Sayward Raglan Sew-along: Day 3

This afternoon we are sewing our Sayward Raglan.  This post will walk you through each step with photos showing construction using a serger and construction using a variety of stretch stitches on a regular sewing machine.  Let’s dig in!


Your raglan should now be cut out from fabric – I like to clip my notches outwards when sewing with knits to avoid creating runs in the fabric (think of the runs that develop when pantyhose are snagged – similar runs can develop in knits).


Begin the sewing process by laying out your shirt front on your work surface with the right side up.  Place on of the sleeve pieces on top with right side down.  You will know you have your sleeve aligned correctly if the raglan seam with the single notch lines up with the single notch on the shirt front (note that double notches usually signify the back side of a garment).


Pin the sleeve seam thoroughly so the notch lines up.


Stitch the seam using a 1.5 cm (5/8″) seam allowance.  If you are using a serger, this means you will need to trim off the extra fabric with the serger blade.


If you do not have a serger and are instead using a stretch stitch on your regular sewing machine, here are how some examples of stitches you might use:


A simple zig zag stitch works great.  Play around with the stitch length and the stitch width by sewing together two small scraps of fabric to create a practice seam.  You want to find the sweet spot where the stitching is not very visible from the right side of the garment when the seam is pulled open and it also is nice and stretchy.  If your zig zag is too wide, you will see puckers that almost look like holes on the right side of the garment.  If your zig zag is too long, it will behave more like a straight stitch and not have very much stretch.


If your machine is able to do a triple stretch stitch, this is a great option of loose fitting knit garments stitched from sturdy and strong knits.  The machine simply goes back and forth over the same straight stitch three times.  This makes the stitch very strong so your seam will not snap.  This isn’t a good option for delicate knits though since the seam will be stronger than the fabric itself!  This means that, when stretched, the fabric is at risk of tearing while the seam stays perfectly intact.  When I use a triple stretch stitch I like to finish the seam allowance with a zig zag stitch as you can see above.  I then trim the excess seam allowance to make things look tidy and to reduce bulk.  You can choose to finish the seam allowances together (like a serger would) and press them towards the back, or you can create a separate line of zig zag stitching on each seam allowance and press them open (this takes longer but creates less bulk at seam junctions).


Some regular sewing machines feature awesome stretch stitches such as the one above (they vary in appearance from machine to machine).  This one features a straight stitch broken up with a wide and short zig zag.  If you trim the seam allowance before stitching, the zig zag will actually enclose the raw edge of the fabric to create a finish similar to a serger.  I still like to trim afterwards though since knits don’t really fray much.


Once your raglan seam is sewn, press the seam allowance towards the sleeve (or open, depending on your preference).  Repeat this process with the second sleeve:


Below you can see my serged seam allowances on the wrong side of the t-shirt – they are pressed towards the sleeves.


Now we are ready to add the shirt back!  Leave your shirt laying right side up on your work surface with the sleeves spread out.  Place the shirt back with right side down and line up one of the raglan seams.  This time you will be matching the double notch.  Pin thoroughly.


Pull the back over to the other sleeve and line up this raglan seam as well (again matching the double notches).  Pin.


We are ready to sew the back raglan seams!  Use the same stitch style as you did for the front seams and again, press the seam allowances towards the sleeves (or open).


It is beginning to look like a shirt already!


Now it is time to add the neck band.  Fold your neck band piece with right sides together and align the two short ends.  Pin.


If you like, you can baste the neck band closed at this point and continue following the directions below, all the while using a long basting stitch until your neckband has been sewn to your t-shirt.  This is a great way to test the neckband to see if your fabric drapes heavily and drags the neckband until it is too large – this is a common problem with jersey blends but it is any easy one to fix if you do a test fit with large basting stitches.  You can simply remove your basting until you are back to this step in the instructions.  Sew the neck short ends using a larger seam allowance to create a smaller neckband.  When the smaller neckband is stretched to fit on to the neckline, the tension created by the stretching will help the neckline to keep its shape.

The neckband is perfectly drafted to suit stable knits like interlock though, so I’ve proceeded directly to serging here!


Press the seam open or to one side (depending on the stitch style you used).  You now have a loop:


Fold your loop in half so the raw edges meet and wrong sides are together.  Press.


It is now time to apply the binding to the t-shirt neckline!  You can choose where you would like to position your binding seam – in the photos below you will see I’ve placed it at centre back.  If you prefer, you could position it so it lines up with one of the back raglan seams.  This is just a matter of style preference and does not effect the shape or fit of the neck band.


Divide your neck band in half.  Line up one half (in my case, the neck band seam) with centre back.  Line up the other half (which I’m pinching in the photo below) with centre front.  Pin at these points.


Now divide the neck band in quarters.  Align each quarter (where I’m pinching in the photo below) half way between the raglan seams.


You will notice that the binding is smaller than the shirt neckline.  You’ll also notice that the front binding will need to be stretched more than the back binding to fit the shape of the neckline.  Both of these observations are excellent!  The small circumference of the binding will stop the neckline from gaping.  The extra tension on the shirt front will ensure a shapely neckline where it is most likely to sag.


Stitch around the neckline loop using a 1.5 cm (5/8″) seam allowance.  If you would like a slightly tighter crew neck than our pattern is designed to include, an easy solution would be to sew the binding with a smaller seam allowance (1 cm or 3/8″ for example).  This will result in a wider neck binding and a tighter neckline.


You can see in the photo above that I began and ended my stitching at center back.  This is a great idea if you plan to cover this part of the seam with a garment tag – your untidy backstitching or serger overlap will be nicely hidden!  If you will not add a tag, it is a good idea to start your stitching at one of the raglan seams so it is not so obviously visible.


Press the seam allowance towards the shirt body and sleeves.


If you want to prevent the seam allowances from flapping around and also, if you would like to add more structure and stability to your neckline, you can finish off your neckline by circling it with a stretch stitch.  This stitching catches the seam allowance so that it is permanently pressed in the correct direction.  You can also trim off any excess seam allowance to create a tidier finish.


If you would like to stitch on a garment tag, place it at centre back and topstitch it down across the top and bottom.  You could even stitch around the entire rectangle.  Remember to keep your stitching as neat as possible because the shape that you stitch will be visible on the back of the garment.


Now that the neckline is complete, we can do a final fit and head on to the side seams.  It is very easy to fine tune the fit of the Sayward Raglan.  Try the unfinished shirt on the recipient with the shirt inside out.

Pin up the side seams and sleeve seam trying to keep your pins along the seam line as accurately as possible.  If you are frustrated by the pinning or worried you will poke the wearer, you could also baste the seams together with a long stitch length before he tries it on.

At this point, you will be able to see if you need to take in the sleeves a little (i.e. sew them with a larger seam allowance) or perhaps taper to a smaller seam allowance at the waist and hips to give him a bit more room in the body.

If you are able, take the garment off the wearer with the pins still in so that you know exactly where you need to sew (now that your seam allowances are no longer consistent!).


Sew the entire sleeve and side seam in one go.  Make sure that the underarm seam is aligned as perfectly as you can.  Also ensure that the raglan seams remained pressed the way that you intend.


Press the seam open or towards the back depending on the stitch style that you chose.

And now we hem!  My favourite way to hem hefty knits such as this terry is to serge the edge and then press the fabric under at the hem notch.  The instruction booklet shows you some other options to choose from too (particularly suited to lighter weight knits).  If you would like to follow along with this photographed method but do not have a serger, don’t worry!  You could simply zig zag the raw fabric edge.


Once the raw edge is finished, fold the fabric edge up once at the hem notch.  Pin thoroughly.


The same process applies to the sleeve hems:


Stitch around the hem using a zig zag stitch.  In the photo below, I am stitching from the wrong side of the garment.  I also like stitching from the right side of the garment.


The advantage of stitching on the wrong side of the garment is that you will have likely placed your pins on this side (so they are easier to take out as you sew) and that it will be more obvious if you are wavering off the edge of your hem or if your hem is puckering as you sew.

The advantage of stitching on the right side of the garment is that you can see how your finished results appear.  You might also find that your fabric moves along more smoothly with both layers being moved along at an equal pace…at least this is what I find with my machine!

Test out both options on a scrap piece of fabric to see which side you prefer to sew from.  It is essential that you do not stretch either layer of fabric while sewing since this stretching will result in a twisted hem or hem that ripples.  Don’t worry, a tiny bit of stretching will likely snap back into shape after the first wash!


And here is what your finished hem will look like!  While you would never see a zig zag stitch on a manufactured garment, I think it looks professional and does not seem at all noticeable or distinguishable from a coverstitch hem when worn.


And that’s it!  A couple hours of sewing and your Sayward Raglan is complete!  If you have already whipped one up and would like your photo shared on Friday’s blog post, please email it to me at or use #saywardraglan on social media.  I can’t wait to see your t-shirts!

August 10, 2018

Sayward Raglan Sew-along: Day 2


So we are about to start on our Sayward Raglan sewing project but first we need to choose our size and make any fit and style adjustments we might need!

Choosing your size:

Choose a shirt size-7

Within the instruction booklet I included a detailed explanation and diagram showing you how best to choose your size.  Let me walk you through it!  (Open image in a new tab to see it full size…and feel free to skip down to our fun pattern hacks if you are comfortable choosing your size without assistance!)

How to choose your size

Under How to Choose Your Size you will see an explanation on how to collect body and garment measurements.  While body measurements are most essential, we always include garment measurements for our patterns as well, this way you can compare them to existing garments to see if the Sayward will end up with the fit and style that you or your recipient are used to wearing.  Let’s illustrate this point with scenarios:

Scenario 1:

For instance, you may be excited to sew a raglan and find that the body measurements perfectly match the size L but, when you measure a favourite t-shirt, the garment measurements match our size XL…well, this is an excellent indicator that the man you are sewing for might prefer a looser fit than the Sayward is designed to produce!  In that scenario, simply make the executive decision to sew XL and produce a Sayward that fits differently than we designed, or, sew the L and push the boundaries of your prospective wearer (if he is interested in trying a new fit).

Scenario 2:

When collecting Body Measurements you might find that the chest, waist and shoulder width, hips and height of your recipient do not match a single size on the chart.  For instance, his chest measurement may suit our size M, his waist may be size M, his shoulders size S and his hips size L…and then his height might match 4XL…it’s certainly possible to have these results!  In a scenario like this, the chest measurement is the most important since this is where the raglan is most fitted and where it is the most difficult to adjust.

Choose our size M pattern but then manipulate it to ensure it matches the recipient’s shoulders, hips and height.  This isn’t as tricky as it might sound!  Here is how I suggest you approach this particular scenario:

Choose a shirt size-16

Accounting for size S shoulders: You can simply sew with slightly larger seam allowances when attaching the sleeves to take in a bit of extra fabric at the shoulders (use a larger seam allowance for the sleeve but not for the body since you don’t want the body to be any smaller at the chest).  Always make smaller changes than you think you need since you can remove more fabric but you can’t easily add fabric back in once seam allowances are trimmed!

