Thread Theory

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


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Nautical Breton Shirts

Breton Top Sewing Pattern

Here are the Breton tops that I promised to show you!  They were sewn using the Hot Patterns Weekender Breton T pattern that we added to our shop on Tuesday.

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The pattern includes two sets of pieces – one in women’s sizes and one in men’s sizes.  I sewed both of these in a size Medium from each size range.    The women’s version features shaping at the neckline and 3/4 sleeves (I lengthened the sleeves to be full length).  The men’s version is a straight, boxy fit.  Both of the patterns include the slightly scooped classic Breton neckline.

I sewed the men’s top using our Canadian made interlock fabric and the women’s top using a rayon knit with considerable drape that I found at my local fabric shop.  I am always on the look out for navy and white stripes but have yet to find a Breton Stripe (or any stripe) that is nice for menswear.  They all seem to include spandex or too much drape.  If I ever do, I will certainly add it to the fabrics that we carry in our shop!

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I really like how this neckline sews together on this pattern!  Self binding is sewn to the front neckline first.  Next, the front and back of the shirt, along with a long strip of self binding, are sandwiched together so that the shoulder seams and binding is attached in one go!  After the seam is sewn, the binding folds over the shoulder seam allowances and back neckline seam allowance to create a very tidy interior and clean exterior.  I haven’t tried this type of neckline finish before but am now a big fan!  I didn’t get any photos of the inside of the shirt because I gave them to my models (Matt’s brother and his wife).  Darn!

The instructions include an error in the order that you must sandwich the layers together but I have included a note within each pattern to explain how I think you should sew it!  Here is the note that I include:

Weekender Breton Tee - Revised instructions

Breton Top Sewing Pattern-3

This was Mike and Sonia’s first foray into modelling (I didn’t really give them an option!).  They are avid sailors and just got home from sailing to Hawaii in the Vic-Maui race!  When I saw this very nautical pattern I thought of them.  I considered sewing these tops as a wedding gift for them (they got married just before they left on their sailing trip) but thought that a wedding gift that comes with strings attached (an unpaid modelling gig) isn’t much of a gift. 😛  They seemed to enjoy hamming it up for a few minutes though:

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These were an extremely quick sew.  The dropped shoulder and very gently curved sleeve cap make sewing the sleeves extremely simple and fast.  Each pattern includes only three pattern pieces plus binding.  They made for an excellent summer project (fast enough to sew up in an hour or two so you can wear them that day at the beach or on the boat!).

For more info on this pattern, check out the description on our website!

 


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An expanded pattern collection

Menswear Patterns-5

We now carry menswear sewing patterns from other indie designers!  While I continue to work on future pattern releases I thought you might like an introduction to some other designs.  As a result, we now have 20 menswear patterns for you to choose from in our shop!

Merchant & Mills, Colette Patterns and Hot Patterns are all indie pattern companies who focus on women’s garments but have a strong selection of menswear too.  Their men’s patterns each offer something different from what we are already designing in the Thread Theory studio.  Here are the reasons I’ve added them to our shop:

Merchant & Mills

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I love the utilitarian aesthetic achieved by this British haberdashery!  We already stock many of their sewing tools and notions.  Their menswear pattern designs were a no-brainer to add to our shop.  The fit and style is very different from our slim fit with an athletic/youthful focus.  These easy fittings designs are boxy and relaxed – suited to the stockier figure more typical of middle age or older gentlemen.  Their sleeves allow for muscular arms and their shirt hem length is on the shorter side as commonly found in vintage menswear – both these features add to the classic work wear aesthetic of this collection.  Think 1950s American work wear!

My favorite style from this collections is The Tee – this is the ideal project for beginner sewists who prefer to start with a menswear garment.  What makes it so easy to sew?  This tee is sewn in a woven fabric!

While Merchant & Mills patterns might be very familiar to you already, I am thrilled to have these as the new guys in our shop – Canadian sewists can now enjoy these patterns without the worry of duty or costly shipping charges!

Colette Patterns

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When Colette Patterns released the Walden Collection some time ago I was excited to see menswear becoming a focus for more indie pattern companies!  This mini collection of three patterns all feature a great west coast aesthetic that I admire.

While this collection is marketed towards men/male sewers, two of the three patterns are actually unisex.  This makes them a great investment if you are a female sewist hoping to sew for herself and for a male or two!

