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Quilted Velvet Puffer Vest

When winter set in and I started thinking about what I wanted to wear, vests were at the top of my list. I tried a quick-and-easy vest and it was a hilarious flop, so I started working on making myself a quilted velvet vest. And I slooowly worked on it, and worked on it, and worked on it. It’s finally done (just in time for the weather to warm up, of course) and I don’t want to take it off, inside or outside. I think it’s the perfect blend of unique, comfy, practical, and pretty for me. I’m kinda obsessed.

Before you get too gaga about my velvet puffer vest, I have to admit that it’s not actually a silk velvet. It’s an upholstery velour or velveteen (I so remain perpetually a bit confused about the nuances of difference between velvet – velveteen – velour) which sounds decidedly less glamorous, but is infinitely more practical in that it doesn’t have a nap, doesn’t crush or mark, and will withstand much more abuse. But let’s go ahead and call it velvet for the sake of glamour, okay?

Somehow, though I have much less time to sew these days, I’m finding I have little to no interest in quick and easy projects. I want to make complicated things the long way. And that’s just what I did with this vest.

I started by making some quilted swatch samples. I tried different colors of thread, different numbers of layers of batting, and different quilting patterns. I settled on black thread, two layers of batting, and quilt lines 1″ apart from each other at 45 degree angle. I picked the black thread so that it would coordinate with the lining/piping, two layers of batting so that it would be puffy, and the 1″ quilt lines just seemed like a good distance while the 45 degree angle made pretty diamonds.

I cut pieces of velour, batting, and backing that were a bit larger than each of the pattern pieces and quilted them together on my sewing machine. My walking foot wasn’t working so it was not fun. Next time I’m buying pre-quilted fabric or using my mom’s longarm! I used “Women’s Fiberfill Vest” from 1977 by Mountain Sewn which is how REI used to publish sewing patterns.

After doing the quilting, I cut the pattern pieces since there was noticeable shrinkage of the fabric with the quilting. For the backing I used a couple different random polyester scraps that I had in my scrap bin. I knew they wouldn’t be visible through my lining and the pure poly just adds warmth. The white floral was from a maternity dress I never actually finished and the pink floral was left over from one of my Up In Arms blouse samples.

The most visible change I made to the pattern was the collar. As cut, I couldn’t turn my head because it stood up so high! I chopped an inch off the bottom. I also made some fit changes to the front. The vest is meant to be a technical vest and has no darts and little shaping. Since I’m wearing it as a fashion garment, I decided to add in darts and do an FBA. I had to reshape the upper front chest for a good fit as well. I should have done a bit of reshaping in the upper back/neck, but that wasn’t obvious with my muslin, only once the vest was pretty close to done, and I wasn’t about to rip and resew the whole thing.

Since the quilted fabric is so bulky, I sliced the darts and catch-stitched them open.

I also catch stitched open all the seams so they would lie flat.

And I catch-stitched the hem up (and the armhole seams in) so that the seam allowance wouldn’t push the lining down below the hem. You can see (in this fuzzy picture, sorry) on the left what it looks like before catch-stitching and on the right what it looks like after. So much hand stitching went into this thing!

To make things even more complicated interesting, I added piping I made out of bias strips of the lining to go around the collar and the edges of the yoke and pockets. I intended for them to stand out a bit more, but it didn’t work out that way. I didn’t have the right size cord to make corded piping, so I used flat piping. Which worked well for the collar. But I didn’t want there to be visible topstitching on the yoke or pockets so I sewed them to the body of the vest along the edge of the piping. Which was great for hiding the stitching but shrank down my piping to be pretty subtle. Oh well.

The vest is fully lined in a cheap but perfectly matching jacquard that I had in my deep stash (I bought it when I was in high school so it’s about time I used it!).

The zipper was also in my stash, a vintage zipper picked up at the thrift store at some point. I love the big loop on the zipper pull! I used its turquoise twin a while back to make a zippered sweatshirt and I’m going to keep my eye out for more zippers with big pulls since I really like them!

What else is there to say, other than I adore this thing?

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  1. Ooh, I really like that! That is such a nice colour and it looks so snuggly. Both my girls wore a velour playsuit in that colour when they were toddlers and it was my absolute favourite. Do you have enough left over for a matching outfit for your little bean?

  2. That’s fabulous! And I’m delighted to hear that someone else has a stash that goes back to high school. We just moved and unpacking it is quite a trip down memory lane. My husband asked if he filled a warehouse with my stash and two or three other people’s, how much of my own I could identify. 99%, I think. Ask me to list it, and I’d only remember my favorites, but show it to me? I’ll tell you whose stash it’s originally from (I’ve inherited several), what I was planning on making with it, and maybe even how likely it is that such a thing will ever be made ;-).

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