Friday, August 8, 2014

In the Studio with Morgan from Thread Theory Designs

There are a lot of patterns out there. From your basic pant, to a intricate evening gown, you can find a pattern for almost anything. But the market lacks one thing...men's sewing patterns. I feel bad for men that may like to sew or for women that want to make handmade clothing for the men in their lives. There is a shortage of this in the sewing world and that is one of the many reasons why Thread Theory Designs was created! Morgan graciously accepted my request to interview her for the blog. Enjoy learning a little bit about this flourishing business!


Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m delighted to be interviewed for the Fabric Mart blog!  My name is Morgan and I am one half of the Thread Theory Designs team.  I work with my husband Matt to create menswear sewing patterns. We began Thread Theory because we wanted to give sewers access to modern and stylish sewing patterns so they could create menswear garments equivalent (or superior!) in style, fit, and quality to those found in their favorite ready-to-wear stores. We currently have five patterns available in both print and PDF and one free PDF pattern on our website.  We also stock kits and high quality sewing supplies, all with an understated masculine appearance – you won’t find pink pincushions in our store!


What is a typical work day like?
I’m very lucky in that a typical work day for me involves getting out of bed and heading to the Thread Theory ‘studio’ right down the hall in my own home!  I’m currently working full time on Thread Theory while Matt works full time elsewhere and fits in Thread Theory tasks after work.  Most of my days are divided between working on the computer (writing our blog, creating pattern instruction booklets, providing customer service, and creating sew-alongs and tutorials) and working in the sewing room where I design garments and sew sample after sample.  We have our patterns drafted by Sabine, a very talented pattern maker who runs the company Suncoast Custom  I hope to add a bit of teaching to my routine and will make a start at this later in the summer.  I’m looking forward to helping out at some Comox Trunk sewing workshops at The Makehouse in Victoria, British Colombia and will be teaching a Comox Trunks class at a new sewing convention called CREATE later in the fall.

What made you want to be a pattern designer?
While I have always loved creative pursuits and have enjoyed sewing as a hobby since I was a teenager, I didn’t consider sewing as a career until I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree and found myself unsure of what direction I wanted to go in next.  With the end of this stint of education and a period of working rather uninspiring jobs, the one ever-growing constant in my life became my love of sewing!  Around this same time I began to notice more and more indie-pattern companies emerging.  I longingly thought of starting an indie pattern company as being my dream job but dismissed it as unrealistic because it didn’t match my education or all my life goals up until that point.  One day I realized, why should the past determine what I did with my future?  And Matt and I also knew that if we were to fill the menswear niche (which was shockingly empty) we had to do it before anyone else did!  So, during a road trip across Canada we discussed all the exciting details of starting our company and dove in!

Stratchcona Henley 
Did you go to school for fashion? If so, where? If not, how did you get into what you’re doing?
To prepare myself to start Thread Theory, I attended a year of a Fashion Design Program at the Pacific Design Academy in Victoria, British Columbia.  I was lucky that class sizes were very small and so I was able to cater my learning experience towards my goal of beginning Thread Theory.  All my teachers were very helpful and by the end of the year I had developed the confidence and also the contacts and business plan needed to start our business.

What inspires the patterns you make?
My main inspiration for our menswear patterns comes from the beautiful parks and landscapes we have in British Columbia.  So far we have divided our patterns into two collections: The Parkland Collection and The Alpine Collection.  Our Parkland patterns are slim fitting casual designs that are perfect for an active but relaxed lifestyle – you could wear them strolling through the woods but would also look stylish and trendy enough for coffee downtown.  Our Alpine Collection consists of more purpose-built garments for rugged activity.  They have more of a relaxed, classic fit than our Parkland Collection and are perfect for hiking up mountains or getting dirty in the workshop or garden.  We’ve started from the base layer (trunks and an undershirt) and are working our way to the outer shell with this collection – we’re really excited about the next couple patterns that we have in the works for it!


Who is your favorite fashion designer?
I am very inspired by the designers behind Wings & Horns, a Vancouver-based clothing company.  I also love Filson.  I don’t follow runway fashion closely but used to love anything produced by Alexander McQueen and I enjoy Vivienne Westwood’s menswear designs.  I must say, the fashion designers that I follow the closest are my fellow indie pattern company designers!  I am always very inspired by Katie of Papercut Patterns and Tasia of Sewaholic

What is the best thing about what you do? The hardest thing?
My very favorite part of running Thread Theory is seeing the garments that people have made using our patterns and hearing the stories behind their styling choices and sewing experience.  For instance, when we held the Comox Trunks Sew-along several months ago, I felt so lucky to be met with a very inspiring flood of Comox Trunks pictures.  Hearing about the laughs had during photo shoots, about husband and wife fabric shopping expeditions, and about sewing learning experiences from all around the world is amazing.  Despite living in a small community with few local sewers, I feel very connected with a huge network of amazing people through Thread Theory!

