My Winter of Waistcoats

This past September (it seems SO long ago), Stylemaker Fabrics asked me to participate in their blog tour to highlight their new Fall / Winter fabrics. I ended up making the Belvedere Waistcoat from Thread Theory Designs in a pinwale corduroy.

Not to beat a dead horse, but here it is.

After this project I found myself asking, “Where have waistcoats been all my life?!”

This one has been worn almost daily. I reach for it all the time. It’s the perfect extra layer for someone like me who lives in a cold climate AND hates being cold. Lining it with cotton flannel instead of the usual silky lining fabric makes it even more perfect. There was no doubting it, I had to have more!

“Waistcoat Fever” hit exactly while Kashi at Metro Textiles was having a huge sale. 50% off everything. I managed to snag two luxurious wools for perhaps $15 – $17 / yard. It only takes a yard of material (or less if one is using wool only for the fronts) to make a waistcoat. So these projects have been a true bargain. Luxurious bargains!

First up is the Belvedere Waistcoat in a wool / mohair jacquard.

The fabric has a brushed hairy finish that I love. It really begs to be touched. I had to get creative with my cutting to both maintain the nap and match such a large repeat, but I managed to squeak it out. The waistcoat is lined with a herringbone patterned cotton flannel that I found at JoAnn’s; a true unexpected surprise. I never imagined that I would find something that coordinated so perfectly there, amidst all the fleece!

The darts on the lower front of this pattern make pattern matching pretty much impossible, so I opted for an upper chest pocket. I won’t lie, I really struggled with this one because the wool fabric is quite loosely woven and was fraying like mad. Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say. There are so many things I could have done to control things better. Fray Check, a fusible tricot, thread tracing, more accurate basting. But, I panicked, rushed, and the result is less than perfect. Still, I doubt that a non-sewist would ever notice what I see as glaring.

I love the combination of brown and purple. I found this gorgeous handpainted silk pocket square on Etsy. It’s from @designsbybobbij. It couldn’t be more perfect and takes this waistcoat to the next level IMO. Thank you, Bobbi J for upping my style quotient!

Oh, this gorgeous red wool / camel hair fabric! I felt it deserved something a little more upscale than the Belvedere ….

Enter Laughing Moon Mercantile’s pattern #109. I made View B years ago from a fancy black and gold brocade which, considering the very casual life I lead, is rarely worn. It’s a great pattern with a dramatic shawl collar that I love. Its downside is that it’s very short, sort of cropped in the front. View A has a more traditional (longer) front, so I devised a hybrid version to have the best of both worlds. That’s the power of sewing in a nutshell!

One thing I love about this pattern is that it includes some traditional tailoring techniques. I used a lighter weight hair canvas for the waistcoat fronts and the collar. Cotton twill tape is sewn into the canvas along the collar roll line. The back is underlined with silk organza for additional light structure. The jetted pockets and flaps are adapted from my old standby Roberto Cabrera. I designed them to echo the slope and curve of the fronts. Here are some random construction shots.

Assembly of this waistcoat can be a mind bender. I was completely perplexed until it became clear that I had sewn the lower facings on backwards! Thank goodness I hadn’t trimmed any seams. Once they were unpicked and put on correctly things moved right along.

The amount of trimming was staggering! But it was ALL worth it.

There are so many things to love about this pattern. The curved vent at the back echoes the curve of the fronts and the pocket flaps. I think of it as a rhythm that’s being carried through the garment from the front to the back. Then, of course, there’s the collar which I have left unpressed so that it will roll gracefully.

I added a pick stitch detail to the collars using three strands of embroidery floss. It’s a subtle detail that I much prefer to topstitching, which I find myself doing less and less of these days.

When I button this waistcoat up and look in the mirror my immediate thought is….”I need more red clothes!”

Wishing you all Happy Winter Sewing!

Thanks to all the small business suppliers who made these clothes possible.

Metro Textiles — Wool / Mohair Jacquard coating, Red Wool / Camel Hair jacketing, Khaki cotton twill bottom weight.

Gorgeous Fabrics — Brown polka dot cotton twill shirting

Denver Fabrics — Red / Green tartan cotton shirting

Bobbi J — Hand painted silk pocket square

16 thoughts on “My Winter of Waistcoats

  1. You have some wonderful waistcoat/shirt pairings – they all look so smart! Your original post on the brown cord waistcoat is possibly my favourite ever.
    My dad was a waistcoat lover but only discovered them in his 50s, and like you he preferred the backs in the same fabric rather than satin.


    1. I live in a rural area so topstitching thread is limited to just some basic colors. The advantage to embroidery floss is that it comes in SO many colors. I’m assured of getting a good match.


  2. Hi Duane, something has gone wrong with this post, is it possible to resend it? All I am seeing is something superimposed on the blog, a really long hot of some red fabric, nothing else, really bizarre.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.