Tag Archives: vest

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

Let’s start with the pants! These pants, made using Simplicity 8841, are a repeat pattern for me–not something I always do. Each sewist/craftsman/artist has a way they like to dive into projects, and for me, it usually involves trying something new, often a new pattern, so I rarely circle back to previous patterns unless I really liked them and want more versions in my closet or they are just right for the fabric I want to use. I really liked the style of these pants, and I wear my first version a lot. However, I kind of overfit that version, and I thought I could do better…plus I really did want more of these in my closet!

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
My husband took these pictures for me when it was still summer, but these pants will work in multiple seasons.

The other thing that drove this repeat performance was some great denim I found at Joann’s. It was 100% cotton, and pink from being vegetable-dyed. The vegetable dye made me curious about how the color would hold…and I really like this shade of pink. Simplicity 8841 seemed like a good match for the denim. I got what I needed when it was on sale. Yay!

According to my measurements, I was a size 24 in this pattern. It only went up to a 22, so I did some very inexpert, cheater-style grading. I looked at the distance between the last few pattern sizes, and sized up the largest size by that amount, by just tracing around it, and trying to make things look like they would have if there had been one more size. I wanted to make View D, but with the longer length of View C. This was pretty easy to do.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

Using the book, Sewing Pants that Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library, I added 1.5″ to the back crotch length by making a wedge adjustment for a protruding seat. This entailed cutting into my back pattern piece from the crotch seam to the hip, without cutting all the way through. I then tipped the top of the pattern up 1.5″ making the back crotch seam of the pattern longer. After doing that, you have to smooth out the hip/outseam because making that wedge creates a little divot at the side seam.

Then I lengthened the back crotch point by 1.5″ and lowered it 0.25″ to true the pattern. This can help with full thighs or a protruding seat. I have found that it works for me, whatever the reason may be. I tend to need more length in the back with Big 4 patterns. Somehow it always feels a little bit like trial and error, but I usually end up making the maximum crotch seam length adjustments on the back pattern piece and find those really comfortable.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
This may not be the most helpful picture, but here is the top of the back pattern piece. The crotch seam I have mentions is that curved left edge, and the hip/outseam is the right edge. You can kind of see the wedge shape running horizontally through the pattern piece.

These pants are pretty straightforward to put together with good directions.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, front

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, back

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, patch pocket detail; I have traced this patch pocket onto tag board and use it whenever I want to add patch pockets with this shape to clothes.

I changed up how I inserted the elastic into the waistband a little bit, but otherwise followed the directions as written. Since these pants have no fly, and only front patch pockets, I pushed myself to finish them before meeting up with a friend who was visiting. It’s always really fun to have something new to wear for something like that, and it’s good for me to occasionally give myself artificial deadlines to speed a project on.

Once I started wearing the pants, I had a few thoughts about them. They are definitely a style I like, and they’re very comfortable. The dye in the fabric seems to be holding well, too.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I’m not sure I love how they look, even though I love how they feel. They look a little too big to me. I’m all about preserving design ease and not making the smallest size you can squeeze your body into, but maybe I could have made these a little smaller, especially since the size 22 pants that I made do still fit. The other iffy part is that the waistband doesn’t feel as strong as I want it to. The pants stay up just fine, but it feels like if I load up my pockets, things could get saggy. Yikes.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I have toyed with the idea of taking off the waistband and cutting a new one that would allow for 2″ wide elastic, like the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants pattern, but I cannot tell you how much I really don’t like going back into patterns once I have finished them. I know they would be more wearable if I altered them, but the joy of alterations is not the reason I sew. The fact that they do fit and are comfortable will probably be enough for me to wear them and not bother to alter them. The good news is that the paper pattern adjustments I made were good. I don’t feel like the back of the pants are too short or tight (i.e. no wedgies or “plumber’s butt”–yay!). They feel just right.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

The real kicker, though, is that while writing this, I looked back at the blog post I wrote for the first pair of pants I made, and those had the same problems! Yes, if I had carefully read my own post before starting on these, I wouldn’t have graded up, and I probably would have tapered the legs of the pants. I still would have made the flat pattern adjustments I made this time–I did remember the need for those–but I could have made an even better pair of pants if I had listened to my past self and reminded myself of all the changes that would have been helpful. Oops.

So, I guess this project is a little bit of a mixed bag, but overall good. I do recommend the pattern if you are looking for a simple pair of elastic-waist pants. These could definitely work, construction-wise, for a beginner, and they are loose enough that you wouldn’t have to think about fitting to the level you would with a pair of skinny jeans or something like that. I would potentially make these again, with some slight tweaks (after actually reading this post and my last one; haha).

