Friday, May 31, 2013

Sewing on a Budget - Boys Vest & Father's Day Ties ..

.. & suggestions for selecting sewing pattern sizes


It's been quite a while since I sewed for my boys, and even longer since I sewed a waistcoat. As we had a family occasion to attend, I decided it was time I sewed something dressy for my 8 year old son. This Simplicity 1745 pattern is excellent value as it has both boys and men's sizes, and the mint striped cotton from Abakhan Fabrics was just what I was looking for.

I don't often use sewing patterns from the 'Big 4’ ( Vogue, McCalls, Butterick & Simplicity) as there is so much ease included that they turn out too big. (There's some excellent discussion about this around the Internet at the moment - links here)

However, I liked the look of Simplicity 1745 and I wanted to see if I could work out the sizing.

How to sew the correct pattern size for a child's garment:

  • When selecting a pattern use the 'Finished Measurements' if they are included to make sure the pattern is within the child's size range.
  • Take two sets of measurements - first take the usual body measurements with the tape close to the body, then take a second set holding the tape out a little from the person allowing for ease (room to move - eg. get them to bend & stretch with the tape around them!).
  • Measuring a similar garment that the person wears can also help with estimating the amount of ease that's needed.
  • Compare the second set of measurements to the actual pattern pieces, taking note of/adding on the seam allowances.
  • Select the size lines that are closest to the second set of measurements.
  • For example: my sons second set of measurements meant that I had had to use the Boy's Small size line for his width, but use the Large size line for his height/length.
  • Also take note of the shoulder (base of neck to top of arm) measurement. These patterns tend to have a wide shoulder shape, so I measured his shoulder, added seam allowances, and marked this on the pattern.



I liked how this pattern looked sewn up, though the shoulders were still a little wide. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The boy's version could probably do without the curve on the back seam and the front darts, especially for a narrow-shaped child. The pattern would be even quicker to sew up if these were omitted.



When searching for buttons on Abakhan, I was delighted to come across these ceramic animal shaped buttons from Injabulo. These were on sale and are a fun addition to children's clothes.


Boys and dinosaurs are practically a given, especially for my 8 year old who knows about things like what dinosaurs lived in the Jurassic age! So I chose a fun dinosaur cotton print for the waistcoat/vest lining. This is a great print and the all the dinosaurs have mirror images which means the shapes could be cut out, sewn right sides together leaving an opening, then turned and stuffed to make little toys.




'Somebody' was very impressed with his dinosaurs! My son loved that I made him this vest and tie with the dinosaur lining and loved how 'cool' he looked.

I couldn't resist sewing the tie to complete 'the look'! I have sewn ties before and because they are cut on the bias, they can be difficult to sew. This tie pattern worked out very well, and I altered the pattern to include lining at the ends for which I fussy cut the dinosaur fabric!

I was so impressed with the tie pattern that I got completely ahead of myself and ........



...... sewed up two ties for Father's Day (for my husband) with fabric from Abakhan that I used in previous projects. The tie with balloons might be a little over-the-top!!! but I quite like the tie with the red lines.

The cost of the fabric and notions for the waistcoat and tie were:

Mint ticking-stripe cotton fabric x 0.5 metre £3.27

D-rings x 1 packet £1.45

Cotton dinosaur fabric x 0.5 metre £3.63

Simplicity Pattern Boys & Mans vest and tie 1 x £4.06

Incomparable ceramic buttons 5 x £1.72 (also available here)

(No extra cost for the Men's ties)

TOTAL = £12.13

I thought this project was exceptionally good value. As I had a shirt and trousers already, this was the cost for a waistcoat and a tie. I don't think they could have been bought in a shop for that!



(The fabric and notions for vest and tie were chosen by me and supplied by Abakhan Fabrics, free, as part of their challenge to sew on a budget)


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  1. Thanks Olga, I loved ow happy it made him!

  2. Wow, this is an amazing vest! I'm always on the search for a pretty boys fabric, and this is certainly what you have here... and it turned out so cute! I may have to try this pattern too for my little boy!

    1. Michal, thanks :-) I just love vests on boys especially in this kind of fabric - it would be handsome on your little boy!

  3. Those buttons...I love them!! Great job on the waistcoat and tie(s). The best part of sewing in my opinion is being able add all the fun details with the recipient in mind, like you did with the dinosaur fabric.:)

    1. Thanks Cindy, I don't sew often enough for all my boys! You are so right about the best part of sewing - I love the reaction when they see something they love on their clothes. It always seems to amaze them :-) even when they have seen it being sewn!

  4. So cute! Love the buttons and lining fabric!

    1. Thanks Chuleenan :-) He loves it so much too.

  5. This is great inspiration, thanks Angela! Such neat work. And a good reminder that I ought to get onto my hubby's waistcoat which has been waiting in the wings for ages!

    1. Janene, thank you! I'm glad you found it helpful. I'll keep an eye out for his waistcoat ;-)