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Turning reversible vest

sewsusan | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello all,

Have been sewing for years and am really embarrassed to be SO stuck on this!  I’ve also done some reading in your messages regarding this issue but have not found the answer.  SO, here goes:

Using Vogue 9173 – Very easy, Hah! Making view A, vest opens in front and is sleeveless.

Directions say to

1. stitch fronts and back together at shoulders and

2. stitch fronts and back together at sides between squares and circles [about 2″ in the middle of the side]

3. stitch lining together in same manner as garment

4. “With right sides together, pin lining and garment together. Stitch lower, front opening, neck and armhole edges; stich side opening edges below circles. trim and clip seams”

5. “Turn to inside by pulling front sections through shoulders and both out one side opening in back”

WELL – I interpreted this to mean that one could sew the entire perimeter of the vest. When pulling the front through the shoulder, the back comes too and I’ve got one big mess that never comes right!

If anyone has this pattern, I’d truly appreciate assistance. Are these directions correct? Or have I interpreted something inaccurately!??

Thanks you!



  1. ellalouise | | #1

    i don'T HAVE THIS P-ATTERN, BUT MOST PATTERN FOLLOW THE SAME BASIC RULE,turning at the shoulders,don'T sew the armholes until after you  have turned at the shoulders,hope this helps you

    1. sewsusan | | #2

      Thank you.

      BUT, if the back of the vest is connected to the front at the 'hem' area, as I've done, when you pull the front through the shoulder, the back comes along. Yes, sides are open except at bottom where directions said to sew.  The directions told you to sew the armhole edges.

      'Sew', now what?

      1. Gloriasews | | #3

        Is the back of the vest lined?  If the back of the vest isn't lined, you would have a problem.  These directions have worked for me in the past.  Pulling the fronts of the vest through the shoulder should turn the whole vest inside out, then you only finish the back hem by top-stitching by machine or sewing by hand.  Yes, I have sewn the armholes completely around, then clipping them before turning the vest inside out.  I have then top-stitched around the whole garment & armholes when the vest is finished to ensure that the edges lay flat & the lining doesn't peek out at the edges.


        1. sewsusan | | #4

          Thank you.

          Yes this is completely lined. The instructions told me to stitch the lower edge before turning. I've attached a jpg of the directions of this Vogue 9173.

          Any additional thoughts?


           View Image

          1. Gloriasews | | #5

            I first did the vest the way your directions state &, as you've found, it is confusing & the space left under the arm doesn't allow much room to pull the whole garment through.  I found that leaving the whole back hem open, when I made further vests, made it much easier to pull through & was less confusing.  As I mentioned earlier, I then just folded in the back hem seam allowances inward, pinned them & topstiched close to the edge.  Depending upon the fabric, it could also be handstitched if you have the time, but I found it easier to do by machine, as I was topstiching all around the openings anyway.  Usually, I just do it close to the edge all around, mainly to flatten the edges & keep the lining from showing.  If I wanted to emphasize the topstitching, the I sewed 1/4-1/2" in from the edges.  Hope this helps you figure this out.


          2. sewsusan | | #6

            Ok, so you are reassuring me that these directions are correct?

            Next, would I put my hand through the back opening at the side seam, over the front shoulder and start pulling the front section through?

            If so, where does it go from here?

            Room on the side isn't the issue because this is a light weight cotton, of course it may be winter before I ever get the dumb thing turned. The reason I'm sticking with the original directions is because I hate to give up and because I've piped the entire perimeter and don't want to open the side seams out at the bottom.


          3. Gloriasews | | #7

            Yes, you would pull it through as you have mentioned.  The other side of the vest would also be pulled through that same opening by going through that shoulder.  You would then adjust & flatten the back of the vest so that it looks reasonably normal.  You could press it prior to closing the underarm seam, or press it after it's all finished.  The important thing is to clip the inside curved seams around the armholes so that they are not tight & crinkled, the curved centre bodice (if it is curved) & trim any excess seam allowance causing bulk, by grading the seam allowance, prior to pulling it through to the right side so that you don't have excess bulk around the edges when you press it.  Is this making sense to you?


          4. sewsusan | | #8

            Truthfully, no, sigh.

