Thread Theory

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


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Every Day Uniform

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If I had to wear the same outfit every day, this is probably what you would find me wearing – a Camas Blouse made from a thick, sturdy cotton knit and some form of stretch denim pant.  It’s practical (for walking our dog, Luki, a million times a day in all manner of weather!), presentable, and super comfortable.StrathCamasCascade-14

This cotton knit is from Girl Charlee.  While it is listed as black with a pink tie dye wash, the fabric I received is definitely navy blue with no sign of pink on it!  The fabric is listed as a cotton spandex blend with a 40% stretch but, in my experience, this fabric isn’t very stretchy and it is a bit heavier than your average t-shirt fabric.  It feels like 100% cotton to me.  I purchased this fabric quite some time ago and was confused when it arrived since it differed so greatly from the description.  All the same, I was happier with the fabric I received than the fabric I had ordered (I wasn’t keen on the subtle tie dye wash) so it was a lucky discrepancy!StrathCamasCascade-10

I realize you can’t actually see much of the blouse in the above photos – Luki really wanted in on the photo shoot and who am I to say no?  Below is a clearer photo of the blouse though.  This was one of the first photos we took and I had forgotten to remove my toque so I look a bit goofy in a winter toque with only a light blouse on!  Ah well :).
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If you are planning to sew a Camas Blouse but are a little nervous to tackle the details while battling with a thin jersey, I’d highly recommend using a thick t-shirt knit such as this one.  It was very easy to work with – it stretched and shifted so little and it ironed easily…it was almost as easy as working with quilting cotton!  The all over print makes hemming and top-stitching a breeze too.


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Cascades of royal purple faux-suede glamour

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Here are the very first results from my New Year sewing plans (I posted the pattern choices and colour scheme for my wardrobe update a couple weeks ago)!  I sewed myself a Camas Blouse and a Cascade Skirt as a Christmas and New Years outfit.  The skirt was finished in time for the many Christmas dinners we attended so it isn’t exactly part of my wardrobe update plans (as they hadn’t been made yet when I sewed this) but since it fits in with my colour schemes, I’m going to count it…I’m making the rules after all :P.  The blouse may look pretty familiar to you – it is actually my very devoted effort to recreate my original Camas Blouse sample (as seen on our website).  I have been wearing the original linen knit version in heavy rotation since June 2013 and, even though it has held up well, it has become such an indispensable item in my wardrobe that I had to put precautionary measures in place and clone it before it wears out!StrathCamasCascade-43

This time I used a very light sweater knit from my local fabric store.  It has subtle stripes and, despite it’s light weight it is very warm.  I think it is a nondescript polyester blend so I hope it will avoid pilling.  I had trouble finding the exact cream color that I love so much and thus, I chose my desired color over my desired fabric content (not something I do very often!).  I find most creams make me look really washed out and pale – I was specifically looking for an oatmeal colored cream to avoid this!

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For the shoulder yokes I used the same beautiful rustic bamboo/nettle woven that I had used in the original version (I had saved my extra fabric for just such a purpose).  I even went and purchased the exact same brass pearl shaped buttons from the very same store that I shopped at in Vancouver two years ago!  I think it is very likely that I will be replacing this second rendition of my favorite Camas blouse with a third (and fourth…and fifth…) clone when I wear this one out!  In the meantime, I have my two oatmeal colored Camas tops happily hanging side by side in my closet…one for hot summer days and one ready for spring and fall (or winter when paired with a scarf and cardigan).

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When I decided to sew a Cascade Skirt as my winter holiday outfit I set out to find the most luxurious fabric available to me at short notice (I decided to sew this several days before Christmas just as I came down with the flu).  At my local fabric store I found this royal purple faux-suede with a satin backing – perfect!  It has a beautiful drape and it is very heavy and warm.  I love that the satin wrong side of the fabric is highlighted due to the hi-lo hem!
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I think the proportions of this Megan Nielsen pattern are really glamorous and flattering.  The waistband is narrow and slimming when compared to the volume in the rest of the skirt.  The front hem, as you can see in the photo below, falls right to the middle/bottom of my knees.  I am really picky about hi-lo skirts – if the hem were an inch or two shorter at the front compared to the back you wouldn’t catch me sewing or wearing the skirt!  I dislike the proportions of hi-lo skirts whose front hem is far above the knees while the back hem falls low enough to be considered a maxi.  When a hi-lo skirt is hemmed in this way all I can see is an awkward mullet rather than a graceful cascade!  That is certainly not the case with the proportions of the Cascade Skirt – I feel so floaty and graceful while wearing it!StrathCamasCascade-49

