Knocking Off J. Crew Again: Simplicity 1499
My sewing tends to fall somewhere between process and product: I sew garments both because I want to make them and because I want them in my wardrobe. But sometimes there’s a project that, if I didn’t want the product so badly, I would have lit the thing on fire. This vest is one of those projects.
I think that Instagram and Pinterest are to blame for this vest. I saw cute outfits with the ubiquitous J.Crew vest all over the place, and you know how I love a versatile garment! I considered buying my own from a J.Crew outlet or on end-of-season clearance, but I just couldn’t get behind paying that much for polyester. If I was going to have this vest, it would be warm. It would be wool. I picked up Simplicity 1499 (a perfect dupe), ordered some herringbone wool from Mood, and got to work.
Really, the fabric was where my troubles began. Not the fabric itself–that was lovely–but my decision to deviate from the pattern’s recommendation of pre-quilted fabric. I wanted something more substantial and close to the inspiration vest, so I chose to quilt together the outer wool, a flannel lining, and a warm batting. I wanted my quilting lines to match across the princess seams on the front and back pieces as well as they could, so I assembled each of the three layers individually and then basted them together around all edges and through all seams before quilting. This alone took some time, but didn’t cause any trouble.
Then I tried to machine quilt, and it was a disaster. I tried a few techniques to keep my lines straight and prevent my lining (the underneath layer) from puckering, but it just wouldn’t work on my machine. I called my mom in frustration, and she found a walking foot that she had never used in with her sewing machine accessories. I brought my vest to Minnesota when we visited this summer, consulted with Mom about the best course of action, and had great success using the walking foot! Hooray! If only those darn things weren’t so expensive, I’d get one for my own machine.
After the quilting had been sorted out, there were miles and miles of binding to contend with. I wanted a more substantial bias binding, so I chose to make my own using a medium weight twill from JoAnn’s instead of the prepackaged stuff. It took an awfully long time to apply it on all edges. I don’t pretend that my work is perfect–I don’t have the mitered corners of a quilter–but it’s good enough for me.
The vest is topped off with a gold separating zipper. I remember feeling so close to being finished when working on the zipper…and then having to try three times for proper insertion. The zipper is attached to the bias tape, and that bias tape really wanted to shift while sewing, meaning that the bottom corners didn’t align properly. I honestly don’t remember how I dealt with this (maybe I blacked out from a bit of sewing rage), but I think that I did some very thorough hand basting.
I don’t think I’ll be making a closet full of these vests as I had originally hoped, but I really am glad that I saw this project through to the finish. I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of it since finishing in December, and I know I’ll get lots more use out of it in the future. And besides, the wool wouldn’t have sustained a flame anyway.