Choose a shirt size-13

Accounting for size L hips: Before cutting out your fabric, grade to a larger size at the hips to suit your wearer.  Here is a tutorial I made for the Jedediah Pants to show you how to grade between sizes.  Alternatively, you can just taper to a smaller seam allowance as you sew down the side seam towards the hem.

Accounting for size 4XL height:  This is a big change that you will need to do before cutting out your fabric since you will be adding lots of length to the pattern pieces.  Slice along the lengthen and shorten here lines and follow our tutorial on lengthening a pattern.  You might like to double check a t-shirt that your wearer likes to see exactly how much length to add to the Sayward (measure the Centre Back Length as I describe in the instruction booklet).  Perhaps he likes a t-shirt longer or shorter than the Sayward is designed to fit…so don’t just rely on his height!  Refer to the Garment Measurement chart too!

So now we’ve covered how to use our measurement charts and adjust the Sayward Raglan for fit, please stay tuned for tomorrow’s special guest post.  It will be about grading to a larger (or smaller) size than our pattern offers – perfect for men who fall just outside of our available size range but would still love a Sayward Raglan!


Fun Pattern Hacks:

Henley raglan

Okay, let’s move on to adjusting the Sayward Raglan to suit style preferences.  This is the fun part!  I’ll be covering how to create 3/4 length sleeves and how to add a Henley placket.

Add 3/4 Length Sleeves to the Sayward Raglan



This is an easy adjustment to create a very classic look.  Before cutting out your fabric, bring out your Sleeve pattern piece (the long sleeve version).

Measure your recipient’s arm to find out exactly where he would like his 3/4 length sleeve to end.  Measure along the seam from underarm to the desired finished length. Ensure that his elbow is ever so slightly bent as it would be when he is standing relaxed.


Remember that the Sleeve pattern piece includes 1.5 cm (5/8″) seam allowances.  Whenever you manipulate pattern pieces, it is most accurate to mark in your actual seamlines – do this now along all edges by measuring in 1.5 cm (5/8″) at various points and then connecting the dots.


Measure from the underarm seamline down the arm to your desired length.  Draw a horizontal line at this point – this is your new finished hem length.


Now it is time to add the hem allowance.  You will notice on the original pattern piece that the hem allowances features an angle.  This angle adds width to the bottom of the hem so when you fold up the hem it will match the taper of the sleeve.  We need to replicate this at our new hemline.


Hold up your sleeve pattern piece to a window (tape it there so it does not shift).  Place another piece of paper over the 3/4 length horizontal line.  Measure up from the line 2.5 cm (1″).  Trace the angled line.


Flip your piece of paper over and slip it under the Sleeve pattern piece.  Use the light from the window to trace the angled hem onto the original pattern.  Add the seam allowance back on to each side of the hem allowance (the outer red lines in the diagram above).

Cut off the extra sleeve length that you no longer need.

Now you can cut out your 3/4 length sleeve and sew it up exactly as per the instructions!

Add a Henley Placket to the Sayward Raglan

Resized 0007

First of all, you will need to download a placket pattern piece – Free Placket Sewing Pattern!  It creates the same style of placket that you see on our Strathcona Henley.  Print it full size with no scaling and check it is the correct size by measuring the 3″ test square.


Now, using the Sayward Front pattern piece, draw a vertical line at center front of the neckline measuring 13.7 cm long (5 7/16″).  This is where you will position your placket.

Head to our tutorial on sewing a Henley placket.

Once your placket is complete, attach the Neck Band as follows (this is an excerpt from our Strathcona Henley instruction booklet.  Be sure to open the image in a new tab to view it full size):

Sew the Sayward with a Henley Placket

And there you have it!  Our classic Sayward Raglan turned in to a versatile Henley like this perfect example from The Gap!

Raglan Henley


You are now ready to cut out your fabric.  I have a VERY detailed post on cutting out a t-shirt – while I used the Strathcona Henley pattern for this tutorial, everything I mention applies perfectly to our Sayward Raglan.

Stay tuned for our guest post on grading tomorrow and I will be back for the final sew-along post on Wednesday when we will be sewing the Sayward!

August 10, 2018

Sayward Raglan Sew-along: Day 1

What do these three photos have in common?  You’ll soon find out!

Welcome to the first day of our Sayward Raglan Sew-along!  This will be a short and sweet sew-along that will have you finished your raglan by next Wednesday…it’s that easy and quick to sew this style of tee!

Day 1: Today we will have a look at some ready-to-wear inspiration and talk about fabric choices.

Day 2: We’ll go over fit and style modifications and then cut out our fabric.

Day 3: We’ll sew it all together!

Next Friday: We’ll share some of our pattern tester’s Saywards and maybe a few of your finished projects too.

Let’s get started!


The raglan sleeve style is said to have been developed by Lord Raglan and his tailor after his arm was amputated as a result of an injury sustained during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  This sleeve style allowed for easier dressing as an amputee and also resulted in a greater range of movement for sword use (and, later on in history, for all manner of sports, most notably American baseball!).

Cardinals raglan uniform.jpg

Now we’ve had a small glimpse at how the raglan developed historically, let’s look at how it is worn today.  Raglan sleeves are now commonly seen on knit sportswear but are also used on casual daily wear for both men and women.  All of the RTW images below come from our Sawyard Raglan Pinterest board.

I can imagine the Sayward sewn in a thick and cozy terry or interlock:

A versatile cotton jersey:

Or in high-tech blends to create performance sportswear:

Nike Raglan

Color-blocking can be approached in a number of ways.  Within the instruction booklet I provide information on how to color block to create this style (sleeves and neck band are the same color while the body is a contrast color):

Striped raglan

But you could also get creative by colorblocking differently:

While there are many suitable fabric choices for the Sayward Raglan, here are my top 3 picks with my reasoning:

Fabrics: 1. Organic Cotton Interlock from Organic Cotton Plus 2. Elk Grove Organic Cotton Interlock from Organic Cotton Plus 3. Josi Severson Organic Cotton Interlock from Organic Cotton Plus

Cotton or Cotton/Poly Interlock:

This fabric is of medium body which makes it easy to sew – it does not curl as much as jersey at the edges and it is more stable than most knits (it sews somewhat like a non-stretch woven material).  It is also wonderful to wear because it is thicker than the jersey used for most t-shirt manufacturing these days.  It will wear well for many years to come and will feel soft and luxurious against the skin.

Fabrics: 1. Organic Cotton Spandex Striped Jersey from Simplifi 2. Nordic Night Organic Cotton Elastane Jersey from Simplifi 3. Whale Pod Organic Cotton Elastane Jersey from Simplifi

Jersey (with no spandex or less than 6%):

Jersey is thin and will result in a very professional feeling t-shirt because it is what most men are used to wearing.  If you pick a cotton jersey, you may be able to find one that is quite crisp and stable (especially if no spandex or other substrates have been added).  Watch out for slinky jerseys that drape against the body when worn – these will result in a sagging neckline and a form hugging t-shirt with a distinctly feminine appearance.  I find most rayon blends have too much drape for a men’s t-shirt and bamboo blends should be felt in person before committing to them since they can also drape quite heavily.  A great benefit of choosing jersey is that it is widely available in fun prints!

Fabrics: 1. Bamboo Cotton French Terry from Blackbird Fabrics 2. Organic Cotton Terry from Simplifi 3. Light Weight Organic Cotton French Terry from Organic Cotton Plus

French Terry:

A great choice for those new to knits since it doesn’t curl or shift while sewing.  Watch out for terry fabrics with loose loops on the wrong side because those can be messy (the loops fray off at the cut edges and make a lot of dust in the sewing room) to sew with and can catch on watches or nails when the shirt is being taken on or off.  A French Terry will produce a warmer Sayward that can be worn as a t-shirt or layered atop another t-shirt as a light sweater.


Have a question about colorblocking, styling or fabric choice?  I’d love to help!  Just comment below or email me at

Now it’s time to purchase, wash and dry your fabric so you are ready to cut out your Sayward on Monday!  Have a nice weekend!

August 10, 2018

Lazo Trouser Hacks: The Parade


Okay guys, I have a surplus of Lazo Trousers to show you.  This will likely be the last Lazo post for a while since it is the end of our Lazo Hack contest today!  Don’t worry, the regular programming of menswear related sewing patterns and tools will be resuming shortly!


This week has been a great week for the Lazos – both in my wardrobe and throughout the online sewing community!  Matt and I finally got around to a modelled photo shoot for the activewear pair that I made approximately two years ago (can you tell how much I like modelling…thank goodness our pup Luki helped me out!).

This pair is made in a complete mystery material that I suspect is mostly nylon.  It was from the ‘activewear’ section of my local fabric shop and I picked it with the intention of making hiking capris.  I liked that it had a bit of body while still being very light weight.  Plus it is quick dry and a rugged twill weave.


These Lazos are sewn in size 4 as is.  I had fun adding lots of topstitching to this pair similar to how I would approach sewing our Jedediah Pants or a pair of jeans.  I think this subtly changes the overall feel of the design from elegant to casual and rugged.


I added three heavy duty anorak snaps as a waistband closure and lined the pockets with a twill weave acetate lining (again, to be light and quick drying).


I look forward to some warmer weather so I can wear these hiking and boating again!  They were NOT the right choice for a frigid afternoon near the end of January!


A few of you requested that I model the elastic waist Lazo Joggers from last week’s tutorial so Matt and I photographed those the same day.  I added them to last week’s blog post, but in case you missed this update, here are a couple of photos of me in my pjs for you to see!


As you can most certainly tell from these images, this pair is much cosier and better suited to January weather.  I really love them!


It wasn’t only me who modelled Lazos this week – I am so thrilled with the flat elastic waist Lazos that Meg created.

To my eye they retain the elegant simplicity of the original design while adding loads of comfort and convenience.  Being an enthusiastic wearer of elastic waist pants myself, I think this hack is perfection.  Plus, she went to the effort of making a tutorial to show us what she did!  Thank you so much Meg!  My next pair of Lazo Trousers will definitely include a flat elastic waist.

Lastly, I have a beautiful un-hacked pair of tencel Lazos to share with you that even feature the pointed belt loops of the original design:

The olive tencel, crisp white blouse and tropical greenery are a match made in heaven!  I’m glad you love your Lazos and had a great holiday Kellene!

Let’s close off this Lazo overload by drawing the final winner of the Lazo Hack contest.  Thank you to all who entered your creative brainstorming, your WIP shots and your finished trousers.  The winner of the a Thread Theory sewing caddy filled with $100 of goodies is Orianne!  Orianne entered by email with these beautiful sketches:


I will be emailing you, Orianne, so that you can select the items you would like me to pack in your box!

If you want to continue the conversation about Lazo hacks or perhaps pose a question to the Thread Theory sewing community, you will likely be interested to know that we now have a Thread Theory Sewing Community Facebook group!  The intention of this group is to allow sewists who are considering, working on, or finished sewing with Thread Theory patterns to share their questions, their opinions and their projects.  I hope it will be useful for you!  It will not really be curated by me so it is up to you how you would like to use this platform.

