Introduction: Make a Pattern and Sew a Hooded Vest

Picture of Make a Pattern and Sew a Hooded Vest
This instructable will show you how to make a pattern from your favorite piece of clothing, and then make another one without having to rip all the seams.

This project can easily be completed in a day if you are well acquainted with your sewing machine. If you are new to sewing, it will likely take a whole day, perhaps a weekend if you take it slow.

Don't let the number of steps throw you off, you'll be creating a pattern and sewing a lined garment in just a few steps.
Recommended fabrics: Fleece or sweatshirt fabric for newer sewers, these are easy to handle and very forgiving if you need to rip a seam. If you're and acomplished seamster(ess), anything you can imagine.
What you’ll need for this project:
1.     Fabric – I am using an old sail that was donated to me for my outer fabric. If you are going to use non stretch fabric, make sure you add about 1/2” extra so you can breathe, in addition to your seam allowance.
a.     If you are lining your garment you’ll need an additional fabric. I’m lining in scrap fleece and sweatshirt material from other projects.
2.     Zipper – I have several on hand, check your garment to see what size you’ll need, shouldn’t cost you more than $3-4 without a coupon for any standard separating zipper. Mine will be a 24” Coats & Clark separating sport zipper.
3.     Scissors – you’ll want to use fabric scissors for this so you get nice cuts. I have huge shears, but have found that a nice new pair of cheap $3 scissors from your local store will get you started. Just make sure you don’t use them for anything else or they’ll dull quickly.
4.     Marking device – I started with pencil but then went over the lines with sharpie so you can see them.
5.     Original Garment – I’m using my favorite Hoodie since it fits me well.
6.     Measuring device – a tape works well for measuring your garment, you’ll see I use a square later for making a long piece and a special fabric ruler ($.99 from any fabric store) for hemming.
7.     Sewing machine – it is possible to sew a garment by hand, it just takes a long time.
8.     Iron – again you can work without this, but you will save some sanity by using it.
9.     Compass – remember these from those long ago math classes? I use one to create my seam allowance. Super simple, just set to your seam allowance, drag the metal piece along your seam line and voila, instant seam allowance.
10.  Patience – oodles and oodles especially if this is your first time making a pattern from a garment.
11.  Seam ripper – for when you put a part on backwards and have to redo (sigh).
12.  Potentially access to laundry – if you are using new fabric, you’ll need to wash it first so it doesn’t shrink.

If you are buying fabric, for adults you'll need about 1-1.25 yards, I usually buy two with a coupon and keep the scraps for later. It takes 1.5 yards to do a women's medium hoodie with arms using 55" fabric.
*Disclimer: This is for your own personal use only! Please do not try to make patterns of clothing for resale.*

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Make Some Space

Picture of Gather Your Tools and Make Some Space
Find your inspiration garment. I am working with my favorite Hoodie, but since I don’t need another Hoodie, I am going to make a hooded vest. This Hoodie fits me very well so I will use it to create my pattern. It would be easier to use another vest to create your vest pattern, but I want to copy this Hoodie.
Take a look at your garment and catalog all the pieces you’ll need. I will need:
                1 back piece (in each fabric)
                2 front pieces (in each fabric)
                2 hood pieces (in each fabric)
                1 24” zipper
If you have made clothes before, this will be easier, but you can definitely make your first piece of clothing using this method. If you’ve never made a pattern in this manner you will want to trace your garment onto paper so you can work out the kinks before drawing all over your fabric. I’ve gone straight to the fabric because if I use pencil, I can erase it and try again. After I have the first pieces drafted and cut, I will use them to cut my liner fabric.

Step 2: Starting Your Pattern

Picture of Starting Your Pattern

Start with the big simple pieces, first the back piece. Lay your garment down and flatten it so all the seams are at the edges. Pin it in place or use some weights to keep it from shifting. Start tracing at the straight forward spots, shoulders and side seams. If you are able to fold your final fabric in half, you only have to trace half of the piece.

When you get to the bottom, just turn up the bottom band to copy the lines.

For the arm holes and neck scoop you’ll need to be a little careful and creative. Starting with the arm holes and making sure not to shift the garment out of place, first mark where your shoulder and side seam end and the arm holes begin. Then slowly lift the arms out of your way and trace the curve you see there. You’ll want to sort of spin the arms out of the way so that the seam stays flat on your fabric/paper so you can trace it.

Now do the same with the hood for your neck scoop. Remember that the back of the neck scoop will be shallow as it usually rests in line with your shoulders right where your neck joins your back.

