Thread Theory

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


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Bag Making with Merchant & Mills – new patterns and kits in our shop!

The team at Merchant & Mills always manage to perfectly pair respect for tradition with modern practicality when they design a tool or a pattern.  Since this is what I look for when choosing a daily bag, I was very excited to add the British haberdashery’s Bag Making collection to our shop.

Have you had a chance to peruse their comprehensive selection of bag making offerings yet? Check out the M&M Bag Station!

In our shop you will find the patterns, kits, notions, and even a couple of fabrics that work very well to create your own waxed backpack, tote or bucket bag.  Let’s have a look:

First, here is Merchant & Mill’s take on the back pack – the Right to Roam Rucksack sewing pattern!

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I love that it includes the option for a cross body handle.  This pattern could be sewn up several times to create a large variety of bag styles depending on your handle choice and the type of fabric that you use (oilcloth, denim or canvas, for instance).

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Since the correct notions can be tricky to source, there is also a complete kit available which includes some impressively high quality hardware and leather.

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Inside the paper sack you will find nickel roller buckles…

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A pack of double cap rivets…Menswear Sewing Tools-3Menswear Sewing Tools-4

A magnetic snap…Menswear Sewing Tools-6

Sturdy nickel eyelets (they are big and seriously tough!)…

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And a roll of thick leather pre-cut to the ideal strap width…

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All you need to do is choose your fabric!  I’ve just listed our burnt orange bag making canvas by the 1/2 m in the shop.

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Pair this cotton canvas with a bar of Otter Wax to achieve this gorgeous lustre!

Uses for Otterwax (11 of 27)

The second bag design Merchant & Mills offers is my favourite – the Jack Tar Bucket Bag.

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This bag looks simple on the outside but contains three divided compartments within.  I like the combination of a leather shoulder handle and the short fabric handles that will not bang around or be annoyingly heavy when the shoulder handle is in use.

Of course, there is also a kit available for this pattern:

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The brown sack includes the necessary D-rings…Menswear Sewing Tools-12

A magnetic clasp…

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A few double cap rivets…Menswear Sewing Tools-4

And a pre-cut leather strap…Menswear Sewing Tools-13

If you prefer to head off on a bag making adventure without the full kit, we’ve listed some of the hardware individually in our shop too.  The double cap rivets and eyelets can be found in several finishes.  They are useful for bag making but can also be used for garment sewing too (reinforcing pockets and adding drawstring waists respectively).

The last bag making project you’ll find new in our shop is the Oilskin Bag Kit.

This kit really sets you up for success.  I bet it would be a great gift to initiate a friend into the world of sewing!  The gorgeous oilskin has been pre-cut into all the panels necessary to create the bag design included within the instructions.  One of the panels is even stamped with a Merchant & Mills emblem.

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Also included within the kit are natural leather straps that have their holes pre-punched and all of the necessary hardware.  Simply follow the instructions to sew the bag together!

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While I’m talking bags, I thought I’d let you know that I found an excellent tutorial to make a tote similar to the one that I sewed for my mom a couple of years ago using our burnt orange canvas and Otter Wax.

Uses for Otterwax (1 of 27)

We get emails very often requesting that I design a pattern for this tote but I just haven’t got around to that yet (sorry!).  In the meantime, check out this very clear tutorial on the blog Inspired By Wren.  It is lined, just like the tote I constructed but with some different design features.  You could easily add a metal zipper to the front pocket to achieve the same aesthetic and functionality as mine!  Of course, instead of cutting the tote from contrasting fabrics you could cut the panels all from one colour of canvas like I did.  I like the strength of handles that extend onto the bag rather than handles that attach at the top (so the tutorial features an improvement on my design!).

To make the bag, here is what you will need:

  • The tutorial on Inspired By Wren
  • 1 yard/1.1 m of the Burnt Orange Cotton Canvas from our shop
  • 1 regular bar of Otter Wax
  • A zipper for your pocket
  • 1/2 yard/1/2 m of lining (perhaps this navy paisley?)
  • The tutorial doesn’t include it but you might like to interface with fusible fleece or another sturdy interfacing, though it depends how floppy or rigid you would like your bag to be.  I interfaced my bag with medium weight fusible cotton interfacing so it remained quite floppy (which I like for a bag this size).

I hope that helps some of you out!  I think it will get a few waxed canvas tote bag makers headed in the right direction.

Happy sewing!

Check out the Bag Making Collection in our shop >>

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The Tote Bag for Makers

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Have you seen the tote bag that we now have in our supply shop?  It’s the Tote Bag for Makers!

I often carry around a tote bag wherever I go in place of a purse – it is usually filled with my wallet, our pup’s leash and a project of some sort (whether it be my new hobby of knitting or a part-way finished sewing project to transport to my friend Nicole’s sewing school, The Spool, for an evening).  I never seem to have my cloth bags on hand when stopping by the grocery store so using a tote bag as a purse has prevented me from using many unnecessary plastic bags.

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With my own affinity for tote bags in mind, I decided to design one for our shop that I, as a sewist, would like to carry around daily!  I was very excited to find a bag manufacturer within Canada – in fact, the Atlantic Bag Making Company hails from one of my very favorite cities (where Matt and I lived happily for a year): Halifax.  The Atlantic Bag Making Company is run by the Prescott Group, an organization that builds independence for adults with intellectual disabilities through the development of work skills and the opportunities to use them.  You can read more about the organization here.

These bags are beautifully sewn from cotton canvas.  They are a useful and attractive square shape measuring 16″ X 16″.  My favorite element is the soft and strong cotton webbing handles – I like these much more than the scratchy poly webbing one often finds as tote bag handles.

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I opted to screen print the totes myself because I have been learning to use the fancy screen printing press that I bought as a printing novice back in May.  I’ve practiced on everything from Bachelorette t-shirts to canvas patches and was pleased to feel quite confident by the time these bags arrived and were ready for me to print!  I should do an update post on screen printing on the blog so that I can share some of the techniques that I’ve learned (this won’t be until the new year since I currently have a backlog of blogging ideas).

The design printed on our tote was created by Sonia Bishop who is my sister-in-law and our talented graphic designer.  She originally created this design for the front of our Camas Blouse instruction booklet.  As soon as I saw it I imagined it as everything from wall art to tote bags – I just love the confidence and excitement this message conveys to me!  I also love that it is not sewing specific – we sewists can have the bag slung over our shoulder to spread the DIY vibe all around the world!
Tote bag for knitters
I’m currently using my bags with slightly ‘distressed’ prints (the bags that didn’t pass my quality control for clarity and crispness) as a knitting bag and a purse as you can see in the photo above.  But these bags aren’t just for sewers and knitters!  I have all sorts of ideas for customizing these totes.  For example, I plan to use a scrap of cotton to sew some pockets into one tote to carry a set of paintbrushes – I think this will make a lovely Christmas gift for my Granddad who attends a weekly painting class!  It would also be fun to doodle around the text with fabric markers to create a tote that is a little more colorful for children (I’ve bought some – now I just need to lay out a tote on the table when friends are over so everyone can doodle away!).  I can imagine one of these totes filled with a beautifully sewn apron, a wooden mixing spoon and a handwritten family recipe for the cook in the family this Christmas – wouldn’t a tote bag such as this make a great reusable gift wrap?  Don’t worry, I’ve already set aside a dozen bags for my own Christmas gift projects so there are still lots available for you to order!

Head to our shop to order a tote bag of your own!