I would say the hardest part of running my own business is turning off the computer and living life at the end of the day.  I constantly have to remind myself that my deadlines and my goals are self-imposed and can be adjusted without resulting in a world-wide catastrophe.  I am a very tough boss to work under as I am always expecting way too much from myself and can simply only get so much done in a day!

Comox Trunks

Out of all the sewing patterns you created, which is your favorite?
My very favorite of our patterns is the Jedediah Pants.  This is because I put a lot of effort into the finishing details for these trousers – the instruction booklet teaches you how to create French seamed front pockets, how to flat fell the inseams and how to apply bias binding to create a high end pair of pants!  We also have a sew-along for these pants complete with a video to show you how to sew the fly!

Jedediah Pants and Shorts
Do you have a favorite pattern designer, (other than yourself!)?
My favorite pattern designer is Tasia of Sewaholic.  She happens to run her business out of Vancouver which is only a short ferry ride away from me!  Her instructions are always so clear and thoughtful but are brief and thus easy to use at the same time.  I really like this happy medium she has achieved because I can use the instructions as an advanced sewer without skipping over piles of text but beginner sewers will find they have all the information they need.  Her designs and patterns themselves are excellent as well, while her blog and her new book are great resources that every sewer should be aware of.  And, to top it off, she runs her business so professionally and successfully! 

What is your favorite fabric type?
I really enjoy working with natural fibers such as linen and wool.  I love top-stitching and ironing seams crisply, so these sorts of wovens really work well with my favorite sewing projects.  Lately I have been sewing with and wearing a lot of knits and have found I enjoy wearing knits with a bamboo content the most (as they are often quite lustrous and drape nicely).  So I guess I have two sorts of favorite fabrics – my sewing favorites and my wearing favorites!


Stratchcona Henley

What is your favorite sewing tool?
My favorite tool is most certainly my industrial sewing machine.  I love the simplicity of the machine – there is no fiddling with buttons and feet, I can just flip a switch and get straight to sewing!  On a smaller scale, I really love my Merchant & Mills glass head pins (which we happen to stock in our shop! Click on their name to be directed to our site.) They are really sharp and won’t melt under an iron – which is perfect for me as I am constantly forgetting to remove pins!

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all?
Matt and I love camping as a way to get away from everything.  We have the perfect little tent that takes us just a couple minutes to set up.  We enjoy hiking, foraging for edible plants (our latest past time…not one we are very successful at yet!), and cooking dinner over the camp fire.  When we don’t have time to get away overnight our favorite way to relax is to have a pizza night!  We make the dough ourselves and experiment with the wildest of pizza toppings – our latest included grapes (delicious!).

What is your favorite food?
Oops, I think I just answered that question!  My favorite food is homemade pizza – both due to the taste and due to the fun time we have making it together.

What is the most common fabric/sewing-related question people ask you?
I get a lot of emails and blog comments asking where to source menswear fabrics.  Of course, a good option would be Fabric Mart!  Sewers are always on the lookout for manly knits for our Newcastle Cardigan and Strathcona Henley patterns.  Aside from this, I also receive many emails with photos of mock-ups and enjoy providing fitting suggestions.

What is one fashion trend you love? Hate?
I really love the menswear trend towards more flamboyant prints on t-shirts.  I think small scale floral t-shirts can look really nice and would love to be able to convince Matt the same (I’m getting close!).  As much as I really like interesting socks and appreciate the overly fitted suit trend with extra short pants, I don’t think it is a very wearable trend for many body types and hope that more relaxed fitting trousers and suits come back in style soon to give the majority of men a chance to be stylish!

Are you working on any new patterns? Can you give us any behind-the-scenes info?
Yes!!! We always have a new pattern or two in the works.  Currently we are working on four different patterns – two of which will be added to our Alpine Collection this Fall and two of which are a complete surprise…I can’t even give any hints yet but you will be able to find out more soon through our blog and newsletter. 

**One of these have come out since I interviewed Morgan--- The Finlayson Sweater! 


Finlayson Sweater

Thank you Morgan for taking time to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Thread Theory Designs! Stay tuned, because one of our Fabricista's, Shannon from Shanni Loves, will be sharing with us a completed Stratchcona Henley she made for her husband!

1 comment:

  1. I did not know of this company until I read your profile here. Sounds like a great resource for the missing men patterns indeed. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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