The skirt was very easy and quick to sew.  The most time consuming part was the rolled hem which seemed as though it were miles and miles long!  To indicate how easy this skirt was though, I sewed the bulk of it with a high fever and a killer headache caused by my Christmas flu.  All the same, I didn’t run into any troubles during the construction process (aside from forgetting to cut out the second tie belt that I hoped to add to the waistband…instead I used a button from my stash as a closure).StrathCamasCascade-55

Oh…and I managed to sew the hook and eye to the inner waistband in the wrong direction twice.  This resulted in a hook and eye that instantly came undone and continued to undo itself all throughout Christmas Eve dinner.  It was a quick fix before I wore the skirt on Christmas Day though!
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When I was originally making my decision to purchase the Cascade Skirt pattern, I did my usual Google Images and Pinterest searches to see the results of everyone else’s Cascade sewing efforts.  I saw many many beautiful skirts and read quite a few blog posts.  Lots of people mentioned that they feared wearing wrap skirts because the skirt might become unwrapped when sitting in a chair or walking in the wind.  I worried that this might be the case but, after wearing the skirt a number of times I have found that I am not in danger of exposing my undies to the world!  This is because the skirt wraps under itself so that the entire front is a double layer.  Even if the top layer flips all the way up in the wind, there is still as much coverage as a pencil skirt or at least a mini skirt would provide.  Keep in mind, I’m pretty short (5′ 3″) so the coverage might be less on taller women.  Here’s an illustration showing how covered I am by the two layers:StrathCamasCascade-50

Well, there you have it – the first of outfit of my new year wardrobe update is complete!  I have more to show you already but I’ll save that for another blog post.  I’m heading back to the studio where my sewing machine has been whirring away almost non stop lately!
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Have a great weekend and happy sewing!


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A Warm Waffle-Knit Strathcona

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Last June, near my birthday, Erin (the super friendly sewist who blogs at Miss Crayola Creepy) surprised me by sending me a gift in the mail.  Not long prior she had made her husband a Strathcona Henley using a waffle knit that I coveted after searching fruitlessly for a similar fabric locally.  I had commented on her blog and had admired her henley (and her husband :P) and so Erin bought me some of the fabric and sent it along with a really nice birthday card.  Erin is a member of the LA Sewists group which is a network of sewing bloggers in the Los Angeles area.  They had a huge meet-up in June and we had contributed a pattern to their prize draw so Erin sent along some gorgeous LA Sewist wooden buttons as well for me to use for my Strathcona Henley.

***I can’t find an LA Sewist website to link to…does anyone know if one exists?***
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Anyways, long story short, thank you very much for being such a thoughtful sewist Erin!  I was so thrilled to receive a gift in the mail from a fellow blogger and, now that winter is here and it is time for cozy sweaters, Matt is just as thrilled to have a waffle knit Strath at last!
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As you can see, in the end I elected to skip the placket on this Strathcona and so the LA Sewists button remain nestled in my button container to await a future project.  I decided to do this because waffle knits do not retain their shape especially well and I worried that the weight of a button placket would cause the neckline and even the entire shirt front to droop considerably.  I’m glad I made this decision because as I sewed this shirt it felt like each seam was growing in length as I sewed it!  I used my serger and refrained from stretching the fabric as much as possible.  To combat the droopy nature of this knit I made both the neckline binding and the sleeve cuffs two inches narrower.  I probably could have taken as much as two more inches off!  As you can see above, the sleeve cuffs are still pretty wide (since Matt pulls up his sleeves to his elbows pretty often and has stretched them out a bit).StrathCamasCascade-25

Matt loves the fit of this Strath – it works nicely over t-shirts as a light sweater.  He layered it under another sweater when we went snow shoeing on the weekend and it provided lots of warmth.

