Thread Theory

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


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Spotlight on the humble tape measure

merchant_mills_tape_measure

While reading the much anticipated first issue of Simply Sewing recently (have you heard of this new magazine?), I came across a little note within an article on essential sewing tools.  The note mentions that it is worth spending a little extra on a good quality flexible tape measure so that it will not stretch out easily and render your measurements inaccurate.

This note reminded me of my orientation day when I began sewing for an interior designer a few years ago.  The very skilled and knowledgable seamstress that I was working with told me to handle our tape measures very carefully and to drape them softly over their hook on the wall each time I put them away.  This careful handling would prevent them from stretching out – something that is very important to someone who is sewing precise roman shades!  When she told me this I nodded quietly while guiltily visualizing my tightly rolled tape measure within it’s plastic case in my sewing box at home!  When I got home I inspected my tape measure closely – it was a cheap plastic blue one (rather than coated fabric or strong, reinforced plastic) and, after several years of use it featured visible stretch marks along it’s entire length!  Needless to say, when I compared it’s measurement markings to my metal pattern drafting rulers, they were quite off!

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Ever since this experience I have been much more careful with handling my tape measures and have now switched to using coated cloth measures that are far less prone to stretching.

merchant and mills boxed

Aside from resistance to stretch, there are a couple other features I like my tape measures to include.  I prefer to use tape measures with very clear and simple markings – I find it annoying when inches and centimeters are crammed onto one side of the measure – the Merchant & Mills tape measures that we carry in our shop are particularly simple and clear to read since one side is black and one side is white making it very easy to refer to your desired unit of measurement instantly.  Lastly, I like to use tape measures that feature no blank space at the beginning or end of the measure.  I prefer tape measures to start at “0” exactly where the metal tip begins and to include measurements right up to the other metal tip.

 merchant and mills unboxed

While I only own basic tape measures, I have seen some really useful specialized ones when working with other sewists at pattern drafting workshops and school that I would like to add to my tool box.  For instance, I have noticed drapery weighted tapes are a common tool within many seamstress’s sewing boxes.  They drape the chain over the body to measure various rounded areas (for instance, the front shoulder to waist measurement that extends over the bust).  They pinch the chain at either end point and then remove the chain to a flat surface where they measure its length.

Have you tried working with circumference tapes that feature a slider and locking button to measure the circumference of various areas of the body?  Or, have you attached an adhesive tape measure to your sewing table?  Or are you a fan of working with quilting rulers while garment sewing?

I’d love to hear your measuring tips and tricks!

If you are feeling the need to update your measuring tools like I am, our Merchant & Mills measuring tape is currently 25% off this weekend!


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Tutorial: Easy ways to create a roomier trouser crotch

Let’s say you have just sewn up a muslin of the Jedediah Pants or Jutland Pants pattern (or any other trouser pattern) and notice strain lines radiating from the fly of the trouser when you try the muslin on.  The trousers seem to pull and bind between the legs and are generally tight feeling and restricting across the stomach and upper thighs.  Don’t worry, this fit issue can be overcome!  Here is how:

With the muslin still on the wearer, cut a horizontal line through the center front of the crotch.  The fabric will release the tension and you will be left with a smile shaped gap.  Measure the widest point on this gap – this is the total amount you will need to add to the crotch seam so that there will no longer be strain lines.

muslin

There are two common pattern alterations that you can try to add this measurement to the crotch seam.  The first common and quick fix to try is to simply lengthen the crotch depth by slashing across the pants front at the hip and adding the appropriate amount of length.  This simple pattern alteration maintains the shape of the crotch curve but just makes it a little longer.

lengthening crotch depth

If you try this pattern alteration and it does not seem to work for you (for instance, your new muslin now looks like you are wearing drop crotch pants!), this is likely because the fit problem isn’t about the crotch depth being to short for you.  Instead, the problem is that the crotch circumference is too narrow and the seat seam curve does not suit the shape of your body.  This may be because your abdomen is slightly more rounded than the fit model’s shape or it could be due to roundness in the crotch caused by specifically male body parts!  Either way, you will need to perform a slightly more complicated alteration to your pants front pattern piece.

