The Fashionista Gilet – sewing a faux fur vest

This project has been a long time coming. An embarrassingly long time. But it’s here now and looking fabulous, so let’s celebrate the completion of my self-drafted faux fur vest/gilet. I’m so pleased that the finished garment lives up to the vision I had in my head!

Fantasy Faux fur vest

The main fabric for my faux fur vest was sent to me by Minerva in exchange for a 500+ word review post with 6+ photos over on their site. There is no obligation to post here, but I wanted to. You can find the main review of the gilet/vest (it’s a gilet to me, but I know to most of the English speaking world it’s probably a vest!) here, and a separate post about sewing with long pile faux fur here (both affiliate links). I have to say a big thank you to Minerva here for trusting me with such a fabulously expensive and luxurious fabric (affiliate link). At £83.99 a metre this is definitely the most expensive fabric I’ve ever sewn with (although the sequin fabric I used here wasn’t far behind), and not something I’d ever have paid for myself. That said, I reckon it’s worth every penny as it’s so soft, plush and beautiful. It definitely feels top quality.

Secret zipped pocket in lining of faux fur vest

I purchased the lining myself (affiliate link), also from Minerva. They did send me some, but it wasn’t as nice as this one I had in my stash and I figured when using fabric this pricey I shouldn’t skimp on the lining! I’m really glad I went the extra mile and used the good stuff. I’m also glad I made the effort to add a zipped pocket in the lining. I followed these excellent instructions and really it was quite easy! The pocket is lined with some purple quilting cotton and I used an old jeans zip, both from my stash. The zip is actually an old one salvaged from a garment which I’m pretty sure was in with a bunch of sewing supplies my next door neighbour gifted me a couple of years ago. I think the khaki goes quite well with the lining colour and I love the pop of purple inside.

The whole pocket issue was one of the reasons I stalled for such a long time on this make. I contemplated a patch pocket instead but wasn’t convinced that was a good idea. At some point when pubs reopen post lockdown I’m going to be wearing this on nights out and will need somewhere to stash my phone and I definitely don’t want it falling out. That’s what I was convinced might happen if I threw this over the back of a chair when a bit tipsy…

But for some reason I was really scared of making a zipped pocket like this, thinking it would be too difficult and bag down and pull unattractively on the lining. I needn’t have worried as it was actually really simple to sew (I’m raring to go on some welt pockets and bound buttonholes now!) and I solved the potential pocket dragging issue by handstitching the top of the pocket bag to the inside of the faux fur fabric. Let’s face it, you’re never going to see the stitches through that pile!

It wasn’t just the pocket that held me up, though. I draped and cut the original toile (made from an old coat) last December, cut into the lining and faux fur last January, but then stalled on it when I realised what had worked for the toile just looked way too big in this deep pile fur:

Fitting the faux fur vest
Check out the six inches of overlap at the front!

This was the point where I chucked this into a corner of my sewing area and tried to pretend it wasn’t there. Not sure why I was quite so avoidant. In the end it wasn’t difficult to unpick the tacked side seams, pinch out some fabric and work out how much to trim from where. Incidentally, the long trimmings have found a second life as “tails” in Lauren’s dressing up box!

The other reasons I think I was a little scared of actually sewing this up were the issues around sewing such a reputedly challenging fabric. In the end it really wasn’t that much of a trauma, although it did require a fair bit of handstitching (which I enjoy anyway) and I had to take it really slow through the sewing machine. There’s much more detail about that in the Minerva post linked above.

Finally, the last reason I think I was scared was I just couldn’t work out what order to sew this in. I have real difficulties wrapping my head around how linings should be sewn in and without pattern instructions to work from, I couldn’t work it out. A lot of the online instructions for sewing lined vests assumed a much more normal weight main fabric and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make them work with this fur.

In the end I decided to sew up the lining and vest separately, join them together along the front and neck edge using the sewing machine, turn and then finish the armholes and hem by hand. This gave me the control I needed and here the thick fur actually worked in my favour, hiding all traces of my stitches on the right side. I ended up using pick stitches which is one of my favourite hand finishing techniques. You can find a good tutorial here if you’re interested.

But now my faux fur vest is finished and I’m absolutely delighted with it. It’s honestly hard to fathom why I was so worried about finishing it. Perhaps it’s simply because the fabric was so expensive, and I was scared I wouldn’t like the finished garment. I think I was concerned it might look a bit too “extra”. Okay, it probably does but I’ve never been one to be scared of making a statement with my clothes. I just like to make sure that when I do it’s in something that suits me.

Does this suit me? Honestly, I don’t really care if it does now. I just love my faux fur vest so much I don’t want to take it off! I’ve discovered it does need to be worn over relatively plain, skinny fit clothes like jeans and a turtleneck, but luckily those are things I love wearing anyway. I’m pretty sure I could dress it up with a bodycon dress too, when socialising and nights out become a thing again. Let’s finish up with me doing my best 1980s catalogue model pose:

On the sewing table

I have started my zebra and black ponte Heather dress and I’m still hoping to finish it over the weekend. It’s a pretty simple sew so fingers crossed I can make enough time for myself.

My success with the faux fur vest project has got me itching to get a few more long term UFOs finished up too. It will definitely feel like a mental weight has been lifted. There’s one coat, two quilts, and several knit and crochet projects in various stages of completion. Perhaps the coat first. I’ll have a look at it over the weekend. It can’t be that difficult to finish it and maybe I’ll absolutely love it like I do my gilet 🙂

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?

Anna x

2 thoughts on “The Fashionista Gilet – sewing a faux fur vest”

    1. Thank you! I keep getting the Game of Thrones music playing in my head when I put it on. Okay, the pattern is a bit wild for the frozen North but I like to think it would keep me warm there 🙂

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