Thread Theory

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


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The Story of A Vintage Dior Suit

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

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (4 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (6 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (7 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (14 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (11 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (10 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (9 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (8 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (2 of 15)

Thread Theory Dior Suit (5 of 15)

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

Thread Theory Dior Suit (12 of 15)

Thread Theory Dior Suit (13 of 15)

…and the beautifully finished pant waistband and fly…

Thread Theory Dior Suit (15 of 15)

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


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Giveaway Winner and Shirt Pattern Research

Corrupt Gentleman Shirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fit

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

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

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

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

Design Features

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

Band Collar - J Crew

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

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

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

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

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

PLEATS

 

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


127 Comments

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

Shirtmaking Workbook review (1 of 1)

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

Shirtmaking Workbook (1 of 15)

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

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

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

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

Shirtmaking Workbook (15 of 15)

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

Shirtmaking Workbook (8 of 15)

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

Shirtmaking Workbook (14 of 15)

 

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

 


 

 

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

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

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

 


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While on my staycation…

Staycation (20 of 24)Thanks for your patience while I’ve been MIA on our moving stay-cation!  I ended up giving myself an entire week from Sunday June 28th onwards screen free.  It was so nice to settle into enjoying our new home and studio without the distractions of the internet and emails in particular!  I even removed Instagram from my phone temporarily and refrained from texting as much as possible.  When I turned everything on again a week later I was surprised to find that I hadn’t missed checking Facebook or Instagram at all.  On the other hand, it felt really great to catch up on Thread Theory and personal emails this week.  If you had asked me at the beginning of my vacation, I would have told you I was dreading returning to emails and would greatly miss Instagram…very strange…

It was wonderful to come back from our staycation to find that our holiday sale was a huge success!  I spent all of last Monday packing orders and spent most of Tuesday catching up on emails.  I’m still trying to catch up on a few small things and, while I have most of our Thread Theory boxes unpacked, I have quite a bit more organizing to do in the studio.  I’ll keep puttering on this over the weekend and will be ready to launch into developing more patterns starting on this coming Monday.  Exciting!

We are loving our new house and yard.  The house we are renting is on two acres with many old fruit trees which I have been marveling at daily as the fruit grows.  My family and Matt’s family have both been spending lots of time here helping us get settled in.  Here are a few photos from my week long stay-cation and of the new studio!

Priority number one was creating a fenced side yard for our dog, Luki.Staycation (5 of 24)He happily spends most of his day out there basking in the sun and watching the horse in the neighbor’s paddock.

Staycation (3 of 24)

Of course, as far as priorities go, the Thread Theory office and sewing room were not far behind our fence building efforts!  My friend Nicole helped me set up the majority of the sewing room and I spent a few hot afternoons tucked away in my nice cool office getting things sorted.

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Staycation (15 of 24)

Last weekend I tore myself away from my unpacking to spend a hot but very enjoyable weekend with my family riding around the Cowichan Valley on a bike tour of the many vineyards

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The Cowichan Valley is a couple hours south of us on Vancouver Island.  The ride was in support of the MS society and was a pretty big accomplishment for us considering the extreme heat we were riding in!

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We rode approximately 53 or 54 kilometers the first day and 33 kilometers the second day. on our second day, we were riding under eerily orange skies and falling ash due to the huge wildfires that have been burning all over British Columbia.

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Matt and I planned a house warming party that took place this Wednesday.  Matt’s parents arrived on Sunday to visit and help us host the party but, just as they arrived and as I got home from my weekend bike ride, Matt was called out to fight his very first wildfire! He has been away in Sprout Lake (fairly near where I had been biking) ever since.  I just heard word that he will be arriving home safe and sound this evening!

Even without Matt around, his parents and I got lots of work done on the property this last week, including building a gate for Luki’s fenced area (Rick built it with old cedar from on the property!).

Staycation (6 of 24)Staycation (7 of 24)

Matt was greatly missed at the housewarming party (and throughout the week in the Thread Theory studio).

Staycation (9 of 24)Staycation (11 of 24)

All the guests are gone now and things are settling down to normal routines.  I look forward to updating you as I continue to work on setting up my studio space and, of course, I can’t wait to complete our next two patterns!