News from the Fair!

And now for something unrelated, but awesome! If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I submitted some garments to the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Fair for the first time. Well, the cardigan I knitted got a first place ribbon, and the reversible vest I sewed got both a first place ribbon and Best in Show! I was so excited!!! I knew that I had worked up to my skill level at the time and pushed myself beyond on those projects, but it’s really, really nice to occasionally have some outside validation for your work, from people who also make things.

Topsfield Fair 2022
My Arrowhead Cardigan at the Topsfield Fair

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Topsfield Fair 2022
Me at the knitting exhibit. You can sort of see my cardigan by my left hand. There were so many great projects!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
My vest and both its ribbons at the Topsfield Fair!!!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
This exhibit had multiple types of crafts. You can see my vest by my right hand.

Making clothes is my art practice. My work will probably never be in a gallery, and I don’t want to turn it into a business, so I don’t get that kind of positive professional critique on a normal basis, so it means a lot. That being said, I do very much appreciate all the cheerleading and support I get from my family and friends. That is what has really kept me going all these years.

My parents and kids were with me when I went to see all the entries, and they can tell you that I had a pretty big smile on my face. What a great experience!!!

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Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

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Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

My vest is finally done!!! I’m so excited to share it with you!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

This vest began several years ago, when I saw a cool Patagonia outerwear vest with a Western-style yoke in a surprising color combination at Nordstrom. (Nordstrom is a great place to “shop” for inspiration!) While I know that Patagonia is a great company that produces clothes of excellent quality, it is not in my price range. So, I filed away the idea for later and moved on. (Sadly, I can’t find a picture of my inspiration vest in my files, but here are the ones that I looked at while planning this project–women’s, men’s.)

This past summer, while visiting family in Michigan, I went to Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI, and saw this great Carhartt canvas insulated with Thinsulate.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
It’s funny that the name on the roll is spelled “Carhardt”, but if you look on the website at the link above, you’ll see it’s spelled correctly: “Carhartt”. Just a typo, not a knock-off!

I had seen it at the store on a previous trip, and always wished I had bought some, so this time I did. My initial idea? A winter snap-front skirt to wear over leggings. I love those short, insulated skirts for winter! My Mom looked at the fabric, though, and suggested making a vest. At first I ruled it out, but as I thought more and more about the idea, I realized that it was a good one. I would wear a vest more than a skirt and it would fit me longer if I sized it correctly. And I remembered that Patagonia vest from way back. That’s when I got excited.

Deciding on all the specifics of fabric and pattern and any tweaks I wanted to make took a long time. My fabrics were originally not very cozy (other than the insulated canvas) because I was going purely on colors that worked together, but eventually, with input from my family, I decided to use a beloved piece of wool for my yoke that I have had in my stash for I don’t know how long, just waiting for the right project. At that point, I needed to rethink my lining layer to make everything look good together. I found a cream colored Polartec 200 Thermal Pro curly fleece online at The Rain Shed that was on sale, and looked like it just might work. I ordered it with some pocket zippers and bit the bullet on the insane shipping cost (so expensive!) since the fabric itself was such a good price.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

The fabric was perfection with what I already had, but the hardware wasn’t quite there yet. I ditched my first zipper idea and ordered some metal ones with brass pulls from zipit on Etsy.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

I have used their zippers before, and they are pretty cool looking. Brass heavy duty snaps from Joann Fabrics completed my hardware search.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
If you try these, make sure you get a package with a setting tool (not pictured) if you don’t already have one.

For my pattern, I chose the Men’s Santiam Reversible Vest #102 from The Green Pepper Patterns.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

There is a women’s vest, but I was outside the size range, and it didn’t seem like a big deal to curve out the hips on the men’s one if necessary. Time to get started!

The goal? Create an outerwear vest with the Western yoke of the Patagonia example that would be large and roomy enough to fit over my bulkiest sweater and thickest fleece leggings or jeans. And make it cozy! In order to get the fit I wanted, I followed the pattern’s directions to take measurements over the clothes I wanted to wear the vest with. This put me at a chest and waist size XL, and a hip size 2XL.

