Thread Theory

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


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Meet Ben (aka @sewciologist) and his me-made-wardrobe

 

Color-blocked Fairfield Button-up

Let me introduce to you an enthusiastic menswear sewist with an eye for detail and design!  I am in constant awe of the outfits Ben sews for himself and posts on Instagram.  He was posting consistently throughout Me Made May 2017 and I wanted to share every single one of his garments with you!  Ben graciously agreed to answer a few questions and share some photos on the blog so you are in for a treat today!  Make sure to take a careful look at some of Ben’s thoughtful design choices – which is your favourite?

Can you introduce yourself briefly and give a little run down on how you came to be such an accomplished sewist?

Thank you so much for having me! I am thrilled to be featured on your blog as you are one of my favourite menswear pattern designers. My name is Ben and I’m an Austrian living in Birmingham, UK. I’ve always enjoyed creating things of all sorts, but up until two years ago it never dawned on me that making my own clothes was a thing that I – or anyone – could do! My first contact with haberdashery in general was when I learned to crochet in primary school. On a whim, I dug out what was left of those skills a few years ago and started to make pillow cases, and when a friend came over for a ‘crafternoon’ with her sewing machine, I knew that that’s what I needed in my life. Fast forward a few months, past a number of totes and zipper bags and my first ever garment – a Finlayson sweater – saw the light of day.

Fairfield Button-up made by Ben

I don’t know if I’m really all that accomplished with what limited experience I have, but I’m certainly a very ambitious and adventurous sewist. I find myself easily bored and would much rather try out a new pattern than stick to a tried and tested one, as well as trying out new techniques as I go along. By nature, this has meant quite a steep learning curve for me, but I’m proud to say that I’m an entirely self-taught sewist, not least thanks to your sewalongs and the many video tutorials out there. I also owe a lot of my expertise to my part-time job at my local haberdashery Guthrie & Ghani which has encouraged me to push on and explore new skills, as well as the thriving sewing community of Birmingham.

Sewing for Men - Sweater and Lon Sleeve Shirt

It’s very clear, based on your inspiring Instagram account, that you sew many of your own clothes – even now that MMM17 is well past, do you still find yourself wearing your handmade garments on a daily basis?  What type of handmade garment do you tend to wear most often?

I definitely try to wear as many handmade garments as I can every day. Wearing something I’ve made gives me a sense of confidence that I haven’t known before. I feel that it is a skill that is no longer quite so widespread, so it makes me all the more proud to be wearing me-mades. As a matter of fact, I have promised myself that I won’t buy anything that I can make or that I can learn to make. “Quintessential Ben” likes to dress in a smart casual way typically consisting of a pair of chinos and button-up shirts, but I do try to explore different styles and go out of my comfort zone more often. Still, my favourite garment is definitely the Fairfield shirt. I have now made a number of them and it’s one of the few patterns I don’t mind making over and over! I love how different fabrics give it a completely different look. For my next one, I’m planning a looser-fitting denim version with mother-of-pearl snaps – and maybe an added pocket flap and some funky topstitching on the yoke?

Me Made May - Sewciologist

When planning a new garment, where do you find inspiration?

I don’t often find myself influenced by current trends in fashion as I feel that I have a fairly settled and consistent taste. I generally prefer style lines and creative pattern cutting over colourful or intricate prints, so I like to seek out patterns that make a striking impression even when made in a plain or subtly printed fabric.

I also like to be inspired by the fabric itself. For the last few weeks, I’ve been under a self-imposed “fabric ban” as an incentive to work away on my existing stash – even though I have the sinking feeling that it’s still growing rather than shrinking… In a way, that has actually fuelled my creativity as I’m now thinking about what I can make with the more outlandish things I bought or picked up at a swap.

Ben the Sewciologist

What resources would you recommend to a man interested in sewing his own wardrobe?

A lot of help early on in my sewing journey has actually come from indie patterns such as your own, as I’ve found them to be particularly beginner-friendly. I’d always recommend starting on one of those rather than a Big Four one, which would typically presuppose a lot more knowledge of sewing terms and techniques.

Community is incredibly helpful as well. If you don’t know anyone else in your area, I’d say have a look online! The number of menswear sewing bloggers has increased over the last few years and there are some great blogs out there: the fashionable and virtually iconic Male Pattern Boldness, the debonair Male Devon Sewing, or the incredibly talented Mensew, to name just a few, are all treasure troves of tips and inspiration. Instagram, too, has a growing community of menswear sewists which can be found under hashtags like #makemenswear, #menwhosew or #mensewtoo.

