Thread Theory

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


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Pattern Tour: A short video

A little peek inside our sewing patterns so that you can examine our practical chipboard envelopes (that will fit bulky traced patterns without tearing), our beautiful garment tags, and our thorough instruction booklets.

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Call for pattern testers! (Closed: 21/03/17)

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Update 21/03/17: Thank you for such an enthusiastic response to this call for testers!  The testers have all been selected now (from hundreds of responses!) and I look forward to hearing their feedback.  The details that you sent in your blog comments and emails were extremely helpful to me.  I can’t wait to share the finished pattern with you!

Yes, we have a new pattern coming this Spring!  The third draft of the instructions will be sent off to our graphic designer this afternoon so I am ready to hear your feedback.

I haven’t been keeping our upcoming pattern a secret from you and have mentioned it several times on the blog.

Usually I strive to keep upcoming designs a secret simply for the fun of it!  Many other pattern companies do this and I think it adds a sense of fun and excitement to impending pattern releases for both the pattern designer and the eager sewists.  The menswear patterns I am trying to develop for Thread Theory are a bit different though; our patterns are predominantly classic designs that can be used as building blocks for any men’s wardrobe.  I don’t try to create garment designs that are innovative or unique, instead, my main goal is to create a comprehensive collection of well fitting staples that use quality construction techniques.

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So…if I think about my aims, it seems a bit silly to keep my designs a secret!  Instead, I could be sharing them with all of you as I create the pattern to receive as much feedback as possible!  When I did this with our Fairfield Button-up pattern I was beyond thrilled with the feedback that you guys generously gave me.  I tallied up all of your blog comments and was surprised to discover that many of you preferred the option for darts on a men’s shirt pattern.  This is not a common feature on most menswear shirts where I live and so I likely would have left the pleated back as the only option…thanks to your feedback, Variation 2 of the Fairfield featuring back darts was born and has since been a favourite style for Matt and for many of you!

Belvedere Waistcoat line drawings

Our impending spring pattern release is a classic men’s waistcoat pattern.  This is an important garment to add to our pattern line for several reasons:  It is a key layering piece for formal outfits (and I think the more men need to realise how comfortable and versatile a vest is for both casual and formal outfits!).  It is an approachable and very satisfying ‘first piece of menswear’ for novice sewists.  It is quick and profitable to sew – you can create a whole bridal party worth of vests with only a small investment of time and fabric.  It is an excellent introduction to tailoring before you launch into larger projects such as a suit jacket or coat.

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Waistcoats + Summer Weddings = ideal combo.  Photos from this Pinterest board.

With those characteristics in mind, I’ve designed our waistcoat pattern to include two variations – one for novice sewists and one for sewists who would like to try their hand at more involved techniques.

I am looking for test sewers to try out my pattern and instructions that fall in to both those categories.  Please comment on this post or email me at info@threadtheory.ca if you match either of these categories:

  1. You are fairly new to sewing and have not sewn a lined garment before.  You are opinionated about menswear styles and would like to give me feedback on both the instructions (are they intimidating, easy to understand, too detailed, not detailed enough?) and the style of the vest.
  2. You are experienced sewing waistcoats.  You have tried at least one waistcoat sewing pattern in the past and are willing to give me your opinion on the construction techniques that I have used.  You would be willing to have a look at some of the resources I have been referring to as I write the instructions and discuss the nitty gritty of order of construction, understitching, the size of the lining in relation to the main garment and that sort of thing.  I am looking for some very particular feedback that I will discuss with you over email!

I value tester feedback highly and appreciate that it takes a lot of time and effort on your part!  Please, only volunteer if this is something that you enjoy doing and would like to spend time chatting with me over the next three to four weeks!  There is no need to have a blog or any form of social media and you do not need to sew a presentable final garment if you do not want to (but I would prefer if you follow all of the steps, from understitching to adding buttons, even if it is just in scrap fabric).

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Waistcoats – useful for all seasons and styles!  Photos from this Pinterest board.

