Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fleece for Wintertime

I just finished a couple of fleece vests over the holidays. They're perfect for the weather here, substituting for a jacket on milder days or as an extra layer when it's colder.  Today is one of the colder days (Happy New Year!).  I'm still in pjs and probably will be for a while, so I'm going to show them on the dress form.

I cut out both vests at the same time and sewed them right after each other. This is the first one I sewed, using a cat print fleece remnant from JoAnn's.

And some detail shots, since the print obscures them a bit. Collar, yoke, zip and seams:

In-seam pockets:

The pattern is McCall's 5252 View A. Last time I looked, it was still in print.  The McCall's site appears to be down right now so I was unable to check.

I was attracted to it by the design details and the MP3 pocket. However, this is a Unisex pattern, which basically means it's designed for a guy. I used a combination of Small through the armscyes, tapering to Medium through the torso, and I had to do a lot of adjustments to make this vest work. I know, I should have known based on the fit on the female model (who looks none too happy about having to wear the sample garment).

First of all, it's very long. I ended up folding out 2" on the front yoke and upper back. I also shortened at the hem another 1 3/4". Second, the shoulders are also very wide. After sewing the vest together and basting the side seams, I tried it on and determined that I needed to narrow each shoulder by 1 1/4".  Basically, that just involved taking out the basting, laying out the vest and using the curved ruler to remove a crescent of fabric on each side. Due to the upper body adjustment, I had to move the pockets up. Fortunately I figured that out before inserting the zipper and hemming it. Oh yeah, that MP3 pocket? I left it out. I could not figure out a way to make it work with my iPhone 5 and not look ridiculous. The MP3 pocket is really  designed for a smaller device like a Nano. Good thing I have blue tooth ear buds, so it doesn't really matter. 

This pattern is also what Kathleen Fasanella calls "coffin clothes," in that all the details are only on the front--no yoke or seaming on the back. It doesn't matter so much with the print fleece, but if it were a solid... I guarantee that similar RTW garments are not designed like that, and I have the clothes to prove it. If I do use this pattern again (and I might), I will modify the back so that it's not just a blank piece of fabric. With all the issues I had with the fit, I do like the style. I think I'd like to try the pullover version of the hoodie at some point.

The next vest is made from sugar skull fleece I saw at Santa Fe Fabrics during last spring's Fiberly Train weekend. Skulls are a popular Southwestern motif due to Dia De Los Muertos.

Detail of the collar and zip:

Butterick 3257 is a copyright 2001 pattern that I've made twice before. It's a favorite, and unlike McCall's 5252, it's designed for women! Much easier to fit right from the envelope with minimal alterations. I used a combination of View C (the red vest) for the body and View D (the cat print vest) for the collar.

This pattern is designed for wovens and faux fur, so the sewing instructions assume the garment is lined. Since I used fleece, I omitted the lining, then simply turned under and top stitched hems in place. I had to improvise the collar but the instructions from McCall's 5252 came in handy when working it out. The collar is a bit high for me, but it's unlikely I'll ever wear this vest zipped all the way to the top.

Neither vest was particularly difficult to make, although the separating zipper can be a little tricky since it's important to match the upper edge, lower edge and any horizontal seams. I always use a longer zipper than called for by the pattern so I don't have to worry about sewing around the pull, then remove excess teeth later. I also try to leave the the entire zipper together when sewing it to the garment. That way it's more likely that the sides will match up.

I noticed that the JoAnn's fleece was thinner and less dense than the fleece from Santa Fe Fabrics, but it's not terrible. I wouldn't consider either to be "technical" quality fleece, but fine for normal wear. You can make a vest out of a small piece of fleece. I had a yard or less of each, and I have remnants left that I can use for mitts, etc. 


theresa said...

Nice vests, Nancy, and I really like the sugar skulls vest. We are having a cold rainy spell right now in usually sunny Tucson. I've got a Butterick jacket/vest pattern for fake shearling that I'm going to do up soon; just the thing for throwing in the car for "in case" chilly weather. And I agree on the unisex patterns being cut for the guys.
Theresa in Tucson

Mary said...

These are wonderful. I have a vest for DH on my list and need to figure out how to finish the inside of the zip. The first one I made was amateurish. Love both of these prints!

Liana said...

I remember you buying the Sugar Skull fabric! It's really cute made up. I have a fleece vest pattern that's very similar that I've made several times, but it's copied from a RTW fleece vest that I liked, but wanted to alter to fit me better. You're right about the coffin clothes thing. Details in the back are important!

shams said...

I love those! I also have that pattern, though I haven't used it yet. Maybe in 2015!