How to Measure a Man December 02 2014

How to Measure a Man

1. Neck Circumference: Measure around the base of the neck loosely.

2. Chest Circumference: An important measurement!  Circle the tape measure around the chest underneath the armpits.  Make sure the tape measurement is at the widest point of the chest.  Raise the tape slightly along the back so that it sits over the shoulder blades.  See #9 for more detail.

3. Arm Circumference: Measure around the bicep with the arm bent so the muscle is engaged.

4. Waist Circumference: Tie a string or narrow elastic around the body to determine the narrowest point.  Circle the tape measure around this point.

5. Hip/Seat Circumference: Circle the tape measure around the fullest part of the seat.  Make sure the tape measure is level with the ground rather than being angled in any way.

6. Sleeve Length: Bend the arm slightly as pictured.  Measure from the shoulder bone to the wrist placing the tape measure over the curve of the elbow.

7. Wrist Circumference: Measure around the wrist just above the wrist bone.

8. Shoulder Width: Measure across the back at the widest point from the position where a sleeve seam sits.

9. Chest Circumference: As mentioned in #2, raise the tape measure slightly so that it crosses the protruding shoulder bones.  This an important step to determine the true circumference of the chest because the amount individual’s shoulder blades protrude can differ greatly.

10. Trouser Waist: This position can differ depending on the style of pants.  Keep in mind that the Body Measurement Chart for all of our patterns includes the Natural Waist Circumference while the Garment Measruement Chart includes the Trouser Waist Circumference.  This makes it easy to compare these two measurements and determine your size!

11. Hip/Seat Circumference: Circle the tape measure around the fullest part of the seat.  Make sure the tape measure is level with the ground rather than being angled in any way.

12. Inside Leg/Inseam: To determine the inside leg length, measure high in the crutch (the point where the leg meets the crotch) to the heel of the shoe.  To measure a desired inseam length it can be more accurate to measure existing pants to account for the ease between the body’s crutch point and the actual pants crotch.

13. Side Seam Length: Measure from the waist (where the string or elastic is tied) to the heel of the shoe.  Since pant rise can differ greatly (and is often lower than the natural waist level), find a desired side seam length by measuring existing pants with the same rise as the pants you intend to sew.

14. Body Rise: With the man sitting on a stool or chair so his knees are bent approximately 90 degrees, measure the depth from the trouser waist (rather than the natural waist), to the top of the stool or chair.

 Download a printable PDF of this information!


How to sew on a Button October 28 2014

Finished button

When I first started sewing I didn’t own too much in the way of sewing manuals and, anyways, they may not have helped me much even if I had them because I am more of a ‘try and try again’ style learner and probably wouldn’t have referred to them as I bumbled along the learning curve to becoming a proficient sewer!

When I began my first semester of fashion design school after spending several years avidly sewing my own clothing, I was very eager to learn the ‘proper’ way to do things thinking that I likely did them all wrong.  As it turns out, I’ve since come to the opinion that often the ‘proper’ way of doing something when sewing is the way that works best for the circumstance.

In the case of sewing on buttons, for instance, the ‘proper’ way of attaching them is in any manner that results in a fastener that is strong, will not fall off over time, is easy to use and looks very nice.

So I’ll show you the way that I sew on a button and you can give it a try; if it fills all of the above criteria, then it is the ‘proper’ way for you!

merchant and mills boxed

And while I’m at it, I thought I should use some of the Merchant & Mills tools we have in our store so that you can see what is within the beautiful packaging.  To sew on this button I’ll be using the measuring tape, the wide bow scissors, ahand sewing needle, a glass headed pin, and most importantly, tailor’s beeswax.

merchant and mills unboxed

And I’m sewing the button to this pair of linen shorts that I just made for Matt.

732X600 image

The linen is courtesy of the Fabrics-store which is an online shop that specializes in the most lovely of linens.  Both linens that I used (for the self fabric and the contrast waistband and fly shield are yarn-dyed.  I think yarn dyed fabric has such beautiful depth to it and is so appealingly rustic.  Check out the Fabrics-store’s gorgeous selection – it was lucky that Matt was around to pick the fabric because I was totally unable to pick a favorite (they’re all favorites!).

button - shorts front

Okay, now lets move on to sewing on the button! First off, I like to determine the perfect button placement.  On trousers, the button should sit directly above the zipper.  On these shorts that was one inch in from the edge of the waistband.  I also measured the halfway point between the top and bottom edge of the waistband so that the button would be centered.

button - measure

To prepare my thread, I ran it through the tailor’s beeswax.  To do that, just pinch the thread between the wax and your thumb and run it along the edge of the wax.  Then repeat the process a second time.  Finish the application by quickly rubbing the thread between my fingers to work the wax into it.  It only takes a couple seconds and makes a world of difference!

button - wax thread

I used to hand sew without preparing my thread, which I now know was a silly thing to do!  I was plagued with knots and tangles while carefully sewing hems and my buttons would often (and I mean OFTEN) snap off at the most awkward of times.  Beeswax is quick to apply to the thread and helps to make it stronger.  It also causes the thread to behave in a completely different manner than un-waxed thread – if it becomes tangled while hand sewing, my exasperating initial reaction of tugging at the knot actually works – the knot doesn’t become tighter, it just magically slips away!

Choose a sewing needle with a long eye – that way you can double up your thread and feed both ends through the eye at once.  This may seem an impossible feat (two big fat thread ends through one tiny hole?!) but just give your ends a quick trim and the wax will keep them nice and stiff so you shouldn’t have a problem.

button - clip rough thread ends

Threading the needle in this manner makes sewing on a button twice as fast…my construction teacher taught me this and I send her a telepathic thank you every time I sew on a button!

button - double thread needle

Make the thread ends even with the looped end of the thread (so that you will be sewing with four strands of thread) and knot it.

button - tie knot in thread

Now this may seem counter-intuitive (at least it initially did to me!): Start sewing on the button from the FRONT of the garment rather than the back.  That way the knot is hidden underneath the button.

button - begin sewing

Once the needle and thread are pulled through to the back, bring the needle through to the front again as close to your original stitch as possible (but not in the same spot or you will simply be undoing your stitch!).

button - shorts from back

Instead of pulling the threads super tight, leave a gap between the button and the garment like so:

button - room between button and shorts

This will later be filled with a shank made out of twisted thread that holds the button away from the garment making it easier to grab and use.  If you were sewing on a button with a shank, you wouldn’t have to do this because the shank is already provided!

Repeat this process several times but make sure to leave enough free thread on your needle to create a shank (somewhere in the vicinity of 5″-8″ (12 – 20 cm)).

button - sew from back

End with your needle on the right side of the garment and twist the 5-8″ of thread around your stitching (in the space between the button and the garment).  Pull tightly to create a solid shank.

button - wrap to create post

Once your shank has been created, it is time to secure the stitching.  To do this, don’t just begin with a granny knot (that’s what I always did and they never held!).  Instead, push the needle through the thread shank.  It will probably be difficult to do, but you can always push the end of the needle against a hard surface or use a thimble to coax it through.

button - go back through post

Now do this again from the opposite direction to lock everything in place.

button - go up through post

My teacher said the next step is unnecessary but I can’t help myself – it feels too weird to end a hand-stitching process without tying a knot – so just tie a little knot using the loose ends from when you started stitching and the ends attached to your needle.

button - tie threads

Trim off the excess thread and you have a super strong, beautiful and easy to use button!

