Shhh, it’s a surprise!

The little sister of two of the girls in my Girl Scout troop is turning 4 soon. She comes to nearly every meeting and participates in all the activities, and even helped sell Girl Scout cookies (quite successfully, as a matter of fact – it’s hard to say no to a little bitty girl saying “pleeeeease”). Even after all that, she is not old enough to be a full-fledged Girl Scout; she has to be 5 before she can register. So for her birthday I decided to make her an honorary Brownie vest, just her size, so she can feel more like part of the troop.

I bought two Brownie vests from the council store the other day, so I used one of them as a model. I measured a size 4T t-shirt to figure out how large the finished vest should be, which is about 12″ wide and about 10.5″ tall.

I made the pattern from old junk mail – yay recycling! It is easier than using tissue paper but thinner and easier to work with than paper bags, which I have also used for patterns in the past. I cut two rectangles 6.5″ by 11″ and sketched and cut the two pattern pieces.

Front pattern sketch
Cut front pattern
Cut back pattern

Here is the cutting layout, with the back pattern piece on the fold and the front next to it.

Cutting layout

Here are the cut pieces, with a pin marking the right sides.

Cut pieces

I used the purchased vest as a construction guide. First I sewed the shoulder seams, leaving a .5″ seam allowance. I stiched again with a zigzag finishing stitch along the edge of the fabric, and then pressed the seams toward the back. It is only lately that I have been finishing the raw edges like this but it looks really nice and professional.

Shoulder seam

Next I applied bias tape to vest front/neck edge and to both armhole edges and then stitched in place. When I got the bias tape the store was out of double-fold bias tape so I got single-fold and then pressed it in half.

Bias tape

The tricky part about the bias tape was the shoulders. After I stitched it, I noticed that it was coming away from the fabric in a couple places.

Tricky tape

I went back with a needle and thread and hand-sewed the tape into place.

Fixed shoulder

In hindsight I realized that the shape of the pieces at the shoulder seams was the culprit. The edges didn’t meet neatly but rather made a little corner, so the tape only barely covered the edge and didn’t get stitched.

When I applied the tape to the last armhole edge, I cut the fabric so the edge was neat all the way across and the shoulder seam didn’t stick out. When I stitched that, the seam caught all the fabric underneath and there were no gaps. Next time I will pay more attention to the shape of the pattern pieces when I sketch them out, and make sure to trim off any excess fabric.

To complete the vest, I stitched the side seams in the same way as the shoulder seams, and finally applied bias tape to the bottom edge and sewed that in place. Here is the finished vest up against the purchased one.

Finished vest

The vest turned out really nice! Now I need to sew on patches to decorate! :)

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