If you don’t want to test sew but still have an opinion about waistcoats (be it construction or styling), comment on this post!  Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  1. Have or would you sew a vest?
  2. How many pockets do you like? None, 2, 3, 4?
  3. How many buttons do you like?
  4. Do you prefer vests with a back panel made from lining fabric or from the main wool fabric?
  5. A vest worn without a suit jacket…yay or nay?
  6. What do you call them: Waistcoats or vests?

 


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Merry Christmas from my Mom and I (in our Lazo Trousers)!

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Merry Christmas!  I hope that the next few days find you surrounded by loved ones and in good health.  I am about to begin my holidays (I will be back to blogging in the first week of January) so I wanted to sign off with a fun ‘editorial’ style shoot of my Mom and I decked out for Christmas in Lazo Trousers.

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The purpose of the shoot isn’t to show you the trouser design details (since I have been overwhelming you with posts about the particulars of the pattern!).  These photos are meant to give you a glimpse of the Lazos in action!  We both chose to style our Lazos the way we would wear them to Christmas dinner.  My mom’s pair is made out of a synthetic fabric that was terrible to work with (loads of static and it frayed like crazy!).  I like how it has a bit of body though and does not wrinkle easily…it also doesn’t press easily :S.  My pair are made out of the beautiful tencel I was telling you about from Blackbird Fabrics.  They are VERY comfortable but perhaps turned out a bit big because my weight has been fluctuating lately and I thought I was ready to size up (only to fluctuate back down by the time the trousers were finished).  I am usually a size 2 but sewed a size 4 this time.  As a result, they sit about 1-2″ lower on my waist than intended and perhaps look quite casual because of this.

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-10I paired my Lazos with a cozy angora sweater and, as per normal, tucked my sweater in.  I like to emphasise my waist (and wear heels) when dressing up because doing so makes my legs feel a bit longer.  My Mom wore a flowing silk blouse and vest over her Lazos because she never tucks her blouses in.  I think the tapered legs pair nicely with a loose top and long vest.

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My Dad and my parent’s dog, Jake, joined us for the photo shoot (and Matt was behind the camera, of course).  It ended up being a bit of a family portrait session!  We can’t help ourselves at Christmas: We hammed it up and embraced the cheesiness by attempting to create a continuous loop of Christmas crackers.  Jake was trying to help:

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It was difficult, but in the end, we managed 😛  You might notice my Dad is wearing his buffalo check Fairfield shirt…he reports that he wears it very often.  In fact, he wears a t-shirt under it so that he doesn’t have to put it in the wash daily and thus can wear it more!  So there you go – we are a family of red handmade clothing this Christmas (unintentionally matchy-matchy but I kind of like it!).

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I’ll leave you with one last photo to round off 2016…Jake!

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Happy holidays!  May the new year bring many great projects for you (and us!).  Thank you for giving us such a stable, fruitful, and connected year!  We look forward to many more like it.


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Studio Tour

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My parents and grandparents were over for a family dinner last weekend (my Mom’s birthday).  After dinner everyone gathered in my studio to have a peek at some of the projects I’ve been working on.  It had been a while since they had been in my studio, and, since we only moved in to our home 5 months ago it had changed greatly since their last inspection!  After checking out all of the customising I have done, my dad said it was high time for a studio photo shoot to share my space with you on the blog.  So here it is!

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My studio space is really the reason we decided to buy the house (Matt and I joke when we say this but it is at least partially true).  It is a nicely converted garage with gabled ceilings, two huge windows and LOADS of lighting options.

When we first moved in, Matt’s mom and dad devoted a weekend of their time to paint the studio with us.  Matt’s mom was still painting the trim when Matt, his Dad, and I enthusiastically moved everything in to the room.  I was eager to start using my space!

Since then I’ve slowly puttered away at adding functional details to the room…my latest small additions are three hooks on the wall for my scissors:

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I set up my sewing machines in front of the window so that I have the best natural light (and a view of the kids playing on the cul de sac) while I sew.

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My most used work area is my big oak desk.  It is a beat up old provincial government desk that Matt and I purchased when we lived in Victoria and have lugged along with every move since!  It’s a bit of a beast but I really love having such a huge work surface (it is usually covered with all sorts of paperwork).

