Sailor Inspired Vest

The first step for the big mister’s vest was to find a shirt that fit comfortably and trace around it.  I use kraft packing paper and a sharpie.  High-tech people.  High-tech.

So after tracing, you should have a shape like this.  I indicated both the front neckline and the back since they are different.

Then I used this as a template for drawing on the vest shape that I was looking for.  I just drew right on top of the T shirt shape.

I created both a front profile and a back profile.  Then I cut it out, making sure to always cut the outside line.  Your cut piece will look something like this.  If you’d prefer, you could sketch and create two separate pattern pieces.  But I like to conserve.  My energy.  So here is what you have.

And your pattern is complete.  If you fold up the “front” flap on the bottom and the neckline, you’ll have this pattern piece.

Cut two of this from your lining.

And if you fold those back down and fold back the back corner, you’ll have this.

Cut this one out on the fold for the back.  I’d recommend cutting all the pieces with a half inch seam allowance, unless the shirt you used was loose fitting.  I’d also recommend making the arm hole a little wider than the sample shirt so it slips on over his clothes better.

Once your three lining pieces are cut, pin them together and try them on your child.

Make adjustments as needed.

Now is when I finally got the camera settings right for color photos.  You would think a semi-professional photographer could have set the camera properly first… but I was so focused on the sewing I wasn’t paying any attention to the camera.  Oops.

(You may notice an “oops” theme.  I like to share my mistakes so others can learn from them.)

Anyway, you’ll cut the main fabric (I used seersucker) the same way, with the exception of a button placket (or whatever it is actually called) at the front.  Like so.

Then, if you haven’t done so, stitch the lining together at the shoulders, right sides together, and then along the sides.  Try it on your child.  Make sure it fits.  Adjust as necessary.  Make sure you duplicate any adjustments on the outside material.

Next, embellish the seersucker pieces before you sew them together.  Trust me, iron-ons and trim go on much straighter before the vest is assembled.  You will measure, mark and pin.

I was creating the illusion of a square collar with bias trim.  I pinned it and then sewed it, one row of stitches on the inside of the bias trim, the other on the outside.  I accidentally didn’t double check the stitch setting on my machine, and I ended up with one row of triple stitches.  Oops.


Once you’ve finished embellishing, sew the pieces together at the shoulders and sides, right sides together.  Because if you start watching your kids and not your sewing, you’ll get this lovely seam to rip out.


Once you have it properly assembled, you can add elastic if you wish, or skip to sewing in interfacing.

I wanted this vest to have a tight fit, so I added some elastic in the center back.  At first I pinned it at the seams, but it bunched up the fabric funny and it didn’t look good, so I stitched completely around it across the back center.  Not in love with it, but it gives it the fit I was going for.  If you think of a better way to do it, feel free to let me know!


Now it is time to add fusible interfacing.  I only used it in the button/buttonhole plackets, but I wish I had used some between the lining and seersucker in the points of the vest.  They curl a little, and I don’t like that.  So think about that if your points are deep like mine.  Shallower points should be okay.  I’ve actually never had a problem with the points curling, but it could have something to do with adding the lining.  I’ve never lined a vest before (since all my previous vest making experience was for costumes).

So, measure your placket and cut the interfacing about 1/8 inch smaller.


Roll the edges in to finish the edges of the placket if you like.


Adhere the interfacing.


Press the placket into a fold.


Now we add the lining.  Carefully pin at all the seams and along the edges to make sure it is lined up.  I like to hang clothes when I’m pinning them to make sure the layers fall the way I want them to.  And make sure it is right sides together.

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And make sure you pin the button plackets to the inside before you stitch.


I then sewed up the front and around the neck opening and flipped it right side out.  I pressed and topstitched and then repinned everything to make sure it was still lined up before adding 1/4 bias trim around the arm holes and along the bottom.


Then you measure and mark where you want your buttons.  Then mark exactly where you want the buttonholes.  This was my first time using the buttonhole stitch on my machine, and it worked perfectly!  Just don’t forget to pin the end of the hole when you are slitting the hole so you don’t tear out the stitches.


Then sew on your buttons and you are done!


I ended up going back in and adding a line of bias tape running from the shoulders to the button placket connecting to the collar in the back.

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