Finished button close up

You can hardly see any thread on the wrong side:

Finished button inside waistband

And it is really easy to grab and use:

Finished Button thread post

Is this the process you use to sew on a button?  If you do something different, what do you do?  I’d love to hear as I imagine there are all sorts of techniques out there with many of them being just as good as what I have come to consider my ‘proper’ way.

Now one more photo of the finished shorts:

side view

I think Matt will be wearing these shorts all summer long (and he reports that the wide legs are perfect for riding his bike to work)!


Welt Pocket Tutorial October 28 2014

Welt Pocket Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to make elegant pockets that you can add to trousers, jackets, vests or wherever else you can imagine this style of pocket.  While this type of pocket is often referred to as a welt pocket in the sewing community and in sewing literature, it is actually traditionally called a 'jetted' pocket.  A true welt is formed on top of the garment and topstitched in place.  I like this jetted style better because it results in a clean finish with no visible topstitching.  Even though it is truly a jetted pocket I will continue to refer to it as a welt pocket since that is what it is most often called these days and I want to make sure that you can find this tutorial when Google searching 'Welt Pockets'! :P

How to sew a welt pocket

Welt pockets often have the bad reputation as being scary and difficult to sew.  While it might take a little while to make perfectly square corners and until the origami folds become second nature, they really aren't that difficult...it is just a matter of doing the right step at the right time.  And here are all the right steps laid out in photos for you!

Jutland Shorts

For these shorts I used the Jutland Pants pattern which includes all necessary pieces.  In case you are working with a pants pattern that doesn't include welt pocket pattern pieces, here are some guidelines to make your own.

For each pocket:

  •  Welt rectangle - one interfaced rectangle that is about four times the height of your welt and a couple inches wider.
  • Shallow pocket lining - one shallow pocket piece (either shaped like mine is or just a shallow rectangle that is the same width as the welt rectangle) made out of thin cotton or some other pocketing material.
  • Deep pocket lining - one long pocket piece that is shaped to match the width and bottom of your shallow pocket piece and is tall enough to extend past the top of the pants (mine was 12" tall)
  • Pocket facing - a rectangle approximately the size of your welt piece that will be top-stitched to the deep pocket lining to act as a backdrop for the welt pocket (so that you don't see the pocketing fabric behind the open welt).
  • Interfacing - A square of interfacing that is larger than your welt rectangle piece to apply to the trousers.

Okay, now that we have all of our pieces cut out and interfacing applied, we can begin to assemble the pockets!  On the top third of the wrong side of the welt rectangle, mark the finished width and height of your welt (you can choose this based on your preference or use my measurements which were 5/8" tall X 5 1/2" wide).  If you are sewing the Jutland Pants, you can use the welt template that we've provided.

Draw markings on welt

Draw markings on your interfaced trouser pieces as well - make sure you mark both the right and wrong side of your pants.  If you are sewing the Jutland Pants, use the provided marks to choose your welt placement.  You can use chalk or you can use thread basting to create your markings.

Draw markings on wrong side

Here is my basting stitch:

Baste along markings

And the view from the right side (make sure to stitch thoroughly at the corners so that they are very accurate):

Close up of basting

Line up your trousers with your welt piece, right sides together.  Your markings will come in handy here to make sure everything is lined up precisely.

Pin welt to pants

Using a very short stitch length for added strength and precision, stitch along the long edges of the welt rectangle.  Stop and back stitch precisely at each corner.

Stitch along marked lines

Here is a close up to show you how carefully you should stitch over the marked lines:

Close up of stitching

Now press the loose sections of the welt to help things fold crisply later on.  Here I am pressing the top of the welt:

Iron welt downwards

And pressing the bottom of the welt:

Iron welt upwards

Using sharp little scissors, cut along the center of the welt and stop 1/2" from either end.  Cut on a diagonal towards each corner, clipping as close to the stitching as you dare!  The closer you get, the crisper your welt corners will appear later on...but be warned - if you snip beyond your stitching your welt will have little holes in each corner!

Cut slit in middle of welt

Close up of Y shape

Turn the welt to the wrong side of the garment so that you are left with a rectangular window on the right side:

Welt hole from right side

And the loose fabric on the wrong side:

Welt hole from wrong side

Now is a great time to remove all the basting thread!
Remove basting

To reduce bulk later, flip up the bottom of the welt and press the seam allowances that are hidden underneath open.

Press seam allowance open

And now press the sides and the top of the welt crisply flat (isn't linen lovely to press?).  If you'd like, you can press the seam slightly towards the wrong side of the garment so that it isn't visible from the right side.

Press sides of welt

Turn the garment on the right side to press all four corners carefully - you can pinch and pull them a little to make them look perfectly right angled.

Press top and sides of welt

From the wrong side of the garment, create an accordion fold with the welt rectangle so that the folded edge meets the top of the welt window.  Press the folded edge crisply.

Press the welt from the back

From the right side of the garment, your welt will look almost finished!

Press the welt

To keep the welt in place, uncover the sides of the welt by folding over the trousers.  You will see a little triangle of fabric and your accordion fold.  Stitch as close to the base of the triangle as possible through all layers except the trousers themselves.

Sew across triangle

Your welt is finished!  Now it's time to add the pocket bag so that it doesn't open up to display underwear (unless you've made yourself some perfect Comox Trunks that you really want to show off :P).

To add the pocket bag, first place the shallow pocket lining with right side down on top of the welt.  Line up the top pocket edge with the bottom of the welt.  Stitch using a 5/8" seam allowance.

Attach small pocket lining

Finish with a serger or a zig zag stitch:

Serge bottom edge of welt with pocket bag attached

Press pocket lining downwards:

Pocket lining pressed downwards

At this point you can add a button hole to your welt pockets if you desire.  I made a separate pair of pants to demonstrate how to do this:

At this point in the welt pocket sewing process, stitch a vertical buttonhole below the welt through the main pants and the single layer of the pocket lining.  I stitched mine over the bottom of the Jutland Pants dart.

To prepare the deep pocket lining, first press under the long edges of the pocket facing 5/8":

Ironed pocket facing

Top stitch the pocket facing to the deep pocket lining.  You will want to place this facing so that it lies directly over the welt pocket when the bottom of the deep pocket lining is lined up with the bottom of the shallow pocket lining.

Pocket facing topstitched to lining

Line the pocket pieces up with right sides together and pin in place through all layers of the welt folds (but not through the trousers themselves).

Pin pocket to pocket lining

Stitch around all pocket edges using a 5/8" seam allowance.  You won't need to stitch up to the top of the deep pocket lining because no other layers extend this high.

Sew around pocket edge

This is how your pocket will look at this point:

Finished pocket underside before serging

Finish the edges of the pocket with a serger or a zig zag stitch.

Finish pocket edge

To prevent your welts from sagging in the middle, fold down the top of the trousers to expose the little seam allowance between the trousers and the pocket pieces.  Stitch through the seam allowance and all the pocket layers.