Don’t forget to mark where your center line is, as it will be important later on when you get to sewing. Now you’ll want to add your seam allowance, I use 1/2” you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. Anything between 3/8” and 5/8” is fairly standard with this type of garment. Take your original off your pattern piece and trace around your marks using your seam allowance measure, I usually use a compass for this. I just set it to 1/2” and trace around. This extra fabric will be eaten up when you sew it together if this is your first garment.

Good job, your first piece is done! Now follow the same idea with the front piece. With this one, the neck scoop will be deeper. You’ll only need to trace one of these as you can just flip the piece over to create the other side.


Step 3: The Hood

Picture of The Hood

And now onto the hood, which I have always found to be the least logical piece, and which I always leave for last. Depending on your garment, this will likely be two or three pieces. The three piece hoods are usually a little easier to figure out around the neck line, the two piece hoods are faster to sew together. You will also only need to trace one side of this (assuming a two piece hood) as you can just flip your pattern piece over to cut the matching piece.

Again pin this piece in place so all your seams lay at the edges, and again you’ll need to be creative and careful when it comes to the neck. Very slowly move the garment out of your way so you can follow that seam. Hoods are usually longer along the straight, front edge. Then they will curve up and away towards the back, then back down again to meet the back curve. It’s a sort of very slight s curve. This is the curve that allows the hood to go around your shoulders, starting from the collarbone, over the shoulder and around the neck simultaneously, joining at the neck joint.

Step 4: The Layout

Picture of The Layout
Lay out your fabric. Nice and flat. If your fabric is really wrinkled, you should iron it first to make your life easier. Also if your fabric lends itself to it, fold it in half so you can cut mirror pieces. If this is your first garment, you always want to fold the right side in (that being the side of the fabric which people can see when you wear your new garment). In my images I am working with an old sail and it’s too big to open up all the way and then find a place to fold it to make mirror pieces. With this in mind, I will have to flip some pieces over to get my matching pieces (the two sides of the hood and the two front pieces). If you are working with a stretch fabric pay attention to your grain so it stretches the right way.
Cut out all your pattern pieces along the seam allowance line, place them on your final fabric and cut those pieces out. Take your time here. If you cut something wrong, not only will you be out a big chunk of fabric, but it’s really depressing. It’s generally better to cut outside your line than inside, because you can always pull something in on the sewing machine. Adding more fabric because your new garment is too small isn’t impossible, but it is a pain in the…
Don’t forget to transfer over any marks you made in your pattern, like where the center seam is on your back piece.

If you are lining your garment, you’ll need to cut two sets of everything.

Step 5: Back to the Hood

Picture of Back to the Hood

I like to start here in the sewing process. It’s quick and easy unlike the process of creating that funny s curve in your pattern… Pin your hood right sides together and sew along that nice long curve that goes from the front of the hood to the back. For those new to sewing, this is where that seam allowance comes in. The ½” allowance tells you that you should be running the outside of the fabric along the ½” mark on your needle plate. If you have an older machine that doesn’t have markings on it, grab yourself a sharpie and measure from the needle out your seam allowance and mark it. Eventually it will wear off, but it should last a project or two.

Take your time sewing if you don’t have good control over your machine yet, go slow. It might seem a little tedious but you’ll be happier with the results in the end.

After you’ve sewn your first line, take your hood to your ironing board, and press that seam open. Back to the sewing machine and sew down both sides of that seam. I usually just run the seam along the left edge of my presser foot, which on most machines results in a 1/8” seam. This will make it a stronger seam, adds a nice little detail to the finished garment, and reduces bulk, especially if you are lining your garment. First piece done!

Step 6: The Shoulders

Picture of The Shoulders
Shoulder seams. Pin your first front piece to the back piece, again right sides together. Sew across the top of the shoulder. Do the same with the other front piece.

Then over to the ironing board, press the seams open, and sew them down like with the hood. I do this with most of my seams. Anything I can reach to press open and then sew down. I like the detail it gives, and strong seams make happy people.

Step 7: The Sides

Picture of The Sides
Sew up the sides. This I usually don’t press and sew. Firstly because it can be a pain to get in there especially if your garment has sleeves. Secondly because you aren’t usually stressing this seam as much as others. Most seam wear happens anywhere the hood is.

Step 8: Attach the Hood

Picture of Attach the Hood
Attach the hood to the neck. First double check that you have both items right sides together. Now line your hood up along the neck scoop so that both cut edges are on one side, and the hood/garment are on the other side (align left or right depending on which is your dominant hand) Then pin the hood to the body along the neck scoop. First pin the center seam of your hood to the center mark of the back piece. (You did remember to transfer that mark over yes? If not fold the garment in half and mark that point with a pin) Then pin the front edges of your hood and vest front together. Now work your way back to the center point, matching the two cut edges together.
Once you have it pinned, sew it, press open the seam and reinforce just as you did the shoulder and hood seams.

