Thread Theory

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


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Two More Patterns Ordered!

Today I have some Thread Theory pattern company news and a finished project to show off.  This week, despite life being pretty busy, I was able to prepare the spec sheets and send off the Jedediah Trousers and the Strathcona Henley to Suncoast Custom to have the patterns made up!  I can’t wait to get back the patterns and see how my designs look as real garments!  I’m especially excited for the Jedediah Trousers which I designed to be very a flattering and comfortable fit.

Strathcona Henley 225 Jedediah Pants 250

 Spring is officially here and suddenly June and the pattern store launch date seems to be approaching at an alarming pace.  We’ll see what we can do – things will feel like they are progressing more smoothly once the Newcastle Cardigan has been sent to the main test sewers.  This has been delayed slightly due to our decision to split the test sewing into two phases – the first group which is currently sewing up the pattern is comprised of local people (namely my grandma and my mom!) and the second group will be volunteers from around the world – one is as far away as Australia! That way we will have two opportunities to hear and respond to suggestions/critiques.IMGP0488

At school my classmates and I have been gearing up to start the production our end of the year runway lines.  I have completed a blazer as part of one of my outfits so I thought it would be fun to bring back some of my sewing for women to the blog since I am proud of how this project turned out!IMGP0506

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I designed, made the pattern and sewed up this garment.  It was drafted to fit a size six so it is a bit ill-fitting on me – especially in the chest area – but will hopefully look nice on the model as it does on our school mannequins.IMGP0507IMGP0501IMGP0512

My end of year line is called “Rationed Fashion” and is inspired by 1940s British wartime sensibilities paired with modern Pacific Northwest aesthetics.  The result of this inspiration is garments with strong shoulders, nipped in waists, sturdy fabrics, a casual feel and classic lines that will stand the test of time to be recycled into new outfits each season.IMGP0498

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In other sewing news, I have just this last week started working in the studio of an admirably energetic interior designer, Heather Draper, who is the owner of The Heather Company, a home decor company that currently sells beautiful soft furnishings online and will be opening their first brick and mortar store in June in Alberta.  It’s been very inspiring working with such beautiful fabrics!  They look wonderful turned into pillows and duvets…but man, a few of them would make the most spectacular dresses!

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Liebster Award

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Thank you to Anne of CherryPix for my very first blogger award!  It was so nice of her to think of me and the questions she sent along are great ones!:

  1. Do you mainly wear colours that look great on you or colours that you love? (or are they the same?):  I mostly wear colours that I love because I am drawn to anything earth toned – especially rusty oranges and soft browns.  While some of these colours look nice on me I certainly get more compliments when wearing jewel tones and bright reds.  I try to wear these colours in my accessories as I find them overwhelming and just ‘not me’ as a whole outfit.
  2. Which pattern have you made the most times?:  I’ve made McCall’s 6044 the most times and love it as a men’s shirt pattern for its simplicity (as blogged about and also as photographed previously).
  3. What is your number-one favourite sewing gadget?:  Hmmm, that’s a tough one because I love so many of them for their specific purposes!  A couple that I love for sentimental reasons are my two pin cushions – one bought for me by my Nonnie and Grandpa while in England and the other carefully quilted for me by my husband’s grandma this last Christmas.  I LOVE my Reliable industrial sewing machine (it’s living up to it’s cheesy brand name) because, as people who are around while I’m sewing know, when my sewing machine lets me down my patience vacates the premises (as should anyone who isn’t prepared to hear me have a temper tantrum!).  Lastly, similar to Oona’s blog post from several weeks ago, I love my clover chalk tool and cart it with me back and forth between home and school so I will never have to face the disastrous moment when I find myself without it.
  4. What did you think you were going to work as, when you left school?:  When I left high school I dreamed of being a journalist exposing all the wrongs in the world.  When I left university I was torn between becoming some sort of historian with my BA in History or moving into the sciences to become a Speech Language Pathologist…after a year of being in flux I decided to follow the old adage, “Do what you love, love what you do” and here I am turning my hobby of sewing into a career (I hope!).
  5. Which are you more into: Pattern Review or BurdaStyle Website?: I frequently check BurdaStyle and have been doing so since 2008.  I love the constant stream of inspiring projects and find used to really enjoy the sites commitment to developing copyright free patterns.  These days I am becoming more intrigued with pattern review but haven’t yet added that to my list of daily list of sewing sites to check…though I am on their mailing list and so keep fairly up to date that way.
  6. What’s your ideal evening out?:  My ideal evening out is mostly an evening in with the addition of a late night photo walk.  My husband and I like doing a weekly pizza night where we make pizzas from scratch and experiment with crazy toppings, bake them on our pizza stone, watch a movie and sometimes head out into the darkness with Matt’s film camera and tripod to experiment with long exposure photography around the city – so much fun!
  7. Which sewing reference book do you use most often?: I don’t often refer to sewing books but will check several articles in my Threads magazine collection quite regularly (especially the ones on threading and using a serger).  Also, I am constantly using Colette Pattern’s awesome tutorial section.  YouTube is also a great sewing friend :).
  8. Are you a pattern tracer or a pattern cutter (ie: just cut the pattern pieces you need straight from the tissue)?:  These days I’m a pattern tracer for sure…every day at school and in the evenings I spend hours tracing all the sizes of the patterns I’m developing…sigh, sometimes I miss those days of cutting into the Big 4 sewing patterns recklessly disregarding the potential need for any size except my own!  I’m not sure I could ever go back to that though!
  9. What’s at the top of your reading pile?  I’m just starting The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky…it might prove to be too heavy, but I’ll try my best!
  10. Public speaking or public singing (solo) – which scares you the most?:  Eeeek!  Both scare me a lot but I think public singing would be the worst because I’ve never had to do it but have had to do quite a bit of public speaking over the years in school.
  11. Which of your own sewing creations are you most pleased with? (include a pic or link, if possible): Right now I’m enormously pleased with the first sample of the Newcastle Cardigan.  I also really love my olive linen shirt and wear that as often as is acceptable (or maybe even a little too often!).  There aren’t many projects that I’m 100% happy with but those two are fairly close.Beacon Hill Shoot-7

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Below are the bloggers I’ve chosen to pass the Liebster Award on to – I tried to stick to blogs with less than 200 followers but I am doubtful that a few of these actually fit that category – they deserve the award nonetheless!

1. In House Patterns: Written by a fellow Victorian pattern company owner who is also my patternmaking instructor!

2. Victory Patterns: I’m doubtful that there are less than 200 followers enjoying this blog, but since I couldn’t find a number I thought I’d include it anyways – great company, great website, great blog!

3. Make My Pattern: Operates as both a blog and a pattern company – worth checking out to explore an intriguing conbination of technology and patternmaking.

4. Made By Meg:  Great blog!  Ton’s of inspiring projects and ideas 🙂  Lately, she’s been doing some great menswear sewing among many other things.

5. Creatively Motivated: A blog written by two crafty people with lots of great sewing content.

6. The Makehouse:  A blog attached to the most adorable local business in Victoria – a sewing studio on my favorite street in town that offers all sorts of classes as well as machine rental and studio space.

7. Salme Sewing Patterns Blog:  A very pretty and clean looking blog with lots of tutorials using clear photos and illustrations – goes along nicely with an equally beautiful pattern store!

8. Disparate Disciplines: A new pattern company that just successfully completed a kickstarter campaign – congratulations and good luck!

9. Stitch Parade: Another blog that probably has more than 200 followers…but since she just posted a beautiful selection of photos featuring Tofino, B.C. and her new knitted sweater I couldn’t resist.

10. The Maker’s Journal: A very pretty blog attached to the Etsy pattern company.  I like her Frida skirt!

11. Simple Things: Kimberly Gladman’s blog to accompany her pattern store that is chock full with adorably photographed patterns.

Lastly, here are the questions of the chosen bloggers to answer (if they have the time and would like to!):

1. If you could choose anything (absolutely anything!) as a career, what would it be?

2. What garment would you most like to add to your wardrobe?

3.  Where do you like to shop for fabric?

4. What movie most inspires you to sew?

5. What are three key things that you would add to your dream sewing studio?

6. Are you a PDF or a paper pattern person?  Why do you prefer one over the other?

7.  Other than sewing, what most preoccupies your time?

8. What type of garment interests you the most as a sewing project: Something that highlights an unusual fabric or something with a basic fabric and unusual details?