Sew across top seam allowance

If you are adding buttons and button holes to your pants, this is the point that you can sew on your button!  Open up the pocket and position the button directly under the button hole.

And that's it!  A finished welt pocket!  With a button:

Or without a button:

Close up of welts

Now you can add them to just about everything!


It's Hammer Time: Jean Rivets October 01 2014

Today in the Thread Theory Tutorials department, we're going to be installing jean rivets using our new Jean & Pants Essential Notions kit! It is also a long-overdue guest post by yours truly, Matt.

We're going to take my (very) worn in Jedediah Pants and spruce them up a bit with pocket reinforcing rivets.

First of all, let's gather our tools! This project will involve a little more than your usual sewing endeavor...

You will need:

  • A hammer (mine is ridiculously overkill. Any small hammer will do)
  • Something pointy (I used my awl, but you can use a small nail too)
  • A marking device (fabric chalk is great, but a pencil or pen works just as well)
  • Side cutters (these are semi-optional; more on that later)
  • Some wood (not a lot to say about that)
  • Steel (this one is pretty important; details to follow)

... And most importantly, rivets! These are from our Jeans & Pants Essential Notions kit. For this tutorial, the silver part will be referred to as the "pin" and the brass part will be the "cap".

Your pointy object will be used to make a hole in the layers of fabric for the pin part of the rivet to be pushed through. A pin will work for marking the location, but an awl or nail is much more ideal as it will spread the fibers of the fabric and make the pin-pushing step much easier.

The first step of this project is to decide where you want your rivets to be placed. I opted to put one at each corner of my slash pockets to add a bit of reinforcement. If your pants have a small change pocket, you can install them on that as well. Back patch pockets? Yep, those too! Once you've installed a couple, you'll want to put them on every pair of pants you own!

Next, mark the center of the rivet cap using your pencil, pen, jiffy marker, fabric chalk, etc. It isn't very important what you use here as your mark is going to be well covered by the rivet when we're done.

Next, prepare your pants both emotionally and physically for the pain they are about to endure. Also, get your chunk of wood to use as a backing board.

The chunk of wood is an optional tool, but I found it really makes this step easy, and you don't run the risk of stabbing your finger with your awl (which isn't fun... Trust me).

Now push your awl (or nail, or other pointy object) through until the hole in the fabric is approximately the same size as the pin.

Line up the pin with your awl hole...

... And push it through!

Congratulations, you're half way there!

Now for some more fun tools! While pushing the pin from the bottom, use your side cutters to trim away most of the excess tip. You want just a tiny bit of metal (about 1/16") protruding from the hole. This will give the rivet a nice snug fit when the pin is squashed into the cap.

Note: There are some tutorials around that suggest using the full length of the pin and cutting scraps of fabric to act as a "spacer" for the underside of the pin. While this is a great technique if you don't have side cutters, I find that cutting the pin gives a much more "snug" rivet and results in a sturdier finished product. If you don't have side cutters, many pliers have a cutting section. If you don't have pliers, you could try using a very sturdy pair of scissors... Not your fabric scissors, though!

Just a little nub.

This gives you an idea of the amount of pin I cut off.

Now fit your cap over the tip of the pin. It should sit nearly flush with the fabric. If it is sitting too high off the fabric, try cutting a bit more off the pin.

Time to get out your steel! I used a piece of scrap from an old knife-making project; you can use anything you would like, and it really only needs to be slightly larger than the rivet cap (although the larger it is, the easier it is to keep the cap on the steel). The steel is actually very important. I thought it would be fine to use a piece of hardwood, and I was sorely mistaken. When you hammer the aluminum pin into the brass cap, the brass actually deforms and mushrooms with the aluminum. If your backing is only wood, the aluminum pin will just puncture the brass cap and sink the whole assembly into the wood. I did some more experiments on harder wood and concrete (making the mistakes so you don't have to!) and neither worked well compared to steel. If you can't find any scrap steel, most fabric stores have snap kits that include a little tool that functions the same as the steel.

Flip the whole assembly onto the steel so that the pin head is pointed up at you (your target!) and the cap is on the steel, centered under the pin.

Now comes the fun part! Get out your hammer and start swinging! The most important things are to hit it nice and flat and to not use too much force; it is much better to do several gentle taps than one solid whack that could ruin the whole thing. After a few solid taps, lift it up and try to twist/pry the cap while holding the pin. If you sense that is moving at all or doesn't feel completely locked in place, put it back on the steel and give it a few more good taps. After a couple rivets, you'll get the hang of it and will be able to tell when it is good and set.

Ta-da!!! The rivet is cinched right down onto the fabric and I'm completely unable to pry it up or twist it. 

Here's a close-up shot so you can see how flush to the fabric it is; if you trimmed your pin short enough, it should look just like this!

Lastly, here's a shot of an un-hammered rivet and the rivet we just finished installing. Notice how the brass has deformed with the aluminum pin; this is what locks the rivet in place and keeps it from coming apart! 

I hope your rivet installing is as fun and satisfying as mine was! It is an excellent way to put a finishing touch on Jeds, jeans, or even bags and purses! I hope you liked my tutorial!


Fall Picnic Set: Featuring the Bag Making Supplies Kit and the Portside Duffle Bag September 30 2014

As the leaves begin to change color this and Autumn evenings become shorter and more crisp, I have been longing to head out to the local beaches and forests for picnics.  I know many people might think of a picnic as something to enjoy in the heat of summer with lemonade and watermelon, but my favorite sort of picnic is of the fall variety – sitting on a windswept beach or amid crunchy burnt orange leaves at the park with a blanket wrapped cozily around me and a cup of hot apple cider in my hand.
BritexBag-52

With that image of an ideal picnic hovering in my mind, I made a Fall picnic set! I made this set as a guest blogger for Britex who provided me with this gorgeous Etro Olive & Pumpkin Plaid Wool!  This Italian wool is a unique mix of colors that are cheery individually (teal blue, bright orange!) while still decidedly autumnal over all.  It is a large weave and it is quite light but strong – perfect for a blanket, and, with interfacing, as a bag!

BritexBag-8

I paired the wool with the contents of  our Bag Making Supplies Kit to create a Grainline Studios Portside Duffle Bag and a car blanket.  The kit includes 1 m (1.1 yards) of canvas (the canvas I used was from our old colour/weight choice but as of today we have two new colours in stock to choose from!) along with a separating zipper, Chicago Screws (like rugged rivets that screw together) and a bar of Otter Wax.  The 1 m (1.1 yards) of canvas was enough to make all the lower half of the Portside Duffle and the blanket wrap while 1.8 m (2 yards) of wool created the top of the duffle and a 60″ x 60" picnic blanket.

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First, I will show you some of the bag and blanket set’s details and then, below, I’ve created a tutorial so you can make a picnic blanket and blanket wrap yourself!

