Thread Theory

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


17 Comments

Quarterly Report #2

Well, it is that time again – we have reached the end of another quarter (we’ve adjusted the dates slightly now that we have an accountant and an official ‘corporate year end’).  This quarter ends on November 30th and our last (and first!) Quarterly Report was written on September 6th for the May 15th-August 15th quarter.  We started selling our very first pattern on May 14th and our official corporate year end will be tomorrow!  The last quarterly report was full of immense accomplishments that were all very visible to the reader – after all, we had released all three patterns that currently exist in the store in, roughly, the span of those three months!  This quarter, while not so flashy from your perspective, has been even more full and included even more hurdles than the first.  Unfortunately, most of these hurdles haven’t yet seen the light of day on the blog or the store…but, as we have been saying over and over again over the last three months, they will be showing up REALLY REALLY SOON!!!!  Here is a summary of what we have learned and accomplished since August 15th:

Summary

On August 15th we were immersed in the midst of the Jedediah Shorts Sew Along.  We finished it, got to see all your amazing versions of the shorts and pants during the contest held by Kollabora, and then moved on to new and exciting things.  Some of these include:

  • We ordered and promptly received 3000 tissue patterns which have been sitting patiently in their boxes ever since.

Resized-2

  • We designed, ordered and received our chipboard business cards.  They are so perfect – whenever we need to be reminded of what and who Thread Theory is, all we need to do is open up the desk drawer and have a look at those beauties to be re-invigorated with inspiration!

Resized-1

  • We ordered and received the tiny little embroidered tags that will be included in every single pattern envelope that we sell.  I have been sewing them into every project I make and love how versatile they are.

Resized-3

  • We hired an accountant and took several important steps towards making Thread Theory a successful and organized business.  We spend time every day working with the accounting software we purchased (Sage – it is a wonderful program and we highly recommend it to anyone who is currently deciding which accounting software they should buy!).  Matt has been really diligent in learning how to operate this software and, seeing as tomorrow is our first fiscal year end, we will be finding out very shortly whether our accountant holds the same opinion as me in that Matt is an excellent businessman!  This step in our business has yet again illustrated clearly to me how glad I am that Matt and I are working on this project as partners.  While he is lost when it comes to writing sewing instructions and a lot of the more creative aspects of Thread Theory, I must admit that I am even more lost when it comes to organizing Thread Theory finances.  I’m glad that I’ve been able to pick up the daily accounting procedures quickly when Matt teaches them to me, but without Matt teaching them I am afraid that our business records would likely have become a messy shoe-box of receipts before the year end was over!
  • With our steadily growing sales and people’s increased awareness about the existence of our company, this quarter can be easily summed up as three months of learning how to provide customer service.  We seem to have even more emails and social media waiting for us every morning.  It has been a very difficult lesson to learn how to prioritize aspects of our lives the last couple months.  For instance, since we work from home, it is hard to stop ourselves responding to customer emails in the morning before we’ve even poured the coffee and at night just before we climb into bed.  We often press pause mid-movie when we hear the chime of a new email coming in.  Clearly, this approach is NOT sustainable and we are working really hard to put some lifestyle boundaries in place!
  • Another business lesson we have learned this quarter is that EVERYTHING that involves more people than the two of us (think printing, envelope design, shipping etc.) will take longer than we expect.  This has been an even more difficult lesson than the last point because it is so tempting to set goals and provide time frames for ourselves and for our customers.  As we have learned lately, this estimating will only lead to broken promises and disappointment.  We’re trying to learn this lesson as quickly as possible and, now that we are very close to completing the last couple steps of the printed pattern development process for the first time, we have been able to make a realistic timeline to operate under and will (hopefully) no longer be constantly underestimating everything.

In the Works

While I can’t tell you about everything we have been working on in the last few months, here are some of the things we’ve blogged about:

  • We will soon be selling paper patterns online and through retailers and the final portion of the packaging is being printed as we speak!
  • In connection to this, we are still gathering stockists for our paper patterns and are extremely happy with the response we have received!  For those of you who are inhibited by shipping prices when you try to purchase products from far across the world, not to worry, you will very likely have a brick and mortar store or at least a much closer online option from which you can purchase our patterns!
  • The much anticipated Goldstream Peacoat (which we used to have displayed as ‘Coming Soon’ in our store and is now removed in light of the lessons we have learned regarding announcing things too soon), is still in the works and inches ever closer to being available as a PDF and printed pattern. December 6th marks another hurdle crossed in this process because I will be receiving all the feedback from test-sewers!

