And now for something different! : The Doublet Vest

As of yet you all have been spared posts about my sewing. Namely because I have been in a bit of a slump for a long while. Bizarre anxiety around trying to sew, and what if I get it wrong, and strange things like that.

But frankly I am really incredibly tired of my wardrobe. Ritual wardrobe and otherwise. So you may expect to find more of this sewing project posts.

Today while the Lumberjack amused himself by continuing to conquer the Batman Arkham City game, I decided it was high time for me to bust out the machine and try my hand at making this vest I’ve been dreaming about. Vest you see are INCREDIBLY difficult things for me to own, I can’t just buy them off the rack. My back is petite and my front…well lets just say it’s not. But never fear where there is a will there is a way!

McCalls M5190

I had this little pattern tucked away in my stash. It like so many other of my patterns is just a smidge too small for me now, but I figured since I wanted this to be a fairly tightly tailored piece I could make it work. Now this pattern is not exactly what we’re going for. What I want is a vest like Ravenwoods Leather’s Cronos Jerkin. I’ve seen that bad boy up close at the Pirate Fest and it is MARVELOUS. Sadly they don’t make this style for women (hint hint Ravenswood folks;), and well leather isn’t entirely practical for the everyday.

Ravenswood Leather’s Cronos Jerkin

What I did have however, where about 4 pairs of the Lumberjacks old jeans. All of them with blown out knees and such, (the Lumberjack goes through clothes like the Hulk. True story) perfect for trying out a new vest style that I can then later make up in velvet or corduroy!

Unlike so many of my projects I decided to actually make a mock-up of this one. Generally speaking I’m far too impatient to bother with things like that. But since this particular pattern is too small, and I was going to be making alterations to it. It just seemed like a good idea. So I pulled out some truly heinous soft turquoise colored polyester linen type stuff and began cutting out the pattern to mock up on the lovely Desdemona.

I told you the fabric was horrible. But it got the job done and since it only ever has to be a pattern now, I think it did a great job. The only thing that you really need to remember when doing mock-ups is to choose a fabric that has the same principles of the fabric you will be making the garment out of. Match stretch with stretch, similar weights, silky or not etc.

As you can see the first thing that I had to fiddle with was figuring out how to extend the lapel to make the bib on this vest.

This is WAY more tricky than it appears. Mainly because unlike macho dude up there in the Ravenswood photo, I have these things called breasts that make the whole panel go all kinds of wibbly wobbly. Which brings us to another little tip of the trade. Desdemona here is a fairly standard dress doll. I believe that my mom got her in a package deal with my Brother CS-8060. As a standard fairly cheap dress doll she comes with a very modest (really modest) B cup. Because obviously all women making clothes are a small B, naturally. While Desdemona is pretty cool in that she has all those nobby things that can change her measurement, they don’t quite go up to my size (Seriously sewing companies you need to get with the times!). So what to do for a more endowed gal? Same thing some longing tween girls have been doing for years ( or so I’m told I had other issues), slap a bra on her and stuff it.

Above you can see Desdemona in one of my lovely bras stuffed with socks. You can also see where the original pattern of this jacket would have ended and how there would be not a snowball’s chance in hell of me ever getting it closed. You can also see in all of these photos how I mark everything with sharpie. It keeps things nice and lasting and makes sure I don’t forget important things. So with this all sewed up, we slip it on and fiddle with it. Look in the mirror a lot. Put it back on Desdemona pin some more stuff, add a dart, put it back on, look in the mirror. You get the picture.

One of the more standard adjustments I had to make was in the shoulders. Because you see, I do not have the shoulders of a linebacker. Which is apparently what the goodly people of the pattern company’s think I must have in order to have the chest that I do. When you start making your own clothes you begin to realize how ridiculous “standardized sizings” truly are. You also start to learn your own measurement quirks and are able to make adjustments as such. If you were a wise and patient person, which I am not, you would make yourself a sloper . You would then be able to throw that bad boy over most patterns and adjust them to your needs according. I however continue to fly by the seat of my pants, which means figuring out just how much at the shoulder I need to take off. This time it was about a half inch.

See that red line. That’s my basting of where the pattern wanted my shoulder to be. The pins are where my shoulder actually goes. Quite a bit of difference.

Now that we have done the tweaking and it looks mostly ok. It’s time to cut out the real fabric pieces themselves. That was a little bit trickier with this since I was using old jeans. I have to place things around holes and such. But I think it’s pretty cool. I used the bottomhems as hems on the jacket, and I like the worm effect that it gives every thing.

I’m a super fancy sewing girl who uses canned food as her sewing weights. I’m just classy like that.

Once it was all cut out, it was just redoing the process all over again. But this time you know caring what things looked like and using smaller stitches and such. After some fuck ups (PSA: when hemming armscyes or in general curved things remember to increase your stitch length. It will save you a world of hassle and having to rip things out) things were really starting to look up.

I had originally decided to not line this at all, because I wanted to be able to wear it often and not be hot. But then I also wanted to wear it with the flap partially down and not expose the ugly inside. So I pulled out some lush red curtain fabric that I had in my stash and decided to line the bib flap. I also decide to cut out a pocket from the jeans and put that in there, because you always need at least one pocket.

 Now all she needs is some buttons! Sadly I do not have the required number of buttons in brass (why do so many buttons only come in pairs or fours? Who the hell only needs that many buttons? I need at LEAST 6 buttons on any project with buttons). I have enough in wood, but frankly that just looks silly. So I went online and bought 8 very lovely brass buttons. I hope to get them in this week and be able to wear this bad boy out to ritual on Saturday. I think a pair of jeans and a nice poets shirt underneath would really make an awesome statement. Or just a t-shirt and jeans I think that would look spiffy too.

Anyways, I’ll be sure to post the final product when it’s done. And who knows what the future holds.



  1. The vest looks awesome so far! I’m so impressed by your sewing skills, it’s like magic to me. 🙂 And interesting about the dress from — I’ve considered the idea of someday getting one (maybe) and I have to say I’m somewhat reassured that they start with, ahem, modest sizes. I had this fear I’d someday get one and it would be too big to size things properly.

    1. Well thanks! I do enjoy making clothes for myself. Even though I wish my finishing details looked a little better. It’s hard to mimic the serger topstiching on a sewing machine. But oh well.

      As for dress dolls. Yay you shouldn’t have too many problems, they tend to come on the small size. And the industry as a whole just assumes that all women up to a “size 12” have B cups. But there are a lot of good tutorials online about scaling the cup sizes on patterns down, if you ever decide to foray into shirts and dresses that require such 🙂

  2. I love that you made this using old clothing! My son is into the renaissance scene, although I’m not I make much of his clothing.

    1. Old jeans are great for mock-ups of a lot of things. And I had A LOT of them laying around. I didn’t want to throw them out but then what goodwill wants jeans with holes in the knees? So really it was my inability to throw out fabric that spawned this lol. I think it just looks better than the denim that you buy at the store. Unless you have a serger which I do not. Luckily my man’s jeans are fairly large so despite the blown out knees I had a lot to work with.

      Glad you like it 🙂 Hope it provided some inspirations.

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