Denim Waistcoat

Posted on March 8, 2024
Tags: madeof:atoms, craft:sewing, FreeSoftWear

A woman wearing a single breasted waistcoat with double darts
at the waist, two pocket flaps at the waist and one on the left
upper breast. It has four jeans buttons.

I had finished sewing my jeans, I had a scant 50 cm of elastic denim left.

Unrelated to that, I had just finished drafting a vest with Valentina, after the Cutters’ Practical Guide to the Cutting of Ladies Garments.

A new pattern requires a (wearable) mockup. 50 cm of leftover fabric require a quick project. The decision didn’t take a lot of time.

As a mockup, I kept things easy: single layer with no lining, some edges finished with a topstitched hem and some with bias tape, and plain tape on the fronts, to give more support to the buttons and buttonholes.

I did add pockets: not real welt ones (too much effort on denim), but simple slits covered by flaps.

a rectangle of pocketing fabric on the wrong side of a denim

piece; there is a slit in the middle that has been finished with topstitching.

To do them I marked the slits, then I cut two rectangles of pocketing fabric that should have been as wide as the slit + 1.5 cm (width of the pocket) + 3 cm (allowances) and twice the sum of as tall as I wanted the pocket to be plus 1 cm (space above the slit) + 1.5 cm (allowances).

Then I put the rectangle on the right side of the denim, aligned so that the top edge was 2.5 cm above the slit, sewed 2 mm from the slit, cut, turned the pocketing to the wrong side, pressed and topstitched 2 mm from the fold to finish the slit.

a piece of pocketing fabric folded in half and sewn on all 3

other sides; it does not lay flat on the right side of the fabric because the finished slit (hidden in the picture) is pulling it.

Then I turned the pocketing back to the right side, folded it in half, sewed the side and top seams with a small allowance, pressed and turned it again to the wrong side, where I sewed the seams again to make a french seam.

And finally, a simple rectangular denim flap was topstitched to the front, covering the slits.

I wasn’t as precise as I should have been and the pockets aren’t exactly the right size, but they will do to see if I got the positions right (I think that the breast one should be a cm or so lower, the waist ones are fine), and of course they are tiny, but that’s to be expected from a waistcoat.

The back of the waistcoat,

The other thing that wasn’t exactly as expected is the back: the pattern splits the bottom part of the back to give it “sufficient spring over the hips”. The book is probably published in 1892, but I had already found when drafting the foundation skirt that its idea of “hips” includes a bit of structure. The “enough steel to carry a book or a cup of tea” kind of structure. I should have expected a lot of spring, and indeed that’s what I got.

To fit the bottom part of the back on the limited amount of fabric I had to piece it, and I suspect that the flat felled seam in the center is helping it sticking out; I don’t think it’s exactly bad, but it is a peculiar look.

Also, I had to cut the back on the fold, rather than having a seam in the middle and the grain on a different angle.

Anyway, my next waistcoat project is going to have a linen-cotton lining and silk fashion fabric, and I’d say that the pattern is good enough that I can do a few small fixes and cut it directly in the lining, using it as a second mockup.

As for the wrinkles, there is quite a bit, but it looks something that will be solved by a bit of lightweight boning in the side seams and in the front; it will be seen in the second mockup and the finished waistcoat.

As for this one, it’s definitely going to get some wear as is, in casual contexts. Except. Well, it’s a denim waistcoat, right? With a very different cut from the “get a denim jacket and rip out the sleeves”, but still a denim waistcoat, right? The kind that you cover in patches, right?

Outline of a sewing machine with teeth and crossed bones below
it, and the text “home sewing is killing fashion / and it's

And I may have screenprinted a “home sewing is killing fashion” patch some time ago, using the SVG from wikimedia commons / the Home Taping is Killing Music page.

And. Maybe I’ll wait until I have finished the real waistcoat. But I suspect that one, and other sewing / costuming patches may happen in the future.

No regrets, as the words on my seam ripper pin say, right? :D