When I was making my dresses for The Day and Night Dress Challenge, I decided that a little jacket would be a great accessory piece to go with them. Since my coffee dress has lovely little sleeve flounces, I wanted to be able to show them off. The style solution that came to mind was a vest. This faux fur motorcycle vest has been a great little layering piece!
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Faux fur motorcyle vest
Vests of all kinds are de rigeur in Colorado. The wind picks up, and a chill comes in the air, and people here pull out their puffers, fleeces, quilted, faux furs and everything in between. To be honest, I’ve eschewed the idea of a vest for years. How is taking off the sleeves on a jacket keeping you warm? Also, I kind of hate how wintery vests can be pretty boxy.
As I was thinking about making my own vest, I kept two things in mind: 1) It’s gotta be warm and 2)let’s reign in the poof.
Fabric: not quite minky, definitely Muppet-like but with crop circles
For my faux fur motorcycle vest, I chose this pale aqua faux fur. To say it’s my favorite color is an understatement! I’ve used it before as accents on this cardigan, and as this hat. It’s very warm, but it’s kind of hard to classify. Upon feeling it, you’d think it felt a bit like minky, a bit like a super soft chenille, yet it has a good 1/2″ raised pile. Picture someone’s head shaved with designs in it.
There’s a little bit of stretch in the fur, so I treated it as a knit, but for the most part, it’s rather stable. To go with it, I added a matching rib knit from a thrifted sweater. I previously used the body of the sweater for my colorblocked Lisbon cardigan. There was ample ribbing leftover and it’s a good color match for the fur.
Pattern: Ottobre 5-2014-3 knit motorcycle jacket
In keeping with my requirement that my vest be warm, I chose this knit motorcycle jacket from Ottobre. I’ve made it before as this quilted jacket, and to date, it’s my most worn jacket. It might be the only jacket that I’ve made an officially worn out. The motorcycle style adds a tremendous amount of warmth to this jacket. This is because the hood crosses over center front, thereby shielding your neck from the wind in a way that a standard hoodie does not.
I brought in the sides a bit so they’re more fitted. It’s still boxier than a tailored jacket would be, but it’s a level of comfort I’m happy with.
Collar vs. hood
Because I wanted to incorporate the ribbing and did not have enough to make a full hood, I opted for a collar instead. The collar is a simple rectangle the width of the ribbing that I had. On the original sweater, it formed a huge cowl neck.
The ribbing also finishes the bottom of the jacket and the armholes since I took off the sleeves.
One thing I really like about this collar is that you can drape the ribbing for a slightly different scarf-like effect.
There really are welt pockets in this vest though the fur obscures them! Jackets without pockets are virtually unusable, so even though I was initially intimidated with putting in welt pockets in fur, I was going to do it to get the added functionality.
In the end, the welts went in really easily. To make the welts more manageable, I did a couple things:
- I added interfacing to the welts themselves.
- There is interfacing in the pocket area with the rectangle to be sewn marked with a sharpie. You should ALWAYS interface behind welt pockets, but the drawn rectangle is really helpful when working with a fabric that’s hard to see on like the fur.
- I worked from the wrong side of the fur for better visibility. The sharpie helped a lot, but the wrong side of the fabric was even better.
These went in so drama-free that I’m a little disappointed that the pile of the fur makes them hard to see. Oh well. I’ll enjoy the added warmth and place to stash my keys.
Separating zipper in faux fur
A separating zipper in theory could be the toughest part of this little jacket because of the fur. There’s no good marking tool that will show up against the high pile, and there’s not a good way to baste the zipper in place.
To help with this, I drew a line on the backside of the fur and ran a simple line of basting right on the line. Then, working from the right side, I lined up the edge of the zipper tape with the basting line. You could remove the basting line if you wanted to, but I left it because it was invisible. I finished the edge of the zipper tape with a tiny bit of the sweater knit.
Before I added the collar and the ribbing trim on the armholes, I made a quick lining from the same ivory sweater fleece I used for my yarn embroidered coat. The combination of the fleece and the fur is extremely warm with little weight. For a clean finish, I sandwiched the hem ribbing between the hem edge of the fur and the fleece. The front edges are then stitched and turned towards the inside.
After that, I added the collar and the ribbing around the arms.
All total, I spent about 2.5 hours on the whole jacket. For a lined jacket with a zipper and welt pockets, I’m pretty pleased with that. Who knew that sleeves took up so much extra time?
My new favorite wardrobe companion
This little vest has been changing my mind about vests in general. It’s been nice to discover that with vests you get all the advantages of the warmth of a jacket, but with the added mobility that comes from the sleeveless style. Around the house, I’m almost always wrapped in scarves in winter. This is sometimes really a bad idea like when I’m cooking. I may or may not have lit the fringe ends of my favorite cashmere scarf on fire on our gas stove! Thank goodness wool is self-extinguishing!
With the vest, I can go sans scarf in the house and cook without lighting myself on fire. I’ll go out on a limb and say that that’s a positive thing in any garment!
So what about you? Are you pro-vest, or do you reach for the sweaters instead in the cold?
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.