Birch Vest Pattern Test in Denim and Silk

*Since I’m away from my recording equipment for the holidays, the audio version of this post will be added by mid-January. Thanks for your patience. And Happy New Year!*

Hey — look at that! We made it to the end of another year! I may be in the minority, but when I look back at everything that happened in 2022, I don’t think, “Wow…this year flew by!”. I think, “Wow…that was a lot. Was it really only one year??”. I won’t go into details here, but let’s just say that all the emotions had their turn behind the wheel, and I’m ready to take many memories and valuable lessons with me into 2023. While I had hoped to be more consistent with my blogging, instead of berating myself, I’m going to be proud of the posts I did manage to write and record (there’s one of those lessons…) and just keep moving forward.

A white woman with read hair wears a denim vest over a green and brown paisley blouse

A white woman with read hair wears a denim vest over a green and brown paisley blouse

After spending a few weeks revamping and reorganizing my sewing space (and making a couple of Christmas gifts), I finished out the year with a pattern test for one of my favourite indie pattern designers. I’m a huge fan of vests, and an even bigger fan of Pattern Scout patterns, so when Casey sent out a call for testers of her new Birch Vest, I jumped right on it. 

Side view of a white woman with read hair wearing a denim vest over a green and brown paisley blouse

Back view of a white woman with red hair wearing a denim vest over a black turtleneck.

The classic design is semi-fitted, with princess seaming in the front and back and a deeply scooped neckline. There is also a centre back seam for additional shaping. One of stellar elements of all Casey’s patterns is that she drafts B, C, and D cup pieces for her FULL size range (which is extensive). Precious few designers do this, and it’s so appreciated when they do. Most who offer D cup bodices only do so for US size 14 and up, so if you’re a smaller overall size, you still need to do a full bust adjustment, and if you’re in the 14-and-up range with a smaller cup size, you have to do a small bust adjustment. Size inclusivity has come a long way; there’s also still a ways to go, and hopefully it’s continuing in the right direction. For the Birch Vest, I made a size 12D, and the only fit tweaks I made were removing 1/2” of overall length and doing an additional 3/8” swayback adjustment.

A white woman with red hair wears a denim vest over a black turtleneck

Close up of denim vest with tortoise shell buttons

For me, a vest qualifies as both a garment and an accessory. There’s so many ways to style it, it can snazz up an outfit without the commitment of a blazer, and it takes so little fabric that you can make one out of almost anything. It can also be a good option for those who spend much of their time seated, like those who use a wheelchair, who want to wear a tailored garment that is less restrictive and bulky. And if you make it reversible…well, now you’re having all the fun! 

Casey’s lining construction allowed for this scenario, so I couldn’t resist. For one side, I used a chunk of denim leftover from a skirt I made a few years ago. I didn’t quite have enough in all one direction, so I cut the side front and side back pieces on the cross grain, and I actually really like the effect. There’s a bit of stretch in it, so I get some waves since I paired it with a fabric that has none, but it doesn’t really bother me and I think it will eventually settle as it forms to my body with wear. I did simple topstitching in a spring green to make the style lines stand out. 

A white woman with red hair wears a sage green silk brocade vest over an olive long sleeve t-shirt.

Close up of a white woman with red hair wearing a sage green silk brocade vest over an olive long sleeve t-shirt.

Back view of a white woman with red hair wearing a sage green silk brocade vest over an olive long sleeve t-shirt.

For the reverse side, I pulled out this small piece of vintage sage green silk brocade that I think I picked up at a garage sale over a decade ago. I can’t remember if it was faded in various areas when I bought it or if that just happened over time, but it was tricky to find a layout that made the inconsistent colouring less noticeable. I had always known I wanted this to be a vest, so I was determined to make it work, and with some single-layer pattern layout ninja skills, it did. Luckily, the sheen of the fabric coupled with the flower and leaf design make it seem like any colour weirdness is due to light reflection. (At least, that’s going to be my story, and I will be sticking to it.) There was also the fraying factor to consider when I was cutting out the pieces, and with 3/8” seam allowances, I didn’t want to take any chances. I went into full obsessive mode and, as each piece was cut, I ran to the serger to secure all those edges. Possibly overkill, but I’m convinced it was the right thing to do.

A length of sage green silk brocade fabric on a dark wood floor.

Even though it’s denim and silk rather than leather and lace, I still love the Stevie Nicks-adjacent vibe of this vest. I feel like it can go from 1870s to 1970s to 2070s and beyond. A true time-travelling fashion staple if ever there was one; perfect for heading into a new year and new adventures…

A white woman with red hair wears a sage green silk brocade vest over a teal button-down shirt with a grey, green, and white tie.

A white woman with red hair wears a sage green silk brocade vest over a teal button-down shirt with a grey, green, and white tie.

A white woman with red hair wears a sage green silk brocade vest over a teal button-down shirt with a grey, green, and white tie.

For the pattern launch, Casey is offering 20% until Sunday, January 8th, 2023, and will be posting a sew-a-long video on her ever-inspiring and helpful YouTube channel sometime in January, so head on over to her website and check it out! (Btw, the paisley blouse I’m wearing with the denim side is the Pattern Scout Poppy Blouse, in case you were curious. 😉 )

A laughing white woman with red hair wears a sage green silk brocade vest over a teal button-down shirt with a grey, green, and white tie.

May 2023 be a year of great health, joy, and creativity for everyone! 



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