I am getting ready for a 2 week trip with my husband to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We are going to be in the city and in the country with weather ranging from the 40’s to the 70’s, give or take, so I need a wide range of garments and layers. My travel wardrobe is mostly solids in black, gray, and shades of turquoise and teal. Feeling the need to add a few accent items, I looked for inspiration in my stash. Much to my delight, I came across leftover pieces of the black and blue Batik Butik rayon that we sold a few years ago (before they sadly went out of business) which looked like enough for a Tabula Rasa Vest with creative piecing. I decided to use the new jewel neck style from Rain or Shine Variations.
The piece of luxury weight rayon with blue swirls was only about 15” by 54”, not large enough to create two fronts and a back, so I decided to cut one front and a partial back. Here you can see my layout with that fabric on the cross-grain.
The yard or so of solid black luxury weight would work to finish the back, the other front, and the side panels. There was also a ¾ yard piece of lighter weight rayon batik in the same colors which I could use as an accent; it was a great weight for the front and back facings and for binding the armholes and hem.
As I pictured my vest, I felt that I would need to balance out the solid black front and side panel against the strong color of the blue front. I came up with two very functional embellishments. Luckily, there was enough of the accent fabric left to cut out a patch pocket, so I scaled our very cute pintuck pocket down to fit the vest. I searched my button boxes and found chunky square wooden buttons in the perfect color. Making the button loops of the accent fabric would also help to carry the accent fabric onto the solid black front.
I love vests – for the color and interest they add to a solid base and for the layer of warmth they add. I also find that making a Tabula Rasa Vest is quick and easy – just 2 fronts, one back and 2 side panels to put together. There are directions for making a vest in Swing Variations for the Tabula Rasa Jacket, but it’s pretty simple to figure out on your own, especially if you have experience with binding. Here are some pointers:
- Extend the side panel pattern about 1″ higher and reduce the width of the side panel by about 1/4 -1/2” at each upper edge (easing gracefully back into the original cutting line) so you don’t get gaping under the arm.
- Bind the top edge of the side panel before inserting it into the front and back. Sew a 2½” wide strip of the binding material to the top of the side panel, right sides together. Press binding away from the side panel. Finish the raw edge of binding strip by turning under 5/8” or your preferred clean finish. Fold the binding around the seam allowance and against the inside of the side panel and press. Secure binding by hand stitching or by top stitching in the ditch.
- It’s always a good idea to baste the side panel in first and try it on to make sure you are happy with that underarm fit.
- While you are planning and trying on the vest, decide whether you want the armhole binding to be a visible decorative element and extend the shoulder, like this blue batik vest, or you want to turn the binding entirely inside the armhole, like the Ikat Squared Vest. The construction methods are slightly different.
- For either method, cut two bias strips the length of the raw edge of the armhole plus 4”. Press the short ends of the strip under by ½”. The binding will extend approximately 1½” below the armhole opening, wrapped around the side seam allowance.
- The extended shoulder style is completed the same way as the binding on the side panel.
- To turn the binding completely to the inside, simply fold the binding strip in half the long way, wrong sides together, and press. Sew raw edge of binding to armhole. Press the binding away from the vest and then press to inside. Machine topstitch or hand stitch into place.
I hope we can inspire you to make a few vests of your own from fabrics you love (…and might not have enough of for a full jacket or shirt with sleeves). If you have collected some Tabula Rasa Jacket variations, you can easily make a variety of vests using band variations, jewel neck or funnel neck line, or the addition of collars, pockets and even a hood. Take a look at more Tabula Rasa Vests in our photo gallery for inspiration.
Happy Sewing, Carrie