I learn more about sewing and pattern making every time I make something without a pattern. The vest I made this week for my husband’s Booker (from Bioshock Infinite) costume was no exception.
A vest should be an easy garment. And honestly, if you don’t line the vest, it is probably pretty easy. But for a professional looking finish, you really should line the vest. So I did. Although, I don’t think that was my plan when I went to the fabric store, as I did not buy enough fabric for both the outside AND the lining. Fail.
You might be wondering what kind of fabric I bought for this. Booker actually has a couple of different vests, but the one I am making is an olive green color. I bought about 1.5 yards of olive green suede fabric. And because I was indecisive, I bought 1.5 yards of olive green corduroy fabric. Even though 1.5 yards of fabric was not enough, I was glad I had bought two different fabrics, as I wound up using some of the corduroy in the lining. If I had to do it over, I would buy at least 2 yards of fabric, maybe 2.5 to be safe.
You will need the following pattern (and fabric) pieces:
1) Back of vest – Cut 1 of outer fabric and 1 of lining fabric
2) Front of vest – Cut 2 of outer fabric and 2 of lining fabric
3) Collar – Cut 4 of outer fabric, Cut 2 of interfacing (I used Extra Firm, but you may not need to go so crazy)
4) Pockets (optional) – Cut 2 of lining fabric
You’ll also need gold trim; I bought 5 yards and had a bunch left over. Four yards would be plenty. And the vest needs a total of 8 buttons. I bought some nifty Steampunk ones in a gold color.
Sewing the Vest:
1) Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of two of the collar pieces.
2) Place right side of the interfaced collar piece to the right side of the other collar piece fabric. Stitch along the jagged edge. Repeat for other collar piece. Clip and press the edges to one side of the color (you’ll put the lumpier side against the vest).
3) Hem the top edge of both pockets. Press the other three edges as if you are going to hem them, then pin them to the vest lining pieces in the front, and stitch the two sides and the bottom of the pockets down.
4) Place right sides together and stitch the two front pieces of the vest to the back piece of the vest at the shoulder seam. Repeat this step with the front and back pieces of the lining fabric. Here’s the outer fabric attached at shoulder and the finished collar bits.
5) Pin the lining fabric to the outer fabric along the neckline, inner front, and bottom front edges, making sure you place the collar pieces in between the layers with the seam edge pointing toward the neck seam. Stitch from the bottom front of one side, around the collar, to the bottom front of the other side.
6) Pin and stitch the armhole seams.
7) Pin and stitch the lower back seam.
8) At this point, all of your side seams should be OPEN. And there should still be FOUR of them, not two. Pick one of these openings (I chose one of the front side seams), and turn the vest right side out. Here is what it should look like before turning – the arrows point at the back side seams. The front side seams are also open at the top, but harder to see.
9) Pin right sides together for the outside front and outside back side seams and stitch. The left side of the picture below shows this step.
10) Fold raw edges under on lining side and pin the lining front and lining back side seams together carefully, making sure not to pin or tuck any of the outer vest in between. Stitch very close to the folded edge along this seam. You can also slip stitch if you want a neater finish, but since this is a lining seam, only you will see it. The right side of the above picture shows this step.
11) Break out the iron and press the edges! (In case you are curious, it was safe to iron the suede … I used my iron’s hottest setting, a 5 for cotton.)
12) Mark and stitch four buttonholes to the right front side of the vest. Make sure you leave space for the gold trim.
13) Attach gold trim starting along the jagged edges of the collar, stopping at the bottom inside of the collar, and continuing from the collar down the outside of the vest. The trim goes all around the bottom edge and back up to the other side’s collar.
14) Mark and stitch 4 buttons on the right side of the vest, next to the buttonholes. Stitch 4 more buttons to the left side of the vest, making sure they line up with the buttonholes on the other side. Here are the finished buttons and buttonholes, with the vest open and closed.
This might make you think I had an easy time putting this together, but as usual I did not. I had two main issues.
One thing I am learning about making your own patterns is that creating the pattern pieces is the easy part. I struggle much more in actually figuring out how to piece things together, especially when there is a lining involved. It’s hard to figure out where to leave the opening. I tried really hard this time to pin and think through all my decisions. And I still made a mistake. I tried to stitch the side seams before turning, and then attempted to turn the fabric through the bottom front.
I had a few choice words for this mess. Mess was not one of them. This whole experience was a bit deja-vu-like. I had horrible turning nightmares after the disastrous instructions from a maxi-dress I made a year ago. I found out later that the instructions were in fact wrong. But anyway. The Google to the rescue! I discovered a different way to turn things, referenced in my instructions above. I still think I know a way to turn this better so you don’t wind up with a slightly wonky lining side seam, but until I test it out, I’m not going to confuse you all.
The second issue I had was in creating the buttonholes. I actually chose to attach the trim prior to creating the buttonholes. This was a poor, poor decision. The slightly thicker seams and the added bulk of the trim and possibly the pocket bulk were messing up my buttonhole foot. The thread kept getting caught. It kept breaking. In the middle of the button hole. After doing a little bit of really tight stitching. I retried at least 3 times. I decided to try a new tactic when the “buttonhole” looked like the picture on the left.
Even Fred could not save me on this one. I couldn’t get all this out. Finally, I placed a pin near the end of the “button hole”, and tried to rip the buttonhole through the center with Fred, figuring I could pull the threads out more easily after that. Fred still wasn’t a ton of help, but he paved the way for my scissors to cut through it. After I removed the excess thread, I basically did a really short zigzag stitch around the cut I made. As you can tell from the picture on the right, it is a bit less … well-formed … than the others, but hey. At least my husband isn’t going to DragonCon with a thread pile where the buttonhole belongs. From now on, no decorations on fabric until after the buttonholes are stitched!
My apologies for the lengthy post and the lack of a finished picture of the vest. It is completely done, but I’ll have to get a more complete Booker costume photo sometime soon.