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My seat cushion features a lovely little bit of embroidery that I made using one of my friend Sarah’s gorgeous bug themed embroidery patterns.  She just released a bunch of Christmas themed embroidery patterns that would make gorgeous ornaments and a great project to work on while sitting by the fire.  She also has a vintage sewing machine pattern – I definitely need to add that one to my studio decor.

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All of the smaller items that I stock in the shop are sorted on large barn-wood shelves throughout the studio.

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The barn wood is salvaged from an old horse stall that we pulled down while house sitting last year.  The building was no longer structurally sound but, once dried out, some of the wood was in decent shape.

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It’s pretty tough to find such wide, long and beautiful solid wood boards these days!  I feel lucky to have these.  They are very practical for me (I like open storage) and they are full of character.

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I’ve affixed my most used bobbins to the underside of one of the shelves using a couple of magnetic strips.  They are directly above my thread rack so it is easy to keep track of matching colors.

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My yarn is stored in three massive baskets that I sewed using the canvas, strapping and screen prints that we include in our Carry-All Bag Making Kit.

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I used this great tutorial to create these…but increased the dimensions by A LOT to make massive versions.

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I found a male dress form (pinnable!) at a second hand consignment shop a few months ago and was over the moon about it as I have been longing for one ever since I left behind the great mannequins available at design school.

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The mannequin didn’t have a stand…but…I mentioned my desire for a stand to my parents while they were admiring the studio and, low and behold, I now have one!  Just two days ago, my Dad dropped by with one that he made for me!

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He re-purposed the disk brake from an old vehicle, painted it with left over spray paint from another old vehicle, lathe turned a beautiful wooden base out of a scrap of wood, used a stainless pole and mount from the sailboat that he recently refitted to sail to Hawaii, and rigged up a system to fit it to the mannequin’s empty attachment point!  My dad is the best sort of Renaissance man :D.

I would be remiss to give you a studio tour without showing you my studio companion and his favourite place to hang out!

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Luki may look serene here but in reality he is quivering with excitement while neighbourhood cat-watching.

Needless to say, my timid little cat, Jasmine, does not share office hours with Luki.  Even though she can easily boss him around, she generally likes to avoid him and prefers to come to work in the evening and night (she blooms at night, just like the Jasmine flower).  She likes to help me sew by sitting on my fabric (classic).

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She loves the corner of the studio I’ve devoted to her – it is complete with a great viewpoint, a selection of feathers, and a stash of homegrown catnip.

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I hope you found this peek into the Thread Theory studio interesting!  Time for me to get back to work!

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And, just to remind any of you who missed yesterday’s post – all PDF patterns are 50% off in our shop until Monday!  Check out the largest sale of the year >


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Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Conference

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This Sunday Matt and I will have a Thread Theory booth set up at the Westin Wall Center in Richmond (near Vancouver, B.C.) for the annual Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Conference.  The vendor area will be open noon until 6pm and the public is welcome (even if you aren’t attending the conference).  Will any of you be able to stop by to say hi in person?

You may have heard of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals if you read Threads Magazine.  It is an North American organisation with a mission “to support individuals engaged in sewing and design related businesses, in both commercial and home-based settings.” (I pulled that right from their website – you can read all about it here.)  Every year Threads Magazine presents the approximately 400 members with a sewing related challenge and displays the winners in their magazine…this was my first introduction to the talented professionals that are part of this organisation.  Members include recognisable names such as Susan Khalje (couture specialist) and Connie Crawford (pattern designer).  I look forward to meeting many of these talented people in person at the vendor market!

Also, no less thrilling, I will be vending alongside some other very inspiring companies (Blackbird Fabrics!  Clotho! Farthingales! Fit for Art Patterns!).

Even though I enjoy working from home with the world at my fingertips online, it can be extremely refreshing to get out and engage with the sewing industry in person.  It has been just about a year since Matt and I did our last vendor market so it is high time to pack up the car, jump on the ferry, and set up our little booth.  I look forward to a weekend of sewing talk, putting faces to names, and spreading the word about Thread Theory!  Plus…we will be doing a detour to visit Science World like the couple of geeky kids that we are. 😛


Aside from letting you know about the chance to meet face to face, I have two things to share with you today!

