Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dress into Vest, Shirt into Jacket

I leave today for Santa Barbara for Design Outside the lines, and have been sewing up a storm.  The new season, the hints of spring and anticipating traveling to an event with 20+ other passionate sewists has gotten me inspired.  I'm focusing on making things I can wear right now, that work with existing tops and pants, that are good for travel, comfortable, and that layer together.  Black is a standby, I know I'll always wear a black jacket, and I've been collecting black vests.  The fabrics must work together, ideal if the vest has a smooth/slippery surface.  

Dress into Vest
I used a shirting weight polyester from a Japanese mill with black on black woven in crinkle dots, (sorry, sold out).  The fabric is smooth with a light airy texture, an ideal weight for now and into spring, and it slips on easily under the jacket.  

Other Fabrics that would work:

Stitched down the ribbon in the casing at about the shoulder line to hold the collar up in the back.  

Pattern alterations:  
  • Eliminated the bottom band.
  • Added 1/2 " to the armhole.  Deepening the armhole gives room to layer over tops.
  • Initially, I cut it to the full dress length, but ended up shortening it to the length of a 24" separating zipper.
  • The zipper teeth were WAY too shiny silver, so I used a black Sharpie to mute the shine.

Re-Shaping the Armhole
This is one of those subtle and flattering fitting/design changes that have to be done on the body while the garment is in process.  I took the idea and proportion from a purchased vest.  I shaped/scooped out the armhole, which makes for a more flattering line.  The finished shoulder width is about 3", but you must do this adaptation to work on your own figure.  

Here is how... see photo below:
  • Pin the side seams, placing pins right along the seamline with the seams to the outside.  
  • Mark the new line with a row of only need to do this on one side.   
  • Remove side seam pins so garment lies flat.
  • Pin the armholes together lining up at the shoulder seam.
  • Using the pin markings as a guide, draw in a clean smooth curve.  I use a French curve for this.
  • Add seam allowance and cut.
  • Finish the armhole with narrow double self bias binding.

 Shirt into Jacket
This is one of my favorite patterns, I've done it as a shirt as shown in the pattern, tweaked it into a vest, and made it into a dress.  For some time I've wanted to try it in a knit.  Here, I used our Initially I planned this to be a dress, cutting the peplum longer, but it did not work on me, so I shortened it to jacket length, and voila!  The fabric is our 5 Star Black Ponte, a fabulous quality and weight (also comes in brown and navy), just got a new shipment and more is coming.  The finished garment is like a cross between a jacket and a sweater, the fabric feels fabulous, has a beautiful weighty drape.  

Pattern Alterations
  • Cut 2 left fronts and used the narrower front placket.  
  • Cut the armhole 1/2" deeper so it will slip on over other garments.
  • Cut the back on the bias as per the pattern, though with a knit you probably wouldn't need to do this....this fabric is very stable, so it worked well.
  • Placed the buttons and buttonholes along the edge of the placket.

Other Fabrics that Would Work:

The two pieces layer together beautifully and the vest slides on easily underneath.  

The collars nest together beautifully.


  1. Holy cow, so much new stuff. All just wonderful too, thanks for continued inspiration.

  2. I love the collar adjustment and I will try that, thank you! It's so pretty, with its tiny no-crumple ruffle.

    Welcome to Santa Barbara - we are having flat-out amazing weather today!!

  3. I have made 8709 three times now and each time I am impressed at the engineering marvel that it is. It has been made as a jacket, vest and dress. I love the way it hangs and fits me through the shoulders. Thank you for sharing all the many ways we can use your patterns. It certainly stretches our imaginations and sewing skills.

  4. I love the look of 8709 but the pockets do my body no favors. I think I need to revisit the muslin I made, to see how to tweak the pattern so it flatters me. I love the placket and really want to give this a go again!

  5. Dixie: you could easily eliminate the pockets, could trim down the peplum, eliminate or change the back pleat. On my vest versions I made a copy of the peplum, then added in side seams, pleated out some of the flare, removed the back pleat, added a different hem shaping at the back.... To make it into a coat, deepen the armhole, make sure the bust dart hits you in the right place, and I'd consider adding side seams to the pelplum and reshaping it. I found adding too much length to the peplum created too much flare at the hem (for me anyway). All this might not happen in one fell swoop....need to test and re-test. See what Shams did in her efforts with this pattern:

  6. Thank you Marcy for such detailed and easy to understand instructions! Being able to work this way with tried-n-true patterns really increases a person's wardrobe flexibility and sewing efficiency.

    Plus, if you just lurve a pattern nothing's more fun than being able to make it up again and again! I just rec'd 8876 in the mail - my first go will be to make it up as a little blouse in some tangerine cotton/silk i have, sparked with some dusty lime silk dupioni. I'm looking forward to it!

    Happy Sunday all! steph