Introduction: How to Sew an Oh Sew Warm Vest!

{a sew warm contest entry!}
In this instructable, I'll show you how to sew the unisex vest pattern from Vogue, with a couple enhancements (real pockets, fleece lining). You don't need too much experience; this is how I taught myself how to actually sew (that archaeopteryx costume in 1st grade doesn't count; my mom did most of the work). If you don't know much about using patterns (as I didn't), continue reading! All you need to know is how to use the machine.
If you actually know how to sew, I welcome your comments on how I could have done this better, and also to correct any unorthodox techniques I might be using.
It's Oh Sew Warm, this vest!

Step 1: Preparation

outer material (I got 1 yard, but only needed half that)
lining material (fleece) (used 1 yard)
satin backing material (only needed half yard)
fusable interfacing (1 yard)
four 5/8" buttons
1" buckle for the back
thread. (can't really sew without it...)
I'll be showing you how to sew the unisex vest pattern from Vogue (ooo, stylish), found here:
Tools: normal sewing stuff.
sewing machine
regular needle
some way to do button holes :/ (step 24)
seam ripper
lots of pins.
only the most basic of sewing skills: how to operate the machine, what a backstitch is, etc. I'll even tell you how to sew on the buttons.

Step 2: Cut the Front Pieces Out.

First I trimmed off the other patterns from the same sheet. I folded the outside fabric in half, and pinned on the pattern for the front. Lining up the "grain line" line with the herringbone pattern, I cut around the line corresponding to the size (small, in my case) I need. (I gather this is pretty elementary so far...)
If you're right handed, cut around clockwise, and counter-clockwise for left-handers. There is a seam allowance built in, so don't worry about leaving extra outside the line. I made a blue X on the "wrong" side of the front fabric. 
Now take out all the pins, set the outside pieces aside, and repeat the process for the interfacing, and the fleece lining.

Step 3: Cut the Back Pieces Out

Repeat for the back pieces. You're supposed to line up the middle of the back on a fold, and cut two out. I decided I wanted a seam on the back, so I cut two separate back panels each for the fleece and satin. (Okay, I lied. I didn't follow the directions right, but that's how I solved the problem.)
That should have been a bit faster, since you're so pro at cutting out patterns now, yeah?

Step 4: Interfacing!

For this one, definitely test it out first. Pin the interfacing on the fabric, about 0.75" in from the edge. Then, very carefully cut off 0.5" of the edges of the interfacing only (!). Be very careful not to cut the fabric as well. Make sure you're putting the correct sides of the interfacing and front together (my side that I marked with the blue X).

Then, heat up the iron while you wet a cloth, and then "steam baste" the edges of the interfacing. (I had no idea what that was either. Just lightly press the iron down on the edge, for about a second, then repeat going down all the edges) {edit: not to be confused with basting in the sewing sense}. Push the pins out with the tip of the iron. {edit: I don't really know why, it said to. Maybe in case they're hot?}

Now, put the wet cloth on the interfacing, and watch the steam rise as you iron it on. Flip it over to the "right" side, and continue, until the interfacing is properly affixed (check the bond at the edges).

Step 5: Sew the Darts.

Darts take in the fabric below your chest, which is generally larger in circumference than your stomach. Trace the lines to sew together with a pencil, and then pin them together. Sew them, maybe twice if you're para, and when you start / stop make sure you backstitch a bit to make sure it's strong (and doesn't come apart when you've had a lot to eat at that great dinner and need to hold your bulging stomach in. yum.)
Go ahead and sew the darts for both the front outer pieces, and the fleece lining. I did it later, but you might as well while you're in a darty mood.

Step 6: Pockets! Preparation of Welts

If you don't want pockets, just skip ahead... These took me the most time, mostly because I decided to reverse-engineer the kind of pocket that I wanted. I'm sure it's online somewhere though....
Cut out a welt (either from a pattern, or just... cut out a rectangle.), and also cut out interfacing for it (to give it some body), a little smaller. You want the welts to be about 1.25" tall when they're sewn in, and however wide (mine are 5" ish), so just add 1" to each dimension to give enough space for sewing it up. (I had 6" wide by 3.5" tall.) Make sure the interfacing is more like the finished size, 'cause folding it over makes it hard to sew.
Then, iron the interfacing on {edit: I cheated here, and just ironed it straight on without all the foreplay described in step 4. Way faster, it's so small an area.}, and then fold the welt in half and iron the edge. Fold in the short edges at a good spot in the pattern and then fold the welt in half, hot dog style, and pin the edges into place. Now the only unfinished part should be the bottom. Be careful about matching the pattern of the fabric...
Now place your welt where you'd like a pocket to be on the vest.