Resized-8

  • Over the last three months a top-secret pattern has been designed, developed and tested by an enthusiastic group of sewers.  We’ve been busily ordering supplies and designing the packaging for something a little different than your standard sewing pattern which we really look forward to releasing!

On the Blog

We have been slightly less ambitious with the blog over the last quarter (no new sew-alongs or instructional videos for instance!) but, nonetheless, were very proud when the number of email followers finally broke the 200 mark last week!  A few of our most popular posts recently include:

  • The Goldstream Peacoat Contest through which we collected your tailoring suggestions to create the Encyclopedia Peacoatica, an online resource that is sitting patiently ready for you when you begin sewing your Goldstream Peacoat!
  • The photo gallery of my own version of the Newcastle Cardigan displaying that the pattern can be adapted for the female figure and (the most popular part) announcing the Rainy Day Sale during which the Newcastle pattern was discounted for a couple days.  We haven’t hosted a sale since and, as you can see, haven’t done anything for Black Friday due to a discordance between this practice of mass-consumerism and our company values (:P) but, don’t worry, we will be hosting sales in the future once our paper patterns have been released!

Resized-18

  • The display of the Alpine Collection inspiration and a call for pattern ideas.  I was happily overwhelmed by your response to this post and enjoyed tallying all the comments to discover what items are the most popular amongst our blog readers.  Your suggestions have been heard and, indeed, the second garment towards this collection has been designed is currently in the works with our pattern maker, thanks to your comments!

Alpine Inspiration Board - photos

Sewing and Personal Life

In the last three months, Matt and I have had a lot of changes occur in our personal lives.  We moved to the Comox Valley from Victoria (for those of you unfamiliar with Vancouver Island, this is three hours north of Victoria and is a much smaller community).  We are happy to be in the valley because the move led to many new opportunities.  First of all, rent prices are thankfully much lower so we moved into our first house with a yard and enough rooms to have both a sewing studio and an office just for Thread Theory!

Edited-1

We have plenty of closet space ready to store and display our paper patterns.  We have been working away on projects geared towards creating the perfect Thread Theory sewing studio, including repainting these display closets and making the perfect ironing table.

Resized-0002

Outside of Thread Theory, Matt has been thrilled to be accepted into the Comox Fire Department and has been busily training with them each week – an experience which he is greatly enjoying so far!  I am excited to begin volunteering with the Courtenay Recreation Centre’s sewing program in the new year and, in the meantime, am volunteering with their Art Cards program.  Also, I have taken up Zumba for fun since it is great way to loosen up the stiffness caused by sewing 8 hours a day for both work and Thread Theory!  Have you tried Zumba?  If you get stiff while sewing, how do you combat it?

Well, I must say, this quarterly report is MUCH longer than the last and I won’t blame you if you didn’t make it to the end!  If you did though, thanks for listening to my reflections regarding the last three months and thank you, everyone, for your continued enthusiasm for our menswear sewing pattern company!  We are proud to have made it through the struggles and lessons of the last three months and look forward to seeing the culmination of this hard work in the next quarter!

Advertisements


6 Comments

How Thread Theory Sees Sewing

Hey everyone! For this week’s blog post, Morgan and I decided to do a little feature on a company that has greatly inspired us in both our business and personal life: Merchant and Mills.

Merchant and Mills is a UK company that embodies everything we aspire to be: Understated, of quality and substance, whole-hearted and eager to pass on their mission to others!

Seriously though, just watch their promotional video, even if you’ve never sewn a stitch in your life you will be itching to pick up a needle and thread by the time it is over:

http://vimeo.com/69304563

Amazing, right? The whole “purchase quality – purchase once” ideal has always been important to me, and I think Merchant and Mills is an excellent example of this. I also, being a man, love the way they treat sewing. It makes me want to take up sewing and still feel masculine about it! They present a pair of thread snips as something as solid and serious such I would expect a hammer and chisel, for instance, to be presented.

