Holiday Gift Sewing: Make a Vest

black vest sewing inspiration. The McCall Patten Company

My colleagues and I are in full-on holiday sewing mode. Time to make gifts for friends and loved ones! We’ve pinned here a whole bunch of gift-related patterns to sew, just in case you need some inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, my first completed gift this season was inspired by some leftover black wool alpaca I had in my stash (by Alexander Wang, no less!) and RTW vests like the ones shown above. I wanted a boxy shape that didn’t require me to do much fitting, if any, on the recipient. So no darts or princess seams. Just a zip front and a satin lining. Fast and easy.

Black alpaca zip-front vest made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company.

That’s my finished vest, above, as modeled by my coworker Karen. She’s a little taller than the future wearer of this vest is, but you get the general idea of how my vest wears. Boxy and loose.

For a pattern I actually used a ’90s McCall’s quilted vest pattern that I bought on Etsy a few years ago. You can sew the look, however, using K3731, B5927 (omit sleeves), or B5359. As I mentioned, I lined this vest with a medium-weight black satin crepe from my stash. I was able to attach the lining to the vest completely by machine as the stitches are hidden by the furriness of this particular alpaca. Besides alpaca, I recommend making a vest like this from faux fur, pre-quilted fabrics, or wool felt.

What gifts are you sewing this year? I’ve got three aprons, a poncho, a nightgown and two makeup bags on my to-sew list before December 25th. My colleague Gillian is making gloves, and she’ll be blogging about that here soon. (Have you ever made gloves? Me neither, but apparently people do, because our glove patterns sell well.) Keep watching this blog for details about what we’re sewing for the holidays, and remember to check this Pinterest board for easy-sew gift ideas. And have a happy Thanksgiving!

V1419 Sewalong Designer Coat: Finished!

detail of V1419 Ralph Rucci coat, made by Meg Carter at the McCall Pattern Company. #v1419sewalong

Hey, sewalongers, it’s the big reveal time! My co-host Lauren and I are finished with our coats and are ready to show them off. (But don’t worry if you’re still working on your muslin: This is a go-at-your-own pace sewalong. We’ll leave all our posts up and you can still access the V1419 Flickr group.)

So… here’s my Ralph Rucci for Vogue Patterns V1419 coat, which I actually turned into a jacket:
V1419 coat made by Meg Carter for the McCall Pattern Company. #v1419sewalong


  • The flared shape that makes this coat so distinct was just not working for me. So, with the help of Tatyana, our head dressmaker here, I narrowed the back lower seams to reduce some of the flare. I also narrowed the sleeves.
  • I originally sewed this as a coat, but the length was too much on me and I felt I’d wear it more as a long jacket. My goal is to pair it with slim pants and heels, maybe jeans.
  • The fabric is a metallic brocade from Carolina Herrera that I ordered from It’s blue and silver on one side and then metallic dark brown on the other. It has a very stiff drape, which accentuated Rucci’s bell shapes way more than I think even he intended.
  • Yes, I was a weenie and I skipped the elaborate buttonholes. My reasoning was that this fabric already had enough drama to it and didn’t need another element to distract from it. But really, I was at that point of MUST-GET-THIS-FINISHED or I’ll die. You know what I mean.

V1419 finished jacket back. Made by Meg Carter for the McCall Pattern Company. #v1419sewalong

  • I omitted the belt because it really bisected me and made me look wider. Now looking at the back here in this photo I kind of wish I hadn’t, because it looks so…naked? Weird? I think it might look better on me than it does on the dressform, just because I don’t wear this jacket buttoned up. So it will hang a little more loosely.

V1419 finished jacket interior view. Made by Meg Carter for the McCall Pattern Company. #v1419sewalong

  • This is my favorite part of this coat, that it’s double-sided and in a contrasting color. All my bias bindings were done in navy wool suiting that was from our stash.

Bottom line: I really like this jacket/coat! It’s quite dramatic and a change of pace from what I usually wear, but sometimes you need to kick things up a notch. Agreed?

And the pattern is actually not so very hard to sew. Committing to making a muslin first is the most beneficial thing you can do, because you need to get the fit down. Nothing is particularly challenging sewing-wise, just maybe a little time-consuming. So no need to feel intimidated by this pattern.

Are you finished with your coat? If so, we want to see it!