Step 7: The Incision!

Mark a line about 0.25" up from the bottom of the welt, and make a small incision at the dart (if your pocket crosses it). Then, go back on the sewing machine, and strengthen the dart near the cut by sewing back and fourth a bit over the ends near the hole. Trim the dart, as shown in the pictures, so that there is less fabric loitering around to fold over and sew. Now, cut across a pocket hole, with the last 0.25" cut downwards at 45° to get down into the bottom corners (remember, we drew the line 0.25" up from the bottom. Make sure the two corners are where you want the corners of the welt to be.

Step 8: Placing the Welt, &c.

You should have made a little flap when cutting the slit across, so fold the bottom half down. Insert the unfinished bottom side of the welt into said hole, and on the reverse, line up the folded over flap with the bottom of the welt. They should be right sides together. You can pin if you like, but there's one more piece before sewing in — the pocket liner! Cut out a piece of the fabric for the pocket liner, the same width as the finished welt (the openable part of the pocket will be about 0.5" in on each side, so that will still give you seam allowance). Height should be about 2x depth of your pocket + 0.5" for seams. Now, looking at the back of the welt, from the wrong side of the vest, unfold the liner, and face together the "right" side of the liner (to show inside the pocket), with the pocket / inside of the welt.

With the vest upright, and wrong side facing you, you should basically have the pocket liner face down, with the bottom lined up with the bottom of the welt.

Step 9: Sew the Pocket.

Now just sew together everything: liner, welt, and bottom flap of the pocket on the front, by folding the vest in half at the pocket, and stitching across. Backstitch at either side to keep it strong, and then if you're satisfied, take out the pins, and trim off the excess. You should have a liner attached!

Step 10: The Rest of the Pocket

Make small cuts straight upwards at the edges of the pocket hole, about 0.25". Fold it over, and then line up and pin the right side of the liner to the right side of the flap's fabric. Sew those together, take out pins, and trim.

Step 11: Sew to Seal the Pocket Liner

Starting at one end, sew down the edge of the liner, and curve into the fold at the bottom (it may help to iron it flat so there is a fold at the bottom). Backstitch at both ends. Repeat, going up from the fold back up the other edge to near the opening. Trim, if you like to trim.

Step 12: Secure the Welt

Making sure the pocket liners lay correctly down and flat, as pockets do, carefully sew a stitch at the short ends of the welt, times two. I did one right at the edge, barely 1/16" in, and another at a good break in the pattern, about 0.25" in from the edge. (Backstitch a few as always.) This keeps the pocket solid, and makes the pocket the finished size.

Step 13: Congratulations! You Now Have a Pocket.

Now wash, rinse, repeat, for as many as you'd like. I did two bottom pockets, and one top outside pocket for my watch. Since you've already sewn the darts on the front fleece lining, you can sew an inside pocket if you like, as well (I sure did.) Just be aware that the "right" / finished side of the fleece liner will be the side against your body.

Step 14: {Fix Mistake.}

If you "wanted" a seam down the back, and cut the pieces out separately, go ahead and sew together the back panels for the satin and fleece. All you need to do is put the "right" sides facing together, pin, and sew down the middle. Double-stitch so it's stronger. If you're me, you didn't have any seam allowance because you didn't realize you were cutting it out wrong. I just made sure it was a very thin seam.

That said, I definitely had to rip seams and re-sew on a couple of the other steps here (notably, steps 20 and 23. Don't be ashamed, it's a learning experience! Just be mindful of the fabric.

Step 15: Onwards! the Belt.

Now, Either use the pattern to cut out belt pieces, or just cut out a couple rectangles of the satin-y back fabric. Mine are roughly 11" and 12" long, by 3.25" tall. (Different sizes for buckle / strap.) Sew them together at one end, and down the long side. Trim, notching the corner, and flip inside-out. (Use a pencil or something to help push it through). Now, sew it loosely (no backstitching) to the back of the back, at the edge, and 5" closer to the center, for each side. (This is called "basting," and you can just pin it too, but you're going to be handling it a lot, and you don't want pins. Ow.

Step 16: Sew Together the Outside Panels

Lay the back down, "wrong" side down, and on top of it, carefully place the front two pieces, "right" side up. Use the pattern to help line up the centerlines, and then pin the shoulder areas together. Double sew them for strength, and then trim.

Step 17: Sew Together the Lining!

