Thread Theory

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


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Fabric Sale!

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Despite the knee high snow and driving icy rain outside, I know Spring will be on its way soon!  It’s time to clear the studio shelves a little so that I have room to order our Spring Fabric Collection!  Our entire selection of fabric is currently 15% off – so if you have been tempted to order some Dintex rain jacket fabric or some beautiful merino wool, now is your final opportunity!

Use the discount code WINTERFABRIC upon checkout to receive 15% off any fabric in your shopping cart.  The sale is for this weekend only!

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Once most of these fabrics are sold out we won’t be restocking them any time soon since I will be choosing a new selection of fabrics that work well with our sewing patterns each season.  We are already sold out of many of the Dintex colors…but there are still some great options available!

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It isn’t only the Fall and Winter fabrics that are on sale…all of our fabric is!  The very high quality Canadian-made knit fabrics that I have stocked since the launch of our menswear supply shop in Nov. 2015 are also 15% off right now!

I just sewed Matt a new Finlayson Sweater using the black sweatshirt fleece.  As long as Matt stays well away from our white-haired pup, Luki, I think he looks really smart in this pure black fleece!  It’s the warmest sweater in our closet so I’ve been wearing it quite a bit lately too.

It makes me happy and reassured to think that no aspect of this sweater was created outside of Canada.  The people who manufactured this fabric work in excellent conditions with fair pay.  And the person who manufactured the sweater (me!) certainly works in great conditions and received a Matt-made hall table in trade for this garment…I’d say that’s pretty fair pay too.

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It’s very difficult to convey how luxurious these Canadian-made fleece, interlock and ribbing fabrics are using photos since they are all solid colors that may just look like any other knit when photographed.  As soon as you feel the density of the interlock or the incredibly plush wrong side of the sweatshirt fleece, you will know what I mean!  I have been told by a number of sewists who have ordered these knits from us that they are reminiscent of the thickness and quality of pure cotton knits in the 1970s.  A t-shirt made in the interlock or a sweatshirt made in the fleece will last for MANY years of heavy wear.

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I hope this fabric sale has come at a good time for you!  Maybe you can squeeze in a couple more cozy winter projects before the weather warms?

Peruse our fabric selection >

Don’t forget to use the 15% off discount code!  It’s WINTERFABRIC.


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Lazo Hack: Elastic Waist Joggers

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As promised, here is my contribution to the ongoing Lazo Hack contest.  I’ve made a few simple adjustments to the Lazo Trousers pattern to produce elastic waist joggers with a satin ribbon drawstring!

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While working on these joggers last night I snapped a few pictures to create a tutorial for you.  I’ll show you how to adjust the front waistband so that it is one piece, switch the fly from functioning to a mock fly, and add elastic and buttonholes for a drawstring.  You can hem the trousers as per normal or you can add some narrow cuffs at the ankle as I did.

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(Velvet jogger inspiration from Anthropologie.  I love the tassel drawstring!)

Transforming the Lazos into joggers is a VERY simple hack that could work for both woven and knit fabrics.  Any woven fabric that you might choose for a regular pair of Lazos will work for these joggers (chambray tencel or velvet would be awesome!).  If you want some jogger inspiration, here is a good series of styled images.  I’m probably a bit late to the jogger trend (I think it began in 2014) but I’ve never really adhered to trends anyways, I just choose my clothing based on my current lifestyle and mood.


Ok, let’s convert the Lazos to joggers:

Begin by selecting and altering your pattern pieces.  The only pattern piece you do not need to use is the Zipper Shield.

The only pattern piece you need to change is the Waistband Front – simply fold under the extension at the notches and cut the waistband on the fold (just like you cut the back waistband).  There is no need to cut interfacing pieces for the waistband or fly.

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Assemble the trousers as per the instructions all the way up to the Fly Front section.  If you are working with a knit, you might like to use a stretch stitch or a serger so that your seams are not at risk of snapping when the fabric stretches.

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To create the mock fly finish the seat seam as instructed.  Next, sew the inseam, but instead of stopping just below the zipper placement notch, ignore the curved fly facing and stitch in a straight line all the way up to the fly facing notch (which is the centre front of the pants).  If you prefer to leave off the fly altogether (perhaps you would like to insert a side seam invisible zipper instead), you can trim off the fly facings.  To sew the mock fly, press the facings towards the right side of the trousers (if you were wearing them).

