The start of fall means my nieces birthday is coming up fast. Luckily she is still young enough tolerate wearing whatever we put on her, so I have time to try out some fun quilting designs before she gets picky. With the dreaded northern winter approaching, I thought making her a colorful vest would be perfect to keep her warm. Here is how to make a quilted vest out of a quilt top and a non-quilted pattern
Choosing a vest pattern
Drafting a clothes patterns is not something I’ve learned (yet), so I set off to Etsy to buy a pattern. Thankfully most patterns for toddler jackets were less than $10. (And here is a FREE quilted vest pattern for adults. I may have to try this later. Auntie needs a birthday present, too!) Now, you can just buy a sewing pattern specifically for a quilted jacket, but there aren’t many options. So, I looked for a pattern that I knew I could easily quilt.
If you’re adventurous enough, you can make most, if not any pattern with lining layer into a quilted version. You just need to switch out the top fabric for a quilt top. Then quilt the top before you attach it to the lining. But for an easier project that had more of a quilty-feel, I was looking for a pattern that used bias binding around the edges and also didn’t require any stretchy fabric.
I stumbled upon this pattern by 5Berries. It was under $10 and included 4 different patterns: a vest and a jacket with a hood, and a vest and a jacket without a hood. It also covered sizes 0 months – 6 years, which means I can get a lot of use out it–lucky for my nibblings. The pattern itself used bias binding around all the edges and snaps instead of buttons. I wasn’t sure how well button holes would work with the thickness of the quilt (something to try next time!), and I already had some leftover snaps lying around.
Choosing a quilt design
Before deciding what design I wanted to make on my vest, I printed out the pattern and got the measurements of the panels to see what would fit and look good. Also, becauses this is a 3-D piece and not a flat blanket, you’ll want to give a little extra thought to how how all the pieces will come together.
I wanted to go a little wild on this vest (my niece can’t complain, remember). I’ve been working on a pattern called ‘The Garden”. Its a fun little quilt with flowers and garden animals (bees, birds, deer), and I had dreams for the vest, namely bee pockets. But that wasn’t the only thing I had dreams of. If you couldn’t tell from my patterns, I typically like to use solid fabrics. I feel it gives more emphasis to my piecing. But I wanted to spice things up this time and see what some of my blocks would look like with patterned fabric.
Creating the panels
Thankfully, my Garden quilt had blocks that fit nearly perfectly into the vest. It turns out that my tulips were great for the front panels, and the hummingbird was just about a perfect fit for the back!
I started out by sewing my blocks (2 tulips and 1 hummingbird) and then cut out a large chunk of the background fabric to sew on the top of each section. I then traced out the pattern on the pieces and trimmed them out. They didn’t turn out half bad!
By some miracle my bees were fairly close to the pattern’s pocket size, so I decided to toss out the pocket pattern piece and just do my own thing. I wanted the pockets to look like the bees were seamlessly flying over the tulips, so I matched the background to the tulips. Here’s a close up of the finished look, because I forgot to take pictures of me making them…
Quilting the vest
Because of the three dimensional shape of a vest, I found it to be easiest to just quilt the individual panels (without the lining) before sewing them together. Quilting this way also makes it much easier to have precise designs, because you can draw your design on the batting! I chose straight line quilting that I could easily line up between panels. But this would be a great time to try out some fun free motion designs. Oh, and don’t forget to baste well.
I preferred to sew with the batting side up. That way there was less trouble with the wispy batting getting caught in the sewing machine, and it let me see my sewing designs for easy sewing.
Finishing the vest
After the quilting, finishing the vest was a breeze. First, I finished the pockets. Right sides together, I sewed the lining on. Leaving a small gap, I flipped the pocket piece right side out and hand sewed it closed. And while it would have looked nicer to hand sew the pocket to the vest, I just sewed it on with a durable 1/4″ seam allowance.
Next, I sewed my vest pieces together and then did the same with the lining. Then I clipped the quilted vest piece and the lining wrong-sides together and sewed a very small 1/4″ to hold the layers together. To finish the edges, I bound it together like I would a quilt (I used hand binding). Easy peasy!
The not so easy peasy part was the snaps. Three layers, one of which being batting, was a lot to get through. Though the hammering seemed to manage, and the snaps appear to hold well. The real hard part was getting the top and the bottom claps to line up. I tried placing my snaps 1.5″ apart and in line with the quilting. It wasn’t a perfect job, but it’s good enough for a 2-year-old.
The final product
Overall this was a super fun project that gave my quilt pattern a new life. I definitely plan to try out some more quilted wears in the future. I sacrificed my half yard of Tula Pink Fairy Dust, my favorite fabric ever, for the background, and I think it came out quite well! It’s a bit busy, but it’s for a two-year-old. I think she’ll appreciate the fun and the color. What do you think?