Thread Theory

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


2 Comments

Sewing Indie Month: Let me introduce you to By Hand London!

Today marks the second to last day of Sewing Indie Month!  It has been a great month featuring all sorts of newly forged connections and creative projects.  Thanks again, Mari, for organizing this for all of us indie pattern companies!

As the last scheduled event of the month (aside from the sew-along contests of course – you still have time to enter before they close on June 4th!), I have interviewed the talented women behind the indie sewing pattern company, By Hand London.

 

BHL logo

 

If you haven’t heard of them before (I am fairly certain most of you have!), they are the creative masterminds behind the dress pattern that went viral not too long ago…yes, they produced the Anna dress pattern!

Anna dress

As far as indie pattern companies go, the By Hand London team and patterns are certainly one of our biggest inspirations here at Thread Theory.  I am an avid reader of your blog and most of all love the enthusiasm and humour the three of you put into everything you do.  Can you introduce yourselves to our readers and discuss the essence of BHL?

Well, hello! And thank you for such kind words – the highest kind of compliment coming from you!

I’m Elisalex, and I make up one third of BHL – Charlotte and Victoria being my partners in crime. We design sewing patterns for women like us who take creative control over their own style. To further our mission of self sufficient style, we are also on the brink of launching a print-on-demand fabric service! (Head to their “About Us” page to read more!)

pic1

By Hand London is quickly becoming so much more than a sewing pattern company.  Where do you see your company going in the next few years and what do you wish to add to and encourage within the sewing community?

We’ve always been big dreamers that’s for sure! Even in the early days of BHL we had keep reminding ourselves that we couldn’t do everything we wanted to do all at once, so we started with sewing patterns, and within a year had already begun planning our next move into the world of print-on-demand fabric… While world domination is very high on our to-do list, we want to expand organically, and most of all in a way that immediately responds to the demands of the making community. Over the next few years we’d like to find ourselves in our dream studio (club tropicana themed of course, and open to one and all to come and hang out and sew), efficiently juggling the fabric printing and the patterns, with more fabrics available, an ever growing library of sewing patterns and hopefully with a few more humans to bulk up the BHL team! We’re all full of ideas and potential plans for the future of By Hand London, but we’ll just have to see which ones end up materialising…

1045180_490019797743385_660121187_n

A huge challenge when sewing menswear is attempting to source interesting textiles with the correct fibre content and right weight to suit a pattern. Due to this, we are VERY excited about your new move in the direction of printing textiles.  Can you outline some of your plans for this area of your business?

It’s great to know you’re as excited as we are about the fabrics! The print-on-demand fabric printing is going to be SUCH a thrill for us – not least of all because we’ll get to design our own fabrics and champion our favourite artists! The fabric printing will really open up a whole new world of making for BHL as we won’t be limited to providing a service for female sewists only. The fabric printing will be open to one and all – be it men, women, children, dressmakers, fashion designers, quilters, crafters, homemakers, students, party planners… The list is endless!

pic3

(Watch the BHL Kickstarter campaign video for more info on their fabric printing venture!)

 To begin with, we will have two types of cotton available to print on – the cotton poplin (which is already available in the form of our delicious Eloise print , and a soft and floaty cotton lawn – both wide width. Customers will be able to upload and edit their very own designs or choose from our gallery of existing designs, which will champion the work of artists, illustrators, designers and students who’s work we love. We’ll also be holding regular competitions open to one and all – our first of which resulted in over 200 entries and three wining designs, which are currently being test printed ready for production!

10_1024x1024

Do you plan to offer a range of textiles that can be custom printed?  For instance, will your textile printer be able to print on knits or twills in the future (we hope so because it would be soooo amazing to have access to custom printed knits that are better suited to menswear garments!)?

To begin with we’ll have just the two types of cotton – the lawn and the poplin – but we absolutely plan on adding more! Rather than ordering in thousands of metres of every type of fabric under the sun, we plan on adding new fabrics as per customer demand. If we see that everyone is screaming and shouting for knits, we’ll be sure to provide.