  1. You still have a 3 days left to email me with proof that your purchased the PDF Fairfield Button-up before the tissue pattern was released.  I will give you an $11 discount on the tissue pattern to thank you for supporting Thread Theory while you waited for us to send the design to print!  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca
  2. Speaking of the Fairfield, check out this amazing rendition!  Robynne sewed it for her husband (and also sewed her own shirt) for their anniversary photos.  Plus…their dogs are very cute in matching bandannas 🙂

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Behind The Scenes: Introducing The Menswear Supply Shop (Launch Date: Nov. 1st!)

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Well, after all my hints on Instagram, the blog and Facebook over the last couple of weeks, it’s finally time for me to put it all out in the open.  We’re heading in a new direction with Thread Theory and we’re doing this in a big way!

Let me introduce you to the Thread Theory Menswear Supply Shop – launching Sunday Nov. 1st (only two sleeps left….eeek!!!).Menswear Supply Shop Announcement - Thread Theory

The Menswear Supply Shop is our way of bringing menswear to the forefront of maker’s minds.  We have created a curated online shop featuring project kits, sewing tools, fabrics, tailoring materials, knitting supplies and literature perfectly suited to menswear making.  You will be able to peruse our shop by scrolling through the following categories: Sewing, Tailoring, Knitting and Literature (with more categories coming in the future…are you interested in Leather-work for instance?).

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I have been researching and buying like a maniac and am really excited about the well-rounded selection of tools, fabrics, yarns, patterns, books and notions that have resulted from my shopping spree.  Many of the items have been chosen to work with our patterns specifically (I can’t wait to show you the kits we’ve created!).  Other items – such as many of the books – have been selected to promote an appreciation of menswear in general.  I hope more people will be excited to launch into menswear projects if they are inspired by the function and fashion of modern menswear first!

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Matt and I are pleased that we have been able to compile this project in time for the busiest making season – our shop is ready to assist you while you embark on all of the menswear gifts that you have planned!  As part of the launch of the supply shop, we will be releasing gift cards this Sunday so that you can leave it up to the recipient to choose their project if you prefer!

Make sure to sign up for our email newsletter before Sunday morning in order to receive a discount code that will be sent to newsletter recipients only!  You can sign up here.

 


 

Now that you know what to expect this coming Sunday morning, here is the story about how and why Matt and I decided to take Thread Theory in this direction.  Let’s start at the very beginning:

My Dad hamming it up at our very first Thread Theory photoshoot.

My Dad hamming it up at our very first Thread Theory photoshoot.

Way back in 2013 (not really that long ago but it sure feels like it!) when the only item in our shop was a very early rendition of the Newcastle Cardigan PDF, Matt and I sat on the little patio behind the duplex that we shared with my sister and her boyfriend.  The sun was shining but Matt and I didn’t really notice it.  I had just finished a year of fashion design school and had no desire to begin a career in the hectic ready-to-wear fashion industry.  Matt was taking a few random courses at the local university and was between jobs.  We had recently found out that we would shortly have nowhere to live because my sister and her boyfriend were parting ways and Matt and I couldn’t afford the rent at our duplex without their contribution.  Thread Theory was such a new baby at that point – each PDF pattern sale was a cause for immense celebration.  Long story short, we were at loose ends with too many choices for the future and too much change occurring all at once.  At times like this, when we are overwhelmed by the present, Matt and I like to daydream about the distant future.   So we sat on our patio in the sun and came up with this daydream:  Somewhere, many years from that moment, we were both self-employed and working from home, far removed from the concept of ‘climbing the career ladder’ that seemed to paralyze the both of us with uncertainty.  In this daydream we were running a business that encapsulated the DIY lifestyle that we longed for.  The business we ran provided makers with all of the equipment that we always struggled to find for our projects.  It incorporated both of our interests and provided us with all the equipment needed for the various projects we hoped to embark on.

At the end of year school fashion show - can you see the uncertainty of the future looming over me?

At the end of year school fashion show – can you see the uncertainty of the future looming over me?

