Making the Jemima Waistcoat: A How-To Guide!

This is not your average Waistcoat Sewing Pattern! This is a fitted semi-tailored sewing pattern with quirky features; perfect for putting your own twist on!

I'm Chloe, the developer of the Jemima Waistcoat & The Pattern Stash. My background is in Theatre and Costume. I designed & made this waistcoat many years ago, after being influenced by my theatrical background! When the opportunity arose to produce my own sewing pattern, it was a no brainer that this was the one!

There are so many ways to customise this pattern, it just seemed perfect that this could be the first pattern brought to you by Fabworks & The Pattern Stash! We like to be a little unique and our sewing patterns are no different!

I'm going to show you a few hints and tips and then talk about ways you can hack this sewing pattern so you can make it over and over again and no two will ever be the same!

For this tutorial I'll be using our HOH '21 Jewels of Yorkshire Forever Green Emerald Twill Melton fabric alongside HOH '19 Lush Mint - Herringbone, both from our beloved Heart of Huddersfield collection! Teamed with the stunning Peacock Plumes - one of our ex-designer Jewel Jacquard linings for extra wow factor!
First things first, you need to choose your size.

The garment is designed to be semi-tailored and fitted, but don't be afraid, this just means a bespoke garment that is completely unique (and tailored) to you. But it does mean choosing the right size to make your waistcoat, is important. But don't overthink it, there is a detailed section within the instruction booklet, this includes a measuring guide to help you select the best size for your waistcoat!

There is a 5cm ease along the bust line which allows for some flexibility but if you aren't sure always go up a size, it's much easier to fit the garment and make it smaller than to try to squeeze an extra cm from seam allowance!

 

 

Next, we need to cut out the paper sewing pattern.

My mum taught me to sew from a very young age and when I got older, we found we liked the same styles and could share sewing patterns! As we were different sizes, we always used to cut the sewing patterns out on the largest size and then I would fold back the pattern to the size I wanted to make carefully snipping into any curved areas of the pattern to allow it to lie flat.

Fabric Cutting Layouts:

The original design of the Waistcoat included contrasting lapels (facings) and pockets, but since the pattern launched in February '21, I have seen so many creations of the pattern with different contrasting panels and even patchwork! The only limit is your imagination!

So have a play and work out which way you want to place your panels to create flattering princess seams! There is a cutting layout for guidance inside the instruction booklet, but this is only a helpful guide.

TIP: One important thing to look out for on any sewing pattern is the grainline! This tells you how to position the pattern piece on the fabric.

The Grainline is often denoted by a long-arrowed line. I always find it helpful to pin the top of the arrow onto the fabric and measure this arrow either from the selvedge of the fabric or the fold. Then move the tape measure to the bottom of the arrow and place the piece the same distance from the selvedge or fold! Check the middle of the arrowed line just to be sure.

It helps to place the pattern piece correctly on the grainline and helps if you need to pattern match fabric such as check or plaid that they are cut straight! Always check the direction of a fabric, if it has a nap or pile like velvet! Place each pattern piece in the same direction so you don't end up with shading.

 

The pattern includes 1.5cm of seam allowance on all pattern pieces, so you can cut it straight out on the size you have chosen as soon as you're ready!

TIP: Make sure you cut out all the notches around the pattern pieces, I like to cut out a triangle shape to make them really easy to see. Be as accurate as you can with this, so the notches are in the correct place for matching the pattern pieces together.

 

Before you can start the fun bit (sewing!) it's really important to have a good look at the pattern and transfer any markings & balance points onto the WRONG side of your fabric pieces. This will help you further along as they will be clear to see rather than trying to match the pattern pieces to the fabric once it's moved around a little.

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Sewing the Jemima Waistcoat is easy once you know how! I'm going to talk through some of the more technical aspects of the sewing pattern and show you a few easy tricks to help you along the way.

STEP 1: Princess Seams

The pattern is constructed mainly from sculpted panels including front and back princess seams. Many sewing patterns include them because they are so flattering. This video shows you how to ease in extra fabric between the notches and the bust to create the sculpted bust seams on the waistcoat front panels.

 

 

Place the RIGHT side of the Waistcoat Front to the RIGHT side of the Waistcoat Side Front. Start by pinning the waist notches together and then work your way towards the next notch, easing in excess fabric. This means smoothing the fabric into position to remove any tucks, you can feel it by moving your fingers along the seam. It's important to pin at 1.5cm (seam allowance) away from the cut edge as this helps you accurately see what the seam will look like when sewn.

