If you want to experiment and choose a heavier weight fabric, make sure that it drapes very nicely – it will work best if it is loosely woven and soft.  This raw silk version of the Lazos is the thickest fabric I have used but it is very light and soft because it is loosely woven.  The waistband is fairly bulky and, I think, looks best with an un-tucked shirt as a result.

lazo-trousers-9 lazo-trousers-12

Drape

In my opinion, soft drape (sometimes called ‘good drape’) is the most important criteria for the Lazo Trousers.  As my instructor always said in design school, drape is a deceivingly tricky thing to quantify and understand.  Essentially, drape is the way a fabric hangs on the body.  There is a very informative blog post about drape on the blog “Cucicucicoo”.  Lisa has included an excellent selection of pictures showing ‘good’ drape fabrics vs. “low” drape fabrics.  Here is an example from her post:

fabric-drape

 

I think the Lazos look consistently best, regardless of fabric type, when the fabric wants to form itself to the body’s shape and fall fluidly towards the ground.  Choosing a fabric with soft drape will encourage the pleats to sit closely against the legs, ensure the waistband looks smooth and perfectly formed to the curve of the waist, and allow the legs to remain smooth and crease-free.

If you are feeling like experimenting, I would love for you to prove me wrong about drape!  The only Lazos I have sewn with a stiff, rigid fabric are the cotton muslin samples that I sewed while developing the pattern!  I imagined the design to be soft and fluid so I was never inclined to sew structured trousers. If you end up sewing with a stiffer fabric, be prepared to accept some wrinkles after sitting and a bit of volume from the pleats (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on the look you are going for!  Maybe your going for the chic 1920’s look featuring voluminous jodhpurs?).

1920s-women-jodhpurs

(Source: The Maryland Historical Society)

Stretch

The Lazo Trousers are designed for fabrics with no stretch but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid stretchy fabrics!  Sew them in a fabric with a little bit or spandex or even in a very stable knit!  Many suiting fabrics and bottom weight fabrics contain about 6% spandex these days – these would result in a very comfortable pair of Lazos!  The waistband is very closely fitted so you will not need to size down to accommodate for stretch.

With some modifications to the pattern, a stable ponte de roma or sweatshirt fleece make for creat Lazos (the sweatpant hack I was mentioning).  Don’t try to sew the waistband as drafted (without my upcoming mods) in a knit fabric though – there wouldn’t be enough structure for the centre front overlap to look nice and crisp.  You could try sewing a woven waistband and cotton legs though!  Oooh, that would be comfortable!

Press Crisply

lazo-trousers-15

I encourage you to choose a fabric that presses nicely so that your pleats look crisp and professional.  At the same time, you will probably want to avoid fabrics that wrinkle exceptionally quickly since the loose legs may become creased when you sit down.  Some gentle creasing (just as you will notice on most wide leg trousers) is just fine…but you don’t want to choose fabrics that crease at the slightest provocation.  Test a fabric by bunching it up in your fist and letting it warm in your closed hand.  Release the bunch and examine it to see if it falls flat or if it remains a crumpled ball.  If the fabric does not remain entirely smooth but only has light creasing, it will still work for the Lazos!


Now that you’ve read my reasoning, here are my top fabric picks for the Lazos.

Tencel

camasblouse-1

I cannot recommend Tencel enough for the Lazos.  Indeed, I designed the Lazos with this specific moss green fabric already purchased and sitting happily in my fabric stash (it was fueling my imagination!).  My favourite source for Tencel is Blackbird Fabrics, an online fabric shop based out of Vancouver.  Caroline currently has two weights stocked in her shop – both would be excellent choices for the Lazo.  The above green version is similar to her lighter weight option (though I purchased the green fabric from a shop near my school years ago).

Here is a navy blue Tencel that she currently has in stock:

blackbird-fabrics-tencel-light

She describes this as a twill with a unique brushed surface and suede like texture.  It has very good drape and just enough body to hide bumps that you don’t want to show.

blackbird-fabrics-tencel-twill

I have just finished sewing myself a pair of Christmas Lazos in Blackbird Fabric’s slightly heavier tencel twill.  They are dreamy!  The twill weave is a bit more pronounced with this fabric.  I look forward to showing my Christmas outfit to you in a future post!

There are quite a few beautiful colors (in both weights) within the Blackbird Fabrics online shop.  I am tempted by the camel color for my next pair!

Suiting

If you plan to sew the Lazos in a suiting material, be aware that there are MANY suiting fabric styles with all manner of properties.  Not all of them will work well!  Make sure to choose a light weight suiting that drapes well.  To give you an idea of what I mean: It should be thin enough and soft enough that you would need to add a LOT of interfacing and structure if you were to use it for a blazer.  Stylemaker Fabrics (an online shop based in the US) is an excellent online source for beautiful yet affordable suitings. Here are my top 3 picks!

