Thread Theory

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


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The Landgate Jacket (Unisex Pattern)

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It’s chilly and the rain is pouring down this morning.  Time for pumpkins, hooded jackets and mushroom hunting!  Nicole (my sewing friend and proprietress of The Spool Sewing Studio) created this rain jacket with Fall weather in mind.  She used The Landgate pattern by Merchant & Mills and our burnt orange cotton canvas that we include in our Bag Making Kits.

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Since I took these photos she has been working away at waxing this jacket with Otterwax in hopes of waterproofing the garment and creating the gorgeous patina that resulted when I waxed my Mom’s bag.  Of course, a jacket is a lot more work to wax than a bag so she hasn’t quite finished it yet.  She reports that she is struggling to work the wax into the fabric.  I remember, when I first finished my Mom’s bag it looked chalky, as though the wax had hardened on the surface.  I put the bag in the dryer with an old towel and was pleased with how the wax soaked in.  Nicole tried this without being satisfied with the results so we have some more experimenting to do!  Sometimes I think the best way to create a nice patina on waxed fabric is just to use the garment or bag for a while…kind of in the same way you would wear in new shoes or denim.  I will try to update you when we’ve finished the waxing process (I think I will step in and help her out since she so kindly modelled the Landgate for me!).

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Now, let’s talk more about this awesome pattern!  It is a unisex design but I’ve only seen it on women in person (but Google “Landgate Pattern” to see some amazing menswear versions!).  I shall have to get Matt to try on Nicole’s Landgate once it is fully waxed.landgate-jacket-pattern-9

This pattern features a gorgeous yoke detail paired with raglan sleeves and a deep hood which includes a tall, built in collar.

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The hood features draw strings.  The partial zip at centre front includes an insert to protect the chin and neck from the wind (and from the zipper!).  These details work together to provide ultimate protection from stormy weather. With the draw strings pulled tight and the neck zip done up you could walk into driving rain with only your eyes exposed!

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The sleeves are quite long and wide and the body is boxy which makes the jacket an excellent shell.  There is a lot of room to layer a heavy wool sweater underneath.  Nicole made a size Medium I believe – correct me if I am wrong, Nicole! – to ensure an extra roomy fit.  She also wanted to make sure there was enough length for full bum coverage when biking.

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Even though the jacket is boxy, it doesn’t need to look like a sack.  The waist drawstring can be cinched as tight as you would like.  I think it would be best kept loose or only slightly cinched if worn by a man but it looks quite flattering cinched on a woman!

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The pockets are probably my favourite detail on this jacket. There are sneaky side pockets which are set forward from the side seam.  Side seam pockets can be a tad uncomfortable to use since they are set so far back.  These are far better!  On top of these pockets are very roomy patch pockets with flaps.  I like the two pocket options because your wallet and phone can be protected in the patch pockets leaving lots of room for your hands in the other pockets.landgate-jacket-pattern-13

The Landgate is unlined as you can see in the photo below.

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Nicole did a lovely job of finishing all of the seams with her serger.  Just because a garment is unlined doesn’t mean it will  be ugly on the inside!  Check out her beautiful batik pocket linings.  The print reminds me of onions!😀

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You did an excellent job sewing up this pattern, Nicole!  I hope your next version goes just as well (yes…she already has another one on her list of sewing project ideas!).

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You can find the Landgate pattern in our shop >


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The Perfect Menswear Sewing Pattern for Beginners

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I sewed my dad a t-shirt made from woven fabric!  He was a bit skeptical of the idea at first but once he tried it on and got used to the feeling of cool, light hemp and no stretch, he realised it was very comfortable.

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The pattern is designed by Merchant & Mills and is called The Tee.  It is available in our shop!

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The fabric is a hemp and organic cotton blend from the summer collection (also in our shop).  It is the only colorway remaining from the three colors that I used to have in stock.  I must say, I was surprised that this one didn’t sell out first (the pale blue was the most popular) since this charcoal grey is such a versatile color!

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I find the idea of a woven tee to be very appealing because I receive many emails from beginner sewers who are looking for an easy menswear project.  A woven tee combines two elements that make it the perfect candidate for a beginner sewer: 1. It contains only four pattern pieces and 2. You can sew it up in a very stable fabric that does not stretch as you work with it.

