Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Victorian Vest

I've neglected this blog this month. For part of the month I was bedridden due to a very severe flare of back pain, so I couldn't work on my various steampunk projects. Thanks to some shots to the spine, I'm at least back to my normal level of dysfunction and am plowing through some exciting projects. I'm preparing to offer a couple of patterns of my own soon.

But one project I have (finally) completed is a Victorian Waistcoat or Vest for my husband.

From sewing

From sewing

The vest was made from the pattern Simplicity 2895 and since it's a commercially available pattern I won't go into detail on how to make it. Wait for a $0.99 or $1.99 sale and buy the pattern. It's also got a nice period shirt and frock coat. The fabric is a home dec remnant I found at Hobby Lobby. I'm so thrilled I was able to get enough fabric for this from a remnant.

I've actually been working on this since November. I initially wanted to have this done for Dickens on the Strand, but the welt pockets gave me hell. After four days spent trying to figure out how to do one pocket, I gave up and stuck the project in a bag. When I went back to it this month, I was surprised to find that suddenly the instructions as written made sense and I was able to finish them with a minimum of difficulty.

Sewing period items like this reminds you of why clothes used to be custom made or at least custom altered by a tailor. Now we all wear stretch clothing or baggy T-shirts. But when you're dealing with an item as fitted as a vest, it's unlikely that one size is going to fit all. Since I had a limited amount of fabric, I was forced to alter the size by adding panels to the shoulders and the sides. I added a two inch insert in the shoulder seams to increase the length to fit my long-waisted husband. And then I added a few inches to the sides to ensure the vest would close properly. I really need to start thinking about these things before I start cutting. But if the alterations are not as gorgeous as I might have wanted them to be, the final result fits well and looks good.

NOTE: I now have a tutorial posted on how to make the welt pockets! It only took me a year to get comfortable with them!


  1. I'm currently doing this pattern and the welt pocket instructions are driving me mad. I tried doing it with test fabric first, but there's something visual I'm just not getting.... If you have any hints, I'd love to hear them!

  2. I'm not sure I can explain the welt pockets exactly. After four months, they suddenly made sense, but then I did another one, and I had a hell of a time again. I'm trying to picture it.

    You essentially sew the lining and welt to the vest on the front, and then flip them both to the inside so that the raw edges are inside. Then you sew all the way around the pocket opening and then add the other part of the lining. Mind you, this is my memory without looking at the directions. You might try looking for videos on YouTube of people sewing welt pockets. Even if it's not exactly the same, it may help you break through your wall.

    On the most recent vest I made my husband, I refused to do welt pockets and instead just attached patch pockets that button closed and they look pretty spiffy.

  3. Here is a good video tutorial of a welt pocket:

    It's a bit different than the one from the pattern, since it had welts on top and bottom, but you can either do it like this, or use the lining as the top welt.

  4. i'm sorry about your back. I'm riddled with pain so I totally get it. I hope you're better now.