Tag Archive | vest

Applying The Lessons Learned

IMG_0016After being so pleased with the construction process of the dinosaur vest, and then so flustered by the construction of the ant jar vest, I wanted to make another vest. And in the process I wanted to apply the lessons that I had learned and to end the vest making process on a more positive note.

So, I grabbed some more bottom weight scraps from my pile and some monkey printed flannel and I got started! As I laid out the fabric to cut, I spied some pleather that I had waiting to make its way it to the stash. Oh yes! I would give this vest a pleather collar and welt pleather pockets to step up the style!

DSCN3956With the design completed, I started to cut out the fabric. Because I was working with scraps, I did not have a single piece big enough to cut the back of the vest on the fold, so I would need to add a back seam to this vest. A back seam would not affect the wear or the construction of the vest so I saw no problems in having a back seam. Applying the lessons learned from the previous vest constructions, I remembered to cut the extra inch for the buttons on the fronts of both the top fabric and the lining. I also remembered that I wanted to add some interfacing to the pleather the next time I used it. Soon, I had all the pieces cut out, interfaced, and I was ready to start sewing.

DSCN3957The first step in the sewing process was the embroidering of the monkey design. Remembering the lessons learned from before about placement, I thought long and hard about the placement of the embroidery design versus the size of the design and the collar before I finally hooped the fabric and stitched the design. When the design was completed, I saw that I was not going to have an issue with the collar covering the design. If fact, I had over compensated and I was wishing that the design was a little higher than it was. Even though, the monkey design is the best placed embroidery design I have done on these vests, I still have a few placement lessons left to learn.

DSCN3700The next step was to sew the pleather welted pockets. As I debated about the placement of the welts, the husband peaked over my shoulder to see what I was doing. When I showed him the pleather welts, he said no, that I should make patch pockets like on the dinosaur vest from the pleather. I explained to him that I already had the welt pockets cut out and interfacing applied to the pleather welts, but he insisted that I should cut new patch pockets from the pleather instead. Since I know that the husband has a good eye for design I followed his lead and cut out some new patch pockets from the pleather and sewed them on the front of the vest. The pockets came out great! The pleather was easy to sew and the pockets look very good on the front of the vest. Plus, the monkey embroidery design sits at the top of the pockets so it is now not too low.

DSCN3702When it came to the pleather collar and the pockets, I remembered lessons learned about using a press cloth to iron the pleather. I top stitched the edge of the collar so that it would match the stitching on the pleather patch pockets. The rest of the sewing process went smoothly, even the stitch in the ditch seam of the band.

When it came time for the buttons and buttonholes, I applied the lessons learned from the previous vest’s buttons and buttonholes. I decided not to have a button at the top of the vest, but to place the first button so the vest was open as I expected the vest to be worn. I then spaced the other buttons appropriately. The buttons looked like they were in the right place and there was no seam issues when sewing the buttonholes.

DSCN3963I am super pleased with the end results of this vest! It is just adorable!

And as much as I hate to say it, the husband was right and I just love the pleather patch pockets!

The pleather patch pockets are just perfect with the monkey embroidery design and the pleather collar.

Plus, I am super pleased with myself for remembering and applying the lessons learned from previous sewing projects.

I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing this vest as much as I have enjoyed making it. With the success of this vest, I am ready to more on from vest construction to other sewing projects, but I will happily make more vests at anytime.

Until then, sew forth and apply your lessons learned on!

Advertisements

Some Lessons Learned For Next Time – Part 2

Continuing on with the sewing of the denim ants in a jar vest…

DSCN3525The next step in the sewing process was to add the pockets. Since I really did not have a pattern for the side seam pockets, I decided I would design and sew them how I wanted. In designing the pockets, I wanted the fun flannel I was using to make the pockets to show, so I decided to cut a rectangle from the sides of the jacket fronts. But, how big should I cut the rectangle? After some thought, I cut the rectangle what I thought the size should be, 5 inches tall by 1 inch deep, and then cut the pockets to match. With this size of square, I would place the pocket 1.5 inches from the bottom of the fronts.

DSCN3524In the sewing process, I noticed right away that I had a good size opening for the pockets but not much depth to the pockets. I should have cut the opening square shorter and used that extra length for the pocket depth. It was too late now though as the fabric was already cut. So, the finished pockets are very cute and the flannel is showing, and the pockets will certainly keep the wearer’s hands warm but the pockets won’t be too useful for hold many items due to their short depth. Another lesson learned for the next time!

