Thread Theory

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


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Way too much lingerie!

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Last February, shortly before Valentine’s Day and not long after my blog post about my Spring wardrobe plans, I caught the lingerie sewing bug.  I knew it was bound to get me eventually seeing as it has made it’s way through the blogosphere several times now!  The bug was passed to me by Caroline of Blackbird Fabrics and Tasia of Sewaholic during a trip to visit them in the winter.  They were stocking up on gorgeous lingerie elastics and laces at a local fabric shop and suddenly my shopping list looked so dismally colorless and lacking in frills!  It wasn’t long before I was in the checkout lineup with a shopping basket of pale pinks and nudes of my own.

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Of course, Caroline’s gorgeous Watson Bra Kits, which she released not long after my Vancouver trip, did nothing to help matters – my mailbox soon contained three of these beauties and I spent quite a few late winter evenings sewing up lingerie.  It was so much fun!

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In case you haven’t already read elsewhere, the Watson Bra is really quick to sew, very easy to fit and quite comfortable to wear.  It’s certainly a different silhouette than I am used to but I’m pleased with how many shirts I find myself happily wearing it under.  It suits my Camas Blouses very nicely and is great under cozy sweaters.  I don’t find myself inclined to wear it with thin t-shirts or sports clothing because I prefer something with padding and more coverage in these instances.

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The findings in the Blackbird Fabrics kits really make the bra – the hook and eye closures are very plush and comfortable and the jewelry quality sliders and rings make the bra feel very high quality compared to the plastic ones I have on most of my RTW lingerie.  The quality of the elastics is far superior to anything I have available locally.  I’ve been very frustrated with underwear sewing in the past because after a couple delicate washes (no dryer) the elastic already starts to break down!

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It drives me nuts…especially since I have found that the very cheap La Senza underwear that I used to purchase included elastic and lace that lasted longer than the fabric itself!  So far, all of the Blackbird elastics show no sign of wear.  The stretch lace that I purchased while in Vancouver (the peach lace on the blue bra) is looking brand new as well.

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On the other hand, the black stretch lace and black elastic that I purchased locally already features fraying portions and exposed inner elastic fibres.  To be fair, I find myself wearing my grey bamboo mock up Watson more often than my other two sets because it is so stretchy and comfortable so this might be contributing to the wear.untitled-33

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The pretty burgundy and blue sets that I made using Caroline’s kits offer much more support than my bamboo knit version and a tiny bit less comfort (but this is all relative – they are more comfortable than any of my RTW underwire bras).  I also view them as my ‘fancy’ sets so I only wear them if I am putting them on under something a bit dressy.

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I really enjoyed adding to the fabrics included in the kits with additional fabric from my stash, lace, bows and even a lace garter belt (using some of the indestructible lace from one of my old pairs of RTW underwear).  Due to the additional trims and fabrics I added, I was left with quite a bit of the kit materials – enough to sew a couple more pairs of underwear if I included additional lace and accent fabrics once again.

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The patterns that I used for these sets are: The Watson Bra (all are the longline version), The Watson Underwear (included with the bra pattern), and the Ladyshorts (a free pattern by Cloth Habit).

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I’m taking a break from lingerie sewing for a while now but I’m really happy with how this mini sewing obsession led to a completely updated and fresh lingerie drawer to go with my spring outfits!  Now its back to nice sturdy denims and rugged canvases for me :).


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In the Wild: Switching Seasons

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With the seasons changing both in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, I think it’s the perfect time to show off some of the inspiring projects you have made with our two current top-selling patterns!  Since we launched our big inventory clear out sale earlier this week, the Strathcona Henley and the Goldstream Peacoat have been flying off the shelves faster than any other pattern.

The Strathcona Henley is a great option for Spring in the Northern hemisphere because it can be sewn into a breathable cotton tee to layer under sweaters or it can be made into a light Henley sweater to wear over its t-shirt variation.  Perfect for days that fluctuate between chilly rain showers and glorious sunshine!

1 & 2 The Monthly Stitch – Helen Cloke  | 3 Lily Sage & Co | 4 Wardrobe Ecology | 5 Le Papillon | 6 Wardrobe Histology

Right this moment is a great time for those of you in the Southern hemisphere to start on your winter Goldstream Peacoat.  There is still lots of time to perfect each tailoring step before you will need the cozy coat for the winter.  Sewing the Goldstream is a great way to challenge yourself a little if you have got stuck in a rut of sewing quick and easy projects.  Sometimes it is nice to slow down the pace and really enjoy the process of sewing!

1, 2 & 3 English Girl at Home | 4, 5 & 6 JoChapeau

Thank you for sharing your sewing projects with us!  And thank you for the overwhelming response to our inventory clear out sale – our shelves are starting to look much more manageable.  Many Parkland Wardrobe Builders, individual sewing patterns and all sorts of tools are currently winging their way around the world to your sewing tables!


