Thread Theory

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


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The Sewing Community

Today I’m compiling a list of sewing related sites from all over the internet…blogs that make great reading, pattern companies, sewing tips and sewing communities.  This list will always be available on the Community Page on the top bar.

Blogs:

oona

Upbeat tales of sewing successes and adventures that never fail to make me laugh.  She’s famous in the online sewing world and it’s pretty easy to see why – even my husband loves reading her posts!

kazz

A woman with an absolutely amazing sense of style – everything she sews makes me want to run to the sewing room to get working!  The detail and colour she puts into every garment is spectacular!

meg

A very organized blog with great reviews and in-depth details on each project.  Meg just finished making her boyfriend a skillfully sewn oilcloth coat.

tasia

 Tasia’s blog that accompanies her pattern store is frequently updated with interesting sewing tips, tales of fabric store trips, and thought provoking questions posed to readers.

cation

Sewing and geeky enthusiasm is combined to create the absolutely perfect mix of posts on beautifully sewn dresses and everything from Lord of the Rings inspired stashbusting projects to giant squid stuffed animals.

peter

The number one blog for sewing menswear, Peter presents posts full of advice, information on sewing with vintage machines and patterns, and detailed discussions of his sewing projects (both women and menswear so there’s something interesting to read for everyone).

mokosha

Pairing poetry with sewing and intriguing photo shoots, this blog is funny, beautiful, and very difficult to stop scrolling through for hours on end!

tanitisis

The variety of projects (and the sheer, overwhelming amount of them!) make this blog very interesting – she seems to sew selflessly for everyone she knows!

gertie

A blog absolutely chock full of detailed couture information, all inspired by vintage clothing and Gertie’s love of a flattering, well made garment.  Gertie hosts classes on Craftsy, has produced two Butterick patterns, and has published the book “Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing.”

novita

Novita sews for her husband, child and herself and never fails to produce breathtakingly stylish outfits that are very inspiring.  The photography is excellent and her write-ups are personal and interesting.  She has become very skilled at sewing the most beautiful lingerie.

urbandon

Great menswear inspiration – he isn’t afraid to push boundaries.  I love his use of neutrals and the way he uses raw edges.

Pattern Companies:

  • Colette Patterns – Vintage inspired and beautifully designed.  The patterns come with instruction booklets that include lots of extra tidbits and lovely illustrations.
  • Victory Patterns – Awesome patterns that are easy to sew, trendy and look anything but home-made.  They are available as PDF downloads and the instruction PDF includes photos as well as illustrations – I love that!
  • In-House Patterns – My patternmaking instructor owns this company!  I can tell you, from experience as her student, that she pays an incredible amount of intention to detail and is a complete perfectionist.  I haven’t yet tried her patterns but I bet that they sew up like a dream.
  • Sewaholic Patterns – Patterns for pear-shaped women…but I think they are super flattering and wearable for most figures.  I have sewn her Cambie dress twice (as posted about previously) and loved some of the processes she has come up with, including her great slant pockets.
  • Deer and Doe – A French patternmaking company with very pretty designs.  I have heard great things but have not yet worked up the courage to try the french instructions.
  • By Hand London – A new company I have not yet tried – but I love their packaging!  They have steered away from the traditional envelope and instead created a package inspired by match boxes and books for an end product that sits nicely on a shelf and just asks to be re-used over and over as a base for design variations.

Sewing/Fashion Lessons and Information:

  • Colette Patterns – tutorials section – indispensible!  This is the first place I go if I am thinking of adding a thoughtful detail to an existing pattern or if I’m wondering how to make bias tape or how best to care for a special fabric.
  • Fashion Incubator – a great resource for those wanting to know more about the fashion industry…I have found lots of helpful information on independent pattern companies and patternmaking in general
  • Threads Magazine – how-to section – loads of information is on here with great photos and instructions.  It’s sometimes a little difficult to come up with the right search term, but once you have it, you are pretty much guaranteed an answer to your question.
  • Craftsy – a great resource – especially their video classes.  I’ve taken the Bombshell Dress by Gertie and I can’t believe how much I learned for so little money (Craftsy often puts on very good sales for their classes, but even at full price they are a great deal).  As everyone says, it’s wonderful to be able to pause mid lesson and rewind, have one on one instruction, be able to take the course at any time and for any length of time, and ask questions of both the instructor and your classmates.