To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll list out the tweaks I made to the pattern instead of talking through them. Here’s what I changed:

*created a yoke piece to attach to the outer layer of the vest, front and back

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

*graded the hips out to a larger size, which meant that the side of the handwarmer pockets needed to be reshaped, and the angle of the pocket zippers needed to change to mirror the angle of the hips

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
The original pattern piece is in green marker; my alterations are in pencil

*created a longer back hem that curved down by tracing a vintage Woolrich puffer vest; this is also a feature on the Patagonia vests I linked to

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
You can see the longer back extending down in this picture
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
The vest from the back, fleece side out

*created a pattern piece for wool strips that would attach to the fleece; I planned to fuse interfacing to the wool strips, hoping that this would be a more stable option for the snaps to attach to rather than the fleece (I previously made a fleece cardigan using sew-in interfacing, and a few of the anorak snaps I used as closures pulled away from my fleece–I was hoping to prevent that here)

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

*stay-stitched the yoke so nothing would stretch out

*flipped the directions so that my inner layer would have zipper pockets and my outer layer would have hand warmer pockets

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Zipper pockets; I gave the fleece around the zippers a tiny trim before calling it good
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Handwarmer pockets

*used leftover woven Supplex from this project for my zipper pockets and half of my handwarmer pockets rather than the canvas and fleece to reduce bulk

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

By the time I had decided on all these little details, I started to get nervous that I was going to forget something! I had already forgotten that the seam allowance on this pattern was 3/8″, and ended up creating the pattern for my wool strips with one side having a 3/8″ seam allowance and the other one having a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Before beginning anything, though, I had to prewash all my fabric, which included that insulated canvas. The canvas is quilted to a batting layer which has a scrim, but no additional fabric.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Canvas, batting, and scrim, all quilted together; the scrim is a thin layer over the batting that helps stabilize and hold everything together

I didn’t want it to get messed up in the washer, so I basted an old sheet onto the back side, put a few safety pins in the middle to sort of pin-baste it, and threw it in the washer. Luckily, it worked! I just seam-ripped the sheet off after it was all done and saved it for another purpose.

Once I was ready to cut everything out…I had to stop. Just before cutting I realized (thankfully) that the brick quilting pattern on the canvas needed to be lined up as much as possible so the horizontal lines matched! I got things as close as I could. The quilting wasn’t always possible to line up perfectly, whether because of shrinkage from prewashing or because it wasn’t exact. I got it done, though, and then it was on to the Polartec fleece–but wait! This had a nap, which means it’s a directional fabric–you want the fleece to all lie in the proper direction! Back through the cobwebs of my memory floated the time I had accidentally cut curly fleece upside down for a sweatshirt project and had to recut it. Didn’t want to do that again! Ok. Fleece all cut out, it was on to the yoke. But I wanted that on the bias since it would look nice that way and–oh! The shoulders needed to be pattern matched!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Decent pattern matching on the shoulder seam!

It was crazy. Every time I thought something would be straightforward, it wasn’t, but nevertheless, I’m so very thankful I realized those things before I cut all the layers out.

I think it’s fair to say I procrastinated a lot on this project. Any time I knew I would have to do something tricky or scary, I paused, but eventually I would forge ahead, hoping it would turn out all right. And luckily, it did. The pattern instructions were very good, and the vest was really interesting to sew. I used my regular sewing machine for construction and my serger for finishing seams, although you don’t need one. The instructions tell you to finish your seams with a zigzag stitch.

I completed this just in time for some really cold weather that came our way. And I love it!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Now don’t be fooled–this vest is a massive beast of winter. This is no lightweight indoor vest. It’s big and a little bit heavy, though not uncomfortably so.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

It has plenty of extra ease to go over my biggest sweater (just like I hoped!), and it’s so nice and warm. That collar can really keep out the wind, too!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Happily, it’s just what I wanted, and all the design and hardware choices really combined to make it look professional and rugged. And it’s reversible! Even the snaps!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Both the pattern and the snap pack mentioned that you can use the decorative snap caps on both sides to make your project reversible, so I tried it and it worked! Success!

Now I have one more unique garment that fits me just right for winter. Yay!

Update:

I entered this vest in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won both a first place ribbon and Best in Show in the Sewing Division!

A Vest from a Men’s Shirt, Secret Christmas Pillowcases Revealed, and Sewing Ideas for 2016!

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Nothing like a long title, right?  😉  There are plenty of projects and ideas for projects floating around my head these days, so I think it’s time to power-share!  (There’s another word for the dictionary.  Makin’ up new words all the time over here!)

When I think about new projects to share, I keep forgetting to post this vest that I made.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

My original plan for it was to be an additional entry in the Refashioners Contest last year, just to pad out my entry, but I’m glad now that I took it off my list.  It wasn’t too hard to make, but it isn’t anywhere near the quality of the jacket I made as my one and only entry.

When the cooler weather sets in, I start thinking of polar fleece and really anything warm, so when I found this oversized men’s fleece-lined flannel shirt at the thrift store, originally by L.L. Bean, I knew I wanted to use it (similar shirt here).  I found this pattern:

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

After reading the reviews on Patternreview, I convinced myself that I could create a J.Crew-esque style vest.  Well, that didn’t exactly happen, but it’s cozy!