I had mentioned a few posts ago that I would be working on a wardrobe update for Matt over the next few months and would post a plan for this soon…well, as you can see, the first garment is finished and I still haven’t posted the plan!  Here it is for you now:

Flats

My plan is to sew the waffle knit Strath (check!), three pairs of Comox Trunks using the fabric from our Comox Trunks kits (which happen to be on sale at the moment!) and then move on to some graphic Strathcona T-shirts.  Matt gets a lot of compliments on the printed t-shirt that I made using a Girl Charlee knit and so I plan to pick three or four new prints to create some more.  Matt doesn’t like to think much about outfit planning so I’ll try to pick prints that co-ordinate with most of his pants and sweaters.  I think they’ll be a nice way to elevate a regular daily outfit into something a bit more stylish!  Here are a few of the prints I’m currently admiring:

1) Sparrows in the Woods Cotton Jersey Blend Knit Fabric

2) Vintage Palm Screen Cotton Jersey Knit Fabric

3) Mod Circles on Blue Cotton Jersey Knit Fabric

Lastly, I’m going to use the Jutland Pants pattern to create some really rugged jeans for Matt.  He wears through jeans at a shocking rate and so I’m considering purchasing a good quality U.S. made denim from TaylorTailor in hopes that it will hold up better than the cheap denim used in Matt’s department store jeans.red_line_selvedge1-500x500

Whew, good thing my sewing mojo is at it’s peak at the moment!  I’ve been pumping out garments left, right and center and have a lot to show you over the next few weeks.  I hope you’re feeling on the top of your sewing game as well!


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My Uncle’s Flannel-Lined Jutland Pants

Happy Friday everyone!  I have a picture to share with you today of my uncle in the pair of Jutlands that I made for him during our Jutland Sew-Along.

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I haven’t seen these pants on him in person as he lives a province away but he reports that they are so comfortable that he didn’t even bother bringing his old favorite pants on a trip to their skiing cabin – the Jutlands sufficed!  He reports that the lining is very cozy and is great protection from the mountain-top weather.


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In The Wild-It’s all about the Camas!

 

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A compliation of your finished projects by Nicole

You guys! What an incredible response to our new Camas top! We are already getting lots of photos of completed tops so I am just going to dive right in:

1. Over at Cookin’ and Craftin’ you will find a lovely bunch of photos of this Mod flower Camas top (by the way, floral Camas blouses get bonus points since Camas is a kind of meadow flower!). This Camas features a sturdy knit for the placket and yoke- a great way to skip interfacing!

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2. If one were going to be married in a Camas Blouse, surely it would be this pearl buttoned, lacy yoked, soft white dream from Couture In Love (as seen on Instagram):

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3. Deadly Craft made a sleeveless version for the Australian heat- but sequinned for the holiday season. Look how lovely the back drape is when it’s tucked in.

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4.  I did a triple-take when I first saw Elena’s Camas top with the bird hanging out on her– was that photoshopped?? Nope, really a bird, and really a lovely top. She shortened the sleeves which looks really flattering, and the snaps are a great touch. Elena also went two sizes smaller to get the fit she prefers, so it’s worth exploring the finished garment measurements (provided in the pattern) to get the fit you want.

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5. The first woven Camas we’ve seen so far came from Amy and Tasha at Friends Stitched Together. This would be a great post to read if you are considering using a woven fabric instead of a knit.

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6. And Finally, wise words from Gallomane at Threads and Needles: ‘à refaire des miliers de fois!” (To be made thousands of times!)

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Whew- six gorgeous new tops for hard working sewists! It is so fun to see how people change the pattern after Morgan sends it out into the world- shortening or removing sleeves, adding snaps, using wovens. It will be exciting and inspiring to see all the ways people continue to customize their Camas tops!


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Reflecting About Thread Theory: Where we are headed

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It’s been a while since I wrote a quarterly report – I haven’t for two quarters in fact.  You can see my last quarterly report from June 4th, 2o14 here. While it isn’t the end of this quarter (which ends February 28th) I’ve been feeling the need to think reflectively about Thread Theory and, for me, there is no better way to reflect than to write about what I’m thinking!

(All photos in this post are from our Instagram account.  Follow us on Instagram to see behind the scenes updates like these!)

 

What we’ve done:

The last few months of working on Thread Theory have basically gone like this (with lots of exceptions but for most part this routine is what we do):  Any weekday you can find me checking updates within the online sewing community with my morning coffee and breakfast.  On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Matt and I both work on Thread Theory from home.  We launch into responding to customer service emails for the morning and pack orders.  We walk the orders to the mail box to exercise our dog, Luki – usually in the mid morning or early afternoon.  In recent months, Nicole, our Thread Theory Extrovert (i.e. customer service representative), comes over once or twice a week to help respond to emails and to assemble Bag Making Supplies Kits, Comox Trunk Kits and Jeans & Pants Essential Notions packages.  She helps assemble patterns when she has time at home.