Continue onto the next notch, you'll find there is a bit more excess here, the best way to deal with this is to move the fabric around so you find the centre of the section and then smooth in between the two smaller sections you've created. Pin the rest of the seam. Then turn it over so you can see the right side and assess how smooth the seam looks.

Repeat this step again using the contrasting lapel Facing fabric on the front piece (A) and the lining fabric on the side front piece (B).

It's really important especially on a fitted garment like this to iron in between each stage, trust me when I say it will help you in the long run! By snipping the seam allowance, in the curved bust seam, it allows the fabric to lay flat and pressing it open means it lays really neat along the seam creating a much better & smoother final fit!

 

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STEP 2: Bagging out the Pockets

Step 2 shows you how to bag out. Bagging out is sewing two pieces of fabric together and then turning them through, trapping the seam allowance inside. This could be one edge or around a whole shape leaving space to turn the pieces through and slip stitching the small section closed to finish. This is also explained within the instruction booklet, there is a section on bagging out along with other techniques & terminology.

The section of the pocket we are going to bag out is the top seam with the large circle balance mark. With the RIGHT sides of the fabric together, pin along the seam and around the curved edge. It's important to try and pin this accurately 1.5cm from the edge of the fabric so you can see where to sew the corners of the curved edge. I'm using the 1.5cm marking on my sewing machine as a guide for the seam allowance also.

Sew along the straight section of the pocket, stopping at the corner and reverse stitch to reinforce the corner. Leaving the needle in at the point of the corner, pick the machine foot up and pivot the fabric around the corner to begin sewing the curved edge. This will create a really crisp point without breaking the stitches.

Reinforce the next section of the corner with a back-stitch, then carry on using the machine as a guide for 1.5cm seam allowance and carefully sew around the pocket curve.

Repeat the process for the next corner, back-stitch to reinforce, leave the needle in, foot up and pivot around the corner. Stitch the last straight section of the pocket and finish sewing.

I've got a really nice, neat stitch line along here now which I'm going to trim down. I like to use small snips and carefully trim the seam allowance down to about half a centimetre. When it comes to the curve, I'm going to clip across the corner, careful not to snip the stitching and then clip little triangles into the curve. Be careful you don't snip the stitching or else you'll have to sew the curve again a little deeper.

Clipping in around this curve, allows the fabric room to move around when you turn it inside out. It will now lay flat and smooth without any bumps.

Turn the pocket through to the right side, giving the corners a little wiggle to persuade them to become points.

TIP: Don't use anything sharp or pointy to help you with this as you risk poking a hole through the corner you've just made. Using anything round at this point will make a bobbly shape rather than a neat crisp point too!

Your pocket is ready for a good press now and you might want to top-stitch it too to stop the lining from rolling over.

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Step 3: is fairly straightforward, place the pockets onto the front panels, WRONG side of the pocket (lining) to RIGHT side of the Waistcoat front panels.

Take care to match the circle pocket balance marks on the waistcoat front panels, these help you to line up the pockets and ensure they will match when the two fronts are sat side by side! Tack all the way around the pockets onto the waistcoat front to secure the pocket ready for the next stage of construction. 

TIP: When tacking, use a single thread and stitch just inside the stitch-line (approx 1.3 cm from the edge) this helps to conceal the tacking line when using the sewing machine and is much easier to remove! It also helps to do a small back-tack instead of a knot at the start and end of tacking stitches, this also makes it much easier to remove!

 

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Step 4: Bagging out the Centre Front

Step 4 is back to bagging out. Soon you'll be able to admire your good work as this part of the pattern comes together so quickly, you can almost see what the finished garment will look like after this next stage, but don't rush it, take your time to make it look lovely!

Now that I've tacked the pocket onto the front panels, I'm ready to bag out the centre front edge. Just double-check that you can see your balance marks on the shoulder and lapels, you're going to need these to sew all around this edge, and don't forget to bag out the front armhole at this stage too.

Using the lining you made earlier, place the pieces RIGHT sides together and begin matching the centre fronts together starting at the waist notch. Match the balance marks on the lapels carefully ensuring you pin 1.5cm away from the edge to create an accurate seam allowance. 

