Boys' Best Vest Tutorial (with pattern!)

My little tugboat needed a slightly dressy wardrobe piece for this holiday season, so I whipped up this vest in a couple of afternoons with some fabric from my stash.  It's a fun piece to make because it feels like you've accomplished a lot, but it really is quite easy.  Here's what you do:

1/2 yard suit-ish fabric (I used a polyester pin stripe)
3/4 yard lining fabric (I used a lightweight floral poly, but a quilting cotton would work)
three buttons

Step One: Print out the pattern, which, btw, has 1/2 inch seam allowances. It's a size 18 month, but you can pretty easily adapt it by using a shirt that fits your tot already.  It's three pieces.  Easy. (If you have trouble downloading the pattern, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you the pdf directly.)

Step 2: Cut out your fabric, lining and interfacing.  My method probably goes against all things holy in the sewing world, but I like to trace my pattern pieces with a disappearing ink pen, then cut them.  I hate pinning patterns. 

I use a weight (or in this case, my husband's drafting ruler) to hold down the fabric while I trace the edge.  It is much easier to cut out the fabric when you don't have to worry about the pattern piece shifting or lifting from the fabric. Once you have all your pieces cut out you can start putting them together. You should have two pieces for the front, two pieces for facing, two front lining and four back lining.

Step 3: Prepare the facing.  First, the interfacing needs to be sewn or ironed on to the facing.  To be honest, you could probably skip the interfacing altogether, but if you're a little, uh, type A, go ahead and put it on now.  After the interfacing is attached, two of the raw edges of the facing need to be finished.  The two edges are the ones that are not along the edges vest front. I used the "ghett-overlock" stitch on my regular sewing machine to avoid the bulk of a turn and stitch, but you could do either.  Or overlock it on a serger.  Just make it look nice, 'cause it's going to show on the inside of your vest.
Now you attach the facing to the lining.  It seems counter-intuitive because we (when I say 'we,' I mean 'I,' hoping I'm not the only dope in the world) are used to sewing things right sides together.  In the case of the facing, it is sewn wrong side of facing to right side of lining. Just stitch the facing along the three sides of the lining (so, the three sides that are not finished).  Make sure your stitches are only about 1/4 inch from the edge, that way they won't show when you attach this piece to the vest.

Step 4:  Assemble the pieces.  First, sew the two back pieces together.You do this twice because you have the lining and the back of the vest. I just press open the seam allowances here because they will be enclosed in the lining.

The next pieces to attach are the front pieces, but you only sew them along the shoulder seam.  Do NOT sew the side seams together because this is where you will pull the vest through to be right side out. So, you should have two delightful little vests that are assembled everywhere except the side seams.
Step 5: Here's the most time-consuming part: stitch the lining to the vest.  Place the two "mini-vests" right sides together as shown above.  Sew along the bottom back, the arm holes, the neck, and the front.  You should leave the side seams open (all four of them). Trim the seam allowances to reduce bulk when the project is turned. 

Step 6: The fun part: turn it out! Stick your hand through the back side seam and start stuffing one of the front pieces through the shoulder.  Pull it all out of the side seam.  Repeat with the other side.  Your
vest should be turned right side out and look a little tubular.  Press it! (Using a low heat setting, or you'll end up melting the polyester and making your own plastic like I did.  AWESOME. Not.)

Step 7: Close up the side seams!  This part seams tricky, but it's not too bad.  Especially if you have used a fabric that presses well.  Turn the vest so that the suiting fabric is facing in.  Pin the outer side seams together and stitch as much as you can with your machine.  Be careful to keep the rest of the fabric out of the way so it doesn't get caught up in the stitches. 
Next, press the inside lining.  Basically, turn one of the side seams under and press it so that it stays on its own, then stitch that seam closed by hand. 
Step 8: Add button holes and buttons.  I used three and spaced them evenly using a ruler and my trusty disappearing ink pen.  Tah-dah!  Cute little vest for the holidays is FAH-IN-ISHED.


  1. This looks great! You little guy will look so handsome wearing his vest! I made one for my son this summer, but he just cried when I tried to put it on him. Apparently vests are in the same category as hats... Devices made solely for the purpose of torturing my toddler. Sigh... I hope your mama-made vest is more appreciated than mine was!

  2. This is awesome and your tute makes it look do-able!! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Dana ~ I just had to post below this tutorial to tell you how adorable this little vest is.
    For anyone reading this, I was the lucky winner not long ago when Dana had this vest which she made in these pictures in a giveaway. I recieved this yesterday and wanted to post here to tell you that if you have a little guy in your life that needs one, this is an adorable little vest. Get out that fabric and make one.

    And to Dana ~ THANK YOU again. This is just the cutest little thing.

  4. how much fabric should I buy to make this?

  5. How much fabric should I buy to make this?

  6. Thank you so much for this pattern and tutorial. I was able to size the pattern to fit my son who is a 2T/3T. He will look great at his Aunti's wedding :)

  7. Yay! That's great! I'm glad you were able to resize it. :)

  8. Thank you for sharing this pattern and instructions.

  9. Thank you for sharing this haven't made any for a long time and couldn't remember how to put to-gether to make reversible Thanks so much

  10. This is ADORABLE. In the middle of making it right now, love it!


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