Emboidered Guppy Vest



Rachael Bao


Outline the story …

I was several months into the construction when my husband acquired a second-hand fish tank. This was his first chance to raise guppies since his entire school of red guppies died and we moved to our current home. I had said I prefer blue things in general, and thus he chose Moscow Blue guppies to start his new fish community.
I had long been thinking about what we would have for a family coat of arms, and I know it would have to include homage to our guppies. There's also a bilingual backstory to the guppies. The word in English is all wrong for their delicate shape and the silken drape of their fins, like little dancers that can slow down time. In my husband's language they are called peacock fish, which suits them better.
I had planned from the beginning to do embroidery for the natural world part of the project, so instead of doing a floral back panel, I decided embroider fish on the lapels. I made up the wisdom, "you get to know ALL the details of something by either drawing it or cleaning it," when I was cleaning a refrigerator, and I still think it's true. By drawing and then stitching the fish, I learned a lot about them, such as how to recognize young males before their tails grow fully.

Outline the construction…

I started with the Keystone Cutting Guide pattern for a double-breasted vest. Upon seeing the dazzling array of numbers and letters and tips that referenced them, I went back to the beginning and learned this amazing “waist” system for drafting a waist and thus having clothes that fit.
I got very lucky drafting and adjusting my first pattern.
I started with blue linen and was planning to only use linen. The nice, soft blue cotton was added later when I came to understand how lapels work and that I could have two colors.
The tutorials for wrapping bias tape around curves and corners arrived in the update emails with such perfect timing that it would have been rude of me to not read them through and follow them.
I also learned a little about putting straight-grain tape along seams that I wanted to reinforce. I investigated the insides of my store-bought corsets to learn how to put in waist-tape. I also used some pad-stitching, proofing fabric to even out wrinkles and all kinds of embroidery.




  1. Avatar Steffi Wee on May 10, 2023 at 10:33 am

    The embroidery is STUNNING!!

  2. Avatar Lowana O\'Shea on May 17, 2023 at 11:13 am

    What a fun vest! I love the colours and the way you stitched the embroidery design to give it a lifelike feel. Well done 🙂

  3. Avatar Jenny jenny b on May 22, 2023 at 12:42 pm

    I love this! The embroidery is amazing, and your video is incredible! What a fun project!

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