Morgan and I are on a mission to create a Thread Theory studio that embodies these values and is a place that, each time we walk in the door, makes us feel inspired to create something that matches the branding we want our company to have.  You’ve seen Morgan’s dream ironing board/sewing cabinet.  Now we’re moving on to smaller projects to finish the room up.  Here are some recent images from Pinterest that we have been using as a source of inspiration:

de6ceb764d5c2edc2bc69febebbe0f7d c4cefe16707f7f122009096cb67d94ce bee6a2c6634988b3950e87d6dc1eeb8f b90f1304df7fcd7511e5a60db5a3fda1 a5b49b14ee28577bbf16ec58e9dcd8e7 95385d439b23054c01220f0f58e31f51 236b5859f047bc9ec115221911a38ef1 8dea553db080a470a598e263290c881d 6bf980aeb6cb971c9a5fe1c3298e44cf

Our next project is to add something like this to her thread organizers:

f765c33700c0b8704dd0623ae940fa57

On that note, I want to wax on about a tool we already have that fits our criteria for a sewing tool and studio space: Morgan’s amazing scissors. As much as I love my own tools, I get a ridiculous amount of joy every time I pick these bad boys up. They feel nice and heavy in the hand and have steel all through the handles. Most importantly, they are insanely sharp and precisely machined so that each “snip” cuts evenly all down the length of the blade (you know how some scissors cut best at the base of the blade or right near the middle? Not these!).

IMGP1308

They are the Kai 7205 8″ Professional Shears and can be found here!

What are your favourite sewing tools? Do you like to spend the extra money on a high quality item, or do you save your money and hope for the best?


8 Comments

Taking a closer look at the Goldstream Peacoat

Since our photo shoot of the Goldstream Peacoat was a quick one a few weeks ago, Matt and I decided to bring out the sample again and take some detail shots so that, when the time comes, you will all have a more comprehensive gallery of photos to examine when you are trying to choose your fabric, decide on the variation you would like to sew or visualize how the facings work!

This sample is sewn with the ONLY black wool Fabricland in Victoria had to offer but it turns out to be of nice quality so I won’t complain!  The lining is a very thin rayon lining in pea green that I got from the donated fabric bin at my fashion design school last spring.  I love the rich mix of pure black and bright green – pair this with silver and leather details and I think the result is classic with just a hint of ‘pizzaz’.  😛

On a completely unrelated note (not even sewing related!!!) I just have to show you the beautiful picture Matt took of the infused vodka that I made yesterday (inspired by this post and using this tutorial to get a general idea of how it is done):

Resized-1

…Maybe I can somehow relate it to Thread Theory by saying that the colours and the earthy textures of the home grown herbs make me want to choose colour palettes and head to the fabric store (but doesn’t everything?).  I made Rosemary Vodka, Thyme Vodka, Apple and Cinnamon Vodka and Pumpkin and Mulling Spice Vodka.  Not pictured but completely worth mentioning (because it has already been tasted and was delicious…and cheap to make!) is the DIY Peppermint Schnapps (using this tutorial) that I made using my entire mint bush.  It is supposed to sit several weeks before tasting but it turned so green and delicious looking right away that we had a taste and it was already very minty!

Happy Friday everyone!


Leave a comment

Thanks for your feedback!

Alpine Inspiration Board - mountains

I’m glad that so many people are loving the inspiration and aesthetic for our next collection!  I really enjoyed reading all of your detailed suggestions and sources for design inspiration – keep it coming!

I’m getting a strong sense that many of you would like NON-skinny legged pants and will definitely keep this in mind.  Items that work for both men and women were suggested often – while I want to stay (far :P) away from the realm of his and hers pajama sets or unisex sweaters, the idea of accessories such as back packs or garments such as classic outerwear that could be converted without many fit adjustments for women is intriguing.

I am really excited to delve into creating tutorials and instructions on how to create the purpose-driven details that are necessary in the design of outdoor clothing.  I have big plans to create everything from a tutorial to make your own oilcloth (so you can sew a jacket like the one in the inspiration mood board that so many of you liked!) to directions on quilting and padding (think lap-top sleeves in back packs, padded shoulder straps or protective interior phone pockets).

I agree with those of you who mentioned versatility as a key asset for menswear patterns.  My goal is to create patterns that, while designed for our Alpine Outdoorsmen collection, will fit a variety of lifestyles.  Instead of providing just a cargo pants pattern, for instance, we could provide a classic relaxed straight fit pants pattern with design options that include cargo pockets, flap pockets, patch pockets or welt pockets.  That way, depending on the fabric choice and design options chosen, the pants could be used to create everything from rugged hunting gear to dressy wool trousers with the exact style and combination of pocket options that the wearer prefers.  After all, one of the most – if not THE most – important aspect of menswear is the fit, so once you’ve found the perfect fitting pants, jacket or shirt pattern you’ll no doubt want to sew it over and over again while adjusting fabric and details to match whatever is the current style.  I know that’s certainly how I approach menswear sewing, and it seems, based on your comments, that many of you do the same!

Thank you again for all your thoughtful comments on my last post – I am really inspired to get designing!


