This vest was not a planned make. I have admired long flow-y vests and dusters on others, but I have turned down an idea of having one for myself outright when they first started appearing on my instagram and pinterest feed. Then one day, it hit me. I must have one. There was no “may be I should consider it”, it was simply “I must have one” and now. I tried to talk myself out of it by telling myself that it may be a fad garment and I probably won’t have a use for it. I am really trying to make things that I will wear over and over again, so I thought this vest idea wouldn’t meet the requirements. Still I couldn’t change my own mind. It became even harder when I realized I had the perfect fabric in my stash that I have been saving for some sort of sweater. At that point it was a done deal… there was no turning back. The vest was to become a reality.
The vest idea I had in my head had soft flowing lapels that were not too wide, not too long and not too short. I was looking for a more or less particular drape. I set off looking for the perfect pattern, and there are so many options! Especially once I decided to include all sorts of jackets into my search. After all, a vest is a jacket without sleeves, right?
I didn’t want to line my vest and I wanted a nice easy finish for my edges. After thinking about it a little longer, I realized I didn’t want to finish my edges. The thick wool knit I had in my stash, as you can see, is a pretty neutral camel beige. It has a very soft structured drape and doesn’t fray at all. The coolest part is that I picked up this fabric as a second thought when I was on my way out of a fabric store in Portland, back when we visited it in Fall. The fabric was lying on a remnant cut table next to a few others and the color caught my eye. It’s just a perfect shade of beige. I didn’t know what I would make with it, but I knew I had to have it. Well, that couldn’t have worked out more perfectly!
After searching through patterns, I settled on Style Arc’s Estelle Jacket. The jacket is meant to be made out of ponte or other thick knit. It had everything I was looking for – perfect drape, good length and was meant to be unlined with unfinished edges. I quickly bought the PDF pattern and assembled it the same night.
The alterations I made are super easy. I can’t even call them that. I simply did not cut the sleeves out. Normally I have to increase the shoulder width in all of my jackets, but in this case I didn’t. I figured I needed to take ~1″ back from the shoulder seam line to make this pattern into a sleeveless vest, so not adjusting my shoulder seam in the first place seemed like a perfect solution. I figured it would be a good shoulder width for a vest on me right off the bat. And it worked out.
I barely had enough fabric for my pattern pieces. I managed to fit all of them into my remnant cut with no extra yardage remaining. It was just meant to be! Out of scraps I cut out inseam pockets and once that was done, there was pretty much no fabric left.
I used my rotary cutter to cut the pieces out. This allowed me to achieve clean edge I was looking for. This way the vest looked great with no jagged edges and didn’t need hemming.
I assembled the whole thing on my serger. The pattern instructions ask you to press the seams to one side and topstitch them, but I didn’t do it. I wanted a clean look without topstitching. Instead, I slip stitched by hand roughly 1.5″ of my seams at all exposed edges – hem, neckline and armscye. This way my seam allowances would not peek out and stay tucked in.
To finish off my lapels I slightly steamed them to lay flat. It wasn’t necessary, but I wanted to have slightly more control over how the folds fell.
All in all, this vest took no time to come together. It is probably the quickest make I’ve ever done! After I finished it, the vest hung in my closet for a couple weeks. The part of me that was talking myself out of making it in the first place was rejoicing in her rightness and “I told you so”s. Then this past weekend I had enough of it and decided to take Estelle out on the town. Sure, I had some trouble styling her at first, mainly because this vest is so out of range of what I normally would wear. But just as I thought, Estelle goes with so many things I have already and is just a perfect addition to my closet.
I really think I will be living in Estelle through the Fall to Spring transition. She is perfectly warm and snuggly and just adds a little bit of funk to my outfits. Here I am wearing her with my Ponte Pants and the perfectly basic rayon Fall Turtleneck. I can see Estelle with all kinds of jeans and even skirts.
How would you wear a long drape-y vest like this?
Until next time,