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Sewing for Him - Herringbone Vest

I love sewing for hubby. He appreciates it so much. He puts on everything I make for him as soon as it is finished - a nice compliment.  Involving him in my craft has given him a good understanding of its value and appreciation for it.

My Hubby's Pieced Herring Bone Vest

For this project I selected seven different wool fabrics in browns and gray browns without a lot of contrast. I wanted the herringbone pattern to show but not from a mile away – smiles.

I pieced wool fabric strips together into a herringbone pattern until I had two pieces large enough to cut out the two vest fronts. From there I made the vest according to the pattern instructions. Well, with a few exceptions – two patch pockets on each inside front, elastic at the back waist, and clear support buttons behind the leather buttons.  I also added a label – every quilt needs a label and so does this.

Calligraphy Animals Collection


  • Wool fabric by the yard (prewashed and dried is a requirement for my allergies) – I used seven (7) fabrics yard each is enough. You will be cutting it with the grain into 2 inch wide strips. This pattern is easier to piece if the strips are about the same length.  So if you are using wool scraps it will require more time and patience.
  • Lining fabric for two vest fronts, and double layer back according to the pattern; Plus enough for four 6 inch squares for patch pockets
  • Vest pattern for men  I used McCall's Pattern M2447
  • Pellon Pattern Ease – same amount as required making the 2 vest fronts
  • -inch Leather buttons – as many as required by pattern
  • -inch clear shirt buttons to sew onto the backside of the leather buttons
  • 10 inches -inch elastic
  • 100% Cotton thread color to match the fabric for top and bobbin - why cotton thread?*

* Natural fabric should be sewn with natural thread. If a seam needs to “give” you want the threads within the seam to break. If the thread is too strong (i.e. polyester) the fabric will tear before the thread breaks, making for a more difficult repair. A broken seam can typically be re-sewn, with no one the wiser to the repair but for the seamtress. However, with ripped fabric  you’re often left with few options, if any, but to patch it..

Herringbone Vest Pattern Preparation

  • Trace the pattern fronts onto pattern-ease; trace the center front line onto each one, and cut them out.
  • Overlap and align the center front lines of the two pieces and pin together
  • Using a ruler draw two lines across them 2 inches apart – one above the other.

It is important you use these as a guide when piecing the herringbone pattern into the fabric you will be using to make the vest fronts.  Use these to determine when the fabric is large enough to cut out the vest fronts. The fabric also needs to be large enough to move the fabric up/down along the vest length and side-to-side across the vest width of each vest front, in order to keep the herringbone pattern aligned across the vest front when it is buttoned. Yes, it is like matching plaids.

Fabric preparation

  • Steam press wool fabric – use press cloth on top to press wool
  • Dry press spray starch onto both sides of the wool fabric until it is stabilized for cutting and piecing
  • Press the  lining fabric according to manufacturer’s directions

Cut out the lining

  • Two layers for the back according to the pattern
  • One layer for each front side according to the pattern
  • Four 6-inch squares for two patch pockets

"Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better."

- Robert Redford

Illusions Collection

Cutting and Piecing Wool Fabrics

Two suggested Herringbone piecing tutorials

There are many tutorials for piecing a herringbone layout but these two are how I did it. This method minimizes the number of seams required. This is important when working with wool fabrics that are not tightly woven.

As you follow the suggested tutorials above use these parameters -

  • Cut wool fabric into 2-inch wide strips. Cut them with the grain (that is up and down the fabric, not across the fabrics width).
  • Use -inch seams to piece fabrics together
  • Press seams open as you sew them together
  • Top stitch the seams open by sewing a straight stitch inch on each side of the seam; use a straight stitch at 2.5 length

Follow the directions on one of the two suggested tutorials to piece the strips together into a herringbone pattern until a piece (or two separate pieces) is large enough to cut out each vest front AND keep the herringbone pattern aligned across the front of the vest when it is buttoned. It is like matching plaids. Use the Pattern Ease pieces you made to help you with this step

  • Once a piece(s) is large enough to cut out the two vest fronts, as specified above, then do that.
  • Continue by following the garment pattern directions to complete the vest **

Darts in this vest were sewn after the piecing was done and cut out into a left and right vest front 

** If you want to add the inside pockets, elastic back, and label then do these before completing the vest.

Close-up. Note how the pattern lines up.Following the directions above your pieced fabric should be about the same as this.

