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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Transform a T-Shirt into a Cascade Vest


Inspiration-Improvement-End Result

OK – Transforming a T into this cascading vest tickled my brain!   Cruising on Pinterest for up-cycle fashion ideas for my upcoming Kids Fashion Sewing Camp, I came upon the photo seen at the left in the image above.  Since I lost a night’s sleep on this, let me explain…


  1.  The Neck Hole (see my improved shaping) turns into the back ‘hole’ of the vest.

  2. Shoulder Seams:  one becomes the lower center back seam, the other is at the top back of the neck.  You ‘wear’ by putting your head AND arms into this ‘hole’.

  3. One long ‘side’ becomes the lowermost hem (which you can finish, or not).  The other long ‘side’ becomes the neckline and center front edge.

  4. The original hems of front and back become the horizontal draped edges at the lower front.

Does that clarify?  Probably not, so walk through this transformation, learning how to IMPROVE it all as we go.



Look for a BIG T if you want a LONG vest, and a smaller T for a shorter vest.  Other than that, I can figure no ‘sizing’.  The purple polo shirt above was a Men’s Medium, while the Burgundy T was a Men’s 2XL.  I feel the Men’s Medium will fit my young Tween sewing students.


  1. Cut straight up the sides, cutting off the sleeves.

  2. Cut the ‘hole’ that will become the ‘back’ and ‘armholes’ all-in-one.  I decided, even on my first attempt, that I would prefer a longer seam at the lower center back, so I left the left shoulder seam as wide as possible, cutting an ‘elipse’ for this ‘hole’.  I SAVE everything!  That nice polo collar could become a strap across the back…..



That’s ALL you do, according to the directions!  Now I ask, wouldn’t that ‘hole’ stretch out?  With the stress of spanning the back and arms, wouldn’t those edges not only STRETCH, but even perhaps, run?  See the picture below.

Back & Arm ‘Holes’ Finish

The ‘sewist’ in me HAD to stabilize!  Lastin clear elastic to the rescue!  In my Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How DVD, I teach ALL about this technique! Caution: do NOT get the elastic TOO tight, or it will ‘strangle’ you at the back neck.  You might even decide to eliminate it about 4: either side of the center back neck.   See in the 3rd photo how that edge now has ‘snap’ and retention!


Center Front/Neckline Finish

Likewise, that neckline, center front edge screamed “FINISH ME”!  On the purple polo version, I just zigzagged and purposely let it ‘wave.’  You could also even do a stretched, rolled edge finish with a serger for a ripply look.  This is lengthwise grain though, so don’t expect a ‘Lettuce Edging’ as you would get if this were crossgrain. See the lowermost edge in the photo at left below.

For a Controlled, stable, non-wavy, finished edge, on my longer, Burgundy T Vest, I actually stabilized this edge by fusing Straight Fusible Stay Tape first, then twin needle stitched for the ‘cover hem’ appearance.  Of course, if you use a cover hem machine – do that.

One more thought:  I don’t have a very long neck, so I decided to take a tuck across the center back ‘neck’, which is really the shortest shoulder seam. See below.

What About ‘Hem’ Edge? 

Stay with me here:  so far we’ve

  1. Stabilized the back/armhole elliptical shape opening.

  2. Finished (one of the above methods) one of the long sides which is the neckline/center front edge

What about the remaining LONG edge?  The one that is at the bottom of the center back, and hangs in part of the ‘cascade’ at the front?  Well, on my purple, I actually left that UN-Finished.  It will roll – likely to the wrong side.  You could stabilize with the Straight Fusible Stay Tape just that portion that ‘shows’ at your lower back, and let the rest just ‘be’.

On the other hand, you could finish in the same manner in which you finished the other ‘long’ edge.  I did so on my Burgundy T Vest.


Those angled front hemline edges are actually the original lower hem of the T, Front and Back!!!  If you want a shorter vest, just do that shortening at these edges.  Again, to be ‘rough’, just cut and let it be.  To ‘finish’, do so with the Straight Fusible Stay Tape and Stretch Twin Needle.

Optional Back Finish

Using the collar from the polo T, I’m considering ‘filling in’ that big back ‘hole’, using it as a strap.  Consider these looks below.  The one edge of the collar is already nicely ‘finished’, and for this function, I would add the clear elastic Lastin to the lowermost edge so it would keep it’s shape.  As in the 3rd photo below, I have even considered lapping it under the upper finished edge and topstitching to really ‘fill in’ that back.  Something to consider!  YOU do it and send me YOUR pics!


These T’s were both 100% cotton which means heavy, and NO drape, whatsoever.  I’m planning a trip to WalMart to pick up one of my favorite men’s Russel 360 PowerDry T’s – which is much lighter weight and thin, which will drape quite nicely!  Off I go….


Here are my end results on these first 2 T Vests!  For us ‘mature’ girls, I will caution that this is a very ‘bare’ look at the back!  Consider even the back neckline.  If the neckline on your top is low, you’ll have a ‘skin gap’ between that neckline and this back neck.  Ideally, I ‘see’ this Vest on the younger set, with a spaghetti strap T or camisole with toned, naked bare arms!  Just sayin’….. go back to the original ‘look’ and you’ll see what I mean!

On my next one, I’m going to play with ‘filling in’ that back upper neck area with ‘fabric’ from the sleeves.  Stay tuned!

Burgundy TVest_on_Londa


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