I have the Cooper Bag on my ‘To Sew’ list because I would love a pair of oilcloth panniers for my bicycle.

I am pleased to have these menswear items in our shop because none of the designs come close to overlapping with our own patterns while they still closely match the style we like so much.  You might pause to think – but doesn’t the Negroni Shirt compete with the Fairfield Button-up?  Nope!  When I designed the Fairfield I purposely selected design features that differed from those included on the Negroni.  Can you count how many differences there are?

 

Hot Patterns

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This indie pattern company has been around for many years (since well before the ‘indie pattern boom’) and offers a staggering range of women’s designs.  I had run across mention of their women’s patterns many times in the blogosphere but one day, about a year ago, somehow finally discovered that they design menswear patterns too!

I’ve selected my four favorites to add to our shop.  All of these garments are drafted for a very different fit model than ours – one that you have, time and time again, asked us to pattern draft for!  We intend to maintain our focus on athletic figures, but, you’re not out of luck: These ‘Mr. HP’ patterns, much like the Merchant & Mills designs, are designed for average to stocky figures who prefer to dress loosely and conservatively.  While I might choose Thread Theory patterns when sewing for Matt, I would be inclined to choose a Hot Patterns top to better suit my Dad or Granddad.  The styles are very classic and appealing though so you might like to tweak the fit for all manner of body types!

I am torn between two favorite designs from this collection – the Workshirt (check out those hem gussets and the extended collar tab!) and the Hemmingway Windcheater.  Back when I first discussed my plans for an Alpine Collection, I included a photo of an oilcloth jacket very similar in design to this pattern.  Well, I’m glad I found Hot Patterns before embarking on this garment design, as this Windcheater fits the bill perfectly!  (Don’t worry I still have many patterns planned to add to the Alpine Collection over the coming years).

I have plans to sew a couple of these jackets (dream big!) – one in high tech waterproof and windproof material and light weight hardware for hiking and one in tin cloth and brass hardware in that classic style that we all love so much.

Menswear Patterns

I hope these patterns inspire you to sew more menswear too!  Find them all in the pattern section of our shop.


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Something new on Monday!

I spent Monday writing item descriptions for our website, we did a photo shoot on Wednesday and I wrote a draft for the newsletter yesterday…you know what that means: A collection of something new and exciting will be added to the shop next week (on Tuesday)!

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This photo may be an obvious hint to some.  Recognize anything?

I will send out a newsletter on Tuesday morning featuring a special sale code for the new items.  If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter yet, you still have time!


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Top 5 Reasons to Sew for Others

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I’m two days away from the final fitting of the very first wedding dress I’ve ever created.  Way back in January, Matt’s cousin’s girlfriend Facebook messaged me to let me know that she and Matt’s cousin were engaged (yay!) and that she was hoping I would sew her dress.  I was extremely flattered and excited by the prospect.  When Matt and I got married I didn’t have the time or confidence to sew my own dress despite the strong desire to do so!  I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to ‘test my chops’ and actually implement all of the techniques I so often find myself pouring over on blogs and in magazines.

Mika lives three hours away and so we have not had many occasions to meet in person to fit the dress.  In fact, the only fitting was a quick try-on of a very rough mock-up in the back hallway of a fabric store last March!  Due to all of the work I have put in to this dress and the building anticipation for the final fitting, I have been thinking quite a lot about why I love sewing for other people.

Since the vast majority of Thread Theory customers are women who are buying our patterns and supplies to sew for male family and friends, I thought you might relate to my thoughts on this topic!  Let’s see if you have any other reasons to add to this list.  Here are my top five reasons I love to sew for others!

1 It’s Challenging and Skill Enhancing

Many of the projects that I sew for other people involve construction details and fabric types that I would never have occasion to use if I just sewed for myself.  Over the years of sewing for myself I have developed many preferences that I rarely diverge from, for instance, I avoid delicate fabrics (I’m clumsy and tend to engage in sessions of impromptu gardening in whatever dress I happen to be wearing!).  I also steer clear of a close fit around the hips (I find this uncomfortable) or of thick fabrics with very little give (they make me feel claustrophobic).  I’m sure you have similar sorts of restrictions for yourself – whether they involve silhouettes, color, prints, or fabric types.  When I sew for other people, I must learn what their preferences are and often find myself challenged to learn new skills as a result!  For instance, when I sew for my Mom, I have the treat of fitting an hourglass figure (as opposed to my fairly straight figure).  When I sew for Matt I get to use rugged and rigid fabrics that require special needles or topstitching threads.  When I sew for my sister, I get to experiment with technical fabrics and interesting ways to strengthen a garment at points of wear (she is an adventurer and yoga enthusiast).

