How to Make a Vest from a Plaid Shirt

comments (10) March 8th, 2013     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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Transform an everyday shirt into a chic vest.
Marc Jacobs looked to plaids in vibrant shades for his Fall 2009 Marc by Marc Jacobs collection.
The skirt before. Dont forget to pre-wash it before you start sewing, just in case it shrinks later.
Transform an everyday shirt into a chic vest.

Transform an everyday shirt into a chic vest.

Photo: Sloan Howard
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Come on, admit it: You've got an old flannel shirt in your closet collecting dust right now. Well, shake it off and get sewing-turn that shirt into a cute vest. Here, I'll show you how to do it. I cut the collar and the sleeves, created new patch pockets, and added rows of pretty tucks to take in the extra bulk.

vests Find more vest projects:

How to Quilt a Textured Vest
Transform a Wool Sweater into a Felted Vest
How to Make a Vest from an Old Pullover Sweater

Before you begin, wash the shirt, and try it on. Measure how much you want to take in on each side seam. Here, new patch pockets were applied, but you could just sew the old pockets back on to save a little time and effort. The vest edges here were left raw for a rustic look, but feel free to finish them with bias tape or other trim for even more contrast.

What You'll Need:

• Hand needle
• Ruler
• Scissors
• Seam ripper
• Sewing machine
• Shirt, plaid flannel with back yoke, oversize
• Tailor's chalk
• Thread

First, take the shirt apart
When you cut the shirt, be sure to save the pieces you cut off: You add the leftover buttons to the collar, and the sleeves provide extra fabric for pockets.

1. Take off the pockets. With a seam ripper, carefully remove the pockets and pocket flaps. If the shirt has manufacturer registration markings from under the pocket, remove them.


2. Remove the arms
. Use scissors to cut off the sleeves, leaving the seam behind. The seam will prevent the vest from fraying too much after washing.

3. Cut off the top.
Remove the top of the shirt, just below the back yoke. Use the lines in the plaid to help you cut a straight line across the back and front.

Sew the tucks
Tucks not only add style, but they also take in the extra bulk.

1. Measure and mark the tucks with chalk. For each side of the shirt, determine how many tucks will take in the correct amount of fabric. A 1⁄4-inch tuck takes in 1⁄2 inch of fabric. I wanted to take in a total of 8 inches on each side seam, so on each side, I marked 8 tucks for 4 inches in front and 8 tucks for 4 inches in back.

2. Sew the tucks. For each tuck, fold the fabric along the chalk line so the wrong sides are together. Sew 1⁄4 inch away from the fold to make the tuck. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each tuck.

Add the finishing touches
Use buttons from the leftover shirt pieces to secure the collar and leftover fabric to create patch pockets.

1. Sew the shoulder seams. Turn the vest inside-out, and pin the shoulder seams (right sides together). Then try it on, and reposition the pins to adjust the fit. The length of your shoulder seam determines the size of the collar. Here, the shoulder seam is 1 1⁄2 inch long. With right sides together, sew a 1⁄2-inch seam allowance; make sure that all of the pin tucks point toward the center of the vest.

2. Finish the neck.
Sew a 1⁄2-inch seam allowance around the edge of the neckline. This will prevent it from fraying too much after washing.

3. Secure the collar. Remove two buttons from the leftover sleeves or the top of the shirt. Fold the collars down at the neckline to determine where to place the buttons that will secure them. Hand-sew the buttons.


4. Cut out the pockets. From each sleeve piece, cut out one 6 1⁄2-inch by 6-inch rectangle on the bias.

5. Fold the pocket edges.
Turn down the top edge of each pocket 1 inch, and press. Turn under the sides and bottom edge of the pocket 1⁄2 inch, and press.

6. Sew the pockets in place. Pin the pockets on the vest front, making sure that the edges of the pockets are aligned with the plaid on the vest. Sew 1⁄4 inch from the edges along the sides and bottom of each pocket.

Excerpted from "Lumberjack Revival" in CraftStylish: Restyle It

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posted in: sewstylish feature, SewStylish, restyle, sewstylish technique, vest, boyfriend, remake, plaid, menswear

Comments (10)

Fashionnn writes: Great idea for all those xlarge flannel shirt that are no longer needed. Kudoes to you. Thank you for ideas on recycling. The plans are easy to follow. The only thing I have recyled is the hospital growns worn home my son. I made me night gowns from those. Works great.
Posted: 10:50 pm on August 4th
nansews writes: Thanks for sharing this great idea. I love recycling or upcycling. I am fairly certain my daughter will love this. I will have to show it to her and see if she would like me to make her one.
Posted: 9:38 pm on April 9th
EchoLin writes: nice shirt, thanks for sharing this to us. i will have a try.
Posted: 1:47 am on March 11th
ustabahippie writes: I made this years ago when it first appeared in the magazine. I made 2 of them for examples for a recycling class I was teaching at the time. Everyone loved it and I had to make copies of the article for at least 10 people! Still have mine.
Posted: 2:55 pm on March 8th
stylist58 writes: So cute. Great recycling project. Hope I can do it
Posted: 10:03 pm on January 30th
Stile writes: Late to the party, but posting comment anyway because I am excited about this project. Hubby awarded me all the shirts he can no longer fit into and this project is perfect for refashioning some of those shirts.
Posted: 12:23 pm on January 17th
BellaPerlaJewelry writes: i love cutting up of my fiances, hes gonna hate me now
Posted: 1:18 pm on November 23rd
mrobinson111 writes: I love this idea, long to you make the pin tucks and...the arm holes are now way to small. The shirt is an XL and I only wear a women's medium.

Posted: 5:40 pm on November 21st
rebelrose1941 writes: Great idea for all those xlarge flannel shirt that are no longer needed. Kudoes to you. Thank you for ideas on recycling. The plans are easy to follow. The only thing I have recyled is the hospital growns worn home my son. I made me night gowns from those. Works great.
Posted: 12:34 pm on October 30th
Guyton writes: Love, love, love. This is such a great recon project for all of those shirts we have in our closets. I know my husband has a few that he wouldn't miss:) Great job on the pictures.

Mrs. G. (
Posted: 12:50 pm on October 15th
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