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Sewing Tutorial to Upcycle a Man’s Vest Into Super Cute Women’s Apparel

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This upcycled man’s suit vest was such a fun project. I was inspired by the look of the vest and the challenge of feminizing it. When you are out treasure hunting at thrift stores and rummage sales, keep an eye out for old men’s suits. You can get them for a steal and you can make some pretty cool apparel and accessories out of them. First off, for the vest you will want to find one that is fairly close to your size so you don’t have to get down and dirty with deep alterations. As long as you can put it on without feeling like you are going to Hulk out of it or you could fit a whole ‘nother person in it, you’ll be fine.

Items Needed:
  • Man’s Vest (lined works best)
  • Two Men’s Ties (wide ties work best)
  • New Buttons
  • Thread
  • Fastener for the back of vest (this can be a clasp like in the video, but you can use your imagination and use ribbons, a buckle, you could make ties out of leftover tie fabric, chains, let your imagination run wild!)
  • Optional: You could go steam punk on this bad boy and put some gadgety doo-dads on it!
Vest Back Detail
Vest Back Detail
Sewing new life into an old vest
Upcycled Vest Front
Sewing Instructions:
  1. Check whether the vest is lined. Most suit vests are lined. You should be able to take a seam ripper to the center back seam and carefully pick out the stitching up the back, be careful to not rip out the seam too far. Leave at least a three or more inches of stitching intact before the neck of the vest. Try on the vest and see how much room you need for “the girls”. If you need more room, split the back up higher or not as high if you don’t need that much room.
  2. Pick apart the ties and iron them flat as possible. Take out any lining and tags.
  3. Measure how long the ties need to be to fit in the “V” you just made in the back of the vest. Cut off the excess skinny part of the tie, making sure your insert ties are long enough to tuck in between the outer fabric and the inner lining and encase the raw edges when you top stitch. (Save the parts of the ties you cut off if you want to make ties out of the material to pull the vest in for shaping later.)
  4. With right sides together, baste the ties together at the long edges.
  5. Tuck the ties in between the outer and lining fabric and center the bottom point of the tie. When you’re happy with the placement, pin the ties to the vest.
  6. This is where you will topstitch the ties to the vest. If you are a topstitching ninja, have at it! To be honest, I suck at topstitching layers where I can’t see the bottom and know whether I’m catching them both or not. I will take the time to hand baste the layers first so I *know* that the top layer and the lining match up when I stitch.
  7. Slip stitch the points of the ties together at the bottom.
  8. Sew on some new buttons and maybe add and other embellishments.
  9. To find placement of the clasp/ties/chains at the back of the vest, try it on and place a pin in the back at your waist on one side where the tie meets the vest. Take off the vest and place a pin on the other side of the tie at the same measurement from the bottom of the vest. You now have your placement for the clasp or ties. Ties that you can tie or attach a buckle to will give you a little more adjustability as to how much you pull it in.


Thanks for watching my tutorial. If you found it useful or entertaining, please give it a thumbs up on YouTube! I would love to hear your feedback and answer any questions! Please send me pictures of your completed projects. I would love to post them!

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