9. Do you have sewing buddies?  If so, who/what are they (friends – in person/online, pets, family)?

10.  Do you have sewers in your family history?  What type of projects did they mostly sew?

11. If you could pick any new subject to spend a year learning, what would it be?

Check out the blogs I’ve listed if you have a chance, there are some interesting and admirable people and businesses behind them!


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Sneak peak of the second Newcastle Cardigan

Here is a mid-week sneak peak at the second Newcastle Cardigan sample, this time a size medium sewn up in a cotton knit with a touch of acrylic.

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My Granddad kindly modeled it for us and added a very classy vibe!  He has requested a cardigan for himself (the one he’s modelling has already been claimed) with slightly shortened sleeves to closer match the sleeve length he is used to – a testament to the cardigan’s versatility for all ages and styles!

Next up are a few future cardigans – a large in both brown and grey sweatshirt fleece as well as a beautiful green wool blend which has not yet been assigned a size.  Exciting!

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Newcastle Cardigan Photo Shoot

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The Newcastle Cardigan has been graded and I sewed up our first proper sample this week!  We’ve updated the pattern store to include some of the photos and also have them on our facebook page.  The pattern is currently out with the first batch of test sewers and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of their work (we’ll include their projects on the blog).

This isn’t going to be a word heavy post as I’d like to let the pictures speak for themselves!  The first set of photos were taken at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria and the cardigan was modeled by Matt.  The second set of photos were taken at The Pacific Design Academy and the cardigan was kindly (and super stylishly!) modeled by Iain Russell of is this Menswear?  Check out his instagram, facebook and tumblr pages for endless photos of amazing menswear inspiration.

Without further ado, here it is – a size small version of the Newcastle Cardigan made up in brown bamboo fleece and stretch suiting as contrast:

Beacon Hill Shoot-2Beacon Hill Shoot-7Beacon Hill Shoot-5Beacon Hill Shoot-13Beacon Hill Shoot-11Beacon Hill Shoot-12Beacon Hill Shoot-16Beacon Hill Shoot-17Beacon Hill Shoot-14Beacon Hill Shoot-4Iain newcastle 1Iain newcastle 2Iain newcastle 3Iain newcastle 4


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Styling the Parkland Collection

In an ode to Mena Trott’s wonderful Make This Look posts over on The Sew Weekly, I’ve made some style boards pairing the Parkland Collection Casual Menswear Patterns with the fabrics I found last week to emulate stylish ready to wear garments.  Have a look!

henley

Garment: Wings & Horns

Fabric: NearSea Naturals

Houndstooth sweater

Garment: Nordstrom

Fabric: Vogue Fabrics

navy sweater

Garment: Nordstrom

Fabric: Nick-of-Time

olive pants

Garment: Wings & Horns

Fabric: Fabric.com

tan chinos

Garment: Wings & Horns

Fabric: Nick-of-Time

olive shorts

Garment: Wings & Horns

Fabric: Fabric.com

red shorts

Garment: Wings & Horns

Fabric: Fabric.com

paisley shorts

Garment: Engineered Garments

Fabric: Fabric.com

peacoat

Garment: Billy Reid

Fabric: Fabric.com

spring peacoat

Garment: Strellson

Fabric: Mood

duffle coat

Garment: Gloverall

Fabric: Mood


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Tips on Manly Knits

turtle.mirrorEvery day, Thread Theory Designs Inc. is inching closer to the tipping point from being just an idea to becoming an actual menswear sewing pattern company.  This week the Newcastle Cardigan, the first pattern in the Parkland Pattern Collection, was graded.  After some thorough testing right here in our sewing room it will be sent out with sewing instructions and a satisfaction survey to test sewers.  To volunteer to be a test sewer for the Newcastle Cardigan or for any (or all!) of the other patterns in our Parkland collection, comment on one of our blog posts or send an email to mmmeredith@hotmail.ca. You will receive the pattern for free in exchange for your opinions and suggestions (and maybe a little bit of help spreading the word about Thread Theory around the internet!).

