About eight years ago I made a resolution: to learn to crochet, to knit, to quilt and to sew one of those gorgeous looking vests for kids using a vintage woollen check blanket, all by the time I had babies/children of my own to benefit from such skills. Well, I learnt to crochet via YouTube videos whilst living on an outback cattle station and living in a donga, three years before I had any babies. My quilting skills are basic at best but I have made a few cot sized quilts for friends babies. And as for knitting? I have well and truly left that up to Grandi – know your strengths and limits! The woollen blanket vest was still on the list to ‘one day’ attempt – truth be told I am fairly hesitant/scared/worried to sew anything other than cottons. Knits, rayons and the like scare the living daylights out of me, I’ll just stick in my safety net comfort zone bubble thanks very much. La la la la la! But part of #emmas2018 was not only sewing one item a month for the girls (#snort) but also pushing myself when it comes to trying new things and challenging what I know, in both the kitchen and the sewing room.
So, I purchased the Twig + Tale ‘Pathfinder’ vest pattern. I had some thicker wool fabric I had bought on clearance with the intention to make a little cape/jacket for myself with once upon a time – turned out the clearance amount wasn’t enough to make much for an adult size anything, so the fabric sat forlornly on my sewing room shelves. Actually, I think I bought this fabric in the Mount Gambier Spotlight when we lived in South Australia four years ago! I wanted to sew something for my bestie’s little boy Hunter though, who is a little bit older than Harriet so had a birthday coming up. I knew Kate loved those vintage blanket vests like I did, and I thought: “I could make one!” Yes, yes I could.
The green check fabric was nowhere near as thick as a woollen blanket, and Hunter doesn’t live in cold, wet, dreary Gippsland so probably didn’t need a super thick Winter vest – my green check would be my ‘trial’ run of the vest. I ummed and ahhed over what colour to line the vest with, but ended up going with a chocolate brown cotton.
The pattern itself was a dream to follow – can highly recommend the Twig + Tale patterns. This was my first pattern of theirs (being a Tadah addict), but it was very well written, clear and deliberate steps and directions. I was a bit worried about doing a hood – sewing rounded curves onto straight lines – eek! But I needn’t have worried, lots and lots of pins will get you everywhere. I love how sewing, regular and deliberate and methodical sewing, can get my brain ticking in a way that it doesn’t usually have to on a day-to-day stay-at-home-mum way. Lateral thinking is not my strong suit, I’m such a visual learner, so often following a paper pattern rather than a YouTube video isn’t my cup of tea. This didn’t afford me any dramas though – a Saturday afternoon in my sewing room and I was sailing along!
…that is, until I got to the side seams of the inside lining. Any lined garment can cause my brain to hurt. And my brain hurt. I was legitimately completely bamboozled how it was meant to go together. Thankfully, there is a very friendly, very helpful Twig + Tale Facebook group (of course there is!) So I posed the question there, that I was completely flummoxed by what, on paper, looked to be so simple! Several times I put it down. Walked away. Revisited in a few days. Still much head scratching. Poor little Hunter’s birthday came and went, and the side seams of his vest were still open! Disaster. I mainly was too scared to even attempt anything, lest I ruin any of my hard work to get the vest to the point it was at: the finish!
I finally bit the bullet and wrapped my tired little brain cells around ‘the doughnuts’ theory – it did seem to work, as people had told me it would. My finished seams were still fairly ordinary looking (I possibly should have hand sewn them with a ladder stitch…always food for thought for next time), but this was, after all, my ‘trial run’. Dodgy inside side seams which won’t be seen by anyone and all, the little green check vest turned out very sweet I thought – perfect for a little man’s second birthday.
And next time? I’ll possibly attempt the other technique to finish the lining seams on the Pathfinder vest. And handsew the openings shut. And do shorter loops for the toggles. And use an actual thick vintage woollen blanket (I’ve actually since started hoarding piles of them from buy swap and sell Facebook groups and op shops – I’ve created a monster!) Sights are now set on my second vest, perhaps one for Harriet, and a coat for Eleanor maybe…just as soon as I finish that Liberty and linen quilt I started when Eleanor was a baby…
Would love to know if anyone else has attempted/succeeded/struggled with the Pathfinder vest pattern? Honestly, other than that final (crucial!) step I was sailing along. But like most patterns, the more I make, the better I will get. Practice practice practice. Looks like it’s vests all around for birthday’s (act surprised, family!)