Pick one is a solid brown stretch suiting featuring polyester, rayon and lycra.  The polyester would make this fabric hard wearing, the rayon would allow the fabric to drape softly, and the lycra would make for a super comfortable waistband!  The brown is a nice versatile colour.  The other solid is a rayon and lycra stretch twill in wine.  The rich colour paired with the beautiful drape of rayon would make for a very dressy pair of trousers.  My third pick is this statement Shepherd’s Check!  It features polyester and rayon (so there is no stretch).

I had actually purchased this fabric to make a pair of Lazos inspired by English riding attire but it got swallowed in my fabric stash and I just recently unearthed it to create a vest for Matt (the first sample of a future menswear pattern!)!  If I wasn’t told that it has no wool in it, I would never believe it!  It feels luxurious and high quality.

studio-tour-and-gift-boxes-19

I have a bit of (likely) unwanted advice for you…You may have noticed that I have not featured any wool suitings.  I am a huge wool enthusiast so, if you are too and can source lovely light weight wools, please go ahead and cut into your bounty to create some Lazos!  Before you go crazy trying to find the right wool (I have a hard time sourcing nice light wools), consider this:  If you like your clothes to wear well without much special treatment, choose a polyester blend suiting.  I know many sewists steer clear of poly blends in favour of pure wool, but this is a situation where a bit of polyester will be very beneficial!  A wool or rayon and poly blend is a good choice for trousers because it withstands abrasion and remains looking new (without special care) for longer than pure wool.  Even more important for the Lazos:  Wool/poly blends generally drape better than pure wool suiting materials.  An added bonus is that blended suitings are generally very easy to source and are quite affordable!

Bottom Weight Fabrics with Texture

My last fabric category to discuss today is a grab bag…really this category is just a mish mash of all my crazy ideas to help you ignite ideas of your own.  I have found that the Lazo Trousers are a great canvas for light weight fabrics with unusual textures!  As long as you can ensure the fabric has the weight and drape we have discussed, why not try rich velvet, adventurous faux suede, airy rayon crepe or matte peachskin?

All fabrics from Stylemaker. Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Faux Suede, Jacquard, Peachskin, Metallic Rayon Crepe, Chevron Rayon Crepe, Bold Rayon Crepe, Cranberry Stretch Velvet

These options are untested by me but I think, based on my experimenting over the last few years, they could be stunners!  The rayon crepes would create summery Lazos similar to my Tencel versions.  The Faux Suede would definitely create that safari look that I mentioned!  I purchased the black Jacquard to make myself a pair of Lazos…it remains languishing in my stash but it will emerge one day!  It has the lowest drape of all these choices and would definitely create voluminous pleats.  I think this would result in a great silhouette for New Year’s parties!  Last, but certainly not least, the stretch velvet is beckoning to me…how about you?  Of course, the pleats would not press well and working with velvet would require some careful forethought…I think I would convert the double pleats to one large pleat on each side of the fly and leave the folds unpressed so as not to crush the velvet.  I would also add a lot of interfacing to the waistband and cut the waistband facing from a thin cotton to add structure.


I hope I have your creative juices flowing!  Send me a link or a photo of the fabric you are considering and I will give you my opinion :).

Next week I will be sharing my inspiration and styling photos on the blog.  That should be a fun post!

lazo-hack-contest

To close for tonight, I want to remind you of the Lazo Hack contest!  It will run the rest of December and all of January.  I had intended to explain it further in this blog post but this has become rather long…stay tuned for a small post of it’s own next week.


40 Comments

Happy Birthday – we have a new pattern!

lazo-trousers

The Lazo Trousers – our second pattern for women – is live in our shop!

lazo-trousers-17

These trousers are designed to flatter an hourglass figure by hugging the curves while maintaining complete comfort.  They have a wide, shaped waistband from which the pants hang like a skirt.  There is no pressure across the hips or thighs due to the roomy pleats and tapered leg.

lazo-trousers-11

 

There are two variations included within this pattern – one is full length and the other is a cropped trouser with wide cuffs and statement belt loops.  Of course, you can mix and match variations by adding belt looks to the full length version!

camasblouse-1

This pattern, as many of you know, has been in the works for the last four years – in fact, the design itself pre-dates Thread Theory!  I developed these pants, along with the Camas Blouse, for my end of year fashion show during design school.  My goal for my fashion line was to create elegant garments that do not sacrifice comfort.  These trousers, in particular, were designed to combat a myriad of issues that I have with most women’s casual pants…the narrow waistband digs in to my lower tummy, there is never enough room for my bum, and I tend to feel a bit like a sausage stuffed in to its casing due to the tight fit across the hips and thighs.  I prefer to wear close fitting trousers so that I can balance them with loose fitting tops (so wide leg trousers aren’t an option in my daily casual wardrobe).  The Lazo Trousers were my answer to all of these complaints and criteria.

lazo-trousers-26

lazo-trousers-25

Maybe they are the answer to your pant related complaints too!  When I posted photos of the trousers on my blog (which was very new at that time), I received such an enthusiastic response that I decided to develop a couple of women’s patterns to compliment our menswear line.