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Of course, because this pattern is designed for woven fabrics, it features a fairly roomy, loose fit.  The actual shape of the t-shirt is somewhat boxy (especially compared to our Strathcona Tee which includes curved side seams).  I like that The Tee fits as closely as possible though – for instance, the shoulder seams end at the shoulder bone as you can see in the photo below.  They are not ‘dropped’ shoulders as is often the case in loose, baggy t-shirts – these can easily look sloppy.  I think this nicely fitted sleeve cap gives the shirt a vintage vibe and an overall polished appearance.  The close fitting crew neck also adds to the vintage feel of this garment.  It is the only part of the t-shirt made in a knit (a ribbing in fact).  The instructions for applying the ribbing are excellent (the best I’ve come across in a t-shirt pattern) so, even though this could be a tricky step for a beginner sewer, you will be guided through it thoroughly.

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As you can see in the next photo, the width across the shoulder blades is the perfect amount to allow for a full range of (mostly) unrestricted movement.  My dad commented that the sleeves felt a bit snug when he extended his arms in front of him but we both agreed that my Mom’s work blazers (for instance) are far more restricting.  He is just very used to a t-shirt stretching to suit any movement.

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If I were to sew this t-shirt for my dad again I would likely lengthen the hem by 1″ to 2″ since it is currently a touch too short to tuck in without it pulling out of his waistband when he moves.  I would also play around with the fit at the waist and hips since my dad has a broad shoulder width and a narrow waist and hip circumference.  I would likely taper the side seams from the armpit to the hem by 1″ on each seam.  While this would be a proportionate adjustment for my Dad, I think many men would suit the straight side seams very well.  In fact, my Dad mentioned that he thought the combo of woven fabric and straight side seams would be very comfortable and flattering if he had a beer belly to hide.

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My Dad just got home from an almost 3 month long sailing journey to Hawaii and back!  He lost quite a bit of weight in this time period (since the crew mostly survived on lentil soup and a horrifying lack of cookies).  I sewed the shirt using measurements I took before he left and thus did not account for his slim waist.  I might still take the side seams in if I can borrow the shirt from him in the future!

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My dad’s new dashboard decor for his Ford F-100 ’53 (his only souvenir from Hawaii!).

Thanks, as always, for being such a cooperative model Dad!


Let’s finish off this post with a quick update on how the wedding dress turned out!  I blogged some progress photos a few weeks ago and wrote about how enjoyable the sewing process had been (and how nervous I was for the final fitting!).  Needless to say, the final fitting went so smoothly.  I hardly had to make any changes!

Mika looked absolutely stunning and the wedding was very romantic.  It was in the couple’s home and was wonderfully casual (as you can tell by the groom’s attire).  I felt very proud to see Mika excitedly try on the dress and comfortably wear it the entire evening.  Thanks for such a wonderful opportunity, Mika!  (The photos above were taken by Bayoush Mengesha.)  Congratulations Mika and Mitch!


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Layer up for Fall: Meet the new fabric collection!

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Are you ready to layer up against the chill of Fall?  We are!  I’ve freshly stocked our shop with another mini-collection of fabrics.  The summer collection was a big hit with many of you.  We sold out of a few of the Hemp/Organic cottons quickly, re-ordered, and then promptly sold out again!  Sorry to those of you who tried to order some for yourself when we were already out of stock (we still have the grey plain and striped versions though!).  I hope to bring in the same fabrics next Summer if they are still available.fall-menswear-fabrics-4-of-16

While the Summer collection was all about breezy shirting options, our Fall collection has been designed for cozy layering.  Whether you hope to create a comfortable base layer or high-tech outerwear, this collection has you covered.  Let me introduce these possibilities to you:
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Your Base Layer Options:

As an enthusiastic skier (we live in the same town as a world class ski hill!), I appreciate the comfort of Merino wool as a base layer.  We have stocked ultrafine 100% Merino in two gorgeous colors: Moroccan Blue
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…and Heathered Charcoal.fall-menswear-fabrics-22-of-12

This luxurious fabric is ideal for Comox Trunks (you could lengthen the legs to make long johns as many customers have successfully done!) or a Strathcona Tee (either long sleeve or short sleeve).  Merino wool wicks away moisture to keep your skin dry and comfortable when you are sweating.  It allows you to stay warm in cold environments and cool in warm environments.  It is the perfect choice for hiking and skiing.

Your Second Layer:

Depending on your lifestyle and sewing plans, you might like to wear your Merino base layer underneath something sporty or something dressy.  I included both options in the Fall Collection!  Layer up with more Merino by sewing a light but very cozy long sleeve top or sweater out of the Merino blend double knit.
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This thicker fabric is also available in Moroccan Blue or Heathered Charcoal so that you can mix and match with it’s lighter 100% Merino counterpart.  This fabric is light enough to be worn as a long sleeve Strathcona Henley but could also be sewn into a thin yet cozy Finlayson Sweater.  The black poly-blend backing is extremely silky and soft so it will be comfortable against the skin and will not cling or catch if you are wearing a base layer (I hate when two layers of fabric cling together and make me feel claustrophobic!).
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If you want to sew a dressier Fall piece, you might like to take a look at the Buffalo Check Shirting that I added to this collection.  It is the same delicious 100% brushed cotton that we have carried in our shop in red and black.  The red and black is no longer available from my supplier (it sold out quickly at the warehouse but we still have a few meters available in our shop!) and I suspect I will not be able to re-order these versions either.   We’ve stocked classic black and white

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…and blue and white.

