You guys, I made a piece of man’s clothing. An actual real-life garment that he wore in public and everything! Here is how it happened.
A year ago, when my husband (then-fiance) and I were shopping around for his suit for our wedding, we couldn’t find one within our budget that came with a matching vest. He, being a proper gentleman, didn’t want to splurge on a suit unless he could have the option of wearing it as a three-piece. Always classy, my man. Plus, he wanted to wear a vest at the wedding.
We eventually found suit trousers and a jacket that were the right shade of charcoal grey, looked absolutely dashing on him, and were affordable. So, on the spot, I accepted the challenge of sewing him a matching vest assuming we could get matching fabric. It couldn’t be that hard, right? (Eep!) So we struck a deal with the shop assistant – we would buy a suit jacket, five pairs of matching trousers and five white shirts (for his groomsmen) for a slightly discounted price and a promise of being supplied some matching fabric with which to make our own vest. At this stage, we had about a month till the wedding.
So we ordered the clothing and she took our money and we went away chuffed with how helpful she had been – not only did we have all the groomsmen all sorted, she had promised us fabric from their warehouse so we’d have a perfectly matching vest. Whoop.
Fast forward a few weeks and we had only just received our last groomsmen’s orders, and no fabric. The wedding was just around the corner. Our wonderful shop assistant had gone from claiming “the warehouse is closed today” to “the warehouse won’t answer my calls” to “the fabric might not be available after all” to just ignoring our calls and emails altogether. Not happy!
Anyway, the reason that story is important is because it explains why my husband got his wedding vest made out of a large pair of trousers! It turned out the shop assistant felt guilty for making false promises, so sent us, for free, the biggest pair of trousers she could find in that fabric. And what do you know – it was enough. Just!
In the time before receiving the trousers/fabric, I had made a mock-up of the vest to check the fit on my groom. He’s careful about things like having his cuffs and hems at the right length, and having the proper amount of vest showing underneath a done-up suit jacket – all those classy elements of a well-dressed gentleman – so I knew we would need to tweak the pattern to get it juuuuu-uuust right.
We spent a while looking at vests online, choosing style elements that he wanted in order to make his vest just perfect. How fitted? How long? How many pockets? Where? How many buttons? Where are the darts? What kind of adjustment on the back?
My stomach rolled when not only did he want welt pockets (which I’d never done before), he wanted diagonal welt pockets. Oh God. Well, I’d promised him I’d do it the way he wanted, so… I did it. Challenge accepted. Breathe.
Enter this fanTAStic tutorial on welt-pockets. Holy smokes. It changed my life. Naturally, I practiced about a billion times on scrap fabric (no way was I risking ruining the only bit of
trousers fabric we had!) but eventually I was brave enough to cut into the vest itself. Welt pockets are scary like that – you have to cut a hole into the front of the garment and hope that you get a straight line and that it’s in the right place and on the right angle! And then, you have to do it AGAIN, perfectly matching, on the other side! Yikes!
I was so damn proud of myself for this little feature.
After the pockets, the rest was relatively simple. The back of the vest (and the inside) is made with a matching charcoal grey bemsilk lining, and the whole thing is slipstitched closed on the inside so there are no visible stitching lines. There is a little buckle on the back for adjustments. The front of the vest is interfaced with a black, lightweight fusible interfacing (I know, I know, not horse hair or canvas like a real suit, but I didn’t know about that then!). We chose simple black buttons that matched his trousers and suit jacket. I even got all the buttonholes spaced properly and didn’t even stuff up one! Thanks, machine!
The other clever little hack I did was to create a facing on the bottom of the front of the vest. This was his idea, and I think it makes a huge difference. I think it took the vest from looking homemade to looking really beautifully tailor-made. No peeking lining for us!
So all in all, I spent way more time practicing my techniques (like button holes, welt pockets and custom fitting) than actually sewing the final garment. And now I’ve done one, I feel like I could do a thousand more, only better! I am super happy with this garment, and had such a warm sense of joy seeing him wear it and love it, on such a special day. I’d never made clothes for another person before, let alone for their wedding day! But he is a special case, I guess 😉
So I’ll finish with a few more construction shots and a few happy snaps of the finished vest in action (alongside my wedding dress)! Enjoy! ❤