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The Portside Duffel is the perfect size duffel bag.  It could easily carry a week’s worth of clothes for a light traveler or act as an exceptionally roomy weekend bag.  I really like how the pattern includes all the details to create a professional looking bag – there is even a tiny pattern piece that you can use to create a leather zipper pull!  I skipped a lot of the hardware and details for this bag because I didn’t have much choice in hardware at my local notions shop.  I even had to use twill tape for the handles instead of webbing because my colour choices were so limited locally!  Next time I sew the bag I will take the time to source all of the hardware and straps but for this picnic version, the lack of metal hardware makes this bag very cozy and it could maybe even work double duty as a back rest while lounging on my picnic blanket!

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The bag can be as slouchy or as structured as you desire.  I added heavy interfacing to all sections of the bag to stabilize the wool and create a more rigid bottom.  I also ended up adding a rectangular cardboard insert between the lining and the canvas to fit the bottom of the bag.  I think thin plastic would be the ideal material for this as the cardboard is a bit weak and sometimes buckles but it was a good experiment and certainly works well enough for my first rendition of this bag!

BritexBag-99

I applied OtterWax to the green canvas after sewing the bag.  I love the rugged look it gave the bag!  The waxed canvas is very water resistant so I can place it on damp Fall grass without worry of water soaking through.  The wax also made the canvas stiffer and heavier which added a nice touch of structure to the bottom of the bag.  I left the blanket wrap un-waxed so you can clearly see the huge difference that the wax made to the canvas:

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To continue my earlier story of unavailable notions, the only metal zipper large enough for the duffle bag at my local shop was a separating one. That wasn’t a problem at all though – I just added a folded piece of canvas on top of the opening bottom end of the zipper as I stitched the zipper in place and it functions much as a regular zipper stop would!  The zipper pull stops at the folded fabric rather than continuing to the end of the zipper…and voila, a functional closed-end zipper!

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I used a heavy floral cotton for the lining.  The colours pair superbly with all the varied tones that the wool include – only the wool’s cheery orange isn’t represented!

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And now, a little bit about the blanket and blanket wrap!  When I saw this wool on the Britex website, I had all sorts of ideas for a funky peacoat or maybe a series of rustic bags…but when I opened up the parcel and it spilled out onto the living room floor, all I wanted to do was wrap myself up in the yardage!  So cozy but also wonderfully light and airy!  If you don’t like the feeling of wool against your skin, obviously you might disagree with me – but wool is my favorite fibre for scarves, sweaters, blankets or, really, just about anything, so a wool blanket suits my idea of cozy perfection.

BritexBag-93

The selvedge of this fabric is a lovely scallop that would have been such a shame to cut off.  I pulled and tugged at it to make sure it would remain strong and refrain from unraveling over time.  It passed the test without breaking a sweat and so I used the selvedge to form two sides of my blanket.

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For the other two sides, I created a sumptuous fringe!  It was incredibly easy and only a little bit time consuming to do.

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I stitched from selvedge to selvedge 3″ in from the fabric edge to prevent the fabric unraveling further into the blanket.  If you are nervous about the risk of this occurring, you could stitch this length several times for added security or top-stitch ribbon or some other sort of trim as a ‘bumper’ to prevent fraying.

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Next, I tugged, snipped and teased out all the weft fibres (extending from selvedge to selvedge) leaving only the warp fibres remaining.

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My hands and shoulders were pretty sore by the time I was done but it was a mindless task that I could do while watching a show or just chatting with Matt!

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To create the blanket wrap, I used the remaining canvas from the Bag Making Supplies Kit, the kit’s 12″ seperable zipper, a strip of leather and the kit’s two Chicago Screws.  Once the blanket is rolled up, I use the wrap to keep it compact in the duffle bag which leaves plenty of room for a thermos and as big of a feast as I would like to bring along!  The blanket and wrap could also fit under the front seat of a car so that it is ready if a passenger is chilly or wants a nap.  Or…if you’re like me and get cold way too easily, you could simply keep the blanket in the duffle at all times while travelling so that you’re not rummaging around hotel rooms or extended family’s linen closets looking for an extra layer of blankets in the middle of the night.

BritexBag-34

To make the wrap, cut four rectangles of canvas measuring 11 1/2″ X 13″.  If you aren’t using the Bag Making Supplies Kit to first make a Portside Duffle Bag, you will have more fabric at your disposal and you can skip the wrap’s seam by simply cutting two 22″ X 13″ rectangles.

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If the seam is necessary for you, sew two rectangles together along the widest edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

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Repeat with the second set of rectangles.

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Press the seams open.

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Pin the two large rectangles with right sides together along their two longest edges (this is where you will start following the instructions if you only had two large rectangles to begin with).


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Stitch using a 1/2″ seam allowance (leave the two narrow ends open).

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Trim the seam allowances if desired to reduce bulk.

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Flip the rectangle so right sides are out and press both seams.

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Top- stitch 3/8″ from the finished edges if desired.

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To finish the narrow edges I applied decorative twill tape (the remainder of the tape from my duffle bag handles).

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Place the twill tape centered over the raw edge and extending 1/2″ to 1″ on either end of the wrap.

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Fold the twill tape over the finished wrap edge and pin in place.

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Stitch along the edge of the twill tape, catching the folded twill tape on the other side of the wrap.

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Fold the ends of wrap over 1″ (plus half the twill tape width which extends over the raw edge of the fabric) and press.

BritexBag-29

Stitch along the other long edge of the twill tape to enclose the raw fabric edge completely.  This will now become the right side of your wrap and the twill tape functions not only to finish the raw edge but also as a decoration.

BritexBag-31

Add the separating zipper by aligning it with the folded edge of the wrap.

BritexBag-32

Fold under the ends of the zipper tape and stitch the zipper in place using a zipper foot.  Make sure to catch the folded zipper tape in your stitching!

BritexBag-36

Create a handle for the wrap by cutting a strip of leather.  I used a 1 1/2″ X 13″ strip and cut pointed ends.

BritexBag-38

Using an awl or some other pointy device, punch holes in the leather for the male part of the Chicago Screw to poke through.  Punch corresponding holes in the canvas where you would like to place your handle.  Insert the female portion of the screw up through the canvas hole from the wrong side, bring the male screw to meet it and tighten by hand.

BritexBag-72

And there you have it, a perfectly Autumnal picnic set!  It was fun stretching out the 1 m of canvas to create so many items!  I ended up with only one little rectangle (maybe 6″ long and 4″ wide) as a scrap!  If you’d like to try your hand at bag making, head on over to our store to check out the new (super manly) canvas colours!


Removing the yoke and adding welt pockets to the Jedediah Pants August 11 2014

Today I have the first of three tutorials to show you (as a result of our Tutorial Contest).  This tutorial was submitted after the contest deadline by Roni Arbel but it is so excellent I just HAD to include it along with the winner’s two tutorials!  Now get ready for an excellent lesson in both pattern manipulation and careful sewing as Roni teaches you how to use the Jedediah Pants to create an entirely different style of pants!


Father's Day Shaving Kit May 28 2014

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In my opinion (and hopefully in my Dad's opinion), there is no better way to express your love for your Dad on Father's Day than by giving him something that you made yourself.  My Dad loves everything I make for him and his enthusiasm over his handmade clothes is one the main reasons I find sewing menswear so rewarding.

