{Tutorial} The One-Seam Shearling Vest

I just DIED when I saw this week's fur vests on the first (of two!) Over-The-Top challenges in Top Stitchers: Season 3. And with a 4-year-old declaring (demanding?) "POODLE, MAMA!!" as her costume choice for Halloween next week, Jessica and Kim's creations suddenly made my costume vision seem a lot more versatile. I not-so-secretly despise sewing single-wear projects. Maybe that's why my son's costume includes so many pieces from his back-to-school wardrobe??

Now, a shearling vest is on my own wish-list, so I'm crossing my fingers I can squeeze one out for myself with the scraps from this project! But for now, I'll share my tips and material recommendations so you can get your own shearling project underway!

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So let's start with some basics:

What is shearling? 

REAL shearling is a freshly sheared lamb or sheep, who is skinned and tanned on one side and the wool left in tact on the other. Of course, the closest you'll find to the real deal is the polyester faux shearling available by the yard at  your local fabric store. (Bring a coupon! Faux or not, this stuff is pricey! I got it at 50% off the standard $25 price tag.) 

It's worn with the wool-side-in, and often has exposed seams for both 1. a fashionable detail and 2. ease of sewing. Shearling is KNOWN for it's bulky seams that make it difficult to sew. 

"DIFFICULT TO SEW? What are you getting me into!?"

Relax, my friend! I'm here to help! The first step in successful shearling-sewing is finding a pattern with as few seams as possible. (This vest has ONE, I'm sure you can handle it!) Stick to straight seams, and use a mallet to beat down any bulk that's difficult to sew through. (This tip comes in handy when you sew over the pleat in center/back.) 

What do I need to sew it? 

How do I make this vest!?

First - you need to grab the free pattern from Jessica's Blog (Lil Luxe Creations).

Then, you'll do the following:

  • You will NOT need to eliminate seam allowance from the armscye - mine was plenty wide as-is. 
  • Use a longer than normal stitch length (3.5), and a lower than normal tension (3).
  • You should ONLY pin on the fur, not the suede-face of the vest body.
  • I clipped my vest closed temporarily with the floral pin. I recommend following the pattern's button/button-hole placement to keep this up on your child's shoulders. (and will do the same once I decide on a button!)
  • You may choose to eliminate hem/seam allowances after the garment is sewn, so you have a clean cut on all edges.
  • Shake-shake-shake-it-off when you're done sewing. Shearling collects every thread and fuzzy remnant in your sewing space, so keep a lint roller handy and give it a sturdy shake to get it off your final product!
Why yes, I did make her wear sunglasses so you wouldn't see her rolling her eyes at me. I mean - to complete the "diva" getup.... yeah.....

Why yes, I did make her wear sunglasses so you wouldn't see her rolling her eyes at me. I mean - to complete the "diva" getup.... yeah.....

Have you sewn shearling before?? What other tips do you have for your fellow readers?? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!!