Same thing as the outside panels, but this time with the lining. Keep "right" sides facing each other, as before, since you want the seams to be outside of the lining. Pin, and sew.

Step 18: Lining Up.

Now, layer the vest, inside out. First put the back satin down on a surface, "wrong" side down, so you see the belt you sewed on. Next, lay the back of the lining down, "right" side down, and "right" side up on the front lining panels. Fold down the front outside panels, "right" side down. Basically, you should have lining inside, but it should be reversed: the right sides are facing each other for the back and front. See the pictures. I'm a little confusing.
Once you're there, line everything up, using the centerlines, etc. on the pattern.

Step 19: Pin Everything.

Pin around all the edges. Pin together all around the back panels (though you won't sew all of them together), and all the way around the two front panels. The liner and outsides should now all be connected.

Step 20: SEW IT!

General protocol: always begin and end with a backstitch, and sew 0.5" to 0.625" in from the edge of the fabric. You might have to exercise good judgement about this, if you're like me and stuff is starting to not line up perfectly. Luckily the seam allowance should take care of any mismatching sizing. Just roughly make sure that you're being symmertrical, and have smooth lines....
Begin on the front panels. Start at the outside bottom corner, and sew inwards along the bottom of one panel, then up the center (where the buttons / holes will go), and continue around the neck, down the other side, and across the bottom. Don't go up from the front's far outside bottom corners!
Also sew the arm holes together (two large crescents, if you lay it all out flat.), and then the bottom of the back as well (but *just* the bottom). Sew an upside-down V in the bottom center of the back, to look cool.
When you're done, take out all the pins, trim the seams, and cut notches into the inside and outside curves so they'll sit better when it's turned inside out.

Step 21: Turn It!

Starting with one of the front panels, push the bottom in on itself, up towards the shoulder. Reach through one of the holes in the sides of the back panel with your hand at the same time, and pull the bottom through the shoulder hole, and back out. Repeat for the other side, reaching through the same hole, and for the back itself, pushing everything through that side hole.

Step 22: Press It.

Now you have an awkward, tubular, blue alien creature. weird. Warm up the iron, wet a cloth, and then steam / iron the steams flat. Put the cloth down to protect the fabric / provide moisture if your iron has no steam setting like mine.
Wow, it looks like a vest!

Step 23: Sew Up the Sides

This was one of the harder parts. While the vest is inside out (with the liner facing outside) {edit: inside out, like normal, clothing inside-out from how you normally wear it. It's right-side out now, in the sewing sense, after turning in step 21. (thanks to BeanGolem)}, you'll notice that the last rough edges have the front outer and the back satin facing each other. Sew these two together, but don't sew the liner in with them. Try to sew upwards past the seam, onto the liner, so you're sewing the two inside liners together and creating a tube. Repeat for the other side.
When you flip the vest right side-out again, you should have a nice seam on the side, and an open pocket in the middle of the liner, on the inside of that seam. Sew this hole up with a "slipstitch", by hand.

Step 24: Finishing!

Sew the buckle on the belt, I recommend by hand so you don't break the needle near the metal buckle. Just thread the buckle on the right belt end, fold over, and sew it on. You may want to move it in more, if you know you'll need more belting action. Alternatively, pin it on, try on the vest, and then determine how far to sew it on. Also, those seams you basted, partway in from the edges of the liner? Sew those on more thoroughly, through all the layers of fabric. Go over a few times, since there is a lot of stress there.
Mark the places where buttons and holes go from the liner. I went with holes first. If your sewing machine does holes, great! If not, do a quick google search on how to do it by hand, and use the crazy old contraption that replaces the shoe on old sewing machines that moves the fabric around to make a hole.

Step 25: Buttons!

By hand. Take a needle, with waxed thread about 8" to 12" long, and thread it up from the inside, through a button hole. With a toothpick for spacing, go down the diagonal hole. Go through the same two diagonal holes 4 or 5 times, then switch to the other diagonal. After another 4 or so loops around that one, take the toothpick out, thread the needle up from the back, under the button, and wrap it around 5 or so times to strengthen and space it. Tie it around, thread back down under, tie it off, trim. Repeat for the rest of the buttons, and.....

Step 26: Admire.

Not only do you look snazzy, but you are wearing a warmer-than-normal dressy vest. Not only did you learn how to sew, but you made that vest! I'm impressed. Great job!
Thanks for reading! Please comment, and I hope I get your vote! ( much as I love this 50 year old sewing machine... ;)
With Luck,
Sew Warm Contest

First Prize in the
Sew Warm Contest