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I’m pleased I managed to snag them for the Fall collection because I am loving how this fabric washes – it looks like new even after it has been washed aggressively which makes it a perfect fabric to create a Fall workshirt that you wear over everything.  It would be a nice Fairfield Button-up or maybe a Hot Patterns Workshirt.

Your Outer Layer:

I’m really excited about this last section!  I’ve included something called Dintex in our Fall collection.  This is a waterproof and windproof fabric (which is awesome) but, even better, it is also a breathable fabric.  When it is sewn into a jacket it will protect you from the elements and will not cause you to sweat!  Being from Vancouver Island, where hiking and ski jackets are our every day outerwear, I was thrilled when I found this high tech fabric!  My mind immediately conjured up all sorts of home sewn variations of incredibly expensive store bought active wear…and, crazily enough, this fabric is actually quite affordably priced!
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I’ve stocked it in a classic navy, a sedate charcoal grey, and a fun, full-on-Fall pumpkin orange.  Matt has requested a Hot Patterns Windcheater in the pumpkin color-way!

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Dintex fabric is comprised of three layers: A poly/spandex right side (it has a bit of stretch!), a 100% poly mesh wrong side (which doesn’t need a lining), and a polyurethane middle layer (which is the high tech waterproof and breathable part).
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I can’t wait to get sewing with these fabrics!  As always, please don’t be shy: Email me at info@threadtheory.ca or leave comments if you have any fabric requests for future seasonal collections!  I decided to stock the merino fabrics based on a comment left on a past blog post (thanks for the great idea, Marion!).

Happy Fall sewing, hiking, and leaf kicking!  Check out all the fabrics in our shop >

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5 Reasons to Repair Your Garment Instead of Replacing It

 

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We now stock locally crafted lathe turned darning mushrooms, mini pin cushions and acorn pendants in our shop!

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You will probably recognize that these are the work of skilled sewing tool craftsman, Wray Parsons, who lives an hour south of us in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island.  We have devotedly stocked quite a few of his other sewing tools for the last couple of years.

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As someone who hopes to create garments that will last indefinitely, I am especially excited to add Wray’s darning mushrooms to our shop.  Aside from the way they align with my values (more on that momentarily), I think these mushrooms are incredibly beautiful!  They are turned from Yew wood that features the most intricate of swirled patterns.

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Wray crafts them with a needle case hidden inside the mushroom stem and a flat base so that the mushrooms can sit on your shelf as they would on a forest floor.

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A darning mushroom is a traditional tool that allows you to maintain even tension while mending a hole in a knit garment (such as a sock).  Even if you don’t yet know how to darn, you can use this mushroom as a needle case and a friendly reminder of a skill that you would like to learn one day!

To get you started, you might like to check out these tutorials on darning:

Darning Tutorial (Wool and Chocolate)

Make Do and Mend (Colette Patterns)

How -To: Darning (Zero Waste Home)

In honor of this new addition to our shop, I have a guest blog post to share with you today!

I imagine most of us who sew agree, it is well worth repairing your lovingly sewn garments rather than tossing them to make new ones.  I was recently chatting with Wesley, the founder of iManscape.com about what sewing means to him (as a person who, as far as I know, does not engage in sewing as a pastime/passion/hobby).  Wesley is a devoted menswear and self care enthusiast.  He quickly brought up the practice of mending his wardrobe and offered to write an article for my blog explaining why everyone interested in menswear should possess the skills and mindset to mend.

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Without further ado, here is Wesley to tell you why menswear should be mended:


 

Wear and tear can take their toll on even the most resilient garments. Despite your best efforts and care, your clothes will fray and rip from time to time. When this happens, the obvious step is to throw it out and buy a new piece of clothing. But what if there were another option?

