Things You'll Need
- Tape measure
- Square or T-square
- Roll of craft paper
- French curve
Although the dictionary defines a waistcoat as an ornamental garment, it can also add a layer of warmth in cold weather or serve as a trendy fashion statement. The fabric that is chosen will define the purpose of your vest. Vests can be worn casually or with formal attire and many commercial patterns are available for men's, women's and children's waistcoats. Drafting a pattern template from paper will help ensure a proper fit for your waistcoat.
Take Measurements for a Waistcoat
Have the wearer stand comfortably, balanced on both feet with arms at sides, and looking straight ahead. Measure around the fullest part of the chest, around the narrow part of torso above the hips, from nape to waist and from neck to shoulder. Subtract the waist measurement from the chest measurement.
Calculate the dart measurement.
If the difference between the waist and chest is 4 to 5 1/2 inches, the dart measurement is 1/2 inch; if 6 to 7 1/2, it is is 3/4 inch; if 8 to 9 1/2 inches, it is 1 inch; if 10 to 11 1/2 inches, it is 1 1/4 inches.
Draft the Basic Rectangle
Roll your paper out on a hard surface. Weight the corners down if necessary.
Draw a rectangle on paper with a pencil, leaving extra paper all the way around. The height will be the nape to waist measurement. The width will be the chest measurement divided by two plus 1 inch. For instance, if the chest measurement is 40 inches, the rectangle will be 21 inches wide. Do not cut out the rectangle.
Draw a line down the center of the rectangle vertically. Measure from the top of the rectangle down one-quarter of the back nape to waist measurement. At that point, draw a horizontal line.
Measure down from the last line one-quarter of the back nape to waist measurement. At that point, draw a horizontal line. This line should be 2 inches less than halfway down the rectangle.
Draft the Front
From the upper right hand corner of your rectangle measure 3 inches to the left and 1/2 inch up and draw a mark. The mark will be outside of the rectangle.
Draw the neckline you desire. Ensure that the bottom of the neckline touches the right side of the rectangle.
Measure 1 3/8 inches down from the top of the rectangle and draw a dotted line horizontally.
Place the end of your yardstick on the point you made above the line. Swivel it until it crosses the dotted line at the measurement of the neck to shoulder. Draw a line connecting those two points. This is the shoulder seam.
Draw the armhole from the end of the shoulder seam to the point in the center of the rectangle, using a French curve.
Measure 1/4 of the waist measurement plus 1/2 inch plus the dart measurement toward the center from the right bottom corner of your rectangle, and mark that spot. Draw a line from this spot to the bottom of the armhole.
Men's vests usually extend 1 to 2 inches below the waist. Draw a line at the desired length of the vest, being careful to make it parallel to the bottom of the rectangle. Curve the side seam for ease of sewing.
Draft the Back
Measure 2 1/2 inches from the upper left corner of your rectangle and 1/2 inch up. Mark this point. It will be outside the rectangle.
Draw a curve from this point, creating the back neck.
Place the end of your yardstick on the point you made above the line. Swivel it until it crosses the dotted line at the measurement of the neck to shoulder plus 1/2 inch. Draw a line connecting those two points. This is the back shoulder seam.
Draw the armhole from the end of the shoulder seam to the point in the center of the rectangle using a French curve. This curve should be more gradual than the front armhole curve.
From the left bottom corner of your rectangle, measure one-quarter of the waist measurement plus 1/2 inch plus the dart measurement toward the center and mark that spot. Label this spot S. Draw a line from this spot to the bottom of the armhole.
Draw a line, extending the side seam downward. Curve the side seam for ease of sewing.
Finishing the Pattern
Cut out the two pattern pieces carefully along the outside lines only. These pattern pieces do not include seam allowances.
Lay the pattern pieces onto another piece of paper to add seam allowances. Trace them carefully.
Measure an exact seam allowance around each pattern piece and draw the cutting line. Seam allowances should be at least 3/8 inch.
Add 2 inches to the center front pattern piece for overlap and buttons.
Always use a square or T-Square to ensure the lines you draw are at right angles to each other.
Accurate measuring is crucial.
- Merriam Webster: Waistcoat
- "The Costumer's Handbook"; Rosemary Ingham, Elizabeth Covey; 1980
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images