How to sew a nice men’s vest part 3

Hello!  Sorry to take so long with getting this part about the vest done.

Now that you have the pockets done, you sew the fronts to the back at the shoulder seams (shell not lining).

Shoulder seams sewn

Shoulder seam pressed

Shoulder seam pressed, from the wrong side. Don't butterfly open the seam, press the front toward the back.

After you’ve done that, pin the back belt into the side seam and sew the side seams.  Press them, too.

I sewed the side seam then cut into the seam allowance so the back belt could go the way it needs to but the rest of the seam allowance can go toward the back.

The back belt sewn into the side seam

Then sew the buckle on the shorter strap

Now sew the facings to the vest fronts.  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance and be careful to match up the corners and points.  Sometimes the front gets a little stretched out from handling and the facings don’t because the fusible keeps them stable.  I’ve had to trim pieces, but in a perfect world, you don’t.  Don’t sew the shoulder edge or the side edge, just the edge that runs along the center front opening and the bottom hem.

The front facing is attached to the front

Trim the corners and clip the curves (to but not thru stitching)


Also make sure you don't catch the pocket bag in the facing when you sew the facing

The armscye facing is matched with the front lining piece

The armscye facing being sewn to the front lining

Armscye facing sewn to front lining

Front lining/armscye facing pressed

The front facing is being understitched--move the facing/front seam allowances to the facing side and stitch them down ~1/8" from the seam.

The front facing is understitched

Understitch then press.  You’ll notice that a little of the front is pulling to the inside.  The understitching does that to prevent the facing from being seen on the outside of the garment.  Sew the armscye facing/front lining piece to the armscye of the vest front, just along the armhole edge.  You can see in the photo below that the front pulls to the inside and that the shoulder edges of the facings are not sewn down.  They will be taken care of when the back lining is sewn in.

The armscye facing is sewn on and understitched

After the armscye facing/front lining piece is sewn to the armscye, sew the lining to the other edge of the front facing

And stitch together the two facings where they meet above the lining.  Stitch the back lining to the front/armscye facings at the shoulder seams.  Press the seam allowance toward the back lining piece.  Sew the right side seam of the linings together.  Sew the left side, leaving most of it open.

Leave most of the left side lining seam open, but sew past the facings.

Almost everything else that has to be sewn will be sewn through that gap in the seam.  Going through that gap, sew the back neckline (of the back and back lining), the bottom hem of the back, and the back armscyes.  It’s all right that the back doesn’t have facings.  Turn right side out and press.  Topstitch if it doesn’t look like it will lie nice and flat.  The lining I used is Bemberg rayon, so it presses pretty well, but on the clocks vest I used the anti-static polyester lining and it doesn’t press as easily.

Sewing stuff thru the gap in the side seam

Neckline, back hem, and back armscyes sewn

The lower part of the inside of the side seam

Close the gap in the left side lining seam by topstitching it.

Pull the longer back belt through the buckle on the shorter belt.

Press everything (always press throughout the sewing process).  Using the pattern as a guide, or using a template to mark the spacing, figure out the spacing for the buttonholes and mark them on the left front of the vest.  Remember, men’s clothing is always left over right.  My patternmaking instructor always said, “Women are right over left.  Men are left over.”  And the instructor is a man.  Women’s clothing can follow the men’s way (I think most non-US clothing is) or be right side over left.

I marked the spacing for the buttonholes with pins.

Sewing the buttonholes.

Before you sew the buttonholes on the vest, do a couple of practice ones with scraps, including the interfacing, to make sure that the buttonhole ends up the right size.  Sometimes they can be too long or too short and the button either can’t get thru or it slips out.  Also test the stitch density.  Thinner fabrics will need a higher stitch density and thicker a lower.  You want the stitches close together, like they are on clothes you’ve bought.  It looks more professional.  Look in your sewing machine manual or if you don’t have one, just mess around until it comes out right and make a note of the settings.

The buttonholes sewn

If you don't have those special buttonhole cutting scissors like my grandma had, put pins on 1 end of each buttonhole and put the seam ripper at the other end. Rip from that end up to the pin. The pin will stop you from going too far. Then press the buttonholes.

Sew the buttons on.  To accurately match the buttons to the buttonholes, lay the buttonhole side over the other side, matching up center fronts.  With a pencil or pen or chalk pencil or something, mark THROUGH the buttonhole onto the fabric on the other side.  Then sew the buttons on those marks.

The buttons are sewn to the vest.

The finished vest.

[Edit: After having sewn at least 15 vests since I first wrote this, I have found that it’s easier to sew the facings to the fronts, leaving a bit so you have seam allowance to sew the lining to later, then sew the back linings to the fronts.]

Now the vest is done.  Did you have fun?  Did it take a long time?  It takes me about 4 hours per vest, 1 hour of which is just the pockets.  Time consuming but well worth the effort, wouldn’t you say?

Let me know if you’ve made a vest from these instructions and put a photo of the completed vest in a comment or a link in a comment if you’d like to share.  Photos of my husband in the other completed vest are in part 1 of the vest posts.  Also let me know if you have any questions or suggestions or if anything wasn’t clear.  I want all my instructions to be clear and understandable.

Edit 2/18/12: Here are some photos of 3 other vests I made recently, for a ball on New Year’s Eve.

This was made from green and purple brocade for my friend R.

This was made out of duppioni silk with polyester lining for my friend S.

This was made out of polyester tablecloth damask for my friend S.

Detail of the vest for S.

This was made from polyester and metallic brocade with Bemberg rayon lining for my husband Rob.

Detail of the above vest.

1 Comment

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One response to “How to sew a nice men’s vest part 3

  1. Pingback: Regency era vest | Look, I Sewed This!

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