Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wool and Leather Denali Vest


You guys. THIS!


I am so over-the-moon about this Denali vest, from Seamwork mag, that I made for Jon's birthday! (Which was three weeks ago, but who's counting...).  I dug the original pattern, but my imagination kept running away with ideas, and this project definitely got complicated fast. I ended up lengthening the whole vest by about 3 inches, widening the collar about 1/2", adding all those lovely pockets, interlining with thinsulate, quilting, and adding the hidden (tartan!) zip.



Let's talk about all these delish fabrics! I used heavyweight wool coating from Mood fabrics, and interlined with thinsulate from Seattle Fabrics. After pricing leather (holy $$$!) Jon volunteered his old leather coat for the yoke. He never wears it, but it was in perfectly good condition, so I felt a bit rotten slicing it up.  Not that it stopped me, but it added a little more pressure! There's also some fleece in there, lining the collar and inside the hidden hand pocket.  Because fleece-lined pockets are sewist foreplay, y'all.


The lining is Napier family wool tartan that we picked up on our trip to Scotland. It's been sitting around for four years awaiting the perfect project, and I think I found it!


I've never done any kind of outerwear and I kind of made up the interlining and quilting as I went.  I cut the interlining using the lining pattern pieces and sewed it to the wrong side of the lining using about 1/3" seam, trimmed the extra thinsulate in the seam allowance and then treated the whole thing as one lining piece. I drew on my quilting lines as my second-to-last step, after the whole vest was assembled, before adding snaps. Mine are about 3" apart, and I learned afterwards that you are supposed to lengthen your stitch length for topstitching like this, so that the stitches show up nicely.



This is one of those steps that looks "okay" until you give it a good firm press and then you're like "holy shit this is the bomb!"


I have to say that, above all, this vest looks great because of the ridiculous amount of topstitching. Just about ever seam is turned and then topstitched, including the leather and every pocket piece. I think it really adds the professional finish that I crave.

Also, to whoever at Colette figured out this crazy-genius method of construction where every single seam is encased between the shell and lining: I salute your Stephen Hawking-esque spacial relations prowess. 


Jon was not super sold on the idea of snaps and really wanted a zip, so I did both (uh, is that a compromise?). I think this tarten-clad zipper insertion is going to have to get it's own post, coming soon! :) It zips on the inside and then snaps over top, for ultimate wind blockage.


I could not be happier with this vest, you guys, and Jon either loves the crap out of it and shows it off to all of his coworkers...or at least has to good sense to lie and say that he does!


Friends, have you ever made outerwear??

9 comments:

  1. This is sooo wonderful, I can't believe it. Your additions really make this much more attractive than what is shown on the Seamworks site (yes, I looked!) Or is it just your handsome husband? Are you going to make one for yourself or are you over it now? If there is leather left in Jon's old jacket, I think you should definitely use it!

    Honestly, Elise, you make me wish I still liked to sew!

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    2. Thank you Elise! I think the details and modifications definitely give it a professional look. I do want to make one for me (after a bit of a break!) but I think I want mine brown with red plaid inside. I'll have to source a brown thrift shop leather jacket I think--leather is prohibitively expensive!

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  2. This is gorgeous. I'm thinking of making one for my brother in law for Christmas; thanks for the link to the Thinsulate!

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    1. Tashabear--did you make a vest for your BIL?? I totally stalked your blig link but there was nothing there :(. I'd love to see it if you made one!

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  3. Hi Elise - I think this Denali creation of yours is stunning, and you have completely inspired me to sew a similarly styled one for my hubby! I also intend to lengthen the pattern, sub out the pockets, insert a zipper and snaps and use insulation. I am particularly curious about the zipper insertion, I would love to replicate the style you have here. Can you tell me more? Thanks!

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    1. Hi! I'm so sorry for the delayed reply! :( For the Left side of the zipper, (the side without the pull tab) I sandwiched it between the front and the facing when I sewed them together, facing in, so that when I turned it right side out the zipper was sticking out of that seam. For the pull tab side of the zipper, I made a sandwich with two strips of plaid fabric, the length of the zipper x about 2.5 inches. I lined up the edges of the fabric strips with the edges of the zipper tape, rights sides in, so the fabric was covering the zipper teeth, then sewed this with several lines of stitches a few mm apart so it would be nice and strong. Then I flipped them back so they no longer covered the teeth and topstitched them so I basically had a zipper with an enlarged/widened zipper tape made of plaid. I inserted this into the seam between the lining and the facing, in between with fabric edges matching. Play around with how much fabric you want sticking out here, you don't want too much of the plaid/widened "zipper tape" showing because it changes the measurements so the zipped vest is wider than the snapped vest, so just have a bit of it showing.

      Does this help? Let me know what needs clarifying and I will see what I can do :)

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    2. No worries, I asked well in advance of my project :) And this sounds like it makes sense, hopefully I still think so when I'm in the middle of it! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I'll tag you on IG when I get the project done and you can see how I do.

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  4. Just wanted to say that I have come back to this blog post more times than I can count to be inspired and encouraged to complete a higher end looking vest for my J Crew loving husband! Mine is nowhere NEAR as amazing as yours (seriously the quilting and those pockets make it PERFECTION) - but at least I've gotten it all started and kicked off! Maybe my next one will have fancier pockets like yours - who knows! Please link tutorials to the pockets and zippers if you have them!

    You can see my version on my instagram: @macsmakespace

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