The inspiration (and challenge!) for me here was to cut, shape, fold and stitch a simple yard-long piece of wool felt into a stylish vest that we would all love! The design process was a fascinating exploration of pared-down construction. How to get the biggest effect out of the smallest gestures?
The result is this wonderfully flowing Felted Wool Vest. It has no seams, just two cuts, a couple of tucks and a pair of folds. A rectangle of wool, minimally manipulated, is turned into a sweeping wrap-of-a-vest with petal-like folds that gently cascade around you.
The natural raw edges of Mary Flanagan's felted wool are highlighted by Gumnut's subtly rustic Tulips needlepoint yarn. One hundred percent mohair, the sweet, fuzzy texture of Tulips is a perfect complement to the untouched beauty of Dorr Mill's Wool Yardage. Together they are magic!
To make one 36-inch by 56-inch rectangular vest, measuring 14 inches across the back:
- 1 yard of Dorr Mill's Wool Yardage in the color Natural. (*Before you start you will need to felt the wool by washing it in hot, rinse in cold, drying it for 20 minutes and then pressing it flat.)
- 1 skein of Gumnut's needlepoint yarn Tulips in the color 329
- Embroidery needles
- Pencil or Chaco Pen
Measure, Mark and Cut for the Armhole
First things first, make sure the yard piece of fabric is 'squared-up', meaning that the adjacent sides are at 90 degree angles and the fabric doesn't have any slanted sides. Use a straight edge and rotary cutter to trim any edges that need straightening.
Fold fabric in half along the short side, so that it looks like a 36 inch tall by 28 inch wide rectangle.
Use a Chaco Marker or pencil to draw a rectangle that is 8 inches tall by 2 inches wide as indicated in the picture above. The bottom edge of the rectangle will be is 14 inches from the bottom edge of the fabric and the inside edge of the rectangle will be 7 inches in from the folded edge.
Cut out the rectangle.
SIZING NOTE: If you are petite or short waisted, you might want to cut an inch off the bottom of the rectangle. If you do so, the armhole would begin 13 inches above the bottom edge. Similarly, you can bring the armholes closer together by placing them closer to the folded edge, 6 3/4-inches or 6 1/2-inches, rather than 7 inches from the folded edge.
With the fabric folded in half, you can use the cut out rectangle as a template to draw the second armhole, or you can simply flip the folded rectangle over, so the folded edge is on the left, and follow the steps above.
Measure and Mark for the Darts
Once again, orient the rectangle so it is folded in half, use a pencil to draw a 7 inch line, starting 4 inches from the bottom edge (3 inches if you are making a petite size) and 3 inches in from the folded edge.
Flip the folded fabric over and follow the steps above to make the second Dart Marking.
Measure and Mark for the Collar
Unfold the rectangle and lay flat with the Dart Markings towards the bottom of the fabric and that side of the fabric facing down.
Draw a 16 inch long line from the left edge of the rectangle, 6 inches off of the top edge, as indicated in the above picture.
Repeat on right edge. These are the Collar Markings.
Stitch the Edges
Using an embroidery needle and one ply of the Tulips yarn, whip stitch around all four edges of the rectangle.
Then whip stitch along the four sides of each armhole.
I took my stitches about 1/4-inch deep and 1/4-inch apart from one another.
Stitch the Darts and Collar
First, let's make the Darts. Fold the fabric along one of the Dart Markings so that the line is facing you. Pinch the fabric between your finger and thumb of your non-stitching hand. With your stitching hand, whip stitch along the fold, taking the needle approximately 1/4-inch in from the fold. Make sure to take a few stitches at the start and at the end of the line to anchor the Dart, as shown above.
Repeat for second Dart.
Flip the fabric over so the Collar Markings are facing you. Use the same technique as for the Darts along the Collar Markings.
Throw your arms in the holes and you have yourself a vest! So simple, right?!!