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Learning to repair your own clothing is a valuable skill that used to be commonplace in society. While it may be time consuming the practice has a variety of benefits:

  1. Cost Effective: Depending on the type of repairs it will almost always be less expensive to repair an old garment than to purchase a brand new one.
  2. Prolong the Life of Your Favorite Clothing: Minor rips, tears, and frays that do not render the garment useless are common. Like a chip in a windshield, however, it will continue to spread. Learning how to make minor repairs now, and larger repairs later, will extend the life of that favorite shirt or pair of socks.
  3. Learn a Valuable Skill: Learning how to repair your clothing is a worthwhile talent to develop. Learning basic sewing and mending techniques will also allow you to make alterations to your existing clothes as well.
  4. A Worthy Return On Investment: Purchasing an article of clothing is an investment in time, fashion, and appearance. Whether your clothes rip or fray within one week of ownership or one year, accidents happen. Learning how to repair and extend the life of that garment helps maintain a positive return on the investment of your purchase.
  5. Stay Trendy: If the history of fashion has taught us anything it’s that everything is cyclical. Prolonging the life of your garments helps ensure they’ll last until the next time they come into fashion.

Tools of the Trade

There are a variety of tools to consider, each with specific uses. When starting out, you needn’t have all of them, however some common tools  you may want to consider are:

  • Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
  • Seam Ripper
  • Thimble
  • Needles and Tread
  • Darning Tools, i.e. mushroom, egg

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Those Darn Darns

Darning is a method used to repair holes and worn areas in fabric. One of the more recognizable tools is the darning mushroom. Darning mushrooms are commonly used to repair socks, stockings, or leggings. The tool is noted for its mushroom-shaped head which the sock is stretched over. The affected area is held tight and is therefore spread out and more easy to work with.

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When first learning how to mend clothing, socks and other footwear are a great place to start. This way if you mess up, you can always cover it with your shoe! If you choose to go this route, a darning mushroom is an essential tool of the trade.

Speaking of Trends

The practice of repairing one’s own clothing has experienced a resurgence in recent times. There may be a learning curve involved, but given a little practice and guidance you can be mending your threads in no time.

Author Bio: Wesley is the owner of iManscape.com. A place of manly things such as the best safety razors, beards, and of course manscaping. To see more from Wesley visit iManscape or like them on Facebook.


 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on mending, Wesley!  It is interesting to hear the perspective of someone who doesn’t spend their days sewing and blogging about sewing (a surprisingly rare sort of person in my life!).  I am happy to hear that clothing and the work that went into constructing the fabric, design, and the clothes themselves is valued by someone who hasn’t actually performed the task themselves.

As someone who sews, do you feel inclined to mend garments?  I must admit that, while I am quick to mend clothing and linens that I have sewn, I am prone to letting store bought clothing wear out.  I think I should reconsider this as I will likely always have a few store bought pieces in my wardrobe.

Check out the darning mushrooms in our shop >


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Nautical Breton Shirts

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Here are the Breton tops that I promised to show you!  They were sewn using the Hot Patterns Weekender Breton T pattern that we added to our shop on Tuesday.

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The pattern includes two sets of pieces – one in women’s sizes and one in men’s sizes.  I sewed both of these in a size Medium from each size range.    The women’s version features shaping at the neckline and 3/4 sleeves (I lengthened the sleeves to be full length).  The men’s version is a straight, boxy fit.  Both of the patterns include the slightly scooped classic Breton neckline.

I sewed the men’s top using our Canadian made interlock fabric and the women’s top using a rayon knit with considerable drape that I found at my local fabric shop.  I am always on the look out for navy and white stripes but have yet to find a Breton Stripe (or any stripe) that is nice for menswear.  They all seem to include spandex or too much drape.  If I ever do, I will certainly add it to the fabrics that we carry in our shop!

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I really like how this neckline sews together on this pattern!  Self binding is sewn to the front neckline first.  Next, the front and back of the shirt, along with a long strip of self binding, are sandwiched together so that the shoulder seams and binding is attached in one go!  After the seam is sewn, the binding folds over the shoulder seam allowances and back neckline seam allowance to create a very tidy interior and clean exterior.  I haven’t tried this type of neckline finish before but am now a big fan!  I didn’t get any photos of the inside of the shirt because I gave them to my models (Matt’s brother and his wife).  Darn!

The instructions include an error in the order that you must sandwich the layers together but I have included a note within each pattern to explain how I think you should sew it!  Here is the note that I include:

Weekender Breton Tee - Revised instructions

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This was Mike and Sonia’s first foray into modelling (I didn’t really give them an option!).  They are avid sailors and just got home from sailing to Hawaii in the Vic-Maui race!  When I saw this very nautical pattern I thought of them.  I considered sewing these tops as a wedding gift for them (they got married just before they left on their sailing trip) but thought that a wedding gift that comes with strings attached (an unpaid modelling gig) isn’t much of a gift.😛  They seemed to enjoy hamming it up for a few minutes though:

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These were an extremely quick sew.  The dropped shoulder and very gently curved sleeve cap make sewing the sleeves extremely simple and fast.  Each pattern includes only three pattern pieces plus binding.  They made for an excellent summer project (fast enough to sew up in an hour or two so you can wear them that day at the beach or on the boat!).