Can you explain the printing process for your fabric?  You mention on your blog that the fabric is printed digitally and uses eco-friendly inks.  Can you explain how this is similar or different to the fabrics commonly found in fabric stores?

If you imagine a very big, very long inkjet printer, that’s essentially what we’re dealing with! The fabric is fed through and simply printed on just like paper in your printer at home. It’s that satisfying! One of the popular traditional fabric printing methods is also digital, but using reactive dyes, which although very vibrant and colourfast, need to be thoroughly washed, steamed and dried after the dyeing process. This uses up a lot of water in the process, which is not eco friendly at all! With pigment inks, all you need to do after printing is pass it through a (very hot) oven for a minute or two to effectively ‘bake’ on the dye – no water wasted and lots of extra steps needed! And best of all, the inks are safe for even the most sensitive skin.

IMG_0195

Do you plan to offer your curated gallery of fabrics for sale through stockists worldwide or will your fabrics be available online only? 

Given the nature of print-on-demand, our curated gallery of fabrics will be available only through us, as it will be printed and packed as each individual order comes in. But as with everything we do, if we find that we’ve got all the haberdasheries asking to stock our gallery, then I’m sure we’ll reconsider 😉

Can you describe the By Hand London studio?  Do all three of you work in the same space? (I hope your studio is large – a textile printer would certainly not fit in ours :)!)

Ummm… Well right now our studio looks something like a shipping crate crossed with a prison cell. Throw in some rickety old shelving over-flowing with fabric and notions, and crockery that may as well be alive, and you start to get the picture! This has been our very first official studio, and most definitely a stepping stone until we find the next big thing. We’re searching high and low as I type for a bigger, brighter and more inspiring workspace that will house our printer, our growing collection of patterns and the three of us!

What does a day at the studio involve for the three of you?  Who does what task and why?

A day at BHL HQ usually starts with getting the menial tasks and adminny stuff out of the way – packing orders, replying to comments and emails, going through numbers and the odd spreadsheet and such. As we do this we’re almost always catching up on each other’s love lives, weekend shenanigans and fighting over who’s turn it is to choose the playlist (which will invariably be sleazy RnB as Victoria’s choice, 80s grooves for Charlotte and Southern blues and country for me!). When we’re done with that, we’ll point blank ignore the amount of tidying up we should be doing and get to the fun stuff – this is changeable depending on what we’ve got going on any given day – we might be designing, blogging, planning a sewalong, heading out to do some fabric shopping, and always always always hustling and master-planning!

1012677_487612624650769_2058422223_n

Your connection with the online sewing community seems very strong and always active.  What are the key steps you take to ensure this?  What methods lead to the most successful connections?

As I’m sure you’re aware, the online sewing community is absolutely the core of what we do. It’s all the wild and wonderful bloggers/Instagrammers/tweeters that not only help to spread the word to sewists the world over, but who also help to shape our patterns with their feedback and suggestions.

We really enjoy being a part of the constant flow of online communication, and I’d say, being visual creatives, that our favourite portal is Instagram for sharing and keeping up with day to day goings on. Twitter is great for quick fitting advice and general chit chat, but above all, and we’re very lucky here in the UK, we have a really active community of UK based sewists who go above and beyond to forge friendships in real life. Almost on a monthly basis there are sewing meet-ups, some huge: last year saw a 50 sewist strong meet-up organised by Rachel Pinheiro in honour of Sew Busy Lizzy s visit to London, and some more intimate – last month Clare Szabo organised a surprise bachelorette party for Roisin Muldoon! Needless to say, we all had very sore heads the next day…

What areas of BHL do you find the most rewarding?  Does this answer differ for each of you?

While we all have different roles within the company and find different tasks more rewarding than others – I for one am happiest sat at the sewing machine or dreaming up and creating blog content – I think I can speak for Charlotte and Victoria when I say that seeing our little “company” grow from nothing is what rewards us all the most and spurs us on. We feel like we’ve achieved a lot in a very short space of time! Reading all the wonderful reviews of our patterns, hearing from happy customers and seeing the ball drop when we teach classes are all top on the Rewards List.

