Sew an arty colorblocked boiled wool pieced vest

Sew an arty colorblocked boiled wool vest using the Tremont Jacket (and vest) sewing pattern.

The Tremont Vest was the perfect canvas for this use of black and cream boiled wool scraps. The black was heavier than the cream (the cream is more akin to the lighter ones being sold now, though my local fabric store had the black heavy coating weight version.) I got the black from my Local Fabric Shop (LFS), Seams Sewing & Mercantile in East Lansing. The cream is from Haberman Fabrics in Clawson, MI, and they have other colors. I have made a cream long vest from the other parts of the fabric (that’s how I got these scraps.) I made a rectangular poncho from a free sewing pattern out of the black (that’s how I got those scraps!)

I sketched this out in my journal last year, and more or less winged it using scraps of the fabric

From left, the sketch in my journal. Middle, during construction, inside out with the band pinned in place, the finished back vest (I ended up adding that middle black panel after I’d constructed it – just too much cream in there. And last, the finished vest!

Sewing process for your arty pieced vest:

Lay the traced pattern piece on a table or flat surface to start.

Lay scraps of fabric on top in an arrangement that is pleasing. Pin the edges of all of the pieces about 1/2 in from where they overlap. Once you have the entire pattern piece covered, bring pattern tissue to the top, pin and cut out around the outside edges of your pinned-and-pieced fabric. Yes, you could trace off your pattern, draw pieces, cut them, add seam allowances, etc. too, but I preferred the more freeform “lay the scraps down and do something with them” method. I did it on my coffee table one evening while watching a movie.

Trim the overlap of the scrap pieces to 1/2″ on the top and bottom layers. You’ll sew these together in the next step. Keep the pieces pinned together during the construction process and only remove the pins when you go to sew the panels together.

Repeat for the left front and right front to cut out all three pieces. I used a separate neck band on mine, which the Tremont does NOT come with – it has a foldover front edge. If you want a band, you can measure the existing cut-on band for the Tremont and add 1″ to the width of the band pieces. This will give you enough for a seam allowance to attach it to the front AND also for you to press under and stitch the band’s inner edge to complete the vest neckline. Or you can turn and topstitch the grown-on band as per the instructions.

Construction of your arty pieced vest:

Place the pieces right sides and stitch the pieces together. Fold the seam allowances back, press and top stitch. If you’re using uniform weight boiled wool (where both are the same weight) you can press the seam allowances open and topstitch both sides. I pressed them to the lighter weight side and used the cream thread to do all of these.

You’ll also need to cut out the Tremont’s vest sleeve opening facings. I *think* there are pattern pieces for this in the envelope. I actually created my own by tracing the edges of the pattern pieces and making them 1.5″ wide.

Construct the vest as per the directions. If you’re using boiled wool, you won’t need hem finishes and in that case, I used a rotary cutter, a clear ruler and kevlar cutting gloves to safely rotary off the hem edges of all of the vest. If you’re using lightweight boiled wool, you can press and tack down the side vent seam allowances with a slipstitch, or sew them closed (I sewed mine closed.) You can ALSO choose to leave the overlap and stitch them as you’ve pinned them, trimming away the excess seam allowances when you’re done. This is probably the easiest method, and a good one for boiled wool which doesn’t ravel.

Styling your vest:

This vest looks great over a long sleeved shirt or blouse, as well as a sweater. I love the Tremont with either a wide or a skinny/tapered pant. In my journal sketch you can see I’ve paired it with a wide leg, drawstring paperbag waist pant. The Paula Pant from Ukranian designer Dudas Patterns (they now live in Germany.) The vest is fingertip length so it’s got some presence to it, so try wearing it with neutral or coordinating garments and letting it stand on it’s own. I wore it with jeans and a printed mock turtleneck (the Nikko) to an event and got a lot of compliments on it. It also has a great athleisure vibe with joggers and a tee shirt or quarter zip. Here are my other two Tremont Jackets that I have sewed:

What’s next for the Tremont Jacket for me?

I love the Tremont; it is distinctive. The next one will be a linen one in a linen print and then I think after that a short, quilted fabric one. I usually make patterns THREE times, but this one has a great fit and I love the style – a cross between a blazer and a kimono and well, feels like a bath robe! My LFS did a sew along in early 2021 which is how I ended up sewing this pattern in the first place, and even though initially I wouldn’t have gravitated to it, it really fits so well and is both easy and a little challenging (the mitered vents!) LFS described the jacket as “are we in a board room with shifting paradigms or out with friends for drinks or holed up at home in our joggers? Who knows! This jacket fits the bill for all of it. Looks great, feels like a robe.” or something to that effect. It appealed to me precisely because it does feel like a cardigan. The LFS sewists did a cropped version too in a quilted Merchant & Mills fabric and it was awesome!

I recommend this pattern – it’s flattering, well drafted, easy to sew. The mitered corners can be a challenge – and I strongly recommend you look at some YouTube videos for mitered corners – these are not EVEN miters either which makes it doubly challenging. I’ve actually hand sewn all my miters on my versions and not a single person has knelt down, turned them back and looked at them to say “you didn’t miter these correctly” LOL. If you like an arty pattern get this. If you’re not sure, get this! I didn’t buy it based on the pattern envelope, but on the pics at my LFS, and their sample garment.