Warm vests

As well as oversized tops, the second foundation of my winter wardrobe is warm vests. And they don’t appear in most wardrobe plans either. (Hmm, for someone of my generation in the UK, growing up before central heating, a ‘warm vest‘ means an inmost layer. I admit I wear them too :D)

But here I mean the American visible upper layer vest. For winter warmth these are always my cosiest add-ons. There are several directions to go for patterns.

Happily some warm vest styles are also ‘current’. And there are many current vest styles not focussed on warmth. The section on those kept expanding, so I’ve made it a separate post.

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Classic padded vest

I live in these in winter. It would be good to make one, to get the right shape and length. Based on this outdoor survival Jalie 2450 pattern for women and girls, with an underarm side panel for shaping. (Jalie 2451 for men and boys.)


Jalie recommend 1 inch/ 2.5 cm thick batting/ wadding, of a make I can’t find in the UK. There is a thick quilt batting/ wadding called Dream Puff (1/3 inch/ 1 cm, part of the Quilter’s Dream range), which claims superior insulating properties. Perhaps we need to go to a more northern European country to get really warming fabrics. Fjoelner in Denmark has various weights of clothing insulation.

Make the vest lined with plaid flannel for extra fun. The ‘current’ version of this padded vest is a blouson : waist length and with ribbing at waist. Worn over a low hip length knit top. Not flattering to all body shapes.

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Classic quilted vest

There are probably hundreds of patterns for quilted vests : appliqué, patchwork, embellished, and usually v-necked. I’ve managed to stop collecting them. Pavelka has one of my favourites.


This sort of quilted vest is much loved as a canvas for individual creativity. So most people who wear them are not bothered if they aren’t ‘current’ 😀

I’m planning to try Thinsulate rather than classic quilt wadding/ batting. Available from outdoor fabric specialists. I haven’t sewn with it, but it must be good for clothes as I have some wonderfully warm gloves made from it.

I prefer a high necked vest for warmth, such as the new Butterick 5532.


Those instructions are for pre-quilted fabric, so adapt if you do your own layering.

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Interesting warm vests

Some interesting vest shapes to try, which look as if they could be made with an added quilting layer. Not surprisingly they come from Scandinavian countries – all with instructions in Danish.

Stof & Stil 25005


Stof & Stil 25006


Multisnit 3.43. Buy in English from Fjoelner.


These are one-piece wrap-vest styles. You need confident technique to use Multisnit patterns. They have a traceable pattern sheet without seam allowances, and brief instructions in Danish.

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Fur vests

I love fake fur vests. They have happy memories for me of a winter in Toronto. Many fur vests in the designer collections this season. The ‘current’ fur vest is v-necked, long and wide shouldered. A big look.

For a pattern there’s Butterick 5359 View E.


Though I prefer a jewel neckline for warmth. And preferably a raised neckline. And definitely made so the front opening has no gaps. I have an old pattern like that, but can’t find a current one. The nearest is Kwik Sew 3731 view B.


[P. S. The vest in new Simplicity 2285 is what I was looking for.]

There is Butterick 3311 for a zip-fronted fur hoodie.


Vests of long shaggy pile fur are made with the pile pointing downwards. But the usual advice for the direction of pile is to have it pointing upwards. And this is important if you’ll be wearing the pile garment under something else. With the pile pointing downwards, it may ‘walk up’ the garment outside it. My mother told a horror story of making a party dress in velvet with the pile pointing down. By the time she arrived at her destination it had worked itself up under her coat. . . to reveal all. . . A vest with the pile the wrong way could be uncomfortable rather than embarassing. But do make the pile pointing upwards, unless it’s so thick you’ll rarely wear something over it !

P.S. Karin’s comment about shearling reminded me of Kwik Sew 3172, a vest with the fur turned inwards.


For the current ‘aviator’ look, make this double-breasted with an asymmetrical front exposed zip closure.

P.P.S. I confess in winter the last thing I’m worrying about is whether I look fat, but Imogen Lamport has a post on wearing a fur vest and keeping stylish !

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P.S. For classic fleece vests see McCall’s 5991, 5252, 5402.

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So there is a rich selection of different, interesting, attractive, creative and even ‘current’ ways of getting added body warmth without encumbering your arms.

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Patterns and links available November 2010

Explore posts in the same categories: current fashion, my choices

4 Comments on “Warm vests”

  1. RuthieK Says:

    Ah thanks for the tip. I have that kind of problem with a velvet cowl neck top I made.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Ruthie – yes, and I’ve also heard of velvet causing problems if it’s used the wrong way round as a facing.

  2. Karin Says:

    As usual, you have done a great round of vest selections. I am on the lookout for a vest that could be made out of genuine shearling. So I appreciate having additional patterns brought to my attention. At the moment, I am leaning towards an Onion pattern (Danish company.)

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks for the tip Karin (Onion 1030 wrap vest ?).
      You’ve reminded me I like Kwik Sew 3172, for fur turned inwards. More Scandinavian ideas !

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