            But, I'm not giving up. I'll try it again. Once more - do you mean that all eventually comes through that one shoulder OR do you reach in through one shoulder and then reach in to the other shoulder?  The latter seems to get me in knots because it's all connected around the bottom.

            Thanks for sticking with me!


          5. User avater
            Becky-book | | #9

            Don't give up, try again and just keep pulling it through... yes the back will follow the front, it needs to be turned also...  then the other front!! yes it really looks weird until you get it all turned right side out... the whole thing eventually goes through that one shoulder and out the opening at the back of the vest.

            "Once more into the fray rode the 600...."

            Be Brave, you can do it!!


          6. sewsusan | | #10


            I'm apparently hopeless.  I keep going in circles through the shoulders. You have reassured me that I was correct in sewing the lining and vest at the entire perimeter edge - including the bottom of those open side seams?


          7. Gloriasews | | #11

            Yes, as long as you leave one side seam open to get your hand through.  Becky said to pull both fronts through the one shoulder, but I think I've pulled each front through it's own shoulder (as you'd get tangled in a knot otherwise), then through the opening & then shaping it out.  Your pattern does say to pull through the "shoulderS", so try it that way.  Patience!  Take a deep breath or 2 - it'll work out - it's only logical.


          8. sewsusan | | #16

            Thanks Gloria and Teal5 - BUT - directions have told me in this Vogue 9173 pattern to sew the side seams together!  [see attached picture and the one from a few messages ago]

            I used this pattern, because I wanted to be able to have cording go smoothly around the entire perimeter and this appeared to allow that.

            HOWEVER, everybody seems to be saying that one cannot do this with side seams attached and that DOES seem to be the hang up when trying to pull the front through the shoulders - the back has to come along.

            IS this pattern correct or is it 'out-to-lunch' ??

            View Image


          9. Ralphetta | | #17

            I have used trim around the entire perimeter & arms and left only the shoulder seams open.  It takes patience, but I've always been able to pull the garment through one of the shoulders.

          10. Gloriasews | | #18

            You're side seams shouldn't be completely sewn up.  One should be open at least 6".  Once you have pulled your front pieces through their shoulders, you SHOULD be able to keep pulling them both through the one side seam & the rest should follow, turning the entire garment inside out.  Please don't give up & throw the vest away.  I really feel for your frustration - if we could only be there to help you out!  Once you overcome your difficulties with this one, you will truly be able to make vests in about 2 hours!  Hang on to that thought!


          11. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #19

            Yes, these instructions are correct.  Your open from the armpit to the large square.  The short stitching between the square and the circle are to reenforce the vent you have at the bottom of the side seam.  There's still plenty of room to pull your jacket through the side seam between the armpit and the large square.

            Is there a sewing center near you?  Usually the clerks are seamstresses and they will be happy to show you, or do it for you right there in the store.    Val

          12. mainestitcher | | #20

            Having worked on RTW, I would have ignored the instructions and done it this way:

            Sew each front to lining at the front seam, bottom and armscye. Turn them right side out and press.

            Sew the back and lining together at the neck, armscye, and bottom, but leave 5 inches at the center bottom open.

            Now slide the fronts inside the inside-out back.  Line up the side seams and stitch them.  Do the same with the shoulder seams.  Now turn the whole thing right side out, and stitch up the opening in the bottom center back.


          13. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #21

            Oooo, I like that!  Sometimes I browse through antique sewing instructions and find that the stitching order hasn't changed since the invention of the treadle.  I'm writing down your construction order.   Thanks for the cool tip!  I have a black wool vest cut out and sitting in my "to be constructed" pile.  I'm using your technique.

            Edited 8/4/2007 10:18 am ET by CostumerVal

          14. sewsusan | | #22

            This is all well and good. BUT - the point of my using this particular pattern's instructions was to allow for the smooth, continuous piping around the perimeter.

            I've been sewing for over 40 years and am absolutely stumped by this. Would anyone volunteer to receive this vest, with pattern and directions, turn it [thereby attesting to the fact that it CAN be done] and then send it back to me. AND when you send it back to me, make sure it's UN-turned so I have to turn it again by myself?  I will, of course, pay for all shipping. [Can you guess that I was once a teacher? :) ]

            Thank you, one and all!



          15. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #23

            Haul it over to your local sewing center, if they teach courses, and I think they all do, someone there will turn it for you.