53 Comments

Alpine: The next menswear sewing pattern collection

Alpine Inspiration Board - photos

Since Matt and I have been very busy with the administration and technical aspects of running a menswear sewing pattern company over the last week (So much math!  So much time using complicated computer programs!  Both things I NEVER imagined myself doing for a living!)  I thought I’d give myself and you a bit of fun by pulling together some inspiration for our next collection of patterns.

The Parkland Collection of four patterns will be complete with the release of the Goldstream Peacoat and consists of:

As many of you, I’m sure, have noticed, our first collection was inspired by the beautiful parks we have been lucky to grow up in around the Vancouver Island area.  Indeed, Matt spent many a summer weekend anchored off Newcastle Island with his family and we got engaged atop a mountain on Jedediah Island.

The inspiration for our next collection, the Alpine Collection, is a little less personal and is instead a nod to my love of research and history.  I am very intrigued by the idea of the ‘outdoorsman’ as embodied by numerous public figures throughout the 20th century such as Eric Shipton, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lionel Terray.  I think that rugged, comfortable and practical clothing with a classic aesthetic has a very firm place in most men’s closets and that outdoor sporting clothes are very current as every day wear.

To get myself immersed in and inspired by the lives led by people wearing such clothes, I have big plans to re-watch the excellent movie, North Face (2008), which, based on a true story, is about two German climbers who are part of a Nazi driven race to ascend the Eiger, a Swiss summit.

Another film that looks interesting is the National Geographic’s documentary, The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest (2010)  which includes all sorts of amazing historically accurate mountain climbing costumes from the 1920s.

I’ve also assembled a board of inspiration based on current clothing brands.  What do you think?

Alpine Inspiration Board - clothing

  1. Carhartt WIP Hickman Coat: Cozy hood, flap pockets, zipper closure with all-weather placket, drawstring to tighten waist.
  2. Filson Mackinaw Cruiser: Versatile as it would look nice in everything from wool to cotton to waterproof sports fabrics.
  3. Carhartt WIP Battle Parka: Love the angled flap pockets, lower face protection, draw strings, and hidden zipper.
  4. Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest: An everyday vest that is both sleek and cozy.  Love the front pocket shape.  Statement plaid!
  5. Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest: A more muted colour to show that this vest could also be elegant and gentlemanly.
  6. Moncler Twill Straight Leg Cargo Pants: A dressier slim-fit take on rugged cargo pants.
  7. Carhartt WIP Aviation Pant: Cargo pants suited for hard use but still modern with slim fit and low waist.
  8. Arcteryx Caliber Cardigan: Really interesting seamlines at the shoulders.  A nice easy to wear zip up.
  9. Carhartt WIP Elias Pocket Sweater: Just your average sweater…but with a pocket!
  10. Arcteryx Cordin Pullover: A simple sweater with great shoulder details.  Nice in a wool blend but could also be made lighter.
  11. Frank and Oak Greenwich Backpack: This would be a fun project to sew – especially with customized pockets!
  12. Frank and Oak Hyde Mountaineering Backpack: I love the double strap closure as a perfect leather accent!

Now that you’ve had a look at my ideas, do you have any garments you’d like to add to the pool of ‘Alpine’ themed menswear?  Request and suggest away!  Also, some of the great brands above have been referred to by our blog readers and I was thrilled to receive such excellent (and awesomely relevant to my theme!) inspiration.  Do you have any menswear brands that inspire you?  I’d love to take a look!


12 Comments

DIY Ironing Table

Hello blog world!

Morgan and I were too excited about the most recent addition to the sewing room to wait for the Friday post! So, without further ado, here it is!

Resized-0002

This DIY tutorial is for an ironing table that is specially designed to pin together duvets, which Morgan sews for The Heather Company. It is also the perfect table for ironing as well as a great cutting mat surface.

This tutorial is for the working surface of the table (which contains several important layers), as the shelves can really be made of anything (but more on that later!)

Here are some things you will need!

  • A sheet of plywood
  • Carpet padding
  • Heavy canvas (12oz to 14oz)
  • Cotton needle punch batting
  • A staple gun
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • Liquid glue

Resized-0002 Resized-0003 Resized-0004

The first step is to determine the size you want your table to be. We decided to make it the full width of our spare bedroom (a.k.a. the sewing studio) and 24″ deep. This allows the cutting mat to easily sit on top without any overhang. Then, simply cut a piece of plywood to the size you want! The thickness of the plywood all depends on how wide the gap between the shelves will be; ask your local handy-man for help!

Next, get your carpet underlay and cut it with scissors or a box knife to cover the entire surface of the plywood.

