Make Your Own Statement Vest: Faux Fur

Originally, this vest was not meant to be worn as a wardrobe piece. It was meant to be worn by the Male Compatriot as part of his Halloween costume: Teemo from League of Legends. My interpretation of a Teemo costume was kind of like Papageno from the Magic Flute; not a literal mouse creature (mascot heads freak me out) but a man-mouse hybrid.

Then Compatriot decided he wanted a more masculine costume, and I was stuck with this fur vest I’d already made. So I decided to make it work, turn it into a tutorial (assisted by MS paint diagrams, unfortunately: I didn’t take pictures during the construction) and maybe even adopt it as part of my fall wardrobe.

Jury’s still out, to be honest. I’m not 100% sure if I like it or not. But it is definitely a statement, and I’m glad I didn’t drop much cash on it. Want one? Here ya go.

You will need:

Less than 1 yard faux fur. (White may not be the best choice, but white was what I needed for the costume’s purposes). Choose a faux fur that has the densest nap possible. Or, be like me, and go the cheap-o route. If you go cheap, I suggest going long pile, it looks better than cheap short-pile stuff.

Less than 1 yard lining fabric. I used wedding satin salvaged from a thrift-store wedding dress.

Less than 1 yard fleece or quilting batting (optional)

Measuring tape.

The Process:

Measure across the back of your shoulders, from arm joint to arm joint.

Measure your armholes by making a loop with your tape measure, draping it over your shoulder, looking in the mirror, and adjusting until you’re satisfied.

Measure how long you want the vest to be. For this design, I didn’t do any waist shaping or anything; the vest hangs loosely from my shoulders to midway down my butt. This was partially the result of the vest originally being designed for a straight-up-and-down male. But I decided I liked the really straight silhoutte. You can play around with adding darts if you want, but fake fur tends to look best with simple lines and few design details.

Decide how much front overlap, if any, you want. I just divided my back measurement in half and subtracted about 2 inches because I wanted the vest to be a little bit open. If you want to add buttons, you should divide your back measurement in half, and then add about 3 inches to one of the sides. If you want to add a zipper, just divide your back measurement in half and leave as-is.

Draw out your pieces according to your measurements. They should be pretty simple; rectangle for the back, two smaller rectangles for the front. You’ll want to grade your pieces to make for a better fit, like so:

Whee, MS Paint

Whee, MS Paint

The really nice thing about a faux fur vest is that you can just sort of eyeball the bits. It’s not meant to be fitted, so just go with what looks nice to your eye and don’t worry about getting the fit exact or anything. Just make sure your pieces match each other.

Cut your pieces out of the fur and the lining. For the fur, I recommend going over the back with an exact-o knife, at moderate pressure. Then, go back over with small scissors and snip any bits that weren’t cut by the knife. The idea is to leave the fur pieces intact, and cut only through the mat the fibers are anchored in. You can also just carefully cut everything with teeny scissor snips, but that takes forever.

Sew your pieces together at the side and shoulder seams. You’ll have a lining vest and a fur vest.

*NOTE* Most people say to cut fake fur with the above method, and then go back over and shave the seam allowances completely. I did this and found that it was a huge amount of effort for something that didn’t look any better. It’s possible that higher quality (denser) or short-pile fibers will benefit from this treatment, but I found that just going back over the sewn seams with a knitting needle and pulling the fibers out worked really well. If you do it right, you should barely be able to tell that there is a seam at all.

Take your lining and your shell, and pin them together, right sides together.

I’m not sure if this is exactly the right way to line a vest, but I just sewed all the way around the armholes, back, sides, and most of the bottom, leaving an opening. Then I simply turned, and handstitched the opening closed. Bam, done. Easy, right? And a whole lot of dramatic bang for your buck.

VARIATIONS:

If you want your vest to be warmer, cut a third set of pattern pieces out of batting/fleece. Bear in mind, though, that this will make the already bulky vest even bulkier. Baste the batting/fleece to the wrong side of the lining, then sew to the shell normally.

If you want buttons, just sew some buttonholes into the side of the vest that you made wider. Sew buttons to the narrower side. Good job.

If you want to add a zipper, only sew around the armholes, back and bottom of the vest while lining. Turn right-side out through the open front seams. Turn the lining fabric under 1/2 inch or so and iron in place. You’ll have to shave the seam allowances for the fur for this technique, then fold the shaved part under as well. Pin your separating zipper in place and sew. I strongly suggest hand-sewing in the zipper; if you use a machine, the presser foot will trap the fibers in the stitching, and it’ll look smushed and odd. Hand sewing makes for a less visible seam.

If you do attach a zipper or buttons, I suggest adding a belt of some kind to help cinch it in, so you don’t look like a marshmallow, or a fuzzy barrel. I left mine open and hanging loose to help offset the barrel impression.

Viola! A statement vest in an hour or less, and less than $15.

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Would you ever wear a fake fur vest?

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