Here is how to add crotch circumference: 

1. Mark all the seamlines on your pants front pattern piece.  The seam allowance included within the Jedediah Pants and Jutland Pants patterns in 5/8″.  When performing alterations to a pattern piece you need to work from the seamline (where you will actually be sewing) rather than from the edge of the pattern piece so that you will retain the original shape of the pattern.

Mark seamlines

2.  Draw a horizontal line across the hips of the pant front pattern piece.  Slash along that line from the fly front to just before the side seamline – don’t cut all the way through the seamline and seam allowance because you will need to leave a little bit of paper here to act as a hinge.  Now cut into the seam allowance without removing that tiny paper hinge.

3. Draw a line from the inseam seamline at knee level up to the crotch seam.  Try to end your line somewhere before the fly extension curve.  Cut from the crotch seam down to the inseam at knee level and again leave a little hinge of paper at the seamline.  Cut into the seam allowance on a diagonal without removing that tiny paper hinge.

Slash lines

4. Spread the two slashes slightly so that the crotch seam extends to the left and the waistline swings upwards.  You will notice that the little clips you made into the seam allowance will allow the seam allowance to overlap as you spread the pattern.  When measuring along the seamline (not the edge of the pattern piece), the total size of your two gaps should equal the measurement that you found when you cut across your first muslin.

Spread

5. Secure your spread pattern piece in place by taping the pattern to a couple new sheets of tissue paper.  Smooth the curve along the crotch seamline and smooth the seam allowance to match.

 

6. Depending on the pattern you are using, you will likely need to adjust a number of other small pattern pieces to suit the changes you made.  These will likely include the pocket pieces and facings and the fly shield.  The easiest way to make these changes is to line up the paper pattern pieces underneath the pants front pattern and trace the new angles onto the pocket.  Lengthen the fly shield to match the new length of the fly facing.

Other pattern pieces

 

*** If you are experiencing lines radiating from center back across the bottom and the pants seat seems generally too tight and flat for the rounded shape of your body, the same alteration can be applied to the pants back.  Slash and spread along several points at center back – try to pick points along the seat seam where the seam seems to least match your body.


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Tips and Tricks: Sewing the Camas Blouse in Thicker Fabric

Meg (who’s blog is Made by Meg) has prepared her second guest blog post for us and it is filled with great tips!  If you are contemplating sewing the Camas Blouse in a thicker knit, this post will be a great chance for you to study up on useful techniques:
Meg Camas Blouse

Hello there, Meg here! We have gotten some questions since the release of the Camas Blouse about whether it can be sewn up in a thicker fabric. I’m a chronic rule-breaker, so my answer is, Of course! Thicker fabrics can be easier to sew, are warmer for those of you still stuck in winter, and give the blouse a whole new look. To demonstrate, I’ve sewn up my blouse in a medium-weight black ponte. Here is what I learned about sewing the Camas with thicker fabric.

Pleats

Pleats: The first thing I did was convert the gathering at the front and back to pleats. Gathering can look bunchy and bulky in thick fabric, so pleats hang much better on this blouse. For my version, I did two pleats on each side of the front and four in the center back.

Back

Yoke: If your fabric is particularly thick and stable, I would consider replacing the double layered yoke with a single layer. A more stable fabric is better able to support the weight of the garment, and reducing the yoke to a single layer will reduce bulk. This is especially true at the neckline, where you sew two layers of the neckband to the yoke, which could add up to four layers in total, plus seam allowances!

Neckband: To further reduce bulk along the neckband, I pressed the seams open instead of serging them together. This distributed the seam allowances on either side of the seam instead of to one side. To further eliminate excess fabric, you might also consider grading the seams so that one is shorter than the other.

Placket

Button Placket: I decided to create a faux opening for my shirt with buttons stitched closed through both layers. My knit was stable enough that I skipped the interfacing and simply sewed the buttons through the overlapping plackets to close the shirt. Because it’s a knit, it still slips on easily over my head without the need for functioning buttons. If you do plan on using real buttonholes, however, I would recommend a lightweight knit fusible interfacing to keep your buttonholes tidy.

