Little Trailblazers! My First Adventure in Upcycling

I blogged my husband’s new Trailblazer vest (Twig and Tale Patterns) last week, and it came together to smoothly that I decided to dive into a matching pair of Children’s Trailblazer Vests for my twins, because there’s nothing cuter than a matching daddy and son picture….(unless it’s a family picture…hint hint!!).

Having spent most of my fabric budget on the men’s vest (men’s clothes take a lot of fabric!), I decided to try my hand at upcycling for the first time. Twig and Tale always encourages upcycling, and their facebook group is full of amazing inspiration and creative clothes made from cast-offs and fortuitous finds.

I wandered (read: chased all three kids and tried to keep them from licking the floor) through our local thrift store, and finally turned up this XXL faux leather mens jacket, that was in amazing condition. It was impossible to determine whether or not all the pieces would fit for both vests until I had it home, so I bought it for a very reasonable $9.99 and hoped for the best (I had already cut off the arm in this picture because I got a little over-eager!)

Cutting it apart was an interesting experience- I usually assemble clothes, not disassemble them, and it felt slightly sacrilegious, but thrilling at the same time, much like sneaking out of your parents house for the first time. It was also fascinating to see how it was tailored inside, and I picked up a few ideas for my next jacket project.

After I had cut it apart, it became obvious that while most of the pieces would fit for the size 7 and 5 vests, I would need to use another fabric for the back side panels. I dug through my scrap bin to find the extra pieces of tan twill from my husband’s vest, and found I had just enough fabric to make it work. I also used these scraps for the shoulder accent pieces to pull it all together.

I did have to purchase a little additional flannel lining, as I really wanted to use the same fabric I had used for the men’s vest so they would look like they coordinated.

Since some of the original jacket seams would be visible on the  pieces, I decided to carry over the double topstitching onto the whole garment, as I had with my husband’s vest.

The vertical seam here is the original- the horizontal seam is mine! I used topstitching thread to make it stand out (I found it works best if you only use it in the needle, and not in the bobbin!)

I also ended up piecing the collar at the back, but I think with the double topstitching it looks intentional, and was a good way to make the most of the faux leather I had available.

I omitted the wind flap, both because I didn’t have enough fabric and because it matched the men’s vest more closely without. When I was finished, I had only small scraps of the men’s jacket left, and a sense of satisfaction that is beyond what I usually feel when I purchase fabric for a project! I had given this cast-off jacket another life, and I was excited to see how it looked on my boys!

Since the details of the project were a surprise, they were quite excited to try on their vests, and do a daddy-and-son photo-shoot in the woods to commemorate it- and I’m even happier to say, they’ve voluntarily worn their vests several times since!

They’re perfect for tree-climbing and other adventuring!

Now I’m itching to try more upcycling- what was your first upcycling project? What do you look for when you go to the thrift store to find garments to re-imagine?

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Grab the Kids Trailblazer pattern Here on sale!

Get the Kids Fisherman’s Vest Add-on Here on sale!

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  1. Sarah morris on November 8, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    This is such a wonderful and successful up cycle, it looks wonderful- and how awesome that you nearly had enough fabric for two vests from the one coat!

    • Sarah on November 10, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      I think I got lucky- I had just enough! Thank you!

  2. Jules Cannon on November 9, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Wow! Those are so nice. Your stitching is perfect!

    • Sarah on November 10, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you! It goes well if I go slow and don’t get impatient!

  3. Shelley Gajus on November 11, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I hadn’t noticed the double top-stitch, until this post, but I love it! It really sets the two vests apart and seamlessly integrates your upcycle. These are gorgeous!

    • Sarah on November 14, 2017 at 12:21 am

      Thank you Shelley! It makes them easier to tell apart too!

  4. Kendall on November 13, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I’m going to use an old wool blanket for a peacoat!
    Love the vests.

    • Sarah on November 14, 2017 at 12:20 am

      Great idea!

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