Sewing Community:

  • BurdaStyle – Full of all sorts of resources, but I especially enjoy looking at member projects because it is such a large community that there are plenty to scroll through each day.  It is a great way, when reading member’s descriptions of their projects, to come across ideas for new techniques, resources for fabric, and interesting patterns.
  • Pattern Review – I haven’t used this site too much as I find it a little overwhelming to look at (there’s so much going on!) but when I am thinking of purchasing a new pattern, it’s nice to be able to go there to learn what adjustments people have made to it and what the sewn up garment looks like on real people.
  • The Sew Weekly – a great group of ladies who have accepted the challenge of sewing a garment a week for an entire year.  Last year (2012) the group was much larger than in the past so that members did not have to participate in every single week’s challenge but there were a few committed women that did and their projects were very inspiring!  I love seeing how different people interpret the same challenge.
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Recent Sewing Projects

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any of my sewing projects on BurdaStyle or one of my blogs, so finally, here are a few of my latest favorites!

The first project is from last spring (See?  It really has been a long time!).  It was just a quick project using a bit of lacy material that I spotted on the way to the Fabricville cash register and pounced on.  I got home and abandoned all my more carefully picked fabric on the floor and set to chopping into (without washing…eeek!) my spontaneous choice.  I used an old McCall’s pattern (M5890) as the base and made numerous fit adjustments so that it wouldn’t look like the sack that my previous attempt at the pattern turned out to be.  My final ‘inspired’ touch was to add a little lace strip to the CB collar to insure the draped front panels would fall in a consistent manner.  It turns out that this is the most worn sweater in my closet – it’s never too cold and never too hot because it comes with its own ventilation system – PERFECT!January 022January 024

More recently, I sewed up a wearable mock up and a proper version of Tasia’s wonderful Cambie Dress pattern from Sewaholic Patterns. I love how both of them turned out!

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The mock up was made using a $2 sale suiting material which is a little heavy for the pattern but still worked out well. I kept this version the length the pattern intends which is maybe a little long for a short-legged girl such as me! I learnt a few things with the mock-up: The shoulder straps had to be angled and shortened (which I did slightly in the mock up but exaggerated in the final version) to make the neckline narrower to fit my chest. Also, it is a good idea to use the same fabric as lining for the bodice as it is likely to roll a little along the neckline due to the order of the construction process (there doesn’t seem to be a good time to add understitching to the neckline).

Neither of these points are a critique of the pattern because Tasia has done such an amazing job coming up with a clever method of construction that makes every step simple and makes customizing the fit through little adjustments of the sleeves incredibly easy! I also love sewing her slant pockets because she has managed to simplify the standard steps of creating this sort of pocket quite a bit. I’ll be using her version whenever I need to create slant pockets in the future!January 033January 036

For my final version I made the changes I came up with during the mock up and I also interfaced the bodice front because the rayon I used was silky and had a lovely drape. I wanted to ensure, in every way possible, that the neckline would be stiff and smooth. I somehow managed to have extra fabric at CF of the skirt when sewing it to the waste band (this wasn’t an issue during my mock-up so maybe my rayon stretched?) so I made a little pleat near each pocket which adds a bit of fullness to the front of the skirt which I’m actually quite pleased with.

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Both dresses have become a staple of my wardrobe – I love how they cover the shoulders and I also love the fit – the dress feels loose and comfy while wearing it but it gives the appearance of being quite fitted. The shortened hemline of the final dress looks cute with tights and I hope, when summer comes and I’m not so pasty, it will be comfortable and cool to wear on its own in the sun!

