How To Make A Smock Vest From Scratch

Looking for a new top this summer, don't buy one. Make it with this simple and quick tutorial.

I have been working my way around a few different shapes and styles to enhance my wardrobe. I have been documenting these different styles and some have been a success and some not. The ones I have failed on shamelessly have been put to one side for a day I have the patience to retackle them. I did, however, have a success making myself a smock vest. We jet off to Sofia, Bulgaria on our world travels in 1 week and slowly I am making additions to my wardrobe. I have my mini sewing machine packed and ready to go, I am gathering together my portable sewing kit and getting ready to pack my bag. Here is a simple and easy smock vest you can make without a pattern if you wish.


Equipment And Materials

  • Tape Measure
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine – Optional
  • Fabric Scissors
  • 1m Plain Cotton – I used plain white cotton I got from a store bought flat sheet.
  • 1m of Patterned Cotton – I used a fat quarter from Higgs And Higgs, I got from the Sewing For Pleasure Show in March.
  • Matching thread
  • Existing Vest or top to use as a guide or you can adapt an existing block.


Creating The Shape

To create the shape of the smock vest, you can use a number of items of clothing. I used a razor back vest, this gave me the shape that hugged closer to my neck and was more fitted on the chest. I folded the top in half and laid it on the straight edge of the paper. I drew out the shape I wanted to create with a chalk pen following the lines of the armhole and neckline. I adjusted the side seam to flare out simply using a ruler and gaging how flared I wanted it to be. If you create more of a flare withing the vest you can always adjust this in the fitting stage. Cut out your pattern into paper and transfer. I had already made up a mock in a dress form and used that as my template as my paper pattern got ruined. Do the same for the back and cut into the paper.

Cutting Out In Fabric

You will need to cut 1 piece of the front pattern into your patterned cotton, 1 piece of the back pattern into place cotton. You will then need to cut lining pieces, this is a great way to create a neat edge to your top without having to do a bias hem. Cut 1 front and 1 back piece into plain cotton but only cut just past the armhole. This will keep the top quite lightweight and thin for your smock vest perfect for warmer weather. See image below. Remember to add on 1/4 inch seam allowance- use a thicker seam allowance if you are unsure.

Sewing Together The Pieces

Start by hemming the lining piece to stop fraying in the long run, fold over 1/4 inch and then again and sew into place. Then lay together the front patterned piece and the front lining piece, place right sides together and pin in place. Sew along the arm holes and neck seam, remember not to sew the tops of the straps as you want them open to sew to the back piece. Do the same method for the back piece and back lining.

Creating The Neat Edge

Remember to always cut into the curved seams on your clothes so the fabric will lay flat and neat. Pull your pieces to be the right way around, rub the seams between your fingers to create a nice crisp edge. Using the iron press the seams flat to create a neat edge. This method is much simpler than working with a bias tape and can be much more straight forward. Repeat for the back piece.

Sewing The Vest

Place the front and back piece together with right sides together. Line up the straps/shoulder seams together and the side seams. Some of my seams were a little off on the side as one side was more flared to the other so I had a little more fabric in the back than the front. Pin your seams together and sew with a 1/4 inch seam. Fit this to yourself first before finishing.


While I fitted this to myself, it was simple as I could see straight away that I had 1 side seam that was more flared and fuller than the other. This may be more difficult for you, if you struggle to see if your other half or friend can help you, just to pin things in place if you can see what needs to be done. I pulled in 1 side seam more to create a better fit and more symmetrical look and adjusted 1 straps to lift a little so that it wasn’t too low on the neck.

Hemming And Finishing Touches

Once I had adapted my vest to fit I moved onto the hem, take to the ironing board and fold up 1/4 inch seam and press into place. Fold up again 1/4 and press into place, this will trap the raw edge and prevent fraying and make your vest longer lasting. Sew into place and decorate, I used an old lace I have been dying to use on a project and I had just enough to hem my vest. I pinned the lace on and sewn it into place with a running stitch. You can leave your hem blank or add on any trimming you desire.


Let me know how you get on, I would love to know if you have any tips and tricks to making your own unique wardrobe. Leave ideas and tips in the comments below. 🙂

Check out my tutorial on how to make a summer dress with no pattern. 

You might also like my tutorial on making a summer camisole top.



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