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It’s A Holiday Sale!

Holiday Banner

Matt and I are moving Thread Theory and ourselves to a new studio and home this Sunday.  We’ve decided to enjoy settling in by giving ourselves a week-long staycation!  We will be turning off the computer (and deleting Instagram from my phone…eek) this evening at 5pm PST.  It will remain off until Monday morning, July 6th.  Needless to say, we won’t be answering emails or fulfilling your orders until we have turned the computer back on, so thank you for your patience!

In the meantime, I’ve created a 25% discount code to our shop so that you can celebrate with us!  Just remember, you’re order won’t be shipping until we get back, so don’t order any time sensitive birthday presents!  The discount code to enter upon checkout is: JOLLYHOLIDAY


 

Ever since we began developing ideas for Thread Theory in the early winter of 2012, we haven’t been away from updating the website, posting on the blog/social media or, most importantly, answering emails for more than 2 1/2 days!  Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t just been slaving behind the computer incessantly, we’ve certainly enjoyed some amazing camping trips, some great weddings and excellent family visits!  For instance, that’s us in the photos above enjoying my family’s sailboat just a month and a half ago.  We have just tailored our commitment to these vacations based on the availability of post offices to fulfill orders and plug-ins for our laptop.

It will be so nice to unplug and focus on other interests in our lives for a week!  We have big plans to build a fence, build a raised bed garden, have long afternoon naps, take Luki on some woodland walks, and generally just live an internet/screenless life.  I might even squeeze in a bit of sewing time (but only if it is completely unrelated to work!).


 

Well…this is it… I’ll be back to catch up on all of your blogs and emails in just over a week.  I hope that you enjoy the discount code to our shop and thank you for your patience with order fulfillment and email replies!


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Spring Wardrobe – End Result!

Spring Wardrobe - dresses and skirtsSpring Wardrobe 2015

Spring Wardrobe - pants, underwear, shirts

With the first day of summer (and my birthday!) arriving on Sunday, now is the time for me to wrap up my spring wardrobe project.  I first posted about my spring sewing plans on January 1st when I was dreaming of warmer weather.  I included some patterns I hoped to sew and a couple of different color themes that I planned to choose from:

Mood boards

I ended up sticking with the blue and off-white color scheme and added in black and grey as neutral colors.  I’m glad I used this color scheme rather than the green and pink one I had been considering because until I sewed up these garments my closet contained only earthy browns and olive greens.  It feels much fresher and brighter now with bold blues and clean blacks smattered here and there!

I didn’t get all of my sewing plans finished this spring but I came pretty close.  Here were the key pieces I hoped to create for this wardrobe along with which patterns and fabrics I ended up using for them:

Two blouses: Complete

Two sweaters: Halfway done

  • The Coppelia Cardigan: Sewn in an off-white linen knit (so dreamy to wear!!!) using Variation 1 which is a wrap sweater.  Fabric sourced locally.  Blogged with my Ginger Jeans here!
  • The Coppelia Cardigan: I also sewed version two in a beautiful forest green wool knit but it ended up not fitting me very nicely and all my adjustments to try to fix this sadly led to a sweater that is considerably too small.  I’ll have to try again!

Two to three basic tops: Incomplete

  • The Nettie Bodysuit: Despite the fact that basic tops are what I most lack in my wardrobe, I never got around to making a few Netties because I haven’t found the perfect fabric yet.  I would like something with a bit of body that won’t stretch out throughout the day.  I have my eye on a really interesting compression fabric from the fabric wholesaler that we get our Comox Trunk kit fabric and Bag Making Supplies kit canvas from.  I’ll be working on these tops fairly soon!

Two trousers: Complete (but not fully photographed)

  • The Ginger Jeans:  Sewn in a thick and soft black denim that I purchased during a winter trip to Vancouver.  These have been a big success and I have plans to make a second pair soon.  Blogged here!
  • The Lazo Trousers:  I’ve sewn a couple samples of our upcoming Lazo Trousers pattern but all our photographs of them are featuring our model rather than me.  I’ll probably blog about these when the pattern is finally ready to release :).

