Thread Theory

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


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Quarterly Report #3

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It’s the last day of February and it’s time for Thread Theory’s third quarterly report!  It’s currently the first quarter of our second fiscal year but I’m labelling our blog quarterly reports numerically rather than cycling from fiscal year to fiscal year.

This has been Thread Theory’s best quarter yet!  The last Quarterly Report that I wrote left us on the brink of reaping the satisfaction and rewards from a lot of our hard work, so this quarter we happily got to enjoy that while also working towards new goals.  Here are some of the main things to have happened in the last three months:

Anniversary: On December 15th we celebrated the first anniversary of Thread Theory as an incorporation.  We held an “Anniversary Sale” so that you could all join in on the celebration as well and were thrilled that it was a huge success!

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Tissue Pattern Release: January 10th saw the culmination of a LOT of hard work – our tissue sewing patterns were officially released both in our store and in stockist stores.  These tissue patterns included the Newcastle Cardigan, the Jedediah Pants and the Strathcona Henley.  We had been completely in love with our packaging for quite some time and so it was great to finally show it to the sewing world and hear that you love it too.  We have heard nothing but good things about the aesthetic of the tissue patterns so far and hope that our graphic designer, Sonia Bishop, reads this because this success is all due to her!

Stockists: A large hurdle that we stumbled on but have since happily climbed over consisted of gathering stockists to carry our tissue patterns.  Our system was a little clunky and awkward at first because we were overly eager and sent out a pre-sale notice to stockists before we actually had our pattern envelopes in our hands.  Of course, we were bombarded with questions such as “How much is shipping?”  and “Can you send photos of your product?”.  We couldn’t answer any of these questions without our complete set of packaging which was delayed due to an error in printing.  Some of you may remember that one of our goals in the second quarter was to no longer make public announcements and promises until we had all elements under our control.  That goal stemmed from this delay and we are proud that we have met this goal ever since!  Despite our confusing start to contacting stockists, we are very pleased to have our patterns currently carried by 20 retailers with 7 more retailers either waiting for their package to arrive in the mail or taking the last steps to finalizing their order.

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Goldstream Peacoat: The highly anticipated Goldstream Peacoat was weighing us down last quarter.  It was a lofty goal to include such a complicated pattern in our first collection but I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out.  We launched the PDF version of this pattern on January 17th and the tissue version of the pattern will be available on March 10th.  My goal with the Goldstream Peacoat was to create a design that allows sewers to create a very classic looking outerwear garment with the simplest techniques possible.  I think that the seam lines and sewing instructions make this possible and hope that the peacoat will help intermediate sewers easily conquer their fear of sewing a coat! My mom finished sewing her version of the coat for my dad very recently and was shocked by how quickly and painlessly the sewing process went.  She is an intermediate sewer who hasn’t done much in the way of garment sewing for a number of years (but she sews just about everything for her sailboat) so was a little nervous about sewing a wool coat.  She plans to write a guest blog post to tell you about her first big outerwear project and I will be sure to include lots of photos of the amazing results!

New Patterns: We also have three new secret patterns currently in development.  We plan to release all future sewing patterns in both their PDF and Tissue Variations simultaneously now that we have our system better worked out.  The next pattern will have a launch day of March 17th and it is currently in the mail to stockists.  It is the very first pattern to be part of our Alpine Collection which will consist of “Adventure Menswear”: clothing that is designed to be rugged and allow for lots of movement during physical activity.  The other two patterns don’t have release dates scheduled yet but we will keep chugging away at the process and we look forward to showing you the designs.

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U.S. Road Trip:  In late January we received an email inviting us to appear on Sew It All T.V. (PBS)!  In order to film this episode we will have to head to Golden, Colorado so we have decided to do so via land rather than air so that we have a chance to meet some of our stockists.  I posted about the trip here but since then we have arranged a trunk show with Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver the on April 22nd.  We are really looking forward to meeting anyone who can make it out for the evening!

Magazine Features:  Both Sew It All magazine and Sewing World magazines kindly published little features of our company in recent issues.  Check them out!  We’re hoping my aunt can bring over the Sewing World issue from England when she visits next month, it would be great to see it in person :).

