Fisherman’s Vest for a wee Adventurer

I’ve always loved the outdoorsy, scrap-busting aspects of Twig and Tale. Their aesthetics are just gorgeous, full of images of healthy children and adults, having fun in their beautiful hand-made clothes, in environments that are just divine (think wild woodlands, breezy coastlines and nature to sooth the soul).

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My nephew’s fourth birthday was approaching, and I decided to put into action an idea I’d actually had prior to his third birthday. Time ran out, as it did before Christmas last year, but this time I would have loads of time to prepare it properly. It’s just a pity I left it all to a couple of weeks before. Why change the habits of a lifetime?

My plan was thus: to weave a tale of Ruaridh the Mouse, who lives at the burn (small stream) at the bottom of my nephew’s garden. The mouse finds a magic stick that can take him on marvellous adventures around the world where he meets many different animals, learns about their life, and generally has a wonderful time of it all. Of course, no adventurous mouse is complete without his very own custom-made waistcoat which has pockets that are full to the brim of tools to assist adventurers: compass, magnifying glass and bug catcher – and, of course, the magic stick!

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The trailblazer vest with the fishermans add-on was the perfect waistcoat to make. And I loved the making of it. I used fabric entirely from my existing fabric store, although most were small leftovers from other projects. The main outer is the wool from my Moderne coat (can’t wait to wear it this winter!), the pocket linings are made from a variety of different fabric scraps and the outers are made from two fat quarters of Harris Tweed that I bought about 5 years ago. The inner was fabric that I’ve had for a long time, bought and never assigned to anything, and it’s great to be using some of it. The collar lining – soft and beautiful colour! – was made from scraps from a t-shirt I made earlier this summer. It’s still to make its way onto the blog, but you can see it paired with the Pietra Shorts.

The buttons are from Textile Garden. My number 1 place for beautiful buttons, and I suspect I bought these from the actual stall at Edinburgh Yarn Fest – they have been in my tin for a wee while.

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Now, firstly this project reminded me how much I love working with wool. It’s such a wonderful fabric to sew with: it bends to your will, is easy to cut (doesn’t fray), and smells delightful after a pressing (through a pressing cloth, obvs). The cotton was also a delight, and I just loved pulling this waistcoat together.

The pattern was great. Nicely complex, but it all went smoothly. I made a size 4, basing that loosely on his age and the fact that though he’s tall, he’s not wide. I hope it’ll be alright (more on that to come) and fit okay. The instructions were good: not overly hand-holdy, which I appreciate. It drives me slightly mad to have every little thing spelled out all along the way. I will make more by this wonderful pattern company. The only trouble I had was sewing the lining to the outer. The photo illustrations just did not help me, and I did have a bit of unpicking to do. But, once it clicked I was wondering how I was not seeing it in the first place: my own tiredness, perhaps, driving me to distraction!

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I chose to make the curved dropped back, the collar with zip and no wind flap. The pockets on the front were two medium pouch pockets (slightly wonkily sewn!), with a small pouch pocket up on the chest. I did make the wee flap for it, but it just didn’t sit right. I also added a large patch pocket on the back, and a secret pocket (not in the pattern) inside. I envisioned wet, muddy, woodland walks, dreaming of where Ruaridh the Mouse would go to next. To start off, I wrote a wee introductory story about how Ruaridh came by the magic stick, with more stories are to follow. I already know the next two in the series.

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Now for the clincher: does he like it? Not yet. We didn’t give it to him on his birthday – too much excitement, and too many shiny new toys (and boisterous cousins) to over shine this slightly quieter gift. But he has received it now. My sister and brother-in-law are planning on taking him into one of the local woods and introducing it to him there. I have hopes, but I know that children are what they are. In other words, they will not necessarily like what we wish them to like.

My nephew is a fantastic wee boy, always looking at things and exploring and has the most wonderful imagination. If and when he comes into the story, I will be delighted, but for now, to make it was enough.

Edited to add: He loves it!!!! He’s been out adventuring with his family today, where he was leading the others using the compass, finding bugs, beasts and baby mice 🐭

I’m blown away by this, it’s really resonated with my nephew (also called Ruaridh) and I hope there’s many more adventures to follow for him 🥰

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All photos were taken in my mum and dad’s beautiful garden in the Scottish Borders. Mum is a gardening genius (in fact a few of my family have real green fingers), and it was incredibly inspiring to see all the bees and butterflies crowding around the flowers. Beautiful. And while taking photos I was also joined by a wee helper…

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