Thread Theory

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

Matt’s Five New T-shirts


Today I have the results of the Strathcona Sew-along to show you!  Matt and I had planned a photoshoot of him in his new Strathcona T-shirts in the lovely morning light with a forest backdrop this morning…but I slept in after being unable to sleep most of the night!  Woops!  Instead, let me present to you the paparrazi style photo shoot that resulted in the five minutes between breakfast and when Matt had to head out the front door for work.  Sure, there is no beautiful back-drop in these photos and the lighting is perhaps less than ideal, but, looking on the positive side, seeing the t-shirts in action is a great way to look at the differences created by the various fabric types.

First up, morning coffee and Matt’s teal interlock cotton Strath:

Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (1 of 15)

This was the only shirt that I sewed using a zig zag stitch (I sewed the rest with my serger and a twin needle for the hems).  It is also the only shirt that features ribbing for the neck band.  I don’t think the shirt looks very home-made despite the fact that I hemmed it with a zig zag!  I chose very closely matching thread and the zig zag stitches don’t tend to grab the eye.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (2 of 15)

This white tee (below) is made from the same Siltex interlock cotton as the teal t-shirt (above).  Siltex is a Canadian knit manufacturer – the only knit manufacturer left in Canada – that creates very high quality interlocks, fleece and Ponte De Roma along with ribbings dyed to match.  I am considering stocking their knits in our shop because I am very impressed with the quality (these shirts feel positively luxurious!) and it would be nice to support a Canadian manufacturer since there are so few left.

Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (4 of 15)

While my opinion of this fabric is clearly high, I am surprised to find that of all the shirts I sewed for Matt, the two interlock knits are his least favorite.  He is not used to interlock t-shirts and tends to gravitate towards thin and stable cotton jerseys.  Despite Matt’s verdict, I think this fabric still deserves a place in our shop and would be an excellent t-shirt fabric for most men.  I think Matt’s tastes have perhaps been shaped by the quality of t-shirt he normally buys (not very high quality!).  Also, he likes tight fitting t-shirts that make him feel like his arm muscles are bulging out of the sleeves :P.  The fairly stretchy and thick interlock makes the shirt appear larger and more relaxed than the stable cotton jersey tee that you will see at the end of this photo shoot.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (5 of 15)

(Excuse the wrinkles in the photo above!  I had this shirt crammed in a grocery bag to sew at my friend’s house for our weekly sewing night last night!)

I only managed one quick shot of Matt’s thistle t-shirt made from an Anna Maria Horner print.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (3 of 15)

I am curious to see if Matt will end up wearing this printed shirt often since it is a bigger scale print than I have ever seen him wear.  He says that he likes it a lot but I always wait to see which clothes get worn in high rotation before I judge if they are winners or not :).

Next up, as Matt headed from the kitchen and up the stairs to brush his teeth, I photographed my favorite fabric choice based solely on tactile enjoyment: bamboo and cotton jersey.  The bamboo content makes this jersey sooo soft!  It wasn’t the friendliest to sew (slippery and stretchy) but it is certainly the most friendly to hug!  Matt commented favorably about the softness as he put the shirt on.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (6 of 15)

As you can see, the drape of this fabric makes the t-shirt a little bit nipply:Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (7 of 15)

But it also stretches pleasingly to suit the wearer as he moves:Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (8 of 15)

I suspect that bamboo blends wouldn’t be something every man would consider – for instance, if a man is used to wearing crisp button up shirts or stiff t-shirts that are not form fitting, he would likely find the bamboo cotton jersey too clingy and revealing.  Matt, as I said before, wears pretty tight t-shirts so the bamboo knit tee was not a shock to him.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (9 of 15)

This is the only t-shirt that I finished with a twin needle along the neckline.  I left three of the other shirts with no topstitching around the neckline and did a zig-zag stitch around the teal t-shirt’s neckline.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (10 of 15)