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New Website: Most recently, Matt spent hours and hours (and days and days) at his computer building us a new website.  When we launched our tissue patterns we quickly realized that our current store simply would not work for us any longer – there was no way to have the PDF and Tissue versions of each pattern under the same product without accidentally charging shipping for PDFS…yikes!  We love our new store and look forward to making better use of the banner feature (wait until you see the photo we will be putting up on it on March 17th!).  We also made Pinterest boards to attach to each product so that you can see as many versions as I can pin all at once for sewing inspiration.

Goals: We have quite a few goals for our next quarter.  Here are a few of the main ones for you to examine in list format:

  1. Continue to be patient and announce developments and make promises only when all elements are under our control.  Things take longer this way but the process is also a lot less stressful for us!  Nothing makes me worry and stress more than owing someone something that we promised.
  2. Make the VERY MOST of our road trip to Colorado.  I really look forward to using the connections we have developed online through this blog and our business to develop real life friends at our different stop off points on our way south.  I don’t want my shyness to inhibit making new sewing friends and I don’t want our busy schedules to stop us from making plans to meet bloggers, stockists and any other sewing destinations I discover between now and mid-April.  If you’d like to meet with us, comment or shoot us an email (info@threadtheory.ca) and I would be thrilled to arrange something!
  3. My personal goal in these next three months is to take the initiative to learn more of ‘Matt’s side’ of the business.  I have been working hard in the last couple weeks to become proficient at our daily accounting and my next goal is to learn to smoothly operate our new website dashboard (including some basic coding…eek!).  Matt can launch into detailed analysis of dart placements or fabric choices (which often makes me pause in my tracks in shocks…I often expect to be engaging in a sewing monologue only to find I’m having a thorough sewing discussion, when did that happen?!) so I want to be able to do the same when he wants to talk business!  I also want to be able to give him a day off once in a while since his involvement in the local fire department is getting to be more time consuming of late (which I have already been doing with our daily accounting and customer service).
  4. Lastly, and here’s a big one, I want to ramp up the frequency of tutorials and sew-alongs on this blog.  I have been letting this slide for the last two quarters (even though it was one of the goals I made in the last quarterly report…oops) and so have plans for a sew-along for the pattern we will release on March 17th.  I also have a pretty exciting idea to increase the frequency of tutorials which I hope to implement in May.  Wish me luck!

 

Do you have any goals to suggest for Thread Theory?  Are you patiently waiting for another sew-along?  Do you secretly hope we make a particular pattern/design our next priority?  What information do you really want to know about menswear sewing?  We love your feedback, especially any time I write a ‘Behind the Scenes’ style post, and thank you for encouraging us so actively in the growth of our little pattern company!


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Newcastle Cardigan fabric choices – Robert Kaufman

Have you heard of Robert Kaufman Fabrics?  Chances are, if you spend quite a bit of time in a fabric store (as it seems we all do), then you have seen these fabrics advertised quite regularly.  Kona Cotton, for instance, is a Robert Kaufman fabric well loved in the quilting world but also sometimes used for fashion sewing.

A few months ago, we were contacted by the company because they hoped to use the Newcastle Cardigan pattern to display their fabrics at manufacturing shows (Robert Kaufman specializes in both manufacturing and quilting fabrics).  Here is the result!

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Their sample sewers used Monatuk Twill in Charcoal and Shetland Flannel in Ocean.  The result is very classy.  I love how they used the contrast flannel for the under collar!  I don’t think that either fabric has any stretch to it (they are both wovens with a 100% cotton content) so it is more of a spring jacket rather than a cardigan.  It looks wonderful on a mannequin and would likely provide a nice slim fit on a man with narrow shoulders if it were sized up slightly (since the Newcastle Cardigan is a pattern designed for knits and requires stretch across the shoulders and in the slim-fit arms).

Have you tried sewing the Newcastle Cardigan in a woven material?  If you’re interested in checking out some of Robert Kaufman’s beautiful linen/rayon blends or their flannels and quilting cottons, head on over to shop at one of our newest stockist’s online store: Fabricworm!  I particularly like this linen/rayon blend.