I can’t help but notice that you love cats…seeing as we have a very spoiled cat here at the Thread Theory studio who loves nothing more than lying on tissue patterns and batting pins around, do you have any stories or photos to share of your cat’s sewing related shenanigans?

We certainly do love our kitties! At my house (which started out as our studio, before we found the cell) I have two cats – one of which right now happens to be grooming her nether region whilst snuggled up in the quilt I’m still working on…

cat in box

We love them, but man do they get in the way!! The amount of pattern tissue they’ve torn, fabrics they’ve embedded with their fur and bobbins lost to their playfulness… But we get them back pretty good – there was the time when we turned a white paw blue with felt tips… And that April Fool’s when we “released” our first sewing pattern for cats!

IMG_0563

Thank you, Elisalex, for and inside look at your quickly growing company!  I am so impressed with how far you’ve come in such a short amount of time and I eagerly anticipate where your next adventure in fabric printing will take you!  I hope that Thread Theory readers – who I know are constantly looking for new sources of menswear fabrics – will take your hint to scream and shout for you to expand into knits eventually ;).

What types of fabrics and prints do you most look forward to ordering from the BHL ladies?  They’ve started with such an interesting selection of florals: I love how subtle their monster themed Eloise print is and I think one of their next prints, Charlie, is absolutely stunning!


5 Comments

Father’s Day Sale – FREE SHIPPING!

Blog Sized-8

In honour of Father’s Day (probably the biggest and most important holiday of the year for a menswear sewing pattern company, wouldn’t you say?) we have launched a FREE shipping sale!

To take part, simply head to our website and a sale box will pop up – all you need to do to access your coupon code is like us or follow us through one of our social media sites.  I believe it will let you do so even if you already follow us on all three things (Facebook, Twitter and our email newsletter).  Your code will be valid until Tuesday, June 3 which is the last day you will want to order supplies to make something for your Dad in time for Father’s Day (shipping takes 6-8 business days).

Just in time for this event, we have introduced several new products into our store – all of which you would normally be paying shipping for but won’t have to right now!

Let me introduce you to our Bag Making Supplies Kit:

Blog Sized-1

This kit includes all the speciality supplies needed to make a manly and hard wearing canvas bag for your Dad for Father’s Day.  There is enough canvas fabric included (1 metre/1.1 yards) to make a variety of bags – be it a shaving kit or a lap top case that your Dad would most prefer.

It also includes a heavy duty separable zipper, four Chicago Screws (like rivets but they don’t require speciality tools and are removable!), a garment tag, and best of all – our newest and most exciting product: Otter Wax!

22

Otter Wax is an all natural fabric wax made in Portland, Oregon.  It gives fabric the appearance of oilcloth so you can use it to make anything from an ‘oilcloth’ coat to a waxed shaving kit.  It provides a water resistant coating that strengthens the fabric and allows the project to gain that beautiful worn in and rugged look.  It’s also easier to apply than most waxes – all you have to do is rub it onto the fabric and then let the project sit and cure out of the sun for 24 hours.  I can’t wait to see the gorgeous coats and bags you make with it!  Remember the oilcloth coat that is the inspiration behind our Alpine Collection?  You can bet I’ll be making one of those using Otter Wax!

23

I’ve made a tutorial using the Bag Making Supplies Kit to create a boxy and roomy shaving kit.  If you’d like to see how to make one (and get some tips on applying Otter Wax) head over here.

Blog Sized-4

All the items in the Bag Making Supplies Kit are available for sale separately.  During our free shipping sale, you could order enough moss green Duck Canvas and some Otter Wax to make some really rugged Jedediah Pants.

Blog Sized-13

Or you could purchase some Chicago Screws and a zipper to experiment with bag making using your own choice of fabric.

