My Sew Sew Life-Mens’ 19th Century Vest

It’s time for another maker post. This one is a bit different because it is menswear. We attended an event in September that my husband needed a vest for (well, I decided he needed a vest for). The general dress code was Great Gatsby or Bohemian. I felt this was a pretty general guideline and just did what I wanted.

For my husband, I decided to make one of Folkwear’s 222 Vintage Vests. These vests are all fully lined, have front buttons. A and B have back belts with a small buckle.

I would rate this pattern as advanced. This is mainly because of the pocket welts on Vest A and B.

This pattern has three different 19th century vests and five separate patterns; two for men and three for women.

The women’s only pattern View C, which is a Victorian ladies vest. These vests were worn in a more casual setting, generally at home. Views A and B were originally men’s vests. However, Folkwear has sized them (with separate patterns) for women too.

View B

I let Michael pick from View B or A. He picked B, which is the oldest style of all three. Shawl collared vests showed up around the middle of the 19th century and have gone in and out of popularity. I am sure he will wear this vest for other things besides just a period specific event. It may be 19th century but it’s a great style and goes perfectly with his driving caps that he likes to wear.


This pattern required one yard of fashion fabric and 1 5/8 yards of coordinating lining. It also required 7/8 yards of interfacing. I used a black medium weight iron-on.

I knew that I wanted linen and found it at Mood Fabrics. I scouted about ten samples and had Michael narrow it down to his five favorite ones. When the samples arrived, he settled on a 100% linen in a black and soft coral tweed. From the distance, the visual combination of the two colors give off a rich textured brown surface. Mood describes it as Sanremo Coral and Ash Two-Toned Linen Woven.

Fitting the Pattern and Making the Muslin

I would consider this pattern to be a slim fit and Michael is not a slim fit guy. Using the measurements on the pattern envelope, I first made a muslin of the vest in his closest size and had him try that one on. I could immediately see that I had to make adjustments to the front of the vest.

Using my book, Fitting For Every Figure by Threads, I altered the vest front to fit him perfectly. Once the muslin was resized correctly, I used it for my pattern. There are probably many good alteration books out there but I have been very happy with this one.

During my early days of sewing (my teens and twenties), I never made a muslin; just cut into the fabric. It was a miracle that anything fit!

Making the Vest

The vest front is cut on the bias and has two welt pockets. It had been years since I made welt pockets. Needless to say, I was a tad nervous and I took it really slow with a lot of hand basting. Truthfully, I’m not 100% happy with the outcome.

This led me to take an online class from Kenneth King about making what he calls the “Origami Single Welt”. I took it through the Pattern Review community of which I am a member. It is an amazing class. and I will forever use his technique on all future welts. There are absolutely no seams at the edges which would have been wonderful for the linen I was working with.

Here’s a link to a Threads article explaining the technique. I don’t know if I could have made a welt just using this article. Kenneth King does run through things pretty quickly and there are a lot of steps. Attending his 1 1/2 hour class made this technique very clear plus he answered any of our questions.

New Tools

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I took a few years off from sewing. Returning, I have been happily surprised by some of the tools that I have found. One of the newer things I’ve gotten is a Simflex Expanding Sewing Gauge. Deciding where to put buttonholes is now a cinch. It can be used anytime you need exact repetitive measurements. Oh, how wish I that I had this back in the day when I was making all our drapes with those pinch pleats!

Summing I Up

It had been a few decades since I had made anything remotely tailored and there was some grumbling during the process. I kept thinking how I couldn’t remember why I was always making these kind of garments back in the day. When Michael put it on, I had my answer. Tailored pieces look so great and you get a big sense of accomplishment when they fit well and look good.

Just a close up of both of us because I just love the fabric. See that floating soap they were using for the photo booth?-it left a stain on the back of his vest. I’m not happy with whoever came up with that idea.

This is the end of this sewing review. I would still like one more vest from this pattern. I have always loved a classic men’s vest which I consider View A to be and will need a reason to make those origami welts!

Sew long and happy seaming!

A quick word about Pattern Review. For years, I didn’t really understand what this community was about and would occasionally just use it to check out certain patterns. I even joined back in 2016 (of which I forgot about). This summer, wanting to find ways to connect with other sewists, I started looking at PR a little closer and realized I had joined it twice! The name I go by, which is my new membership is just my name TerriGardner. I’ve come to really love this world wide group of sewists. The group is in English but the membership really is all over the world. I wish I had realized earlier what this group had to offer, but better late then never! If you sew or are thinking about getting back into sewing then this is the group for you. Members are from all skill levels and the opportunity to learn is endless.

10 thoughts on “My Sew Sew Life-Mens’ 19th Century Vest

  1. You two look so amazing in these stunning outfits.

    On Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 8:27 AM MeadowTree Style wrote:

    > terrigardner1 posted: ” It’s time for another maker post. This one is a > bit different because it is menswear. We attended an event in September > that my husband needed a vest for (well, I decided he needed a vest for). > The general dress code was Great Gatsby or Bohemian. I f” >

    Liked by 1 person

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