At the diamond break-point on the shoulder, place a pin 90 degrees to the seam to ensure this is stitched accurately, this creates the shoulder seam - don't worry, it all becomes clear in the video. Stitching a little 90-degree stitch at the diamond point of the shoulder, creates the shoulder seam which will also form the top of the lapel.

Once you have pinned all the way around, you can now stitch the seam, stopping carefully and pivoting the needle around at the break-points. If you're a little unsure, you can tack this first to secure the panels from moving around. Follow the pins around the seam being careful to create sharp points at the Diamond and Star, this will create crisp points when you've clipped in. 

Please note: the star at the breakpoint of the lapels is the point at which the seam allowance meets, 1.5cm from each edge of the lapels.

Be careful to stitch 1.5cm from the edge for a neat accurate seam allowance on the Centre Front.

After stitching carefully around the lapels, and down the centre front, we need to clip into the seams and trim the seam allowances down, so it lays flat with a nice finish once turned through.

I'm trimming my seam allowance down to around 0.5 cm using small sharp scissors. On the curved edges it's important to snip little triangles into the seam allowance, this gives the seam allowance room to move once turned through. Make sure you are really careful NOT to snip the stitch-line you've sewn. The centre front is nice and easy, straight up at 0.5cm to reduce all the bulk on the front edge. Then carry on around the lapel curves.

At the shoulder point where the 90-degree stitches were sewn (diamond), clip into this corner and trim the seam allowance around the curves of the lapels. At the (star) junction on the lapels clip into the corner as close to the stitch line as possible without snipping the stitching. This will allow the fabric to move and create a really nice point when it's been turned through. 

Clip triangles all the way around the lapels to reduce the bulk. I like to hold my hand under here to steady the snips but careful you don't cut your fingers!! Use your fingers as a guide!

Next don't forget to trim the armholes, cut the seam allowance down to 0.5cm and clip triangles into the curves.

Now you've done all the trimming and clipping, it's time to take a look at the RIGHT side, smooth around all the curves and into the corners, I just use my hands to smooth around and give the corners a little wiggle where necessary. Roll the edges of the fabric between your fingers to push the seam allowance into position.

This all needs a really good press but just take a sneaky peek at your lapels turned down! Ooh it's going to look so lovely!!

TIP: You may be tempted to top-stitch around this seam now, but trust me, wait a little longer just in case you need to get back inside here after fitting in step 9! Top-stitching and neatening can be done during step 13.
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Step 5: Using the centre back pieces, with RIGHT sides together, match the notches and stitch the centre back seam. Stay stitch along the neckline to prevent it from stretching. This is a hand stitch which helps the fabric to stop pulling out of shape when you are working with it because it is cut across the grain of the fabric.

Step 6: With RIGHT sides together, using the notches, match the side back seams to the centre back panel. Press the seams open once stitched and clip into the princess seams to help them lay flat.

 

 

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Step 7: Create the Jigger, this is an optional feature. I like it because it draws attention to the waist creating a slimming effect. It's also a lovely feature which incorporates the two contrasting fabrics overlaying each other. It's very simple to make, having bagged out the centre front, bagging this small shape out will be a breeze! Ensure you clip across the corners of the shape accurately create neat crisp edges.

Position the Jigger on the centre back by matching the balance marks on the pattern piece, along the waistline. This can be where you want it to be though really, if your waist is a little lower, place it a little lower to sit comfortably on your back. Equally you can place the shape either way round, pointing towards the centre back or towards the side seams, have a play the choice is yours! Once you're happy with the location of your Jigger, I like to stitch some buttons on to secure it in position and to add yet another feature to the waistcoat. 

Step 8: Creating the back lining is very similar to creating the back panel in your outer fabric with one rather large difference. Leave a gap in between the two notches on the Centre Back seam. This gap needs to be large enough as this will be used to turn the whole waistcoat through in the next few stages! Press your seams open and clip into those curved seams so it sits nice and flat.

 

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Step 9: is where it gets a little more exciting! After this step, it's the perfect opportunity for a little fitting!

With RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, pin the front panels to the back panels - outer fabric, not lining. Match all the notches at the side seams and the shoulders, ensure you leave enough seam allowance at the start and finish of the side seams, you're going to need this soon!

Once all lined up, tack the seams in position careful not to catch the lapels at the point of the diamonds on the shoulder seams.

Turn your waistcoat right side out and pop it on! Assess the fit of your waistcoat checking for comfort and to see how the waistcoat skims the body. You may find things you want to alter such as the fit of the princess seams on the bust section - I bet you're glad you didn't top-stitch those seams now! 

