How to Sew a Puffy Dropje Vest
My early college years were firmly entrenched in the puffiest of vest trends. What I’m referring to are the days of the ubiquitous black North Face vest that was stuffed with so many down feathers that you could easily take a nap on your own shoulder. These silhouettes added a good 20 pounds to your torso area, but goshdarnit, you were warm.
A decade later, outerwear technology has brought us the micro-puffy trend. Today I own an incredibly warm down-filled jacket that can be squeezed into a bag the size of my hand. Most of Boulder owns these jackets or vests, so I’ve decided to take the trend into my handmade wardrobe for a unique garment that is still functional.
When I decided to include the Dropje Vest in the 2016 Winter Collection, I immediately knew I wanted to add a layer or two of wool batting to mine to give it a quilted, puffy look. I took inspiration from Purl Soho’s quilted vest tutorial and Sara’s Pendleton puffy vest for my Dropje. And I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
For this tutorial I’m using our Grey and White Chenille Tweed (sadly, sold out) as my outer fabric and our Black Polka Dot Rayon as the inner lining. The wool batting I’m using is Quilter’s Dream Wool Batting from Purl Soho, which was lovely to work with and is incredibly warm.
Please note: I am not a quilter. This is only my second time quilting something and my first time using basting spray. The process below worked great for me, but if you have a better way of getting the job done, do that.
What You’ll Need
- 2.25 yards 55” outer fabric
- 1.5 yards 55” inner (lining) fabric
- 1 to 2 yards wool batting
- Basting spray (I love Spray ‘N Bond)
- Separating Zipper (length according to pattern instructions)
- Interfacing (optional)
1. Prepare your fabric and batting
For this project, I quilted a 55” by 30” rectangle with two layers of batting. (In hindsight, one layer would have been sufficient and would have made the sewing process much easier.)
Before deciding on your quilted rectangle dimensions, cut out your Dropje front, back and side pattern pieces and arrange them on a piece of fabric. You may find that you need a larger or smaller rectangle depending on your size. Press your inner and outer fabric well.
2. Assemble your fabric-batting sandwich
Clear a large, flat area for assembling your fabric-batting sandwich, not on carpet. I taped two pieces of white craft paper on the floor for easy cleanup.
Spread your pressed outer fabric wrong side up. I recommend taping the corners of the fabric down so the fabric is taut and wrinkle free.
Apply a liberal coat of your basting spray to the wrong side of your outer fabric. Hold the bottle about 12” from the fabric and spray consistently back and forth along the width of the fabric until you reach the bottom.
Position one layer of the wool batting on top of the outer fabric, aligning edges. Smooth out wrinkles as needed. The basting spray doesn’t adhere immediately, so you’ll have time to reposition.
If you’re using two layers of batting, repeat the process applying the basting spray to the positioned batting and placing the second piece on top.
Finally, apply a layer basting spray to the top of the batting and position your lining fabric with right side facing you on top of the batting. Smooth out any wrinkles.
Your fabric-batting sandwich should look like this:
3. Quilt your fabric
Now that your fabric-batting sandwich is assembled, we’re ready to quilt the fabric. For my Dropje, I chose to quilt evenly spaced horizontal lines for a clean design. You could also quilt a crosshatch design, diamonds, or vertical lines into your fabric.
Draw horizontal lines (selvage to selvage) on your fabric with a wash-away fabric marker or chalk using a straightedge. My lines are 2” apart and marked on the right side of my outer fabric.
If you have a walking foot, attach it now. With the outer fabric facing you, sew a straight stitch with a long stitch length down each line. Roll up the fabric as you work from right to left. Do a quick visual check after you sew each quilted line to make sure you haven’t sewn any puckers into the lining fabric.
4. Cut out your pattern pieces
Now we’re ready to start assembling this vest! Only three of your pattern pieces will be cut from the quilted fabric. Below I’ve outlined how I cut my Dropje pattern pieces.
From the quilted fabric prepared above, cut the
From a small piece of outer fabric quilted with just a single layer of batting (no lining), cut the:
- Outer Hood
- Outer Hood Top
From a single layer of un-quilted outer fabric, cut the:
- Facings (front, back, and armhole)
- Hem Belt (I also interfaced this piece for added structure)
- Inner Hood
- Inner Hood Top
From a single layer of lining fabric, cut the:
Cut out your pattern pieces like you normally would, making sure your quilted lines are aligned when folding the fabric. If your fabric is super bulky, don’t cut on the fold for easier cutting. Instead cut one-half of the pattern piece, flip the pattern piece over, and cut the other half.
5. Finish the edges of your pattern pieces
Because the quilted pattern pieces are much bulkier than a single layer of fabric, serge (or zigzag stitch) around every edge of the quilted pattern pieces. This will flatten the raw edge of the pattern pieces, making assembly easier. Also, iron the edge of each pattern piece to compress the batting a bit.
6. Sew up your vest!
Now that your pattern pieces are prepared, sew up the vest according to the instructions! Pay careful attention when topstitching around your pockets and facings so that your final garment looks polished.
Don’t forget to wash your vest on a gentle cycle and dry on low. This will wash away the line markings and will also allow the quilted fabric to resume its optimal puffiness after all that pressing.
Paired with the Mila Top and jeans or leggings, your quilted puffy vest will keep you toasty on cool fall and winter days!
Have questions or comments about this method? Leave them below!
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