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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Two Sewing Techniques On How To Sew A Reversible Vest

Sewing Success Blog - The Sewing Blog

Hi Sewing Friends:

Just got a question on how to sew a reversible vest from one of my American Sewing Guild friends, so thought I would post it here for all of you.

Even if you made a reversible vest in the past, you might pick up some sewing tips in the following sewing article that I wrote.

Feel free to add your sewing tips, comments or questions here. I like to hear from you.

Let me know if these articles help you. Thanks!

To Your Sewing Success,



Two Sewing Techniques On How To Sew A Reversible Vest

- by Marian Lewis

©2006 Marian Lewis - All Rights Reserved

1st Step To Sewing Success


Here are two sewing techniques plus some good sewing tips on how to sew a reversible vest. One is stitched and turned; the other is stitched and bound.

Try both to help you determine your favorite sewing technique.

For both methods, follow these cutting and sewing instructions:

Choose similar weight fabrics for a reversible vest.

Preshrink all fabrics and interfacing.

Interface the vest with a fusible knit interfacing.

Test the interfacing on a scrap of fabric first to make sure it will be OK.

Depending on the fabric, you may choose to interface both of the fronts and back of the vest.

Note: You may want to interface the fabric and then cut the vest pieces out of the interfaced fabric.

Carefully cut two fronts and one back from each fabric.

Make sure the front and back vest pieces are the same size in both fabrics after you cut them out. Lay one over the other to check it.

Apply any pockets or designs to each front and back layer.

For each layer:

Place right sides of the fabric together and stitch the front and back shoulder seams together. Do NOT backstitch.

Instead begin and end each seam with short stitches (18-20 per inch) for about 1 to 1-1/2 inches.

Sandwich press the seams.

Press the seams open.

At the neck and shoulder point of the shoulder seam, trim the shoulder seam allowance back at an angle for about 1-1/2 inch to eliminate bulk when the neck and armhole seams are made.

Also trim the shoulder seams of one of the layers to be just slightly less than the other layer to stagger or grade the seams when they lay on top of each other.

Continue with either Method I or Method II to finish the vest.

Method I - How To Sew To Complete A Stitched And Turned Reversible Vest

Place the two vests right sides together.

Note: Generally, when sewing a lined vest, it is a good idea to trim off about 1/8 inch from the lining before attaching it to the outer layer. This keeps the lining from showing on the outside when the vest is worn.

For a reversible vest, you may or may not want to do this.

If a bit of one of the layers shows on one of the sides, it may look like narrow piping. You are the designer. Create the look you want.

Stitch the vests armhole edges together using short stitches (18-20 stitches per inch) all the way.

Sandwich press these seams.

Press the seams open.

Trim the armhole seams to 1/8 inch seam allowance. The short stitches will hold this seam.

If this is a lined vest, understitch the armhole seams and all of the other seams as well. If it is reversible, you may not want the understitching to show on the edge.

Sewing Tip: Always use short stitches and trim to 1/8 inch seam allowance to stitch a curve. Then understitch if possible. It produces a much cleaner, sharper curve instead of trimming to 1/4 inch and clipping. Try it!

After the armholes are finished, place the two right sides of the vest back together again lining up all the edges. Pin to hold the layers.

Stitch the front and neckline together.

Begin stitching about 2 inches from the side seam on the bottom of the front and stitch across the bottom of the front, up the center front and around the neck and down on the other side of the front stopping about 2 inches from the other side seam.

Use a regular stitch length to stitch across the bottom of the front and up the front. Change to a short stitch length to stitch the curve around the neck.

Sandwich press the seam.

Press the seam open.

Trim the curved area around the neck to 1/8 inch.

Trim the rest of the seam to 1/4 inch.

Hold the scissors at an angle when you trim to help layer or grade the seam allowances or use "duckbill" scissors to help do this.

Sewing Tip: Always stagger the edges of seam allowances when they end up laying on top of each other in a finished garment.

Turn the vest right side out by pulling the fronts through the shoulders one side at a time.

Press well setting the seam lines exactly on the edge.

With right sides together, match the armhole seams and pin exactly through the stitching line to hold one on top of the other.

Stitch the side seams of both layers in one continuous step carefully walking the needle over the underarm pin.