Our 4th birthday:

lazo-trousers-12

Fast forward over four years later to Thread Theory’s 4th birthday, and the trousers are available at last!  We’ve launched them today to help us celebrate this anniversary and to thank you, our predominantly female community, for enthusiastically supporting our menswear supply shop and pattern line over the last four years.  THANK YOU!!!

logo

As another way to celebrate, Matt and I are giving back to an organisation that is close to our hearts.  50% of proceeds from each Lazo Trouser sale will be donated to Help Fill A Dream.  This is a Vancouver Island based organisation that assists children with life threatening conditions by fulfilling their dreams and by providing care and financial support for their families.  You can read more about their efforts and the dreams they have filled on their website.

This organisation means a lot to me because I was diagnosed with Leukaemia when I was a toddler.  Help Fill a Dream gave my family and I something to look forward to while I went through chemotherapy by promising me a trip to Disneyland.  As a young child, unable to comprehend what I was going through, the trip to Disneyland remains my only memory of the whole ordeal.  I can only wish that every child facing such health challenges could grow up healthy and look back on that period of their life with such fondness!

Behind the Scenes – Pattern Development:

FashionShow-50

Now that you know the inside scoop on our birthday celebrations, here is a look behind the scenes during the Lazo Trousers development process:

As you can probably guess, based on the four year time frame required to complete this pattern, there were quite a few snags along the way.  First, I had to gain confidence in my fitting skills before even considering developing a pattern designed to fit the hip, crotch and waist curves of a woman’s figure!  Helping all of you with your menswear fitting challenges has, of course, given me a fairly diverse amount of experience.  I also took a women’s trouser fitting workshop two summers ago to compliment the fitting class that I attended during my design program.

The next challenge was the pattern testing process.  I sent the pattern to volunteers with a large variety of body shapes and sizes.  I also sewed up many samples to try on the women in my own life.  After this experience I was given a HUGE amount of feedback by my generous testers and fit models…it took me months to wade through it all! I then tweaked the pattern and pretty much re-wrote the instructions based on this wonderful feedback.  During this process I came to terms with a very important concept: One trouser pattern will never fit everyone…especially not this one!  These trousers are quite a unique style that were drafted to fit body type.  They are meant to flatter someone who has a large difference between their waist and hip measurements (i.e. an hourglass figure) and to fit someone with a fairly rounded bottom and flat stomach (their hip circumference is mostly distributed towards the back).  Even someone with the exact figure I just described will still need to fit this pattern to themselves because the human body is incredibly unique.  If you don’t have an hourglass figure but long for the Lazos in your wardrobe, go ahead and give them a try!  I bet, with a muslin, some fitting and tweaking of the style, you can sew yourself a pair of perfect trousers!  Just be prepared to do a little bit of extra work before achieving the results that you want.

lazo-trousers-5

Don’t let my talk of fitting scare you off of sewing trousers!  Just think, store bought trousers are not fitted to your figure and you have probably been wearing these more or less successfully your whole life!  A few simple fit adjustments will produce trousers that are REALLY comfortable because they are tailored to your body.  I have included side seams on the Lazo waistband to make it easy to fit your unique waist to hip curve.  I have illustrated quite a few tips within the instruction booklet to help you fit to your lower back, bottom and crotch curve.  I will also be photographing some important fitting techniques on the blog in the coming weeks.

Let’s sew Lazos!

Ready to tackle a pair of trousers?  I will be posting a list of recommended fabrics tomorrow!  In the meantime, you can find the awesome buckles that I used for my favourite sample in our shop.

Grab a pair to use on your own Lazos! >

lazo-hack-contest

Lastly, we’re hosting a fun Lazo Hack contest.  The purpose of the contest is to show off your creative manipulation of this pattern by sharing your tips, tutorials, sketches, and finished Lazo projects.  Submit photos or illustrations using #lazotrousers on Facebook or Instagram or email them to me at info@threadtheory.ca.  I will be handing out prizes at random until January 31st.  This means, the earlier you submit your images, the more chances you have at winning a prize!

lazo-trousers-7

An upcoming post on recommended materials for the Lazo will feature more details about the contest and my own ideas to hack the pattern.