Two skirts (one dressy and one casual): Complete

  • The Cascade Skirt: Sewn in a rich purple faux suede with a brass button.  Fabric sourced locally.  I wore this occasionally in late winter and early spring but it is quite fancy (and warm) so I’ll be bringing it back out in the Fall.  Blogged here!
  • The Brumby Skirt: I had originally planned to sew a second Cascade Skirt in a more casual fabric but then Megan Nielsen switched up my plans by releasing her Brumby Skirt pattern.  I’m glad I ended up sewing this skirt since the wide, shaped waistband is incredibly comfortable I love the pockets and top stitching!  Tencel Denim from Blackbird Fabrics.  Scroll down for more photos of this!

Two bras and six underwear: Complete

  • The Watson Set: Sewn using kits from Blackbird Fabrics (there are new kits in the shop today!!!).  I went a bit nuts in January and February sewing loads of bras and underwear.  I’ve shown my favorite ones in the collage above.  Blogged here!

Two sundresses: Complete

Scroll down for more photos of these!

  • The Kim Dress: Sewn using a limited edition floral print from By Hand London.  The stiff cotton paired with the full skirt and pin tucks really makes this into the perfect sundress for wandering through meadows of wild flowers…I just needed a big straw hat to complete the picture!  I love the shaping of the bodice on this pattern.  The straps are set quite far apart and so they fit my wide shoulders far more nicely than most sleeveless dress patterns do.  I look forward to sewing up the second variation of this pattern (with a slim petal-like skirt) this winter…maybe in velvet?
  • The “Have it your way” Dress: This is a dress from Lauren Guthrie’s book (Learn to Sew with Lauren) but I found this pattern in the first issue of Simply Sewing and it was called “Two Ways Dress” within this magazine.  This style, with its high neckline and peter pan collar, is something I have never worn before.  I have always admired this look (it seems very sophisticated and French to me) but was nervous it would make me look like a toddler with a round face!  In the end, I really love it and am not sure why I’ve avoided high necklines for so long.  I was able to skip the back zipper completely since the dress has quite a loose fit at the waist.  Next time (there will be a next time!) I will be cutting the back skirt and bodice on the fold to eliminate the center back seam.  This dress was sewn in a very soft rayon from Blackbird Fabrics.

 

Matt did a really nice photoshoot of my latest unblogged outfits on Wednesday.  We were walking Luki at a park called “Wildwood Forest” that was completely filled with beautiful tall grasses and daisies.  It made an excellent backdrop and Luki enjoyed exploring while we ignored him for half an hour :P.  It was a quiet enough location that changing into new outfits wasn’t too nerve wracking!

ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-8-2 ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-7-2ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-6-2 ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-4-2ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-11-2ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-2ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-5 ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-12-2ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-19ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-11ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-18ThreadTheorySpringWardrobe-17

Well…I must say, that feels pretty satisfying to have most of my personal sewing projects from the last 6 months gathered into one place to examine!  It hasn’t really felt like I’ve been doing much sewing lately since I’ve been so focused on computer work for Thread Theory, on packing boxes for moving (in one week!) and on gardening.  Here is an example of how going slow and steady can pretty much winn the race (or at least mostly complete the race).  A few of these projects haven’t had much wear throughout the Spring seeing as I only finished them a week or two ago but at least they were completed while it is still technically Spring.  I never had more than one personal project on my sewing table at a time and sometimes went up to half a month without working on my wardrobe items.  I like this style of sewing – there was no rushing or stress involved and I got to enjoy some new items in my closet as the weather warmed up.  Now I’ll have a complete capsule wardrobe waiting for me next Spring (though, reality is, in our temperate climate I will be wearing these garments most of the year!).

Now it is time to welcome the Summer – it is going to be a long and wonderful one!


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Silk Tie Sewing Tutorial

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 1

Would you like to try your hand at tie-making this Father’s Day?  It isn’t difficult to make your Dad a tie since the internet abounds with beautiful tutorials and even free patterns for all skill levels!  Since a quick search for “tie tutorials” can lead to fairly overwhelming results, I decided to compile the fruits of my research into one handy blog post and a tutorial that brings together all of my favorite elements from the instructions already available on the web!  Britex has a wealth of tie making supplies that can be very difficult to find elsewhere.  For my tie I used this sunshine yellow Italian silk faille featuring nothing less than hot pink embroidered crabs!  Since ties are cut on the bias, this silk was ideal for my purposes – the crabs run 45 degrees to the selvage!  The silk is from Britex Fabrics and is currently sold out – there are all sorts of other gorgeous silks in their online shop though!