This daydream felt like a silly one given our current situation that seemed to require the immediate acquisition of both jobs and housing.  Enormous changes have taken place since that daydreaming session on the patio and we have, for the last couple of years, managed to keep a roof over us (thankfully!), put our noses to the grindstone and pressed onwards with the development of Thread Theory as a niche menswear sewing pattern company.  It has been hugely rewarding and fulfilling.  At times I can’t imagine doing anything else!  I work on Thread Theory full time these days (and have done so for almost two years now) and Matt works on Thread Theory in his ‘spare’ time away from his other jobs.  He still dreams of being fully self employed (a dream that is coming very close to reality these days!).  Up until about six or seven months ago, I maintained the opinion that Thread Theory would remain a menswear sewing pattern company indefinitely and I would launch a new business whenever I needed to expand into new projects.

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This situation changed not long ago when we were partly through the development of the much anticipated Lazo Trousers (our yet-to-be-released second pattern for women).  As many of you can probably guess, we ran into many stumbling blocks with this pattern and have also been delayed in the development of a menswear pattern that has been in the works for several months.  Our pattern maker is exceptionally busy and successful these days working on several different aspects of her career.  I am also extremely busy due to the increasing time I spend on other aspects of our business such as customer service and shipping as Thread Theory grows.  As a result of our two busy schedules pattern development had ground to a snails pace and each change we made to a pattern felt like an enormous mountain that would take months to climb.  Clearly, our system needed changing!  And this is where the generousity of our patternmaker comes in…at a course that I took with her this summer she suggested (as she has before) that I should take over pattern drafting myself.  This concept overwhelmed me because I was already so busy with other aspects of the business but she insisted that it would be more efficient in the long run.  She graciously offered to train me in her computer system – an offer that I could NOT refuse because Sabine is, in my opinion, exceptionally skilled at drafting, exceptionally highly trained and, to my knowledge, is the only pattern maker in North America that works with Grafis (which I consider to be the best and most accurate pattern drafting software).  How could I refuse such an opportunity???  To put this in perspective – imagine if you were ordering a suit from the best establishment on Savile Row and the head tailor approached you and insisted that he would put his other projects aside and personally train you until the you had become a head tailor on Savile Row yourself.  You get the idea…

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I am in the very VERY early days of my training on Grafis.  Sabine will be helping us to finish the Lazo Trousers and the partially completed menswear pattern as her schedule allows and she will be making it a priority to train me until I am confident in Grafis.  She has even suggested that we work on an actual Thread Theory pattern while she trains me so that I have something to add to our pattern collection as soon as the training is finished!

I don’t want to rush myself in this process – Matt and I agreed that it would be beneficial for no one to hurry through training and begin launching patterns before I was fully confident in computer-based pattern design (in school I learned paper pattern drafting so this is a whole new ball-game).  We decided to come up with an alternative plan for Thread Theory so our shop would not become stagnant during my training.

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Which brings us full circle to that daydream on the sunny patio in 2013!  We pulled out some contact lists and product brainstorming notes that I had created over the last couple of years and jumped headlong into the job of turning a menswear supply shop from a dream into a reality!

So thank you for your patience while you wait for the release of the Lazo Trousers and future menswear patterns.  Don’t worry, they are coming!  We just don’t want to launch any designs until we are completely satisfied that they are accurate, approachable and flattering.

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And we hope you are as excited for the launch of our supply shop this Sunday as we are!  If you have any menswear tools, notions, patterns, books or fabrics that you think would be a great addition to our shop, we would love for your recommendations!  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca.

Lets #makemenswear!

 

 


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On Our Website

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Happy Friday!  The weather looks as though it will be gorgeous all weekend so Matt and I have plans to head out camping tomorrow at the local lake – bring on a weekend of sunshine, campfires and hiking!  Before all of that occurs, I have a busy day of computer related work ahead of me so, to get me into the swing of things this morning I thought it might be a good opportunity to point out a few features on our website that you might not have noticed while browsing through the patterns.  Matt and I are always brainstorming ways to make our website easier to use and more informative while still maintaining the minimalism that we adore.  So if you have been wishing for any additional information while using out site, we would love to hear from you!

