Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!

Harris Tweed Man’s Vest


Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (25 of 26)

I recently met an inspiring couple who visited the open house that took place at The Spool and Thread Theory studio.  Jackie was eager to use the buttonhole feature on my trusty old Kenmore sewing machine because it creates lovely keyhole buttonholes.  She was almost finished creating a gorgeous classic wool vest for her husband, Malcolm.  I exclaimed over her fabric sourcing abilities and her welt pocket sewing skills after which she let me in on a little secret…

…she didn’t buy the fabric and she didn’t sew the welts!

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (1 of 26)

It turns out, she had found a large Harris Tweed vintage blazer in a local thrift shop and had re-purposed the blazer to create the vest.  Her mission was to create a vest that did not look ‘re-purposed’ or ‘recycled’.  She certainly achieved her goal!

She expressed an interest in spreading the idea of re-purposing garments in this manner and said she would love to connect with the sewing community and those interested in re-purposing menswear.  I eagerly asked her to send me some photos of her vest and a paragraph or two to share with you.  Thank you, Jackie, for sharing your inspiring project with us and for providing such detailed photos!

Without further ado, here’s Jackie:


Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (2 of 26)

I found this Harris Tweed man’s jacket in a thrift shop for $5.00. I had originally used it as a character in an Oliver Twist musical, and after the event I wanted to use the jacket to make a vest for my husband.

Using a McCall’s vest pattern, which I lengthened by 2” to fit the style I wanted, I deconstructed the jacket.

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (3 of 26)

Once I had pieces of the fabric I could lay them on the pattern so that the pockets were within the pattern piece. I left the interfacing in the front jacket pieces because it gave the tweed the support it needed to hold the shape.

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (12 of 26)

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (6 of 26)

Once the front vest pieces were cut out, remembering to keep the front pockets in line, the rest was a usual construction of a gentleman’s vest.

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (23 of 26)

The biggest investment was my thinking time as I planned how I could make this project work.

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (22 of 26)

I still have the back and sleeves of the jacket as pieces of tweed to use on other projects!


Now that we’ve had a chance to see the amazing potential of re-purposed menswear, here is a peek at the attention to detail that Jackie maintained while working on the vest.  The vintage blazer had a small hole near one of the pockets:

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (11 of 26)

She didn’t let this hole stop her from using the beautiful wool!  She trimmed away the interfacing slightly:

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (15 of 26)

And then she proceeded to felt the hole closed!

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (17 of 26)

And you wouldn’t even know it ever existed (the photo below is a touch blurry, but I can attest to the fact that the hole is entirely invisible when the vest is inspected in person):

Harris Tweed Repurposed Vest (18 of 26)


Thanks again, Jackie, for sharing your re-purposing project with us!  Seeing your process shots and, of course, the stunning vest itself, has me viewing vintage garments in a whole new way.  I’ve been known to turn a thrift store bedsheet into a button up shirt or two for Matt in the past but have never re-cut an existing menswear garment.

Do any of you re-purpose fabrics or garments?  Have you had much success with re-purposing menswear?



23 thoughts on “Harris Tweed Man’s Vest

  1. The vest appears to be brown on the top (shoulders) and indigo (denim) blue at the bottom (near the waist). How did you do that, please?

    • Hi Bonnie,
      That is only an effect of the lighting of the photo, the vest is all the same colour, that of the Harris tweed jacket in the next photo, but what you have made me think to do is experiment with some indigo dye on some of the scraps to see if I can get that effect.
      Thank you for asking.

      • Thanks for answering Bonnie’s question Jackie! I edited the first photo quite substantially using an Instagram filter so I suspect this has caused a bit of an illusion! Woops!

      • Thanks for the explanation, I think I will experiment with indigo dye, I bought a starter kit this summer, but that will be a project for the future.
        Where is your new store located, I do not keep current on things sometimes?

