Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sewing a Quilted Manly Moose Vintage Bubble Vest for my Hubby

This weekend I started (and almost finished) making a quilted "bubble" vest for my husband.  I started out with the following vintage pattern:

This pattern is from about the late 70s.  I actually found the fabric first (as I wrote about in an earlier blog) then set out to find something to make with it from in the thousands of patterns in my vintage pattern collection.  The version on the left, that the man pictured is wearing, is for pre-quilted material.  The version on the right (the lady) is for do-it-yourself quilted fabric.  I obviously did this version, if you gathered from the blog title, but decided to alter it somewhat.  Also, I did add the pockets from the version on the left (even though the pattern for the version I was making didn't include the option).

What's really cool is that this pattern was still in the original factory fold and had never been used.  This created a dilemma for me.  I hate cutting into vintage patterns, but I don't feel as guilty about it when they are from the 70s, and frankly it wasn't going to be in the factory fold anymore after I opened it, and my husband convinced me to save time and just cut the darned thing.  After starting on this project, I am glad that I did.

The fabric that I chose, I am completely in love with.  I'm not generally a big, manly, hunting-color, moose scenery loving, kinda gal, but it is honestly one of the most realistic prints I've seen and the colors and scenery are absolutely gorgeous.

What's neat is that this fabric wouldn't generally be a great apparel fabric.  But it is a good quilting fabric.  And since this vest is quilted I was able to turn it into an apparel fabric.  This fabric can be purchased here:

North American Wildlife Moose Blue

Incidentally, I took the following two photos in order to demonstrate how these pattern markings (the diamonds) were marked on the pattern pieces.  Notice how the diamonds actually go outside of the pattern cutting line?  I have noticed on several blogs people giving tutorials on patterns where they are cutting the notches INTO the seam allowance.  Even on modern patterns where the diamond is shown going into the pattern lines, you should always cut the notches as diamonds outside of the cutting line.  Don't cut into your seam allowance.

The first step was cutting the general squares of fabric in order to make the quilted fabric from which to cut the vest pattern pieces out of.  I used the two squares for the front and back which were provided from the pattern.  It required cutting out (no joke) 8 squares of batting, and 4 squares of fabric.  It took... a while.

After that, I got to transfer ALL of the quilting lines to the fabric.  The instructions actually wanted me to hand baste all of the quilting lines.  Um, hell no.  I actually found it much quicker and easier to lay a yard stick across the quilting guide, on top of the line, fold the pattern piece snugly over the yardstick and then use chalk to draw a straight line along the side of the yardstick onto the fabric.  I originally attempted this with a disappearing marking pen, but because sections of the fabric are both dark and light, neither the purple or the white marking pen showed the entire line on the fabric like the white chalk did.

Once all the lines were transferred to the fabric, I had to piece all of the squares of fabric and batting together.  It ended up being 2 pieces of fabric and 4 thick pieces of batting each, which sat about 3 or 4 inches thick on their own. Trent, the super dude to whom I am married and was lovingly making this for, even looked at the prepared fabric lying there, in shock at the thickness.  I received some odd looks and a few statements about how I could actually expect him to wear such a behemoth of an item. Remember the kid brother in Christmas Story?... "I can't put my arms down!"... yeah, I know what was going through Trent's head.

So anyway, I had to take this enormous freaking stack of fabric and batting...

... and then attempt to shove the monstrosity under the presser foot of my poor sewing machine:

Imagine for a moment that I handed you two big ol' dictionaries and asked you to sew them together.  That is about how incredibly easy this was(nt!).  Four bobbins, a spool and a half of thread, and a bushel of obscenities later, I ended up incredibly with something that looked like this.  Wow:

So neat! I almost didn't want to cut into it.  (Trent said he was really impressed with the outcome, seeing as how I had never quilted anything before in my life).  

Here comes the even more fun part.  If you noticed from the package of the pattern or any closeups of the pattern pieces, the pattern I have here, though it originally came in all sizes for men and women,  or course was the version for a woman size small.  So I got to do some fun pattern drafting and remake 99% of the vest pattern from scratch.  The only piece that I used from the package, without alteration, were the pockets.

I used the poor aimee's method.  The pattern paper that I used, seen here, is packing paper from a package which was shipped to me long ago.  I un-crinkled it all and ironed the paper pieces out smooth.  See my pattern weights?  Granite counter-top samples from when my parents redid their kitchen. :)

The drafted pattern pieces were made custom from Trent's actual measurements.

Once the pieces were all cut out, I did a fitting and pinned them together on him, and made further modifications to the arm and neck-holes based off of actual fit.

The vest pieces were then laid out on top of the quilted fabric squares for cutting.  Next I was faced with a very slight issue.  I used the quilting guide from the package to cut the squares from.  When deciding to do so, I checked them for length and width so as to be sure that they would be large enough to accomodate the man sized pattern pieces.  It wasn't going to be an issue at all.  Well... it hadn't occurred to me that a bit of length would be lost after quilting.  DOH!

Luckily, only about an inch of length is being lost and it still was plenty to fit on Trent without it looking like he went shopping in the kids section.  

So... cutting all of these out was hell. The stuff was so thick. I cut through it with pinking shears to fight fraying, and I literally was pressing one side of the scissors against the cutting table just for the strength to get through it all. I had to take a break when I was done.

I actually got quite a bit of sewing done on this thing over the weekend though.

For the inner lining, I used a beautiful hunter green color broadcloth.  (This fabric can be purchased here Cotton Blend Broadcloth Hunter Green)  Notice on the fabric description broadcloth is great for use for apparel, as a lining or for quilting.  Bingo. lol. :)

The seams are bound with bias tape, so that the vest itself is actually reversible since no seam will actually show and all of the edges and batting have been covered up.

So, this is what I got done on this fun (and intense) project over the weekend.  Here is another fitting, as shown on Trent...

Yes.  My husband thinks he's Kurt Cobain.

The sleeves have not been finished with the contrast broadcloth yet, nor had the bottom of the vest.  As you can also see in the photos there are no snaps along the front yet, and it's being held shut with pins.

What I am really happy about is notice how well I got the pattern to match up to the left and right of the snap front contrast? I love that aspect.

Also notice the pockets on the front of the vest. They are made so that they are flap top closure pockets, but on the sides they also open so that you can slide your hands in at your side.

I am already absolutely in love with this vest.  It is turning out so wonderfully and Trent can put his arms down. :)  I plan on finishing it tonight after I get home from work.  So watch for more photos!

Also, I received fabric for my next personal sewing project: a dress made from an original vintage 1943 pattern.

I am having so much fun, I told Trent that, except what we get at the thrift store, the rest of our family's clothing is all coming from what I make us, either with vintage sewing patterns or by my own design.  

Sewing and thrifting is so much fun people! Jump on the train!


  1. I'm not ashamed to say at this point that I love you for posting this. I've been searching on how to make something quite similar to this for a while and haven't found anything anywhere. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

  2. Thank you for the compliment! I wish my husband would wear it more often - I think he's outgrowing it ;) I really would like to make another one sometime soon! I have twins (who just turned 1 a couple weeks ago) and have been neglecting my sewing and crafts.


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