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Need help “lowering” a vest neckline

kimberly31907 | Posted in Fitting on

I’ve been sewing for many years, but now have an espcially keen interest in proper fit for my clothes. Mostly due to THREADS magazine (and seeing humans in finely-sewn garments instead of sketches on pattern fronts) and the body-change that seem to be occurring without my permission as I age, I want to adjust some ready-made garments to be more fashionable and fit nicer. The first itemis a vest made by Petite Sophisticate; nice fabric, extremely versatile neutral color with a muted pinstripe. It’s basically a well-made piece, but was created to be worn with a blouse or without, so the shoulder seams are a bit wider than if I’d made it from scratch off an actual vest pattern. The buttons also go to about midbreastbone, so putting a blouse under (a must!) makes it look like I’ve crammed a blouse in there as an afterthought.
The first thing I want to do is delete one button/hole set and elongate the neck of the vest, so the new first button will be the former second.
Next, I want to open the armholes a bit so they don’t fall beyond that alledged “dent” that’s supposed to exist between the clavical and shoulder.
This is my first post, and I hoping the explanation/question makes sense. I need some opinions from those knowledgeable about customizing fit from a ready-made size. I know it’s possible, and will be more trouble than buying a new one, but the fit around, the length and the style are all ver ynice, and I’d have lots of wearability if these changes were successful.
Any takers?

Edited 9/18/2005 11:04 pm ET by kimberly31907


  1. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #1

    Presuming your vest pattern fits you properly (ie: darts are in all the right places, not too high or low, long or short, no major gaposis at the armhole) the two alterations you desire are very easy. The best way is to make a muslin vest of your pattern. Try it on and mark with a colored pen or tailors chalk, the points where you would like the neckline and shoulder line to end. At the neck, simply redraw the curve from shoulder at the neck down to the center front button extension where you have marked the muslin. At the shoulder, simply redraw the curve of the armhole opening blending it gradually from midpoint of the armscye to the new shoulder line. Of course you will have to then transfer these new markings to your patterns and make new facings to reflect those changes as well. It is a good idea, after marking your muslin on your body, to lay your muslin out on your cutting table and redraw the lines using good tailor's rulers so that the lines are clean and graceful. Then transfer to your patterns. You can do these same changes by measuring your body and transferring measurements to paper pattern, but the visual of a muslin vest is far more accurate and you can see immediately the most attractive points for alteration.

    1. kimberly31907 | | #2

      Thanks for your response, but the point is that the vest I have already exists and I want to alter it. I understand how to make a pattern fit; this is a piece of ready-made I like but want to update. I don't really want to tear it all apart or make a new vest because I like the basic fit and fabric of this one.. I'm looking for someone who would know how to "lower" the neckline and open up the armsa bit. The piece I have is lined.

      1. sueb | | #3

        Hi kimberly31907

        I have done this exact thing that your referring too.  I made a mock up in muslin first by laying the vest down on the fabric and doing an outline trace and then cut it out and assembled it making the neckline and other changes as I went checking for fit along the way.  Lowering the neckline was as easy as changing the angle on the front pieces and then opening the armhole was a trial and error cut/paste process until I got the look I wanted.  change the neckline first since that will change how it falls on the body and then make the armhole changes.

        1. kimberly31907 | | #6

          Did you have to take it all apart, or do you think I can get away with leaving the botom intact? I'm thinking it will be easier to match the top "lay" to the entire vest if I can leave as much of it sewn (therefore stabilized) while I work on the other parts.

          1. sueb | | #7

            I've done it both ways.  It's definitely easier to do it if you take the vest apart first at the shoulder seams and lay it flat.   Since I work a lot with my own handwoven fabrics I like my vests to not have any side seams so I make the pattern in one piece.   If you really want to leave it intact I would do the back piece first and then do the sides.  Just take your time with it and don't expect to get an exact match on the paper the first time, you're going to need to make up a muslin and make some alterations whichever way you decide to do it.

          2. Teaf | | #8

            Here's a lazy-girl's way to modify the vest; I used it on one of my "disasters" that I had made from a wonderful piece of raw silk-- I just didn't want to throw it away, as the two lovely welt pockets on the front had come out so well.

            I tried it on, chalked the new neckline and armholes where I wanted them to be. then staystitched through the fashion and lining fabrics along those lines.  Taking a deep breath, I cut off the finished excess, then bound the neckline and armhole edges with bias strips of the same fabric, although a contrast would've worked as well.

            The "revised" vest offers the more open fit, and the binding actually adds interest to the finished look.  It's one of my favorites, and no one knows that the binding was an afterthought!

  2. Elisabeth | | #4

    Here I come with my eyeballing approach again. Yes, I do do meticulous measuring and patterndrafting but the old eyeball will always be there in my sewing. I suggest taking the vest apart at the shoulder seams only, then you can turn it inside out, pin the shoulder seams together, and put it on and start chalk drawing the seams where they look right to you and basting/sewing. You will also be able to see any seam stay method or interfacing in those areas. With a deeper V and more angled armholes I think it will be important to keep those seams stable and maybe even putting a touch of ease in the neckline if the V is very deep. Have fun with the project. I really enjoy the occasional reworking of RTW.

    1. kimberly31907 | | #5

      Thank you, thank you -- great place to start! will keep you posted

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