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On the right side of the trousers, topstitch as you would normally to give the illusion of a functioning fly.

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Now we are ready to assemble the waistband!  If you would like to add a drawstring later, now is the time to add buttonholes to your waistband front.  Apply a small square of interfacing to the centre of the waistband on the wrong side of the fabric.  This will help to stabilise the fabric when you sew your buttonholes and it will make your buttonholes less likely to become misshapen with use.

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To position your buttonholes, fold the waistband front in half and measure in from the fold 1/2″.  Place a pin through both layers of fabric and then mark the pin’s position with chalk (preferably on the wrong side of the fabric so that you don’t have to wash out your chalk as I did!  Sorry for the wet waistband later on in the post…I was on a roll while I was sewing and didn’t want to stop to wait for the fabric to dry!).

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I chose to add 1/2″ buttonholes but you can add whatever size you prefer based on the drawstring that you choose.

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Now place the waistband front and back with right sides together and sew the side seams.  Repeat this step for the waistband facings (the second set of waistband pieces).

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You now have two waistband loops.  Place these with right sides together and sew along the entire top edge.  By the way, at this point it would be easy to make your waistband shorter by simply chopping off the top of the waistband before you sew the two loops together.  You could choose to match the width of elastic you plan to use for instance.  I left my waistband the full height because I wanted them to be high rise trousers.  Centring the 2″ elastic within the waistband resulted in a bit of a paper-bag silhouette.  If your waistband does not extend above the elastic your trousers will not have a ruffled top edge as mine do.

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You might like to understitch along the top of the waistband to prevent the facing from rolling outwards.

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Attach the waistband to the trousers while keeping the waistband facing free.  Place the waistband and trousers with right sides together.  Make sure to centre your buttonholes over the seat seam and align your side seams.

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Press the seam allowances towards the waistband and then press the waistband facing downwards to enclose all of the raw edges.  You can either finish the waistband facing edge at this point or you can press under the seam allowance for a very tidy look.  I left my serged edge visible because my fabric is pretty bulky so I didn’t want to add another layer of fabric.

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Pin the waistband facing in place carefully.  I would highly recommend basting it in place so that you don’t have to worry about it shifting during the next step!

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From the right side of the trousers, start 1″ away from one of the side seams and stitch in the ditch all the way around the waistband.  Finish your stitching 1″ away from the same side seam so that you are left with a 2″ opening at the bottom of the waistband facing.  You will use this opening to insert the elastic.

Circle elastic around your waist to find the perfect fit.  I circled mine at my natural waist but if you have shortened your waistband to fit your elastic width, circle your elastic a couple of inches below your natural waist since the trousers will now sit lower.  Remember to include some extra elastic so that you can overlap the ends later to create a loop!

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Thread the elastic into the opening using a safety pin.  Once both ends are pulled out of the opening check that the elastic is not twisted within the waistband and then overlap the ends and stitch them together.

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Close the elastic within the waistband by stitching in the ditch over the 2″ hole.

Try on your Lazos to check the length of the hem (and to admire how they look!).  Hem them in the style that you choose (a regular hem, a wide cuff or a narrow ribbed cuff like mine).

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Now you have several options to prevent your elastic from shifting around in the waistband.  The simplest option is to distribute the fabric nicely around the elastic (while you are wearing the trousers) and then place a pin through the side seams and elastic.  Stitch in the ditch of the side seam to secure the elastic in place.

To create the paper bag waist and more thoroughly secure your elastic in place, you can toptstitch along both the top and bottom of the elastic around the entire waistband.

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Now all you need to do is thread a drawstring through the buttonholes using the same safety pin technique is before and your joggers are complete!

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I hope you like my fresh interpretation of the Lazos Trousers!  Have you tried hacking them yet or do you prefer to sew them as is?

Edit Jan 25th: Some of you asked me to model these Lazos for you – here I am in my jammies 😉  They look pretty cozy eh?

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To finish off Friday in a happy sort of way, let’s do the third Lazo Hack contest draw!  Today’s winner is Meg (@madebymegblog)!  Check out the awesome way she styled her Lazos.

The rolled hems and boot combo is really wearable and cute!  Congrats Meg, your use of #lazotrousers has won you $25 to Blackbird Fabrics.  Thanks for sharing!

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I will draw the last Lazo Hack prize on Friday, Jan. 27th.  The winner will get to choose which goodies (from our shop) they would like me to fill this sewing caddy with – up to a $100 value!