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In the afternoons, Matt usually ends up working on more computer related Thread Theory business which varies greatly – you might find him responding to potential stockists, updating our website, troubleshooting shipping problems, or splitting upcoming PDF patterns into pages.  Meanwhile, I usually spend my afternoons working on patterns and samples or working on the blog and our other avenues of communicating with you guys (such as Facebook, Mailchimp newsletters, Instagram and Twitter).

While a theme from our early quarterly reports was long work hours and trouble tearing ourselves away from the act of constantly refreshing our email program in the evening, we have managed to strike a far better balance with this.  I still find myself sewing Thread Theory samples in the evening quite often and if we are doing something that involves sitting still you will invariably find me assembling pattern envelopes – all the same though, we have a very clear ‘end’ to our workday and it feels great!

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Matt works at the Comox Fire Hall two days a week – Thursday and Friday.  On those days, I work with a more flexible schedule.  If I simply can’t bear the thought of answering one more email, I sometimes close myself up in the sewing room for the morning and listen to podcasts while I enjoy the more creative tasks involved in running the business – be it sample sewing or drawing instruction diagrams.  Sometimes I spend the whole day planning for the future.  This might seem a little unproductive since there are almost always emails waiting to be answered and orders waiting to be packed, but I find, when the mood strikes me to brainstorm I should go with it.  It’s pretty easy to start feeling uninspired and worn down if I don’t give myself time to brainstorm (I guess that’s the point I’m at right now…hence this blog post!).

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When Matt and I feel extra busy or we’ve taken Luki for some luxuriously long lunch time walks throughout the week (which is such a nice thing to do since it’s so dark and cold in the evenings), we often pick up the slack a bit on weekends.  We tend to spend a couple hours emailing and packing orders on Saturday morning if this is the case – we’ve been trying to avoid this as much as possible though because I find if we let ourselves stretch our work hours into evenings and weekends even moderately, it becomes an avalanche and we are quickly deeply immersed in our ‘all work and no play’ schedule!

This basic routine that we’ve worked out for ourselves has been quite successful since my last quarterly report.  We’ve released three patterns – the Finlayson Sweater, the Jutland Pants and, most recently, the women’s Camas Blouse.  We’ve run two sew-alongs – the Finlayson Sew-Along (complete with a contest) and the Jutland Pants Sew-Along.  We’ve held a couple of sales, including our overwhelmingly successful New Years Sale that just ended on Jan. 7th.  The blog has been pretty consistently updated…though I’ve been struggling with a bit of writer’s block lately so I’m not sure how inspiring or varied my posts have been over the last two or three months.

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Of course, the above list featured the largest events our company has experience recently.  To achieve these, it was necessary to have long term goals and to ‘chug away’ through the dull bits in order to get to the satisfying parts (launching a pattern!  Enjoying your feedback on our sew alongs! Seeing your lovingly sewn Thread Theory garments!).  I’ve enjoyed punctuating these larger goals with some smaller projects recently for a change of pace and some instant gratification – for example, I hugely enjoyed writing a magazine article this winter that I will tell you more about once it has been published.  I’ve also really found our recent practice of carrying sewing supplies and tools in our Thread Theory store to be a great way to boost my excitement over Thread Theory.  Sometimes, I hate to admit, the daily admin tasks involved in owning Thread Theory start to feel like an endless race that resets itself at the beginning each morning – for example, we struggle (valiantly!) to empty the email inbox each day and wake up each morning to find it more full than before.  Or, I photograph, write, edit photos, and compile a Friday blog post one week and, of course, the next week I am back at ground zero needing to do the same thing once again (I’m sure all of you bloggers can relate to the perseverance necessary to maintain an interesting blog).  But, just to be clear, I don’t want to sound negative about this…I would rather do these things than almost anything else in the world!!!  All the same, it is important to recognize when things start to feel like a chore.  That is when I give myself a little time to research inspiring sewing products and daydream about what I would like to add to my sewing studio.  When I’ve found those things, we purchase them, package them, and place them in our store to share with you!