DSCN3530The next step was to add the bottom band which was a little difficult due to the stiffness and weight of the denim. I had to use a little liquid stitch to help hold the denim in place to start and stop the stitch in the ditch seam. There was a lot of bulk from the denim front, the seam allowance from attaching the band, and the folded over finish of the band, i.e. 5 layers, in this seam. I trimmed the seam allowance but it was still bulky and difficult for my sewing machine to get started on this final band seam, but I made it through it ok.

DSCN3531The final step was to add the buttons. I measured evenly to place the buttons, but when it came to sewing them on, I had to move the top button down slightly due to the bulky denim seam at the top of the vest. This left the buttons mis-spaced slightly. The top button is not quite high enough to keep the vest closed around the neck if it is worn closed. If the top button is left undone, the vest opens a little too much before the next button. This could have been avoided by sewing horizontal buttonholes and avoiding the DSCN3928 (1)bulky denim seam at the top, but because of the pieced strip on the front of the vest to add the extra inch, I had to make the buttonholes vertical. If I had given the placement of the buttons versus the bulky denim seams a little more thought before I started to sew, I could have placed the buttons better. Another lesson learned for next time!

Now that the vest is complete, I am pleased with the end results. I also think the vest will wear just fine, and I hope some kid will enjoy wearing it too. Many lessons were learned from the making of this vest and I hope to remember all these lessons and apply the lessons to my future sewing projects.

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Some Lessons Learned For Next Time – Part 1

DSCN3928 (2)My latest sewing project was destined to be yet another learning experience for me.

After the successful sewing of the dinosaur vest, I wanted to make another vest. When I made the dinosaur vest, I had envisioned so many different options and fabrics for these vests, so this made it easy to decide that my next sewing project would be to make some of these vest options a reality!

The designing of this vest was not difficult at all. When I was picking out the fabric for the dinosaur vest, I had also pulled out a denim scrap that was just big enough to make a vest and a greenish blue flannel with yellow bug outlines from the stash. I could see a vest from these two pieces of fabric and I knew that I would sew one of my favorite embroidery designs, some ants escaping from a glass jar, on the front. Because of the large size of the embroidery design, I would give this vest side seam pockets rather than patch pockets.

With the design of the vest all outlined, it was time to cut it out and get sewing!
DSCN3931 (1)When I laid out the pattern pieces of Simplicity 8902, on the denim fabric, I remembered that I needed to add an inch to each front for the button overlap. I carefully laid the pattern pieces out correctly to cut the extra inch, but then I promptly cut along the edge of the pattern piece as shown on the pattern and I did not add the extra inch. How dumb was that? Well it was done now and I couldnt undo it so I decided it was a lesson to be learned for the next time I make this pattern.

The denim scrap that I had was not big enough to cut two new fronts, so instead I cut two 1.5 inch strips of the denim to add to the fronts of the vest. The strip would look like an intended button placket rather than a fix, so all was good despite the cutting error that I made. After cutting out all the pieces and remembering to add the extra inch to the front of the lining, it was time to being sewing.

DSCN3930 (1)The sewing process started with embroidering the design to the front of the jacket. I remembered that I wanted to do the embroidering first before adding the pockets to keep the pockets out of the way of the embroidery. I also remembered that I wanted to move the embroidery design down so that there would not be an issue with the collar covering some of the design.

What I had forgotten was that the ants embroidery design is two inches taller than the dinosaur design and I did not remember to take that into account when positioning the design. So, even though I moved the design down on the vest, the top of the design was still higher than I wanted it due to the extra height of the design. After stitching the design to the front of the vest, I realized that the top of the ant design was still going to be under the collar, and not just at the edge of the collar like the dinosaur design but that the ant at the top was going to be under the collar. That will be another lesson learned for next time I use this design!

DSCN3932 (1)Flustered even more, I now had to come up with a solution to fix the collar/embroidery design problem. I thought about making this vest collarless or adding a standing ribbing collar that would not fold over, but I did not like the look of these options.

I decided to see if I could just shorten the collar enough so that it would not cover the ants but it would still fold over and look ok. To do that I cut over an inch ff the bottom of the collar. The collar looks a little small now that it is done, but it works just fine. The collar lays right at the edge of the top ant’s antenna, and with a little encouragement, the stiff denim will fold over just enough to cover the collar seam. Still not being totally pleased with the collar, I continued on with the sewing process to the next steps.

But that’s a story for next time.

