Vest Wishes!

A vest is one of the most simple and versatile items of clothing you can make.

With that being said, let me just tell you that I am not a skilled seamstress.
My mother is a seamstress.
My mother-in-law is a seamstress.
I come from a long line of crafty, seamstress women (on both sides of my family tree, in fact.)
I, however, am a beginner when it comes to my sewing machine.

What I’m saying is that if I can sew a vest, so can you!

My mother-in-law was kind enough to let me come over
to her house for hours and invade her sewing room.
She walked me through this pattern,
answered my questions and gave me some helpful sewing tips.

Thanks Diane!
I think I owe her a plate of brownies!

Alright, let’s get started.

Basic Vest


1 1/2 yards Admiral Blue Bella Solids Fabric
Out of the Blue So Fine! Thread
Twisted Cord Trim
Sewing Machine
Measuring Tape
That Purple Thang

The first thing you’ll need is a pattern.

Open up your pattern and find the instruction sheet.
On the first page it will have a layout with different variations and sizes.
Determine what size and style you want.
For example, I chose “Pattern B”.
It was the most basic style of vest, with no buttons, collar or pockets.
I was going for simple.

Find the pattern that you’ve chosen (in my case “Pattern B”).
Cut out the pattern using your regular scissors;
don’t dull your fabric scissors by using them to cut out your pattern.

After cutting out your pattern, neatly fold the remaining pattern pieces and
put them back in the pattern envelope for future use.

Diane showed me how to make sure that I’m cutting my pattern “with the grain.”

This is where I remember that I have a camera and should be taking pictures.

Sorry you don’t have a supplies picture for reference.
I know you’re smart and you’ll figure it out!

So, when you’re working with a woven fabric you want to make sure that you are
cutting “with the grain.”
How do you know if you’re “with the grain” or not?

Well, first you fold your fabric with the salvages together.
Then you lay your fabric down on a flat surface (like the floor).

If it’s “with the grain” it will lay nice and flat.

If it’s “not with the grain” the fabric will ripple.

Adjust your fabric until it lays flat and smooth and “with the grain”.
This will help it lay smoothly when the vest is being worn.

This particular pattern has a center back with no seam.
I’ve doubled the fabric so I can line the vest and also make it easier on myself
because I will only have to cut the fabric out once.

Place the center of the back on the fold.
Run the black line of the pattern on the fold and pin.

The front of the pattern has an arrow.
You want to put your grain with the arrow and measure from the arrow to the edge of the fabric.
Measure from the middle of the arrow to the top of the arrow.

Then measure from the middle of the arrow to the bottom of the arrow.

The measurements should be the same.

Pin your pattern to your fabric.

Cut out both layers of your fabric.

Thread your sewing machine with matching blue thread. I used Sew Fine! Thread Out of the Blue.
The Ribbon Retreat carries high quality thread great for quilting and general sewing.
We carry 51 colors, 550 yards each, for $5.95!

It will be easy to tell the back and the front of the pattern apart
because you will have 2 fronts and 1 back.

Mark the right side of the fabric with a pin.

Because we’re using a solid fabric it is harder to tell which side is the right side of the fabric.
When you use a printed fabric you know that the printed side is the right side.

In this case it’s a little trickier.
Look closely; the wrong side will have tiny knots in it.

Sew the right sides together, using a 5/8″ seam.
This is a good seam allowance for most garments.

Remove your pins as you sew.

Keep in mind that the triangle notches are a matching point.
Make sure to line them up.

Before you begin sewing, consider trying this quilter’s trick.
Take a scrap square of fabric and run a straight stitch down the
middle of it before you begin sewing your fabric.

Now sew your fabric closely behind the scrap square of fabric.
Trim the threads between the scrap fabric and your vest fabric.

Sew the straight line of your vest and follow it up with the scrap square of fabric.
Trim your threads.

This will help you start out and end smoothly.
It helps keep your needle from unthreading.
You’ll save a lot of thread this way.

And, look! No loose ends!

Sew the right sides together twice.

Press seams with an iron.

Put right sides together, match up seams, and pin.

Pin right sides together all the way around.

Try the vest on your son and he’ll say,
“Mom, are you going to take the pins out before I wear it?
Because I don’t want to bleed while I’m trick or treating.”

What? I don’t see why not!

Sew all the way around your vest, leaving an opening in the back so you can turn it right side out.

Ta Da!

Trim a 1/2″ off all the way around your fabric.
Cut the corners being careful not to cut your stitches.

Clip edges to just above the sewing line.
Again, be careful or you’ll end up cutting your stitches and you’ll have to sew it again.

Reach your hand in through the whole in the back of the vest and pull the vest right side out.
Use That Purple Thang to push the corners out.

Iron your vest.
Pin the front to sides of the vest down to the back.

Sew down the side and back up again for more durability.
Seeing as how this is a boy’s costume vest, we need all the durability we can get!

And now, if you’re like me you’ll look at your work and
smile because you just completed your first vest!

