I love swim vests. They provide great support and they look good (what more could a person want in a swim suit?). Unfortunately finding swim vests is fairly difficult and the ones I do find are usually out of my budget. Luckily with a simple vest pattern, some time, and fabric anyone can make a simple yet functional swim vest.
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Step 1: Supplies
Along with basic sewing skills you will need a few supplies.
Swim suit fabric
Piping (it makes it look more professional)
Swim suit liner ( I would recommend it)
Sewing machine (It makes the whole process a lot faster)
Step 2: Pattern
I made my pattern by tracing one of my existing swim vests and modifying it to suit my sewing skills. You can also use a fitted shirt for the pattern and just cut the sleeves off (just be sure of the fit before you cut into your good fabric). I would recommend making a test vest using jersey first, so you can test the fit and see if any adjustments need to be made. I added a collar to my pattern (It is just a simple rectangle added to the neck line)
Once you are satisfied with the pattern carefully pin it onto your good fabric (and liner if you are using it) and cut it out.
Step 3: Sewing
Pin your front and back pieces together and sew along the sides. Make sure to leave about 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam allowance when sewing.
Step 4: Adding the Piping and Zipper
I added piping around the arm holes and where the zipper goes just to give it more of a finished look. I hand sewed the piping but you can use a sewing machine for this part. Just carefully pin your piping to the sleeves, making sure it doesn't get twisted, and sew it down.
I sewed the piping and zipper on at the same time. Just line up the edge of the piping, zipper, and fabric and carefully sew it down. You don't want the piping to close to the zipper or you risk getting it suck in the zippers teeth.
Step 5: Hemming the Bottom
To finish the bottom of the swim vest I just folded over the bottom 1/2 inch of the fabric and made line using a zigzag stitch to secure it. You could also using piping to finish it off but I ran out of it before I was done.
Step 6: Done
Congratulations! You have just made your own swim vest!