To alter the fit of the princess seams, smooth the fabric flat to your shape, this can be taken in or let out as necessary to sculpt to your body. Equally you can use the side seams to let the seam allowance in or out as necessary.

  

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Step 10: Now that you're happy with the fit of your waistcoat, carefully tuck the lapels and the pockets into the gap between the front and back panels, so they are out of the way for the next stage.

Step 11: This is where the magic happens! Place the back lining (the one with the opening) over the top of the front of the waistcoat RIGHT side down (the RIGHT side of the waistcoat back lining should be against the RIGHT side of the facing of the waistcoat front).

This basically sandwiches the front panels in between the back fabric panel and the back lining panel (RIGHT sides together). Watch the video to see this in action!

 

 

 

Carefully match all the notches around the panels, at the side seams and shoulders. then work your way around the whole waistcoat matching the armholes and the corners of each seam.

TIP: When pinning and sewing the corners, make sure to have a good feel for the edges/corners of the front panels - - this is the point at which to pivot the needle around to create neat crisp corners and smooth edges.

 

Once you have sewn all the way around, reinforcing the corners, turn the whole waistcoat through the opening in the lining. Have a little check to make sure you are happy with the nice smooth corners and seams that have just been created between the front panels and the back at the hem and the arm holes.

Don't worry if you aren't happy with the seams first time around, just turn back through and alter whichever seam you need to fix by unpicking and resewing the section to make sure it sits nice and flat and even.

When you are happy with the results, trim all the seam allowance on the inside of the lining, trimming the corners at angles to reduce bulk.

TIP: I like to layer my seams which are thick such as those at the shoulders where the Melton Twill layers are, this just means trimming one seam allowance shorter than the other so you don't end up with bulk, try it for yourself and see which you prefer (you can see this in the video).

Turn back through to the right sides and give all the seams a really good press.

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Step 12: Using the gap in the back of the lining, slip stitch the lining closed, neat little diagonal stitches which catch both edges of the lining creating an invisible finish. Of course, as I am sewing with Heart of Huddersfield fabrics, I'm going to add a label in too!

Step 13: This is the final step of construction, adding the fastening! Using the front pattern piece, mark out the buttonholes. Traditionally ladies' waistcoats fasten right over left so the buttonhole would go on the right side of the waistcoat and the buttons on the left side.

Use the Front Pattern piece to mark your buttonholes on to the facing side of your waistcoat. Use a tape measure to ensure they are spaced evenly between each other and from the centre front edge.

I'm using an automatic buttonholer on my sewing machine which creates really neat buttonholes all in one step. Be sure to practice your buttonholes on a piece of scrap fabric until you're happy with the finish as this will be right on the front of your waistcoat! 

 

TIP: When opening up your buttonholes, my best advice would be to use a stitch ripper and some pins! Pin the ends of the buttonhole and start to open it up with the stitch ripper from the centre. Placing a pin at the ends of the buttonhole stops you from cutting the buttonhole open too much, forcing past the edge of the buttonhole creating a mess!

Carefully match through the buttonholes to the left side of the waistcoat front, use chalk to help you mark the position of the buttons! Make sure you line up the pockets and lapels! The breakpoint for the lapels is also marked on the front pattern piece but you can choose to move this around to suit personal tastes.

Finally, tack back the lapels to hold them in position.

Pop your waistcoat on and begin admiring it getting ready to show it off!!!

 

 

 

 

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Hacking your Jemima Waistcoat:

Why not create your Jemima Waistcoat without lapels? Simply fold your waistcoat pattern along the balance marks from the diamond at the shoulder to the breakpoint above the top buttonhole.

Don't forget: You'll have to add an extra 1.5cm onto this folded edge for seam allowance!  

Don't stop there, play around with the shape of the pockets, and the shape of the waistcoat hem! You could go for a traditional point or perhaps straight across or even triangles in the pockets rather than scoops!

Play around with your fabric choices and placement but remember, always try to choose fabrics with a weight that's like for like otherwise you could end up the fabrics fighting against each other and pulling out of shape.

One Idea I can't wait to try is the addition of a detachable fur collar! Watch this space!!!

If you have any other ideas, get in touch, and let us know!

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful, for more sewing inspiration make sure to follow @thepatternstash on Instagram!

Chloe Statham
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