The Friendship Vest

A flu bug took up residence in my body the Wednesday following Sock Summit. For ten days a fever lurked or raged, aches plagued my body rendering me next to useless. Last night I worked late to get this post written and launched as the grandkids will be coming over this evening to spend the next three days with us while mommy and daddy get the truck loaded and move to Idaho. (Mommy will be back late Wednesday). Shortly before I clicked on publish WordPress went down. Fortunately most of this post was saved in the draft file. Whew!

The final story on the Making of Ed’s Vest, what’s now known as the Friendship vest for all the friends that had a role in bringing it to reality.

I began spinning the corriedale and baby camel rovings longer ago than is in accurate memory but in dipping through old blog post I found the project was initially begun in March 08 then put on the back burner until that July when I got serious about getting all the yarn spun for Ed’s vest. Eight ounces of the dark brown corriedale were spun into singles: four ounces were plyed together to create dark brown yarn and two ounces were plyed with spun camel singles to make a variegated yarn. Then I separated two more ounces of the long, light caramel colored, baby camel rovings into thin strips and overlaid those on a second group of four ounces of the dark corriedale which was then spun together and plyed.  I also spun four ounces of  autumn colored tencel for a yarn with sheen. All of these and an ounce of grey Organic Irish Wool yarn that Jo sent were used in both the warp and weft notating the spacing and yarn sequence to acheive a subtle heathered plaid.

With the ongoing encouragement of friend Grace who suggested I set aside one day a week as a weaving day I finally got the loom warped and the handspun yarn woven on my Norwood four shaft loom last fall. The web (term for freshly woven fabric before it’s finished by wetting and drying it) was taken off, thrown in the washing machine then briefly into the dryer before finishing it with a hot iron , heavily pressing it onto the fabric. The thick padding on my ironing board was replaced with a once folded wool blanket. This allows me to press the iron as firmly as possible against the fabric. Once it was finished, and shown off at the spinning group, the fabric languished, hidden from sight until twelve days before Sock Summit.

In the course of a conversation with a new woman at church I mentioned my goal of sewing Ed’s vest that week but first needed to make a pattern. Turns out she loves sewing and invited me up to her house. Using butcher paper we drew out and cut a pattern using one of Ed’s beloved vests as the guide.  I used cotton broadcloth for the back of the vest and a satin lining for the inside front.  (view of the Front /back side seam, on top of the inside front lining and back)DSC00777

The worst problem I ran into while sewing the bottom seams and front seams together was the woven cloth wanting to stretch in contrast to the stable lining. By using lots of pins and patience I was able to persuade them to match. By early afternoon the sewing machine part was finished leaving the handstitching of the French seams for the sides and shoulders left to accomplish. (A huge task!) When I took the vest out the next morning to tackle the French seams I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept, though I understood the end result. So, in desperation I called another friend, Constance who has done a great deal of hand sewing and quilting. Leaving it in her capable hands I was thrilled to think it’d be done within the week.

Her seams were fautless with tiny impeccable stitches.DSC00778

I brought the vest home and set up the Singer with the button hole attachment. I’ve done this before – it’s a breeze. Snap, it’s finished. Ha. No such luck this time. Constance to the rescue. She quickly had it working so I made the first button hole, and she was one her way back home with a cheerful wave goodbye. Forging confidently ahead on the next buttonhole the sewing thread snapped. and snapped. and snapped… by then I was using leftover scrap materials trying to figure out what was wrong. I used a new spool of thread, and tried a new needle. Getting out the manual I dismantled the machine and oiled all the bits  the diagrams showed to oil, fiddled with the tension. By then it was late Saturday afternoon. Ed walked in and shook his head saying he’d have had that machine in tiny pieces by then. Then he said, “Some people just aren’t cut out to work with sewing machines.”

I wanted to throw the machine at him.


Ed had excitedly anticipated wearing his handspun handwoven vest to church the next day and wasn’t about to see that dream postponed. He suggested calling a neighbor who also loves sewing and has a very fancy machine to see if she’d help me. Taking vest in hand we walked over after supper. Faithful had her machine set up with the buttonhole attachment in place.  She had me sit down and test one of my scrapes. At first it was fine then it too starting acting up. After a great deal of perseverance and patience on her part she finally gave up trying to program the buttonholer to automatically sew the correct hole size and went with a closely spaced, narrow zigzag while hand guiding the material along chalked lines. Whew!  By then I was too tired to think about sewing on the four buttons. That job was quickly taken care of before Ed was ready to go to church the next morning.


Ed's handspun, handwoven Vest


Thanks to all the friends who had a hand in making this vest come true!

Wonder if I can make him a matching cap for Christmas. Dare I? Perhaps Constance would be willing. I’ve enough material.


Author: Wanda J

I never dreamed my life would be entangled with fiber and the tools used to produce fibery items. When I bought a boat shuttle used in weaving Ed looked at it, decided to make a better one and the rest is history. For a decade he made shuttles, crochet hooks, knitting needles, until his spindles became so popular that he had to devote his time to making them, as well as Walking Wheels. Free time is spent reading, trying to coax food from the ground, and playing in the creek near our place. I love long walks and camping far from crowds. Playing a fiddle beside a stream or with good friends brings sweetness to my soul. Sundays are set aside for worshiping God with our small Quaker meeting.

13 thoughts on “The Friendship Vest”

  1. That is a beautiful vest! Did you ever figure out what was wrong with the buttonhole attachment, tension, etc. on your machine? I don’t have an electric machine, but I have two treadles. I love them but they can be ornery sometimes, especially with adjusting the tension. Ed looks very happy wearing his new vest, and I agree with Willow. I’m sure he got lots of compliments!

  2. Oh my gosh! Wanda! Ed’s vest is gorgeous!!! Really beautiful.
    I’m sorry you’ve had the awful flu, no doubt it’s hit the road but hopefully you’re feeling some strength return.. what with a big three days of Feather and Wesley. ;^)
    I need to take my little machine in, it’s been wonky for a long time and I have no idea how to fix it so.. it might be true, for me anyway, I do much better with needle and thread. I’ve handsewn dresses for Gracie (when she was a baby) doing the French seams. Sure makes for a pretty finished project. XOX

  3. A perfect fit–a perfect vest–beautiful work, Wanda!

    I’d say a cap will go very well, and I’m sure you are up to the task 😉

  4. What a wonderful story — thank goodness for the helping hands of friends. The results are everything you could have hoped for, too 🙂

  5. It’s gorgeous, of course, and he looks so happy. Bless you for having the humility to ask for help when needed (I’m still working on that), and bless your friends for being willing and able to help.

  6. what a beautiful vest! It looks smashing on Ed, too.

    Sewing machines are way too prone to acting up for my taste. I am glad that you had help and persevered!

    Have a wonderful time with family and try not to wear yourself too thin!

  7. What a masterpiece!!! Just awesome!
    So glad you had such loving support!
    I recently got rid of my machine (again).
    Seems my life is much more peaceful when I have no sewing machine in the house…but I love my spinning wheel!

  8. Beautiful vest, wonderful weaving story,very inspiring to a novice weaver, so glad you are feeling better!

  9. I hope you are fully recovered by now. Thanks so much for sharing the story of the vest…with such great photo’s. It is absolutely gorgeous!

    The grandkids moving to Idaho?! I see more travel in your future.

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