The good and bad part of getting better at sewing, is that now I am less satisfied when my own sewing is of a lower quality.  What a problem to have, right?  I know I am “supposed” to match up plaids and make things look pretty inside, etc., etc., maybe make sure my pockets are on the same level, but you can’t have it all.  I made this out of a shirt.  That’s cool!  I’ll learn to match plaids another day.

As far as any other details the sewing people among you might be interested in…I made View A, minus the quilting.  I cut a size 16 and graded out to an 18 in the waist and hips.  This may not have been necessary.  It’s fairly boxy and loose, but I wanted to be able to wear it over sweaters.  Instead of putting in the zipper, I left the buttons from the original shirt.  I also took off the original chest pockets.  In the process, I may have made a few holes, but that was an opportunity to return to my old standby of running over any sewing problems with my machine, and I just sewed over them until they blended in.  Problem solved!

The other problem I ran into was that I ended up with “wings” at the front of the armholes.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

I did actually go back and take off the bias binding and try to take the princess seams in a little bit.  It worked better on one side than another, and I’m a lot happier having tried.  It definitely fits better now.

Learning to do a sway-back adjustment is on my mental list of things to learn, but I’m trying not to tackle too many new techniques at once, so that one is for the future.  Dealing with the armholes was my fitting experiment for this pattern.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Overall, I think the pattern is good.  This isn’t my favorite thing that I have ever made, but I like it and I’ve worn it and will wear it again.  I don’t know that I will keep it in my closet for the ages and pass it down to my children, but I guess you never know.  More fleece is always better than less fleece in the winter, so it may survive longer than I think.  I would try the pattern again if I decide I want another vest.

On another topic, I wanted to give you a quick look at a few pillowcases I made as Christmas presents.  I used a tutorial on the Sew Mama Sew blog that is actually an excerpt from a book by Shea Henderson called School of Sewing.

Pillowcases

Pillowcases

I bought the border print for the first pillowcase as well as the panda seersucker in Michigan over the summer at The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI.  The coordinating fabric on each pillowcase is from Joann’s.  These really were easy to sew and I’m sure I could use the tutorial to make fancier ones in the future as well.  I keep telling myself that if I would just make a billion pillowcases and cloth napkins, I could use up my stash and replace my worn pillowcases and napkins, but so far clothes are too much fun.  Except for these two pillowcases, clothes have won out every time.

Lastly, do you have sewing plans for 2016?  I have ideas.  I’m not calling them plans because my ideas of what I want to make often change throughout the year, but here is what I have so far.  I saw the #2016makenine challenge on Instagram, and decided to jump in…except I ended up with ten.  This makes me sound like a total overachiever but, like I said, these plans will flex and change throughout the year, and I doubt everything will get made.

#2016makenine

Top row, left to right:  Butterick 5526, Megan Nielsen Briar Sweater and Tee, Simplicity 1538

Middle row, left to right:  Jalie 3134, Megan Nielsen’s Mini Briar, Jalie 3023

Bottom row, left to right:  Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory, Coco by Tilly and the Buttons, Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

(most links to these patterns are below)

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#2016makenine

Ginger Skinny Jeans Pattern by Closet Case Patterns

 I’ve already cut out some Jutland Pants by Thread Theory for my husband (I’m actually doing a muslin/test garment for this one), and I’ve traced out the Strathcona Henley for him, too.  Lest you start to think I’m abandoning my really good streak of selfish sewing, you should probably know that I LOVE henleys, so once I make him one, I plan to adapt the pattern into one for me as well.  (And how about a girl version of some fleece-lined Jutlands?  Sounds like wintry heaven to me!  I’m saving that idea for the future!)

In the top row are some shirts I’ve tried before, and I still have fabric from the summer to do additional renditions of those.  My first version of the princess seam button down on the top left (Butterick 5526) should make an appearance on the blog soon since I made it to wear to a wedding.  I already whipped up a quick Briar fleece shirt (still to be blogged) to wear for travelling to the wedding, and I need to make a broad back adjustment to the pattern for the button-down on the right (Simplicity 1538) before remaking that one.

You can see I still have bathing suits on my list, maybe some kids’ Briars, and a shirt version of the Coco pattern by Tilly and the Buttons.

AND…JEANS!  I think it’s time to start learning to sew more fitted bottoms, so jeans are on the list.  I’ll keep you posted on that!

Do you have any sewing or other project ideas for this year?  I’d love to hear about them!