Introduction: Sewing a Men's Formal Vest

About: I like to make stuff. I teach stagecraft to high school kids, and have won some awards for it. In my dream world, I will get to make wacky stuff all day and teach other people how to make wacky stuff. Teach…

A high-necked vest, meant to be worn with an ascot or cravat under a frock coat or cut-away coat.  Good for Victorian costumes, steampunk wear, or weddings and formal events.


******More pictures are coming in the next few days*****

I'm using this instructable to teach this to a class, and I'm photographing as I go.

Step 1: Materials

Pattern:  I used Butterick 3721, but most high-necked vest patterns will have similar instructions.  You pattern will tell you how much fabric you need on the back of the package.

Outer fabric
Lining fabric (for this instructable, I will use the same fabric for outer and liner.)
7 buttons
matching thread
Vest buckle

Sewing machine with buttonhole capability
shears or scissors
seam ripper

Step 2: Cutting and Layout

Cut the pieces of fabric, lining, lining, and interfacing.  For my vest, I "self-lined" using the same fabric.  Make adjustments for height and width where the pattern pieces indicate.  Make sure to remove or add the same amount to all sides!

Don't forget to transfer dart lines to the wrong side of the fabric on front facing, front, and back pieces.  Front pieces also receive a stitch line for the welt.

Step 3: Fuse Interfacing to Front of Vest and Welt

Interfacing makes fabric stiffer.  Make sure you iron the glue dots to the wrong side of the fabric.

When fusing the interfacing, make sure to lift the iron, hold down for 5 seconds, lift directly up, move the iron, then press down again.

Step 4: Dart in Front Pieces

Fold right-sides-together along dart lines and sew.

Press flat toward outside.

Step 5: Welt

Fold welt right-sides-together longways. 


Stitch short ends.

Turn inside out.

Press flat.

Baste long edge of welt to front of vest with running stitch.

Repeat with second welt on the other half of vest front.

Step 6: Turn the Pocket

check welt placement and make sure both sides are even,  Machine stitch over the basting. 

Fold welt up, press flat.

Pin welt flat.

Use slipstitch (invisible hem) to sew sides of welt to front of vest.  Little or no thread should be visible.

Step 7: Back

Fold right sides together along dart line.  Stitch dart.

Repeat for other dart.

Press darts towards center.

Step 8: Back Belt

pin right-sides-together longwise.

press flat.

pin long edges.

sew long edge, using a 5/8" seam.

repeat with other belt piece.  This makes 2 halves of one belt.

Step 9: Finish Back Belt

Turn belt halves right-side-out.

Press flat.

Turn one side of each belt half in 1/2", like you're rolling a sock.  

press flat.

sew folded edge shut, close to the end.

Step 10: Buckle

Slip folded edge of one half of belt through the buckle.  

Fold over center bar, with the edge on the back side of the belt.

Sew folded edge to belt, trapping the center bar of the buckle in place.

Step 11: Sewing the Belt to the Vest

Put the finished edge of the other half of the belt through the buckle, as if you were going to wear it.   

Pin the rough edges of the belt to the sides of the vest back.  

baste close to the edge, and remove pins.

Step 12: Attach the Front and Back at Shoulders

Pin front to back at shoulders.

Sew 5/8" seam.  

Press seam open.

Step 13: Lining Darts

Fold right sides of back together along dart line. Stitch dart.

Repeat for other dart.

Press darts towards center.

Fold right sides of front together along dart line.  Stitch dart.

Repeat for other dart.

Press darts towards center.

Step 14: Facings

Stitch front hem facing to front facing, lining up along bottom edge.

Step 15: Front Lining

Right sides together, pin front lining to front facing.  Make sure that the front hem facing overlaps the front lining, and the trim at the shoulder if necessary.

Sew, starting about an inch from the bottom of front lining.

clip curves.

press seam towards front lining.

Step 16: Sew Front Lining to Back Lining

Pin back lining to front lining at shoulders.  pin right-sides-together, and match edges at neck.

Step 17: Join Lining to Vest at Front

With right-sides-together, lay lining on top of vest and pin around the edges.  Vest and lining should lay front, and edges should match up.  Trim slightly if necessary.

Starting from the bottom on the right side of the vest front, sew the front edges and neck hole, ending at the bottom of the left side of the vest front.

remove pins where you have sewn. 

Step 18: Join Lining to Front at Armhole

Sew the lining to the front along the armhole edge.

Remove all pins.

Step 19: Join Lining at Bottom Edges

Sew along the bottom edges of the front and back pieces. 

Remove pins where you have sewn.

Step 20: Flip It!

Clip curves.

Flip vest right-side-out.

Press flat.

DId it wrinkle funny at the seams?  Clip your curves more.

Step 21: Sew Side Seams

On back edge, fold rough edges in like you're rolling a sock. 

Slide the side edge of the front inside the back edge  to hide all rough edges.

Pin.  Make sure the two sides match.

Sew using slipstitch (called a blind hem if used on an edge) so the seam is invisible.  Sew the sections together.  (You're sewing the outer back to the outer front, and the inner back to the inner front.  Don't try to sew all the way through all layers.)

Press flat.

Step 22: Finishing

Stitch belt to vest along dart by hand, through all thicknesses. Little or none of the thread should be visible.

Sew front lining to front hem facing using slipstitch.

Step 23: Buttons and Buttonholes

Make buttonholes at markings.

Using buttonholes, mark for button placement.

Sew on buttons.

Step 24: All Done!

Press out any remaining wrinkles, and you're done!

Now find some willing accomplices and make 8 more for the rest of your wedding party!  This vest looks great with a cravat.  Check my cravat instructable here:

Don't forget to pose for zombie wedding photos!