Thread Theory

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


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The Vintage Pattern Collection is live!

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It worked!  Remember my blog post asking for vintage patterns a couple of months ago?  Well, it turns out that quite a few of you had some gorgeous menswear designs tucked away in your pattern stash!  As a result, the start of my vintage pattern collection is up in the shop.

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I’m really excited about the range of pattern companies and eras that the collection already includes…and this is just the beginning.  I will try to add more as quickly as I can find them since every time a pattern is sold it is gone for good and removed as a listing from our shop.  If you have patterns you would like me to purchase from you, send me an email at info@threadtheory.ca and I would love to do so!

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You will notice that the price of each vintage pattern in our shop varies greatly.  This is because I purchased some of them (plus the cost of shipping) and some of them were given to me (I still paid for shipping).  I’m not really intending to make money on this aspect of the Thread Theory shop…it is really more of a passion of mine than a business venture! I’ll delve in to my reasoning behind the vintage pattern collection momentarily.  First though, I want to explain: I am listing all vintage patterns at approximately my cost.  My cost includes purchasing the pattern (unless it was given to me), paying for the pattern to be shipped to me, a little bit of time spent checking over the pattern and adding it to the shop, and lastly, the cost of the box or envelope to send them to you.  That way, if the patterns are sent to me as a gift, the generosity of the person that sent them to me can be passed along to you!  I would love to hear your thoughts on this (i.e. do you like having a greatly varied price or is this disconcerting?  Would you rather they all be listed for an even $8.00 CAD so that I am losing money on some of the more expensive patterns and gaining money on others?).

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Anyways, enough about the nitpicky details, it’s time to explain to you what makes me so excited about this project!

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I have always been fascinated by ‘old’ and ‘used’ things because I like to imagine the stories attached to them.  In university, I majored in history and just loved sitting over my notebook, frantically taking notes during an engrossing lecture…it felt like every class was story time!  I wrote most of my essays on the effects of fashion on politics and vice versa.  Later in my degree I studied the impact of home sewing as employment for women just prior to the industrial revolution.  All throughout university and later on during my time in a fashion design program, I meandered through antique shops and thrift stores to admire vintage sewing machines, notions and patterns.

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Even more than previously loved sewing notions, vintage sewing patterns ignite my imagination.  Their era specific illustrations, intriguing instruction styles, and of course, the story of the person who used them are all so fascinating!  As I photographed these ones and added them to our shop I found myself imagining the woman or man who purchased each pattern, perhaps the loved one that they intended to sew for, and the places to which the finished garment was worn.  Some of these patterns have a name scribbled on the envelope or a note listing measurements within the folds of the tissue.  Was the pattern used many times to create the perfect business shirt for a husband?  Or perhaps the trousers pattern was traced in multiple sizes to sew up for all of the men and boys in a family.  Maybe the knit suit pattern was purchased with the dream of acing a job interview.

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Aside from the intrigue and glimpse into different eras of home sewing, vintage patterns offer such a vast array of menswear styles…which are certainly not found within modern pattern offerings!  Many of these styles are still very relevant with perhaps just a tweak or two to collar size, leg shape or fabric recommendation.

Gathering all of these menswear patterns in one place will allow sewists to compare design details and sizing to choose the pattern that best suits their preferences.  For instance, if you are planning to sew a button-up shirt, you can examine all of the details included in each vintage pattern (and our Fairfield Button-up) and then pick and choose the ones that suit you best.  Even now, in the early days of my vintage pattern collection, we already have button-up offerings that include double back pleats, western styling, a pin tuck tuxedo front, and even “2 hour jiffy-sew” option!

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My last, and possibly the most important reason for collecting these vintage menswear patterns is that I am saddened when I see an unused pattern from two or three decades ago.  It hasn’t fulfilled its purpose yet!  And I know, based on experience working in a thrift shop, that vintage patterns are just as likely to be tossed in the recycling as they are to be placed on the shelves for a sewist to find.  All of those patterns took such work to draft and the instructions are, more often than not, incredibly detailed compared to most modern pattern offerings.  Why should that hard work go to waste when it could be valued by a menswear sewist today?

 

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I hope these vintage patterns will ignite your imagination as they have mine and that you will be able to extend their lifespan by using them to create menswear that perfectly suits the style preferences and sizing of the person you are sewing for!