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Newcastle Cardigan Supplies:
Main Body (Blue Knit):25% Acrylic 70% Cotton
Contrast Shoulders (Gray Suiting): Cotton-Poly blend with 2-way stretch

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Newcastle Cardigan Supplies #2:
Main Body (Brown): Bamboo Fleece
Contrast Shoulders (Gray Suiting): Cotton Poly with 2-way stretch

With the Newcastle Cardigan pattern coming closer to completion I’ve been on the search for knits.  I’ve found that it is often quite difficult to source menswear fabrics that are similar to those found in ready to wear garments – especially when it comes to knits.  Since our first line of patterns includes two garments that require knit materials, I thought it would be best to provide a list of great online stores, specific fabrics, and info on choosing knits so that it can be used for reference when you go to sew the Newcastle Cardigan or the Strathcona Henley!

Types of Material You’ll be needing:

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Heavy Bamboo Fleece – beautifully soft inside, strong and hard-wearing on the outside. Perfect for a casual and sporty Newcastle Cardigan.

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A cotton/acrylic knit that holds its shape lengthwise but stretches crosswise. An elegant color and slightly knobbly texture to create a dressier Newcastle Cardigan.

Newcastle Cardigan: Sweater knits – look for knits that are medium-weight or heavier.  Knits with wool content are especially attractive as a cardigan.  You could also use a terry-knit to create a sweater that is quite casual and cozy.  Try to avoid anything that drapes too much (rayon blend knits or most jersey knits) as fabric clinging to the arms and body results in a more feminine looking sweater.  The sample I sewed last week used too light of a knit and made Matt’s arms look surprisingly slender and feminine…not the result he was hoping for even though he didn’t want the arms too loose fitting.

Strathcona Henley:  Waffle knits or t-shirt knits are the best choice for this pattern.  Waffle knits would give this shirt the cozy and casual appearance of long-johns.  T-shirt knits – cotton, hemp or bamboo with maybe a little polyester blended in – would make the henley into a nice basic worn with jeans.  To create the outdoorsy look similar to Stanfield’s henleys use a wool and nylon rib knit.

Both: As interfacing, make sure you use a fusible type meant for knits because it will allow for a little bit of stretch.

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Fusible knit interfacing

Great blogs with resources on sewing knits:

Cutting knits – Tasia of Sewaholic

A Big List of Tips For Sewing Knits – Tasia of Sewaholic

Knits – Stretch Yourself Series – Made By Rae

Rae Talks about Shopping for Knit Fabrics Online – Made By Rae

Online Knit Fabric Retailers:

Based in the United States:

  • NearSea Naturals – North Carolina –  a great source for the most beautiful high quality organic knits – with some good deals too!
  • Harts Fabric – California – section specifically for sweater knits…there are a few heavier weight ones in here that would be good for menswear
  • Emma One Sock – Pennsylvania – designer discount fabric with a section for sweater knits. The word online is that the owner gives wonderful personal service and her fabric quality is excellent.  She warns on her website that shipping estimates are often too high and she will let you know the actual price once you check out.
  • Gorgeous Fabrics – A nice selection of sweater knits with thorough and personal write-ups.
  • Nick of Time Textiles– Pennsylvania – a discount wholesaler with what seems to be no minimums and a very large selection of extremely affordable knits…shipping is quite pricey to Canada but the affordability of the fabric might make the extra shipping worth it.
  • Fabric.com – Georgia – A huge selection with a specific section for sweater knits.  Currently,  most of the selection is light weight and a little more feminine than you might want for either the Newcastle or Strathcona patterns but that could be because we are already prepared for spring sewing.

A couple intriguing stores located in other countries:

  • Crose Fabric -Hong Kong – An Etsy shop from Hong Kong (but ships everwhere with a discounted price to the US) – a silk and wool store that is currently selling a gorgeous heavy oatmeal colored wool knit
  • The Remnant House – UK – Ships to a variety of places in Europe – it doesn’t look like it ships to North America or elsewhere but I could be wrong.  Search in their “Dress Fabric” category for apparel fabrics.

Does anyone know of online retailers of knit fabrics based out of Canada?  Or maybe some based in Australia or Europe?  I’ll add to my list if you have a favorite or two to mention!

P.S. Isn’t this nice packaging?Edited-8The buttons I just bought from my local fabric store (Gala Fabrics) were packed in this small envelope made from pattern instructions – isn’t that a nice way to recycle?