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Tutorial: Shirt to Sweater Vest

Posted by Tasha Jo on

I'm back with another tutorial!

This week I'll be showing you how to take a t-shirt pattern and use it to make a sweater vest.  If the original pattern includes a sleeveless option, even better!  But don't worry if it doesn't, I'll show you how to adjust the original armsyce.  Additionally if your original pattern has a more relaxed fit, then you likely don't need to size up in order to wear your sweater vest over another shirt.  If the original pattern has a slimmer fit, consider sizing up. 

Let's get started. 

First up, if you are using a pattern that originally has sleeves we will need to adjust the armsyce.  The reason we do this is so the underarm does not sit so high in the armpit.  Many patterns that include both a sleeved and sleeveless option, will have separate cut lines for this reason.  Using a ruler, measure in 1/2" from the original armsyce. 

pattern piece with ruler measuring 1/2" inside orginal armsyce

Every inch or so make a small dot.  Do this starting at the shoulder and go all the way down to the underarm. 

Dots drawn 1/2" inside orginal armsyce

Now draw a line connecting those dots.  Repeat for the back pattern piece.  You now have an adjusted armsyce for your sweater vest. 

New armsyce for sleeveless sweater vest

Ok on to the v-neck.  If the pattern you are using already has a v-neck option and you like the neck height, then you can jump to doing the bands.  If you want a lower neckline or need to create one then we'll do that now. 

Using a ruler, place one end at the shoulder seam closest to the neck of your pattern. 

ruler at 30° angle to create v-neck

With the ruler at a 30° angle, draw a line from the shoulder seam to the center fold line.  It doesn't have to be exactly 30° so don't worry if it's a little higher or lower.  My cutting mat has a 30° marking so I used that as a guide. 

v-neck cut line for sweater vest

Cut your fabric pieces for the front and back of your new sweater vest.  Sew at the shoulder and side seams. 

You are now ready to calculate the band pieces.

To get the band lengths, measure the neck opening and multiple it by 80%.  Do the same for your armbands.  The original width should be whatever the original pattern calls for (usually 1.75-2" wide).

Attach bands to the arms and neckline.

Closeup of lapped v-neck band

If you want to band the hem of your new sweater vest instead of hemming, just shorten the bottom by the length of the band you will be adding, minus seam allowance.   Just remember to cut your band piece 2x the length, plus seam allowance, so that when you fold it in half and attach it to the bodice, it will be the correct length.

That's it.  You have successfully adjusted your t-shirt pattern in order to make a sweater vest.