Irish Dancing Waistcoats #2, sleeveboard#2

Before Christmas I was asked to make an Irish dance waistcoat for my nephew, (going for an ‘aunty of the year award here)  it was to be a ‘simple’ waistcoat (class style waist coat), and as he is the only boy in the class, there is no actual class waistcoat as of yet (this is now it!).   Anyway, the main issues were

  • I would have to embroider on velvet – this was resolved by hooping up heavy sew-in vilene and then spray basting (with the water soluble glue) the velvet in place and placing net over (I upcycled a black velvet skirt for this)
  • he lives far away (the first waistcoat was too short at centre front and centre back – as I drafted the pattern myself and wasn’t really sure what the lengths should be)
  • I had to design the embroidery to match the class costume – and this was the crux!

I did a rough drawing of a version of the motif that would fit in my hoop, and this could be flipped (there are 4 embroideries the waistcoat).  The dance teacher liked it the rough drawing so I went ahead to problem number 2 – how to digitize.  Before I got the machine, I somehow thought the digitizing process was a lot easier, (ie would do it by magic) and also was surprised at the cost of the software (as expensive as the machine).  Getting it digitized locally would have cost about 35euro, but as it was just a test piece it was probably it could have to be done twice so I thought I would look at some alternatives.  I used a 30day trial of Sierra and ended up downloading a basic license (24 euro for year) so I could practice over the year (great intentions) and I managed to get something respectable in the end with the help of a few youtube videos.  The teacher liked the waistcoat enough to let him dance in it but asked the next one be made longer with more burgundy.


When I went to make the second, I was still not happy with the velvet as stitches were drowning in it and the fabric was light.  I did have a pair of re-made worsted wool trews (from a mens trouser) that I was pattern testing on (and still need tweaking) so these were once again reused and it embroidered beautifully.  I redrafted the waistcoat and went from there.  Its pretty basic, and I used a heavier satin on the back to give it a nice weight and also lined the front panels in the same.  I did a simple band of snaps to close.


Last November when I was asked if I wanted anything in particular for Christmas (by James), I asked for a sleeve board and passed some pinterest links on how to make and on Christmas day…..I got a half made one that was too high and falling over (there was a point he deemed to ditch the original design – I am not privvy to the logic here!) – I suggested a different approach to the stand bit and a few weeks later it was ready….it took a morning to cover, I used some leftover wool from a sew and a double layer of calico over, bias trimmed and corded it.  I covered the base as the wood used was a bit rough so I did a simpler cover in denim.  Very happy with it, and no longer have to use a rolled up towel (for sleeves anyway).



4 thoughts on “Irish Dancing Waistcoats #2, sleeveboard#2

    • upsew says:

      Thank you (although I don’t think I took on as much as you did in your SWAP) – one of the reasons he probably took it up is ‘they are all mad for medals’ and he is doing nicely and getting medals so he is still getting a kick out of that, but not as dedicated as his ultra focused sister who insists on being his mentor!


  1. wrong doll says:

    Wowzers Eimear – your preservance and dedication to the craft put me to shame. You are so tenacious and ingenious. What lovely unselfish sewing.. I hardly make anything for anyone else! And a handmade sleeveboard – I could definitely do with one of those 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • upsew says:

      Aw thanks Aimee, but I find this time of year I am at a go-slow, and smaller projects seem to suit better. I am looking forward to seeing some photos of him in it as he really has lovely height and poise (and he is dancing in it this week for the first time so hope there is a medal in it). the trickiest bit of the sleeveboard was the curved top, it seems, and it is very handy as I am using it a table-top board by times since. I keep meaning to make a trouser roll, only because I have a lot of scrap wool for stuffing it…… onto some me sewing now – another coat!

      Liked by 1 person

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