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Behind the Scenes: Photo Tour of the Assembly Line

 

Aside from developing patterns, writing instructions, designing packaging, maintaining customer relations and marketing, have you ever wondered what occupies the time of an indie pattern company owner?  Here’s a look into some of the slightly more mundane but just as time consuming aspects of owning Thread Theory:
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We’re very lucky to have such hard working free labour in the form of supportive family members!  Thank you to my Mom and Dad, Nonnie and Grandpa, Matt’s Mum and Dad, and to Sonia (our graphic designer) for all the hours of packing patterns.  You made our ‘Stuffing Parties’ (as we like to call them) into real parties and we were thrilled you could help us celebrate our achievements at the same time.  Thanks as well to all our enthusiastic stockists!  As you can see, trips to the post office with stockist packets such as the one pictured above are quite momentous occasions!

When Matt and I were first researching the aspects of running an independent pattern company we never came across much information about what have lately been our most time consuming daily activities (customer service, packing patterns, sending and receiving shipments to name a few) and instead came across more information on less regular but of course very important aspects of running our business (such as branding, developing instruction booklets and of course, designing and drafting the patterns).

I must admit I never expected to become so well versed in the intricacies of international shipping and am thrilled that I have a constant source of wooden pallets to finally make use of all my DIY pallet project pins on Pinterest :P.

Are you curious about any details of running your own pattern company?  Would you like to see more photo tours? Is the reality, as displayed by our photos, close or very far off from what you imagined to be involved in a sewing pattern company?


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The Great British Sewing Bee and Spoonflower’s Grant

Please note that I am not being sponsored by/re-reimbursed for writing about the following two companies.  I’m just choosing to do so because I thought our readers might be interested in the following opportunities:

In the last few days I have received two emails notifying me of amazing opportunities for sewers and of course had to share them with you in case you are eligible/in the position to take opportunity of them.  First off, I am sure most of you have heard of the Great British Sewing Bee.  While I have never watched the show myself, I have heard people such as Gertie of Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing and Rachel of House of Pinheiro describe it as everything a sewist could want in a TV show.  One step better than watching it, of course, is to be in it and you have that opportunity!  Check this out:

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Next, have you heard of Spoonflower?  They are a company that allows you to design your own fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap.  I’ve designed fabric through them once featuring my parent’s sail boat and found their website really easy to use and the fabric turned out pretty good for my first try (I don’t have much in the way of a natural talent when it comes to graphic design though…so if you do and you’re currently enrolled in a textile or fashion design program, you might want to check out the grant the Spoonflower offers.  One of the girls in my fashion design program last year designed her own fabrics through Spoonflower for the end-of-year fashion show.  She had a nautical theme and the custom fabric really helped emphasize it!

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Would you be thrilled to be on the Great British Sewing Bee or is having your speed sewing inspected your worst nightmare?  And have you designed fabric on Spoonflower with great success?  Have you tried putting one of your fabric designs up for sale?


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Road Trip! We’re heading state-side!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.  We’re glad that you are taking advantage of our Valentine’s Day sale (its on for the whole weekend, enter VALENTINE upon checkout to receive 15% off of our tissue sewing patterns).

Today I have some big news that we’ve been very eager to tell you: We’re heading on a ROAD TRIP!!!

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We’ve been invited to appear on Sew-It-All, the PBS TV show!  We are thrilled to have been invited onto such a wonderful sewing show and have been busily planning the project that we will be filming (it will include a free sewing pattern on the Sew-It-All website).  Of course, the Comox Valley (B.C., Canada), is not conveniently located next the the Golden (Colorado) studio so Matt and I (and Matt’s parents) decided to scrap quick and easy plans to fly and instead make the trip into an epic U.S. road trip!  We have our itinerary set for the way there and will be winging it on the way back.  We leave on April 16th and we plan to travel down to Portland and across to Golden and then head up to Yellowstone park on the way back.

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What we really want to know is, can you meet up with us?  If you don’t live at one of our stopping points, have you been there, do you have any recommendations of where we should go, who we should meet, what we should see and do?  We would love to hear from you!  We are hoping to check out lots of sewing related stores and studios as well as enjoy the culture of each city we stop at (of course, especially if it is sewing or fashion related!).


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Valentine’s Day Treats

Today we have two treats for you:

1. All of our tissue patterns are 15% for the whole weekend, in case all the flowers and chocolates have got you feeling eager to engage in some Selfless Sewing! Enter “VALENTINE” at checkout to receive your discount (sale runs from now until midnight on February 16th).

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2. Hunky dudes, courtesy of what Morgan will forever describe as “the best photo shoot ever”. Can you guess what our next pattern is (or are you distracted by the chiselled muscles)?