Matt created it earlier this week but I must confess that I avoid Facebook as much as possible…so if you love Facebook groups and prefer ours to be structured in a more user friendly manner, just let me know and I will be happy to learn something about this!

Have a great weekend, everyone.

December 12, 2017

Lazo Trouser Hacks: Elastic Waistband Joggers


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!


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.


(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.


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.


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).


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


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.


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!).


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


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).


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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).


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.


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!


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?


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!


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 >

December 12, 2017

Lazo Trouser Hacks: Fitting

Happy New Year!  I’m getting right in to the swing of things on the blog today now that the busy holiday season is over.  It’s finally time for the Lazo Fitting post!  Sorry for the delay on this one.  I just couldn’t fit it in before my Christmas break.


I have included fit adjustments based on the feedback you gave me several blog posts ago.  If I missed a category or you didn’t have a chance to request a fit adjustment, shoot me a comment on this post so that I can try my best to provide you with some fitting help.

I have chosen the simplest solution for each fit problem so I hope this post won’t intimidate you!  Also, you will notice that a lot of my solutions use the Lazo’s unique style lines to help fit.  We will work with the waistband shape and also with the pleats to create a better fit when possible instead of performing more elaborate pattern manipulation.

Now, please, before we get started, please add a mock up (trial run) of the Lazo Trousers to your agenda!  All of these fitting suggestions are operating under the assumption that you have sewn a mock up using the size that best matches your hip circumference and a fabric that is fairly similar to the actual fabric you plan to use for your Lazos.  Once the mock up is sewn, you will be able to see how the Lazos fit you and you can pin them tighter where needed or cut them open where needed to get an idea of where you need to adjust the actual pattern pieces.  If you want to see this process in action, check out the photos that I took of Matt in his Fairfield Button-up mock up…he looked like Frankenstein but it was a great visual way to see where adjustments were needed!

Wide Hips

When choosing your Lazo Trousers size, I would recommend picking the size that matches your hip measurement most closely.  If your hips are proportionately wider than our fit model’s hip measurement, you will likely need to adjust the fit of your trousers at the waist.

Here is an example: Your hip circumference is 42 7/8″ so you choose to work with size 14.  Your waist measurement is only 29 7/8″ (which, is a size 10 for our Lazo Trousers).  Select the size 14 pattern and then adjust it to suit your other body measurements.

To bring the waist in to match your proportions, you can grade between sizes only on the waistband pieces.  The fullest part of the hip curve is positioned at the bottom edge of the waistband so you will need the bottom edge to remain the larger size to match your hips.  This makes it very easy to work with two sizes because you don’t need to worry about adjusting the pocket pieces!



Of course, your wide hips might sit higher or lower than the Lazo Trousers hip curve.  I would recommend making a mock up after grading between sizes.  Try on the mock up to see if there is any strain or bagging along the curve of the hips.  Adjust the shape of the curve accordingly.  Note that you will need to adjust the pocket facing and pocket to match your new curve.  I find it is easiest to do this by lining up the pieces how they will be sewn together (as I have done with the pocket facing in the image below), that way you can copy the hip curve on to the smaller pieces:



It is remarkably common to have two different shaped hips – you will notice that your mock up pulls on just one side of the body.  This is because we generally have a dominant leg that gets used more often – it develops more muscles and becomes bigger.  During the pant fitting class that I took a couple of summers ago, my classmates and I were surprised to find that the majority of us needed to adjust for a hip that was higher or larger than the other hip.  For most of us, it was our right hip.  To make the pants look symmetrical on an asymmetrical body, you can adjust one hip but not the other.  I don’t think I would do this unless the larger hip was very noticeably causing asymmetrical strain lines.

Crotch Depth is Too Long

As I mention within the instruction booklet, the Lazo Trousers feature a very closely fitted seat seam.  This creates a flattering, fitted appearance to balance out the roomy double pleats.  It is very likely that the crotch depth of our fit model will not match your crotch depth exactly.  Don’t ignore this because you may end up with uncomfortably tight trousers that try to give you a wedgie!


Measure your crotch depth as I illustrate in the booklet and then slash across your pattern pieces and spread them apart.  Adding crotch depth will ‘drop’ the crotch – a little adjustment goes a long way!  I recommend adjusting slightly less than you think you need in order to maintain the very fitted appearance of this seam.


It is important to adjust the crotch depth before adjusting for a full tummy, flat tummy, full bottom or flat bottom.  Changing the crotch depth will change all other pressure points because the pants will sit lower on the body (the crotch length is increased).  Make up a mock up before proceeding to the other fitting issues – you may find that they no longer exist!

Full Tummy

This is a very important adjustment for the Lazo Trousers because the contoured waistband fits snugly and the bottom of the waistband will likely sit against the fullest part of the tummy – you do not want this to be cutting in to you!  You want it to match the width and curve of your body.

If you are unsure whether you require a full tummy adjustment, circle a measuring tape around your waist (the narrowest point).  If you have a full tummy you will find that the measuring tape naturally wants to ride up at centre front and sit lower at centre back.  This is okay, of course!  Let the measuring tape do this when you measure your waist…just know that you will need to add more length to the front of your trousers so they have room to curve over your tummy.

Here is my preferred way to add a combination of length and width to accommodate a rounded stomach.  You will need to adjust the Waistband Front and the trousers Front.


Cut your pattern piece vertically down to the knee.  Turn your scissors 90 degrees and cut across the knee leaving a hinge at the side seam and the inseam.  Cut horizontally at the hip as well (at the bottom of the slash pocket).  Spread open to add as much width at the waist as needed.  Add the same amount of width to the waistband.

If you wish to avoid any fancy pattern manipulation, a very simple way to add some width to the Lazo Trousers front could be simply letting out one (or both) of the pleats!  You would need to add width to the waistband accordingly.  If you only sew one pleat on each pant leg, you would add 3/4″ to the waistband (for an extra 1 1/2″ overall).  If you do not sew any of the pleats you would need to add 1 1/2″ to the waistband (for an extra 3″ overall…a very large adjustment!).


If you do not need the extra width at the top of the waistband because you have a narrow waist, you could add width in a wedge shape instead of spreading them apart evenly.  The wedge would tapers to less or nothing at the top of the waistband.

Flat Bottom

There are no darts on the Lazo Trousers since the shaping needed for the curve of your bottom is built in to the waistband seam.  If you have a flat bottom you will likely notice two fit issues when you sew a mock up:

  1. The waistband appears to be wrinkled and sagging because it provides too much room for your bottom.
  2. There are folds of fabric below your bottom at the back of your legs – this is because the back of the pants are too long since they do not have to curve over a round bottom.

These two issues mean that the trousers do not need as much width or length to curve across your bottom horizontally or vertically.

Try adjusting the curve of the waistband.  I show you how to adjust the curve in the instruction booklet to suit a full bottom in the last illustration within the “Fitting the Waistband” section.  The adjustment needed for a flat bottom is the opposite.


This is equivalent to making shallower darts.  You will likely need to decrease the width of the trousers slightly since your straightened waistband seam is shorter than the original curve.

Now that the Lazo seat has been made flatter to suit your bottom, you will probably still need to reduce the length of the seat seam only on the back pattern piece.  This will get rid of the fabric that pools just below your bottom.  This adjustment is quite easy!  Just cut in to the Back pattern piece somewhere near the middle of the seat seat seam and leave a little paper ‘hinge’ near the side seam.  Using the hinge, overlap the paper so that you remove the excess length.  You will likely only need to overlap 1/2″ or so.


Full Tummy paired with Flat Bottom

Okay, this might seam a bit repetitive, but this combination of fit adjustments is very common so it is worth giving a category of its own so that you can recognise the problem and then head for the correct solution.

You will notice, if you sew a mock up of the Lazo Trousers, that there is excess fabric pooling around your bottom while there are diagonal wrinkle lines over your crotch…it may feel a bit intimidating to be faced with trousers that are too tight and too loose simultaneously!  To top it off, your side seams will not fall straight since they are being pulled towards the front.  Don’t worry, all of these issues stem from the fact that the crotch curve does not fit your body. – you need to add length to the front to accommodate your lower tummy and you need to remove length from the back since the trousers do not need to curve much over your bottom.  Perform the previous two adjustments!

Full Bottom

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to fit a figure with a fairly full bottom in relation to the waist measurement (an hourglass figure).  All the same, if you make a mock up and notice that there is strain across the widest point of your bottom (or, maybe you notice that fabric is pooling directly above the widest point of your bottom), you might like to give yourself a little more room.  If the strain is near the waistband seam, you can create more room by exaggerating the curve of the waistband (as I illustrate in the instruction booklet).  Exaggerating this curve will simultaneously add a little more width (the seam becomes longer) and more shaping.  You will likely need to add more width to the pants back as well so that they can be easily sewn to this longer waistband seam.


If the widest part of your seat falls below the waistband seam or if a fairly large adjustment is needed, you will likely want to add more length to the seat seam by adding a wedge at centre back in addition to addition to the extra width.  Just as I described for the Flat Bottom adjustment, slash across the back pattern piece and leave a “hinge” at the side seam.  This time, spread the slash apart and redraw the seat seam curve smoothly.


Straight Figure

Someone with a straight figure will likely find that, when they choose their size based on their hip measurement, the waistband is too small for them.  This is because they do not have a tapered waist.  You can make small adjustments to the way the waist tapers by adjusting the side seams within the 5/8″ seam allowances so that they are much more straight.


You might like to change the style of the waistband to better suit your figure.  I would recommend reducing the height of the waistband by at least 1″ or possibly even 2″ so that the pants are mid-rise instead of high rise.  If you prefer not to highlight your waist, you will find this rise much more flattering!


Full Thighs

The Lazo Trousers are drafted to have very roomy thighs (due to the double pleats) so I don’t anticipate you will feel any strain across the thighs when you sew a mock up.  There were a few requests for this adjustment though, so here it is in case you need it!  If the pant legs are too tight at the thigh you will notice horizontal or diaganol wrinkles across the legs just below the crotch.  You will also notice strain at the bottom of the slash pocket.  Add more room only on the pants Front pattern piece since a large thigh is caused by a very developed muscle on the front of the leg.


Add the room by extending the crotch at the inseam.  If your adjustment is fairly large it might be necessary to lower the center front waist to remove the length that unfortunately has to be added to the crotch while you are adding width.  You probably won’t need to do this though – wait until you’ve sewn another mock up to see if the front crotch seam has become pouchy and too long.  Here is a PDF from Sew News magazine that includes a very succinct description of this whole adjustment…in case you need a second opinion!

Full Calves

Since the Lazo Trousers feature tapered legs and since the cropped variation includes wide cuffs, you will need to ensure there is enough room for your calves.  You can compare the pattern pieces (minus 5/8″ seam allowances) with a comfortable pair of pants that have no stretch and a bit of roominess across the calves.  Or you can sew a mock-up of the pattern as is (while working on other fit adjustments) and note if the knees or calves feel restricted when you bend your leg or flex your muscles.  To add width, simply redraw the side seams and inseams from just above the knee downwards.  Decrease the amount of tapering.