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 2

I consulted Matt (the prospective wearer) on the direction of the crabs – he elected to point them downwards so they wouldn’t be aggressively pinching at his neck.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 3

While you will find my tutorial below, first (or afterwards) you might like to read all of the tutorials and other resources that I found so that you can truly immerse yourself in the world of tie-making.  Here are all ofthe links sorted into the various categories that I researched:

The Anatomy of a Tie:

Tutorials geared towards the average home sewer:

Tutorials geared towards the advanced home sewer/menswear enthusiast:

Videos on Tie-making:

Particular Tie-Making Techniques:

Pattern Options:

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 6

Now that we’re prepped, let’s move on to my tutorial!  For this project you will need:

  • 1 yard silk of medium weight.  This may seem like a lot of fabric but remember that your tie must be cut on the bias!  You may be able to squeeze a tie out of less if you are careful.
  • 1 yard interlining (described below).  This will also be cut on the bias.

Most ties are created with a sewn in (rather than fusible) interlining comprised of wool or a wool/nylon blend.  This interlining gives the tie body (a good tie shouldn’t be flat, it should be lightly pressed so it maintains a three dimensional quality) and also a bit of rigidity.  It is important to match the interlining with the fabric otherwise you run the risk of making your tie too stiff and negating the point of cutting your tie on the bias!  You want your tie to look fluid and smooth…achieving this is probably the trickiest aspect of tie-making.
Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 8

Since this silk faille was quite stiff I decided to use a loose wool interlining.  In retrospect, I wish I had chosen an option with a touch more rigidity such as this classic wool interlining.  Aside from the lack of rigidity, the color black was not the best pairing with the yellow silk – it shows through ever so slightly on the finished tie.  All the same, the amount of body this wool gives the tie is ideal and I am happy that the tie ended up fluid enough to allow it to hang nicely (though I worry it might become misshapen over time).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 9

Since there is quite a bit of hand sewing involved in tie-making, it’s a good idea to use fine silk thread to avoid knots.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, establish the exact bias on both your silk and interlining.  Some tie patterns represent the entire tie so they must be cut on one layer of fabric while other tie patterns require that you cut them out on the fold (making it easy to fold your fabric on a 45 degree angle).

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 10

A tie shell is comprised of three main pieces (pictured below from left to right): The blade (the wide front), the neck (the middle), and the tail (the narrower back).  The interlining is usually cut from one piece but I joined two pieces of fabric for mine by abutting the seams and zig-zagging them together so as to avoid adding extra bulk.  On the right hand side of the photo below you can see my two “tipping” pieces – the tie I have made is “self-tipped” rather than “decorative-tipped” because I used the same silk rather than a contrast material as the lining.  I also added a garment tag and a little strip of fabric to create a keeper loop.  A man can choose to feed his tie tail through it if he desires (though some fashion blogs say this is not currently fashionable…who knew?!).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 11

I chose to start making my tie by sewing the tips.  Some people like to join the three main tie segments together before embarking on the tip but I wanted to avoid handling the tie as a long strip too much since the weight of the tips could cause the bias cut fabric to stretch out of shape.  Here is an example (of a store bought tie) so you can see what we are aiming for when sewing a tie tip:
Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 13

It is not easy to achieve something this precise (as you will soon see!).  While all the sewing involved in tie-making is basic, the precision and skill employed is key to a high-end tie.  I think I have a long ways to go before I could consider calling my version a ‘luxury’ tie!

If your tie pattern came with two pattern pieces for the tips, they will likely be the same size as the blade and tail tips.  Trim them down 1/4″ on all four sides (not along the top).

