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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…..

elipse hole


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.