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Sewing a Sweater Vest - Tutorial

I have been attempting to learn how to knit for many years now. I have mastered crochet but the patience required for knitting just seems to elude me. I wouldn’t mind this so much as sewing does keep me busy but I was desperate to make a sweater vest. I love how easily they can transform an outfit into an entirely different look.

As I was about to give up and buy a sweater vest from a shop I had a lightbulb moment! Why not just sew one? The variety of knitted fabrics available to sewists is growing, and Mind The Maker goes the extra mile and provides the matching ribbing. The ribbing is important for this project. In order to get a thicker neckband and armband I would need a ribbing with a lot of stretch as most of the knit fabrics I was looking at would not have the required stretch. My favourites from the Mind the Maker range are the Organic Slub Jacquard and Organic Element Jacquard Knit. My problem was nearly solved, next I needed to find a pattern.

Mind the MAKER Organic Cotton Element Jacquard, Indigo Night 2x1 ribbing, Organic Cotton Slub Jacquard Caviar, Black 2x1 ribbing

I searched for one and didn’t find many options. I was quite specific with my requirements, I wanted something v-neck with a thick neckband to imitate the knitted look. The closest I could find was the ‘Pierce Vest, Tee and Dress’ by Ensemble patterns which is available on The Fold Line. However the shoulders dropped too low on this and it wouldn’t accommodate all my big puffy sleeves. My only option left was to hack the pattern myself!

I had a fair idea of where to start. I used a t-shirt pattern as my base. This is where you can achieve a different style depending on the pattern you start with. I used the Ruska T-shirt from the book ‘Breaking the Pattern’ by Named Clothing as my starting point. I have made this pattern. The Tilly and the Buttons Billie or Wardrobe by Me- Fitted T-Shirt would also work well for this shape. If you want something with more of an oversized look and dropped shoulder you could opt for the Megan Nielsen Jarrah Sweater or Deer & Doe Neige Sweatshirt.

I decided on a v-neck style which was cropped at the waist. The first step in hacking my pattern was to change the Ruska T-shirt to a v-neck. I have done this hack before on a previous blog for Lamazi when I hacked the Helen’s Closet Jackson T-Shirt into a V-Neck style for Darren. You can read that blog here. For the fabric I chose the Mind the MAKER Organic Elements Jacquard Knit in Sienna with matching ribbing. Mostly you will only need a small amount of the main fabric, I used 70cm plus half a metre of ribbing.

The colours tie in so well with a lot of my existing wardrobe so I knew I would have plenty to match with it.

I decided on the depth of ‘V’ I wanted by holding the pattern up to myself and checking this in a mirror (very technical I know). The finished depth of the ‘V’ was 12.5cm below the neckline as a guide. Next I marked all seam allowances on the pattern. This is a crucial step when hacking a pattern and it gives you a more accurate result.

I decided to go for a neck band and arm bands that were 4cm deep, my previous lilac vest was 3cm deep. I needed to remove these 4cm from the main pattern pieces, then added the 1cm seam allowance back on.

The neck band, arm bands and hem band would be folded in half lengthwise, so with the added seam allowance they would be 10cm deep. For the length, I measured the new neck and arm openings and subtracted 20%.

When measuring the length make sure you are measuring the seam line and not the outside edge.

For example:

My total neckline, minus seam allowance, measured 89cm. I then subtracted 20% from this (you can multiply it by 0.8 which also works) and ended with a ribbing length of 71.2cm for the neck band.

Repeat this for the armband and hem band.

If you have chosen to add a v-neck to your sweater vest I would recommend reinforcing the ‘V’ with a line of stitches. This will prevent it from stretching out of shape and allow you to snip into the corner.

Place the 2 ends of the neckband on top of each other to create an ‘L’ shape at the end, like below.

When attaching the neck band start at one side of the point and finish at the opposite side. If this is your first time attaching a neckband like this I would recommend basting it in place first as it can be tricky around the point.

Apart from the point of the ‘V’, the rest of the neck band and arm band construction is similar to any other construction, stretching it to fit.

I love the finished vest! It is very quick to make and completely transforms an outfit. I love the geometric shapes on the fabric. At first I was unsure how it would work on a small garment but it adds a lovely detail to it and works well with all my outfits in a similar solid colour.

I have it layered over a Nikko Top in the Allure Jersey from Lamazi and a Blair blazer on top. These layers all work so well together and I can see this outfit transitioning well into spring as each layer is light. I love the modern 70’s vibes I am getting from it.

I was also very keen to try layering it over dresses. I tried it with my Kalle shirt dress by Closet Core Patterns and love how the similar tones work together.

This is going to be a really fun piece to mix with my wardrobe and I am already on the lookout for another fabric to make more! I think next time I will try a round neck version to pair with my growing collection of Anthea and Bakerloo Blouses!

I hope you enjoyed this hack and it has maybe inspired you to give it a try. Make sure to tag us if you do!

Happy sewing, Sharlene x

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