Hem

Hems: While the pattern instructs you to turn the hems under twice and stitch down, on this version I only turned the hems under once. Knits do not ravel so the raw edges can be left unfinished, and only turning under the hem once reduced the bulk of the seam. To get a nice clean finish, I turned the hem up the recommended amount, stitched, and cut away the excess. Alternately, you could turn the hem under twice, press, and flatten the hem with a clapper or a wooden kitchen utensil to really press the seam.

 

Have you made one up in thicker fabric? Show us and tell us what tricks you used!


 

PIc ThumbnailHi I’m Meg! Making clothes is my creative outlet, and I started sewing and knitting in school when I realized I couldn’t wear a thesis or embellish my reports. Along the way, my sewing adventures have led me to knit scarves in the Peruvian Andes and refashion traditional dresses in Mexico City. I love to make things up as I go, mixing patterns and making changes on the fly. Professionally, I’m a researcher who loves presenting data visually in formats that are easy to understand. I hope you’ll follow along as I present inspiration and tutorials from Thread Theory patterns! You can also find me at megmadethis.blogspot.com.


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Plans for our new studio!

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We have big changes coming up this Summer both personally and professionally as Matt and I will be moving – and, by default, our in-home Thread Theory studio will also be changing locations!  We’ve been in a small duplex rancher for the last year and a half and, what with our many boxes of Thread Theory patterns and our recent acquisition of a large, rambunctious dog, we have become pretty cramped!  Fortunately, we recently stumbled upon the most amazing long term house sitting opportunity.  So this summer we’ll be moving into what Matt and I consider to be our dream house.  It’s a 2500 sq ft home on 2 acres.  The house overlooks some beautiful farmland and mountains and the owners have lovingly renovated it to take full advantage of the view.  The entire house is completely filled with bright, open light and just walking into it I feel inspired to live life to the fullest!  It’s going to be VERY difficult to move out when the owners arrive home from their travels!

While I’m obviously really excited to move for personal reasons, I am also looking forward to creating a more workable and inspiring space for Thread Theory.  I don’t often show photos of the current Thread Theory studio on the blog because it isn’t the light, airy, brick walled space that so many other sewing professionals seem to occupy (sigh…so envious of Tilly’s studio and the Colette Patterns studio!).  But, in the interest of full disclosure and accurate ‘before & after’ photos, here is what we are currently working with as of today:

The current Thread Theory studio includes a computer station created in a re-purposed dining room/entry hall…

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A bedroom stuffed with my sewing machines, cutting table and fabric…

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A corner of Matt’s ‘shop’ (a tiny spare bedroom) filled with packaging materials…

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…and a hallway of shelved closets with the doors removed as our pattern storage and Thread Theory ‘store’.

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While the spaces themselves aren’t ideal, I love some of the elements within our current Thread Theory studio – I would just prefer these elements to be arranged in a more open concept and spacious manner.

Here are a few things I love and plan to transition to the new space:

I really enjoy working on my pinning and cutting table (view the tutorial to create this padded table top here)…

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I love my industrial sewing machine…

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…and our standing desk has done wonders for my back and my ability to focus.

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In the new space I hope to add a few new features:

Fabric Bolt Storage and Packaging Station

I hope to switch from this:

To something like this:

Sources: 1234

Lighting – Natural and Artificial

Pendant lights would be lovely above the standing desk and my cutting table.  And I hope to position the studio furniture to take full advantage of the amazing natural light throughout the house!

Sources: 12

Organization – Shipping Station, Seating, Office Supplies

This will be a dramatic change.  We’ll get rid of this chaos:

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And we will try to incorporate some practical elements such as shelving topped by work tables, seating that takes up very little space (my current sewing chair is way too massive), and movable organization carts.

Sources: 123

In case you are also planning to re-organize or upgrade your sewing room, here are a few more really inspiring links to check out!

 

 

 


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New: Large Otter Wax! (Plus an examination of Matt’s waxed Jutlands two months later)

Otter-Wax-New-12 Blog  The Otter Wax bars that we carry in the ‘Supplies‘ section of our shop are constantly on the verge of selling out – so, with our most recent order from Portland, Oregon, we decided to branch out and add a new Otter Wax bar to our inventory!  We now stock both the regular size of Otter Wax and the new-to-us large Otter Wax bar.

