It is when the air gets crispier, bringing outrageous colors in the foliage, the light gets warmer, bathing everything in shades of sorbet, and the nights get longer, freeing me to conceive and birth sewing projects, that I get truly excited. Fall is the season for layered outfits, to keep us warm in the chillier mornings and give us options to shed the layers as the day progresses. And one of those brisk mornings, as my spouse was pulling out her cardigan to wrap up against the chill, she stated, as a matter of fact-ly, that she “needed” a cozy long vest. Ta-dah, went my mind, brilliant idea indeed! Throw it over a shirt or a turtleneck to instantly elevate any outfit. Or look put together for that early morning video conference meeting, and provide an extra layer of insulation.
I’ve been fascinated by the creativity of Thom Browne for a while now, and for SS2023 he came up with wonderful layered outfits featuring coordinated bodysuits, lingerie, bottoms, tops and outerwear. Lo and behold, some of the looks featured sleeveless long coats over shirts. Of course, you could call them “vests”, but the structure and padded shoulders elevated them to the status of coats. And that’s what my idea resembles: sew a long coat without sleeves; keep it structured and retain the shoulder pads for an extra oomph. It is a long vest, but it is a coat as well!
In the Fabricville store I spotted a versatile coat pattern – Burda 6845, long or short, with princess seams, notch lapels, and flap pockets. My spouse and I chose splendid heavy plaid jacketing in grey and pink tones (65% poly / 35% cotton). We picked up pale pink polyester lining and Gutermann threads in pink 910, dark grey 111, and topstitch dark grey 701. However, there are many more other splendid options for creating cozy long vests, both in patterns and fabrics!
The pattern includes all the pieces for outer shell and for the facings and linings. The collar has a collar stand, which helps with the collar roll. The upper collar is a separate piece, with some extra margins to allow the collar to fall back gracefully. There is an undercollar bust dart, and it has a genius way of connecting with the collar; I will definitely use this concept in my pattern making.
With all my love for Burda patterns, I was a bit disappointed by a few confusing instructions, like sewing an underarm bust dart, which does not exist in this model, and the way to attach the lining to both the center back vent and to the edge of the front facings. I would have preferred the lining to cover the center back vent completely, but it is not a deal-breaker.
Another set of instructions which would have benefited from optimization is construction of the flap pocket. I find that the end result gives a bulkier finish, than other ways to put it together.
Since I omitted the sleeves in the garment, I had to keep my eyes open at the fittings, checking the shoulder-bust area for possible defects. Usually, coat patterns have more generous circumference ease, extended shoulders and partially omitted bust darts, making the armhole larger. All of the mentioned considerations were present in this pattern, which I made up in size 38 (12).
Therefore, we decided to insert ½ inch shoulder pads and narrow the shoulders by about 1 inch, without cutting the extra fabric, because I used it to “envelope” the shoulder pads. As a result, the vest conformed to the body and did not display any of the fitting issues. Losing the sleeves left the question of finishing the armhole open. I opted to slash the seams margins at the curves, fold, pin and attach the lining by hand. This allowed me to control the results of all the changes introduced at the shoulder area.
This project allowed me to practice making buttonholes by hand. The result is acceptable, but the perfectionist in me screams for more, much more practice!
I am very satisfied by the process and the result of making this cozy long vest. The combination of the pattern, fabric and notions work very well for this long vest. The instructions are easy to follow. The heavy plaid jacketing was absolutely lovely to work with: it has suppleness and enough stability, allowing me to easily steam and iron it. I ran it through the washer and dryer before cutting it, and it handled the process very well. In the finished garment it wrinkles, but not excessively.
And if making a coat intimidates anyone, just approach it as a large puzzle – it is just a puzzle! And even though it has a few more pieces, constructing principles remain the same. A bit more patience guarantees amazing result! My spouse concurs.