One may be living under a rock, and even then one would know that vests is the new black this spring! I’ve never owned a vest, and of course why would I – that is such an unnecessary garment, if I think of it well. It does not provide any warmth or proper coverage, or has any real function, it exists for the sole purpose of fancyness. AND it is notoriously difficult to get in a perfect fit! So yeah – a princess of the wardrobe, if you will. So of course, when would you acquire a vest? When you can make it yourself! And here it is – my awesome blue wool vest!
I’ve wanted to make a vest since the very moment vests had emerged as such a trend for this spring. Of course, mine was supposed to be a wool vest because – well, let’s try and squeeze at least some warmth out of it, if only possible. And quite predictably, I had a piece of blue twill worsted wool left after making my previous wool dress, so there I was – with everything panning out nicely for a vest project. A vest requires little fabric, some 70 cm only, so it can be an excellent leftover project, and in this case it was indeed.
As for the pattern, there are quite a few really good vest patterns out there – I was seriously considering Just Patterns Veronica vest pattern, and there are also more. But eventually I settled on Vikisews Lillian vest pattern. Reasons for this choice were twofold: I liked double pocket welts better than single welts of Veronica vest, and also according to my measurements I figured that Lillian vest would require (hopefully) fewer adjustments. But when it came to it, there were many adjustments needed still.
Preparation and adjustments
First I made a toile / mock-up. It is a must in preparing to sew a vest. It is such a tricky garment really, fit may go wrong in so many different ways and lines, that it is only with a toile that one can decide on the fit and plan for necessary adjustments. Starting with measurements, I had a matching bust measurement to the one of the pattern (84 cm), but my waist measurement was quite a bit off (mine 71 cm, pattern 64 cm), so sorting that difference out was the largest challenge. When I encounter a significant difference in one measurement, I always refer to the indicated ease that is taken into account while drafting a pattern. In this case the pattern indicated that waistline ease was approximately 9 cm. Theoretically 64+9 cm would have been enough for my wider waist, but just. I knew that it would clearly have made for a wrong fit. I needed to widen the waist of my vest by some 6-8 cm ideally and that’s a lot, really. I could not touch seam allowances of front panels as all sorts of things related with pockets were happening there, so instead I widened pattern blocks across side seams and back seams by some 1 cm on each side and for each pattern piece. That was done while cutting paper pattern blocks and with those adjusted measurements I cut and made a toile, which revealed a number of additional adjustments that were necessary:
- I was a bit concerned about the neckline gaping, so I decided to lift a cleavage point up by 1 cm and hoped that interfacing tape attached to the neckline should also make the neckline lay flat.
- Neckline seam allowance was to be reduced to 0.7 cm instead of regular 1 cm to further reduce the neckline opening.
- The vest was a tiny bit narrow at the bottom, but I did not want to widen front pieces at the opening due to potential neckline gaping, so instead I changed the tilt of the front opening – you should be able to see in the picture below what I did for the front opening.
- Seam allowances at the middle back were reduced to give more ease around shoulder blades.
This is a truly sculpted vest, so making all these meticulous adjustments was very important for it to fit me impeccably.
I started the process by interfacing all of the fabric, as recommended in the instructions, for that I used lightweight interfacing. To add stability to seams that need it, interfacing tape was attached on top. You can see which seams were interfaced in that way here:
The first actual sewing step was to deal with front pieces and then install pockets. These are very proper, working pockets. They may never be used, but knowing that this is not imitation is important to me. Or I may be putting a credit card in one of those pockets, who knows 🙂 How pocket installation went and how welt stitching lines were stabilized with interfacing tape can be seen in the pictures below.
With pockets out of the way, next steps were less intimidating. I made back straps and joined three back pieces together. Then I joined the front with the back at shoulder seams and side seams. Right? Wrong! Side seams are supposed to get sewn very late in the process, after the entire lining is attached to the neckline and armholes. But at that point I had not yet figured that out, instead there was a nice opportunity to try my vest on, and it was fitting me really well.
Next step was to make the lining, which went uneventfully. However, joining the main vest with the lining is quite a feat! Lining a jacket is easier than lining a vest, because for the vest there are so many places where the lining may be peeking out, and it shouldn’t! Also, there is certain sequence of steps that needs to be followed because otherwise things won’t work out. So first, lining is attached to the main vest at armholes, these seams are pressed and under-stitched. Then the neckline and front opening are stitched together, again, this long continuous seam is under-stitched. Finally the hems are stitched together (while sewing the lining up I left one small opening at one side seam to be able to turn everything right side out). Hem seam is crucial, that’s in a way a reality check if the lining had been cut impeccably, so that it would not be peeking out. Finally, with all of that done I was ready to turn my vest right side out, carefully press the hem seam and try the vest on. It was fitting me really well!
Last few things were to close the opening in the lining, stitch button holes and attach buttons. I closed the opening by hand using slip stitch. Instead of recommended 4 buttons I decided to attach 5 for a more balanced look. As usual, I stopped breathing while stitching button holes, because more often than not something goes wrong at this step. And I couldn’t afford it this time, for my wool was too fine to sustain button hole ripping. Luckily, this time around I managed to stitch all 5 button holes without an incident. To cut them open I chose a special buttonholes cutting tool that looks like a small chisel. I haven’t used it before actually, but it worked really well this time – not a single thread was damaged in the cutting process. I attached buttons and with that my first ever vest was complete!
For this vest I used some 0.70 m of leftover superfine twill worsted wool in this beautiful blue color and similar piece of matching blue lining in polka dot pattern (51 % acetate / 49 % viscose). Both fabrics were bought few years ago from Fabworks Mill Shop. Pattern used here is Lillian vest by Vikisews patterns. Other notions were: some 0.50 m of lightweight interfacing, few meters of interfacing tape, 5 buttons of 17 mm diameter, 2 metal half-rings for back waistline straps, and coordinating leftover thread (Gutermann no. 310). This vest cost me 20 Eur. It was made in March, 2023.
I absolutely and truly LOVE this vest! It was a difficult project, perhaps disproportionately difficult for the size of the garment. However it is only to substantiate how complex a structure a good vest design has. This vest is meant to be worn closed without anything underneath it. In order for this to be possible, its armholes are quite small and it provides a decent coverage of chest area. I am planning to style this vest with white pants, but that’s for summer and really warm weather. Whereas for spring I may want to wear it with jeans and white blazer on it. Really looking forward for warmer weather and those fancy vest styles that I’ll be able to create with it.
While making this vest I was planning to make another one in brown wool that my dear mother-in-law have gifted to me – that’s one more vintage fabric from her decades old stash, I’ve already used one fabric of hers and made a beautiful purple vintage jacket. And to accompany that brown vest I was thinking of making pants out of the same fabric. I’m terribly intimidated by pants, so will need to harness enough self conviction to dive into this double-project. Fingers crossed!
Thanks for visiting my blog and I’ll see you next time!
4 thoughts on “Fancy wool vest”
You’ve done such an excellent job with this vest Giedre! It really fits beautifully.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Diane! 💙 It was a truly fun and exciting project, would repeat again with pleasure.
Thank you for the great detail about interfacing and stabilizing the edges. This is great information!
I am so glad you found this information useful! Interfacing and stabilizing seams is a very important step in jacket or vest making. It makes sharp edges and adds wearing comfort to a garment.