You have 7 days to take a photo of your Lazos whether they are still a work in progress or finished and share them on Instagram or Facebook using #lazotrousers.

Download your Lazo pattern >


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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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Waterproof Anorak Sewing Project

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I have a whopper of a sewing project to show you today!  I sewed Matt a waterproof, windproof and breathable anorak jacket and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

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I used the Hot Patterns Hemmingway Windcheater pattern that we stock in our shop and modified it to be unlined as per Matt’s request.  He really wanted a light shell with lots of room for bulky sweaters underneath.  He chose the Pumpkin Dintex waterproof/windproof/breathable fabric from our shop because he wanted a jacket that would be very visible while hiking and hunting in the forest (safety first!).  Plus…he looks awesome in orange :D.  This fabric is comprised of three layers – a soft shell exterior, a waterproof film, and a mesh interior.

I was so thrilled with how easy the Dintex material was to work with.  I just used a regular old needle (probably quite dull) and I even did a bunch of stitch ripping with no bad results.  I just rubbed my finger over the needle holes and they disappeared completely.  The fabric is quite thin and very stable so it was basically like sewing quilting cotton…no stretching or slipping while I sewed.  It doesn’t fray at all so I could have left all of the seams unfinished if I had wanted to without the need for a serger or even pinking shears.

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Matt went out into a rainstorm last night for the sole purpose of testing out the waterproof nature of this fabric.  We haven’t sprayed it with any waterproofing spray and I didn’t wash it before I sewed the jacket.  He stood in torrential rain for several minutes and then shook vigorously before coming back inside.  The majority of the raindrops shook right off of him leaving him with a few drops on his shoulders and the rest of the coat completely dry.  We noticed that the drops left on his shoulders slowly started to sink into the outer layer of fabric but they did not penetrate the middle layer (which is supposed to be the main waterproof layer within this material anyways).  I think a quick spray with something like Kiwi Protect-All would fully waterproof the outer soft-shell layer of fabric.

Based on my experience with the fabric after this project (and how pro the results look…if I do say so myself!), I plan to stock a few more colors when we order our winter collection of fabrics.  There is a gorgeous teal color called Ocean and a great muted blue called Storm that are high on my list.  I’ve received a request for the color Plum.  Do you have any specific colors in mind?

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I have been steadily working on this jacket for a few weeks now with Matt eagerly awaiting it!  He has been drenched in several Fall rainstorms so far with no waterproof jacket in his closet.  He spends lots of time outdoors rain or shine while hiking with Luki, foraging for mushrooms or hunting so this garment is really an essential item for him.

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Apparently, I’m not the only one who things sewing an anorak is a great idea this Fall!  Heather Lou from Closet Case Files just launched her spectacular Kelly Anorak on October 5th.  She basically read my mind with this pattern – it is unlined with all sorts of beautiful seam finishes.  Like I said before, I didn’t use the lining pattern pieces for Matt’s anorak and instead drafted facings and improvised seam finishes.  Now that the Kelly pattern is available it would be easy to sew a menswear anorak using the Hot Pattern pieces/menswear sizes and the instructions from the Kelly!  Maybe I’ll sew a matching Kelly for myself using our Navy Dintex now that I have all the details worked out.

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Now, let’s talk a bit more about the Hemmingway Windcheater pattern.  I sewed the size Medium for Matt even though he usually wears a Small.  We chose to move up a size to ensure there was room for lots of layering.  I made a very quick and dirty mock up of the pattern to make sure that the shoulders were not too oversized (they weren’t) and, when I tried it on him, we decided to taper the side seams since Matt’s hips are very narrow and he is used to a slim fit.  I made no other fit adjustments.  Usually I would lengthen sleeves about 1-2″ when sewing for Matt but this was unnecessary because we went up a size.

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I had fun working out all the details for this jacket.  The instructions are quite brief and I didn’t follow them very often because I was not constructing the lining.  This left me with lots of creative room to add cozy jersey facings:

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…tonnes of flat felled seams and a facing on the hood:

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…as well as a waistband casing:

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I struggled finding hardware that I liked because Matt tends to like rustic or even old fashioned fastenings.  We also wanted everything to be heavy duty and hard wearing.  I bought brass snaps from Prym which I was very pleased with.  They come with a tool set that includes a plastic holder into which you place the hole punch and various applicators.