Download your Lazo Trouser Pattern now >


 

imgp9555

Thanks again, from Matt and I, for your enthusiastic support of our menswear supply shop and for making the last four years so much fun!  Happy Birthday to Thread Theory 😀

P.S. Please comment below if you have any questions about fitting your figure.  I am preparing the fitting blog post and will launch it next Friday Dec. 23rd.  Now is the time to ask so that you can have your questions answered!

 

 

 

 


8 Comments

Sew a Gift this Christmas!

gifts-for-sewers-7

Some of you might have noticed I didn’t write a blog post last Friday (my mom and my mother-in-law both joked that they worried I was ill and dying…fortunately, this was not the case!).  You guys must have some big Christmas sewing plans because, last week in particular, I spent every day madly packing up your menswear sewing supplies so I could cart them to the post office as quickly as possible.  I simply didn’t have time to prepare a blog post!

gifts-for-sewers-12

While in line at the post office I was wearing a red wool coat, a big white scarf and had a whole shopping cart of Christmas parcels.  The man in front of me said I looked just like Mrs. Claus!  I certainly felt like a Christmas elf at least!

With Christmas gift giving on my mind, I’ve gathered together a selection of sewing inspiration to give you an extra boost as you fill all the items on your Christmas gift list.

sewing-podcast-thread-theory

Let’s start with this year’s gift ideas!  Usually I do a blog post about my ideas (see last year’s and one from a couple of years ago) but this year I was invited to chat with Rachel on the Canadian podcast MakerStyle.  We talked about my top five gifts to sew for men.  Be sure to check it out – there are a couple of ideas that wouldn’t take too long to assemble so you still have time to get into the DIY gift giving spirit!

And here is some more gift inspiration for you from the Thread Theory community!  Do you see anything your husband, boyfriend, brother, son, or friend would love for Christmas?

fairfield-buttonup

These two gorgeous wintery blue Fairfield Button-ups would look great worn to Christmas dinner!  On the left is a Fairfield sewn by the proprietress of the German fabric shop, Brinarina.  You can find more photos of her Fairfield on Instagram.  The close up shot of the Fairfield on the right is from Anna who just shared this beautiful photo on her Instagram account (@grosgary).

comox-trunks

Comox Trunks make such a fun stocking stuffer…plus they are very quick to sew and are a great way to recycle t-shirts or use up fabric scraps!  I love the whimsical fabric that @adlesim used for the pair on the left.  If you don’t end up having time to sew the trunks, no need to worry! You could take a leaf out of Jenny’s book and wrap them up as an appealing kit…maybe along with the offer to teach your recipient to sew?  Jenny sells these bright kits and finished trunks in her glorious sewing shop, the Makehouse (in Victoria, B.C.).

finlayson-sweater

The Finlayson Sweater is always the first pattern that I recommend for gift giving.  It is pretty safe to just guess a size with this boxy design!  I absolutely adore the lengthened version that Jessica made at Handcraft Workshop.  On the right is an incredibly cozy looking quilted Finlayson made by @mllechouchou.

newcastle-cardigan

The photo on the right was emailed to me by Matthew recently – he turned the Newcastle Cardigan into a classy jacket featuring herringbone cotton, bemberg lining and a lapped zipper!

And, to wrap up our show and tell, on the above left is a photo by @kristieinbc featuring her Thread Theory purchase beside a pretty basket of wintery pinecones.  This is how I like to wrap up your orders – they are sent as brown paper packages tied up in string!

The last thing I want to share today isn’t a menswear gift idea but, is instead, a heartwarming tale about a man learning to sew!  Every time I hear such a story, I feel inspired to continue with Thread Theory’s emphasis of sewing menswear.

practically-awesome

Christopher recently emailed me to share a link to a blog post detailing his new passion for sewing.  I HIGHLY recommend giving it a read…especially if you would like to find out how he wound up with such a gorgeous vintage Elna!


 

I really enjoy rounding up my favourites from the Thread Theory sewing community but I’m sure there are many other inspiring projects and stories out there that I’ve missed!  I have received a few requests lately to create a Facebook group for Thread Theory patterns.  I am relatively clueless when it comes to using Facebook but it seems as though this is a pretty easy and also common way to create a sewing themed discussion group or forum.  The purpose of the group would be to share your finished projects and to discuss ideas for our patterns amongst yourselves (topics could include fabric selection, modifications and questions about tricky sewing steps for instance).  Does this sound like something that would be useful to you?  From your experience, do you think Facebook is the best platform for this kind of community?  Or would you suggest a different sort of forum or community board?  I would love your input!