Shop the pattern collection >

Or, offer me your vintage collection for sale by emailing me at info@threadtheory.ca!


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This Friday: Our Official Paper Pattern Launch Day!

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As of 8:00am (PST) Friday, January 10th you will be able to head over to our pattern store and buy Thread Theory paper sewing patterns!  You will also be able to visit our Stockist page to see if there is an online or brick and mortar store near you that carries our paper patterns.  If there isn’t, be sure to drop a hint or two at your local fabric store and tell them to send us an email (info@threadtheory.ca) to set up a wholesale account.

To get you excited for our launch day, here is an indepth photo tour of our (we think!) beautifully designed envelopes and instructions.

The envelopes are not your traditional top entry narrow paper envelope that has a tendency to rip the first time you try to stuff all your tissue pieces back into it.  Instead, they are sturdy folders made out of recycled chip board with scored folding panels that will easily accommodate your less than tidily folded tissue each and every time you use and then put away a Thread Theory pattern.

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We have numbered each of our designs based on the order they were released as PDF patterns.  They happen, by the way, to fit perfectly in the average 12 bottle beer box and perch upright in such a way that it is easy to sort through each number.  I might have to do a ‘beer box to pattern storage’ upcycle tutorial in the near future!

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Each pattern includes two circles: the first displays the available sizes, while the second is a difficulty scale of five needles.  We came up with a five point scale because there is so much grey area between the standard beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.  With a five needle scale beginners might feel brave enough to attempt something with two needles and thus advance their skills while intermediates might do the same with a four needle pattern.

The envelope includes an elegant string closure with a bit of bling in the form of brass eyelets:

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And each pattern is sorted into the collection it belongs to, complete with a graphic logo!

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On the back of the envelope you can find all the usual information in an easy to read format:

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The sizing charts are really simple and clear – I think our designer did an excellent job using black bars and spacing to the full advantage!

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When you open up your pattern envelope you will be greeted by atmospheric tree silhouettes (to suit the theme of our Parkland Collection) and a beautiful embroidered garment tag.

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The inside of the envelope has an inventory of our other patterns such as you might find in the back of a paperback novel.

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The pattern you have chosen is highlighted in black.  Also notice the awesome needle pattern that covers all the interior surfaces of the envelope!

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The instruction booklet is a 6X9″ staple bound paper booklet with a cover page that we hope will get you pumped to start sewing:

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The paper we chose is 100% recycled but is a nice clear white so that all the illustrations and text are very easy to see and read.

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Inside the booklet you will find a version of the photos you see all over our blog and website to give you an idea of what your final garment will look like.  We stuck to black and white and bumped up the contrast so that your fabric and design choices are not influenced by the fabrics and colours we chose.  When you see the pattern in the fabric store you will be seeing only the technical illustration on the front cover so that your mind is completely free to imagine all the different fabric and styling possibilities!

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We made sure to include lots of information on each page so that you are not forever flipping pages and sewing without a sense of steps and processes ahead of you.  Our designer used the needle from our logo to highlight sewing tips.  The booklet easily lays flat and open on the page that you need so that you can leave it by your sewing machine while you sew to refer to as much as you need (but without taking up very much space!).  Here is a taste of the straightforward layout of our instruction booklet:

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We hope that you will love our printed patterns as much as we do!  Mark your calendars and head on over to our pattern store at 8:00am (PST) this Friday!


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Special Delivery!

What’s that, you want another sneaky Wednesday post from Matt full of hints of things to come?

You got it.

First up, an itty-bitty box full of brown paper!

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That’s right, after being an incorporated business for 10 months and selling our product for 5 months (jeeeez, has it only been 5 months?!), we finally got around to ordering business cards! They were designed by the lovely and incredibly talented Sonia Bishop (who also designed our logo) and printed by ClubCard printing out of Vancouver, BC. They are a vertical design done in plain black and white ink on 24pt natural kraft paper. And we love them.

Next up are some significantly larger boxes. 6 of them, to be exact, weighing in at a total of 180 lbs.

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That’s right, tissue patterns! Our first three patterns have arrived and they look GREAT! We knew it was going to be a pretty big load, but we had NO idea how much space 3,000 packets of tissue paper would take up. Turns out it’s a lot; Morgan is currently painting our closets so we can have everything looking pretty and organized for a later photoshoot. And they are HEAVY! Step 1 of going to print: Complete.