Lastly, here is a project that I completed for school (The Pacific Design Academy, Fashion Design Program in Victoria).  We were asked to create a dress entirely out of food labels that reflected the values of the Mustard Seed Foundation.  Our dresses were displayed in the local mall throughout the Christmas Season and the public could vote for their favorite by making a donation to the Mustard Seed.  My dress was called ‘Childhood’ and was meant to reflect a nostalgic view of what it means to be a child.  I wanted to show that every child deserves to look back on their youth with this feeling of happy nostalgia.  I used staple ‘snack’ products that, if donated to the foundation, would provide children with the sense of care and safety that the routine of eating an afternoon snack (and being regularly fed) creates.DSC02767

 


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Patterns of Note

Happy Friday!  Today (as previously mentioned) I’m going to be writing a little bit about the best menswear patterns I have found amid the slim selection of current menswear sewing patterns.

I won’t be discussing vintage patterns (there are many intriguing patterns available if you are willing to hunt for them) because Peter Lappin, an excellent sewer and blogger, has already covered this topic extensively.  You can see his vintage menswear collection and the great projects he has made up using these patterns by visiting his Pattern Photo Library.Here are just a few of his vintage patterns:

Peter’s blog, Male Pattern Boldness is great reading and excellent sewing inspiration.  He calls his blog “The World’s Most Popular Men’s Sewing Blog” and judging by the amount of comments he receives and the excellent content, I think there is no argument that he’s telling the truth!

Moving back to the topic of current menswear sewing patterns, here is a small selection I have compiled:

1. McCalls shirt M6044

M6044

This was my first real item of men’s clothing and I have sewn this pattern many times since.  My husband and I made a trip to Fabricland in my early sewing days to find a button up shirt pattern and fabric so that we could sew him the perfectly fitted button up shirt he had always dreamed of.  We were way over our heads with the project as I had never altered a pattern for fit before and had no idea what fabric type to choose.  Plus, we were going to complicate matters by having him do the sewing!  We picked McCall’s M6044 and some easy to sew but crinkly quilting cotton.

It is pretty much impossible to find Matt a RTW button up shirt – casual or formal – that is even remotely close to fitting him.  He has wide shoulders, a thin waist, a skinny neck and very long arms so most shirts, even if they are slim fit, are too baggy if they fit his shoulders and the neck is usually too loose for him to wear a tie.  The arms on RTW shirts are without fail about a third too short for him so he is forced to wear them rolled up to the elbows.  We initially cut out a size medium in a misguided attempt to account for the problem of short arms but we got halfway through cutting and became overwhelmed by the prospect of adjusting the rest of the shirt to fit.  The half cut out shirt sat in my UFO pile for almost two years until I brought it out in an attempt to empty my fabric bin.  I re-cut the pattern as a small and made up the shirt as is.  I decided that if the shirt turned out wearable, it would be a bonus, but the real point of sewing the cut out original fabric was to familiarize myself with the process of creating a button up shirt before adjusting it to fit Matt.  As expected, the arms are way too short for him, but we were very pleased with the fit across the shoulders and of the neck which needed no adjusting.  We brought in the side seams of the garment about 1.5cm on each side – much less than we thought would be necessary – and the shirt turned out very wearable considering all the odds it had stacked against it!  I added some scraps from a thrift-store shirt as contrast on the collar band and the cuffs which Matt really liked.

Another version I sewed up for him turned out like this:

2. Negroni Shirt from Colette Patterns

Negroni shirtI haven’t sewn this Colette pattern up myself as I had already made the alterations to the McCall’s pattern to achieve a similar fit to the Negroni by the time I came across this indie shirt pattern.  I would like to try this pattern out though because the pattern description lists the most wonderful, thoughtful details – something that the McCall’s pattern completely lacks!
Colette Patterns description:

“For men that like a classic, slightly retro shirt with a more modern cut, this shirt pattern is just the thing. The instructions will guide you gently through every step of creating a well-crafted casual shirt: felled seams, a lined back yoke, and sleeve plackets on the long sleeve version. Subtle details include a convertible collar (also known as a “camp collar”) and midcentury style collar loop detail.

This shirt can be made in a variety of fabrics, such as crisp shirting, warm flannel for winter, or cool rayon for summer.”