Blog Sized-9

Blog Sized-11

Whatever you choose to do, I hope that you will use these things to make the best ever gift for your Dad for Father’s Day!  There is no one more appreciative and proud of my DIY menswear projects than my Dad.  I hope yours is the same!

Resized-2

Thanks, Dad for all of your support and encouragement with Thread Theory!  You can anticipate a shaving bag amidst the selection of DIY things heading your way this Father’s Day :).


4 Comments

Looking for sewing tools?

As of today, our online store stocks what I consider to be the highest quality of tools available – Merchant & Mills!

merchant and mills banner

If you are tired of sifting through racks of sewing tools that most commonly feature gimicky plastic tools and pink and purple notions, than we know how you feel!  If you are on the quest for quality sewing tools that will not only properly serve their purpose but also look dignified while doing it, then you need look no further than Merchant & Mills!

I found Merchant & Mills when I was looking for a Tailor’s Beeswax in hopes of avoiding the REALLY annoying tangles and knots that I am constantly plagued with when I try to hand sew hems.

Blog Size-2

 

They are a little British company, based out of East Sussex, run by partners Carolyn and Roderick.  Matt and I, upon viewing their inspirational welcome video, connected with the principles behind their company immediately and thus we are VERY proud to be stocking their classic and functional sewing tools and notions.

We have selected some of, what I consider to be, the most essential sewing notions to add to the Sewing Supplies section of our store.  Aside from beeswax (in a really handy little storage pot), we are now stocking beautiful glass headed pins

Blog Size-6

 

…sharp and sturdy hand sewing needles

Blog Size-4

 

…a very dignified and easy-to-use tape measure

Blog Size-7

 

…and, best of all, the manliest of thread snips!

Blog Size-5

 

We’re really excited to be offering such functional and dignified tools to menswear sewists.  Now that I’ve got the sewing tools bug, I’d love to hear: What sewing tool do you most wish to add to your sewing room?  What is the best/most used one that you already own?


22 Comments

New today! French Instruction Booklets

French Instructions 2

I have a big announcement about another free addition to the Thread Theory store was just launched today: French translations of all our instruction booklets!

We’ve worked with a French speaking sewer and our French speaking graphic designer to translate our PDF booklets so that people who have bought our patterns in the past, whether it be from stockists or from our website, will have access to the instruction booklet, complete with translated diagrams and metric measurements!

Now here is the [small] problem: We’re still working on perfecting these and need your help.  Neither Matt or I speak French so we hope that any of you French sewists who use these translated booklets will send us an email (info@threadtheory.ca) if you notice incomplete translations or measurements that you would prefer to be in metric.  We’ll continue to perfect the booklets based on your suggestions!  Some of the content still in English is in red text – these things are the priority items that need to be translated.  Also, some of our measurement charts are not yet in metric because I’m hoping that French sewers will send us their opinion about how they would like these to be formatted: For instance, do you prefer if BOTH metric and imperial measurements are included?  Or do you like if only metric measurements are given?  Do you seamlessly transition between both when it comes to measuring seam allowances or determining fabric amounts (I know I do…it drives Matt crazy!)?

Thank you for your opinions and assistance!  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Merchant and Mills on Instagram

Next up on Thread Theory updates: We recently joined Instagram!  I’m excited to use it to give you behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Thread Theory studio and information about developments before they are announced on the blog or website.  And based on what our latest teaser featured, you can probably predict what I’ll be busy with today: Uploading Merchant & Mills products to our store!  Stay tuned for an in-depth post about this amazing and inspiring company as well as the beautiful and very functional tools that we will be carrying in our store.

Have a great weekend!


7 Comments

Sewing Indie Month: Coco Tutorials

Tilly Banner

Sewing Indie Month is just over half way over but there are still loads of great tutorials and events to come!  Today, my Coco hacks have been published on Tilly and the Buttons.  Head on over to Tilly’s blog to check out what projects I’ve been working on and to get the Coco pattern for yourself!  Its an excellent canvas for countless different variations.  You could have a closet full of garments sewn from this pattern and I don’t think anyone would realize that they stemmed from the same design.