Adjusting the side seams by hand allows you to shape the trousers how you feel they will be most flattering. Make sure to add an even amount of width to the front and back, inseam and side seam so that you don’t end up with wonky twisted legs!  You can avoid having to draw new seamlines by hand slashing the pattern and pivoting.  This is more complicated but can be a great way to ensure your side seams remain even and straight.  You can view an excellent interpretation of this adjustment (along with loads of other useful pants fitting tricks in this post on the Closet Case Files blog).

Oh, and if you are sewing the cropped variation, don’t forget that you will need to add width to the Cuff piece as well!

Whew!  Did I miss anything?  Keep in mind that these suggestions are simply my preferred approach to fitting and that there are MANY ways of going about fitting!  Google your fit problem using this wording: _______ _______ Adjustment (i.e. Full Hip Adjustment, Flat Seat Adjustment).  You will find all manner of excellent tutorials!


Let’s close for tonight by drawing the first Lazo Hack contest winner!


I’m pleased to announce that Robynne (@adelajoy) is the winner of a $50 (US) gift card to Stylemaker Fabrics!  Congratulations and thanks for playing along!  Here is her lovely sketch of a nautical pair of shorts inspired by the Lazo Trousers pattern.


She posted this entry on Instagram using #lazotrousers.

We still have three weeks of prizes to draw.  Email me at, or use #lazotrousers on Instragram or Facebook to enter the contest.  Simply share your plans for working on the Lazos or your finished Lazo masterpiece.

The next draw will be on Friday, January 13th.  Enter as many times as you want for a chance to win your choice of any 3 Thread Theory PDF patterns.  Which patterns are on your wishlist?

December 12, 2017

Lazo Trouser Hacks: Fabric Choices

It was lots of fun yesterday to receive all of your emails, blog comments and Instagram comments about our Lazo Trousers release!  As always, thank you so much for letting me know how excited you are to sew our patterns and also for asking all manner of questions before you delve in.  Your questions are helping me to direct my upcoming posts about the Lazos…so keep them coming!  Today I’m going to answer what is always the most pressing question when we launch a pattern: What fabric should I use?

The Lazos are a bit of a wild card when it comes to styling.  Depending on your fabric choice they can appear dressy, casual, cozy, or even a touch rugged.  Over the last few years I’ve sewn airy versions that are best for the hottest days of summer.  This is my favourite summery version in tencel (I added a big statement bow to the waist).  Of all my versions, I really cant beat these ones for comfort!


My sweatpant version was a close contender though! I hacked the Lazos while I was in school to create heather grey sweatpants with a satin ribbon draw string (that’s the only pair I’ve actually worn out…I guess that says something about my dressing habits!).  A sweatpant hack will be on the blog in January as part of our Lazo Hack contest!

I’ve also created some active wear cropped Lazos that were intended for summer hiking using a poly twill.  Photos of these will be on the blog soon (once Matt has had a chance to photograph me).

Lastly, of course, you can’t beat the classic ‘work’ trousers in a wool blend suiting:


Can you see what I mean about the pattern being a wild card?

So, when you ask what sort of fabric you should use…the answer is not a quick one!  Let’s dig in:


Within the instruction booklet I recommend the following:

Light to medium weight fabrics that drape nicely. These trousers are especially comfortable if the fabric contains a small percentage of spandex for stretch.  Keep in mind that the pleats will look best if you choose a fabric that presses crisply. Great choices include suiting fabrics, tencel or rayons, crepe de chine and peach skin.  Self fabric or light weight wovens can be used for the waistband facing. Pocketing or tightly woven cotton can be used for the pocket lining.

The main information to take from this paragraph is the recommended weight, drape, stretch, and pressing ease of the fabric.  I’ll elaborate on these criteria without actually naming any types of fabric.  That way you can get a deeper understanding of what properties you are looking for.  If you’re excited to get shopping and just want some actual fabric options, scroll down to find them near the end of this post!


Most trouser patterns call for mid to heavy weight fabrics but the Lazo Trousers do not.  If anything, I recommend choosing something on the lighter side!  The reason I recommend light to medium weight fabrics is because there is a considerable amount of fabric situated across the belly and thighs – there are pockets, pleats, and an overlapping wide waistband all in one small area!  Using a lighter weight fabric, regardless of its ability to press or drape, will help to ensure that the Lazos do not look bulky across the lower tummy and upper thighs.  A light to medium weight fabric is more likely to sit close to the skin softly rather than fold and buckle rigidly.  Lastly, a light weight fabric matches the look and feel of a super comfortable full gathered maxi skirt that was my inspiration for this design.

If you want to experiment and choose a heavier weight fabric, make sure that it drapes very nicely – it will work best if it is loosely woven and soft.  This raw silk version of the Lazos is the thickest fabric I have used but it is very light and soft because it is loosely woven.  The waistband is fairly bulky and, I think, looks best with an un-tucked shirt as a result.



In my opinion, soft drape (sometimes called ‘good drape’) is the most important criteria for the Lazo Trousers.  As my instructor always said in design school, drape is a deceivingly tricky thing to quantify and understand.  Essentially, drape is the way a fabric hangs on the body.  There is a very informative blog post about drape on the blog “Cucicucicoo”.  Lisa has included an excellent selection of pictures showing ‘good’ drape fabrics vs. “low” drape fabrics.  Here is an example from her post:



I think the Lazos look consistently best, regardless of fabric type, when the fabric wants to form itself to the body’s shape and fall fluidly towards the ground.  Choosing a fabric with soft drape will encourage the pleats to sit closely against the legs, ensure the waistband looks smooth and perfectly formed to the curve of the waist, and allow the legs to remain smooth and crease-free.

If you are feeling like experimenting, I would love for you to prove me wrong about drape!  The only Lazos I have sewn with a stiff, rigid fabric are the cotton muslin samples that I sewed while developing the pattern!  I imagined the design to be soft and fluid so I was never inclined to sew structured trousers. If you end up sewing with a stiffer fabric, be prepared to accept some wrinkles after sitting and a bit of volume from the pleats (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on the look you are going for!  Maybe your going for the chic 1920’s look featuring voluminous jodhpurs?).


(Source: The Maryland Historical Society)


The Lazo Trousers are designed for fabrics with no stretch but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid stretchy fabrics!  Sew them in a fabric with a little bit or spandex or even in a very stable knit!  Many suiting fabrics and bottom weight fabrics contain about 6% spandex these days – these would result in a very comfortable pair of Lazos!  The waistband is very closely fitted so you will not need to size down to accommodate for stretch.

With some modifications to the pattern, a stable ponte de roma or sweatshirt fleece make for creat Lazos (the sweatpant hack I was mentioning).  Don’t try to sew the waistband as drafted (without my upcoming mods) in a knit fabric though – there wouldn’t be enough structure for the centre front overlap to look nice and crisp.  You could try sewing a woven waistband and cotton legs though!  Oooh, that would be comfortable!

Press Crisply


I encourage you to choose a fabric that presses nicely so that your pleats look crisp and professional.  At the same time, you will probably want to avoid fabrics that wrinkle exceptionally quickly since the loose legs may become creased when you sit down.  Some gentle creasing (just as you will notice on most wide leg trousers) is just fine…but you don’t want to choose fabrics that crease at the slightest provocation.  Test a fabric by bunching it up in your fist and letting it warm in your closed hand.  Release the bunch and examine it to see if it falls flat or if it remains a crumpled ball.  If the fabric does not remain entirely smooth but only has light creasing, it will still work for the Lazos!

Now that you’ve read my reasoning, here are my top fabric picks for the Lazos.



I cannot recommend Tencel enough for the Lazos.  Indeed, I designed the Lazos with this specific moss green fabric already purchased and sitting happily in my fabric stash (it was fueling my imagination!).  My favourite source for Tencel is Blackbird Fabrics, an online fabric shop based out of Vancouver.  Caroline currently has two weights stocked in her shop – both would be excellent choices for the Lazo.  The above green version is similar to her lighter weight option (though I purchased the green fabric from a shop near my school years ago).

Here is a navy blue Tencel that she currently has in stock:


She describes this as a twill with a unique brushed surface and suede like texture.  It has very good drape and just enough body to hide bumps that you don’t want to show.


I have just finished sewing myself a pair of Christmas Lazos in Blackbird Fabric’s slightly heavier tencel twill.  They are dreamy!  The twill weave is a bit more pronounced with this fabric.  I look forward to showing my Christmas outfit to you in a future post!

There are quite a few beautiful colors (in both weights) within the Blackbird Fabrics online shop.  I am tempted by the camel color for my next pair!


If you plan to sew the Lazos in a suiting material, be aware that there are MANY suiting fabric styles with all manner of properties.  Not all of them will work well!  Make sure to choose a light weight suiting that drapes well.  To give you an idea of what I mean: It should be thin enough and soft enough that you would need to add a LOT of interfacing and structure if you were to use it for a blazer.  Stylemaker Fabrics (an online shop based in the US) is an excellent online source for beautiful yet affordable suitings. Here are my top 3 picks!

Pick one is a solid brown stretch suiting featuring polyester, rayon and lycra.  The polyester would make this fabric hard wearing, the rayon would allow the fabric to drape softly, and the lycra would make for a super comfortable waistband!  The brown is a nice versatile colour.  The other solid is a rayon and lycra stretch twill in wine.  The rich colour paired with the beautiful drape of rayon would make for a very dressy pair of trousers.  My third pick is this statement Shepherd’s Check!  It features polyester and rayon (so there is no stretch).

I had actually purchased this fabric to make a pair of Lazos inspired by English riding attire but it got swallowed in my fabric stash and I just recently unearthed it to create a vest for Matt (the first sample of a future menswear pattern!)!  If I wasn’t told that it has no wool in it, I would never believe it!  It feels luxurious and high quality.


I have a bit of (likely) unwanted advice for you…You may have noticed that I have not featured any wool suitings.  I am a huge wool enthusiast so, if you are too and can source lovely light weight wools, please go ahead and cut into your bounty to create some Lazos!  Before you go crazy trying to find the right wool (I have a hard time sourcing nice light wools), consider this:  If you like your clothes to wear well without much special treatment, choose a polyester blend suiting.  I know many sewists steer clear of poly blends in favour of pure wool, but this is a situation where a bit of polyester will be very beneficial!  A wool or rayon and poly blend is a good choice for trousers because it withstands abrasion and remains looking new (without special care) for longer than pure wool.  Even more important for the Lazos:  Wool/poly blends generally drape better than pure wool suiting materials.  An added bonus is that blended suitings are generally very easy to source and are quite affordable!

Bottom Weight Fabrics with Texture

My last fabric category to discuss today is a grab bag…really this category is just a mish mash of all my crazy ideas to help you ignite ideas of your own.  I have found that the Lazo Trousers are a great canvas for light weight fabrics with unusual textures!  As long as you can ensure the fabric has the weight and drape we have discussed, why not try rich velvet, adventurous faux suede, airy rayon crepe or matte peachskin?