For those just starting to sew this pattern, here are all the #V1419 resources, which we’ll keep up:

  • This blog and Lauren’s blog, for step-by-step instructions and advice
  • This Pinterest board, for detail shots of the actual designer coat
  • This Flickr group, for photos from sewalong participants
  • This tagboard, to see all the photos and posts tagged with #V1419sewalong

    How utterly perfect is Lauren's coat?! Visit her blog to see more photos of her modeling it. I think this pattern works best in a solid fabric, so you can see the unique seaming.
    How utterly perfect is Lauren’s coat?! Visit her blog to see more photos of her modeling it. I think this pattern works best in a solid fabric, so you can see the unique seaming.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our very first sewalong. We really enjoyed being a part of this group with you, and we look forward to possibly hosting another sewalong in 2015. Stay tuned!

Baby Bump Chic Sewing Patterns Through the Decades

maternity fashion 1950s & 2014

Is it just me, or does it seem like the coolest fashion accessory to have right now is a baby bump? All the images of celebrities and their pregnant bellies inspired me to head to our archives and take a look at our old maternity patterns. My, how things have changed. Take a look below at a century of maternity patterns, then scroll down to see the current patterns we recommend to achieve baby bump chic:

1919 Butterick maternity sewing patterns, from the McCall Pattern Company archives
Baby bump chic in 1919. Very early Downton Abbey.

“If you have pretty, becoming clothes to keep you looking straight and slender, you will be glad to go around and lead a normal, cheerful life. If your clothes are not attractive and you feel awkward and conscious, you will shrink from seeing people and will fail to get the proper amount of exercise and recreation you need to keep you normal.” —advice on maternity fashion from a 1919 Butterick Patterns catalog

Maternity sewing patterns from a 1927 Butterick catalog. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
The 1920’s dropped-waist, blouson style allowed “mothers of the near future” to be baby bump chic.
1930s maternity wear, as seen in a Butterick patterns catalog. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
Interestingly, there was no maternity section in this 1935 Butterick catalog, nor were any patterns labeled as maternity. Did women have to buy their maternity clothes in a back alley somewhere? These smocks might have been worn by women in their last trimesters.
1940s maternity Butterick sewing patterns. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
Wait, these are maternity patterns? Concealing your baby bump obviously was the way to dress in the 1940s.
1950s Vogue Patterns maternity patterns. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
It’s the 1950s and there’s a baby boom happening! We trotted out lots of maternity patterns in our catalogs to meet the post-war demand for maternity wear.
1960s Vogue Patterns maternity patterns. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
The baby boom continued into the 1960s, and our patterns looked similar to the styles of regular womenswear, just a lot more tent-like.
1970s maternity sewing patterns by Vogue Patterns. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
1970s maternity sewing patterns often featured Empire waists and jumpers. And goofy collars and shag haircuts.
1980s maternity sewing patterns by McCall's. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
Where’s the baby bump?! If you were pregnant in the 1980s you surrounded your belly in tons of fabric, the more the better.
1990s Vogue Patterns maternity pattern. From the McCall Pattern Company archives.
Just because we’re pregnant doesn’t mean we can’t run a Fortune 500 company. Working moms-to-be in the 1990s wanted maternity clothes that were professional and devoid of sweet bows and puffery.


McCall's designer Jackie Polikoff on baby bump chic
Jackie Polikoff, McCall’s designer and baby bump goddess.

Fast forward to today, where women are opting to wear clothes that accentuate their baby bumps rather than hide them. They’re pairing stretchy knit tops with maternity jeans and wearing dresses that hug their new curves. Jackie Polikoff, McCall’s designer, is our resident baby bump goddess (she’s due in February). We asked for her suggestions for maternity patterns that work for today’s moms-to-be:

M6886 dress: “With minor adjustments this is my go-to dress. Perfect to show off my belly! Great with different types of knits.”

• M7057 jacket: “Perfect for fall and early winter as a cozy sweater, jacket, coat or vest. I love that you can wear it belted or not, and that I can wear it throughout my entire pregnancy.”

B5796 top: “A maternity must-have. Love these knit tops!”

V8860 coat: “I love this mod swing coat. It’s got a clean, fresh look and the pattern comes with lots of options.”

B5997 tunic: “I can’t resist a tunic pattern. This one is perfect for work and I love that it’s a pull-over.”

Maternity patterns from McCall's, Butterick and Vogue Patterns.

What are your thoughts on today’s maternity styles? Share with us what you consider baby-bump chic, or tell us about your own maternity style. Did you sew any maternity patterns?