Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
Make A Baby Boy's Waistcoat Top
My husband pointed out that it was about time I made something cute for our little boy, so I figured there isn't much cuter than a baby pulling off smart casual! I thought about just making a waistcoat, but decided that it would only be worn a couple of times for novelty then end up at the back of a draw. Then I thought... if I turned it all into 1 little top, then it could join his other standard clothes.
What you'll need:
An old tie
About 40cm patterned cotton cut from a fabric with a width of around 140cm-150cm).
Some jersey (old t-shirt) off cuts - It'll make long sleeves if you have plenty, but short sleeves if you don't!
How to make it:
I picked out a top that fits well and traced around it. I added a little extra as error margin (its easier to take away fabric than to have a baby screaming because it's arm is stuck!). I also added a little bit everywhere except the neck line as a seam / hem allowance. I folded it in half to cut out (with fabric folded in half and pinned in place underneath as I rarely manage to draw anything perfectly symmetrical so cutting out with a fold on the centre means left and right side should come out identical. You now have your back piece!
To make the front, I copied the front of the sleeve line from his normal top (front and back sleeve lines are usually slightly different). I then copied the shoulder width from the back piece as these will need to join perfectly, and matched the length. Using the normal top, I guessed roughly where I would want the centre of a waistcoat to sit, so drew a straight diagonal line down from the shoulder to this point. To make the tie position so that it is able to hide the fastening and still sit centrally, the top has to do up slightly off centre. Therefore, I added a 1 1/2 inch strip for the fabric to overlap for fastenings. The bottom was drawn with a slight point to recreate the common 'W' pattern to mirror the bottom of a typical waistcoat. I cut 2 with the fabric folded to give opposite pieces for a left and right front section each. It should look something like this:
If you just wanted to make a waistcoat, you could ignore the next section, but I wanted to make it a full top, so I took the shape of the front piece, and traced around it from the armpit upwards (if you wanted a warm winter layer you could always line the whole front piece, in which case, trace the whole shape. The only part you need to change is the neck line, and again cut 2 on fabric facing opposite ways (i.e. folded). Like this:
I hemmed the bottom of the jersey piece, then attached all the sides that were copied using a basic running stich as close to the edge as I dared, as all raw edges from these sections will end up in a seam anyway. I then joined the 'V' neck to the jersey material using a zigzag stitch at a very short stitch length. In the picture I hadn't finished off the bottom of the neck line. This was just because I hadn't decided if I wanted to tuck the tie in or have it down the length. It looked far better down the length so go ahead and zigzag the straight part too.
I attached some binding to the front and back neck lines. To do this, I took 2 strips of jersey for the front and a little strip from the fat end of the tie for the back. My fabric was 2 inches wide. I folded the edges in to meet in the middle. Pressed and pinned.
I then used a bias binding attachment on the sewing machine to attach the fabric to the neck line.
The next step is to attach front pieces to the back piece, so line up the shoulder pieces with patterned sides together and run a seam across the top. I then turned it pattern side out again and pinned the front pieces together to check the alignment and keep it in place while fitting the sleeves. I confess I cheated for the sleeves. I measured how long I would need the sleeves, added a bit for hem allowance, then cut myself 2 rectangles. I pinned the rectangles to the sleeve edges then just trimmed the excess like this (note pattern side down):
I hemmed the ends of the sleeves in the hope that it was about the right length then sewed the arms and body closed as 2 long lines of uninterrupted stitching going from sleeve end to waist. I then hemmed the 2 vertical raw edges along the front.
Now obviously I hadn't been trying things on as I went as a wriggly baby that hates sleeves going on and off on a good day combined with pins are never a good combo. So this was my first and only fitting. I used safety pins to mark the length I wanted to take off as well as where the bottom popper should go without it wanting to burst open while sitting with a fat cloth nappy on underneath. The body width had come out fine but the sleeves and body length were too long, so I trimmed off about 1 1/2 inches following the original lines. I also felt the neck line was a little too high so I turned over the trimming and stitched it down under itself.
I used KAM snaps as my poppers for the front. Mainly for convenience because they take seconds to put in and are quick and easy when wearing to put on / take off for adults but a lot more tricky for babies. I spread 5 out equally along the front opening and pressed in to place.
Finally, I took apart the rest of the tie, leaving approximately 8 inches from the narrow end to make the tie. I made the rest in to binding for the bottom of the shirt top in the same way that I had done for the neck line. To get the corners looking pointed, I cut the binding just passed these points leaving enough to fold back on itself. I pinned and sewed these edges like this:
If you find that the bulky material makes it difficult to get started under the sewing machine foot, just pop a piece of folded cardboard at the back to level the foot out.
To make the tie, you need your narrow end of the tie. Cut enough off the top to cover the width of the tie and a little extra to tuck in at the back. Trim the remaining tie to the desired length and hem the top by hand, then attach the width over the top, again with hand stitching. I would recommend against machine stitching this firstly because of the bulk and also because it will flatten the knot effect.
Line it up over the top over the poppers along the edge of the shirt then machine stitch the length of the tie to hide the fastenings, leaving the knot.
The knot now just needs finishing off with hand stitching, by picking up only the back part of the fabric on the tie and the top to give an invisible line from the front.
Finished, you have your super cute little top ready to show off!
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