All fabrics from Stylemaker. Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Faux Suede, Jacquard, Peachskin, Metallic Rayon Crepe, Chevron Rayon Crepe, Bold Rayon Crepe, Cranberry Stretch Velvet

These options are untested by me but I think, based on my experimenting over the last few years, they could be stunners!  The rayon crepes would create summery Lazos similar to my Tencel versions.  The Faux Suede would definitely create that safari look that I mentioned!  I purchased the black Jacquard to make myself a pair of Lazos…it remains languishing in my stash but it will emerge one day!  It has the lowest drape of all these choices and would definitely create voluminous pleats.  I think this would result in a great silhouette for New Year’s parties!  Last, but certainly not least, the stretch velvet is beckoning to me…how about you?  Of course, the pleats would not press well and working with velvet would require some careful forethought…I think I would convert the double pleats to one large pleat on each side of the fly and leave the folds unpressed so as not to crush the velvet.  I would also add a lot of interfacing to the waistband and cut the waistband facing from a thin cotton to add structure.

I hope I have your creative juices flowing!  Send me a link or a photo of the fabric you are considering and I will give you my opinion :).

Next week I will be sharing my inspiration and styling photos on the blog.  That should be a fun post!


To close for tonight, I want to remind you of the Lazo Hack contest!  It will run the rest of December and all of January.  I had intended to explain it further in this blog post but this has become rather long…stay tuned for a small post of it’s own next week.

December 12, 2017

Lazo Trouser Hacks: Style Inspiration


Christmas is quickly approaching so this will be my 2nd to last post about the Lazos before a short holiday.  I will be posting about some Christmassy Lazo outfits on Friday and then will be taking a break from blogging until January 2nd.  We will be kicking off the New Year with all the fitting posts, tutorials and Lazo Hacks that I have been promising to you!lazo-trouser-drawings-1 Today’s post is meant to get your creative juices flowing before you have a chance to cut into your Lazo Trousers fabric.  I imagine many of us will be too busy spending time with family until the end of the month to actually delve in to sewing something for ourselves – that’s no problem!  It just gives you more time to daydream about your creations and post about your pattern hack ideas!merchant-and-mills-back-in-stock

As you are aware, I am hosting a Lazo Hack contest that runs until the end of January.  I will be awarding prizes at random until January 31st so the more often and sooner you enter, the higher your chance of winning a prize!  Prizes will include digital gift certificates to a great selection of sewing shops and all sorts of goodies that will be mailed to you (worldwide!).  Yes…some of our gorgeous Merchant & Mills tools and books will be given away as prizes!


To enter the contest, draw a sketch, share an inspiring photo, take a snap shot of the supplies you’ve gathered, post your WIP, create a tutorial, or share a photo of your finished Lazos!  Use #lazotrousers on Instagram or Facebook or email me at with your images.

The contest is meant to inspire creative interpretations of our Lazo Trousers pattern – meaning you could alter the pattern to suit a figure other than the recommended hourglass shape, you could change the pleats to gathers, you could add width to the legs, or you could even just sew the pattern as is but style it differently than I have done!  Anything is fair game!

You don’t need to actually sew your Lazo Hack idea – you could post sketches of a dozen ideas and then pick your favourite to sew.  The more entries, the merrier!


I will be contributing to the Lazo Hack contest by hacking the Lazos into the comfiest and prettiest sweatpants featuring a mock fly, a drawstring waistband, and deliciously cozy terry knit fabric.  Stay tuned for a tutorial to create this in January!

Now that you know the details about the Lazo Hack contest, here are some of the inspiration photos that I gathered before drafting the Lazo Trousers in school:



The image on the left is a sketch that I made for my Lazo Trousers design.  Sorry for her creepy blank stare – we were told to turn our sketch into a vector (so it could be coloured in digitally on the computer) and I discovered that this is NOT something I excelled at naturally!  All of the other images come from a Pinterest Board that I have created for the Lazos.  Click on any of the collages in this post to link to the Pinterest board.  Unfortunately, I believe you need a Pinterest account (which is free) to view the board but I’ve displayed most of my inspiration in this post for you to view anyways!

As you can see from the five images of modern store bought trousers, I was taken with the idea of a loose, pleated front with stovepipe legs.  I noticed, as I was selecting images, that I always preferred the overall silhouette of trousers that sat at the natural waist (instead of the hips).  This was a bit of an epiphany for me since, prior to creating an inspiration board, I was sure I preferred very low rise trousers!


Next up, we have these tiny skirt and palazzo trouser images above.  They come from Pinterest…which is a great source of inspiration and an exellent way to organize thoughts but it can be hard to find high quality images or original sources! A fitted waistband with a full skirt attached (a dirndl skirt) is my most comfortable silhoutte…but I find I can never wear it because all that fabric is not very practical for dog walking, bike riding, and generally living actively.  The free feeling of wearing one of these skirts or palazzo pants paired with the practicality of trousers = my goal for the Lazo Trousers.


The fashion line that I created while in school was called ‘Rationed Fashion’ and it was inspired by British women’s fashion during the second world war.  Rationing led to an appreciation of hard wearing fabrics.  Women had to select their clothing to suit their new jobs (and often wore uniforms for their work).  Design details were subtle and functional so that the garments would remain wearable for many years.  I hadn’t watched the show Land Girls yet when I designed the Lazo Trousers but, the Land Girls uniform was exactly what I had in mind (second image from the right, above).  As you can see in the photos above, jodhpurs or breeches have often been a working or adventuring woman’s go-to pair of trousers in the last 100 years.  They were popular for aviators and equestrian women in the 1910s and 1920s.  They were a staple of wartime working women in the 1940s.  And there have been periods throughout the 1970s and 80s when trousers with fitted waists, roomy thighs, and fitted calves were in vogue.  It is a functional style because it allows full range of movement without excess fabric getting in the way.


The wide Lazo Trouser waistband and slash pockets provide a great blank canvas for small design details.  Leather or vinyl buckles are my go to choice but you can also feature self fabric buckles, statement buttons, self fabric covered buttons, or even those beautiful frog closures that are always in fabric stores but rarely get used!


Quite a few of you have shared your ideas for the Lazos with me so far (not as contest entries, but instead as comments…you guys should sketch your ideas and submit them as contest entries!).  There are many people planning to make safari style Lazos and there are a couple of you planning to cut in to tartan wool and use kilt buckles.  And a number of you want to add width to the legs to create elegant palazzo pants.  I’m so excited to see your creations!

Download the Lazo Trousers >

Check out my Lazo Trousers Pinterest Board >

December 12, 2017

Bifold Wallet Sew-Along

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-40-2

Today I’m going to walk you through the construction of our new Bifold Wallet sewing pattern.  Of the three wallet designs in our shop, this one is the most complicated – but don’t worry, it is still perfectly suitable for a beginner sewist and it is certainly a very quick project for someone with experience!

We will be creating the fabric variation complete with the optional zippered coin pocket today.  This way you can have a set of photos and extra tips to help you through the trickiest details.  If you are absolutely new to sewing, I would recommend giving the Felt & Specialised Materials variation a try first.  If you prefer to sew the Fabric variation, consider leaving the zippered coin pocket off on your first go.

Let’s get started!

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-1

Print your PDF pattern as instructed within the Read Me First document.  If you need extra help determining the correct printer settings, have a look at our PDF Pattern tutorial.Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-2

Cut the right hand margin off each page – there are little scissors pictured along each margin to show you where to cut.Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-3

Align the numbered and lettered triangles so they make a perfect diamond and connect the four pages with either glue or tape.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-4

Cut out the pattern pieces so that they are ready to use:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-5

For this wallet project I am using a scrap of cotton shirting fabric.  If you are new to sewing you might like to choose a light and stable fabric such as cotton shirting or quilting cotton.  You can also select a large range of other woven materials such as sturdy canvas, linen, or even flannel.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-6

Iron any creases out of your fabric and fold it in half.  Place the Main Wallet pattern piece on top of your fabric and either pin it in place to cut around or trace it with chalk or another marking implement.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-10

For the optional Contrast Insert, I have chosen a scrap of lightweight cotton batiste.  Sewing wallets sure is a great way to use up small leftovers from bigger garment projects!

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-8

Fold the fabric in half to create two layers just as you did for the Main Wallet.  Trace or pin the Contrast Insert.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-9

Since my main plaid shirting is so light-weight, I chose a very stiff sew-in interfacing for this project.  You can choose between medium or heavy weight interfacing to suit your fabric choice.  If you are working with a stiff canvas you will not need a sturdy interfacing to provide structure but if you are working with a lightweight fabric like mine you will need to rely on the structure of the interfacing to create a wallet with substance and strength.  Both fusible and sew-in interfacings will do the job!

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-11

Cut out all of your fabric pieces – you should have two main wallet pieces, one interfacing piece, and two contrast inserts.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-13

Apply your interfacing to the wrong side of one of your main wallet pieces – it doesn’t matter which one!  If you are using fusible interfacing you will need to iron the interfacing on to the fabric.  I am using sew-in so I stitched my interfacing to my fabric within the 1/4″ seam allowance:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-14

Now is a good time to transfer the Main Wallet markings on to the fabric.  Transfer them to the interfaced piece.  Here is how I like to do this:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-15

Lay the fabric on your work surface with right side up.  Lay the paper pattern piece on top.  Shift the pattern piece up slightly (as photographed above) and continue each fold line onto the fabric with chalk.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-16

Repeat this process on the top edge of the wallet by shifting the paper pattern piece down:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-17

Use a ruler to connect the two vertical lines.

