Sewing artfully is a Fit for Art tradition and this recently finished quilted Tabula Rasa Vest, made using the free downloadable vest directions, is a perfect example. In December you read about the beginnings of my design process for this Asian inspired vest for Carrie. Now follow along as the vest goes from design to reality. This part is never glamorous but the resulting garment is worth the effort. For more details about this quilted TRJ process, grab a copy of the Quilting Tips book which details the process of designing and quilting a garment.
Quilt each section before construction
Once the backgrounds had been chosen and the ladies satisfactorily placed, the back and two fronts were free-motion stitched to anchor all the elements in this raw edge collage. Each lining piece, batting base, and fabric top was created approximately 1” larger than the actual Tabula Rasa Jacket personalized pattern pieces to account for any shrinkage during the quilting process. Once each piece was quilted, leaving 1 3/4” around all 4 edges unquilted, the pattern piece was placed back on each quilted section and cut to the right size. If the quilted pieces are too big, the garment will not fit properly.
Take time for a fitting
At this point, the vest was basted together for Carrie to try it on. Her preference is for a snug fit so this step was essential; alterations were made through the ribcage and waist to achieve this shapely fit.
Organize construction/final quilting on a flat surface
The actual construction began at the shoulders where the seams were sewn and the collaged vine, which crosses the shoulders, was stitched down securely while the vest could lay fairly flat against the machine. The commercially purchased piping was added to the front opening, button loops calculated and added and finally the facings were stitched in place for a clean neckline and center front opening. The interior kangaroo pocket was also stitched together and nestled into the lower front.
Next, the side panels were finished across the top and attached to the front and back. Be sure to trim all the extra batting out of the seam allowances after the seams are sewn to minimize the bulk.
The appliques that crossed over side seams from the front and back onto the side panels were placed on the well pressed garment and stitched down. I most particularly love the peacock and stitching it in place was the final finish.
Don’t discount the final finishes
The seam finishes, armhole bindings, buttons and hems are always the last step before the garment can be worn. Since they are mostly finished by hand, I got to savor the complexity of this small but fabulous garment with every careful hand stitch.
There are lots of photos of these processes and they will inhabit this week’s Instagram and Facebook postings. I entitled it Wabi Sabi Women. I love this Asian concept of wabi sabi, that there is beauty, but imperfection, in every handcrafted item. My garments are never perfect, but they are great fun and I celebrate the journey instead of focusing on the mistakes.
A Stash Busting Success
All in all, 20 different fabrics were incorporated into the vest’s Asian scene. The batting was unidentified stash, probably a bamboo blend. The quilting threads included a variegated rayon decorative thread from Superior, a cotton thread from Sulky and two different colors of Gutermann Mara 100 polyester thread. The fused glass buttons, home decorator piping and china silk lining were excellent finishes.
Altogether, a stash busting work of art to transition Carrie’s wardrobe from winter to spring. What stash fabric in your collection is ready to become a fun season transitioning project? Get it out and start designing, then sew it into a delightful addition to your everyday wardrobe.
Stay Well and Sew Happy, RAE