This is just what the stitching doctor ordered for New Year’s Day : simple, straightforward, cosy, practical: a snuggle for cuddling sore heads and all over general grogginess; perfect for curling up on the sofa for watching good old black and white movies; yet finished enough to wear out – The Swinging Thistle!
This is what your pattern piece will look like or you can chalk straight onto fabric.
Essentially a half circle with a hole. One end will be the collar and the other the centre back hem.
The straight edge will be your length. I am 5’6″ (1.7m) and mine is 45″ (116cm) – adjust this straight edge to taste. Widest point measures 29″ (73cm). This will determine the ‘swinginess’. Join the dots – the ends of the straight edge and the width in a curve, making a semi-circle-ish shape.
Fold the pattern piece in half (1/4 circle). On the fold is the bottom of the armhole. The armhole is an oval.
Mine measures 4 X 8″ (10 X 21cm) and is 6″ from the straight edge. Again adjust the size to suit your shape and fabric. Measure your upper back and half it – this is YOUR armhole placement.
If your fabric frays – either make a hem all the way around the outer edge, or bind with self fabric or contrasting bias.
Bind the armhole edges too.
The wrong side of the fabric will show at the collar so bear this in mind when making your fabric choice.
Try on. Cut a couple of bits of fabric that fit your hands comfortably and position the pockets to suit.
Stitch the open end of the pockets and then sew them onto your Thistle.
Wear in a multiple of variations.
The Thistle is a good choice for wearing under a coat too as you don’t have to grab a sleeve hem to get a coat on and there’s no bulk. And you can have a scarf/hood all at the same time.
- Boiled wool (or similar as it’s the same both sides and doesn’t fray)
- Any knit
- Towelling for a southern hemisphere post-swim wrap
- Chiffon for a pool cover up
- Taffeta for a night at the opera coat
- Tartan blankets for a feminine lumberjack look
- Red velvet for Little Red Riding Hood
This fabric came from Chrysalis and is Sample #37, Thistle flower (hence the name of the vest), 140cms wide.
Variations are only restricted by imagination and extent of hangover:
Double sided – make two, join all the way around the edge, turn through the armhole and bind.
Square-off the circle from the armhole height for a straight front version.
Make the circle into an oval for less swing.
Easy to lengthen or shorten – full length chiffon with ostrich feather trim for a glamorous 1930s look for those moments when you swan around your penthouse with a cigarette holder in one hand and a cocktail in the other. Add more swing for this version by making a fatter circle – can’t skimp on glamour!
So if you’re feeling a little under the weather today but still have the urge to sew, grab a length of fabric slightly more than 1yd (1m), at least your preferred length. Remember to save the off-cuts for the bindings.
If you make a Swinging Thistle, I’d love to see your version. E-mail pics to me at the address at the top right column.
Happy New Year and good sewing wishes for 2015.