Until then, sew forth and ant on!

Invested

DSCN1372DSCN2485 (1)Do you ever have a pattern speak to you when you see it?

Me! Me! Me! Sew me next! Sew me next! Pick me! Pick me!

Well, this pattern did not just speak to me, it screamed at me!

The minute I saw this free vest pattern on the internet, I abandoned all of my other sewing plans.

Since I could not ignore its request to be sewn next, a boy’s vest became my next sewing project.

DSCN2491DSCN2492What caught my attention about this vest pattern was the endless creative possibilities that it presented.

From the fabric I would use to make this vest, to the type of pockets I would sew, to the embroidery and details I would stitch, there were dozens of designs decisions to be made.

First off, I picked the fabric. I choose some sport weight scraps for the outer layer of this vest and some flannel for the lining.

I did question using flannel for the lining though.

The smooth slippery fabric of a lining helps with taking an item on and off. Flannel is not smooth or slippery and would actually make it more difficult to pull an item on and off.

But, since this is a vest, i.e. without sleeves, I figured the flannel would be fine to use. Plus, it would add a layer of warmth to the vest, and as an added bonus, I would be using some of the flannel hiding in the stash and most importantly, I could incorporate the print of the flannel with the embroidery design that I would be stitching on it. So, it was not difficult to pick the dinosaur flannel fabric for the lining and a dinosaur embroidery design.

DSCN1364DSCN1365When it came to deciding on pockets, I liked the patch pockets that were used on the pattern so I decided to make them.

The pockets are not just typical patch pockets so there would probably be something new for me to learn from sewing them.

I started the process by downloading the pattern, printing it out, taping it together, cutting it out, and then throwing it away. Yes, you read that right. I threw it away.

DSCN1373DSCN2488As I laid the pattern pieces on the fabric, I did not like the way they looked at all. I couldn’t get the shoulder seams to match and the armscye looked misshaped.

I could see many problems occurring during the sewing process using that pattern and I did not want to waste my time or fabric on a doomed project.

I was disappointed to say the least.

I was so excited to make this vest and I had already put so much planning into it’s design that I did not want to just abandon the project.

So I turned to my pattern stash and what do you know! Lying right on top was a jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902.

Could I possibly use this jacket pattern to make a vest by just leave the sleeves off?

DSCN2487DSCN2486 (1)I did not know the answer to this question but I was certainly willing to find out.

I began to cut out the pieces for this vest from it. Since I was going to use buttons instead of a zipper, I added an extra 1 inch to the front pieces.

I also ironed on a strip of interfacing to this extra inch to strengthen it for the buttons.

My first step in the sewing process was to sew the pockets on the front of the vest.

Embroidering the dinosaur design was next. Then I sewed the shoulder seams and collar. It was then that I realized I should have reversed these steps. The collar is slightly covering the top the embroidery design. If the design had been any bigger, it would have been hidden under the collar.

The next time, I will sew the shoulder seams and attach the collar first and then embroider the design placing it so the collar is not in its way. Then I will attach the pockets last.

DSCN1368DSCN1369This way I will have no problem hooping the fabric for the embroidering without the pockets on the front, and after embroidering, I can place the pockets over the fabric that was hooped.

The original vest pattern had a bottom band. I liked the look of the band so I decided to keep it on this vest, so I cut the vest and lining 2 inches shorter than the pattern called for to accommodate the bottom band. Because of the bottom band, it was easy to sew the lining to the vest.

With right sides together, I sewed around the vest and lining before sewing the side seams then turned it inside out and sewed the side seams. After a lot of pressing, I sewed the band to the front side of the vest and lining and then folded it to the back and stitched in the ditch to finish up the band.

DSCN1374DSCN2490 (1)The last step was to sew the buttonholes and buttons.

I sewed vertical buttonholes so that my buttonholer would not have to move over the pockets. I don’t believe that vertical buttonholes will make a difference in how the vest wears.

In the end the vest turned out absolutely adorable!

I just love it, and it was so much fun to design and make that I can’t wait to make another one.

I have not given this vest to anyone yet so I do not have a “wear test” to tell me whether a jacket without sleeves makes for an acceptable vest, but it looks good to me.

I could always make the armscye a little bigger on the next vest to ease my mind and the fit.

So until the next time, sew forth and vest on!

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 2 of 2

IMG_0075Sewing the lining and fur together was the next step that I needed to complete my fur vest project. I had planned to follow the pattern guide and sew from the side seam, across the bottom front hem and then up one side of the vest, around the neck, down the other side of the vest and back across the bottom of the other front and back to the side seam.