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Adding Elastic to the Back of a Vest

Backside of Hubby's vest

I added -inch elastic between the two layers of the vest back at the waist. I added it to one of the layers after it was cut out and completed it after the vest was constructed.

  • Press the center fold of the back lining fabric.
  • Using the pattern as a guide, mark inch below the location of the waist
  • Draw a line 4.5 inches on either side of the center fold line keeping it even with the hem.
  • Find the center of the 10-inch piece of elastic.  Pin it to the center line at the fold.
  • Pin the ends of elastic on each end to the drawn line. Pin it inch from the end of the elastic. Add a Pinmoor to the pins. so you won’t get stuck.
  • Set up the sewing machine for a straight stitch at 1.5 mm length.
  • Sew across the elastic 2-3 times attaching it to the fabric at each end and at the center. Only the center and two ends of the elastic are attached to the fabric at this point.
  • Cut off half of the excess elastic from each end, leaving about ⅛ of inch


Patch Pockets Inside Vest Fronts

Right Inside Pocket

  • Place two 6-inch squares of lining right-sides together.
  • Sew them together all the way around the four sides with a -inch seam and leave about 2 inches open on one side, for turning.
  • Turn right-side out and push out the corners
  • Press seams out flat. Fold the seam allowances of the opening inside and press it flat. This side will be the bottom of the pocket.
  • Repeat for a second pocket

Left Inside Pocket

  • Sew across the pocket tops inch from the top edge and again inch from the top edge
  • Pin the pockets to the lining where desired.
  • Sew the pocket onto the lining along the remaining three (3) sides inch from the edge of the pocket.
  • Repeat sewing around the three sides stitching very close to the edge of the pocket

Nutz 'N' Boltz Collection


"Be your own artist, and always be confident in what you're doing. If you're not going to be confident, you might as well not be doing it."

 - Aretha Franklin


My custom labelDon’t forget to add that special label he can show to his friends what a great sewer his lover is. 

You may already have garment labels to add to your projects. I do not so I must make my own. I used my embroidery software to create the lettering for my label plus an outline around it. The purpose of the outline is to give me a guideline for sewing the label onto the vest.

I embroidered the lettering and outline onto a suede feeling polyester fabric and tear away stabilizer.  After it is sewn I removed the stabilizer. I then cut out the label about an inch outside the stitched guideline. Using my pinking shears I pinked the edges of the label inch from the guideline. Now it is ready to sew onto the garment

Sew the label to the lining of the vest with a straight stitch set at 2.5 length. Sew on top of the outline that the embroidery machine sewed. Sew it to just one layer of the lining – not through all layers.

Continue by following the garment pattern directions to construct the vest

Finishing the Elastic Back

Once the vest construction is completed, pin the two back layers of lining fabric together up to the elastic. Pin through all layers at the center – the center folds should match up. Add a Pinmoor to the pins so you won’t get stuck.

Stretch the elastic out from the center to one end and pin the end through all layers. Repeat for the other end of the elastic.

Sew the ends of the elastic and center as before but this time sew through all layers.

Stretch out the elastic between one end and the center. Sew a straight line across the top of the elastic through all layers. Continue the same to the other end of the elastic.

Turn and repeat the same process across the bottom of the elastic.


There are many books and other tutorials available on tailoring and couture sewing, for many more details you could add to this project...or the next one.

If you use my tutorial to make a vest I will appreciate photos of your project.

If you are a teacher and want to use my tutorial in a class, please print this page in its entirety including my website address and copyright.




“If you are lazy, and accept your lot, you may live in it. If you are willing to work, you can write your name anywhere you choose.”

-  Gene Stratton-Porter, A Girl of the Limberlost




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