Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Button Down Rehab Day 2: Little Guy Vest

I hope you enjoyed Krista's monogrammed pillow tutorial yesterday! She claims she's a beginner, but I think she's just being modest.

For the second day of Button Down Rehab, I wanted to show you how to repurpose a men's button down shirt into a vest for a little boy!

Don't be intimidated, it's really a lot easier than it may seem. And the results are worth it :)

  • 1 button down shirt for main fabric
  • Second button down for the lining, or coordinating cotton fabric 
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Disappearing ink marker or tailor's chalk
  • Seam ripper
  • Needle
  • Scissors
  • T-shirt that fits your child well to make the pattern
Here is the shirt I started with for the main fabric. You'll also need a second, coordinating button down shirt for the lining (you can cut the lining fabric from the same shirt, or you could also use some coordinating cotton fabric if you want.) I chose a black button down for my inside lining.

Step 1: Making your pattern.

Fold a piece of paper in half. Fold your template t-shirt in half and tuck the sleeves inside. Place your t-shirt on the fold of the paper flush with the edge and trace around your shirt, leaving an extra 1/4 on all sides for seam allowance. This is the template for your back piece. Cut out.

With your back template still folded, place it on another piece of (unfolded) paper approximately 1 1/2 inches from the edge. Trace from the edge of your paper and all the way around your template, making sure to include the extra 1 1/2 inches you just added (see picture below). Don't cut out yet. This is your front piece.

The bottom of your front pieces are pointed. To do this, 1. Measure the length of the bottom of the template you just drew. 2. Mark a dot in the exact middle about 1 1/2 - 2 inches from the bottom edge. Draw a line from each side to meet the dot. 3. Cut out.

You want the neckline of your front piece to be v-neck style instead of curved like your back piece. (In retrospect, I wish I would have made my neckline dip lower than I did in the picture below - sorry that the picture is a little washed out!)

You should now have 2 templates for your back and front pieces that look like this:

Step 2: Cut out your front and back pieces.

Lay your template for the back piece on the back piece of your shirt and trace around it with your disappearing ink marker. Cut out.

For my front piece, I wanted to make things easy on myself and use the existing buttons and button holes because I'm lazy like that.

To make the front left piece which will have your button holes on it, line up the on top of your shirt where your button holes are. Since my little guy is small, I could only fit 2 button holes on his vest, but you might be able to fit more if you have a bigger child. Next,trace around your template and cut out your fabric piece.

To make your front right piece which will have your buttons on it, you need to make sure the buttons line up with the button holes in the piece you just cut. To do this, place the left piece you cut out next to your shirt edge where the buttons are (see second picture). Make sure your buttons align with the button holes on your cut piece. Place your pattern piece on top and trace around it. Cut out.

Now you should have your front and back pieces cut out. Cut out your lining material with your template pieces. With these lining pieces, you don't have to worry about buttons or button holes since they will be inside of your shirt.

When you're done, you should have 6 pieces: 2 back pieces, 2 left front pieces, and 2 right front pieces.

Step 3: Attach your front and back pieces.

Take your 3 main fabric pieces and, with the right sides together, place your 2 front pieces on top of your back piece. Your 2 front pieces will overlap some because of the button closure, this is a good thing :) Pin the sides from the bottom of the armpit down and sew. Repeat this process with your lining fabric.

When you open your piece up, it should look like this:

Step 4: Join your main fabric and lining.

Now that you have just 2 pieces of fabric, your main fabric and your lining, we will join them together to make your finished vest.

Place your main fabric piece on top of your lining fabric piece, right sides together - that means your buttons will be facing down and you should see the raw edges where you sewed your back and front pieces together(see picture below). Pin all the way around and sew 1/4 inch from the edge of your fabric (be careful when you get to the edge with your buttons!)

Make sure you do NOT sew the shoulder seams on your back piece together (indicated with arrows in the 2nd picture below). Also, leave a 4 inch opening on the bottom somewhere for turning (might be easiest to mark this area with 2 pins on each side so you know not to sew that area closed when you reach your 2 pins).

Before you turn your vest inside out, make sure to clip your corners close to the edge, and cut notches in the curves where the armpits will be so everything will lay nicely (be careful not to cut through your thread though!)

Turn your vest inside out through the opening you left, and you will have a very poofy vest! Hand sew the opening you left at the bottom, then iron your vest.

Remember how I told you to leave your shoulders unsewn? When you get to the shoulders, tuck the raw edges of the fabric inside your opening about 1/8 inch and iron so the raw edges are enclosed.

Step 5: Join the shoulders.

Now, we're going to join your shoulders together. For the sake of keeping things simple, I'm going to call the shoulder piece on the back (the one you left unsewn) "B" and the shoulder piece on the front "A".

Tuck A into B and pin like so. If you find that A doesn't fit well, you can snip a very small bit off of each corner and try tucking A into B again.

Sew straight across, enclosing the raw edges and joining your shoulders together.

Step 6: Button holes.

Now that your lining and main fabric are joined, your button holes are covered on the lining fabric side. I  just sewed over top of the existing button holes on the front with a very small zig-zag stitch. Then, I just used my seam ripper to rip the button hole open, making sure not to cut through the thread.

Now your little guy is looking good!

You lookin' at me?

Thanks for joining me for Day 2 of Button Down Rehab!
Come back tomorrow, and we'll do a little accessorizing :)
My Own Road

And make sure you check out the other awesome projects in the Button Down Rehab series:

Linking up!

Tip Junkie handmade projects
Sumo Sweet StuffPhotobucketBubbly Nature
Today's Creative BlogPhotobucketPhotobucket
Somewhat SimpleThe Shabby Nest

Show and Tell Wednesday at Blue Cricket Design


  1. What an cute vest for such an adorable little guy!!

    Thanks for linking @'Sew Cute Tuesday'!

  2. This is so cute! I will be making one of these for sure.

  3. Great tutorial. You have the wheels spinning in my head trying to decide how to make an adult female version, perhaps from a larger man's shirt.

  4. This is absolutely adorable! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  5. Seriously.. I just can't take the cuteness.. between your little guy and your little vest I am in cuteness overload! Love it! Hope you will share with my Pink Hippo Party @ http://pinkapotamus.blogspot.com/2011/06/pink-hippo-party-34.html

  6. Very cute idea, Jen. Great tutorial... I love that you only used shirts to make the entire vest, inside and out.

  7. Well this is just darling!!! I love it - and you did a fabulous tutorial too. So nice and clear.
    Thanks so much for linking up to Think Pink Sundays! ;)

  8. Love this! Thanks so much for sharing with the Pink Hippo Party.. can't wait to see what you share next week!
    I am your newest follower!

  9. Hello my name is Jennifer and I just wanted to let you know that I have featured your tutorial on my blog. Please let me know if there is any content that you wish for me to remove. Cheers

  10. Hello my name is Jennifer and I just wanted to let you know that I have featured your tutorial on my blog. Please let me know if there is any content that you wish for me to remove. Cheers

  11. ah this is SOOO CUTE!!!

  12. The Knitted Cake: I just make this vest for my 5yo. too cute pretty easytoo. I'll be making more!!...now on to that cute button down bib. thanks for these great tutorials!!!

  13. My grandson is 9 months old and I will difinately make the vest and boy bib. I am so glad I found your website so that I can make some cute things for my grandson. Thanks


Thanks for all of your wonderful comments! I try to respond to each of them through email so please make sure you leave an email address or have your profile set up to include your email address if you want me to respond :)


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