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Transfer the zippered pocket markings by placing a pin through each corner.  The pin is piercing the paper pattern piece and the fabric.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-19

Flip the pinned pieces to the interfaced wrong side so you can see the sharp ends of the pins poking through.  Place a new pin exactly where the sharp ends pierce through the fabric.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-20

Here’s how this looks from the other side when you’ve finished adding pins:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-21

Now remove the paper pattern piece and the first set of pins by pulling the paper off of the fabric.  You will be left with the sharp ends of four pins sticking up:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-22

Now use a ruler and chalk to “connect the dots” between the pins.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-23

Prepare to add the zippered coin pocket by adjusting your stitch length to very short and trace the chalk marking with stitches.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-24

These stitches will prevent the zipper window from becoming stretched and misshapen during the next steps.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-25

Slice open the zipper window by cutting horizontally along the middle of the window.  Stop approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ from both sides.  Cut the shape of a Y towards each corner.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-28

When cutting in to each corner, clip as close to the stitching as you can without actually cutting through the stitching.  The closer you manage to cut to the stitching, the more square and precise your window corners will become.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-27

From the wrong side of the wallet, press the zipper window open.  Take your time with this pressing to ensure the stitching is not visible from the right side and that the corners are square.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-29

Now it is time to add our zippers!  The zipper window is 3 3/4″ wide so we need to shorten our zippers to suit the window.  If you are new to inserting zippers you might like to work with a plastic zipper for your first go as bulky metal teeth can make it tricky to create neat topstitching.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-31

Begin your zipper preparation by closing the zipper and hand sewing the top of the zipper closed.  This isn’t necessary but it is very helpful because you will need to open your zipper during the sewing process and the stitching will keep to top of it from splaying open while you stitch.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-33

Measure 3 3/4″ (9.5 cm) from the top of your zipper to find the new end.  Stitch around the zipper teeth by hand to create a new zipper stop.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-34

Trim off the excess zipper tape.  If you are using a metal zipper you may want to use pliers to remove excess teeth so that you don’t have to worry about breaking a needle when you sew over them.  Alternatively, you can use precise scissors to cut the teeth off.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-35

Place the zipper under the zipper window and pin in place.  Make sure that the zipper teeth are centered in the window and that your hand stitched zipper stops are not visible.  Fiddle with the window until none of the staystitching is visible (add as many pins as you like!).  As you can see below, my window corners need some more fiddling and pinning:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-37

Using a narrow zipper foot on your sewing machine, topstitch around the zipper window.  Take your time at either end of the zipper and possibly hand crank the machine to ensure your stitching is straight as you go over your zipper teeth.  Also, open the zipper when you reach the zipper pull so that it is out of the way and does not interfere with your straight stitching.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-39

Once you have finished your toptsitching take a look at your corners to see if you are happy with how they turned out.  If you see too much staystitching and your corners are not square, you may want to rip out your stitches and try again.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-41

If you have used a plastic zipper, you have the option to cover up the two messy ends by creating a buttonhole stitch (a zig zag stitch with a very short stitch length) along the left and right sides of the window.  If you have used a metal zipper you do not have this option because it is impossible to zig zag over the metal zipper teeth.  Don’t stress yourself by aiming for perfection, by the time the wallet is finished small glimpses of staystitching will not be very noticeable!

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-42

Now we are ready to assemble the main wallet.  Begin by placing the two main wallet pieces right side together and pinning.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-43

Stitch around the entire wallet leaving a 4″ opening along the bottom so that it can be flipped right side out.  The extra row of stitching in the photo below is the basting that attached my sew-in interfacing to my main fabric.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-45

Here you can see the 4″ opening along the bottom:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-47

Trim one seam allowance shorter than the other if you are using a bulky fabric.  Since my interfacing is very stiff and bulky, I trimmed it extensively.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-49

Clip across the corners so that they are easier to turn right side out without bulk and bunching.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-51

Flip the wallet right side out through the 4″ opening.  I used a point turner tool to ensure all my corners were nice and crisp.  You can also use a pencil or chopstitck for this job!

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-52

Give the wallet a careful press and press under the seam allowances on the 4″ opening.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-53

Handstitch the opening closed:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-55

Close the side of the zippered coin pocket by topstitching down the center of the wallet.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-64

The left side of the coin pocket will be closed by more topstitching later.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-65

Now let’s make this long strip of fabric actually look like a wallet!  Begin by pressing the wallet in half (in the picture below the zippered coin pocket is against the work surface.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-56

Open the wallet back up and press along fold line 1.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-57

Open it back up and then press along fold line 2.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-58

Press along fold line 3 and 4 so that the slanted card slots slope down towards the side of the wallet.  Notice that there is a small gap at the spine of the wallet – this is to reduce bulk in the middle of the wallet so that it can close flat easily.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-59

If you are sewing the optional cash insert, now is the time to stitch the two layers with right sides together.  Leave an opening at the bottom so that you can flip it right side out.  Before flipping, trim any bulky seam allowances and clip across the corners:

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-60

Press the insert crisply.  Open your wallet flat and place the insert on top of the wallet between fold lines 1 and 2.  Notice that the insert does not quite extend from fold line 1 to 2 (it’s a bit narrower).Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-61

Refold the wallet and pin the insert in place so that the left and right sides sit exactly at fold lines 1 and 2.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-68

This will mean that the main wallet buckles slightly at the spine – this encourages the wallet to close flat as well.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-62

Edgestitch around the sides of the wallet and along the bottom.  Leave the spine free of edgestitching.  It is important to keep all the fabric layers even so that you don’t miss the card slots or cash insert while edgestitching.  I like to stitch from the outside of the wallet to make sure that my stitching looks attractive and straight on this side (after all, this is where the stitching will be most visible).

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-63

In the two photos below you can see where I edgestitched – in the first photo edgestitching is visible on the left hand side (this closes the left hand side of the coin pocket) and along the bottom.  The stitching stops before it reaches the gap at the spine.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-66

From the inside of the wallet you can see the stitching along the right hand side (where it keeps the cash insert in place) and along the bottom.  The stitching stops prior to center where the card slots end.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-67

And that’s all there is to it!  Fill up the wallet with your cards or perhaps fill it with gift cards, notes and photos if you are giving it as a gift.  In the photos below I’ve filled it up with everything I carry in my wallet on a daily basis – this includes 8 cards, approx. 5 or 6 coins and a bit of cash.

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-47-2

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-51-2

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-50-2

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-48-2

Please don’t hesitate to comment if you have questions about the sewing process!  I would love to help!

Wallet Sewing Pattern Tutorial-44-2

Have fun sewing such a quick and practical project!

Get the Bifold Wallet here.

Get the Wallet Gift Giving Set (includes 3 projects) here.

December 12, 2017

Strathcona Tee Sew-Along: How to Sew a Men's T-shirt

Thread Theory How to Sew a Men's T-shirt

Here we are, ready to sew a knit t-shirt!  This post will go step by step through each moment of sewing a men's knit t-shirt using a basic sewing machine with a zig zag stitch.

Are you ready to sew?  It won't take long!


  • Keep in mind that the Strathcona Henley has 5/8" seam allowances on all seams.  Some t-shirt patterns may have smaller seam allowances than this - make sure to check your pattern!
  • Insert a ballpoint needle into your machine and test your stitch style (check out this post if you are wondering how to choose a stitch style)
  • Reduce the pressure on your presser foot if your sewing machine provides this option - if you are unsure whether it does, make sure to take the time to check your manual.  Reducing the pressure will make handling your knit fabric much easier since it will not become stretched out as you sew.
  • Whenever you start sewing a seam, start with the needle in the "down position" so that it is lowered into the fabric.  This will reduce the risk of the first needle motion punching the fabric into the needle plate of the sewing machine.

Sew the Shoulders

If your knit is quite stretchy, you might like to stabilize the shoulders so that they don't get saggy over time.  Stabilizing the shoulders will result in a smart looking fitted t-shirt - this may or may not be your style - you choose!

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (2 of 55)

If you decide to stabilize, you can use rayon seam binding (as seen above), clear swimsuit elastic, a thin woven fabric strip, or even the selvedge of your knit fabric (you will notice that the selvedge isn't as stretchy as the rest of your fabric).  The goal here is to choose something that doesn't stretch much and isn't very bulky.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (3 of 55)
Place the t-shirt front and back with right sides together.  Place the stabilizer along the wrong side of the back of the t-shirt.  You will notice that the back shoulder is wider than the front shoulder - it is drafted this way to accommodate for men's muscular and rounded shoulders!  Stretch the shirt front to match the shirt back at the shoulder seam as you sew.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (7 of 55)

If you are using a very a stabilizer that does not allow any stretch at all, you might as well use a straight stitch for this seam.  The shoulder seams do not need to stretch and they are quite visible so a tidy straight stitch can produce an attractive seam.  If you choose to use an elastic or knit selvedge as a stabilizer you will still want to use a stretch stitch since all of your materials contain stretch!

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Press the seam allowances towards the back to cover your stabilizer (it is also possible to press your seam allowances open if you would like to reduce bulk).

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (10 of 55)

If you would like, you can finish your seam allowances using another row of zig zag stitching.  This will stop any potential fraying (which may or may not occur depending on the style of knit you choose).

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Trim the 5/8" seam allowance to reduce bulk.

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Sew the Neckline

Now that the shoulder seams are sewn, you will have a neck hole that is ready to finish with binding!

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With right sides together, join the narrow edges of the neckline binding.  Sew this using a straight stitch (this short seam doesn't need to stretch either).

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Trim the seam allowance and press the seam allowances open.

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Finish preparing the binding by folding it in half lengthwise so that the raw edges meet.  Press along the folded edge.

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This is what your finished neck binding will look like:

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Arrange the t-shirt body with right sides facing you.  Place the binding circle on top of t-shirt, alight all of the raw edges.  I like to match the binding seam to one of the shoulder seams but you could also align this seam with center back if you prefer.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (27 of 55)

If you are using the Strathcona Henley pattern, ignore all the notches on the neckline binding (they are intended for the Henley variation of the pattern).  Pin the binding to the neckline so that it is stretched evenly around the neckline - it might take some fiddling to get this evenly stretched.  I tend to use 8 pins spaced evenly.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (26 of 55)

Stitch the binding to the neckline using a zig zag (or other stretch stitch).  I used to place the t-shirt with the binding facing up on the sewing machine but recently switched my technique.  I now place the t-shirt facing up and stretch the t-shirt with my fingers as I sew.  Try out both ways and see what works best for you!  I find that my new method reduces the risk of creating little tucks in the t-shirt neckline (they are super annoying to stitch rip!!!).

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (28 of 55)

Press the finished neckline.

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If you would like, you can finish the neckline by adding a line of stitching around the shirt 1/8" from the neckline seam to lock the seam allowance in place.  I used a zig zag stitch here but you can up your game for really professional results by using a twin needle (or you can skip this step altogether if your fabric presses well and you don't think your seam allowance will tend to flip upwards - I often avoid stitching when I am sewing with crisp and thin cotton jerseys but find it is necessary when sewing with thicker cotton interlocks).

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (31 of 55)

Trim the neckline seam allowance:

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I like to trim from the shirt side so I don't risk snipping into the shirt!

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Sew the Sleeves

Place the t-shirt and sleeve with right sides together.

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Line up the shoulder seam with the middle sleeve notch:

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Place a pin where each notch meets.

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The double notches indicate the back of the garment.

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Sew the sleeve seam using a zig zag stitch (or other stretch stitch).  You will need to adjust often (with the needle down so that the fabric doesn't slip out of the way) to avoid creating any tucks and wrinkles.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (43 of 55)

Finish the sleeve seam allowance with a second row of zig zag stitching and trim.

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Press the sleeve seam.  In the Strathcona instruction booklet I recommend to press the seam allowance towards the sleeves - this is the classic direction to place sleeve seams (as seen on tailored garments).  Lately I have been finding that pressing the sleeve seam allowances towards the garment and away from the sleeve produces a smoother seam more reminiscient of store bought t-shirts.  Try both ways to see which way fits best on the recipient's shoulders!  Press the sleeve seam on a tailor's ham or on the narrow curve of the end of an ironing board so as to keep the rounded shape of the seam.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (45 of 55)

Sew the Side Seams

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Pin the sleeve and side seams - make sure that the underarm seam meets.  Stitch using a zig zag stitch or other stretch stitch.

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Finish the seam allowance with another row of zig zag stitching and trim the seam allowance.

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Press the seam allowances towards the back - your shirt is almost finished!