This Father's Day, forgo the cliché gifts of a watch or new tools and instead make your Dad something!  Not sure what to make?  Or do you still prefer to buy your Dad something that he has been asking for?  Then make this shaving kit/generally useful bag and fill it with your dad's favourite things!  It's big enough to fit any toiletries or shaving supplies you'd like to fill it with, a selection of screw drivers or even a pile of his favourite snacks.

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This bag is really quick and easy to make and results in a VERY sturdy case with a classic manly aesthetic.  It is interfaced, lined and even waxed to create a bag that will only get better as it wears in with heavy use.  I'll show you how to sew the bag using supplies from the Bag Making Kit that is new in our store but you can also gather your own supplies if you would prefer!

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The materials you will need to create an approximately 6" wide, 9" long and 4 1/2" tall (bag are: 15.2 cm wide, 22.9 cm long and 11.4 cm tall)

Case:

  • Two 13" x 12" (33 cm x 30.5 cm) rectangles of cotton canvas or similar heavy fabric for the outer bag
  • Two 13" x 12" (33 cm x 30.5 cm) rectangles of lining material (either the same as the self fabric or something that is easy to wipe out and clean
  • Two 13" x 12" (33 cm x 30.5 cm) rectangles of heavy interfacing (optional)
  • One 12" (30 cm) zipper (either separable for a bag that opens EXTRA wide or regular closed end - choose something heavy duty).  Please note that since creating this tutorial we now include a 14" metal zipper in our Bag Making Supplies Kit.  This can easily be shortened to suit this tutorial's dimensions by pulling the metal teeth with pliers!  The larger zipper is more versatile in this kit as it is large enough to be used for all sorts of bag types!
  • Otter Wax to apply to the finished case for a hard wearing/water resistant exterior (optional)

Optional Handle:

  • One 12" (30 cm) strip of leather (approx. 1 1/2" (3.8 cm) wide - try cutting a piece from a thrift store belt!) (optional)
  • Two to four Chicago screws or rivets that are thick enough to go through your leather handle and all layers of canvas (optional)

Shaving Kit Tutorial 1

Apply your interfacing to the two outer rectangles.
Shaving Kit Tutorial 2

Lay one of the outer rectangles right side up.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 3

Lay the zipper with the right side down on top of the 13" (33 cm) side of the rectangle.  Line up the zipper tape with the raw edge of the fabric and position the zipper so that there is 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance on either end of the zipper teeth (mine needed to be shifted a little to the left in this photo):

Shaving Kit Tutorial 4

Place a lining rectangle on top of the zipper with the wrong side up and the raw edges lined up with the outer rectangle.  Pin in place.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 5

Shaving Kit Tutorial 6

Use a zipper foot to stitch along the zipper tape.  Try to avoid stitching too close to the zipper teeth (leave at least 1/8" (0.3 cm) space between your stitching and the teeth) because your lining fabric will get caught in the zipper teeth if it is too close...do what I say, not what I do because you will see later that I stitched quite close!.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 7

Flip your fabric pieces around so that no seam allowances are visible.  If you would like, you can pull the outer and lining fabric away from the zipper teeth (pull it very taught!) and top stitch to ensure the teeth will not catch the fabric.

To add the other side of the bag to the zipper, place the second outer rectangle right side up, lay the zipper with the wrong side up on top of it and then add the lining material with the wrong side up (this is the same process that you used for the first side of the zipper).

Shaving Kit Tutorial 9

Pin in place and stitch with a zipper foot.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 10

Your zipper is successfully inserted!  Give it a press (but avoid pressing the plastic zipper because it will melt!).

Shaving Kit Tutorial 11

Now it is time to sew the bottom seam.  This method will result in no raw edges along this seam.  Position your bag so that the bottom edge of the lining rectangles meet (with right sides together) and pin.  Do this for the outer fabric as well.  From this point onward, make sure to leave your zipper partially open so that you can flip your bag right side out later on!

Shaving Kit Tutorial 12

Here is a close up of how the zipper will look along the middle seam when your fabric is positioned correctly:

Shaving Kit Tutorial 13

Stitch these two seams using a 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 14

Press the seams open.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 15

Now flip the bag around so that the right side of the lining is facing you (along with the wrong side of the zipper) and the bottom seam is lined up with the zipper.  Remember to keep your zipper partially open for this step (again, do what I say, not what I do!).  Pin the side seams and stitch using a zipper foot and a 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance.  If your zipper is positioned correctly, your stitching will cross the zipper just below the last teeth (so you will only have to sew across the fabric zipper tape and not across the plastic teeth).

Shaving Kit Tutorial 16

Finish this raw edge using binding or a serger.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 18

Your bag is almost done!  We just need to shape the corners now.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 17

Pinch each corner as photographed below to 'puff' the bag up.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 19

Sew across each corner to create your desired height.  I sewed a 4" (10.2 cm) long line of stitching.  If you sew further down the corner, your bag will be wider and shorter; if you sew further up the corner (to create a longer line of stitching) your bag will be narrower and taller.

Shaving Kit Tutorial 20

Shaving Kit Tutorial 21

At this point, you can leave the corners in place (they add extra structure when the bag is turned right side out) or you can trim them and finish the seam allowances with binding or a serger.  Turn your bag right side out and admire your work!

Shaving Kit Tutorial 22

Your Father's Day bag could be completely done and ready to fill at this point...but if you want to take your work to the next level and make something even better than you could find in the store, here are a few ideas:

 

Apply Otter Wax to your canvas bag:

It's as simple as rubbing it on as thick as you would like.  It will feel sticky and make your fabric look mottled/dirty at first, but just keep rubbing it on until the coating is even and then leave it out of the sun to cure for 24 hours.  Your canvas will gain some lustre and become perfectly rugged looking.  If your dad likes the look of classic oilskin raincoats and is quite hard on his belongings, this finish will suit him perfectly!  It will resist water, the fabric will be stronger, and it will wear in over time rather than wear out (think of the nice crinkled and soft look of worn denim or an old waxed canvas jacket).

Apply Otterwax 1

I didn't worry about getting wax in the zipper - after unzipping it a few times, the wax wears off and maybe even helps make it operate smoother!  To work the wax into the seams, I used my fingers and the corner of the bar...and I came away with hands that were as smooth as if I had just gone for a manicure (yay for unexpected perks!).

Apply Otterwax 2

Keep in mind that Otter Wax is different from most fabric waxes in that it doesn't need heating or any other special treatment before it cures (plus it's all natural and smells deliciously like beeswax).  It simply needs to be rubbed on and then left to dry/cure.  If you are using a different sort of fabric wax, you'll need to follow the manufacturer's directions!

Now, your bag could be done at this point as well...but shall we take it one step further?

Add a leather handle to your bag so that your dad can easily grab it (and for an extra touch of manliness!).

Shaving Kit Tutorial 24

I used Chicago Screws (available in our bag making kit) to attach the handle without having to use specialized tools but you could also use rivets if you don't mind a little hammering and have the right rivet applying tools on hand!

Chicago Screws are commonly used in scrap booking but they can also be a great sewing notion! They simply screw together by hand (or with a flat head screw driver) and have nice large heads that thoroughly cover the hole punched in your fabric - I find these large heads make them more secure than small rivets because they are not likely to pull/rip through the fabric if the handle is yanked on.