Step 9: Bueller, Bueller

Repeat steps 4-9 to create your liner.

Step 10: Press the Front Edge

Picture of Press the Front Edge
Take your garment over to the ironing board and iron a ½” of the fabric in. You’ll want to be ironing the fabric to the wrong side for both fabrics. Do this along the entire length of the front of the garment. All the way from the left side, over the hood, and down to the right side.

Step 11: Inserting the Zipper the Quick and Dirty Way

Picture of Inserting the Zipper the Quick and Dirty Way
A lot of people worry about setting a zipper, but I promise you, it is super easy.

Now that you have your pressed fold along the front edge of your garment, you will simply pin the tape of the zipper into that fold, so that when you sew the garment closed you will sew the zipper in place at the same time.
Start pinning everything together at the bottom edge. The bottom of the garment is half an inch up from the raw edge of the garment (unless you are adding a bottom band). As you are pinning, the teeth of the zipper should stick out and the zipper pull should move freely. From here you will continue to make a zipper sandwich, outer fabric, zipper, inner fabric. Continue pinning everything together until you reach the center of your hood. Your zipper should stop where the hood attaches to the front of the garment.

If your zipper is too long, you'll need to cut it off where it is appropriate. If you are using a metal zipper, you'll want to carefully pry the zipper stop off and reinsert it at the new top of your zipper (just cut between the teeth). If you are using a plastic zipper, you can either melt the top two teeth together, or do it the "proper" way. You'll want to remove about an inch of teeth (try to cut as little of the tape away as possible) the when you are pinning the seam shut, curve the zipper tape away from the teeth and into the seam. You'll need to purchase zipper stops if you want to keep the zipper pull from running off though.

Now go back to the bottom of your garment and pin the other side together in the same way you just did. I usually leave the zipper closed to start, so that I can make sure everything is lining up. Once you have your zipper started on the second side, you can open it to make your pinning easier. The raw edges at the bottom and the seams where the hood attaches should match across the zipper. Continue pinning up the garment until you meet your previous row of pins.
Now sew everything down. If you have a zipper foot for your machine, feel free to use it. I usually just use my regular foot, move the needle as far in (to the right) as it will go and start there. Begin at the bottom of your garment, sew all the way up, along the hood, and down the other side. Be careful that you are not pulling or stretching your fabric as you sew, this will result in a wavy zipper.
Lastly, I move the needle as far out (to the left) and sew the whole long stretch again to keep the seam lines consistent with what I did earlier.

Step 12: The Armholes

Picture of The Armholes
Now it's time to address your arm holes. If you need to adjust the arm hole so the shoulder doesn't stick out, now is the time to do it. Put your vest on and make a mark where you want your shoulder to end. You'll need to cut the arm hole within a 1/2" of this mark. Take your time, and ease this cut into the arm hole so it flows nicely.

Next you will need to cut slitss into the fabric so that when you turn the garment out, the seam will lie flat. Depending on your fabric you can cut right up to the fold, just don’t cut the seam itself. Now you want to iron your arm holes so you have a nice crisp line to follow.

Pin your two layers together. Match your liner and outer garments seams together, making sure all the seams at the shoulder and side line up. Make sure both of these seams are open, on both fabrics if you didn't sew them open earlier. This will decrease the bulk of the seam making your garment more comfortable.

Now you are going to sew the arm holes together. This will be a little tricky and probably frustrating. Take your time, adjust the fabric so that you are always sewing in a straight line, even if it is only for an inch or two. Remember a sewing machine, like a vaccum cleaner likes to go in a straight line.

Step 13: Last Step, the Bottom

Picture of Last Step, the Bottom

Now to finish your garment.

Just like your zipper and your armholes. Fold and iron both layers to the inside, pin and sew. Remember the liner needs to fold towards the outer fabric, and the outer fabric needs to fold towards the liner.

I forgot to take a picture of this step...sorry...

Step 14: Tadaa!

Picture of Tadaa!
Throw on your garment, check yourself out and live it up! Congrats you’ve just made a toasty vest to keep you warm until summer.

 

Comments

CrazySheep (author)2010-05-09

Ohh! *3* I must try this!
You used a sail? Crazy! XD
... I might just have one lying around somewhere :L

stussylad (author)2010-04-24

thankyou thankyou thankyou !!! i was going to buy a pattern for a hoodie and now you have saved my wallet !

ya gotta love instructables !

:D

b1russell (author)2010-03-07

Very nicely done, with clear text and visuals!

qapla47 (author)b1russell2010-03-08

 Thank you

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