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This was very nice to work with because it kept my fingers away from the hammer and lined the top and bottom applicators up for me.  Usually I feel as though I am all thumbs when working with the tiny tools that come with snaps…but not this time!

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I like that these snaps are smaller in diameter than the ones that I usually see in fabric stores.  These little guys are 12mm in diameter.  I think this makes the jacket look more professional.

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I’m considering stocking these sets in the shop.  Would you be interested in using them for your outerwear projects?

I did not find toggles or draw string stops that I liked…but these will be easy to find when I make an anorak for myself!  Closet Case Files released a kit yesterday that includes all of the (high quality) hardware that you need to sew an anorak.  Everything would be suited to menswear except for the draw string stops (which are a beautiful scalloped design).

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For Matt’s drawstring toggles, I created circular leather disks from an old belt.  I traced a circle, cut it out, and then smoothed the edges with rough sand paper.  I used the punch from my snap kit to create two holes in the disk and then threaded the cord through them.  Hot Patterns suggested this as a solution for toggles and I love the vintage look!  They slide along the cord nicely too.  To finish the cord ends until I find a better solution, I just knotted the cord and melted the ends.

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One of the things I really like about the design of this garment is the internal drawstring along the waist.  I think this results in a more masculine and streamline look than the usual drawstring that exits near center front through an exterior grommet.

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I also find the pockets with box pleats to be very practical.  Matt can fit Luki’s leash in one of them no problem and they are more than large enough to keep his hands warm.  I lined Matt’s pockets with leftover ripstop fabric for a pop of hidden color.

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I also really love the cuff design!  It includes a tab that cinches over a sleeve gusset.  The pattern suggests to apply two snaps so that the cuff can be cinched tight against the wind.

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You can’t see the gusset well in these photos unfortunately but there is a handy close up illustration on the front of the pattern envelope.  The illustration really helped to make things clear while I sewed.  It’s basically a diamond shaped wedge of fabric that gets folded in half and sewn to the cuff and sleeve to create a flared sleeve.  The tab then cinches the cuff tight so that the sleeve, when done up, is no longer flared.  The flare will allow Matt to put on his jacket while wearing a sweater with bulky sleeves and even while he is wearing gloves.

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The hem length is perfect.  There is nice coverage over the bum!

 

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And the tall neckline is super cozy without being excessive.  Matt doesn’t have to push fabric away from his face but, if he wants to hide from the wind, he can sink behind the collar a bit like a turtle lol.

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The shape of the neckline where the hood meets the yoke is very unique:

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It provides an interesting seamline to decorate with all sorts of topstitching.  I fell a bit short here as, while I was constructing the jacket I thought this seam would usually be hidden by the hood and collar – it turns out Matt mostly wears the jacket zipped to the top leaving my one area of iffy topstitching fully exposed!  Woops!

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The last design element that really makes this anorak seem like a high end store bought coat from Patagonia or Arc’teryx is the flap that snaps over the zipper to protect the wearer fully from the wind.  This was an essential design feature for us because I couldn’t source any of those fancy waterproof and windproof zippers that I see on expensive waterproof activewear (such as this).

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Well, there you have it!  Matt’s Hemmingway Windcheater that will have him ready for anything this wet West Coast winter!


Before I sign off for today, I have a couple more things to add to this already super long post!

  • Have you seen the awesomely colorful Strath that Duncan Carter (a contestant on last season’s The Great British Sewing Bee) shared on the Minerva Crafts blog?
  • The tissue version of the Fairfield Button-up launches next Monday, Oct. 17th!  Make sure you are signed up for our newsletter because I will be sending out a special discount for newsletter recipients on Monday morning.

Have a lovely weekend!


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The Perfect Menswear Sewing Pattern for Beginners

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I sewed my dad a t-shirt made from woven fabric!  He was a bit skeptical of the idea at first but once he tried it on and got used to the feeling of cool, light hemp and no stretch, he realised it was very comfortable.

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The pattern is designed by Merchant & Mills and is called The Tee.  It is available in our shop!

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The fabric is a hemp and organic cotton blend from the summer collection (also in our shop).  It is the only colorway remaining from the three colors that I used to have in stock.  I must say, I was surprised that this one didn’t sell out first (the pale blue was the most popular) since this charcoal grey is such a versatile color!

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I find the idea of a woven tee to be very appealing because I receive many emails from beginner sewers who are looking for an easy menswear project.  A woven tee combines two elements that make it the perfect candidate for a beginner sewer: 1. It contains only four pattern pieces and 2. You can sew it up in a very stable fabric that does not stretch as you work with it.