Where we’re going:

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Now that I’ve summed up what Thread Theory has looked like in the very recent past, I’ll show you how we plan for Thread Theory to grow and change in the future (of course, plans change so these aren’t promises, they are just loose goals!).

We currently have three more patterns in the works.  One will be coming out quite soon and the rest will be launched in the spring or further into the future.  Our next pattern, as I have hinted quite often, is a women’s pattern (did you notice the pants that were featured in our Camas Blouse photo shoot?  Many of you have emailed us about them!).  The Camas Blouse and our upcoming Lazo Pants are a temporary step away from our company’s original niche – menswear sewing.  These two patterns were created for the fashion line I was required to make while in design school.  When I showed them to blog readers back in June 2013 many of you begged for them to be made into patterns.  I just couldn’t resist the temptation to comply!  Some of you menswear enthusiasts might be worried that we will forget to focus on menswear in the next year – please don’t worry!  Menswear will remain a very prominent aspect of Thread Theory.  In fact, two of the three upcoming patterns are some really awesome (in my opinion) menswear staples!

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Although we are firm on the point that one of our company’s main focuses will always be menswear, we were in awe of your enthusiastic response when we released our first women’s pattern.  With this in mind (plus the factor that I love the excuse to sew something for myself when ‘working’) we have begun research on adding niche women’s patterns to our business over the next year.  We have a certain theme in mind that we feel doesn’t compete directly with any of our favorite existing indie companies.  So many of these companies have generously given us advice and encouragement as we developed our menswear patterns and so I don’t feel right about directly competing with any of them by creating women’s garments featuring similar styles to those already existing…this might be a little silly on my part as the indie sewing community can, in no way, be described as competitive!

While it is tempting to speed up the pace of pattern releases so we can get all these ideas rolling, I plan to avoid this temptation because I have been learning that things actually slow down for a while when I try to speed things up.  That sounds like a bit of a riddle but it actually makes sense…let me explain:  For instance, in order to speed up pattern production, I need to spend more of my time working with our patterns and less time working on admin.  This means hiring someone to help with customer service (such as Nicole).  Hiring someone means spending many hours training, setting up new systems, and re-learning our business.  Each time I teach Nicole something, I see errors or weak points in the processes we’ve created since I am suddenly seeing them from her perspective.  Next thing I know, Matt is required to spend a whole week working on the technical aspects of the improvements I desire and I have to be trained in the new, improved system before I can teach it to Nicole!

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Aside from keeping a consistent pattern release schedule, I would like to continue stocking sewing supplies that compliment upcoming patterns.  I’ve got some really exciting ideas for a new menswear and corresponding kits!

Matt and I also plan to streamline our wholesale system and our shipping system (both to individual customers and to retailers).  Selling to sewing stores has been a big learning curve for us and I’m pretty sure we’ve made every mistake possible (though, now that I’ve said that, I am also sure we’ll make many more mistakes in the future!).  I would love to find some sort of training or manual on how to set up a wholesale approach (for a small online business).  Any ideas?  I really don’t want our stockists to feel confused by our system any longer and Matt and I NEED to find a way to stop our website’s shipping app from constantly breaking down if we would like to maintain our sanity.

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Over the next year I dream of hiring someone to create sew-alongs for all of our patterns and I would also like to employ a very precise and knowledgeable sample sewer.  We plan to expand to a larger studio as soon as we are able to as we are currently bursting at the seams in this little house!  Aside from all of this, we have a million tiny little goals and details that we will be working towards in the next few months.  I won’t bore you with the mundane details of these financial, customer service, and admin specifics but keep in mind that if we are quiet on the blog or website, these things are probably what we are devoting all of our attention to!

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If you made it through this reflective post filled with all of my dreams, I heartily congratulate you!  If you have any advice from a small business perspective or any goals you would like to add to our list, we are always happy to hear from you in the comments or by email (I know I complain about answering endless lists of emails but really I love receiving each individual message!  Having connections with sewists around the world is, of course, what running this business is all about!).

 


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The New Year’s Day Sale ends tomorrow!

New Year's Sale

Thank you for making our New Year’s Sale such a huge success!  Matt and I have been busily packing orders and responding to emails ever since Jan. 1st and we have been happily existing in a bubble of excitement about Thread Theory.  It’s been a very thrilling way to start the year!

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you know that the sale will be over tomorrow, January 7th at 5pm (PST).  Happy sewing!