Sewing for men - button down shirt

And lastly, I can only recommend turning to womenswear sewists for guidance. Many of the techniques will be the same, and there are so many wonderfully talented women out there who have a wealth of knowledge we can only admire and benefit from. Not to be too political, but I do think that in general men would do well to listen to women more often and with greater humility!

Strathcona T-shirt

Do you have any pattern, fabric, or tool requests that you would like to be made better available to menswear sewists? We’d love to hear your wishlist!

Where do I start?! I would love to find some crisp shirting material like Oxford cloth in more modern colours to make nice workwear, but so far have found it difficult to find in the UK. I’m very keen on buying lots of natural fibres and sustainably sourced fabrics for things like formal trousers, which is also not always easy to come by. Pattern-wise I have been on the lookout for transitional outerwear like a bomber jacket or a trench coat, but in general I’d love to see more adventurous and fashion-forward designs out there. Another thing that’s hard to find is a good book on fitting menswear. Fitting is an art in itself, and getting it right makes all the difference between a good garment and a showstopper.

Men who sew - Ben the Sewciologist

Thanks, Ben, for sharing your inspiring garments, your can-do attitude and some of the things that inspire you!

Did you notice the multi color buttons on the pale pink shirt with contrast trim?  I love how subtle yet completely unique that feature is!  I must remember this idea for my next Fairfield…

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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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Buffalo Check Fairfield Shirt

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A couple of weeks ago my parents took Matt, my sister and I on a family holiday to Lund, on the Sunshine Coast (B.C.).  This is a couple of hours by ferry from where I live in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island.  The trip was a joint birthday celebration for my parents who have birthdays in October and November…and it was highly anticipated by Matt and I who were REALLY looking forward to a weekend holiday!

In honour of my Dad’s birthday I sewed him a couple of new garments.  Today I’ll show you his lumber-jack inspired Buffalo Check brushed cotton Fairfield Button-up!

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My sister took these photos of my Dad when we reached the end of our Saturday hike.  We walked up to Manzanita Hut which is part of the Sunshine Coast Trail.  Based on our small one day hike and the larger four day hike my sister went on last spring, I would highly recommend the Sunshine Coast Trail if you are looking for a hiking adventure in B.C.!

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This Fairfield Button-up is sewn using the red and black buffalo check from our shop.  We only have a few more meters of this and it is sadly no longer offered by our fabric distributor!  We have quite a lot of the blue and white and black and white variations though!

I used the band collar from our free ‘Alternative Collar Styles’ download (you can find the link on the Fairfield Button-up page).  I love the casual vintage vibe that this style of collar lends to the shirt!  It is reminiscent of workwear from the 1930s.

Instead of buttons, I used rugged snaps (the same snaps that we include in our new Rain Jacket Hardware kits!).  My thinking was that my dad could wear the shirt open as a second layer over t-shirts if he wanted to.  The heavy snaps help to give the workshirt an appearance of outerwear.

Since I knew my dad would not be wearing the top snap closed, I covered the neckline seam with cotton twill tape so that it could peek out as a little bit of extra detail (you can just see it in the photo above).

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In terms of sizing – this one is simple: It is a straight size XL (Average Figures) with a centre back pleat!  I didn’t make any changes to the pattern to fit my dad.

I already know he will get lots of wear out of this shirt because every time I’ve seen him since our trip he has been wearing it (that’s why he is so much fun to sew for!).

Enough about sewing though…Here is the best of photos to please all of you dog lovers out there: Our pup, Luki, cooling off on the way up the mountain!

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He LOVES lying in puddles.  Can you tell?


 

In other news, did you receive our newsletter earlier this week announcing the launch of our Rain Jacket Hardware kits?  If not, you may want to subscribe so that you don’t miss a some big news items coming up in the next month. 😉

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For those of you who haven’t read about our new kits yet: I gathered our hardware kits together with Matt’s Dintex anorak in mind.  After your enthusiastic response to my post on his new jacket, I thought I would set out to find all of the hardware I could not easily source while sewing his jacket.  That way, you could make the same jacket…but even better!

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We’ve included my favourite anorak snaps (super rugged, super easy to install).

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You’ll also find some awesome reflective YKK zippers that are perfect for dark stormy nights.  The two short zippers are ‘extras’ to use for customising your jackets (you could ad d armpit vents as commonly found in ski jackets or all manner of zippered pockets).

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When purchasing the kit, you can choose between a zipper suited to the Closet Case Files Kelly Anorak or a longer zipper to use on the Hot Patterns Hemmingway Windcheater (which is now back in stock along with the previously sold out Workshirt and Breton Top).

