Friday, September 18, 2009

How I Sew, Part 4: The Vest Tutorial Concluded

This is Part 4 of my "How I Sew" tutorial on a festive holiday vest.

The previous two installments are here for Part 1, and here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.

Last time, we had jut completed the collar.  We were getting ready to sew the lining to the outside fabric!

After pinning it all together along the edges, I sewed, clipped, and graded all the seams, making sure to carefully trim out all the points that would be turned in (getting rid of all the excess fabric can help prevent lumpiness and increase the sharpness of the corners) and all the curves were appropriately clipped (so they would actually turn where they are supposed to and lay flat).

After that's completed, a quick check of the center front would be a good idea.  On plaid fabrics, or any print that has a clear "line" in it, one should make sure that the center front closure is lined up properly.  Having a line that doesn't go straight up and down can look sloppy.  The lines in the fabric need to be the same distance from the edge of the center front fold all the way up and down the front, otherwise it will look as if the stitching didn't follow the line (regardless of whether it did or not).  If it doesn't work, open up the center front seam line, and try adjusting it.  At this point, you can follow the print of the fabric if you're not more than a 1/4" away from your drawn stitch line.  Any more than that and it'll look very odd...

Once the inside lining and the outside fabric are together, turned out, and pressed, we attack the shoulders.

Sew them up so the neckline is open.  You don't want to sew up the neck because we need to insert the collar later.

If you haven't already (and it's a good idea to do so way back when you cut out your pieces) stay stitch the necklines, and clip.  You'll then pin the neck to the outside of the vest only, not the lining.

Once that's done, it gets sewn, and then clipped and graded.  The lining fabric gets pulled up, clipped, turned under, and slipstitched to the stitching line that was just sewn.

Hand sewing is easier when you use beeswax on your thread.  It makes the thread stiffer and doesn't allow it to twist up on itself as easily.

After finishing the collar, we finally turn our attention to the buttonholes.  Placing these can be done with a pattern guide, an expandable button placer, or just by measuring.  Since I was working with a plaid, I had to follow the dictates of the pattern of the fabric, so I placed my buttons accordingly on lines (and between lines) down the center front.

Most home machines come with instructions to do buttonholes.  If not, pick up a handy sewing guide and follow those instructions.

Transfer your marks on one side to the other, and sew on your buttons.

And Voila!!!  The vest is done!  We did it!!

There are some general principles that I should share with you regarding sewing that I follow as good practice:

1) Press as you go.  Nothing makes a garment look more homemade than a lack of a good pressing job.  Garments look much much better when you take the time to constantly press your fabric while you are in process.

2) Use a sharp sewing needle on your machine.  Part 2 has a picture of what happens when you don't use a fresh needle.

3) Grading can reduce bulk.  Cutting all the seams so they don't lay on top of each other at the same distance can prevent ugly lumps.

4) Being careful and going slowly is better than plowing through things.

Okay, I think that's it for now!  More about what's happening in Relished Artistry soon!  Have fun, and live life with Relish!


  1. Your #1 tip is also my #1 tip, makes all the difference really. Actually all your tips are spot on.

  2. Woohooo! Well, that cute little Clementine skirt you made attests to your skill! ( ) I can't get over how cute it is!! I bet your daughter looked adorable!! : )


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