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

After getting the vest home, I decided it needed a little somethin’ somethin’.
You know me, I have to embellish. I can’t help myself.

Jack Sparrow’s vest doesn’t have twisted cord trim or buttons attached to it,
but I think it should have because it turned out really cute!

I just sewed the cord to the vest and covered the ends by sewing a button on top.

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I started out with 3 cords but ended up cutting one off
because I didn’t have enough matching buttons.
Oops! In hindsight I should have checked my buttons before sewing the cord.
Hindsight vision is 20/20, you know.

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I was happy with the vest after I finished it,
but when I saw it on my little pirate I was thrilled with how it turned out!
The vest was the perfect touch to his Jack Sparrow outfit!

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I had planned on making a more fitted, feminine vest for my girly pirates,
but to be honest I was running short on time and I needed something quick!

I’m really not quite sure what to call what I came up with,
and really I can’t take credit for the idea, as it was my mother-in-law’s.
She’s a genius I tell you!

What I made the girls is kind of a combination of a cumber bun, a vest, a bodice and a belt.

I’m going to call it a bodice because it sounds prettier than cumber bun!

Pirate Bodice


24″ x 12″ Jet Black Essential Dots Fabric
1 yard of 1/4″ Red Satin-Double Faced Ribbon
Silver Beads
1 1/2″ Sew On Velcro
Black Thread

You’ll start by measuring your little pirate princess’s waist.

Miss Maggie’s waist is 21″ so I cut my fabric to 24″ x 12″.

I hemmed all the edges of the fabric.

Next, using my little model I found the middle of the fabric and pinned it.

Then I measured 7″ from the middle of the fabric and marked it with a pin.
This is where I will gather the sides.

I did the same on the other side.
I also measured the back to see where I needed to sew my Velcro and pinned that as well.

I sewed a running stitch down both sides where I had pinned the fabric.
I didn’t back stitch at all.

Carefully, I pulled the bobbin thread and gathered the side of the bodice.

I did the same on the other side.

Back at the sewing machine, I sewed 2 straight lines down either side of the gathered stitching.
This time I did back stitch at the beginning and the end of my running stitch.

So, there are three lines stitched down both sides of the bodice.

It may be easier to see on the other side of the fabric.

I pulled on the middle threads, removing the gathered stitch completely.

Learn from my mistake and make sure to hem all 4 edges of your fabric when you begin.
I didn’t do this so my ends are all “skeewompis”,
so I had to cut my ends, then pin them and hem them after I’d gathered the bodice.

After that I sewed about 3″ of Velcro to the bodice.
I added the soft side of the Velcro to the right side of the bodice
and the sticky side of the Velcro to the left side of the bodice.
Does that make sense?

You could very easily be finished at this point.
This was as far as I’d gotten when the kids went to their school
Halloween Carnival and they looked great!

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Later I had time to add the beads and the ribbon.
I think the extra touches add a lot.

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I just laid the bodice out with the front side facing up.

Then I started sewing on the ribbon.

I threaded one bead onto the needle and sewed it over the ribbon.

I crossed the ribbon diagonally to the middle of the opposite side and then back over to the bottom.

I continued this until I reached the top again.

Because I messed up on the hemming of the bodices in the back, they didn’t lay very well in the back.
It bothered me enough that I made some big fabric bows to cover up my mistake.

Now I’m kind of glad I made that mistake because they look really cute with the bows, I think.

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

To make a fabric bow I got a large strip of fabric and hemmed the edges.

Sorry, I didn’t measure at all.

I was in a hurry, but you’ll get the basic idea from the pictures.

Then, I folded the ends in “hamburger style” and sewed a running stitch by hand down the center.

I pulled the needle and thread to gather the fabric.
Then I wrapped the thread around the middle of the
bow a few times and secured in a knot.

I repeated those steps with a smaller strip of red fabric and a small strip of the skull fabric.
Then I sewed all three fabric bows together.
I attached the bows to the bodice with 2 large safety pins.

Don’t they look cute???

Vest Wishes - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I realize that Halloween is now over.
Where did October go?

Still, you don’t have to wait a whole year to make a vest or a bodice.
A pilgrim with a tutu and bodice would be adorable!
Especially paired with an indian in a handsome vest!

Or how about a Christmas vest or a New Year’s bodice?

You can totally customize either of these for any occasion.
Have fun!

Also, if you made it through this novel of a post then you deserve a plate of brownies too!

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  1. Blossom
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Those are the cutest little pirates! I LOVE the costumes! The wig especially was so clever! I have an 8 year old son who used to be obsessed with pirates, but has since moved on to other things. I so want to make him a pillowcase out of that awesome new Riley Blake Pirates fabric, but he won’t let me, since he says he doesn’t like pirates any more – sniffle! : (

    • Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Blossom! It sounds like I’d better make my son a pirate pillow case before he moves on to something else! I love that Riley Blake Pirates fabric. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Amber
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Love them! The girls bodice was a great touch!

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