Chicago Screws Tutorial 1

I used a small scrap of leather for my handle but I think a strip from an old belt would work even better because the thickness of a belt would create a nice stiff handle.  The one benefit of thinner leather is that you don't need a special leather punch to create a hole - just punch a hole with an awl and trim it to the desired width with small embroidery scissors.  If you don't like working with leather, you could sew a canvas strap and apply it with rivets, Chicago Screws or simply by sewing it on.

If you are applying your leather handle as I did, just punch a hole in the leather with an awl and cut it to the correct size (keep the hole as small as it possibly can be while still being able to fit over the screw post).

Chicago Screws Tutorial 2

Repeat this process on your bag.  I lined my handle up with the horizontal seam at the end of the bag, but you could place yours wherever you desire.  You could also add two rivets or Chicago Screws to each side so that the handle is not able to swivel.

Chicago Screws Tutorial 3

Place the female half of the screw inside the bag and push it through the hole that you made. Place the leather strap over top of it and simply twist on the male portion of the screw until it is tight.  Simple as that!

Chicago Screws Tutorial 5

Now fill your Dad's kit with whatever you think he would like - be it a luxury shaving cream, some chocolate bars, a new paperback, or even a gift certificate.  I hope your Dad is as proud of you and your DIY skills as my Dad is of mine :).

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If you'd like try using some of the materials I did, you can find them all in our store!  We have them all bundled as a bag making kit or the Chicago Screws, separable zipper, duck canvas and OtterWax are all sold individually.


Strathcona Henley Placket Tutorial May 16 2014

 

Are you a little bit nervous about sewing the Strathcona Henley placket?  Don't worry!  This is normal!  This tutorial will show you how to approach the placket in a slow and careful manner that allows you to backtrack and re-do pieces as needed.

Strathcona Henley Placket

Since the fabric that I used for this Strathcona Henley is of medium weight, I decided to sew the Henley placket using a lighter scrap of contrast cotton knit that I had left over from a past project.  I opted to sew the placket using the most fool-proof manner possible – hand sewing!

Even though I love sewing with knits (especially since I know that any knit garment will become a staple in my closet!), I am often filled with trepidation when a design requires me to sew something small or detailed with a knit, such as the Henley placket.  In order to avoid the worry of nicking and unravelling my knit fabric while unpicking crooked topstitching, I simply hand stitch any small details and enjoy the relaxing few extra worry-free minutes that this takes!

To begin the placket, you will first need to prepare the fabric piece by ironing a selection of folds.  These folds will provide you with a guide to apply the interfacing and will later help you fold your placket correctly when it has been attached to the Henley front.  Here are a series of photos to walk you through these steps:

Strathcona Placket 1
Strathcona Placket 2
Strathcona Placket 3

Now you can open up your folded fabric to see your ironed guidelines.

Strathcona Placket 4

Using the ironed guidelines, apply 1” strips of interfacing to the areas either side of the center section.  You may need to re-press your guidelines after applying your interfacing. Then, fold the entire placket in half and press just along the fold to create the center line that you see in the photo below.  This center crease will act as a guide for you to cut along later.

Strathcona Placket 5

On your Henley front, you will have marked the “Placket Placement Line.”  Make sure you are working on the WRONG side of your garment.  This is very important, because if you attach your placket to the right side of the shirt front, your placket will end up backwards later on!

Strathcona Placket 6

Pin the placket’s center crease to this marked line.  Also, place a pin or mark with chalk the future bottom of the placket.  The bottom is indicated by the notches on the left and right of the placket.

Strathcona Placket 7

Now you can sew along the creased lines either side of the center and across the bottom to create a squared off “U” shape.  Cut along the center line through both layers of fabric until approximately 1” from your bottom stitching.  At this point, clip outwards to each corner as pictured below.  Clip quite close to your stitching but be careful not to actually clip over it!

Strathcona Placket 8

Now trim the fabric flaps to 1/8”-1/4” to reduce the bulk.

Strathcona Placket 9

And you are ready to start folding and sewing!  Push the entire placket through the opening you just created and flip the shirt around so you are now looking at the right side of the shirt.  Fold along the creased fold lines so that each side of the placket is sandwiching the trimmed seam allowances.  Pin the right front placket (if you were wearing the shirt) and sew it in place using tiny, invisible stitches from top until bottom (the bottom is where the notches and your stitching are, not the bottom of the placket fabric).  Alternatively, you could topstitch 1/8” from the placket edge using your machine.

Strathcona Placket 10

Before sewing the left placket, you will need to prepare the bottom of the fabric.  Tidy up the loose fabric at the bottom so it becomes a series of 1” folds.

Strathcona Placket 11

Trim all but the top two layers to within ½” from your bottom stitching.  This will reduce the bulk at the bottom of your placket.

Strathcona Placket 12

Fold the bottom fabric under squarely and pin in place.  Now it is time to hand sew the left side of the placket!

Strathcona Placket 13

Continue sewing around the bottom of the placket until all edges are secure.  Press your placket really thoroughly at this point to make sure that the shirt is sitting nicely without any pulling or puckers.

Strathcona Placket 14

For this next step, you could skip all the hand stitching and move directly to finishing the bottom of your placket with topstitching, but you’ll probably notice there are still a lot of areas on the underside of the placket where fabric could shift around and get caught out of place when topstitching.  It’s super quick and easy to just do a few hand stitches to ensure everything stays where it should.  First, turn the garment over so you’re looking at the wrong side of the Henley front.  Tuck the bottom of the placket into the ‘pocket’ made by your previous hand stitching.

Strathcona Placket 15

Stitch where you just tucked so that the fabric can’t sneak out again!

Strathcona Placket 16

You can also open up the placket as pictured below and make a few stitches to join the left and right plackets pieces together across the bottom.

Strathcona Placket 17

Now, the last step is some very visible topstitching which I invariably fail to make perfectly square!  It is possible to stitch a perfect square and cross-lines if you are more precise with your machine stitching than I am, but if you are like me, just embrace the rustic manliness your slightly un-square topstitched square gives your Henley!  Once snaps or buttons are applied and the rest of the garment is sewn, it will blend in nicely.

Strathcona Placket 18

The rest of the Henley is a breeze after this and takes me about an hour to finish from this point!  And voila, Matt has a new sweater to wear for spring hikes and around the campfire (because, in my opinion, these are the perfect sorts of situations to wear an earthy and rugged wool Henley)!

Strathcona Henley


DIY Ironing and Pinning Table November 04 2013

Morgan and I were too excited about the most recent addition to the sewing room to wait for the Friday post! So, without further ado, here it is!

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

 

This DIY tutorial is for an ironing table that is specially designed to pin together duvets, which Morgan sews for The Heather Company. It is also the perfect table for ironing as well as a great cutting mat surface.

This tutorial is for the working surface of the table (which contains several important layers), as the shelves can really be made of anything (but more on that later!)

Here are some things you will need!

