Hey guys! Well, it looks like it’s finally starting to warm up out here on the east coast, so I think it’s definitely time to talk about this wintery vest before it gets packed away until next year!
School and work haven’t left me with too much free time to blog lately, even though I’ve still been sewing here and there. These photos were actually taken back in February or March when I finished this… right before one of our big winter storms hit. It started snowing just as we were finishing up.
As soon as we were done, I threw my big winter coat back on and we ran the steps inside the building to try and warm up as quickly as possible. Looking at these photos still makes me feel a little chilly, haha. Wow, it was cold!
Okay, so, to be honest, I’ve never really been a vest person. I mean, vests are basically just COATS WITHOUT ARMS, right??
They’re sort of like… the puffy, sleeveless tee of the winter world.
So why would you wear something that’s essentially just a puffy sleeveless tee when it’s cold out? They’ve always sort of seemed like an unnecessary layer to me. I mean, even with another shirt else underneath, don’t your arms get cold?
I just didn’t get it.
But then, over the holidays, I was cruising the Purl Bee website for one of their knitting patterns and saw this. Their chambray version is really cute. Plus, it has polka dots! Polka dots sort of make everything cute. All of the cute polka dot chambray fabric was sold out everywhere online though, so that was sort of a bummer. But it was still really tempting.
At the time, I just filed the pattern away as a “maybe” project away for later, but I kept thinking about it. And thinking about it…
I mean, the description on the Purl Bee page says that “It’s like a comfy blanket that you get to wear all day long but with its clean lines and delicate collar shaping, much more fashionable!”
LIKE A BLANKET? THAT YOU GET TO WEAR? ALL DAY LONG?
… but still fashionable?
But really, they had me at “comfy blanket.”
This was back around the time that it got REALLY cold here. And the idea of having some deliciously puffy, fluffy, quilted thing to toss on over the rest of my clothes before heading out to a class or a meeting in, ummm, Anarctica (to this west coaster, anyway!), sort of sounded really, really nice.
So I picked out my fabric (this Robert Kaufman herringbone flannel and some Liberty of London Tana Lawn in the Josephine’s Garden print – it only took one yard!!), some bamboo batting (this size was enough to cut out two layers of batting for the size small vest with a few small pieces left over), printed out the pattern (btw, it’s free!), and got started.
I had a little bit of sewing time one afternoon and thought I’d be casually tossing this on and enjoying my new “fashionable comfy blanket” as I headed out the door the next morning. I mean, there were only twelve pages to tape together, just two pattern pieces, and it’s not a fitted garment – so there wouldn’t be any wacky fit issues to fiddle with.
Easy breezy, right?
I figured it would be a pretty fast project.
Yeah… it wasn’t, haha.
I think I finished cutting out and quilting all the pieces together and maaaybe making about half of the bias tape in that amount of time.
Then there was the matter of sewing all of the bias tape onto the vest.
You see, once one side of the bias tape gets sewn on with your machine, the pattern calls for you to hand stitch the other side down for a clean look. Somehow, I’d entirely overlooked that part during my first read through of the instructions.
I stared at the huge heap of me-made bias tape and briefly considered just sewing it all onto the vest with my machine, but ultimately decided to trudge ahead and follow the pattern instructions by hand sewing it AAAAALL on there.
It took days. I wish I were joking! I think I hand-sewed bias tape each evening, for about an hour, for the better part of a week.
That might sound horrible (and at first it sort of was), but after I got over not being able to wear the vest right away and I just sat down and started working, I also started to remember how much I actually really like hand-sewing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful for sewing machines and all sorts of modern technology, but there’s also something really relaxing about sitting down with your project and a cup of coffee or tea and just getting your sewing zen on as you finish stitching a garment.
(The bias tape got a little wonky here at the shoulder seam, but I still love the clean finish on the inside of this.)
Unfortunately, even after washing, some faint yellow lines from the Clover chalk pen I used are still visible up close. It’s weird, because I’ve never had that happen before. It’s not a huge deal because the markings are mostly at the top (on the inside of the vest), but I’m still hoping they’re not permanent and will come out the next time it’s washed.
Tips & Tricks: As far as sizing goes, I’d recommend sizing down at least one size if you make this, especially if you want a tighter/slightly less boxy fit because the sizing is quite generous. According to my bust measurement, I should have cut out a medium (36-38 in), but I decided to go with the small (32-35 in) after reading a comment on the project page where someone said that they were a 35 inch D cup and the size small fit them just fine. I would still consider going down one more size next time though, or possibly adding a slight bit of shaping if I were to add buttons or a zipper.
It’s also worth noting that I thought that the vest was way too big and shapeless before I washed it, but after I washed it (gently, with special gentle detergent, in cold water) and tumble dried it (on low, until almost completely dry), it puffed up and looked much more nicely “quilted.” Even though I’d pre-washed all of the fabric beforehand, it also seemed to shrink again slightly and just had a nicer shape after washing – so if you sew this one up and it’s not fitting like you expected it to, I definitely recommend washing and drying first!
Overall, despite all of my complaining, I ended up really liking this pattern and I would make it again. I’d love to make a plaid version next year, maybe with a pockets and a zipper like Sara‘s awesome Pendleton(!) version. I wouldn’t say that I’m a vest convert or anything (my arms still tend to get a little chilly, even with a longer sleeved shirt)… but I definitely have a new appreciation for them. This was also the first garment I’ve tackled that included quilting techniques and that was a fun challenge as well. The pattern isn’t terribly difficult or tricky, just keep in mind that there are a lot of layers to cut out and quilt together, and if you choose to hand sew all of that bias tape, it might take a lot longer than you expect!
Sooooo… are you a vest person? Is this pattern on your winter sewing list?