And now that I am sewing for Mika, I have finally had the pleasure of working with delicate silks, chiffon and beading!

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2 Constraints Encourage Creativity

This is perhaps my very favorite reason to sew for others!  It is also my favorite reason to sew menswear.  Menswear, historically and for the most part, today, features all sorts of rigid expectations that, when ignored, result in something few men are comfortable wearing (though I admire those who bravely do!).  There are far fewer acceptable silhouettes and styles for men’s clothing than there are for women’s.  Menswear designs can push an occasional boundary but they are usually most successful when any boundary pushing is balanced by the majority of expectations being met.  A button up shirt, for example, that features a wildly shaped collar is most approachable when sewn in a very classic shirting material with a very conservative fit.  I find that I feel most creatively inspired when I am working to add my own mark within such boundaries.  Perhaps you might liken this to a creative writing supersize.  If you were to stare at a blank piece of paper faced with the challenge to ‘write anything’ you might feel dismally incapable to write anything more exciting than what happens to be on your mind (a grocery list, perhaps?).  If you sit down with a piece of paper after having been given a tantalizing first line or perhaps a loose concept to work within, you (or at least I) will feel far more capable of extending the mind to think creatively.

Mika’s wedding dress has provided all sorts of boundaries for me to work within.  Mika created a Pinterest board of various dresses that she adores and told me which elements she liked on each dress.  She also chose the exact color of both the chiffon and the silk lining.  She asked for a beaded empire waist and for shoulder straps of a very particular sort.  She wanted a draped cross-over bodice and a low cut back featuring a short and poofy bow.  By the time I had absorbed all of these criteria I was just itching to put pen to paper and to draw the dress!  The dress I drew didn’t look like any of her Pinterest dresses but incorporated each of the design features she loved the most.

Have you ever sewn a garment after drawing how you hope it will look?  I find that to be so exciting – something about matching fluid, three dimensional fabric to a stagnant two dimensional drawing is just so appealing!

Sewing for others

3 You’re Forced to ‘Do It Right’

I don’t know about you, but when I sew for myself, I often get so eager to wear the garment, that I take quite a few short cuts to get it finished faster!  I also don’t worry very much about finishing the interior of a garment nicely…I get lazy and just serge the insides rather than adding lining (expensive!) or french seams (time consuming!).  It is a whole different story when I sew for someone else though.  I bust out all the fancy sewing tricks!  I guess I feel that a custom sewn garment should be something special.  The person who has asked for the garment has made the choice to take the ‘slow’ route.  They have decided to skip the quick trip to the store and instead, long for something very particular that is perfectly suited to them.  I only sew for people who respect the amount of time that I will put into their project.  It is very easy for me to tell when someone wants a garment enough to warrant spending the time to create it!  Whether it be a pair of rugged Jutland Pants for my dad or some unique yoga leggings for my sister, I want my work to result in something that will last for many years and will make the person feel very special when they wear it.  This thought process motivates me to fit carefully, choose quality fabric, add inner structure, sew slowly, and unpick any errors.  I definitely don’t sew that way for myself (I really should though, shouldn’t I?!).

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4 The Stakes Are High

This is a bit of a silly reason to like sewing for others…but here it is: I find it to be an adrenaline rush!  I want the garment to fulfill all of their expectations (and all of the expectations I ridiculously imagine them to have…most people probably don’t notice the tiny hand stitches that I have assumed they require!).  I don’t want to waste their money, time and fabric.  If I rip or stain my own dress part way though sewing it I will simply get creative and patch it up as a ‘design element’.  When I am sewing for someone else who has an expectation of how the final garment will look, any mistakes, be them holes, stains, poor fit or poorly executed techniques will be noticeable as an element that was not included in the original plan.  Reading this ‘reason’ so far, you would think this would cause me to fear and hate sewing for others!  But it doesn’t!  I am enjoying the nervous anticipation for Sunday’s dress fitting…what if the dress is way too small?  What if the proportions are off?  Or…what if Mika is thrilled with it and thinks it is the perfect wedding dress?  What if my sewing skills have made her dreams come true (eep!)?  See, the stakes are high! 🙂

P.S. The hole in the photo above nearly stopped my heart but, don’t worry, it will be okay!  I’m tucking that bit of fabric under the silk bodice lining so it will no longer be visible.

