Remember last fall when I was hot to find patterns of a particular sort and spent entirely too much time looking all over for them? I had this fabric from my friend Nancy that I just knew would be perfect for a vest. An iridescent quilted satin, it was in a bag of upholstery and other decorating fabrics Nancy dropped off, ample sized leftovers she was sure I could do something with. (Question – do other people who sew have this happen? Where they are given all sorts of fabric because they’ll do something with it?) It screamed vest to me – and in my head, this vest was going to look exactly like one I already had, because the fabric was so similar.
Pattern finally located and obtained (seriously, do you know how freaking hard it is to find a vest pattern? What’s up with that pattern makers?!?! Anyway, Simplicity 1499), I finally got to work on it. As I put it together though, I realized I was going to have to finish the seams and ideally, line the thing. The backside of my fabric was not meant to be worn and it showed. While realizing I needed to address this, I decided that if I’m going to make a vest similar to the one I have that needs to be lined, I might as well go full in and make it reversible too. How hard could that be?
The catch is, the pattern is not for a lined nor a reversible vest. Nor do I find clear instructions for this sort of thing on the internet. And altering patterns is definitely not my strong point. Not to mention, I haven’t sewn a lined item since I learned to sew in high school (practically another lifetime ago) and was in need of a project, so my mother handed off a plaid jumper she planned on sewing my sister for Christmas one year – a jumper that was lined with more plaid, so I had to match ALL the plaid, which, as a second of all time sewing project, was DEFINITELY out of my league. (and having a nun as a sewing teacher ensured that indeed, ALL that plaid matched, even if it took me a solid month of classroom time to lay it out.) I’m still so scarred by that project that in thirty plus years of sewing, I’ve yet to even contemplate sewing a lining until now (and I have most definitely not sewn a plaid since.)
After sorting through my stash, I decided to use some of the chocolate brown Pendleton wool I had as the reversible lining- it needed to get used up anyway and I felt like using a grey wool was just a little too much like the original. You know?.
Side note – after sewing a few projects with really quality wool fabric, I have to say, if you sew, splurge on the good fabric. It’s so, so worth it.
(cute beagle in the snow photos for a break.)
Back to the vest. I decided the best approach to the project was to make two vests according to the pattern, then put them together wrong sides facing. Sewing them up individually was the easy part – the hard part was figuring out how to put them together, but thanks to my stash of vintage sewing books and a few false starts, I finally got it figured out. I started with the collar, came down along the sides at the zipper and went from there. I kept my original vest by my sewing machine for reference, figuring it out as I went along.
I’m pleased with the end result, although there are a few wonky parts. I’m a lazy seamstress who tends to cut patterns out like I measure when I cook – haphazardly – so as it turns out, one vest was cut a little larger than the other, so there was some fudging around the armholes and other spots. Oh, and I totally should have gotten a separating double sided zipper instead of just a separating zipper, although when I purchased the zipper, I was still making a one sided vest (the wrong zipper thing didn’t occur to me until the vest was completely sewn. Totally not going back). I went with a larger size, as I tend to do when sewing new patterns to get a feel for sizing, which made it big enough to line and to layer with a sweater underneath, but it’s not entirely flattering. It may point out that I’m a woman of a certain age who is definitely seeing a thickening around my middle that just comes with the territory of age and hormones. Not that any of that is going to stop me from wearing it. The last vest I made myself was definitely an old lady vest too. It goes splendidly with the brown wool skirt I made myself a few years ago. And now that I’ve gotten the hang of the pattern and figured out how to make it reversible, there may just be a few more to come.
Next time though, I’ll get the double sided separating zipper. And definitely make sure it’s installed evenly. And if I need a challenge, I’ll put zippers on the pockets, like the original inspiration.