Sandwich press the seam.

Press the seam open.

You may want to leave the full seam allowance here in case you have to let the vest out sometime.

Now, you have the bottom of the back open and about 2 inches on either side of the side seam toward the front.

Turn right sides together matching up the side seams. Put a pin exactly in the line of stitching in the side seams to hold one on top of the other.

Starting at one front side where you stopped stitching previously, stitch across the bottom until you come to about 2 inches from the next side seam pin and stop leaving about a 4 inch opening on that side.

Sandwich press the seam.

Press the seam open.

Press under the unstitched seam allowances as though they were stitched.

Trim and grade the seam allowances to about 1/4 inch.

Turn the vest right side out through the 4 inch opening at the side lower edge. This opening is better than having the opening in the middle of the center back. It isn't as noticeable.

Press well again.

At the opening, turn in and line up the edges.

To finish this opening, slip stitch it closed by hand or place a narrow strip of fusible web and fuse it closed.

If desired, topstitch the vest 1/4 inch from the edges.

Make buttonholes on both sides of the vest.

Sew 2 buttons together making a thread shank in between them. Use these double buttons through both buttonholes like cuff links. You can even use 2 different buttons as
long as they are the same size to fit through the holes.

Method II

Another method to finish your reversible vest is to sew each vest with shoulder seams and side seams.

Place the vests with wrong sides together.

Stitch 3/4 inch all around the armholes and the outer edges of the vest holding the 2 layers together.

Trim off 5/8 inch all around.

Bind all the outside edges either with self fabric, contrasting fabric, or a fold over trim or braid to finish.You can even use a decorative serged edge to finish the vest.

This is fast and easy!

It's your choice. You are the designer!

Enjoy your vest!

It just makes sense!


End Of Article


PS: If you enjoyed this article or have a comment, please do so here on my Sewing Blog.

Actually, you can check out most of my articles here. You might find something that interests you. I welcome your feedback :-)


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Marian Lewis is a sewing instructor, author and creator of an amazing new fitting method for hard-to-fit sewing folks who want great fitting skirts and pants. In her mini-course ebook, she teaches step-by-step common sense techniques how to find out WHAT you really need, WHERE you really need it and HOW to apply that to a commercial sewing pattern.

Marian is also the author of many articles and other mini-course ebooks related to sewing highlighting, "It Doesn't LOOK Homemade"Sewing Techniques.Copy and paste the link now to check out her website at:


Discover Fitting And Sewing SecretsTo Achieve Sewing Success

For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Common Sense Fitting Method For Hard-To-Fit Sewing Folks Who Want Great Fitting Skirts And Pants"

Copy and paste the link:


For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Sew A Tee Pee And Accessories For Your Tribe Of Kids"

Copy and paste the link:


For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Classy Designer Straight Skirt"

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Blogger Matt Ellsworth said...

we are looking for a tuxedo vest pattern for a wedding. any tips? preferrably a bow tie pattern as well.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Marian said...

Hi Matt:

You might check out the following websites for men's vest patterns and bow ties.

Ebay is another good source.

Check out the current sewing pattern books as well.

Of course, no matter what pattern you chose, I suggest that you follow my sewing techniques for a more professional finish.

Hope this helps.

To Your Sewing Success,

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey can you give me some pointers on how to make a formal tuxedo jacket for a 12 year old like me?

4:47 PM  
Blogger Marian said...

I would suggest that you try to make a tuxedo vest, then get someone to teach you how to tailor a jacket.

To Your Sewing Success,

12:24 PM  
Blogger marymboyd said...

What am I doing wrong? I sewed vest and lining independently at shoulder and side seams. I lined up vest and lining and sewed armhole and front around neck to other side leaving back lower seam open. Now there is no way to turn right side out because of armhole seam being closed. I opened shoulder seam, same problem. Opened lining side seam, same problem. It just will not turn right side out. Any suggestions as to what I am doing wrong? Thanks so much, Mary.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Marian said...


Please reread the instructions. You will see that you do NOT sew the side seams when you did. They are left open until after you sew the armholes and neckline edges. The 2 front sections of the vest are pulled through the shoulders to turn the vest right side out. THEN, you sew the side seams. Please try it again.
Hope this helps.

1:11 PM  

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