Now for some Goldstream Peacoat action: Morgan has finished the second prototype of the pattern, and it turned out beautifully!

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There are still a couple tiny changes to be made before it is graded and prettied up, but we’re getting close! More details coming soon…

Last, but certainly not least, there is a super-secret project that Morgan and I are working on. I can’t say much more about it other than one of our previous posts contained a photo hint (remember a cardboard box?). It is involving quite a bit of planning and logistics, but we’re VERY excited to show you once it’s ready!

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to follow our blog for updates!


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Negroni Progress and Pattern Company News

I’ve been working away at Colette Pattern’s Negroni men’s shirt today as mentioned in this previous blog post and it’s going well.  I’m taking pictures as I go so there will be a tutorial added once I have finished – it will explain how to add shoulder patch details, and add details such as buttons with contrast thread, a grosgrain ribbon under the buttons, decorative top-stitching, and contrast cuffs .  Here are a few sneak peek photos of my progress so far:

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Isn’t that such a lovely green?  I’ve chosen to use a Kona cotton because my husband tends to skip ironing pretty regularly and surprisingly enough, even when I offer to do it, he won’t let me iron  the old shirt I made for him out of quilting cotton because he likes the crinkled, casual look.  I wouldn’t agree with him on most shirts, but, for a casual with-jeans look, the heavier cotton actually looks pretty nice.  It gives an intentionally well-loved designer look to the shirt.  And anything that keeps us away from the ironing board is worth pursuing!

Lately I’ve been making good progress with Thread Theory menswear patterns.  After consulting often with my very helpful patternmaking instructor, I decided a month ago to hire a professional patternmaker for the Parkland Collection and then sew the samples and write/illustrate/photograph the instructions myself.  Kathleen Fasanella has written on the amazing site, Fashion Incubator, a great analogy that I agree with wholeheartedly.  She says that we don’t expect a restaurant owner to be the only cook  (or, I might add, to even be the cook!), why should independent pattern company owners expect to be able to successfully design garments, create patterns, write instructions and sell products?  Most independent pattern companies I have come across seem to operate in this way, but I think it is best, at least while I am starting up, to begin with a completely accurate and well drafted pattern based on my design so that I can fully concentrate on writing and illustrating clear instructions where I think my strengths lie .  This way, I hope the collection will be a dream to sew and the patterns will produce very satisfying results!

After a month of searching, I have found a great patternmaking company right here in Victoria, B.C. where I live!  My wonderfully supportive patternmaking instructor, Alex, owner of In House Patterns, ran across the company on Linked In.  I want Thread Theory Designs Inc. to use as many local services and connections as possible so I am thrilled to have found Sabine David of Suncoast Custom Patternmaking and Design Service.  She has been incredibly prompt at replying to all my questions so far and has agreed to make my designs.  I’m hoping to start with just the Newcastle Cardigan so that I can experience the whole process from drafting to fitting to receiving the digital pattern and then have the rest of the designs made.

The Newcastle Cardigan - hopefully the first completed pattern within the Parkland Collection!

The Newcastle Cardigan – hopefully the first completed pattern within the Parkland Collection!

I was beginning to worry after a month of contacting patternmaking companies to no avail but now that I have found a patternmaker, the June collection launch date is still looking very realistic!

If anyone has any hopes for the patterns or advice for a new company, here are some questions I would love to hear answers to!

– What menswear sewing patterns would you like to see and to sew?

– How do you prefer sewing instructions to be formatted: booklet or a single large sheet?

– What do you find easier to understand: photo or line drawing illustrations?  Or a combination of both?

Have a great weekend!


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Patterns of Note

Happy Friday!  Today (as previously mentioned) I’m going to be writing a little bit about the best menswear patterns I have found amid the slim selection of current menswear sewing patterns.

I won’t be discussing vintage patterns (there are many intriguing patterns available if you are willing to hunt for them) because Peter Lappin, an excellent sewer and blogger, has already covered this topic extensively.  You can see his vintage menswear collection and the great projects he has made up using these patterns by visiting his Pattern Photo Library.Here are just a few of his vintage patterns:

Peter’s blog, Male Pattern Boldness is great reading and excellent sewing inspiration.  He calls his blog “The World’s Most Popular Men’s Sewing Blog” and judging by the amount of comments he receives and the excellent content, I think there is no argument that he’s telling the truth!

