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Martha’s Denim Vest

Welcome to Sew! Let’s Get Dressed, a weekly blog that encourages you to sew successfully. 

We are pleased to welcome Martha Myers to our blog this week with an update of a post on her blog Now Sewing.  Martha is an extremely accomplished stitcher and has made several wonderful Tabula Rasa Jackets.  You, too, will be inspired by her fabulous Tabula Rasa Vest!

Martha modeling her vest

“This project was inspired by a recent article in Threads magazine – Jeans to Jacket by Mary Ray (July 2017 Number 191). I love almost everything that Mary designs. And I’ve been wanting to play with the Tabula Rasa jacket pattern again. In a moment of serendipity, I found a pair of DH’s jeans in the trash. He thought they were too worn to even give to charity. But they were just right for a remake.

First I took the jeans apart, as much as I could. DH helped me remove the rivets. This created fabric with all sorts of interesting resist patterns from the years (and years and years) of wear. I took one belt loop apart but tossed the rest. I kind of wish I had kept those too. They would have made such interesting closures for the front. I used the one on the back:

Sashiko added to one shoulder area where the knee was extra worn.

Because of the fairly narrow pattern pieces in the Tabula Rasa, I was able to cut most parts with a minimum of piecing. Of course, I wanted some piecing to show the interesting patterns. But, I was unable to cut out the sleeves from this one pair of jeans.

I purchased another pair of cotton jeans from the thrift store and tested sleeves but they were so much heavier than the other denim that I had to remove them. I’m glad I did.

After removing the sleeves, I rearranged some pieces and did the finishing work. I cut a front band facing from a light weight denim remnant in stash. I cut bias binding from a piece of cotton shirting and used that for some of the seam finishing, as well as the hem. I added the small jeans ticket pocket to the front at the chest level. It is the only functioning pocket. So far.

This vest is surprisingly light weight but obviously there are a number of worn places. These are great opportunities for boro stitch, patch and sashiko. So that’s next.

I am particularly fond of the Lee leather patch. That must be used somewhere. And I have just discovered another pair of pants that really needs to be recycled, don’t you think? But I do not have permission. Yet.

This was a fun project and, as usual, I learned some things. Denim is not so easy to sew, but it’s easier when it’s old. It’s surprisingly easy to disassemble with a good seam ripper. And I think I will actually wear this. It will be another work-in-progress that can be worn in the meantime.

This worked out just like those stash-busting contests. I have more jeans parts now than I did at the beginning.

Exterior pocket
New Interior pocket

In fact, after wearing this a few times, I realized I might use the harvested zipper from the fly to create a secure interior pocket. And I added more boro repairs.

I’m guessing that even thrift stores don’t want jeans as well worn as DH’s, but I’ll keep a keen eye out on the trash can.”






We hope you have enjoyed our guest post.  I know I am so inspired to try one of these myself.  Thanks for sharing Martha.

Happy Sewing, RAE

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4 thoughts on “Martha’s Denim Vest

  1. That’s really a nice looking vest. I think that I may visit my local thrift store for some denim.

    1. I am betting I just need to clean out some drawers to find denim for such a project! So creative and inspiring! RAE

  2. Love the vest. Martha always does wonderful work!

  3. Love this!

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