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The toggles and drawstring have been sourced from Rose City Textiles.  A few of you mentioned this outdoor/technical fabric shop when I blogged and Instagram posted about Matt’s Hemmingway jacket.  It is a Portland-based shop that sells mostly to designers and manufacturers…and unfortunately, they are currently going out of business.  They are selling off their wares in large lots so, with wonderful help from staff member, Annette, over a long phone call, I was able to find matching toggles, cord ends, and reflective shock cord perfectly suited to high end outdoor gear!

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In addition to the full kits, I’ve added sets of toggles and cord ends to the shop.  Would you like me to list any of the other materials separately?  For instance, would you prefer to purchase the snaps kits on their own?  Or shock cord by the meter?  I have priced the full kit as the best deal…but not all of you will want the whole kit!  Just let me know what you would like listed individually and I will do so right away.

And, in other news before I sign off:


  • Pattern Review is hosting a Menswear Sewing Contest and we are the sponsor!  Enter for your chance to win a $100 or $50 shopping spree in our store!
  • As I mentioned before, get ready for some big news in the coming weeks (there are two things that I’m keeping secret for now!).  Sign up to receive our email newsletter to make sure you stay in the loop.
  • Did you miss out on your favorite color of waterproof Dintex?  Not to worry!  I’m holding a pre-sale right now.  Simply place your order right now and it will be shipped to you (along with any other goodies you order) as soon as it arrives at our studio.  The pre-sale ends next Tuesday, Nov. 22nd. 10am PST.


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The Fairfield Button-up Tissue Pattern is here!

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Well, the wait is over!  We’ve added the Fairfield Button-up Tissue Pattern to our shop.

I hope that you are as thrilled with it as I am!  It is the first printed pattern within our new Cityscape Collection.  I’m working on the next pattern for this collection right now!

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As always, the tissue pattern comes in a chipboard envelope (very easy to stuff your pattern pieces back into), complete with an embroidered garment tag and an instruction booklet.

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A few days ago I added a video to Instagram which I shot while opening up the Fairfield Button-up tissue pattern and flipping through the instruction booklet.  I thought you might like a little photographed peek inside in case you don’t use Instagram!

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I love how minimalist and clear my sister-in-law (our graphic designer) has kept our instruction booklets.  My main goals for these booklets is to convey all of the tips, tricks and illustrations in as few pages as possible without them feeling squished.  I think that too many instruction pages can be just as overwhelming when you first examine your sewing project as too much tiny text on a page.  It’s a fine balance!

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The Fairfield is the first pattern to include instructions on how to take menswear measurements.  We also included loads of garment measurements so that you can compare them to a favourite store bought button-up.

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As is always the case when we launch a printed sewing pattern, we are offering a discount to people who bought the PDF but would prefer to work with the tissue version.  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca with proof that you purchased the PDF and I will give you a discount of $11.00 CAD on your tissue pattern.  This means you will have received the PDF for free!  Proof of purchase can be anything from your order confirmation email to your first and last name (so that I can look up your order history in our shop).  The discount offer lasts for one week (it ends Sunday night at midnight PST).

This discount is our way of saying thank you for financially supporting Thread Theory while we save up the funds to print our tissue patterns!

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Buy the Fairfield Button-up >

Happy sewing!

 


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Paper patterns are back in stock!

The Jedediah Pants and Strathcona Henley are available as tissue patterns once again!  They are on their way to our stockists worldwide and are currently on our website.  Thanks for all of your enthusiasm for these two staple menswear garments!  They have been steady sellers in our shop ever since they were released as tissue patterns in January 2014.

You’ve probably guessed that we ordered more from the print shop than just our old favourites!  The brand new Fairfield Button-up tissue pattern arrived in the same shipment!   It’s release day in our shop and at retailers worldwide is Monday, Oct. 17th.

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I have created a short video on Instagram during which I open up the brand new pattern so you can take a look inside.  Why not take a peek?


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12 Menswear Sewing Projects + 2 Blouses

You guys are such an inspiration!  Each day I begin the work day by checking out what you’ve been making and sharing on Instagram, via email (info@threadtheory.ca) or on Facebook.  Be it the fabric choice, the creative hacks, or the skilled stitching, your projects always allow me to see our old designs from a new perspective.