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5 It’s Enormously Fulfilling

Seeing someone else wear my hard work really makes me proud of my ability to sew and it makes me feel very connected to them.  When someone compliments me on a dress that I have made for myself, my thoughts usually flash to all of the mistakes I made while sewing it and I tend to think to myself, “Little does that nice person know that this is actually a poorly sewn dress that they would never want to wear themselves!”  Harsh…I know…but it’s true!  When I see someone else take home a garment I have sewn, wear it, wash it, and wear it again and again, I feel so proud because that person has really gotten to know their garment and still feels comfortable and happy wearing it!  Plus, the person thinks of their connection with me whenever they put on their custom sewn piece and the entire time I sew for them I find myself thinking about the person’s character, preferences, appearance and the times we have spent together.  Sewing for someone really strengthens a friendship!

Whenever I sew for someone else I happily think of one of the sweetest things my Mom ever said.  She told me that whenever she puts on the wool coat I made for her, she feels like she is receiving a warm hug from me!   THAT is why I love sewing for others.


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Your Makes: Pattern Hacks and Personal Touches

I’m always so amazed by the time and thought that you put into your menswear sewing projects.  Most commonly, our customers sew our patterns for a family member (rather than themselves) so it is heartwarming to see the love put into the projects that you make for your significant others, sons, fathers, and friends!

Shelock Coat - the Goldstream Peacoat

Just recently, Blanka emailed photos of this spot-on rendition of the famous Peacoat from BBC Sherlock.  She used our Goldstream Peacoat pattern as her base and adjusted it in numerous ways to capture all of the stylish details found in Sherlock’s iconic coat.  Check out that inverted box pleat along centre back!  And the nicely structured collar which really is the essence Sherlock’s suave style.  This Peacoat truly was a labour of love – Blanka sewed it over several months for her boyfriend.  She carefully sourced the best materials from around the world (she is based in the Czech Republic and patiently waited for Gutterman Gimp thread to arrive from the UK so she could hand sew all of the buttonholes!).

SarahBrezina wedding Jedediah and Fairfield

Sarah emailed me with this excellent photo of her and her husband at her brother’s wedding recently.  They are wearing co-coordinating handmade outfits!  Sarah is wearing a glamorous version of the Sewaholic Davie Dress and her husband is sporting awesome plaid Jedediah Pants and a linen Fairfield Button-up.  Sarah mentioned that this is her 14th pair of Thread Theory trousers (!!!) and also that she expects to sew many Fairfield shirts for family members in the future.  Wow…she is prolific!

Thank you, Blanka and Sarah (and all of the others) who have shared your Thread Theory projects with me via email!  Reading about your happy experiences with our patterns and seeing the pride on each wearer’s face as they sport handmade outfits is what it is all about for me.  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca if you would like to chat sewing and share!

 

There have been some great makes popping up on Instagram lately too.  Here is a smattering for you to enjoy!  If you would like to see more, try searching a few of these hashtags:

 

#makemenswear #threadtheorydesigns #threadtheory #fairfieldbuttonup #finlaysonsweater #camasblouse (and any of our other pattern names).  Have fun!

 

I've made Joe a shirt.. I guess I should stop wearing it and give it to him #fairfieldbuttonup

A post shared by Hayley John (@hayleyjohn_5) on

a lil cheesy but something in progress for my dad! #fairfieldbuttonup #threadtheory

A post shared by Jessie Stern (@jessiestern) on

#sewingunderwear #boxers #comoxtrunks #vankatoen #stipjesendatjes father and son

A post shared by Stipjes en datjes (@stipjesendatjes) on

 

Let’s finish off this post with a great sewing hack.  If you want to sew the Comox Trunks pattern but can’t source wide enough elastic (or you would like to play with some color combinations), try stitching two narrow elastics together.  Narrow elastic is available in many colors in most fabric shops.  You might even be able to find some fun prints.  Excellent idea, Naii!  I hope your Comox Trunks turn out well!