  • A sheet of plywood
  • Carpet padding
  • Heavy canvas (12oz to 14oz)
  • Cotton needle punch batting
  • A staple gun
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • Liquid glue

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

The first step is to determine the size you want your table to be. We decided to make it the full width of our spare bedroom (a.k.a. the sewing studio) and 24" deep. This allows the cutting mat to easily sit on top without any overhang. Then, simply cut a piece of plywood to the size you want! The thickness of the plywood all depends on how wide the gap between the shelves will be; ask your local handy-man for help!

Next, get your carpet underlay and cut it with scissors or a box knife to cover the entire surface of the plywood.

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

Do a dry fit first, and then cover your plywood with glue squiggles. I used an all-purpose liquid super glue made by Titan.

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

Next, wait for the glue to dry enough that it holds the carpet padding in place (it doesn't have to completely set). Lay out your canvas with the cotton needle punch on top, then flip the plywood and carpet padding upside-down on top of it all. You should now have the underside of the plywood showing with a layer of carpet padding, cotton needle punch, and canvas underneath. We let the needle punch overlap a couple inches on each side, and then canvas quite a bit more than that - about 6-8 inches.

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

Now comes the fun part! With one person on each end, pull the canvas nice and tight, doing your best to get it stretched in both directions. Fold it up and over the raw side of the plywood and staple it down!

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

Work your way around the whole surface stapling every 6 inches or so. If you get a few staples sticking up, tap them down with a hammer.

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

Next, flip the whole kit-and-kaboodle over and admire your handy-work!

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

The canvas might not be super tight at this point, but as you iron on it, the canvas will shrink and it will make a nice smooth surface.

Next, put it on top of some cupboards/side tables/saw horses/anything you want! My mum and dad had promised Morgan some custom-made cabinets for her birthday, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to cash in! We designed them to have enough space to hold Morgan's Husqvarna machine and her serger, and to have a small slot for her cutting table. My parents went above and beyond and built the cabinets up on small risers and made slide out platforms! We were totally blown away by their sturdy-ness, and we sanded them and applied a coat of black walnut Danish Oil and set them up!

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

DIY Ironing and Pinning Table

All in all, the ironing table-top was a VERY simple process. We did the entire thing (except cutting the plywood) on our living room floor and only had to do a quick vacuum to clean up after! The carpet padding makes a bit of a mess when you cut it... We weren't keeping track of time, but this project could EASILY be done in an an afternoon/evening. And, once the table-top is done, you could put it on anything from filing cabinets to Ikea Expedit cubes!


Grading between sizes for the Jedediah Pants August 14 2013

 

In the images below I've shown you how to grade between sizes 36 and 40 on the Jedediah Pants.  This would be useful if your waist measurement matches our size 40 on the Body Measurement chart while your hips match size 36. The red lines indicate where you should draw new lines using a curved ruler (or eyeballing a smooth curve).  After drawing these lines you can cut out the pattern using the size 40 waistband, the graded lines and then the size 36 legs.

Grading between sizes

I HIGHLY recommend doing a mock up of the pants if you choose to grade between sizes (or before you start to sew your fashion fabric regardless of if you have adjusted the pattern or not as you may find out that you would like to make some adjustments based on your mock-up!).  There are a few potential issues that could be created by grading the pants.  Here are some that I anticipate if your grading is quite extreme and a few suggestions on how to solve them:

1. The front pockets could gape a little too much: If you mock-up the pattern after doing your grading you will see if this is the case.  You can remove the excess fabric by creating a deeper seam allowance for the front of the pants at the waist seam and the side seam (flattening the front of the pants onto the pocket lining and facings).

2. The seat seam might not fit as well as it will the way the pattern was originally drafted: Grading between two sizes will change the curve of the seat seam.  If you are worried about opening the can of worms that adjusting a pant seat seam can be (ug!) then consider leaving the seat seam as is and only doing minimal grading along the side seams.  I know this isn't the correct way to approach things but it is far less intimidating if this is your first time adjusting the fit of a pattern!  Only do this if you are grading up or down ONE size (meaning you only need a small adjustment).  If you DO need to grade the seat seam, try to keep the shape and length of the new curve as similar as possible to the old curve.

3. The thigh area might become too baggy or too tight:  To fix this, you will simply need to extend your grading down the leg further so that the shift between sizes is more gradual.  At the tight or baggy point, make sure to keep your graded line closest to the larger or smaller size accordingly.

But don't let this overwhelm you!  Just purchase some cheap fabric to sew a mock-up (an old bedsheet for instance), and see how the trousers look before cutting in to your final fabric.


Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece August 14 2013

Here is a quick visual tutorial explaining how to lengthen and shorten the pant leg pieces of the pants to help you along the way to a totally custom fit.  This process would apply to any pattern that needs adjusting!

Supplies you will need:

  • For Lengthening only: Paper or tissue the width of your pattern piece (a normal sheet of Letter size paper turned horizontally easily matches the pant leg width)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • A measuring tool - either a ruler or a tape will work fine

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

1) Determine how much length you need to add or subtract from your pattern by measuring the wearer (their inseam, their back length, their arm length or whatever area you are concerned will need adjustments) and comparing this measurement to the body measurements included in the pattern's instruction booklet.  If the wearer's inseam is 34" for instance, while the pattern has a 33" inseam (despite the fact that they fit the waist measurement), then you will need to lengthen the pattern by 1".

2) If your pattern includes a "Lengthen or Shorten Here" line, simply cut along this line, separating the pattern into two pieces.  If you have not been given this line, you can make your own by using a ruler to draw a horizontal line along the part of the pattern with the least amount of flare or taper.  Make sure, if lengthening the body of a garment, to lengthen all corresponding facings and plackets so that the pattern pieces will still fit together later on in the sewing process.

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

3) For Lengthening: Using a ruler or other straight edge, draw a line on your blank piece of paper or tissue so that you can use it as a guide to extend the grain line and thus ensure that your two pieces are being lined up correctly.

For Shortening: Overlap your two pieces the amount you determined in Step 1 and line up the grain line so it forms a straight line.

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

Lay the paper down with the pattern pieces on top of it and line up the pattern's grain line with the one that you drew.

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

The grain line that was drawn on the blank piece of paper (now underneath the two pattern pieces) is lined up perfectly with the grain line of the original pattern piece. The gap between the two pattern pieces measures 1".

Step 4) Tape your pattern pieces down to the paper (or, if shortening, to each other) and blend the curve or straight edge to connect either edge of the pattern.  Cut off the excess paper.

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

Cut off the excess paper. Make sure to blend the new edge smoothly.

Lengthening or Shortening a Pattern Piece

Your lengthened pant leg - 1" longer than before!

It's as simple as that!  The only tricky part is making sure you've remembered to do this to all the pieces that need adjusting (you don't want to forget a shirt button placket or something and accidentally cut it out of fabric while it is still too short...can't say this has ever happened to me...ahem...)

Happy sewing!


How to Assemble a PDF Pattern August 13 2013

How to use a PDF pattern (3 of 13)

We have received several emails lately from people who are excited to get sewing but are unsure of how to best assemble their PDF patterns.

Here is a clear guide for anyone who is new to working with our digital patterns!