For more info on this pattern, check out the description on our website!

 


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An expanded pattern collection

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We now carry menswear sewing patterns from other indie designers!  While I continue to work on future pattern releases I thought you might like an introduction to some other designs.  As a result, we now have 20 menswear patterns for you to choose from in our shop!

Merchant & Mills, Colette Patterns and Hot Patterns are all indie pattern companies who focus on women’s garments but have a strong selection of menswear too.  Their men’s patterns each offer something different from what we are already designing in the Thread Theory studio.  Here are the reasons I’ve added them to our shop:

Merchant & Mills

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I love the utilitarian aesthetic achieved by this British haberdashery!  We already stock many of their sewing tools and notions.  Their menswear pattern designs were a no-brainer to add to our shop.  The fit and style is very different from our slim fit with an athletic/youthful focus.  These easy fittings designs are boxy and relaxed – suited to the stockier figure more typical of middle age or older gentlemen.  Their sleeves allow for muscular arms and their shirt hem length is on the shorter side as commonly found in vintage menswear – both these features add to the classic work wear aesthetic of this collection.  Think 1950s American work wear!

My favorite style from this collections is The Tee – this is the ideal project for beginner sewists who prefer to start with a menswear garment.  What makes it so easy to sew?  This tee is sewn in a woven fabric!

While Merchant & Mills patterns might be very familiar to you already, I am thrilled to have these as the new guys in our shop – Canadian sewists can now enjoy these patterns without the worry of duty or costly shipping charges!

Colette Patterns

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When Colette Patterns released the Walden Collection some time ago I was excited to see menswear becoming a focus for more indie pattern companies!  This mini collection of three patterns all feature a great west coast aesthetic that I admire.

While this collection is marketed towards men/male sewers, two of the three patterns are actually unisex.  This makes them a great investment if you are a female sewist hoping to sew for herself and for a male or two!

I have the Cooper Bag on my ‘To Sew’ list because I would love a pair of oilcloth panniers for my bicycle.

I am pleased to have these menswear items in our shop because none of the designs come close to overlapping with our own patterns while they still closely match the style we like so much.  You might pause to think – but doesn’t the Negroni Shirt compete with the Fairfield Button-up?  Nope!  When I designed the Fairfield I purposely selected design features that differed from those included on the Negroni.  Can you count how many differences there are?

 

Hot Patterns

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This indie pattern company has been around for many years (since well before the ‘indie pattern boom’) and offers a staggering range of women’s designs.  I had run across mention of their women’s patterns many times in the blogosphere but one day, about a year ago, somehow finally discovered that they design menswear patterns too!

I’ve selected my four favorites to add to our shop.  All of these garments are drafted for a very different fit model than ours – one that you have, time and time again, asked us to pattern draft for!  We intend to maintain our focus on athletic figures, but, you’re not out of luck: These ‘Mr. HP’ patterns, much like the Merchant & Mills designs, are designed for average to stocky figures who prefer to dress loosely and conservatively.  While I might choose Thread Theory patterns when sewing for Matt, I would be inclined to choose a Hot Patterns top to better suit my Dad or Granddad.  The styles are very classic and appealing though so you might like to tweak the fit for all manner of body types!

I am torn between two favorite designs from this collection – the Workshirt (check out those hem gussets and the extended collar tab!) and the Hemmingway Windcheater.  Back when I first discussed my plans for an Alpine Collection, I included a photo of an oilcloth jacket very similar in design to this pattern.  Well, I’m glad I found Hot Patterns before embarking on this garment design, as this Windcheater fits the bill perfectly!  (Don’t worry I still have many patterns planned to add to the Alpine Collection over the coming years).

I have plans to sew a couple of these jackets (dream big!) – one in high tech waterproof and windproof material and light weight hardware for hiking and one in tin cloth and brass hardware in that classic style that we all love so much.

Menswear Patterns

I hope these patterns inspire you to sew more menswear too!  Find them all in the pattern section of our shop.


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Something new on Monday!

I spent Monday writing item descriptions for our website, we did a photo shoot on Wednesday and I wrote a draft for the newsletter yesterday…you know what that means: A collection of something new and exciting will be added to the shop next week (on Tuesday)!

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This photo may be an obvious hint to some.  Recognize anything?

I will send out a newsletter on Tuesday morning featuring a special sale code for the new items.  If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter yet, you still have time!