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 14

Starting at the top edge, sew the tie and tie tip together with right sides together and a 1/4″ seam allowance (you can see my stitching on the right hand side of the photo below).  Stop sewing 1/4″ from the end of the tie tip.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 15

Here is a detailed photo showing you where to stop sewing:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 16

Pull the tie tip over to the other side of the tie so raw edges meet and sew the other side of the tie tip in the same manner.  You should sew up to but not over the previous stitching to form a precise point.  Be careful to push the excess tie blade fabric out of the way (it will form a bubble).
Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 17Here is a close up of the tie tip with the bubbled tie blade below:
Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 18

And here is a photo of the bubble from the wrong side of the tie blade:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 19

And a close up of this bubble:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 20

Finish the tie point by folding the blade in half and stitching across the point from the center of the blade to the raw edge.  This stitching will be perpendicular to your stitched point and within the seam allowance  it should not cross your previous stitching.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 21

When you turn the tip right side out, try pinching the point seam allowance to stop it from crunching up and becoming misshapen as you fold.  The goal is to have your point seam allowance fold neatly within the tie.  I wouldn’t advise trimming the point when you are working with silks since the danger of fraying drastically is very great!Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 22

My point did not turn out perfectly but stitch ripping was only an option once due to the amount of fraying I was experiencing!  The point is not 100% angular but it is certainly passable from the distance most will be viewing it.  From the underside you can see why it did not end up appearing precise:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 23

Practice will hopefully make perfect!

 

Now it is time to sew the three tie segments together.  Carefully press open the seam allowances (don’t push the iron along the fabric as this will cause your bias cut fabric to stretch out of shape, instead, just lift the iron up and move it to the next position).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 24

Now that the points are assembled and the tie segments are joined, it is time to insert the interlining and prepare to hand stitch the final seam!Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 25

Turn under the seam allowances 1/4″ along the entire length of the tie (again, make sure to press instead of iron!).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 26

Press the tie edges inwards to meet in the middle.  As you can see in the store-bought tie below, sometimes this seam can be slightly overlapped – depending on how you like to slip stitch, you can either abut the seam or overlap!  You can also see how the keeper loop is inserted into this seam prior to stitching it down.  We will do this now:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 27

Create your keeper loop using a scrap of the silk.  Ideally you would create a tube and turn it right side out.  You could also avoid the frustration by simply creating binding and top stitching the open edge closed (keep in mind this makes the keeper loop a little stiff).

 

Stitch the loop to the seam allowance on the tie blade:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 28

You can see the positioning of the keeper loop below:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 29

Pin the entire seam together and prepare your thread for hand stitching!  It is a good idea to run your thread through beeswax because you will likely be working with a very long piece of thread if you are trying to stitch the entire seam in one go.  While it is possible to stitch the seam using several shorter lengths of thread, this is not ideal due to the nature of the slip stitch you are about to sew.  Adding too many anchored points will cause the thread to restrict the natural fluidity of the tie (you will see what I mean in a moment!).Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 30

Begin stitching by anchoring the thread at one end of the tie:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 31

Create a large and loose slip stitch all the way along the seam (I allowed the thread to travel up the silk 1/2″ between each stitch).  See the list of tutorials above to learn how to slip stitch.  Be very careful when stitching to avoid stitching into the front of the tie!Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 32

To end your stitching you will be creating another anchor/tack – but this time, the first loop of the anchor will not be pulled tight.  Leave a loop of thread (as pictured below but about half the size) that you can tuck into the tie.  This loop will allow your slip stitch to adjust in tension as the tie is worn and rolled over time – it will seem strange to leave your hand stitching so loose and seemingly fragile, but it is very necessary when trying to achieve a fluid tie.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 33

Now it is just the finishing touches left!  Press the keeper loop flat and tack each side to the back of the tie.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 34

Bring your thread and needle down through the inside of the tie to stitch on the garment tag.  Make tiny stitches along either short edge of the tag.Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 35

Your tie is complete!  Give it a final gentle press and examine your work:Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 36 Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 37

Before giving it to the wearer, fold the tie in half and roll it gently – this will allow the bias cut fabric to settle smoothly so that it is not stretched in any off-kilter sort of way.  Your loose stitching and anchored loop of thread will have a chance to work while you do this!
Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 38

I hope this tutorial saves you a lot of time researching before you embark on tie-making!  Have you tried making a tie in the past?  What resource or tutorial did you find most helpful?  Did I miss any key resources during my research?

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