 

Shipping Information

This is the sneakiest feature that might have slipped by you – a few months ago we added a link at the very bottom left hand corner of our home page to a description of the shipping options we offer.  We refer to this whenever we get email questions about our shipping methods but it might be a useful thing for you to read too before you place your next order!  We ship our patterns through Canada Post and have a very volatile love-hate relationship with them.  We love that we are part of a country that provides such a thorough and affordable service to it’s citizens despite the large size and sparse population of our land mass…but we really dislike how complicated and on first glance, illogical, the Canada Post rate calculation system is.  The simplest way I can explain this system to anyone living outside of Canada is that you will likely be charged a more affordable shipping rate the heavier your parcel is…unless of course, your parcel falls into one of the ‘special deal’ categories that Canada Post has created (which are based off of any combination of weight, location, and size).  Have I made things clearer?  Nope?  Well maybe our Shipping Information page will help!

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Stockist List

We have been compiling a list of retailers who carry our patterns worldwide ever since we started selling them wholesale.  If you would like to support a local fabric shop (and avoid waiting for your paper pattern to ship to you), be sure to check out our Stockist List.  We have organized the retailers alphabetically under their country heading.  We include their shop name, whether they are primarily online or brick and mortar and their catch phrase.  If you have noticed that your favorite local fabric shop is decidedly lacking in the menswear sewing pattern department, we would love for you to let us know!  Send us an email (at info@threadtheory.ca) and, if the shop you recommend ends up stocking our patterns, you will find a free pattern of your choice headed your way :).

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Customer Newsletter

There is a newsletter sign up form at the bottom of our home page – you may not realize that this customer newsletter is different than the blog that you are (likely) already following.  We send out a newsletter several times a year with information on pattern releases and sales.  While the blog features my personal ramblings and sewing projects, the newsletter is solely a channel for Thread Theory news.  This might be a good thing to sign up for if you are the kind of blog follower who is completely overwhelmed by their blog feed!  Instead of missing pattern release days due to the impossibility of keeping up with the huge number of blogs that you follow, you can also receive the most relevant Thread Theory info direct to your email inbox (I am speaking from experience as someone who can’t keep up with her blog roll!).

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Wholesale Newsletter

We’ve recently created a wholesale newsletter as a way to communicate with retailers.  If you are a shop owner who either carries or is interested in carrying our patterns, you might like to receive this bi-monthly update.  This newsletter includes information of wholsaler-only sales and order dates for future pattern releases.  Head here to subscribe!

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Your Makes

The first thing I like to do before purchasing a new sewing pattern is search for every possible blog post written by someone who has sewn the pattern themselves.  It’s a great way to find out about fitting issues, decide on the perfect fabric type, and see styling inspiration.  We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to find other people’s Thread Theory makes so that you can do the same.  On each pattern page in our shop, you’ll find a link to the Pinterest boards that I update often.  Every time I find a Thread Theory project on the sewing internet that is ‘pinnable’ it is added to these pages.  Since so many people post their projects on Instagram rather than blogs these days, Matt and I also created a link called “Your Makes” that shows #ThreadTheoryDesigns – there are loads of inspiring Instagram images popping up here that you will likely not see on blogs or by performing the good ol’ Google search.  If you use Instagram, we would love to see the Thread Theory projects that are on your to do list, on your sewing table or in your closet!  Use #ThreadTheoryDesigns to have your photo featured on our website.

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Links to Free French Translations

The last feature on our website that I want to point out is our free downloadable French translations.  If you speak French or if you simply want to have a peek at what our instruction booklets look like, feel free to download the translations at any time!  You can find the translations as a link at the bottom of each pattern description (right underneath the link to the pattern’s Pinterest page).  We currently have translations for all of our patterns except for the Arrowsmith Tank (our free pattern) and the Finlayson Sweater (for which a translation will be coming VERY soon!).

 

Now that you’re fully informed about our website features, is there any information or any resources missing from our website that you would like to see?  I’m a bit of a novice at social media integration so I would love your thoughts on this in particular!