Otter-Wax-New-13 Blog If you are interested in waxing large projects such as a pair of Ginger Jeans or a Cascade Duffle Coat, the large Otter Wax bar, weighing in at 5 oz, is the bar for you!  To give you an indication of how much you can wax with this new, larger bar, I have thoroughly waxed a pair of Jutland Pants for Matt using two regular Otter Wax bars (and had a little nugget of wax left over ready for touch ups).  Since the large Otter Wax bar weighs just over double the regular bar, you should easily be able to wax a pair of jeans with a single bar!  If you are planning to wax a smaller project (shoes, for instance), the regular size bar will still be your best choice – you will be able to wax two to three pairs of shoes with a single regular bar.

Otter-Wax-New-11 Blog

 


 

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In case you have been wondering, here is a bit of an update on how Matt’s Otter Waxed Jutland Pants (originally posted here) are faring.  With all the early Spring rains we’ve been having lately, Matt has been getting a lot of wear out of them.  Despite walking our dog, Luki, through many mud puddles, splitting wood, going on a number of hikes, and generally wearing the Jutlands like a second skin, Matt’s pants still look like new.

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The dirt that he invariably covers them with on each outing brushes off on it’s own.  Apparently a quick once-over with a stiff bristled brush will remove any stubborn mud from Otter Waxed fabric but, as of yet, we have not needed to do this as the mud sloughs off on its own.  The way it self cleans like this kind of reminds me of a dog’s coat – as the mud dries the fur switches from a muddy/sandy mess to a nice clean coat – though I couldn’t say the same for the floor around the dog!  Because we haven’t needed to hand wash the pants yet, there has been no need to touch them up with a light coat of wax.  I imagine, over time, it might be a good idea to re-coat the hems and possibly the fly area as these are the sections of the pants that receive the most wear.

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Matt finds his waxed pants very comfortable to wear because they are heavier and warmer than nylon rain pants and, of course, don’t make an annoying swishing sound as he walks (as rain pants are prone to do).  They also dress up nicely and he has received compliments on his ‘trendy’ and ‘stylish’ waxed pants in more posh atmospheres (which is pretty funny since I am used to thinking of them as his rugged work pants and chide him for refusing to dress up when going out for dinner!).  As he’s worn the pants, the wax has sunk further into the weave of the fabric and so they feel softer than they originally did when I waxed them just over two months ago.

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They don’t bead the water quite as much as they did when they were originally waxed but, like I said, the wax is still very effectively protecting the fabric and, despite the lack of beading, Matt reports that they keep him dry quite a bit longer than un-waxed canvas pants or jeans do when he is walking in the rain.

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This Spring I have plans to use Otter Wax on a number of new projects – some that involve sewing and some that feature existing clothing.  I’d like to wax a ball cap for my Dad and some Carhartt coveralls for Matt (they were pretty expensive so waxing them should help them last longer).  For myself, I plan to wax the black denim Ginger Jeans that I’ve had in progress for quite some time now!

In the meantime, here is a bit of waxing inspiration:

  • A thorough documentation of Otter Waxing a canvas computer bag.  Two coats of wax are applied – the first with a hair dryer so it sinks into the fabric, the second without heat so that it sits on the surface.  Water is applied after each coat as a ‘beading’ test.
  • A waxed canvas vest that beads water and looks pleasantly ‘worn in’.
  • Are you craving an outdoor adventure?  Here’s a pretty little video featuring an Otter Waxed hat and fly fishing in the rain.


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A Stretch Cotton Camas – with little anchor buttons!

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Let me introduce to you our newest model – my Mom! I can’t believe that this is my Mom’s first time modelling for Thread Theory!  My Dad is such an old hand at modelling now that we can whip off a photo shoot with him in mere minutes.  He casually cycles through a variety of poses without prompting as Matt snaps the shutter – just like a professional model!  Now, with our first women’s pattern up on our site, it’s my Mom’s time to shine!

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I recently sewed a nautical themed Camas Blouse for her in a lovely soft stretch cotton from Blackbird Fabrics.  The tiny anchor motif is very subtle and so the blouse has a professional pin stripe and polka dot appearance from a distance.  I completed the anchor theme by using gold and navy shank buttons decked out with small anchors.