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Sew the Hems

You can finish the hem as you normally would - by pressing the raw edge up and then pressing upwards again - but you might find that this creates too much bulk for your knit t-shirt to sit nice and casually (it could look fairly stiff with a thick hem).  Alternatively, you could finish the edge by pressing up once at the hem notch:

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (52 of 55)

Once pressed and pinned in place, stitch the single layer hem in place using a twin needle, or, as photographed, with a simple zig zag stitch.  Try your very best to keep the knit relaxed - refrain from stretching in any way!

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (53 of 55)

Repeat this hemming step for the sleeve hems.

Thread Theory Sew a Men's T-shirt (54 of 55)

And that's all there is to it!  A nice basic, classically shaped crew-neck menswear t-shirt is ready to wear!


I hope your t-shirt has turned out well!  I will be sharing a blog post on Friday featuring Matt in his finished t-shirts - he's thrilled to have fresh basics added to his closet!

If you would like to share your Strathcona T-shirts (or any other t-shirts that you sewed while following this sew-along) please use #strathtee so we can see the results!

September 22, 2015

Strathcona Tee Sew-Along: How to Sew with Knits

How to sew with knits

Welcome to Sewing with Knits 101!  I've written a Question and Answer post featuring the main questions that weighed heavy on my mind when I first began to sew with knits.  Judging by the emails we get about sewing with knits, these questions are also worrisome to many of you!  I hope this post will answer them so that you feel confident to get sewing:

Will my machine sew knits?

Choosing a stitch type for knits
Three machines, three stitch types: A basic machine with a zig zag stitch, a fancier machine with a "stretch stitch" and a four thread serger.

If you have a basic sewing machine featuring several stitch styles:

zig zag stitch

A small zig zag stitch sewn with a regular ol' domestic machine.

Yes!  Your machine probably includes a stretch stitch style and will most certainly include a zig-zag stitch.  Your goal when choosing a stitch is to find something that will allow the stitches to stretch so that they don't snap when the fabric is stretched (i.e. when the t-shirt is being pulled on over the wearer's head).  Test all of the stretch stitch styles to see which one you prefer.  I have had sewing machines in the past whose stretch stitch did not allow the fabric to stretch enough for my liking and I found the zig zag stitch was the best choice.  The sewing machine I have now has a killer stretch stitch that I almost prefer to my serger because it works like a charm no matter what fabric I am sewing!  Once you've found a stitch that stretches to your liking, sew a practice seam and spread it open - do you see thread ladders, bubbles or a tidy seam?  If you are using a zig zag stitch the best way to produce a tidy, straight seam is to use a narrow stitch width.

zig zag stitch seam

A fairly nice seam with a few small thread ladders visible (these would be less visible if I used a teal colored thread!).

If you have a fancy sewing machine with many stitch styles:

stretch stitch

A neat "stretch stitch" option on my fancy old metal Kenmore. There are all sorts of stretch stitch styles so yours might not look exactly like this.

Yes!  You are spoiled for choices :).  Try out all of your stitch styles to see which one performs best with the fabric you are working with.  Thicker knits might sew up nicely with a fancy stitch style that includes many needle holes but you will probably want to avoid this stitch style if you are working with thin and stretchy jerseys.  The more the needle punches through the fabric, the more it weakens the fabric - not something you want when your fabric is quite delicate to start with!  Of course, you can combat this by using a ball point needle - these round tip needles push past the fabric fibers rather than piercing and breaking them.  There is a good chance that your fancy sewing machine came with a walking foot.  Now is the time to pull it out!  This foot will help to ease the top layer of knit fabric through at the same pace that the feed dogs are pushing the bottom layer through.  You will be able to stitch even the most slippery and ungainly knits without distorted seams and rippling hems!

stretch stitch seam

Less visible thread ladders on this seam! I might want to decrease the stitch length though so the gaps appear smaller.

If you have an older sewing machine or industrial sewing machine with only a straight stitch:

While most people would probably say no, I say yes!  Just because you only have a straight stitch at your disposal doesn't mean you should avoid knits altogether.  The garments you sew with a straight stitch will be more prone to developing holes in the seams if a stitch snaps but you have a sewing machine right there ready to run over any seams again if need be!  Besides, if you are gentle when putting on the t-shirt, you can likely avoid breaking any threads.  Increase your straight stitch length slightly to allow for a bit more stretch.  To finish your seams you could sew another row of straight stitching or choose a knit fabric that isn't prone to unraveling (a jersey for instance) and skip seam finishing altogether!

If you have a serger:

serger settings

Of course!  Sergers are designed to work with knits. Depending on your machine, you can set your threads up to stitch the seam and simultaneously finish the seam allowances or you might stitch the seam using a zig zag stitch and then finish the seam allowance with the serger.  One thing to watch out for when serging knits is for stretching or puckering of the entire seam.  Below you can see a stretched seam on the left, a puckered seam on the right and a nice straight seam in the middle.  To avoid puckering or stretching, play with your differential feed knob and a few fabric scraps each time you start working with a new knit fabric.

serger stitch

serger seam

The serged seam - my favorite of all the seams!



My knit fabric won't cooperate while I cut out my pattern - do you have any tricks?

Trick #1: Cut on the floor

You won't have to worry about your knit slipping off the table as you cut if you spread your fabric out on the (clean) floor.  If you have a large table that allows you to cut with your entire fabric spread out flat, this will work even better!

Cut out on the floor - tip for sewing with knits

Trick #2: Cut out a single layer of fabric

Tubular knit

If your knit fabric was knitted in the round (as is commonly the case), you will need to cut the tube along the grainline so that you can spread out your fabric as one layer.

While most sewing patterns ask you to cut out your pattern pieces with your fabric folded in half (with the selvedges together) it is more accurate to cut out knit garments using a single layer of fabric.  Working with a single layer will allow you to ensure the knit is completely flat (without folds and ripples) and isn't stretched/distorted in any way.  If you have a pattern piece that is supposed to be cut "On the Fold", trace the other half of the pattern piece so that you have paper pattern pieces representing the entire front and back of the garment and do not need cut along the folded fabric edge.

Remember, if you need two of one pattern piece it will need to be mirrored!  For example, if you are cutting out sleeves, cut out the first sleeve with the pattern piece right side up on the fabric.  Cut out the second sleeve with the pattern piece right side down on the fabric.  This will result in two mirrored sleeves (a right and a left sleeve).

Tips for cutting knit fabric

Don't forget to cut mirrored pattern pieces!!!

Trick #3: Use weights

Place heavy items (rocks, soup cans, pattern weights) on your pattern piece and on the fabric around the pattern piece.  Weighing everything down will help to combat the shifting of your scissors so that the fabric stays in one place and un-stretched as your scissors move along the edge of the pattern piece.

Use pattern weights

Trick #4: Use a rotary blade or slide your scissors

It is important to cut extra carefully when working with knits because the scissor's movement can easily pull the knit fabric out of place resulting in jagged edges or misshapen pieces.  A rotary cutter eliminates any issues caused by scissor blade movement.  If you are using scissors to cut, slide the bottom blade of your scissors along the floor or cutting surface and move the top blade up and down.  This can be tricky to get the hang of but it will result in much more accurate cutting!

I want my t-shirt to be the best that it possibly can be!  Do you have any tips for cutting out the pattern pieces?

Tip #1: Keep the direction of greatest stretch in mind when placing pattern pieces

Double check (or triple check!) that you are laying out your pattern pieces so that the direction of greatest stretch runs around the body (rather than up and down the body).  If you cut your pattern pieces so that the stretchiest direction of the fabric is vertical along the body your knit garment will stretch and sag out of shape.  When cutting out the neck band for a t-shirt, you have a couple of options for placing your pattern piece on the fabric.  If your knit fabric is especially stable and you are worried that your neck band won't be stretchy enough, place your neck band fabric on the bias (at a 45 degree angle to the grainline).  If your knit fabric is sufficiently stretchy, place your neck band so that the longest edge is aligned with the direction of greatest stretch (and the narrow edge is aligned with the grainline).  This will allow the neck band to stretch around the neck to help to retain the shirt's shape.


Even though your pattern piece might indicate cutting the binding on the bias, use your judgement based on what type of fabric you have chosen. This neck binding is being cut out with a stretch ribbing so there is plenty of stretch available when I place the long edge of the binding in line with the direction of greatest stretch. If you were using a very stable knit, you might consider cutting the piece on the bias to create more stretch!

Tip #2: Ensure your pattern pieces are completely on grain

Cheap store bought t-shirts often have a very obvious problem - they twist around the body as you wear them so that the side seams are angling towards the front and back.  This twisting problem occurs because the grainline is not running vertically down the shirt front and back, instead, it is on an angle.  When the manufacturers cut out the fabric they stacked many, many layers of knit and then sawed through them to cut out the pattern pieces.  Either the blade of the saw was not sharp enough or the layers of fabric were too thick for the saw to handle, as a result some of the fabric layers (likely the loose ones on the top and bottom of the stack) shifted as the saw cut resulting in twisted, off grain pieces.  Don't replicate this common problem while sewing your custom t-shirt!  Place your paper pattern piece on the fabric and measure from either tip of the grainline to the fabric selvedge to make sure that the grainline is aligned to the selvedge evenly (pictured below).

How to sew with knit fabric

How to sew stretchy fabric

Tip #3: Cut notches outwards

Knits can be prone to 'runs' just as you might see on a knit stocking.  Cutting notches inwards as you might normally do when cutting out a pattern weakens the seam allowances of the garment.  As you wear and wash the t-shirt you might be horrified to notice that your t-shirt is unraveling at the seams where you cut your notch!  Instead of cutting notches inwards, cut little triangles of fabric outwards.  If you prefer not to perform this fiddly cutting technique, you could just mark your notches with chalk or a pencil - easy peasy!

Cut notches outward


Best wishes while you cut out your Strath Tee!  If you take the time now to ensure your machine is operating at full capacity and that your fabric is accurately cut out, the actual sewing of the t-shirt will be a total breeze.  Use the #StrathTee to show us the fabric you've chosen and to give us a look at your seam sample progress!

September 22, 2015

Strathcona Tee Sew-Along: How to Choose Men's T-shirt Fabric

How to Choose Men's T-Shirt Fabric

Choosing the perfect fabric is the most difficult aspect of sewing a men's t-shirt!  This guide will help to demystify menswear appropriate knits so that you can start the sewing confident that you will end up with a classic and flattering T-shirt.

What makes a t-shirt knit masculine?

To many people, the answer to the above question would be easy - they would say that the knit must be 100% cotton and of medium weight.  As you may have already discovered, it can be very difficult to find such a fabric at your local fabric store!  I am here to argue that you can make a very manly t-shirt with all manner of knits.  Let me prove this to you by showing you some big brand store-bought examples ranging from basic cotton interlock to blended fabrics completely void of cotton!