This bamboo tee didn’t actually need the top-stitching since it pressed nicely but I wanted to show you how professional the twin needle looks!  Actually, the only t-shirt that didn’t press well at the neckline was the teal tee with the ribbing neckline.  The bulky ribbing definitely needed taming with that zig zag stitch!  Here is a sample of a twin needle sleeve hem:
Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (11 of 15)

On to the last shirt!  At this point Matt was itching to get out the door and was clearly very understanding of my stubborn persistence to proceed with the photo shoot regardless of his need to get to work:Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (12 of 15)

When Matt put on this cotton jersey t-shirt he didn’t even have it fully over his head before pronouncing that it was his favorite.  He said that he likes how it doesn’t stretch much and he likes how thin the fabric is.Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (13 of 15)

You can see that, despite the thin nature of the fabric, the stiffness of the jersey (with no spandex content) results in a t-shirt that doesn’t cling to the body.  There is no nipple issue with this one!Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (15 of 15) I’m a little bummed that this is Matt’s favorite because I can tell that this is the lowest quality fabric out of all five shirts!  I am curious to see which of the shirts will wear the best over time – my bets are all on the sumptuous interlocks!

This last photo is Matt discovering that he was going to be five minutes late for work.  So sorry Matt!  And THANK YOU!Thread Theory Strathcona T-shirt Sew-Along (14 of 15)



So I would love to hear: Which fabric would you choose for the Strath?  Do you think I should stock the Canadian-made interlocks in our shop?

26 thoughts on “Matt’s Five New T-shirts

  1. Thanks Matt! I love the photo shoot as it seems realistic. A day in the life if you will. Too bad he liked the lowest quality fabric. I think it would be the same if I had made something for my partner as well.

  2. I’ve been quietly following along, but had to jump in to say YES! I’d love a resource for Canadian made fabrics, especially nice knits!

  3. This is great! Good job on getting Matt to do all that modeling through breakfast 🙂 I’ve got to take some pictures too of the t-shirt that I made for Ryan! I used a jersey fabric that was a bit thick I think, and the first time Ryan tried on the t-shirt it didn’t seem to fit quite right around the shoulders but now that he’s worn it and washed it a couple of times it fits great! This week I will be attempting a long-sleeve version, even though it’s almost summer over here 🙂

  4. Very nice work on those tee shirts. I noticed that there is a definite “crest” at the top of all the sleeve caps. Is this the result of an overly fitted sleeve cap? Most tee sleeve cap heights are relatively low/shallow resulting in more of a draped sleeve cap, and yes a little baggy, but no “cresting” at the shoulder seam. Am I behind contemporary t shirt pattern design, in that, sleeves have moved to a more fitted silhouette?

    • You are right that the Strathcona pattern features a very tall sleeve cap resulting in a close fitting sleeve and a ‘tailored’ looking t-shirt. We chose this close fitting style because the Strathcona Henley pattern is part of the Parkland Collection which is especially suited to tall, slim men with longer and thinner arms than average. We didn’t want to overwhelm their thin arms with wide, draped sleeves. I am not sure if this less casual and more fitted look is currently on cat walks but I have certainly seen it worn with the hipster crowd :P. Matt tends to prefer this fitted style and avoids the casual ‘boxy’ t-shirt as though it were the plague! As a side note, I notice a marked change in how the armscye sits after washing – it is probably because I iron my t-shirts while stitching them using a tailors ham rather than ironing them flat. The t-shirts in these photos hadn’t yet been washed.

      • Thanks for explaining re: washing. I also noticed that it appears the sleeve is larger than the sleeve-hole at the shoulder. Knowing it is due to pressing & perhaps washing it, makes it more likely I’ll try out the pattern. My husband definitely deserves some of my sewing time! thanks

      • Hi Sheree,
        We’ve since washed all of his t-shirts and the sleeves are perfectly smooth at the top of the armscye now! They fit his shoulder very nicely :). I will be posting “After” photos of these t-shirts in a few weeks once they have received a sufficient amount of wear so you can see the washed and worn versions. Time will tell which fabric wears nicest (I can already start to tell it will be my favorite interlock though!).