8 Comments

Britex Strathcona Henley Tutorial

Happy Friday everyone!  We’re really excited by the response we’ve received about our new free Arrowsmith Undershirt!  I can’t wait to see what all you downloaders sew up with the pattern!

Today I have a tutorial to help you through our Strathcona Henley placket.  Not long ago I was offered a spot as a Britex Guest Blogger.  Have you shopped for fabric at Britex before?  They have a huge brick and mortar store in San Fransisco and an extremely well organized and frequently updated online store.  Their selection of knits is quite large and includes some really unique medium weights and tissue knits that I know I would never find at any of my local fabric stores.  They also have BEAUTIFUL selection of wools (and a great selection of plaids!) that I really look forward to sampling for the Goldstream Peacoat in the future!

britexbloggerlogo

As a guest blogger on the Britex blog, I will be contributing blog posts that include tutorials using Britex fabrics.  I will likely focus on menswear (since that is where my main interest lies!) but will include some of the projects I make for myself or maybe even for our houme in future posts.

Head on over to the Britex blog to see all the other great guest posts (there are loads of really well photographed tutorials!) and read on her or on the Britex blog to see what I contributed for my first post:

Strathcona 20

For my first tutorial using Britex Fabrics, I have selected the sumptuous Midweight Tweedy Fern & Taupe Wool Blend Knit in order to make a Strathcona Henley for Matt and to show you how to sew the Henley placket.  This fabric is wonderfully unusual – I know I wouldn’t find anything of this weight and gorgeous texture, let alone with a lovely wool content, at any of my local fabric shops!

Strathcona 21

Since this fabric is of medium weight, I decided to sew the Henley placket using a lighter scrap of contrast cotton knit that I had left over from a past project.  I opted to sew the placket using the most fool-proof manner possible – hand sewing!

Even though I love sewing with knits (especially since I know that any knit garment will become a staple in my closet!), I am often filled with trepidation when a design requires me to sew something small or detailed with a knit, such as the Henley placket.  In order to avoid the worry of nicking and unravelling my knit fabric while unpicking crooked topstitching, I simply hand stitch any small details and enjoy the relaxing few extra worry-free minutes that this takes!

To begin the placket, you will first need to prepare the fabric piece by ironing a selection of folds.  These folds will provide you with a guide to apply the interfacing and will later help you fold your placket correctly when it has been attached to the Henley front.  Here are a series of photos to walk you through these steps:

Strathcona 1 Strathcona 2Strathcona 3

Now you can open up your folded fabric to see your ironed guidelines.

Strathcona 4

Using the ironed guidelines, apply 1” strips of interfacing to the areas either side of the center section.  You may need to re-press your guidelines after applying your interfacing. Then, fold the entire placket in half and press just along the fold to create the center line that you see in the photo below.  This center crease will act as a guide for you to cut along later.

Strathcona 5

On your Henley front, you will have marked the “Placket Placement Line.”  Make sure you are working on the WRONG side of your garment.  This is very important, because if you attach your placket to the right side of the shirt front, your placket will end up backwards later on!

Strathcona 6

Pin the placket’s center crease to this marked line.  Also, place a pin or mark with chalk the future bottom of the placket.  The bottom is indicated by the notches on the left and right of the placket.

Strathcona 7

Now you can sew along the creased lines either side of the center and across the bottom to create a squared off “U” shape.  Cut along the center line through both layers of fabric until approximately 1” from your bottom stitching.  At this point, clip outwards to each corner as pictured below.  Clip quite close to your stitching but be careful not to actually clip over it!

Strathcona 8

Now trim the fabric flaps to 1/8”-1/4” to reduce the bulk.

Strathcona 9

And you are ready to start folding and sewing!  Push the entire placket through the opening you just created and flip the shirt around so you are now looking at the right side of the shirt.  Fold along the creased fold lines so that each side of the placket is sandwiching the trimmed seam allowances.  Pin the right front placket (if you were wearing the shirt) and sew it in place using tiny, invisible stitches from top until bottom (the bottom is where the notches and your stitching are, not the bottom of the placket fabric).  Alternatively, you could topstitch 1/8” from the placket edge using your machine.