It all sounded simple enough of course, but alas it was not. I quickly learned that I did not want to do this as one big continuous seam. So I broke in up into several seams instead. I first started by sewing around the neck, then I sewed down each side of the front of the vest, and then across the bottoms. Breaking up this big seam seemed to give me more control over attaching the fur and lining together and I think it worked out better in the end.

P1040036Across the bottom of the fronts and back where the hem lines were, was the most difficult part of stitching the lining especially across the back. I finally broke the back seam up into two seams, sewing from one side to the middle and then from the other side to the middle. I doubt this was the proper way to do it, but it was the only way that I could get it to work right. I tried to keep the fur out of my way as I was stitching and keep the lining even with the fur, but it all seemed to slip one way or the other on these P1040091seams. And I would end up sewing on the fur instead of on the backing, or the lining would fold over itself, or I would have no lining to sew at the end of the seam.

It was a real fight and I don’t know if I was not learning an important sewing skill that I needed to learn, or if it was just a matter of patience and practice to get it right. In the end did a lot of unpicking to get all the seams sewn to my liking. Around the neck and the arms were the easiest seams to sew which seemed odd to me. Usually a curve is more difficult to sew than a straight seam. I guess that the opposite is true for fur. I did learn that I liked to have the fur on top of the lining, instead of the lining on top of the fur when sewing. It just seemed to work better that way.

P1040073The next step was to turn the vests right side out and to sew the side seams. According to the pattern this is supposed to be done using a circular seam. So I started by sewing the lining together at the top, and then sewing the armscye together. Next was down the outside or the fur side seam, then to sew the hems together, and then back to sewing the lining together at the bottom, leaving a hole to push all of this seam back into place when done.

The final step is to stitch the hole closed. It sounded simple, but once again it was not. It was very difficult to keep the seams aligned properly while stitching two thin pieces of lining to two thick pieces of fur and it was especially difficult while stitching two big pieces of fur to two thin pieces of lining. By remembering what I had learned on the other seams, I decided to sew these seams in parts. I sewed from the top to the middle of the side seam, stopped, turned the vest around and sewed from the bottom to the middle of the side seam once again giving me more control over the seam with the shorter seams.

P1040088The final step was to hand stitch the lining side seams together. And since I very much dislike to hand stitch anything, I tried to figure out a way to machine stitch these seams but I could not, so I decided to bite the bullet and do the hand-stitching. I played around with a few different stitches and I decided on a ladder stitch to finish the seams. The hand-stitching went smoothly when I started but as I came to the bottom of the seam, I had extra fabric on one side of the seam. The seam had laid evenly when I first started to stitch but by the end I had a bubble that I had to try and ease in.

P1040063How and why was this happening I wondered? Had one side come unfolded as I stitched. Had I stretched one side? Had I pulled the stitches too much on one side and not the other? I did not know and I could not figure it out. I unpicked my hand-stitching and tried it again and I had the same problem. I then turned to my iron to try and solve the problem. I ironed the seam allowance for the hand stitching so that the lining would stay in place while I stitched, but I still had the same bubble when I was at the end of the seam. I next tried to serge the edges of the lining to try and help keep the fold in place and to give me something to feel as I hand-stitched, but I still ended up with the same problem. I tried to take smaller stitches, then I tried bigger stitches but I still had the same problem.

P1040072Flustered, I finally just did the best job that I could, by pulling and easing and folding to get the seam stitched closed. The end results are not as good as I would have liked. I was not pleased at all with the final seams and they look horrible to me, but I do think the seams are secure, so I let them be. So I guess that I will need to revisit this problem at another time. I don’t know what the answer is but with some more research and practice, I think that maybe I can finally master the art of hand-stitching and do a good job of it.

P1040067Two final things I did learn about stitching fur is that number one the fur that I am working with stretches. It never even crossed my mind that because this fur has a knit backing and that makes it really stretchy. I think some stay stitching would have helped with the stitching of these vests, especially across the hems. And second, I need to shave the seam allowances more than I did. I needed to learn just how much fur I could trim out of the seam so that it is easier to sew the seam together, but still not have it ruin the look of the fur. I trimmed some of the fur, but I think more trimming would have been helpful, especially at the point where the armscye and hem attach to the lining.

After all this trial and error, I don’t want to wait another year to sew fur again like I did the last time. I have learned so much on this project and I don’t want to forget any of it so I am going to make a few more projects from fur in the near future to reinforce what I have learned here.