 

Download and Open the Pattern

When you purchase a Thread Theory PDF sewing pattern, a download link will appear on your computer screen.  The same download link will also be sent to the email address that you entered during the checkout process.  Click either of these download links to save the pattern folder to your computer.

The pattern folder will likely be saved to your Downloads file.  Find it straight away (before you forget where it has been saved!) and move it to a location on your computer where you will be able to find it in the future - perhaps in your Documents folder.

The pattern folder is a zipped folder - this means that multiple files have been compressed into one tidy folder so that they take up less space.  To unzip the folder with a Windows computer, right click and select Extract All.  To unzip the folder with a Mac, option click and select Extract All.  To access the files from an ipad, you will need the iZip app to unzip the folder.

Examine the Files

Within each PDF pattern folder you will find several PDF files.  To view and print these files you will need a PDF reader installed on your computer.  Many computers will have this reader already but if you do not, you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software here.

  1. Read Me First - Read this first!  This is a small introduction on how to assemble the Print at Home pattern.  You don't need to print this but it is important to read it and refer to the page layout chart when you are taping together your pattern.
  2. Instructions - You can either print these off or you can keep them on your laptop or tablet to refer to while you are sewing.
  3. Print at Home (depending on the pattern, there may be one or several of these) - The rest of this tutorial will explain how to print and work with the Print at Home pattern.
  4. Print Shop - Roll Feed - If you prefer to avoid taping or don't own a printer, give this file to your local print shop.  Specify that the file must be printed without scaling - the pattern pieces need to be full sized.  The Roll Feed file is designed to work with 36" wide wide format printers.  These are commonly found throughout North America.
  5. Print Shop - A0 - This file can be sent to print shops that print on A0 size paper.  Depending on the pattern you are using, you will likely need to tape one or two sheets together (for instance, a trouser leg is longer than one sheet of A0 paper and so it will be spread over two pages).  A0 printers are common in Europe and Australia.  As with the Roll Feed print option, make sure to specify that you would like the file printed full size (without scaling).

 

Print at Home

Let's talk more about using the Print at Home file.  This option is very convenient - you can purchase a pattern and get started with the sewing process immediately!  There is no need to wait for the pattern to ship to you or for the print shop to print your file.  The entire process is in your control.

While Print at Home PDF patterns offer advantages, there are also disadvantages to (depending on your perspective).  Our Print at Home files are designed to print on Letter or A4 sized paper.  This means that you will need to tape or glue together many small sheets of paper to prepare your pattern.  This is a time consuming process.  Some people dislike doing this and others (myself included) find this to be relaxing and even meditative.  I like to spend the assembly time contemplating my fabric and design choices.  Assembling the pattern allows me to familiarise myself with the pattern pieces - it has become part of my creative sewing process!

To print the pages, open up your Read Me First document.  This page of instruction will tell you what page you will find the 3" test square.

Open up the Print at Home file.  Select File > Print and your printer dialogue box will open.  Every dialogue box is slightly different (based on your printer's software) but it will include the same basic options:

  • Printer Scaling: Ensure that 'scaling' is off so that your pattern pieces print at their full size.  Printers tend to default to scaling so that the text or images fit nicely on a page of paper - we don't want this when printing a sewing pattern!  To turn off scaling you will likely need to deselect "Fit to Page" or "Scale to Fit" (depending on your printer software) and select "Actual Size" instead.  Ensure that Scaling is at 100%.
  • Page Size: Underneath where you have just selected "Actual Size", you will see a check box labelled "Choose paper source by PDF page size" (or something very similar).  Make sure this is left un-checked.  If this box is checked, your printer may detect the wrong page size and, as a result, it will cut off either the top and bottom or right and left sides of the page.
  • Single Sided: Also, if your printer has the ability to print double sided pages, make sure that your printer is set to "Single Side" printing...don't print double sided!  You will likely find this option in Properties.
  • Econo Mode: If you would like to save ink/toner and paper, you can often find an "EconoMode" or "Draft Quality" printer setting that allows you to print with less ink. You will likely find this option under Properties > Paper/Quality.  You can also replace the regular paper in your printer with recycled paper.  I like to save up any paper that I have used (but only printed on one side) rather than throwing it in the recycling bin.  That way I can print my PDF pattern on the unused side of the paper!

Print the page with the test square first by selecting the page mentioned in the Read Me First document.  Measure the test square with a ruler.  It should measure exactly 3".  If it does not, your printer still has scaling turned on.  Don't print the rest of the pattern until the square measures 3".

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Print the rest of the pattern by printing all pages.  If you like, you can number each page in the blank margin so that the pages are easy to keep in order even if they get knocked to the ground by a mischievous cat (speaking from experience...).

Assemble the Print At Home Pages

The pages are like tiles that need to be assembled into a single rectangle before you cut out your pattern pieces.  Often times, people that are new to working with PDF patterns try to assemble each pattern piece individually.  It is actually less time consuming and more accurate to tile all of the pages so that you are left with one large page - after which you can cut out your pattern pieces.

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Begin by trimming the right and bottom margins off of each page.  We include scissor markings on every margin that needs to be trimmed.  Trim on the outside of the black border.

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Assemble the pages one row at a time.  It is most accurate to assemble each row and then join the rows together.  It is a common mistake to try to assemble a PDF pattern one page at a time left to right, top to bottom - this can lead to frustration because any inaccuracies in taping will grow larger by the time you get to the bottom right corner.  Assembling in rows is much easier and it doesn't take up so much space on your table or floor!

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You can use glue or tape (or both) to attach each page together.  Place the pages so that the remaining margin overlaps underneath the next page.  The two triangles featuring a number and letter will match together to create a diamond.  Spread glue along the entire margin or place a piece of tape or two on each pattern piece.

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Once all of your rows are assembled, you can tape or glue them together to create one large rectangle.  If you are lacking in floor or table space you can tape together two or three rows and then cut out any whole pattern pieces roughly.

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Continue to tape two or three rows at a time until all pattern pieces are cut out.  You will be left with a manageable pile of pattern pieces to trim carefully.  I use this method on my dining room table and my outdoor picnic table - it's very handy because it means I don't have to crawl around on my hands and knees around a big rectangle of paper on the floor!

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Use and Store the Pattern

You can also leave the entire rectangle assembled and trace out the pattern in the size that you need.  This way you can roll up the rectangle and store it as a complete 'master' pattern so it is ready to use when you want to sew a different size or variation of the same pattern.  Alternatively, you can just print out and assemble the pattern any time you need a new copy - that is one of the best aspects of using a PDF pattern!

There are many ways that you can store your printed PDF patterns - you can roll them up with an elastic or ribbon or you can fold them up and put them in an envelope or in a plastic insert within a binder.

If you fold your pattern pieces, flatten them out before using them again by putting an iron on low heat with no steam.  Use a pressing cloth underneath and on top of the pattern piece (so that you don't melt the tape or transfer the printer ink to your ironing board or iron) and press gently.

This is how I store my PDFs - I love being able to rifle through my pattern selection!

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If you have any unanswered questions about working with PDF patterns, please have a look at our FAQ page or email me (Morgan) at info@threadtheory.ca.  I would be happy to help you out!