The sleeve plackets are a big plus as the McCall’s pattern provides an easy but cheap seeming alternative – simply finishing and folding over the seam allowances before top-stitching to create a rather flimsy but quick slit.  The Colette pattern would lead the sewer to produce a much sturdier and professional garment than the easy but very casual McCall’s button-up.

3. Burda Style Pete T-shirt -FREE!

Pete_sideview_original_large

I have attempted this pattern several times now and have ended up converting all completed t-shirts into women’s tank tops for myself due to poor fabric choice.  When Matt put on his new t-shirts they draped in a ridiculously feminine way because the knit I had picked was much too thin and silky.  Nevertheless, these failed projects were certainly not the fault of the pattern!  This free pattern is a good base for practicing sewing with knits and also to practice altering a menswear pattern to achieve a perfect fit.  I found that sewing the pattern up, as is, led to a very wide and short t-shirt (BurdaStyle users have made similar comments) and the minimal instructions were fairly complete but a little difficult to follow.  Despite my lack of success creating a t-shirt, there are many excellent versions on BurdaStyle that prove, with the right fabric and knowledge, the free Pete pattern can be used to create great designer t-shirts!

Topic for Future Post:

In the next few weeks I will be working on a tutorial using the Negroni Colette pattern.  I am hoping to provide photo instructions and inspiration on how customize a basic button up shirt to produce something expensive looking, customized to the wearer, and interesting.  Here are some tantalizingly inspirational images that hint at what the tutorial will include:

Robert Graham neck detailpatches.

DappertasticCollars

Shoulder detail

Gingham shirt with sky blue pants


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Welcome to the Thread Theory Blog!

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Hi! This is my first blog post for Thread Theory Designs, Inc! VERY EXCITING! I’ll begin with a little introduction:

My name is Morgan Meredith and my husband is Matthew Meredith. We are from British Columbia, Canada and are currently living in the sunny city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. You can read a little about us on our Pattern Store’s ABOUT US page!
There are several things that might be useful to know about us if you are to read my blog. Firstly, Matt and I are beginning a menswear sewing pattern company called Thread Theory Designs Inc. through which we hope to provide home sewers with modern fitting and aesthetically pleasing patterns with clearly illustrated instructions and easy styling options.
Secondly, I LOVE to sew… I love finding the perfect fabric, customizing classic designs with thoughtful details, and most especially creating a garment for myself or for others that I know will be wonderfully comfortable and flattering to wear and will be completely unique and customized for the wearer.
I have, in the past, posted finished projects on my personal blog. Here are a couple of the projects that Matt and I love to wear:

Spring Skirt

Spring Skirt

First Attempt at Menswear!

First Attempt at Menswear!

Our mission while creating Thread Theory Designs Inc. is a simple one: to provide the sewing world with patterns they can use to create menswear. Throughout my years of sewing I have been constantly frustrated by the lack of appealing and modern menswear patterns. I have managed to find a few great ones (a blog post on these will be coming next week!) but, overall, Matt’s home sewn wardrobe basically consists of variations on a single button-up shirt pattern (McCall’s M6044). We want to provide menswear home sewers with variety and with inspiring patterns that look appealing, provide a modern fit, and are easy to customize to create endless personal styles or to match current trends.

Our first line, Parkland (available this spring!) will consist of the following exciting and versatile designs:

Goldstream Peacoat 250 Jedediah Pants 250 Newcastle Cardigan 225 Strathcona Henley 225

We envision them sewn up in luxurious neutrals and trendy ethnic or nature inspired prints that would look at home in B.C.’s forest and marine parks… We can’t wait until our look book is ready to show you!
To get a sample of the inspiration for Thread Theory designs, have a look at our Pinterest menswear collection.
I want to use this blog as a way to connect with similar people – people who love to sew, people who support independent sewing pattern companies, and people who are interested in the detail oriented world of sewing menswear.
Topics on this blog will consist of the following:

  • Discussion and research on menswear sewing and design
  • Information and connections with other independent pattern companies
  • Inspiration to use while sewing our patterns (techniques, inspiring designers and garments, trends, alteration/customization ideas)
  • Sewing project successes – mine and yours – I can’t wait to see your finished projects!