How to Quilt a Textured Vest

comments (5) October 26th, 2011     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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No pattern, no seams, and a raw-edge bias binding make this vest a  quick-to-sew slam dunk.
Three measurements and a little math supply the entire pattern youll need.
How to calculate for shrinkage: Measure your test swatch before and after you shrink it; use the difference to figure out the size to cut your vest pieces.
No pattern, no seams, and a raw-edge bias binding make this vest a  quick-to-sew slam dunk.

No pattern, no seams, and a raw-edge bias binding make this vest a quick-to-sew slam dunk.

Photo: Sloan Howard
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This bohemian-style vest is cute, comfortable, and superquick to make. Its unique texture comes from a simple shrinking technique that essentially crumples fabric. To create it, choose a natural fiber fabric that has not been preshrunk. Then, machine-quilt at least three layers of the fabric together, finish the edges, soak the garment in water, and let it tumble dry—it will automatically shrink and pucker between the stitched quilting lines.

3 yards cotton gauze
Thread (regular machine thread or rayon, polyester, acrylic, or cotton embroidery thread)
Sewing machine
Tapestry needle

Go Gauzy
A good-quality, loosely-woven cotton gauze was the choice for this vest, but you could opt for wool gauze, silk organza, or even lightweight handkerchief linen.

Texture test
First, test a 4-inch-square swatch of quilted fabric to determine the shrinkage amount, so you can cut the right size pieces for your vest. Quilt the swatch layers together on the lengthwise grain; then soak and gently tumble it dry. Measure the quilted fabric. Calculate the percent of shrinkage.

How to calculate for shrinkage
Measure your test swatch before and after you shrink it; use the difference to figure out the size to cut your vest pieces.

To figure the size to cut each piece, multiply the desired finished length (or width) by the percentage of shrinkage. Add the result to the desired length (or width). For example, 12 inches (desired length) x 6 percent = 0.72 inch (round up to 3⁄4 inch). Cut length = 12 3⁄4 inches.

To make this vest, you’ll quilt three rectangles of gauze—one for the back and two for the fronts. To determine the size of the pieces, follow this measuring tape pattern.

Measuring tape pattern

Three measurements and a little math supply the entire pattern you’ll need.

For the back, measure:
Width: across the back, from shoulder tip to shoulder tip. Add 1 inch for ease.
Length: from the base of the neck to the desired hemline. Add 1 inch for ease.

For the front, measure:

Width: from shoulder tip to center front. Add 1⁄2 inch for ease.
Length: the same length as the back.

Account for shrinkage:
Add the amount calculated for shrinkage to each dimension. (See the chart.)

Sew it and soak it

Just quilt three rectangles of layered gauze, finish the edges, and treat the fabric to get a scrunchy look.

1. Prep the pattern.

Cut and quilt the fabric. Layer the fabrics carefully on the grain, press them together, and cut out the rectangles. Pin the layers together using straight pins. Quilt lines parallel to the straight grain and 1 to 2 inches apart, either marked or quilted freestyle. Start at the center of each rectangle, and work out to the edges.

3. Finish the edges. Make sure the edges of each piece are square and even. You can also round the corners, as we did, to make binding easier. Cut bias strips from the gauze, 2 inches wide and long enough to go around each rectangle (you may need to seam two or more together). Press the binding in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together. Sandwich each rectangle inside the folded binding and pin. Seam the ends of the binding together (you can overlap them if you like). Then topstitch the binding in place 1⁄4 inch from its raw edge, using a 2-mm, or shorter, stitch length. Sew a second row of topstitching 1⁄4 inch from the folded edge.

4. Make it into a vest. Align the fronts to the back at the shoulder edges and hem edges. Measure in 4 inches from the shoulder tips, then tack each shoulder join (alternatively, join the pieces with a button).  At each side edge, mark and tack gauze strips of your desired length for the ties; place them at or near waist level.

5. Soak and dry. Place the vest in cool water and thoroughly soak it. Gently squeeze out any excess water and toss it in the dryer on a gentle or “delicates” setting until the fabric shrinks. Don’t be tempted to press when it’s done—the scrunchiness will disappear.

Excerpted from Quick Stuff to Sew, Vol. 5

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posted in: sewstylish technique

Comments (5)

Ranchera writes: I have been working with shetland wool, while spinning the yarn I didn't know what to do with it. Now I do, but first will felt the fabric (all colours) then cut it out. Great idea!! Thank you for sharing.
Posted: 3:43 pm on November 4th
Ga0724 writes: I really think you would need to use three layers of fabric for it to quilt correctly as opposed to YarnUiPhoneApp's suggestion of using two, particularly if it is a gauze-cotton or wool. It does lend itself to all kinds of embellishment techniques and I am looking forward to trying.
Posted: 2:53 pm on November 4th
sandyfromtexas writes: I would definitely quilt and wash the fabric before cutting the pieces. All that math makes my head spin. Plan a big enough piece to cut the vest in one pattern piece. You could also add ribbons, threads, or quilt scraps as you quilt to make it more interesting.
Posted: 1:07 pm on November 4th
Maraha writes: This is clever in so many ways! Will make this vest! Already excited to give this fabric 'treatment' a try for other projects. I'm so happy there are such bright folks out there who are willing to share their ideas! Thanks!
Posted: 1:06 pm on November 4th
YarnUiPhoneApp writes: Love, love, love this idea! Personally, I'd do two things differently:

-pre-shrink both fabrics first.

-use KK200 to temporarily 'glue' the two fabrics together. This will help while you're quilting.

- Sew the two fabrics as one before cutting out the pattern pieces, toss in the wash, dry, then cut to your heart's content. You're more to get an accurate fit this way.

Finally, you could make different types of vests this way...Wool would work for fall/winter, cotton, linens for summer. Great wardrobe enhancer!

(As an aside, you could knit fabric with natural yarns and do the same thing, but that's just too much work in my mind).
Posted: 10:18 am on October 27th
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