Moving back to the topic of current menswear sewing patterns, here is a small selection I have compiled:

1. McCalls shirt M6044

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This was my first real item of men’s clothing and I have sewn this pattern many times since.  My husband and I made a trip to Fabricland in my early sewing days to find a button up shirt pattern and fabric so that we could sew him the perfectly fitted button up shirt he had always dreamed of.  We were way over our heads with the project as I had never altered a pattern for fit before and had no idea what fabric type to choose.  Plus, we were going to complicate matters by having him do the sewing!  We picked McCall’s M6044 and some easy to sew but crinkly quilting cotton.

It is pretty much impossible to find Matt a RTW button up shirt – casual or formal – that is even remotely close to fitting him.  He has wide shoulders, a thin waist, a skinny neck and very long arms so most shirts, even if they are slim fit, are too baggy if they fit his shoulders and the neck is usually too loose for him to wear a tie.  The arms on RTW shirts are without fail about a third too short for him so he is forced to wear them rolled up to the elbows.  We initially cut out a size medium in a misguided attempt to account for the problem of short arms but we got halfway through cutting and became overwhelmed by the prospect of adjusting the rest of the shirt to fit.  The half cut out shirt sat in my UFO pile for almost two years until I brought it out in an attempt to empty my fabric bin.  I re-cut the pattern as a small and made up the shirt as is.  I decided that if the shirt turned out wearable, it would be a bonus, but the real point of sewing the cut out original fabric was to familiarize myself with the process of creating a button up shirt before adjusting it to fit Matt.  As expected, the arms are way too short for him, but we were very pleased with the fit across the shoulders and of the neck which needed no adjusting.  We brought in the side seams of the garment about 1.5cm on each side – much less than we thought would be necessary – and the shirt turned out very wearable considering all the odds it had stacked against it!  I added some scraps from a thrift-store shirt as contrast on the collar band and the cuffs which Matt really liked.

Another version I sewed up for him turned out like this:

2. Negroni Shirt from Colette Patterns

Negroni shirtI haven’t sewn this Colette pattern up myself as I had already made the alterations to the McCall’s pattern to achieve a similar fit to the Negroni by the time I came across this indie shirt pattern.  I would like to try this pattern out though because the pattern description lists the most wonderful, thoughtful details – something that the McCall’s pattern completely lacks!
Colette Patterns description:

“For men that like a classic, slightly retro shirt with a more modern cut, this shirt pattern is just the thing. The instructions will guide you gently through every step of creating a well-crafted casual shirt: felled seams, a lined back yoke, and sleeve plackets on the long sleeve version. Subtle details include a convertible collar (also known as a “camp collar”) and midcentury style collar loop detail.

This shirt can be made in a variety of fabrics, such as crisp shirting, warm flannel for winter, or cool rayon for summer.”

The sleeve plackets are a big plus as the McCall’s pattern provides an easy but cheap seeming alternative – simply finishing and folding over the seam allowances before top-stitching to create a rather flimsy but quick slit.  The Colette pattern would lead the sewer to produce a much sturdier and professional garment than the easy but very casual McCall’s button-up.

3. Burda Style Pete T-shirt -FREE!

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I have attempted this pattern several times now and have ended up converting all completed t-shirts into women’s tank tops for myself due to poor fabric choice.  When Matt put on his new t-shirts they draped in a ridiculously feminine way because the knit I had picked was much too thin and silky.  Nevertheless, these failed projects were certainly not the fault of the pattern!  This free pattern is a good base for practicing sewing with knits and also to practice altering a menswear pattern to achieve a perfect fit.  I found that sewing the pattern up, as is, led to a very wide and short t-shirt (BurdaStyle users have made similar comments) and the minimal instructions were fairly complete but a little difficult to follow.  Despite my lack of success creating a t-shirt, there are many excellent versions on BurdaStyle that prove, with the right fabric and knowledge, the free Pete pattern can be used to create great designer t-shirts!

Topic for Future Post:

In the next few weeks I will be working on a tutorial using the Negroni Colette pattern.  I am hoping to provide photo instructions and inspiration on how customize a basic button up shirt to produce something expensive looking, customized to the wearer, and interesting.  Here are some tantalizingly inspirational images that hint at what the tutorial will include:

Robert Graham neck detailpatches.

DappertasticCollars

Shoulder detail

Gingham shirt with sky blue pants