Tried and True

Mary Boalt

As usual, I was late to the party. My sister and I were attending a sewing retreat when we kept hearing the expression TNT. As in, “This is another TNT.” Or, ” This has become my new TNT.” And my favorite, “When I used my TNT.” Were these women blowing things up? They looked so mild mannered. Why hadn’t I heard this expression before? I’ve been sewing almost 50 years. I was late to the party. I found out it meant tried and true. As in a pattern one uses over and over again because it works so well. It fits, adapts to many applications and is just an overall trustworthy pattern. Do you have one or more in your pattern collection?

I had been meaning to get my hands on Heidi’s Terrific Tabard aka Skinny Vest Pattern for some time. I finally picked it up about two weeks ago. This is absolutely my new TNT. It will be a keeper for years to come.image

After looking it over and contemplating my bounteous stash, ( I know you have one. It’s in that closet where the chair is propped up against the door handle so the contents don’t come spilling out.) I knew I had enough fabric to make 10 of these. Ok, maybe 110. So I began. I hope you click on the pictures to see the details.

This was my first try. My waffle, my Guinea pig. I had just purchased a roll of kimono scraps at the Pine Tree Quilt show this spring. image

Along with some Dupioni silk scraps and some sashiko stitching, ok, ALOT of sashiko stitching, I knew I had to make more. Many many more. imageimage

I must find a better place to take pictures than in front of the sprinkler controls.


While I let the needle pricks and blisters on my fingers heal, I moved on to a piece of whole cloth. I’ve had this piece of fabric for many years. I believe I bought it at Poppy when it was operating in Oakland. That means it’s OLD. One of the changes I made was to cut a smaller size through the shoulders. My shoulders are very narrow.imageimage

I used Asian coins for buttons. I love those. Nice big holes to thread.image

And an adjustable loop for the front closure.

And then I fell victim to an online fabric sale from Marcy Tilton. Good thing there was only 1/2 yd. left. I would have purchased much more. ( She has since posted that she has more of this and others too.)  But being limited forces you to become more creative. This is a double gauze Japanese cotton. I combined it with some solid linen I had, applied some paints and wrapped my fingers with band aids in order to continue the hand stitching.image

Some paint and handstitching for the button.imageimageimage

And here’s a picture of my very specialized, sewing specific tools used just for making circles.


Once the yards of black silk noil were rediscovered deep in the recesses of my fabric stash, I was off and sewing again.


This vest features a flap that’s buttoned down on the front, an idea inspired by Lois Ericson. Whenever I need some different ideas, her out of print Options book is my go to resource. Right after I consult Pinterest!image

I use a lot of waxed paper when a new pattern piece needs to be designed. It’s see through and you can trace on it with your fingernail.image

This flap did end up being shortened and made slightly smaller.image

A pocket was also included on the left side.imageimageimage

And isn’t it nice to have something interesting on the back?image

And then late Wednesday night I played Beat The Clock. One more vest just had to be made. After all, this pattern is now a TNT. The patterned fabric was one of those pillow squares sold at Triad in Roseville. Because those squares are on the small side, I had to shorten this vest about 2 inches. (Isn’t this pattern great? It’s so adaptable.) The solid black is the silk noil and the yellow and the black and silver stripe are silk Dupioni.imageimageimage

Drapery grommets were used for the front and side openings. imageimageimage

Its hard to see, but one line of the stitching is bright yellow. The other gray.image

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. What a versatile pattern! Every claim Heidi makes is true. It has a slimming silhouette. It’s a fantastic stash buster! And it can adapt to so many different looks. I hope you try it. I’m glad I finally got mine!

21 thoughts on “Tried and True

  1. Lovely, lovely work! what kind/size needle do you use for the lovely decorative hand stitching? and the “yarn/thread”? thank you– always love these articles…..

    • Thank you Suzanne. I’m not really too picky about what I use for handstitching. I use DMC embroidery floss, all 6 strands. I also use DMC pearl cotton 3 and 5. This was the first time I used the metallic floss. I didn’t really like working with it but I got the effect I wanted. There’s copper paint on the double gauze Japanese cotton and I wanted to highlight that. I’m glad you enjoy Artistic Alchemys blogs.

  2. Oh my GOSH!! Mary Boalt, look at your major creativity using my pattern! When have you had time? I love, love, LOVE what you have done. I am truly blown away! And I just bet Mary will have them at the retreat so I can show them off in my workshop? Please, please? Big hugs coming your way!! Heidi

  3. Mary, this is absolutely sensational!! Your commentary, your vests are nothing less than fabulous. We are SO lucky to have you in the group and teaching at the retreat this year. I can hardly wait to see what you and your students do at Zephyr. And it won’t be long now . . . .

    • Thank you. These were fun to make and I was really enjoying the process. I had one more in me but ran out of time. I, too, am looking forward to the retreat. I have some very talented people signed up. I know they will do marvelous things.

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