Resized-0001

Do a dry fit first, and then cover your plywood with glue squiggles. I used an all-purpose liquid super glue made by Titan.

Resized-0005

Resized-0006

 

Next, wait for the glue to dry enough that it holds the carpet padding in place (it doesn’t have to completely set). Lay out your canvas with the cotton needle punch on top, then flip the plywood and carpet padding upside-down on top of it all. You should now have the underside of the plywood showing with a layer of carpet padding, cotton needle punch, and canvas underneath. We let the needle punch overlap a couple inches on each side, and then canvas quite a bit more than that – about 6-8 inches.

Resized-0007

 

Now comes the fun part! With one person on each end, pull the canvas nice and tight, doing your best to get it stretched in both directions. Fold it up and over the raw side of the plywood and staple it down!

Resized-0008Work your way around the whole surface stapling every 6 inches or so. If you get a few staples sticking up, tap them down with a hammer.

Resized-0009 Resized-0010 Resized-0011

 

Next, flip the whole kit-and-kaboodle over and admire your handy-work!

Resized-0012 Resized-0013 Resized-0014The canvas might not be super tight at this point, but as you iron on it, the canvas will shrink and it will make a nice smooth surface.

Next, put it on top of some cupboards/side tables/saw horses/anything you want! My mum and dad had promised Morgan some custom-made cabinets for her birthday, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to cash in! We designed them to have enough space to hold Morgan’s Husqvarna machine and her serger, and to have a small slot for her cutting table. My parents went above and beyond and built the cabinets up on small risers and made slide out platforms! We were totally blown away by their sturdy-ness, and we sanded them and applied a coat of black walnut Danish Oil and set them up!

Resized-0001 Resized-0003 Resized-0004 Resized-0005 Resized-0007 Resized-0008 Resized-0006All in all, the ironing table-top was a VERY simple process. We did the entire thing (except cutting the plywood) on our living room floor and only had to do a quick vacuum to clean up after! The carpet padding makes a bit of a mess when you cut it… We weren’t keeping track of time, but this project could EASILY be done in an an afternoon/evening. And, once the table-top is done, you could put it on anything from filing cabinets to Ikea Expedit cubes!

Have any questions on the process? Feel free to post below and I’ll do my best to help!


6 Comments

Finished Garment Eye Candy!

First of all, thank you everyone for your overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to our call for peacoat test sewers!  We have selected our group of test sewers after a lot of deliberation.  It was so difficult to choose from all the detailed emails and comments we received!  Even if we didn’t select you this time, that didn’t mean you won’t have a chance to test sew in the future as we added everyone how applied to our test sewing mailing list!

Now, moving forward, did you notice the changes we made to the photos on our website this week?  Check them out! We added a new version of the Strathcona Henley and decided to feature the beautiful Jedediah Pants that my mother-in-law sewed up.

It was my dad’s birthday last weekend so I sewed him a Strathcona Henley as per his request.  This time, I chose a beautifully soft cotton knit with hardly any ribbing and a fairly stable jersey for the placket.  The sewing process was so much easier than it was with the heavily ribbed knit I had used for Matt’s henley because both my serger and sewing machine decided they agreed with my fabric choice!  We’ve updated the website photos to show my dad skillfully modelling his new shirt.  He’s become quite a pro; we quickly walked to the park and he matter-of-factly began to strike poses…even though there were kids and parents watching at the play ground!  Who would of thought my dad would be our easiest model!

While we were on a roll we also photographed the cardigan that my Mom had sewn my dad when we were in the pattern testing phase with the Newcastle Cardigan last spring.  Even though the cardigan has been worn by everyone from my school’s fashion show model to my grandpa when he’s visiting and chilly the cardigan has never been properly photographed.  My mom did an excellent job on it using a heavy (and thus difficult to handle) sweatshirt fleece and gorgeous leather details.  She even added leather elbow patches which make the cardigan look so sophisticated!  My dad loves wearing it when he walks their dog, Jake, now that it is getting pretty cold in the evenings.  As you can see, it looks really nice on him!

Last but not least, I have another excellent version of the Newcastle to show you.  Diana sewed this version and included a couple top stitching and fit modifications.  She added a strip of fabric at the side seam to increase the width of the body and I think that the extra seam lines create a really nice structured look.  The fabric and buttons she chose are just perfect and the tag she stitched in using a contrast thread makes the cardigan look like it has just been purchased from a high end menswear boutique!   Great job Diana and thanks for sharing your photos with us!

diana's newcastle 2

diana's newcastle

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween!  Matt and I are really excited that it is now November…we have a lot of big things planned for Thread Theory this month!