Clothing from Scarves: the Vest

I have been playing around with making clothes from scarves.  I love scarves and I have quite a few big ones from traveling to different countries.  It’s a great way to bring home a little fabric from a beautiful place.  And I love fabric!  The size doesn’t really matter but ideally you want the width to be at least as much as or greater than twice your arm length for the best drape.  The total over all height should be at least 3 times your armhole size, roughly 30 inches.

So here’s the final product and if you play with it you can wear it different ways.

final outfit                                                   open vest

It was so easy to make too.  First you find the middle by folding in half, width wise. Iron it so you have a crease to help you stay oriented.  Figure out how wide you are from shoulder to shoulder by having a friend help you measure or try your dress form.  Divide this number in half and you will use that number as your measurement from the middle to the arm hole.

2 scarf vest folded

Now in order to figure out how far from the edge you put the armholes, you fold the scarf in half lengthwise twice, so your arm holes will start a quarter (1/4) of the total width of the scarf from the edge.  Press the fold to mark it for you.  Lay the scarf flat and measure from the middle crease, half your back width, mark with a pin on your quarter crease.

How long your armholes are is personal preference. Mine are usually 10-12 inches. So once you’ve got the starting point for your arm holes, cut them open using a pin to mark where to end.  Start by cutting smaller and try it on.  You can always cut more but you can never cut less!  I then use my serger and some thin (1/4) inch stabilizer to do a rolled hem on the edge of the arm hole.  A final pressing to bond the stabilizer and iron out the folds and you are ready to wear.

shoulder binding

You can see I made a knit top that has a wrap neck to mimic the vest.  I chose Vogue 7799 View C, which is sadly out of print.  I am glad I kept that pattern.  A good alternative is McCall’s 6513.  Or Kwik Sew 3915.  Hello stay tape, where have you been all my life.  I started using stay tape after watching an episode of Sewing with Nancy.  She explained all the different stay tapes and how to use them to help your knits.  Now I was using a nice, light rayon knit for my top and I used woven stay tape on the shoulders.  I wanted some support on the top of the armcycle seam as well and I couldn’t find any knit stay tape at Joann’s so I made my own out of some knit iron-on interfacing, putting it from notch to notch.  I left the bottom without interfacing because the seam has to give somewhere.  I love the results and will never go with out stay tape on knits again!

shirt to go withsupported shoulder seam

Classic Jacket Style

One of my favorite things to make are jackets. I love jackets and I love layered looks, plus I always get cold in offices with air conditioning. I need an outer layer. My favorite jackets are fitted and classic in styling. I am not a big fan of the boxy fit seen more today. I tend to stick with a pattern that works for me because once I have done all that altering and fitting work you can’t make just one!

My go to jacket pattern is the Simplicity 4954.  I see it is sadly out of print.  You might still be able to find it on ebay.  I love it for the variations you can make. It is also relatively easy because it has no lapels, which makes it easy to alter and design. The first one I made was probably 8 years ago out of this neat brown boucle (on the right).  It had too much stretch so I interfaced the whole thing.  I still get compliments on it.

 4954                                                  brown jacket

Next I made a spring jacket with new details like zippers in the sleeves and a bracelet clasp as the closure.

spring jacketspring jeacket sleeve detail                                                                       Springs jacket clasp detail

Next I started experimenting with peplums thanks to my Threads magazine. I wanted a gathered peplum so not only did I have to spread the hem to get the width I needed I also had to spread the patter at the back and at the front so I could gather in those two places. It came out pretty good in a light weight tropical wool from Vogue Fashion Fabrics (more on them later).

peplum jacket                                                            peplum jacket back

Then I got it into my head I wanted a traditional Chanel style jacket. So I bought Claire Schaffer’s guide book and followed it. I didn’t go all the way and do all the details but I did a lot and it was great. Too bad that was before I was blogging.   Her pattern is a Vogue Pattern 8804.

chanel jacket                        chanel jacket 2

I was browsing through the websites to see what else was out there and I didn’t find much in a classic princess seam style like I have so I’ll be hanging on to that one. There were a few nice ones on Vogue, 9093 and 8982. I might have to try the more modern unlined one!

V8804                                                        V8982

Designers I Love!

The more I sew the more I become interested in design and different designers. Now when I see stuff I like I look for more from those designers. Since I am not a big gambler I had time to kill while in Las Vegas. So I shopped for ideas since I couldn’t afford the clothes but those are free! I found one such place in the shops at Caesar’s Forum, Elie Tahari. She had a lot of interesting dresses and vests that were made out of neoprene and reversible. But as I look at the site I think that was last year. Still interesting. Next year’s (2016) shows a lot more lace and primarily white and black.

ELi Tahari

I also have gotten into the show Project Runway. I don’t know why I have never watched this! Maybe it was because I thought it was too much runway looks and unconventional design but I was so wrong. There is a lot of ready to wear inspiration to be had. I saw several things I would buy this season (Season 14).

I can’t decide who I’m hoping will win Season 14 of Runway. I like Swapnil for high fashion style.


But I also like Edmond Newton’s work.

Edmond Newton

I think my overall favorite is going to be Candice Cuoco.


Details for Inspiration

So I am an idea stealer. I admit it. I read magazines, look in couture shops, drool over pinterest, and surf the web to look for inspiration for sewing. I rarely find something I just love and it’s perfect. It usually has great detail but wrong color. Good color but wrong size. You get what I mean. So if I can get away with it I take pictures of the items that I find and note what I like so I may borrow it someday. Since about 10 years BP (Before Pinterest) I had binders and folders full of clippings and pictures. You remember those scrapbooks? Now I have folders of photos on my computer, phone, and pinterest just for inspiration. Often I just find a pattern to die for but can’t find the right fabric so I must wait.

So I was in store last spring and saw this cute dress and Chanel style jacket with great detail so I snapped a few pictures. Now I don’t wear pink and haven’t found the perfect fabric for this yet but I patiently wait. I’ll know it when I see it.

1 detail inspiration


detail inspiration (2)detail inspiration 3

Here’s the dress with the waist and hem detail.

This would look great in a loose tweed or boucle.   Any one tried this detail yet?

Must Have Sewing Accessories

Last time I talked about my sewing machines, but they are only part of the whole production. I have to admit that while I like to be organized, my fabric stash is a mess and currently is in bags according to knit or woven. Not great if I am looking for scraps. I love things out where I can see them but then I worry about light damage. So that is a work in progress. At least my thread and tools are organized! I love my peg board.


It is just a piece of peg board framed in molding. I painted it the same colors as the wall and the trim so it blends. I love having all my threads where I can see them easily and I can grab my scissors easily (if I haven’t left them on the ironing board). You can see I have more space to fill and want to add some sort of spools for elastic and other trims.

My favorite accessory by far is my dress form.

Dress Form

I researched this and took a long time making a decision but this one was the best value for the money. I tried to make one out of duct tape like you’ve seen on YouTube and all over the internet. The trick is with those is you have to fill them with something to make them stable. I did as was suggested and used that spray foam insulation but it expanded too much and deformed the shape. So I looked at all those with the dials and adjustments but didn’t think they would accurately match my body. Then I found the Uniquely You dress form. It has been great. You have to custom fit the cover to your body and then squeeze the foam form into your custom cover. The great thing is you can adjust as your body changes. Just whip off the cover and refit (let out usually)! They even sell covers only so you can start over if you need to. It has been great for fitting all kinds of things. I set mine to match my height as well so when I am working with skirts I can look at hem lengths.

No serious clothes sewer should be without a dress form. Next I’ll review some of my past projects and successes over the years.