      • My new studio is in the house we just bought! It is at 1477 Sonora Place, Comox. You are very welcome to drop by any time you would like to visit or look at our new fabrics and tools! Also, I just sewed the first sample of our upcoming vest pattern and have many more planned for the near future :).

      • Thank you, what days and times are you open? With the fall weather coming in now I am thinking of sewing again.

      • Hi Jackie, I don’t really have ‘open hours’ since it is just in my home but I generally work 9-5 or 6pm on weekdays so you can email me to arrange a time that suits you! See you soon I hope 🙂

  2. My favorite college outfit was a dress I made from an old bathrobe of my dad’s. I was going through a “drab” phase and the fabric was an olive gray color with a tiny fleur de lys pattern I loved. Two weeks ago I finally cut into an old outfit of my mom’s, linen sheath dress and big jacket that was lovely but I’d never have an occasion to wear. I made into a top, my first block printed garment! One I get all my “me” clothes out of my system I will start sewing for my husband. I know he will truly appreciate any clothes I make for him. unlike my 12 year old daughter, who is not an off the rack size and could benefit from some tailoring … Will be turning to your patterns soon enough!

  3. How fantastic, what a beautiful waistcoat! I’ve wanted to make one for my husband for some time and I’m beyond thrilled to think there will be a Thread Theory pattern for that. I bought a ‘big 4’ pattern for one online, which looked good but when I got it and looked closer, the ‘welt pockets’ were fake and the vest fronts had no facing, just a lining that was cut the same as the outside. Of course I could probbaly work all those things out for myself but I was already too cross at the pattern to bother 😡 So great news!

  4. That is fantastic. How lucky to find a wonderful Harris tweed blazer — and a perfect refashion. It’s extremely inspiring as I’m thinking about making a vest for my own husband right now. How thrilling to hear that Thread Theory is working on a pattern! 🙂

  5. WOW! What can I say? This is a very delicate and very very detail oriented, good job! When I saw the picture I thought OMG a The Thread Theory new sewing pattern!!!! Why don’t you guys design a men vest? I would buy yesterday!

  6. This is amazing and the finished product looks great on her husband! I wonder if she would enjoy The Refashioners blog series and contest put on by the Makery blog every year. Last year they had people refashion button down shirts. This year’s is yet to be announced.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I will check out the blog and see if it is something I could do.

    • Hi Lisa,
      I am very new to the social media world. I checked out the Makery but not sure how to enter that competition. Maybe you can advise?

      • Hi Jackie. Portia, who runs that event will announce this year’s theme on her blog sometime in the coming months (my guess is June, although I’m not absolutely sure). Then she’ll have a number of bloggers who will show what they have done for the challenge, and then she opens up the competition to the public. Last year you had to make something from men’s dress shirts. If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, you can look on her blog for a place to subscribe to her blog posts via email. Hope that makes sense. If it doesn’t, you can try emailing Portia. She should have contact info on her blog.

  7. Wow, this is great! I love seeing resourcefulness like this! Well done Jackie, not least the expert mending of that hole. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I love this post. I bought a lovely lamb’s wool jacket from our local thrift store about a year ago. It’s been hanging about on my dress form waiting for inspiration to strike me. I’d thought of trying to refit it for myself as a blazer. Now I think I know what I’m going to do with it. Thank you and thanks to Jackie as well.

  9. This is so lovely and such a practical project rather than having the blazer collect dust after the musical was over. This is the kind of repurposing my grandmas would do.

  10. WOW how inspiring your project is! Love the vest especially seen on your husband. Such an amazing fit and what a quality piece. He looks pleased as punch with it and well he should be. Such a labour of love 🙂

  11. Hop on Facebook and check out Sheila Jones’ work in the Swoon Patterns group. She makes all these gorgeous handbags from Harris Tweed, much of it similarly gotten. It’s worth joining the group to see her work (fair warning that looking around there will make you want to sew a lot more bags!).

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