I’ve created a gallery for each pattern that you guys have been sewing of late.  Above you can see a couple ofexcellent Fairfield Button-ups (along with some VERY elegant Jedediah trousers!).  The aqua colored Fairfield and black Jeds are part of matching father and son outfits in honor of father’s day.  They were sewn by Belgian seamstress and milliner, Jo Chapeau.  The chambray Fairfield Button-up was sewn by Georgia for her partner James.  The fabric is a Robert Kauffman chambray (have you ever seen and felt these in person?  I love the depth and texture of the fabric.  It is so luxurious feeling while giving the overall appearance of a casual fabric choice.)

These two Strathcona Henleys could not look more different but they were sewn by the same person!  Esther sewed one men’s version featuring the Henley placket and long sleeves and then modified the pattern to create a women’s version which she has dubbed the Mariner’s Tee.  It looks as though there is orange striped piping around the neckline.  I love the attention to detail and the way she played with the stripes.

The Jedediah Pants and Jutland Pants are excellent skill building projects.  I never fail to feel pride and amazement each time I complete a trouser fly.  I think these talented sewists felt the same (judging by their Facebook messages, Instagram comments and emails!).  From top to bottom, left to right: 1.Jedediah Pants by Lindsay (@designbylindsay) 2. Jutland Shorts by Ben 3. Jedediah Shorts by The Drapery 4. Jutland Shorts by Isis.

The Finlayson Sweater, on the other hand, is a very quick make and is forgiving of all manner of stitching and fitting imperfections.  There is very little topstitching and the fit is boxy enough that you don’t have to worry about tweaking it much for a variety of body shapes.  Even though it is a simple design, it can still be made special by making an unusual fabric choice.  I love the color blocked sleeves and collar in the top photo (sewn by @lafamillecreative).  The French Terry used by Khadetjes for the Finlayson in the lower photos looks extremely cozy.  You can see some close up photos of the texture on her blog – it looks perfect for a chilly day like today!

Photos of Comox Trunks are some of my favorite to stumble upon because I get such a kick out of the wild prints many people select!  You would be hard pressed to find such colorful and cheery underwear in the shops!  The top pair has been sewn by @theunknownstar and the bottom pair (along with the matching thong) have been sewn by @superlousew.  I may have shared this couple’s set of undies on Instagram or the blog before but I can’t find evidence and I can’t resist spreading the concept of matching undies throughout the sewing world!

This Camas Blouse caught my eye the other day – it was sewn using a woven fabric with a beautiful cotton lace yoke.  I like how the lace yoke shows peeks of the main fabric through the gaps.  This lovely blouse was sewn by @lamuseauplacard.

Lastly, let’s not forget the Goldstream Peacoat!  Near the end of each summer progress shots of Goldstream Peacoats never fail to pop up on my Instagram feed.  These images, by @timetosew caught my eye due to the very precise basting and padstitching she has completed.  I have had the pieces cut out for a Pendleton Wool Goldstream for over a year now.  Since I have made so many Goldstream Peacoats over the last few years, I thought I would veer from the sewing process which I detail within the instruction booklet.  This process features very easy yet effective methods that are approachable even if it is your first coat project.  This time I’m going to use some of the tailoring tips from our Tailored Peacoat Series!  Obviously, I am a tad intimidated (this is why the project has sat for over a year in my WIP bag) but I am thankful for the inspiration from sewists like @timetosew who just buckle down and get stitching!  It’s time for me to do the same so Matt can finally replace his old ratty Goldstream that I made him years ago as an early sample from very cheap faux wool.

If you have a Thread Theory project on you sewing table, I would love to hear about it!  Send your questions, your ideas, your photos, and your stories to info@threadtheory.ca, message me on Facebook, or use #threadtheorydesigns.


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Meet our Summer fabric collection!!!

Hemp and Cotton Shirting

Earlier this week I sent out a newsletter to introduce our mini summer collection of sustainable fabrics.  If you didn’t receive the newsletter, make sure to sign up here.  It is the best way to hear about new items in our shop the moment they are launched.

Men's shirt fabric

This Summer collection of fabric is comprised of breezy hemp and organic cotton yarn dyed fabrics that are ideal for casual summer button-up shirts (or dresses and skirts).  Many of you requested solid versions of the shirting that we launched alongside our Fairfield Button-up pattern.  Thank you for sending in your requests!  You now have four colors of solid fabric and two fabric weights to choose from.

They are going quickly already – the natural stripe and denim shirtings are just about sold out!

Summer Fabric Collection - menswear

We only ordered one roll of each fabric so they will be available for quite a limited time.  Once they sell out this season my studio shelves will be cleared for a mini Fall collection.  Any special requests for the Fall collection?  What menswear fabrics do you want to see in our shop?