Reversible Do-over

I made a vest last spring to take along on my trip to Wales.  I had made one in wool jersey that I took to Italy earlier in the year and really liked it.  It was comfortable, and added that extra layer of warmth that was just perfect for traveling in the changeable weather of March.  I knew that the weather in Wales would be VERY changeable, it always is, so I decided to make a spring/summer version of the same vest.  

Here is a very dark picture of the vest on an outing with friends in London.  It's difficult to see the colors, which is a good thing...I had made an orangey shirt to wear with the vest and it was really way too ORANGE for the muted colors of the silk broadcloth of the vest.  Trust me...it was not my best matching effort.  And to top it off, the shirt was not particularly comfortable.  It would ride up under the vest and bunch at my waist.  Again, it is a good thing that the photo (and the restaurant) did not have very good lighting!

I was, however, happy with the way the vest had turned out.  So I really wanted to have something that I could wear with it that was not too orange.

I have been carrying around a scrap of the silk vest fabric all summer!!!  It is an impossible color!   I am not sure that what I ended up making is the final solution, but it is much better than the first go 'round.

I will share the vest and the new shirt now, but time will tell if this will be a repeating post!

The fabric for the vest is some that I got while I was traveling in China.  It is a silk gingham, that has been over-dyed with mud so only one side of the fabric is really dyed.  I am not really sure how it works, but the end product is a lovely muted rosy-orangey color on one side and the other side looks as if there is a filter of black over the original check pattern.  It turns out to be a double faced fabric that makes it impossible to decide which side to use as the face side!  I stared at both sides and finally decided to 'not decide!'  I made the vest reversible!

Double sided fabric is really fun to work with, but requires a bit more head scratching than simply lining a garment to make it completely reversible.  

Seams and Edges...
All the seams are french seams.  This keeps one color on each side of the vest.  I finished the edges with bias that was stitched and turned like a narrow facing.  Again, keeping each side all the same color.  

There are two pockets on the vest, one breast pocket and one just below the waist.  On the dark side the pockets are cut on the bias and patched to the outside.  On the lighter side the opening is a welt-type pocket and the top stitching from the patch pocket forms the pocket on the opposite side.  Almost as difficult to describe as they were to engineer and put together!!!!  The facing of the waist pocket on the dark side is the only place where I used the contrast.  The light side is all the same side of the fabric.

I added a 'fake' pocket to the center back yoke for a bit of interest on the back of the vest.

Earlier this year I had discover, purely by accident, that if you use snaps on a reversible garment, the closing ends up being right over left on both sides of the piece. (or left over right if you prefer!)  For this garment, I used two different colors of caps.  A tarnished silver for the dark side and a taupe/brown for the lighter side.  The spacing is also unique.  (no, I didn't mess up, I did it on purpose!)

You can see that the dying process makes the colors of the silk very muted and so a solid color tends to look too intense with the vest.  I really have not found anything that I am totally happy with, BUT I want to wear the vest!  I found a dark brown, almost black t-shirt weight knit in my stash(I think it is a cotton poly blend) that looked OK with both sides.  I didn't want to make a plain brown shirt.  It needed some other interest.

I ended up adding a couple of pieced stripes to the front of the shirt, using a small amount of the orange that I had used in the first shirt, a goldish color and a tiny black and white stripe.  Kind of an odd mixture, but I really like the way they work together and give a nod to the colors in the vest.

So, here's the second version of my reversible vest and shirt....

I am very happy with the way the stripe of the shirt peeks out at the neck of the vest.  And, yes, it was intentional!  When the vest is closed, it is the only bit of the other colors that shows.

I'll give this new shirt a test drive and see if I like it any better...and I will keep a look out for the 'perfect' fabric just in case there is a round 3.


  1. Great job on the vests, very handsome. The piecing on the tee is intriguing. The vertical line of piecing should work fine but I'm curious of the band across the chest area keeps the tee fabric from stretching. How do you handle that?

  2. Great observation! All three of the fabrics in the inset stripes are knits, so they do have some stretch. I used a serger to seam them together as well as putting them into the front pieces. The based knit is also quite stable, so I wasn't depending on too much stretch anyway.

  3. The t-shirt insets look fantastic!

    1. Thanks! I think it's way more fun than a plain brown T-shirt!

  4. Great job. Love the pockets. Did you draft your own vest pattern?

    1. Kind of! I have a few basic shapes that most of my garments start from. A basic blouse, a t-shirt, skirt...It's usually a combination of a basic shape and some draping on my dress form. Starting with something that I know fits and adding the design features I want takes away the 'will it fit?' element.
      The pockets were designed along the way. I knew I wanted to use the checks on the bias somewhere, that was the starting point.