Until next time…

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 1 of 2

M6430-2Maybe it is because it has been colder outside recently. Or maybe it is because the ground hog has already seen his shadow and predicted that we have lot’s more winter on the way. Or, maybe it is just the amount of fur that I still have hiding in the stash. Regardless of the reasons though, my thoughts lately have been about sewing fur. So, I decided that my next project would be fur vests.

Its been just over a year since I completed the fur coat for the little neighbor girl. I hope she has not outgrown it and that she has enjoyed wearing it. I learned so much about sewing fur when I made that first coat and I did not mean to wait so long to sew fur again and forget all the things that I had learned. One thing I did remember from making that coat was that I had wished it had a nicer looking lining, and that I had done a better job in lining it. So, I decided to make that my starting point for these new vests. I was going to learn to do a better job of lining fur.

P1030986With the linings in mind, I first picked a McCalls M6430 vest pattern to make them from. Since the little neighbor girl already has a fur item from me, I decided to make the vest pattern for a coworker’s tween daughters, aged 9 and 10, but both wearing a size 12. Of course, this meant I would be making two vests instead of just one, but that’s was a good thing I thought since it was a chance to get twice the amount of practice with the fur and linings.

Cutting out the fur was the same as before, and was very time consuming. I traced the pattern onto the fur and then snipped carefully with the scissors to only cut the backing of the fur and not the fur itself. Thankfully, there are only three pieces to these vests, so I only had six pieces to cut out in total. I then cut out the linings which went much faster but still took more time than I expected. The lining fabric just wanted to slide all over the cutting table, so I was careful while cutting to keep it in place and not let it slip around too much.

P1040047I wanted to vary the vests designs slightly from the original pattern, since I figured that I might as well learn as much as I can from a project while doing it. And so instead of using hook and eye closures, I decided to give one vest a zipper as I did in the coat and then use buttons for the second vest. Sewing the zipper in went as smoothly as it had on the coat. I placed the sides of the zipper facing inward on the fur fronts of the vest and stitched them on with the zipper foot. I made sure to stitch down the fur, with the way the fur layed, and making sure to keep the fur smooth. This gave me a nice line on the back of the fur to follow when I stitched the lining to the fur.

The buttons were not quite as easy to do as zipper was. I had to do a lot of precise measuring to get them where they needed to be so everything looked even. And since a P1040043regular button hole stitched by my machine was not going to work with the fur, I figured that a bound buttonhole was the answer. But I was not yet ready for to tackle that with the fur, so I picked a loop closure for the buttons instead. I picked a nice brown woven trim to make the closures that has no stretch, so the fit had to be just right for the loops to go around the buttons properly. The loops could not be too small and not fit around the buttons and could not be too large so that they fell off the buttons. The loops could not be too short or too long so that the edges of the vest laid against each other, and not over each other or apart from each other. It would have been much easier to pick a stretchy trim to make the loops but I did not find a stretchy trim that I liked as much as the trim that I picked out. And I decided that since this was a learning experience, I needed to learn what to do to make the loops properly when my trim was not stretchy.

P1040020So after a lot of thought and measuring, I sewed the loops on top of the fur on the one side of the vest, facing the loops inward, and then I sewed the buttons on to the other side of the vest. I used the extension on my button foot to lift the buttons up from the fur so that the buttons did not sink down into the fur, and so there was room for the loops to fit under the buttons. When trying the loops out on the buttons, I quickly learned that they were too big and that they readily fell off the buttons. I did not want to make the loops any smaller though since it would pull the edges of the vest across each other. I could have moved the buttons closer to the edge of the vest so the loops could be smaller, but I was trying to keep the buttons away from the edge as much as possible so they did not interfere with the sewing of the lining. I also could have sewn the buttons on by hand after the lining was done, but that sounded like way too much work to me.

The final solution that I chose was to P1040039stitch the loops together so that the part that went around the button was smaller but the loop still kept its length. I used 6 strands of embroidery floss to stitch the loops together. And I chose a color that matched the trim so that hopefully the stitches would not be noticed. I used the floss so that the stitches would be strong enough to withstand being pulled around the button time and time again. I stitched through the trim twice with the floss then knotted the floss at the back of the loop. I used a dab of fray check on the knots to seal the ends of the floss so they would not come undone.

Please join me next time as I tell you about sewing the lining and the fur together and finishing up the vests in my next post.