  5. Wow that’s the best photoshoot ever! This kind of pictures are the most helpful and despite how difficult it must be to let go of the pinterest-ready pictures, I’m really glad you chose to publish them as is. I find it suits your brand very well – you are the portrait of “sewing for real life” in my opinion 🙂

    I find it difficult to find t-shirt fabric (as least in Israel) and am thinking about block printing (following your footsteps). I also prefer the “regular” tshirt fabric, as it’s what i’m used to (well in our home, I’m the one wearing the Strathcona…). I wish I could find it in high quality, as the best thing about tshirts in my opinion is the way they age.

    • I’ve just found an interesting cotton jersey that is as close to high quality ‘regular’ t-shirt fabric as I can find. The interesting thing about it is that it is knit using an unusual zig zag style that apparently minimizes fabric shrinkage and makes it less prone to twisting. I’ve ordered the interlocks and am considering ordering this jersey too! Thanks for the kind comments about our brand! I hope you are doing well and that wedding plans are coming along nicely!

  6. First of all, I feel sorry for poor Matt, getting stalked by the camera for a fashion shoot while he gets ready for work 🙂

    But I just wanted to encourage you to carry the Canadian-made T-shirt knits on your store. I would be interested in trying them out.

    • I’ve ordered the Canadian made knits and they are on their way to the Thread Theory studio. If they are successful I will be ordering more colours too (they have quite a nice range).

  7. I would buy Canadian interlocks and have them shipped to,the US. I especially like the fact that you said there is matching ribbing. That is hard to find. I really like the way the green shirt looks.

  8. I would try a Canadian made fabric, if you were to stock it. I do like to support Canadian manufacturers, it is sad that we have lost so many sectors of our economy. I am slowly discovering that there are a few mills left but for a long while I was happy if I could find North American. R right now favours cottons with low (4% abt) Lycra content, nice drape and good recovery. These are always first out of the closet. His next favorite is 100% cotton! however he finds these tend to grow a little wider and shorter with time. Poly/ cotton blends are too cardboardy plus tend to retain stains and odour. He is a fan of rayon but more for underwear, too much shine and drape. For winter he favours long sleeved Power Stretch or Dryflex etc. these are definitely baselayer or lounge wear not for public . I would like to try some Henleys in a wool knit. The Finlayson I made out of a Merino knit with a wicking backing gets worn nine months of the year. Good luck with this new addition to the shop!

    • Thank you! It is very interesting to here R’s specific fabric preferences and how much they differ from Matt’s. When people say that menswear is boring because there are so few choices (I hear this often) it is discussions such as these that I think of and am sure that there are MANY choices and that it isn’t boring at all!

  9. I”d love to see a follow up post in a month!

  10. Best post yet! Honest evaluations ( while getting ready for work!) are the most helpful. Thanks for pushing and making it happen

  11. You should definitely stock those Canadian fabrics! I didn’t realize there was a Canadian manufacturer, and I am now researching where to buy it. I like how the top two shirts sit and drape. They look like the kind of shirt my husband would wear.

  12. I like the idea of Canadian made fabric. I definitely would buy it if you were to stock it!

  13. I have to say, I’m not sure! Based on photo’s alone, I too would have chosen the last one. It seems just the right drape for a men’s shirt and the colour is great too. I think you should stock the one you’re certain will make the best shirt. Maybe find a higher quality cotton knit?

    • I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I will stock both an interlock and a higher quality cotton jersey – I’ve found a source since posting last Friday and will be ordering shortly! Very exciting!

  14. What a lovely set of pictures, it’s nice to be able to compare how the different fabrics sew up, thank you.

What do you think? Leave a comment for me :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s