Thread Theory

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

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 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!).


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


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:


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


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.


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.
  • – 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?

14 thoughts on “Tips on Manly Knits

  1. Pingback: Looking for Manly Knits? |

  2. Thank you for this info! I have the Newcastle cardigan and have been looking online for fabric. Off to check out a few of these sites! Also, if you need any testers for future patterns, I would love to help you out! I’m so excited to find a great pattern company for menswear.

  3. Please count me in for future testers. I’d love to join!

  4. I’m a professional seamstress/sample maker, but for my personal sewing I have been really pleased with the indie patterns that I’ve been sewing lately. There is definitely a need for menswear. I would be glad to test your pattern and give you some feedback. It’s nice to see the “Big Three” get some competition. I found you through Handmakers Factory, which I’m finding to be a great source of good things. Best of luck in your endeavor.

    • Thank you for the kind comment! We will add you to our pattern tester list for future collections. Thanks for checking us out through Handmakers Factory – I agree, it’s a great site and resource!

  5. I would love to be a pattern tester and help to spread the word. I’ve been looking for men’s patterns for ages, and having to make do with the two men’s patterns burda put out! I make pretty much all my husband’s clothes and also teach sewing so would be great to have a go at some of your patterns.

    • Thanks for your comment! I will add you to our pattern testing contact list! We have gathered quite a line up so pattern testing is filled for our current collection but you will be on the list for future collections! If ever you get a chance, I (and I’m sure other sewers) would love to see photos of some of the pieces you’ve sewn for your husband on your blog. 🙂

  6. Oooh! Just found your blog! I LOOOOOVE sewing with knits. I’ve sewn some knit tank tops for my husband and some guy friends. Very excited about your men’s pattern line, and would be happy to be a tester, if you still need folks.

    I saw the Newcatle cardigan, and it’s fantastic!

    • Thanks for volunteering! I’ll add you to the pattern testing list for the Stratchona Henley – your experience and tips would be really helpful!

  7. If you need more test sewers, count me in! My husband really loves your style 😀

    • Thanks for all of your encouraging comments 🙂 I’ll sign you up as a test sewer – do you have a preference which pattern you do? We’re currently looking for test sewers for the Jedediah Trousers and the Strathcona Henley. Later on we’ll be testing the Goldstream Peacoat but that will be in a couple months.

  8. I have been dusting off my sewing supplies in anticipation of giving your Newcastle cardigan a try. Please include me in your test pattern distribution. I will be a good test of your instructions as it has been a while since I have sewn any clothes. Christine

    • That sounds great Christine! We look forward to having you as a test sewer! I will send an email with the pattern and survey as soon as it is ready (we anticipate this will be in 1.5-2 weeks).

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