It’s always a mixture of joy and sorrow to finish a project. Joy for the garment I can now wear and enjoy. Sorrow for the process that has come to an end. Still, the process is literally woven into the garment, keeping me warm and cozy. Today I present my finished Rose hip vest.
Last week I showed you the finished twill weave from my handspun singles yarns. Today I invite you to the rest of the journey of making the Rose hip vest. The name comes from the finull lamb Nypon (Rose hip), whose fleece become the weft in the project.
A while ago I stumbled upon an Instagram ad showing a vesty/shawly sort of garment. It was made out of three identical panels, two for the front and one for the back. There were holes in the side seams for the arms and the garment was reversible both inside out and upside down. I really liked the idea of the reversibility as well as the very simple model. And drape has always fascinated me. The construction of just three panels would be excellent for a hand woven cloth with minimum waste. This would be the perfect model for the weaving project I was planning.
As I calculated the width and length of the weave I had to consider of course the measurements I wanted for the garment, but also the reality of the meterage I had spun. My basis was the width of my shoulders and the length I wanted in both directions – waist length and knee-ish length. I had to fiddle a bit and compromize to fit the model into the meterage I had, but I worked it out good enough in the end. A little narrower than I had planned, but it would hopefully still work.
I decided to weave all the three panels in one length. The warp was nearly five meters long, longer than I had ever warped before. But with just a minor disaster it all worked out.
Minimum waste, maximum cloth
The construction with the three panels was a perfect way to minimize the waste, I didn’t need to cut any pieces off, just sew them together. Since I wanted the vest to be reversible I needed to finish it without a designated front or back, with seams that were neat and tidy.
The assembling would also have to be on a very strict cloth budget. Because of the measurements I had to sew it together with no hemming. I fringed the warp ends – perfect for a reversible garment – and used a figure 8 stitch for the side seams (which had double selvedge warp threads).
I used two seams in this garment: A figure 8 stitch for joining the panels together and a buttonhole stitch for front edges, armholes and side slits. All seams are sewn with thrums.
I really liked joining the panels with the figure 8 stitch. There is something simple about it, just up through one side, down in the middle and up again through the other side. No hemming, just stitching right at the outermost warp threads of the selvedges. And it presents such a nice seam. It also hid some of my less fashionable weft edge loops.
I hadn’t planned on doing anything in particular with the raw edges, but I realized they would look more finished with some seam love. A buttonhole stitch with no ambition whatsoever to look neat or even. Just a simple edging to match the rather loose weave.
With the unhemmed, unfolded seams and the fringe there is no right or wrong side on this garment. One side is warp-faced with the darker, shiny outercoat warp yarn dominating. The other weft-faced with the lighter, soft undercoat weft yarn dominating. I will probably wear it weft side in and warp side out, but I could wear it the other way. When the inside of the collar folds outward no wrong side shows.
I had planned to be able to wear it as a waist-length vest too, with a longer collar, as was shown in the vest I was inspired by in the first place. This didn’t look very good with my fabric, though. Due to the limited meterage I had to play with, my panels were narrower than the one I had been inspired by, and the long collar didn’t drape the way I wanted it to. Therefore I let that idea go and added the side slits in what I decided to be the bottom to accommodate for the narrow panels.
More than a garment
I love the way the vest came out. My friend Cecilia burst out ”Wow!! How deliciously raw!” And yes, I do like that raw look of it. It has a soft drape that still feels very elegant. I feel embraced rather than suffocated and the vest isn’t too warm. I keep all the sides together and in order with a shawl pin underneath the collar.
So much time, skill and love is literally woven into this garment. It is so much more than a vest now. The fibers have gone through my hands hundreds of times through wool preparation, spinning, weaving and sewing. The process is in the garment, as are the thoughts that have gone through my mind during the process, all the podcasts I have listened to while weaving and all the mistakes I have made. Eventhough I may miss the process of making, all I have learned through the process keeps me warm when I wrap myself in the Rose hip vest.
And oh, the mittens are my own pattern, Heartwarming mitts, published in Spin-Off magazine fall 2019. The pattern seems to be free if you are a subscriber.
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