Do you have one of those patterns that you like, but that you’re not exactly in love with? The Belvedere Waistcoat is one of those patterns for me. It seems that no matter what I throw at it, all the care and attention to detail I can muster, the end result is still slightly disappointing.
Still, I keep coming back for more! Why you might ask? Because I crave both the style and the extra layer of warmth that a waistcoat provides. So here I go again, determined that this time I can make the construction easier, and get a result that I’m truly happy with.
It never occurred to me that I wasn’t alone in my struggle with the Belvedere Waistcoat. I confessed my frustration on Instagram and heard from many other sewists with similar issues; most of which involved the bagged lining. I had never had any experience with bagging a lining until this pattern. In fact, I often referred to myself as “The guy least likely to ever bag a lining”. So this was all new to me. What I always assumed was an easier way to do things was, in my experience, actually harder. Plus, I found the result to be very unsatisfactory.
GOAL — Take some leftover boiled wool from last year’s winter coat, add a yard of fancy Italian jacquard, disregard the instructions, and make a better waistcoat.
I actually started this project one year ago. At the time I had been asked to do a tailoring presentation for the Couture Club of Chicago. I made a couple of videos for them, and used the Belvedere Waistcoat as the sample garment. So some of the construction was well underway when I picked it back up in March. You’ll notice that I’m using a traditional hair canvas. If that interests you, there are two videos on my YouTube channel that you may enjoy. You can find them here, and here.
The Thread Theory website has downloadable PDF patterns for patch pockets. I’ve used them on previous makes, mostly because I’m not fond of the welt pockets for this pattern. They’ve always struck me as kind of “clunky” looking, and they invariably gape open. So I set about to rectify that situation. If you’re looking for a more tailored look, here’s a video that will hopefully help you.
How can a garment that takes just a yard of material be so damn complicated???
Determined to simplify this waistcoat, I turned to a vintage pattern in my collection.
I made a version of this vest for my son’s wedding back in 2017, and it turned out great. I certainly don’t remember any anguish over it, so why not apply its construction to the Belvedere? It turned out to be well worth the try.
I documented most of the changes in two YouTube videos, which I hope will be helpful to other sewists making this pattern. Admittedly, for such a small garment, it can get pretty unwieldy; so you will want a big workspace to spread it all out. The advantage is, however, that you have more control of the seams, and can trim them to reduce much of the bulk; something I was not able to do well with the bagging technique.
Yes, you will have to do a bit more hand sewing with this construction method, but I think the final result makes it all well worth it.
I made a few other changes / additions that aren’t part of the pattern. I added an inside chest pocket for my phone, applied the back neck facing with a Hong Kong finish, and attached a back belt that’s less “fiddly” than the type from Thread Theory’s website. This is all part of what I call the “Superpower” of sewing… We can have exactly the features that we want!
In conclusion, every change I made to this pattern, especially in the basic construction, paid off. Sometimes you just have to “sew off script”. In so doing, I’ve been able to take a pattern that I liked……to love! And for me, that’s huge.
Time to remove all the basting and hit the backyard! Spring comes late to the coast of Maine, so the extra layer was much appreciated for a very chilly photoshoot.
Wishing you all Happy Spring sewing!
Waistcoat – Boiled wool , Metro Textiles NYC
Teal / copper jacquard, Gorgeous Fabrics
Shirt – Linen, Grayline Linen NYC
Trousers – Thread Theory Jedediah Pants, Cotton twill, Metro Textiles
Navy striped tie – Vintage Rooster
Peach tie – Polo Ralph Lauren
Cufflinks – Baltic amber, Ebay