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Adventures in Fabric: Alpaca Vest

Examples of alpaca coats. L-r, Michael Kors, Jonathan Saunders, Mantu.
I let my daughter take my black puffer vest back to college with her this winter, and I wanted to replace it with a more upscale version. A black alpaca fabric from Alexander Wang I found at Mood NYC had just the right amount of warmth and chic-ness I was looking for. Plus, I've never sewn alpaca before (see Sewing new fabrics, goals of 2014). Here's the zip-front vest I made with it, using a vintage McCalls vest pattern from the 1980s that I bought on Etsy. Hits me about mid-hip:

Front-zip vest made with black alpaca from Mood Fabrics NYC.

Alpaca info and tips:Alpaca comes from a camelid that is cousin of the llama, but is smaller and more cuddly-looking • Ranks second in warmth after cashmere and before camel hair • The nap is hairy but in a good way because it's so soft and pet-able. It's like wearing fur but without the guilt. • Given the point above, obviously cut your pattern with the nap in the same direction. • While alpaca is super easy to sew and work with, take care to not over-handle it. I found that too much or too high heat from my iron tended to take some of the sheen off the hair. Practice pressing scraps before you sew your garment so you can determine which setting is best. • Loosely structured garments like my vest here can probably get away with no interfacing as this is such a sturdy fabric to begin with. • A hand-picked zipper looks elegant and is easy to insert.
Detail of front-zip vest made with black alpaca from Mood Fabrics NYC. I used a Lampo zipper and some black leather from my stash to accent the pockets.
Detail of front-zip vest made with black alpaca from Mood Fabrics NYC. Medium-weight, crepe-back satin for the lining.


Mood Fabrics has loads of alpaca in-store and online. (We have my Alexander Wang alpaca at Mood NYC in black and gray. $40/yard, email jena@moodfabrics.com to order.) Today it's snowing AGAIN here in NYC, but I'm all cozy wearing my soft and cuddly alpaca vest. I can tell this is going to be one of those pieces in my wardrobe that I wear year after year.
swatches of different alpaca fabrics available at Mood NYC. Here are some swatches of alpaca fabrics we have at Mood NYC. See the hairiness? Just like fur but it's not.
Next up: I share the faux-Chanel jacket I made for my daughter to wear on job interviews.

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