I’ve finished a WIP (work in progress). It was never a UFO. I cut the vest from Louise Cutting’s Your Everyday Drifter pattern at the end of this May. Winter refused to leave, allowing spring to arrive and while not terribly pleased, I decided the best course of action was to continue sewing clothing for weather a bit cool and wet. I had intended to try this vest for ages. I think I bought the pattern more for the vest than for the Duffel Coat.
From the beginning I chose the sweater knit (which was such a failure for my Autumn 2011 6PAC) intending to free motion embroider (FME sometimes FMQ for quilting)) a red colored design on the front. Well, Ruby (my sewing machine) and I didn’t bond over FME. To be honest I spent 3 or 4 sessions of 2 or 3 hours working on the FME. Because I wanted Red, my yarn/thread options were limited. Red is a recent love. It was, of course, merely a matter of finding the right red. Which in turn, could not happen until said color became popular and available. Quite possible the failure to bond with Ruby over FME was a result of the yarn I used; or the couching; or the couching thread I selected. I also worked on this entirely in isolation. I asked not one person’s advice or assistance; nor did I Google. I felt I had considerable expertise with the method because of my previous devotion which alas was acquired before the beloved Embroidery Machine came to my house to live some 15 years ago. I know that it took considerable time to become proficient with FME on my previous machine, a Bernina 1630. So we add to the mix, that I haven’t spent enough time.
I didn’t spend enough time because summer arrived following a 1 week spring. As in winter tempertures warmed up daily by 10-15 degrees with summer occurring 1 week after winter ended. I turned my interest to warm weather garments and this project retained it’s WIP status. I always meant to get back. I’ve had a fun summer sewing period and only returned to cooler weather garments due to the 6PAC sew along at Stitchers Guild. When I got hung-up on the jacket, I created some thinking time by cleaning up; folding up fabrics not selected in the final rounds; stowing all related supplies. It was then I found the vest along with another blouse both of which had been cut and hung in the closet. During summer sewing I’d successfully and with minor changes made a blouse from the same vest pattern.
My mind immediately flashed to my original vision for the vest, but I decided no more fooling with Ruby and FME on this project. I seem to have just a bit of A-ADD. If I work too long on a project, I lose the mojo. I immediately decided to use machine embroidery (ME) instead of the originally planned FME but I chose a large embroidery (3″x7″) with a low stitch count. I used sticky water soluble stabilizer – the thick fabric kind) in the hoop and just regular WSS topper.
I don’t mind a challenge of this type:
I had intended to put 4 embroideries on front, 2 on back and make machine buttonholes. My challenge lay in that the fact that perfect red embroidery thread had already been used and therefore might not have enough yardage. There is actually an easy way to handle this. I’m not sure I describe it well here. You alternate your embroideries and your colors mirroring color from one place to another. Clear as mud, right? Well, I put 1 on each front close to the center front; then 1 on either side of the back seam. I still had plenty of thread, but looked critically at the garment. I was satisfied with only 1 embroidery on each front. “Huh” I thought. I proceeded to do 2 more embroideries on the back, directly under each armscye. Had I been running out of thread, I could have switched to a different shade of red before the last 2 embroideries. The eye will accept the change in shades as a lovely and indeed interesting alternative. When the second set of embroideries was done, I could have done 2 more on front in different shade of red. The act of mirroring and creating duplicates and alternates of color, is pleasing to your eyes. It would work, but I still liked the single embroidery on each front. I proceeded to fill-in between the embroideries on back:
Which created a lovely line across the back. I had enough thread and could have continued to embroider the front (I felt the back was saturated). But I liked the open spaces of the front and proceeded instead to assembling my vest.
I knew as soon as I serged the shoulders together, I would need a front “ribbing”. Really, a dress form that fits you is such a life saver. I was running off for dinner and popped the vest onto Mimie. I could tell immediately that the fabric was going to settle too low at the back neckline for me. I was sure it was the fabric, because I did not need a ribbing/band for the first version (blouse). I was concerned that a ribbing would add too much ease across the waist. When I resumed my sewing, I pinned the sides together and looked carefully. It might, I decided, it might just be fine.
I marked the underarms carefully and to aid me in controlling the fabric, I used 1/2″ Steam-A-Seam along the entire armscye (both armscyes). I was able to fold and press into place (with paper backing in place) and then complete the side-seams. Once side seams were sewn, I removed the paper-backing from the SAS; fused the edges into place and top stitched the entire armscyes. It was beautiful. Ruby does this exceptionally well no matter the fabric.
Next, the band was cut and serged. I did stretch it slightly around the back neck, but I fear not enough. I also fear I will never correct that particular error. I detest ripping out seams, especially serger seams. Since I can’t see it, I’m going to call it good-enough.
I am slightly disappointed with the hem. I serged the hem to finish the edge. It was looking so good, I considered just leaving the hem as is. But I couldn’t bury the serger thread tails without mucking up the front edge. I used the same SAS procedure to turn up and stitch a 1/2″ hem, but it doesn’t look nearly as nice as the front band. The hem would be a simple matter of trimming off and serging on a new band. I have the fabric and I might just get to this.
I skipped the buttonholes, making a decision mid-serging the front band, that a hair-elastic in the right color would make an excellent closure. Well it’s almost the right color and does indeed make a nice closure. My button is likely an antique. I know I hierited it from my mother and have no idea how long she possessed it. It s a complex button of top shell-like substance, middle layer of metal and then plastic bottom layer. I have 4 and then 2 more that are bigger but slightly different toned red. Even using the elastic closure, I prefer the smallest button. The larger the button, the more weight is on the garment and the more likelihood of drooping. Especially true with a knit.
I can happily conclude that this vest pattern is truly a winner. It usable with a range of fabrics, although I think I prefer softer fabrics with a bit of drape. I love that it’s easy to sew. Louise’s techniques make it possible to create a lovely garment, with excellent finishing in minimal time. This is the pattern when you need a woven, sleeveless top NOW. It is possible to add shaping either by styling with a belt or adding darts during construction.
Oh and why I prefer photos on Mimie? I took a dozen photos on me with at least 3 back views. This was the best back view: