Thursday, February 9, 2023

Paw Patrol Vest, or the one in which LiEr uses a commercial pattern for the first time

Happy new year! 

Bit of a slow start to the year. How was everyone's holidays? How is everyone managing this winter madness? Here in Minnesota, we had a lot of snow and a lot of ice. Some days were sunnier than others, and some days were downright trying. And we put on our snow boots and got in our cars and went to the supermarket and the gym and church and school and walks and kept our chins up and fixed our thoughts  on warmer days ahead. Spring will surely come, as it does every year. Winter can only hold us captive for so long before it, too, must yield.

On the blog front, some housekeeping has been happening. Photo-editing has been come-and-go for a couple of years (which partly explains why I haven't been posting a whole lot) but this winter I think I've finally found a system that will work henceforth. With that new stability, I'm anticipating more regular posts (hurrah!) and sharing of projects. 

Also, I've been migrating email subscribers and feeds from the now-dead Feedburner to so some of you may have gotten emails from them to let you know about the move. It's not spam, and if you've followed the instructions to verify your email address, you should be receiving my posts again. If not, you can re-subscribe by entering your email address in the widget in my sidebar. 

Moving forward - I have a fun project to share!

As the title suggests, I used a sewing pattern for the first time. Whoo!

If you're new to the blog, here's some background: I learned to sew in Singapore where I grew up. People there - and other Asian countries, I've since learned - tend to draft directly from measurements rather than use commercial sewing patterns. It could be that back in the day, sewing patterns weren't as easily available as they are in the US or UK. Or it could be that it was how it was always done then, and enough people did it that it was an accessible skill to learn from a grandmother or mother, or even Homec class (all of which were sources of my own learning). Anyway, I learned to draft and sew without commercial patterns. I would say it's a very liberating thing but having never learned the alternative (i.e. commercial patterns), I have nothing with which to compare - it's just all I've ever known.

Until this past Christmas, when I wanted to sew a Paw Patrol vest for my small nephew who lived out of state and who's a huge PP fan. Typically, when I sew for a person, I'd grab that person, measure their dimensions and draft a specific garment pattern for them. It's always worked for me because I've only ever sewn for people who either lived in the same house, or whom I could access physically by visiting them. My little nephew, however, was hundreds of miles away. I only knew his age (almost 3), which in a drafting capacity, meant absolutely nothing. With a commercial pattern, however, that number might translate to a particular size, which then could be useful.

So I called a friend whom I knew had once upon a time sewn a vest for her young son who, if I were lucky enough, might have been 3 years old. Did she still have that pattern? Yes, she did.  

Full disclosure: if you're not new to this blog, you may have remembered that this isn't my first first brush with a commercial sewing pattern. In this ancient post, I participated in an uproarious blog party in which various sewing people were given an ugly vintage sewing pattern and asked to un-uglify it. It was eye-opening, let me tell you. I learned things about sewing patterns that haunt me to this day. So traumatized was I by the ridiculousness of that particular pattern that I ultimately failed to actually utilize it, and had to draft something entirely from scratch. And so I was back to square one - the score was still Commercial Sewing Pattern: 1; LiEr: 0.

Unlike that ugly sewing pattern from days of yore, however, this one from my friend looked quite sane. It was true that there were men featured on the cover along with the boys, all proudly modeling vests, suggesting that with the contents of the package, one could, if one were undiscerning, mistakenly sew a vest in a catastrophically inappropriate size. This was frightening, but I persevered.

My friend, bless her heart, averted this disaster by culling the piles of crinkly tissue and extracting the set of tracings which looked the most like something a boy of 3 would wear. I also had my sister-in-law take two simple measurements (shoulder width and shoulder-to-hip length) so I could have a starting point to draft the eventual vest. Here are some photos of my draft beside the original pattern.

I always forget that commercial patterns come with seam allowances added, which I then had to remove. My drafts never have SA - I was taught to draft this way and I find that it allows me to easily mark sewing lines and points directly on the fabric, and make adjustments.

This is the finished vest. Paw Patrol was new to me and I had to do research to understand what it was, who the characters were and what they did. Apparently, there are dogs - a large number of them - all of whom wear special badges, and there is one boy who rules them all. Or something to that effect. I had no idea of which of the dogs my nephew adored most, or if he might like all the badges so he could take turns at pretending to be one dog each day of the week, or even if he secretly hated some of the dogs. So to be fair to all the dogs, I picked none of them and instead chose the Boy King, whose name was Ryder and who had a fancy vest with all these fun colors.

Obviously, the sewing pattern had none of these details - the sleeve bindings, the stand collar, etc. I used it simply to draft the approximate vest shape and size for a boy whose detailed body dimensions I didn't have, and then modified the seams and amount of ease as necessary. There's quite a bit of piecing, which translates to scratchy seams on the WS, so I lined the vest with some jersey fabric. 

I don't have any photos of my nephew wearing the vest, but I've heard it fits him and he likes it, so that's all good. I've returned the commercial vest pattern to my friend but I think I might still have the PP vest drafts lying around in my sewing room somewhere, so if anyone has a PP-loving kid you'd like to sew this for, let me know and I can try to trace it out and post it here for you to download. 

Hope your year is off to a good start! 

Edited Feb 20 2023: 

I've had some requests for the pattern for this vest, so am including it here at the end of the post as a download. Some things to note:

1 Please see the sketch for the dimensions of the child this pattern was drafted for. It only comes in one size (for this child).

2 This pattern does NOT include seam allowances (SA) i.e. the solid outlines are the stitching lines themselves. Please add your own SA when laying out and cutting out.

3 I did not include a template for the sleeve, which was cut as a very narrow cap sleeve. It was cut on the fold (to make it double-layered), widest at the section at the shoulder and tapered to be narrowest at the side seam. Then it was sewn into a loop, and attached to the armhole with RS together, the same way you would attach a knit waistband (see this post).

4  Regretfully, I am also not including instructions for piecing, laying out, fabric yardage etc. I am hopeful that by looking at the photos in this post, you might be able to connect the dots on your own. Thank you for understanding.

Click HERE to download the Ryder Vest.


  1. Great idea! My granddaughter loved Paw Patrol - watched it every day.

  2. Hi Lier, I’ve never followed a pattern without changing something, usually lots of changes. I learned to sew using patterns, but my mother was famous for buying a new dress, taking it apart, and making it into something else. She would change the waist, sleeves, neckline, length… I never realized how skilled she was, but her influence colors everything I sew! Thanks for sharing! Nice to hear from you again! Marie

  3. The finished vest is adorable! I wish I knew how to draft a pattern. commercial patterns never fit quite right. So glad you have plans to post more often. You've been missed!

  4. It is absolutely the cutest vest. I have seen it on him. It is just too cute for words. Great work.!! Who wouldn't want such a thing for their PP people.

  5. Wow! I have made a vest with that very pattern myself! My son is trans, and the highschool he went to had a very serious policy on dress code for prom. Persons identified as female at birth were specifically prohibited from wearing a tux to prom. I made my son a fancy vest of red brocade with dragons on it, and black satin lining. He wore a white shirt and black pants, and felt very fancy for his prom. :)


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