Combed Cotton Interlock TShirt Fabric
100% Combed Cotton Interlock T-Shirt from Nordstrom - this is a classic choice of fabric that will create a great 'basic tee'.
Cotton Jersey TShirt Fabric
100% Washed/Broken-In Cotton Jersey T-Shirt from J. Crew - this is a very modern and comfortable choice of fabric that will result in a very casual, drapey t-shirt.
Cotton Poly TShirt Fabric
99% Cotton, 1% Polyester Jersey T-Shirt from H&M - polyester blends are very commonly found in graphic tees or event tees.  A blended fabric can include a far higher percentage of poly than this example but it is important to keep in mind that this will result in a 'sportier' shirt, sweat wicking shirt best suited for the gym.  A small polyester content will often result in a t-shirt that doesn't wrinkle when it comes out of the dryer or out of the dresser drawer!
Cotton Elastine TShirt Fabric
95% Cotton, 5% Spandex (i.e. Elastane) Jersey T-Shirt from H&M - a fabric with spandex content is best suited for tight fitting shirts that feature areas of negative ease (notice how the shoulders, chest and sleeves in the above example are skin tight).  Spandex content will often result in a heavier and more drapey fabric so it will cling to the body in an unflattering way if it is used with a loose fitting t-shirt design.
Viscose Wool Tshirt Fabric
85% Viscose (i.e. Rayon), 15% Wool Jersey T-Shirt from H&M - this example illustrates how fun it can be to experiment with fiber content when sewing t-shirts!  If you are into hiking and camping you might be interested to make a t-shirt 'base layer' out of Merino wool.  It isn't difficult to find Merino wool yardage and the resulting t-shirt will cost FAR less than fancy base layer garments from outdoor stores!
Slub Cotton Jersey TShirt Fabric
100% Slub Cotton Jersey T-shirt from J.Crew - It can be fund to experiment with textures when choosing t-shirt knits.  A slubbed knit can look very rugged and masculine.  I find that if a fabric is slubbed and heathered and fairly light weight, it will result in a t-shirt that looks attractively reminiscent of a cowboy's undershirt ;).
Linen Cotton TShirt Fabric
85% Cotton, 15% Linen Jersey T-Shirt from H&M - this is another great example of a creative blend of fibres.  You can also look for Cotton/Rayon knits (quite drapey) and Cotton/Bamboo knits (very soft and smooth) when choosing menswear t-shirt fabrics!

As you can see, most of these shirts feature medium weight fabrics with little drape and minimal stretch.  It is interesting to note that the only shirt containing spandex content features a much tighter fit than the other shirts.  Since spandex content is becoming an increasingly common element in knit fabrics, it is good to know that a masculine t-shirt can still be produced with the spandex-laden fabrics found all throughout fabric stores.

Aside from fabric content, it is important to note the style of knit.  An interlock knit is stiffer and has less drape than a jersey knit.  I find that if I am in doubt about the suitability of a fabric for menswear (especially if I am choosing a printed fabric), I will err on the side of caution by using an interlock rather than a jersey.

Check your closet!

So now that we've determined that there is a surprisingly large range of acceptable fabric types, we must narrow things down by keeping the prospective wearer's preferences in mind!  The easiest way to do this is to open up the recipient's closet and look at the t-shirts that are already there.  Are they mostly of medium weight?  What do the fabric content labels say?  Do many feature unusual textures and graphics?  Are there a broad selection of styles or does the person favor one type of fit?

Here are Matt's favorite t-shirts as an example along with why they are his favorite:

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (1 of 4)

He has had this free event t-shirt for MANY years and it is only just now beginning to show wear.  He loves that the hems do not fold up and wrinkle as many of his t-shirts with less polyester content tend to do.  The weight is quite heavy compared to some of his more 'fashionable' t-shirts but the polyester adds a bit of fluidity to the fabric so it doesn't look too crisp and so that it forms to his body just enough to be flattering.

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (3 of 4)

He wears these v-neck H&M t-shirts often because he likes the fit of the sleeves and the v-neck (and the selection of bright colors).  He wishes that the fabric were slightly heavier because they tend to show a bit of nipple!

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (2 of 4)

While he wears these Armani t-shirts often, their tendency to wrinkle bothers Matt.  The sleeves are always folding up and the narrow neck binding makes them look a bit misshapen.  These shirts were designed as undershirts rather than t-shirts and the fabric is even more light weight than the H&M t-shirts due to this.  Matt requires all of his clothes to be suitable for mulitple purposes so a thin t-shirt meant ONLY for use under button-ups does not suit his wardrobe.

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (4 of 4)

This is Matt's favorite Strath Tee!  It is made using a Girl Charlee knit that is no longer available.  I think it may be a blended cotton/poly knit.  It doesn't contain very much stretch and it is of light to medium weight (a touch heavier than the H&M tees).  Matt gets compliments on the print CONSTANTLY and he feels really confident in this shirt.  I shortened the sleeve length considerably to be the most flattering length for Matt (I will talk about this more in the next sew-along post!).  I think that the print suits the crew neck style and might be a touch more wild than Matt prefers if it were on a v-neck shirt.

How thick? How stretchy?

I like to err on the side of thick and not very stretchy but picking fabrics with different properties (thick and quite stretchy, thin and not very stretchy) is still a possibility as we saw in the ready to wear shirts above!  Here are the fabrics that I picked for the Strath Tee sew-along.  They include:

A 100% Cotton Interlock of medium weight with matching 1X1 ribbing...

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (1 of 7)

A 100% Cotton Interlock of medium weight without ribbing...

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (4 of 7)

A 100% Cotton Jersey of light weight (note that there is no spandex content so this fabric does not contain too much drape)...

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (2 of 7)

A cotton/bamboo blend jersey of light to medium weight (sorry, I don't know the percentages!)...

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (3 of 7)

You can sort of see their relative thicknesses here (the teal and white knits are the same fabric in different colours so I only photographed the white interlock):

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (6 of 7)

And here are their stretch capabilities:

Thread Theory Choosing Knits (7 of 7)

I have stretched each fabric as far as it will stretch without becoming misshapen.  None of them are able to stretch very far but I was surprised that the cotton/bamboo jersey stretched farther than the interlock!  The cotton jersey stretched least of all and bounced back to its original shape the slowest of the three fabrics.

Do I need ribbing?

As you may be able to tell in the photos of store bought t-shirts at the top of this post, most modern t-shirts do not feature heavy ribbing at the neck band.  1X1 ribbing is the most common choice for modern t-shirt neck bands.  2X1 ribbing used to be a fairly common choice for men's t-shirts in the past (these "Ringer Tees" would often feature ribbing at the sleeve hem as well) but this is no longer the case.  In fact, I have recently been noticing store bought men's t-shirts with self neck binding rather than ribbing!

Ribbing Choices - TShirt Sewing
The Ringer Tee: A light weight jersey t-shirt featuring heavy ribbed bands (from American Apparel).

The advantage of using ribbing to bind a t-shirt neckline is that your neckline will not be prone to stretching out.  Ribbed knits spring back into their original shape very quickly.  If you can't find matching or contrast ribbing, test your fabric's shape retention abilities by stretching it considerably and then releasing it.  Does it revert to it's original shape or does it look a bit saggy and stretched out?  If your fabric contains a small percentage of spandex, you will easily be able to skip purchasing ribbing because the spandex performs the same job as the rib knit.  If you are using a 100% Cotton knit that is quite crisp, you may find it keeps it's shape tolerably well.  If you are using a blended jersey with considerable drape, you will likely find that the fabric is prone to dragging and drooping once it is stretched - you can combat this by cutting your neck band shorter or by finding a ribbing fabric for your neck band.

Can I use prints?

When deciding on a fabric choice, you might be tempted to use crazy prints.  While many menswear enthusiasts will urge you away from all-over prints...I say go for it!  Here are my reasons why:

  • It is next to impossible to find a border style print that you can position just over the chest of the shirt to simulate the appearance of your average graphic tee - believe me, I've tried!  If you don't feel like getting crafty with fabric paint, spray paint or screen printing, an all over print might be your only choice.
  • It is fun to push boundaries while sewing!  A t-shirt doesn't take much fabric or time to create so this is the perfect canvas for edgy print choices.  If the recipient is overwhelmed by the print, the t-shirt can easily be made into a tunic dress or a women's t-shirt instead (speaking from experience here :P).
  • All over prints are becoming increasingly common in menswear.  Here is my favorite example from Canadian company Frank & Oak.  I like the idea of adding a solid pocket to the t-shirt to break up the print:

Printed Fabrics for Menswear Tees

Where to shop:

Since fabric stores are most often geared towards women's fashion, children's garments or quilting, it can be a little bit disheartening to sift through the knit section.  I often find myself grumpily pushing aside licensed cartoon French Terry, silky rayon knits, and endless bolts of pastel knits until I am left with only three or four suitable bolts of interlock or jersey to choose from!  Luckily, men's t-shirts can be easily personalized using contrast stitching, contrast neck binding or even a contrast pocket if you are faced with a limited selection of colors or prints at your local fabric store.

If you are very limited at your local fabric shop and would like to find better quality or selection online, here is my tried and true list of online knit fabric shops!  Each of these shops is a favorite of mine for a unique reason:

Organic Cotton Plus

The quality and selection of the organic knits in this shop are excellent.  You can sort the fabrics so that you are only looking at Interlocks or Jerseys and you can even sort so that you are choosing fabrics made within the US!  The solid colors available are generally quite earthy and manly but there is also a growing selection of intriguing geometric prints.

Simplifi Fabric

If you are in Canada, you might feel extra limited in regards to knit choices due to the current exchange rates - ordering internationally just doesn't make sense right now!  Fortunately, there is no need to look outside of Canada because Simplifi (based in Ontario) carries eco-friendly textiles of high quality.  Their knits section is quite large but you will have to sift through a large amount of prints designed for children's garments (which are SUPER cute!).  If you sort by fibre, you will find that they have a great base of solid knits including a comprehensive selection of bamboo knits - my favorite!

Girl Charlee

If you are looking for a huge selection of fun all-over prints, this is the place to look!  You might want to order swatches since Girl Charlee carries such a huge range of knit styles - it can be difficult to tell how drapey, stretchy, heavy, or good quality they are based on the descriptions alone.  Matt finds some of the Jersey Blend fabrics are just as comfortable and light weight and easy to wash (no wrinkles) as his favorite H&M t-shirts.

Gorgeous Fabrics

This is an excellent shop to peruse if you are hoping to create a high end t-shirt in an unusual material.  There are some beautiful heathered jerseys and even some merino wool knits.  Some of the knits are labelled "Tee-shirt weight" which is useful for our purposes!  By the way - knits are 20% off right now!  And there are some REALLY beautiful Italian sweater knits in stock; I am super tempted to make another Newcastle Cardigan!


Aside from being able to design your own printed fabric at Spoonflower, you can also peruse the huge library of other people's designs.  Spoonflower can print on an Organic Cotton Interlock knit which would likely be very suitable for a t-shirt and also on a jersey.  I haven't ordered the swatch pack myself so don't rely on my suggestions about which fabric type to print on!  It is probably best to order a sample pack for yourself :).


I hope you are able to find the perfect knits for your sew-along Strath Tee!  Make sure to use #strathtee when sharing your t-shirt progress.

September 22, 2015