Hot! The “Not My Gumdrop Buttons!” Vest

The Facts

Fabric: Natural fiber suiting (from stash)
Pattern: Simplicity 2556
Year: 2009
Notions: Blue shank buttons
Time to complete: 21 hours
First worn: At photo shoot
Wear again? After I make matching trousers!
Total Price: $5

Do you know the Muffin Man?

Before even choosing a pattern for this week’s challenge, I knew EXACTLY what to name the garment. The scene in the movie Shrek where Lord Farquaad interrogates the Gingerbread Man may very well be my favorite of all time. If you’ve been in a dungeon for the last decade and missed it, here’s a clip of the hilarious exchange where the infamous “gumdrop buttons” line was first delivered.

My vest (or waistcoat, if you prefer) is sporting six, gumdrop-looking buttons all because of a Dreamworks movie I’ve seen twelve times. The hat (made from the same fabric and an out of print McCall’s 4607) came about when I realized the vest could use a bit more menswear balance.

Since the hat was an afterthought, I didn’t quite finish it in time. There’s no binding on the inside, the outside band hasn’t been applied yet, and there’s still some topstitching left to do. In the photos, the hat is like one of those fake movie props or clever stunts that if you get too close (or watch the DVD outtakes), you can see the suspension wires or the body double’s bad wig. In my case, the unfinished innards gave my forehead that slept-on-a-wrinkled-pillow-case look…so I retired it from the rest of the photo shoot and let the fro battle the gusty wind.

 Here’s the back of the vest. Since it’s a halter style, there’ s not a lot to it. Thankfully.

Remember the fabric from last week’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” Dress?
Well, it made its second appearance as the lining for this vest.

Even the faux pockets are lined. Isn’t that an oxymoron of some kind (lined, faux pockets)?

Behind the scenes, constructing this vest was not the piece of cake I thought it would be. It was more like a piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake — where you THINK you’re hungry enough to consume the whole slice, but three bites in, you’re looking at the plate with regret.

Here’s what I learned after 21 hours of sewing a garment that covers less than a quarter of my body:

  1. Just because a garment covers less surface area than a dress doesn’t make it a “gitterdone” project.
  2. Patterns made with multiple cup sizes (I used the D cup front) may rescue me from having to perform a full bust adjustment on top of my unavoidable petite and swayback ones.
  3. A loop turner is your best friend when it’s time to make button loops. But, it can immediately become your worst enemy (think: Lex Luthor) when it unhooks while you’re in the middle of pulling fabric through a 6mm tube.
  4. There is NO trick to pulling an entire garment right side out through a halter neckline. One must trust it will work, then despair, then trust again.
  5. It’s good to have a pleasant task to look forward to when marathon sewing. Finally sewing on those “gumdrop buttons” (every time I say it out loud or in my head, I do it in character) was my cool drink of water.


 P.S. The Muffin Man lives on Drury Lane.



Najah Carroll is a project manager by day and seamstress by night. Once it became clear that ready-to-wear was never gonna support her five feet of curves, she taught herself to sew and make pattern alterations. In January, she lost her mind by signing up for this 52-week garment sewing challenge.


Comments are closed.

  1. Love that cheesecake analogy. :) And I love the vest/hat combo. Very chic.

  2. Well, pain that it was, it looks fantastic!! The Gingerbread Man would certainly hang out with you!

  3. Looks really good. And thanks for the laugh – maybe I’ll watch Shrek (again) tonight.

  4. Very cute! Love those buttons and button loops. Bonus, that vest makes your figure look awesome.

  5. That’s a great look on you! Love all those little buttons.

  6. the fit is so beautiful and the finishes so tailored, i think the time spent was well worth it. i’ve made that pattern before in the D for my little sister and we got equally exciting results, but your finishes are nicer. and your “lessons learned” made me smile!

  7. What a great piece, and your writing is entertaining. Thanks for sharing.

  8. So polished and lovely! The lining is wonderful :D

  9. Very classy waistcoat. I very much like the button loops.

  10. You look great and I love the buttons and the inspiration

  11. Wow! I Love it. Looking very Classy.

  12. Najah this is so so good I’m in love with your whole look, I love that it’s a halter neck too and your hat is all class. Love it!

  13. I love the halter neck too – never would have known it!

  14. What a great, fun post! I’m so sad now that Shrek isn’t on Netflix instant! I’ve never tried making a hat before, but yours looks amazing, even if it’s not finished yet. I also love the way you used that fabric as the lining. I bought a few yards of the same fabric a couple months ago, and that’s such a great idea for what to do with anything left over after I make the dress I’m planning for it.

  15. This is absolutely gorgeous. I love the fit. Can’t wait to see matching trousers. And I adore your writing style, made me read the whole thing (I’m terrible for scan reading people’s posts….I shouldn’t actually admit that out loud should I?). Can’t wait to see future creations and read about them….we can stay up late, swapping sewing stories and in the morning, I’m making waffles!

  16. Beautiful! Those 21 hours were worth it. I have the pattern in my stash, and you are inspiring me to dust it off. The hat is great too, by the way.

  17. Ah I love it! The buttons are so cute and so is the lining, I am loving your fnny posts too, off to watch that clip again now!

  18. Love it! And you have actually inspired me to watch a children’s film without being forced to by my kids.

  19. Wow, you nailed the fit on that vest! Looks great and your lessons learned are pretty useful too! Just after cursing about Turing 2 back blouse ties, I learned of the existence of loop turners. Next time, next time.

  20. So cool! I love your vest. The button loop is not something I’ve tried yet-maybe this will be the year!

  21. Its such a fabulous piece! I love your version and the gumdrop buttons you used. It goes so well with your new hat! Love the whole ensemble :)

  22. I definitely chuckled over your gum drop quotes! You vest looks so well made and the fit is amazing.

  23. You sew the best stuff! This is awesome.

  24. It was worth the pain. Thanks for the reference clip. Been a while since watching and needed the rememberance. Now on to a jacket to wear over the vest and with the hat. :-)