Strathcona 10

Before sewing the left placket, you will need to prepare the bottom of the fabric.  Tidy up the loose fabric at the bottom so it becomes a series of 1” folds.

Strathcona 11

Trim all but the top two layers to within ½” from your bottom stitching.  This will reduce the bulk at the bottom of your placket.

Strathcona 12

Fold the bottom fabric under squarely and pin in place.  Now it is time to hand sew the left side of the placket!

Strathcona 13

Continue sewing around the bottom of the placket until all edges are secure.  Press your placket really thoroughly at this point to make sure that the shirt is sitting nicely without any pulling or puckers.

Strathcona 14

For this next step, you could skip all the hand stitching and move directly to finishing the bottom of your placket with topstitching, but you’ll probably notice there are still a lot of areas on the underside of the placket where fabric could shift around and get caught out of place when topstitching.  It’s super quick and easy to just do a few hand stitches to ensure everything stays where it should.  First, turn the garment over so you’re looking at the wrong side of the Henley front.  Tuck the bottom of the placket into the ‘pocket’ made by your previous hand stitching.

Strathcona 15

Stitch where you just tucked so that the fabric can’t sneak out again!

Strathcona 16

You can also open up the placket as pictured below and make a few stitches to join the left and right plackets pieces together across the bottom.

Strathcona 17

Now, the last step is some very visible topstitching which I invariably fail to make perfectly square!  It is possible to stitch a perfect square and cross-lines if you are more precise with your machine stitching than I am, but if you are like me, just embrace the rustic manliness your slightly un-square topstitched square gives your Henley!  Once snaps or buttons are applied and the rest of the garment is sewn, it will blend in nicely.

Strathcona 18

The rest of the Henley is a breeze after this and takes me about an hour to finish from this point!  And voila, Matt has a new sweater to wear for spring hikes and around the campfire (because, in my opinion, these are the perfect sorts of situations to wear an earthy and rugged wool Henley)!

Strathcona 19


34 Comments

Free Pattern: Download the Arrowsmith Undershirt today!

Some of you observant blog readers noticed that there was a certain v-neck top featuring prominently in our Comox Trunks photoshoot a couple months ago:Blog Edit-1

This top is called the Thetis Tank and will be available in several months through the Sew It All TV show and magazine!  The episode I filmed with the Sew It All team in Golden, Colorado, was all about how to sew this super quick and easy project.

In the meantime, while you eagerly anticipate the magazine issue featuring this v-neck pattern, we have ANOTHER sleeveless top pattern for you to sew in time for summer!

Introducing Thread Theory’s first FREE sewing pattern: The Arrowsmith Undershirt.

Banner-1

This pattern is available as a PDF download for free as a big THANK YOU to all you avid menswear sewers who have supported us and our business over the last year!  As of today, it has been one year since we launched our very first pattern – the PDF version of the Newcastle Cardigan.

Banner-8

This tank is a super quick and easy project that can be sewn using all manner of knits.   The Arrowsmith Undershirt is the perfect sleeveless tank for layering or for hot summer days.  The enlarged armholes and deep crew neck give this shirt a very modern appearance and they also make it really easy to sew without a serger (you could even use a straight stitch if you wanted to because the head and arm openings are large enough that they don’t really need to stretch when the shirt is put on or taken off).  There is an optional patch pocket that can be sewn in a knit or a woven fabric.  The pocket is a great way to add just a little bit of colour and intrigue against a basic background – especially if the recipient isn’t very adventurous with their clothing colour/print choices!

Banner-3

So, please, take our sincere thanks and our free pattern: Head on over to our website to download the Arrowsmith Undershirt and get sewing!  By the way, we’d love to see what you sew!  Add #Arrowsmith to your photos so we can find them and add them to our Pinterest page!