          16. sewsusan | | #24

            Nice idea, thanks. Closest one is 50 miles, one way, and they mostly are into crafts. I'm not worrying about wearing the thing anymore since I've about worn it out turning it. Now I just want somebody to see it and tell me it's actually possible as constructed.

          17. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #25

            Know someone with a digital camera?  I've noticed this forum loves photographs.

          18. Teaf5 | | #28

            Since others have said that it's possible, and the instructions say that it is possible, then it probably is.  Nevertheless, you might want to take a seam ripper to the bottom back hem (the cording is already there in the finished seam, right?) to open it up the six inches or so the other poster mentioned. 

            I have turned vests from the back hem, the shoulder, and the side seam, but somehow always manage to forget how before I make the next one.  The back hem is straight, so it's easy to re-sew afterward; plus, it's not a very noticeable place in case your re-stitching isn't perfectly invisible.

            If you're absolutely stumped, I would be willing to give it a try (I'm a teacher, too) and would email you my work address for shipping.  Then I could keep myself busy during a boring staff meeting with an interesting sewing problem!

          19. sewsusan | | #29

            I know I could get this turned by ripping in a lot of places. I'm just stumped enough that I can't get it to go the way the directions have said and am stubborn enough that I want to do it the way they say it can be done. You've been most patient - I'll try your patience yet again!  email to: [email protected] and thank you!

          20. Teaf5 | | #12

            Can I jump in here--having been stumped on this very issue many times myself, even after having done it successfully many times?

            When you say that you've "sewn the perimeter," you aren't including the side seams of either the outer or lining fabric, are you?  If so, you won't be able to turn it.  Here's how to set it up to succeed (it's not a very intuitive process, but trust me!)

            You've stitched the bottom front hem, up the front, around the neck, and back down the other side, across the other half of the front to the side seam.  You've stitched the armholes--crescents, as the side seams are NOT closed yet.  You've stitched the hem of the back from side to side.

            Lay the stitched but unturned vest flat, with the two fronts sticking out one way and the back the opposite way.  Reach in through one side seam, through one shoulder, grab that front half, and pull all the way back out.  This pulls the other half through as well, but you'll have to reach in through that second shoulder to pull it right side out, too.

            It's a mess at this point, as none of the pieces are completely turned.  Just lay it flat and work one piece at a time, using a point turner or closed shears to poke the front corners flat.   Do all your pressing at this time.  The vest is still flat, with fronts and back opposing and the side seams open and raw.

            Finally, it's time to sew the side seams, which at this point look like circles with the lining and fashion fabrics joined at the armhole and hem.  Put the right sides of fashion fabric together, pinning carefully.  The lining fabric is hanging loose, off to each side.  If you pull up on the lining fabric, you can stitch the upper part of the lining fabric, continue down the side seam of the fashion fabric, and then continue stitching the lower half of the lining side seam, too.  Depending on the fabrics, you can usually stitch most, if not all of the side seams of both outer and lining fabrics in one long seam, and then handstitch the remaining lining seam to finish.

            If you can't get this to work, you can always take the easy way out--carefully rip out seams until something gives way that allows you to turn the pieces and then re-sew the seams by hand.  Since they've been machine stitched and pressed already, it's sometimes faster than wrestling with the turning process for another couple of frustrating hours!

          21. sewsusan | | #14

            Hi Teal5,

            Thanks for your thoughts. The side seams are joined only at the 'hem' line as the picture shows.

            Is this why it doesn't seem to work for me?

             View Image

          22. Teaf5 | | #15

            Yes, that's the problem.  You continue the hem stitching up the side of the "side opening"on each piece separately, but do not attach fronts to back at that point.  That is, you extend the hem on each front (and each side of the back) up the side to the length of the vent and then stop.  That step is to finish each half of the side vents in the lower hem.

            Then, you can lay the vest flat and follow the instructions for turning, which are basically the same as "bagging" jackets, as another poster has mentioned.

            I agree that the drawing and description are confusing; it does look like it's attached, but that's unnecessary and probably what's making it impossible to turn.  (Or it may be possible, but incredibly harder than it needs to be!)

             A short session with a seam ripper should solve your problem--just take out that part that joins the fronts and back at that vent point, and it'll probably work.  If not, keep posting!