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Of course, because this pattern is designed for woven fabrics, it features a fairly roomy, loose fit.  The actual shape of the t-shirt is somewhat boxy (especially compared to our Strathcona Tee which includes curved side seams).  I like that The Tee fits as closely as possible though – for instance, the shoulder seams end at the shoulder bone as you can see in the photo below.  They are not ‘dropped’ shoulders as is often the case in loose, baggy t-shirts – these can easily look sloppy.  I think this nicely fitted sleeve cap gives the shirt a vintage vibe and an overall polished appearance.  The close fitting crew neck also adds to the vintage feel of this garment.  It is the only part of the t-shirt made in a knit (a ribbing in fact).  The instructions for applying the ribbing are excellent (the best I’ve come across in a t-shirt pattern) so, even though this could be a tricky step for a beginner sewer, you will be guided through it thoroughly.

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As you can see in the next photo, the width across the shoulder blades is the perfect amount to allow for a full range of (mostly) unrestricted movement.  My dad commented that the sleeves felt a bit snug when he extended his arms in front of him but we both agreed that my Mom’s work blazers (for instance) are far more restricting.  He is just very used to a t-shirt stretching to suit any movement.

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If I were to sew this t-shirt for my dad again I would likely lengthen the hem by 1″ to 2″ since it is currently a touch too short to tuck in without it pulling out of his waistband when he moves.  I would also play around with the fit at the waist and hips since my dad has a broad shoulder width and a narrow waist and hip circumference.  I would likely taper the side seams from the armpit to the hem by 1″ on each seam.  While this would be a proportionate adjustment for my Dad, I think many men would suit the straight side seams very well.  In fact, my Dad mentioned that he thought the combo of woven fabric and straight side seams would be very comfortable and flattering if he had a beer belly to hide.

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My Dad just got home from an almost 3 month long sailing journey to Hawaii and back!  He lost quite a bit of weight in this time period (since the crew mostly survived on lentil soup and a horrifying lack of cookies).  I sewed the shirt using measurements I took before he left and thus did not account for his slim waist.  I might still take the side seams in if I can borrow the shirt from him in the future!

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My dad’s new dashboard decor for his Ford F-100 ’53 (his only souvenir from Hawaii!).

Thanks, as always, for being such a cooperative model Dad!


Let’s finish off this post with a quick update on how the wedding dress turned out!  I blogged some progress photos a few weeks ago and wrote about how enjoyable the sewing process had been (and how nervous I was for the final fitting!).  Needless to say, the final fitting went so smoothly.  I hardly had to make any changes!

Mika looked absolutely stunning and the wedding was very romantic.  It was in the couple’s home and was wonderfully casual (as you can tell by the groom’s attire).  I felt very proud to see Mika excitedly try on the dress and comfortably wear it the entire evening.  Thanks for such a wonderful opportunity, Mika!  (The photos above were taken by Bayoush Mengesha.)  Congratulations Mika and Mitch!


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Menswear Knitting Projects

Erika Knight Yarn (18 of 21)

I completed my very first knit sweater (and two hats)!!!  I had given up on knitting a couple of years ago after falling down a miserable rabbit hole of snarled yard, hours wasted watching YouTube tutorials, and many attempts at ambitious projects that were eventually simplified until they became yet another poorly knit scarf.  My lack of improvement was demoralizing compared to how steadily I was adding to my arsenal of sewing skills.  I finally decided that knitting just wasn’t for me.

That was until a very talented knitter and patient teacher became my sister-in-law (thanks Sonia!)!  And also, that was until I stumbled upon British yarn and pattern designer Erika Knight’s book for knit menswear projects, Men’s Knits: A New Direction!  I loved all of the classic and minimalist designs and the photographs were so inspiring.  When we decided to launch our menswear supply shop in November, I added knitting as a category within the Thread Theory shop – that way I could stock Erika Knight’s awesome menswear designs and beautiful yarns!

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As soon as I saw the Funnel Neck Sweater, I knew it would suit Matt perfectly.  I wanted to use Erika Knight’s Maxi Wool in Storm rather than the chunky-weight Rowan yarn that the pattern recommends.  The Maxi Wool is thicker than the recommended yarn so Sonia helped me to choose a smaller needle size and knit a test swatch.  We knew it would be a bit of a gamble for fit but, fortunately, I have the complete size range of men in my family so I could knit it for whoever it happened to fit!