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Enjoy!

 


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What everyone else has been sewing:

This morning I’ve been busily linking away so that I can show you some of the great things currently happening around the world that involve our sewing patterns.  It’s so rewarding to see what our patterns have inspired.  Matt and I may not have time for an in depth sew-along for every single pattern (though, we do have more planned, don’t worry!), or to sew up the millions of different cardigan’s, pants and henleys I have swirling around in my head, but that is okay because there are many other people out there who are doing exactly those things!

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If you are a Spanish speaker then you really are in luck – our Spanish stockist, Telaria, is mid-way through a thorough and easy-to-follow sew-along for the Newcastle Cardigan pattern!  Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you might want to make use of Google Translate and have a look at all the hard work Miren has put into documenting her Newcastle Cardigan sewing process.  We are thrilled that she has taken this large project up and love how her cardigan turned out.

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Once you’ve had a look at the Telaria “Just for Men” sew-along, make sure to add your Newcastle to the Flickr group that Miren has set up!  If you enter your photo by March 17th you will be entered in the draw for a chance to win one of three awesomely manly prizes (including manly fabric, a Japanese menswear pattern book and even some of our patterns).  Even though you missed the beginning of the Newcastle Cardigan portion of the sew along, you still have time to get ready for the third segment of the “Just for Men” series.  The Strathcona Henley sew-along will begin on March 3rd.  If you are nervous about sewing with knits, this will be an invaluable resource for you!

The next thing I want to share with you is a brand new blog called Tinker, Tailor, Sewster…Spy? created by a male sewer based out of Brisbane, Australia.  He began his blog to document his Jedediah Pant sewing process and also has plans in the works to sew up the rest of our Parkland Collection.  He is a very careful and thorough sewer who seems to have an endless pool or patience to pull from.  His most recent blog post details his decision to scrap his original plan to use bright blue top stitching (pictured below) and instead switch to gray.  This means he will be redoing the back pockets that he embroidered, blogged about and even filmed!

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I really admire his commitment to making the perfect garment.  After all, why put all that effort into sewing if you are only going to produce something that you aren’t really happy with?  To me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of sewing menswear.  Since menswear is dictated by details and fit, imperfection in either of these areas will stand out very obviously in a finished garment.  While it might be incredibly frustrating mid-sewing process to re-do top stitching over and over again or to make multiple mock-ups, the result is something that is very easy to feel proud about!

You would never guess that the author of Tinker, Tailor, Sewster…Spy?  is new to blogging – his posts are full of information, inspiration, lots of photos and videos.  Head on over to comment, follow his blog and encourage him in his new blogging endeavor.  It is great to see another male sewer join the sewing and blogging community!  Good luck to him on his quest for the perfect Jedediah Pants!

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Last but certainly not lease in today’s parade is a new project from the most prolific Thread Theory customer: Huff Makes Stuff.  I can’t believe how many Jeds and Straths Jen has whipped up over the last few months!  Her goal is to create a new outfit for her husband and herself each month for 12 months.  She has already completed four outfits for her husband which include four Jedediah Short and Pant variations and four Strathcona Henley, Sweater and T-shirt variations.  I love how her husband’s taste for colour and print is displayed in each outfit and I especially love how all of these garments display how versatile these two patterns are.  Each outfit looks well planned and stylish and must make Darron’s wardrobe very easy to pick from each morning!

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The latest outfit is wonderfully summery and bright and makes a nice Australian contrast to the dark mid-winter renditions of the patterns that I always sew.  She has mixed and matched the Strathcona variations to create a short sleeve henley without buttons.  She is toying with the idea of adding buttons to the placket but I think she should leave them off because I love how casual and cool it looks – perfect for a day at the beach or on the backyard patio!  She has paired this orange henley with awesomely out-there postage stamp Jedediah Shorts.  Her husband is fearless when it comes to prints (Matt has something to learn from him – he even steers clear of stripes!).  She made the legs slightly less tapered and did not cuff this version of the shorts.  Check out all of her outfits (both those sewn for her husband and those she’s sewn for herself) to see how rewarding an organized outfit-oriented approach to sewing can be!

Do you have any menswear projects, blog posts or tutorials to share with us?  We would love to feature them on the blog!  Send us an email at info@threadtheory.ca to let us know what you have been working on.