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Since stretch cotton does not have the weight and drape best suited to this pattern, I decided to replace all the gathers with a series of pleats.  By ironing these pleats flat, I hoped they would encourage the fabric to sit smoothly against the body.  While I like how the two small front pleats worked out, I wish I had done an inverted box pleat for the back of the blouse.  Even with the help of ironing (which a trip to the marina completely eradicated!), my mom finds the back pleats billow a little too much so I think this blouse would look best tucked into trousers or a pencil skirt.

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I keep suggesting to my mom that the blouse would look really cute with a thin belt circled around the waist – maybe a skinny red belt for a pop of color?  As it is though (un-tucked and untamed), it makes a lovely semi-dressy top that pairs well with my mom’s blazers and cardigans for work.  I like how she wears it with the navy blue tank top underneath for modesty (the white cotton is a touch transparent).

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Have you considered sewing the Camas in a woven fabric?  I’ve been spotting quite a few woven versions, many with no spandex content at all, popping up on Instagram and blogs.  Here are a few to inspire you!

Sources: 1. El ropero de mi tia 2. Neues vom Sonnenfels 3. New Model Lamé


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7 Ways to Customize Pants Pockets for Men

In case you do not know her already, I’d like to introduce you to a talented seamstress and one of the very first supportive sewists that Matt and I digitally ‘met’ when we started our big Thread Theory adventure: Meg of the blog Made by Meg!  Meg has been a test sewer for us several times in the past and has sewn up many inspiring versions of our patterns.  Her blog has been one of my favorites for a number of years now.  Combine all of these elements and you can see how thrilled I am to tell you that Meg has written a guest post for our blog today and has plans to write many more in the future!

Now let me pass you over to her – enjoy the post!

PIc ThumbnailHi I’m Meg! Making clothes is my creative outlet, and I started sewing and knitting in school when I realized I couldn’t wear a thesis or embellish my reports. Along the way, my sewing adventures have led me to knit scarves in the Peruvian Andes and refashion traditional dresses in Mexico City. I love to make things up as I go, mixing patterns and making changes on the fly. Professionally, I’m a researcher who loves presenting data visually in formats that are easy to understand. I hope you’ll follow along as I present inspiration and tutorials from Thread Theory patterns! You can also find me at megmadethis.blogspot.com.

Customize Pants Pockets

In men’s clothing, the details are everything. While womenswear tends to plays with dramatic silhouettes and design elements, menswear is all about classic tailoring with special touches. On the Jedediah and Jutland pants, one place to add that special touch is the back pocket. Below is some inspiration for back pocket embroidery to suit a variety of styles.

1. Abstract

Abstract

Source: Diesel Jeans & Boots, Jeans & Leather

These pockets have a fun, modern look, and are easy to sew!

2. Topstitching

Topstitching

Source: Stronghold & Pronto Denim

Sometimes something as simple as a line of topstitching can create an interesting effect. These pockets play with the unique shape of the pocket and elements such as rivets.

3. Nature Inspired

Nature Inspired

Source: Prima Jeans & Two Random Words

For the outdoorsy guy, I love nature-inspired pockets, especially for a rugged pattern like the Jutland Pants. You can allude to nature with an organic shape like waves, or do what fellow blogger Sophie-Lee did and embroider a landscape.

4. Embroidered Shapes

Embroidered Shapes

Source: Vintage Sergio Valente & Japan X Lee

If you are handy with your sewing machine or have an embroidery function, shapes are really fun. Perfect for the playful guy!

5. Embellishments

Embellishments

Source: Phable Jeans & Vintage Jacket

These subtle embellishments prove once again how small details can enhance a design. On the left, scraps from the selvedge edge have been stitched down to the pocket. On the right, small pieces of leather decorate and strengthen the pocket.

6. Fabric

Fabric

Source: Apliiq Jeans & Pinterest

This technique can be either loud or subtle, depending on the fabrics you choose. While I love the flower look on these jeans, more conservative dressers might appreciate the subtle variation of a similarly-colored fabric with a bit of texture.

7. Special Touches (1)

Special Touches

Source: Pinterest & Kings of Indigo

Sometimes plain and simple pockets are the best. But even then you can have some fun with it. Initials in the corner are a simple way to go. Or, do what denim company Kings of Indigo does and embroider a design inside the pocket where only the wearer can see it.

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