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Inventory Clear Out Sale

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Matt and I are anticipating the arrival of three new paper sewing patterns on our doorstep this week – we can’t wait to hold the tissue versions of the Finlayson Sweater, Jutland Pants and Camas Blouse in our hands at last!  In the meantime though, I’ve been looking around at our cramped little house/studio and have been wondering where pallet after pallet of cardboard boxes are going to fit.

So, to help clear some shelf space, we’ve put the entire selection of tissue Parkland Collection patterns on sale at a VERY discounted rate – they are currently 35% off making the tissue patterns almost as cheap to buy as the print at home PDFs!

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The Parkland Collection tissue patterns will be on sale until we’ve cleared enough shelf space for our new shipment of patterns.  Thanks for helping with the Spring cleaning!


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The comfiest jeans ever!

GingerJeans-42 I made Ginger Jeans!  For years I have maintained that I’m not a ‘jeans person’ and often wear dresses or leggings and tunics rather than some form of trousers.  This denim avoidance hasn’t been for style reasons but is instead based on comfort.  I’ve bought and sewn quite a selection of jeans over the last five years but have found every single pair to be horribly uncomfortable.  I get stuck at either end of the denim spectrum – too rigid and restricting or too stretchy and droopy.  It would way rather wear a comfortable dress with the waistband sitting at the natural waist than get a stomach ache and claustrophobia due to a low rise  denim waistband that digs in.  And I much prefer the maintenance free feeling of a tunic and leggings to constantly stopping to pull up saggy jeggings!

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Well, I am happy to report that I am now a convert to high-waist jeans thanks to Heather Lou and Variation B of the Ginger Jeans pattern!  Sallie- Oh’s version was a definite source of persuasion as well.    The waistband sits at my natural waist and doesn’t slip down or dig in – in fact, the waistband actually feels more comfortable than the elastic waistband on my favorite pair of leggings.  I was nervous that high-waist jeans might make me look like a mom from the 80s but in the end, I wear most of my tops untucked so it is impossible to tell that the pants underneath extend to the waist.

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Even if I were to wear a shorter top, I am pretty satisfied with how the high waist gives my short legs the illusion of length.

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Moving on from the waistband of these jeans, I am very happy with how they fit throughout the rest of the seat and legs.

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I made a lot of changes to the pattern to get this fit but expected I would be doing this due to the fact that my hips are pretty narrow and there is a big difference in measurement between the widest point of my hips and the narrowest point of my waist (I guess all of this difference is near the center back).  This meant I had to adjust the yoke by taking a very large wedge out of center back (Heather explains how to do this very clearly).  I ended up removing about 1 1/2″ from CB and am thrilled with how nicely the shape of the yoke matches my body!

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I also removed almost all of the curve at the hips, tapering down to the knees.  I made these changes directly to my fabric pieces after basting them together as drafted.  I knew all my changes would be to make the pants narrower and so I wasn’t worried about the inability to add fabric.

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The fabric itself is absolutely gorgeous and it was bought from the discount table at Atex Designer Fabrics in Vancouver.  I am not sure what weight this denim is but it is heavier than I have seen locally and it is extremely soft.  The spandex content is fairly low compared to denims that I have used for stretch jeans in the past (sorry I don’t have specific information, I didn’t keep the tag!).  I am hoping that the weight of this fabric paired with this pretty low spandex content will help the jeans retain their shape over time…I really dislike baggy knees!

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I used our gunmetal Jeans & Pants Essential Notions Kit to finish off the pants – the silver button and gunmetal rivets look really nice with the black denim.  I’ll be applying Otter Wax to these jeans now that ‘before’ photos are taken because who can resist black waxed skinny jeans!  One of our new large sized Otter Wax bars should be more than enough for this pair of pants (I bet I’ll have enough left over for a dopp kit or to touch up Matt’s waxed Jutlands).  I’ll show you the ‘after’ photos once they are ready!

 


 

Now that I have my first pair of Gingers complete, I’m getting closer to completing my spring wardrobe – I have more denim on order from Fancy Tiger for a pair of blue jeans and will then embark on a couple Archer Button-ups as well as the Chambray skirt that I have planned.  I am already happily wearing my Coppélia Cardigans regularly as you can see in all of the above photos – such a cute, quick and easy pattern to sew!

 

 

I’ve completed all the Watson bra and underwear sets that I had planned (will blog soon!) as well as a big load of Lazo Trousers that I will blog about when the pattern is released.  The last item on my list will be a Nettie or two for layering – though I may get distracted by some By Hand London floral Kim dresses for a while!

 

Time to sew spring dresses! Thank you @byhandlondon! The Charlie's Blooms fabric is gorgeous :).

A photo posted by Thread Theory (@thread_theory) on

 

Maintaining an impossibly long list of inspiring sewing projects puts me in such a creatively fulfilled state of mind.  I find that the emptier my project and ideas list is, the more ‘listless’ I feel! *pun intended*

 


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Spotlight on the humble tape measure

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*** 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.

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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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