Embark on Your Vest Quest

Oct 28, 2010
Sarah Read, project editor .

Hello dear crocheters,

A few weeks ago we talked a bit about my favorite crocheted vests and how the yarns I chose for them did not quite work with my designs. A number of you requested patterns for the vests. Although patterns for them never existed, I've put together a guide to help you on your own Vest Quest.

First, you'll need some measurements of yourself (for accuracy, ask someone to help you—or take measurements from a favorite vest or sweater). For measurement A, measure around your bust. For B, measure from your waist to your underarm. C is underarm to the top of your shoulder; D is the width you would like the neck opening to be. E is the width of the top of your shoulder, from the edge of your shoulder to the desired neckline. If you would like the vest to be open in the front rather than a pullover, measure your back from halfway under one arm to halfway under the other arm. To determine the fronts, subtract the back measurement from the bust measurement, then divide it in half for each front measurement (F). The schematic here will give you an idea of the shape you will be making.
Next, you need to pick a stitch. For my quests, I used the Harmony Guides: Basic Crochet Stitches and Crochet Stitch Motifs. At the time of my quest, Crochet Edgings and Trims was not yet out; now that it's available, I will certainly use it as a resource for my next quest.

Once you have a stitch pattern or motif in mind, choose a yarn and a hook size that works comfortably with that yarn. Remember to keep the properties of your yarn in mind, will it stretch, have the correct drape, etc. Make a 6" by 6" swatch in your chosen stitch pattern, and measure how many stitches and rows are in the center 4" of that swatch. If you are going to make a motif vest, make one of the motifs and measure it.

Use these measurements and the measurements you took of yourself to calculate how many stitches and rows you will need. For example, if you have a 40" bust circumference and want to make a basic vest with worsted weight yarn and a size J/10 (6 mm) hook in double crochet, and you get 12 dc and 6 rows in your center 4" of work, you will need 60 stitches for the bottom edge of both the front and back of the vest. You would need 20 rows worked evenly to the underarm, if your waist is 16" tall. (You can always throw in a few decreases for waist shaping.)
When you get to the underarm, decrease evenly on both sides to create an inset armhole. When you reach the place where you want your neck opening to begin, just work one half of the piece, gradually decreasing until you have a row that is the length of measurement E. Fasten off, and re-join your yarn on the other side of the neck opening and shape it in the same way as you did the other side.
For my motif vest, I seamed the squares together in a grid, as shown in the schematic, then folded it in half and seamed the sides (along the dotted lines). I then added the edgings to fill in the front and keep the shoulder pieces from slipping off. I finished it with button bands in single crochet and a bottom scalloped edging.
It is easier than it sounds to design your own vest that fits you perfectly!

I hope I have helped you all embark on your own vest quests. If you need help picking a stitch pattern, motif, or edging, I highly recommend that you keep the Harmony guides handy. I've used them in nearly all of my design experiments, and they never fail to give me ideas as I flip through them.

Be sure to share you photos of your finished designer vests in our gallery on Crochet Me!

Until next time,


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giacocchetti wrote
on Oct 28, 2010 10:10 AM

Hi Sarah,

I love your article - it hit my inbox and I really want to try your idea - but it will have to wait till I get home from work tonight. :)  I did note that you might be missing one measurement though.  Some of us are more "rubinesque" rather than the "svelte" figure you're measuring for.  I would suggest that if your vest is going to be longer than waist length, you include a hip measurement.  working with your suggestion you can add vents in the sides, or gores (which I love! and work great with the patch style vest) to give the bottom of the vest a bit more shape.  For the vest style that's crochet'ed in the round, pretty patterns can be added in the sides to increase (if working from the bottom up) or decrease (if working from the top down).  If you keep the front and back stitch running in a straight "seam" up the front and back, and put a pretty different stitch in the sides, it creates a vertical line up the front and back that gives the vest a tailored look.

Just food for thought...Thanks for the great articles!

Jennifer Baldes

Kamloops BC Canada

cookworm wrote
on Oct 30, 2010 10:32 PM

THANK YOU for this article!  I am not usually a vest wearer, because I really never saw any vests that I really liked, but the 2 in your article are just BEAUTIFUL--both the designs and colors chosen!--and have me rethinking the possibility of making and wearing vests.  Thank you for posting such a helpful article with such pretty garments to inspire our own!