How to Sew a Waistcoat

Updated April 07, 2017

Waistcoats, also known as vests in some parts of the world, are items of apparel that can range from either formal to casual. A tailored waistcoat can be the finishing touch on a polished three-piece suit or a hip detail on a simple T-shirt and jeans ensemble. Whatever style you choose, making sure your waistcoat is properly fitted to you is essential to ensuring that the look is flattering and classic. A waistcoat is an optimal place to start your sewing path because it is a simple item that will last for many years.

Cut out the pattern piece either from a tissue, if you bought a traditional pattern, or from printer paper, if you downloaded a printable one. If the latter, be sure to tape the sheets together securely to prevent shifting.

Pin the pattern pieces to your fabric as directed by the waistcoat pattern. Traditionally, you would be cutting one each of the left and right fronts in both fashion and lining fabrics. You would also be cutting two each of the left and right fronts in the lining fabric.

Cut out your fabric pieces, being sure to mind the suggested seam allowances printed on the pattern pieces. Be sure the pieces are pinned correctly to ensure that you don't make a mistake and end up short on fabric.

Pin together your fabric pieces and stitch as instructed by your particular waistcoat pattern. Generally, you will be stitching the entire waistcoat together inside out and then flipping it through the final open seam in the back lining fabric. This will ensure as few visible seams as possible. If your pattern directs you to do so, press and then topstitch around the seams to make the waistcoat lay flat.

Stitch on the buttons for your waistcoat at the locations indicated or desired. Mark the corresponding locations on the opposite side of the front to make your buttonholes. Stitch the buttonholes and then snip them open. Test to make sure you have made the buttonholes wide enough to accommodate your chosen buttons.


Be sure to use pinking shears if your fashion or lining fabric will unravel if cut with regular shears. Some types of fabric known to unravel are satins and woven cottons. The fashion fabric portion of a waistcoat doesn't take much fabric, usually only about 1/2 yard. It may be worth it to splurge on a high-quality wool if you intend to keep your waistcoat for a long time. Try lining the front of your waistcoat with another fashion fabric. This will make your waistcoat reversible.

Things You'll Need

  • Fashion fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • Pattern
  • Dressmaker's shears and pinking shears
  • Sewing machine or needle and coordinating thread
  • Pins
  • Buttons
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About the Author

Jessica Briggs began writing professionally in 2011. She has written for high school, college and law school newspapers such as "The Justice" and "The Hoot" at Brandeis University. Briggs holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in international criminal law and justice.