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The project was actually a perfect one for a new knitter who is set on knitting a big sweater rather than a nice manageable hat or scarf (everyone thought I was crazy for taking on such a big item!).  I was prepared for the scale of the project and was relieved by it’s simplicity.  The ribbed chest was actually really easy and Sonia wasn’t even around to help me with that part!  I actually found sewing together the sweater to be the most difficult part – sewing with wrong sides together and with the stitches on the right side of the garment blew my mind a little :P.

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In the end, the sweater was too large for Matt which was quite a shame because the tall neckline suited his long neck perfectly!  The shoulders are meant to be dropped and the sleeves are meant to be fairly wide but not to the extent that they were when Matt tried it on!

As soon as Matt tried it on I realized that it would be the perfect size for my Dad!  The only element that doesn’t perfectly fit him is the area that fit Matt well – the neckline.  As you can see above, it buckles a little bit because my dad has a short to regular length neck (and the beard also tends to push the neckline down a little I imagine).

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I really love the rest of the sweater on my dad though!  It’s the perfect length for him and I think the “V” at center front looks really smart.

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The yarn has more than enough body to create the funnel neck but perhaps isn’t as stiff as the Rowan yarn used for the photographed sample.  The Maxi wool is deliciously soft and squishy so it creates a softer shape at the neckline:

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The sleeves are the ideal length and I love how the rib section looks with the bulky yarn.

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Below you can see the hem – the ribbing causes it to be quite a bit thicker than the stockinette stitch used for the main sweater which, I think, looks immensely cozy!

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My Mom has decided to roll the collar over and hand stitch it down at the shoulder seams for my Dad.

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It doesn’t really want to roll over at the shoulder seam due to the funnel shaping of the neckline but I think rolling it will work great for the majority of the neckline and will serve double duty as a sort of shoulder stabilization – rolling the neckline over pulls the shoulders inwards so that they will be less likely to stretch out and become to wide/saggy over time.

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This project ended up using exactly 11 skeins of Maxi Wool in Storm.  I used size 6mm and 6.5mm needles rather than size 6.5mm and 7mm that the pattern calls for.  I chose the smallest size (which would normally fit Matt).

While this sweater didn’t end up fitting its intended recipient due to the fact that I used a different yarn than the pattern calls for, I’d still consider it to be a huge success!  It was my first project knit using a pattern (aside from one dishcloth several years ago) and it looks so nice on my Dad.

He won’t get much of a chance to wear it this year since the weather is warming so quickly but now it will be sitting ready in his closet to keep him warm next winter and for many winters to come!


 

Aside from my big winter project, I also knit a couple of quick toques when I needed a break from the sweater.  They were just enough ‘instant’ gratification to encourage me to keep working on the sweater.Erika Knight Yarn (4 of 21)

Matt’s toque was knit using the pattern from the Erika Knight “Knit for the Boys” pattern poster that we stock in our shop.  I used a selection of Vintage wool yarns.

Erika Knight Yarn (2 of 21)

My toque was knit using some of the yarn scraps from Matt’s toque as well as some Rowan yarn that I impulse purchased (oh dear, now that I’ve gotten into knitting I have to worry about restricting my yarn stash as well as my fabric stash!).  I used the Erika Knight toque pattern as a base for sizing but then just got creative and made up my own pattern by mashing together the decreasing technique from a free baby toque pattern (sorry, I can’t find it now so I’m unable to link to it!) and my desire for a very wide fold over ribbed band.  I finished off my one-of-a-kind hat with a really big pompom made from the Rowan yarn scraps.


 

 

Now that I’ve enthusiastically shown you my first successful knitting projects, please don’t look at the photos too closely lol!  I know they are all riddled with mistakes.  I imagine I will one day feel as embarrassed looking at these photos as I do looking at sewing projects that I completed 8 years ago.  Right now though, looking through the rose colored glasses that I’ve worn since I jubilantly finished the last stitch on my dad’s sweater, these projects look pretty darn good to me and I’m really proud of overcoming my initial struggle with knitting.

 

Here are the links to the patterns and yarns that I used for these three garments:

Men’s Knits: A New Direction by Erika Knight

Maxi Wool (used for my Dad’s sweater)

Knit for the Boys pattern poster by Erika Knight

Vintage Wool (used for the toques)