          23. B | | #13

            Although I haven't done this with side seams sewn, it sound a lot like "bagging a jacket" where you stick your had into a sleeve or side seam opening and turn the entire lined jacket rightside out.

            http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00034.asp shows the jacket "bagging".


            Edited 7/27/2007 4:00 pm ET by B

          24. User avater
            Becky-book | | #38

            Bagging a jacket works because the armscyes are sewn to a sleeve and not to each other.  If lining is sewn to fabric at armscye and side seam it won't turn.


  2. DONNAKAYE | | #26

    Folks, I only had a moment to drop by and ran across this post.  I don't mean for you to have to undo what you've already done, but I just wanted to suggest this to you for future reference.  Please forgive me if I'm re-hashing something someone has already said further down the thread.....

    I love reversible vests and have been making them for years.  There's a super-simple technique that works every time without fail.

    Right sides together, close the entire vest except for the back hemline between the two side seams (or princess seams, if applicable).  Turn the entire vest inside out.  Fuse and/or handstitch opening into place.  Voila!

  3. DONNAKAYE | | #27

    By the way, Claire Schaeffer I believe illustrates the technique used in RTW for bagging a jacket.  I once tried the same technique for "bagging" a reversible vest and it worked beautifully.  To the best of my recollection, the vest was turned through the lining side seams.....This would leave your piped edges around the outside intact.....

  4. Candytseng | | #30

    Hi Susan, I am Candy Tseng from China. I am interested in this vest, but I can't catch your meaning much, would you send me the picture of direction? My email: [email protected]

    1. Cherrypops | | #31

      Hi, Have you read the whole discussion?  There are photos included showing us where Susan's dilemma is. There shouldn't be any need for SewSusan to put the same pictures on here twice.

  5. User avater
    Becky-book | | #32

    Dear Susan,

    I should have done this in the beginning of this discussion.... I made a doll sized version of the problem.... result- you can not turn the vest if you sew any part of the side seam (front to back).  The directions are wrong.

    Hope you were able to finish the vest with the help of the other's advice.


    1. sewsusan | | #33

      Thank you, Becky, for the time you spent doing this - and to others who have added commentaries.

      I could have, of course, at any time fixed the thing by ripping various seams but I really wanted to see if the pattern directions were correct - and me stupid.

      If anybody out there, after looking at the pictures and directions I've included thoughout the thread of this issue, can honestly say this thing can be turned, DO please send me your address and I'll pop it into the mail to you!

      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #34

        I think if you just take out the few inches that connect the front to the back of each (fashion fabric & lining) and leave the "Fabric to lining" stitches in, you can turn it.

        The trick is to have the side seams free and un stitched.


    2. User avater
      Becky-book | | #35

      I re-read the entire thread and remembered the piping!!!

      So you will need another way to turn the vest...

      Leave the piping and few inches of side seam and take out the stitches around the armscye on both sides. Then it should turn, but you will need to do something about those arm holes after it is turned.  I can think of a way to do it and could post a pic of the doll vest as example; but if the vest is ruined..... are you still interested?


      1. sewsusan | | #36

        You betcha!

        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #37

          Ok I'll work on it and post pics tomorrow... it's past my bedtime!


        2. User avater
          Becky-book | | #39

          OK here we go.....

          vest is sewn around perimeter but NOT at armscye on either side (see Doll vest 1)

          turn vest to right side-out through one side opening (see Turned vest)

          Take the seam allowance of one armscye (at the side seam) and fold them in (as if properly stitched) and pinch them together (see armscye seam allow. pinched)

          Hold that pinch of cloth and partially turn the vest back wrong-side out at this point, thus placing the armscye seam allow. right-sides together and sew half of the armscye (just past the shoulder seam)   see pics

          Turn this half of the armscye right side out and do the same with the other half starting at the side and meeting your first half at the shoulder.

          Side seams (very tricky in doll size but easier at full scale)  decide which cloth of your reversible vest will hide some hand stitches the best and call this Cloth B the other will be Cloth A.

          Reach inside the side seam of Cloth B and sew side seams of Cloth A all the way past the armscye seam (match them carefully) onto Cloth B. finger-press seams open.  Hand stitch Cloth B side seams.


          1. B | | #40

            Terrific!  That looks quite difficult on a tiny outfit but you certainly did it!  Thanks for taking all those pictures. 


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