How I Made a Waistcoat, Part I

Being a description of my Own Experience, and Not Necessarily the Best Way to Do Things. (photos added 14/3/11)

1. Determine requirements:

This is something I’m going to dance in, so it needs to be light so that I don’t overheat. It needs to be colourful. It’s okay if it turns out looking a bit patchwork-y, which means that I don’t have to worry overly about fitting as if I have to add an extra strip of different fabric somewhere to make things fit that will be fine. It needs to be cheap.

2. Procure pattern and fabric:

I went to the library and found a book all about waistcoats:

The book of Waistcoats, Jacqueline FarrellI wouldn’t recommend the book particularly (or at least not to buy), but it has a ‘standard women’s waistcoat’ pattern in the back of it, which I thought sounded good – Googleing had turned up mostly men’s waistcoats, and having a women’s pattern is nice. I then went and bought fabric in three colours, and interfacing.

I guessed at amounts of fabric (30cm each for blue and green, and 40cm for the pink). This worked out to be enough – just! – which shows that my guessing was pretty good (I wanted to minimise fabric so as to minimise cost). I bought a metre of interfacing as it was cheap, and as I wasn’t yet sure how much of it I would want. It all cost ~£7.


Pretty patterns!

3. Create paper pattern mock-up:

The patterDrawing a grid on papern in the back of the book needed to be scaled up, which I did by hand by grid-drawing. Drawing out the grid and the pattern took a long time but was rather soothing … like being a kid working in colouring books again.


Paper pattern piece - frontHaving made a paper pattern, I then pinned it all together and tried it on for fitting. It seemed to fit fairly well.

4. Create card pattern:

Not strictly necessary, but not much work – and worth it as I may well make more of these in future. I found that opening out foolscap-sized cardboard folders (of which I have quite a few which I no longer need) gave approximately the right size of cardboard.

Card pattern pieces

(excuse the background clutter)

5. Marking out pieces and interfacing:

I ironed the fabric, and used the card templates to mark out the pattern pieces (double- and triple- checking that I cut everything out the right way round, so I didn’t end up with two left sides and no right sides!). I started off doing this with tailor’s chalk, but by the end realised that biro was much easier to use and just as good as it wouldn’t show anyway.

Having traced around the fabric, I then ironed interfacing onto the two front pieces. I had a little bit of a problem with this, with the interfacing shrinking as it went on which gave rise to little air pockets … my solution has been to slit these pockets open from the back (so cutting through the interfacing but not through the fabric). This probably isn’t ideal.

6. Cutting out!

Cutting out back piecesCut out the pieces using my handy-dandy-sewing-scissors! (A Christmas present – I’m still excited about using them :)). After doing this I pinned everything together again and tried it all on again, to make sure it really would fit.

Next time: sewing up, hemming, and buttonholes!

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2 Responses to How I Made a Waistcoat, Part I

  1. Pingback: Vegan baking – an attempt … | Eudoxia Friday : Thoughtful Eclecticism

  2. peggy sister sikosana says:

    i’m around in Pretoria if i want this book where can i get it

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