The So Zo Vests

When So Zo revealed her very first downloadable pattern for a vest, I knew I had exactly the raw materials needed. On my recent holiday in America, I’d visited Yosemite National Park. I bought a T-shirt. I know, I’m so sad. This was size extra large, but was still way too snug for me. It was stuffed into a bottom drawer and I tried not to bite my lip at the money I’d wasted. Then So Zo came along with her rescue plan. I could refashion this T-shirt.

There was only one problem. Ian wanted to watch the Grand Prix. I wanted to watch the Wimbledon mens’ final. (Unless you’ve been living under a rock, a Brit was going to play in the final for the first time in 72 years.) My solution was to drag my work upstairs to the spare bedroom/office and watch tennis on the computer.

I printed off the PDF pattern and started folding and sellotaping. Fortunately, this is the smallest downloadable pattern I’ve ever worked with, which meant that taping together was a breeze, and hardly took any time at all.

I cut out a size 14, guessing that was just about right for my figure. The pre-match pundits were on the telly, and I love the below shot with our living legend, Sue Barker!

Wimbledon excitement was palpable as I set to with the scissors. Both Doctor Who and David Beckham had come to watch the match – what more could we Brits ask for?! I dragged my overlocker upstairs as the players walked out onto court…

Construction Details

  • I was able to incorporate the trimmed hem of the original T-shirt, so I didn’t even need to worry about hemming this baby. Result! (You may, however, want to reinforce the bottom of your side seams, to avoid unravelling of overlocking thread.)
  • When it comes to attaching the underwear elastic, heed Zoe when she advises practising on scraps first! It took me quite a while to establish the right tension on my sewing machine, and the right zig zag option (I followed Zoe’s recommendation of the three-step zig zag). You’ll also want to practise the technique of attaching the elastic to your raw edges. Make sure you have plenty of spare underwear elastic for this.
  • I’d recommend matching your thread colour as closely as possible to your elastic colour – especially when you’re new to this, like me, and still getting the grip of consistently sewing in the centre of your elastic.
  • When attaching the ends of your straps to the back bodice, pin in place and slip the vest on to check the fit before sewing down. I found that I needed to take a couple of inches off the length of each strap.
  • Once that’s all done, this make is a breeze! You might like to steam the heck out of your elastic at the end of the make, as it will have stretched during construction. I suspect I was a bit timid about stretching out my elastic during sewing – you can see the looseness on my front bodice:

The men were still playing, so I decided to make one more.  I dug out a T-shirt I’d bought Ian, which he’d never deigned to wear. The price tag was still on it. On this version, I incorporated some of the original features like a pocket and placket. I had to hem this second vest and discovered a very nice jersey stitch on my Bernina. Another feature I didn’t realise I had!

As Andy made his tearful speech to the crowd, I finished pressing this:

In conclusion, how long does it take to make two So Zo Vests? As long as a men’s Wimbledon final. If you are re-fashioning and want lots of options for placement of pattern pieces, use the largest T-shirt you can lay your hands on! Both of mine were tight squeezes.

Are you tempted by this pattern for an essential basic? Any tips on working with underwear elastic?

Thank you, Zoe!

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31 Responses to The So Zo Vests

  1. Awesome refashions Karen! And as always great commentary….useful tips for when I give them a go. I too think underwear elastic sewing gets better the more you use it ( well I hope anyways!!)

  2. Vicki Kate says:

    I like v2 with pocket and placket! Poor Andy, he really put his heart into the match.

  3. punkmik says:

    Oh i love this idea! I have some old tshirts that possibly could be used for this! I love the trim on v1 and the pocket detail on v2!
    And Andy´s speech nearly made me cry last night and again when I heard it on the news this morning.

  4. Dibs says:

    I need a printer asap. now Kev prints my patterns at work, but that means I have to wait till the end of the day. i have loads of lingerie elastic at home.I felt so sorry for Andy. poor thing. hopefully he will get another chance soon.

  5. Well, there has been a lot of crafting during the wimbledon matches, knitting, sewing 🙂 I love these tops. Do you call them vests? That sounds so odd to me! 😀 But they are lovely. I especially like the last one!

  6. annie says:

    What a great idea and a great job!!

  7. Melizza says:

    Oooh. They look adorable. I especially like the burgundy one with the pocket.

  8. Marie says:

    Oooh, I love a good speedy project. Can’t believe you got two of these vests finished in just one (but epic) tennis match. As an aside, I actually cried with Murray at the end – I didn’t even know I was a real fan of his until then! Anyway, love your pretty vests and how versatile this pattern is!

  9. Tamsin W-P says:

    Great refashions Karen! I love the Yosemite top. I bought a top when I went swimming with dolphins in NZ that I have never worn, because it’s a traditional round next t-shirt. This could be the way to make it wearable for me! I couldn’t bear to watch the match, so I was crawling round the floor trying to work out pattern placement on my next make, listening to it on the radio. I remember one summer deadheading roses whilst listening to a Tim Henman match.

  10. ooo is that a Ikea desk? I got one the other week and was a little worried it might not bear the weight of my machine etc but looks like it holds up ok,monitor AND machine no less. Although I did get the small one

  11. We call them singlets (or perhaps tanks, depending slightly on context and/or gender of wearer). Either way, I’ve never had any as pretty as these (but I do have quite a lot of t-shirts that might benefit from such treatment, hmmmm).

  12. gingermakes says:

    Cute! I’m glad to hear how quickly these come together! Tennis finals always make me cry! With an individual sport like tennis, it can be so emotional since you win or lose based on your own performance– no teammates to blame! I cry for the winner AND for the loser! Poor Andy. 🙁

  13. i love v2! and the colour of v1. i am adding a couple of these to my queue (but i suspect it will take me quite a bit longer than you!). poor andy. i was gutted for him – he tried so hard! and i always find federer a bit too smug.

  14. LinB says:

    I love how the English language has adapted to far-flung corners of the earth! “Vest” means something entirely different in the southern U.S. I’m with Felicity from Down Under about calling this a “tank top,” but in the past 20 years it has been a “camisole” in stores and catalogs. (You almost never see what I grew up calling a camisole any more.) These sleeveless knit shirts are a staple garment for my daughter; I don’t wear them (personal thermostat negates need to layer for warmth). The versions you have crafted are delightful.

  15. Molly says:

    Great remakes! I’ve made some tanks from old tshirts before (not using Zo’s pattern) and I really need to do more, they’re so useful and awesome.

  16. redsilvia says:

    Very cute idea and great execution. I’ll have to dig around the tee drawer for some candidates to refashion. If you’ve got more shirts to use how about some coordinating panties/knickers/pants/hipsters?

  17. Stacy says:

    Karen these look awesome! I just might have to get out my machine and work up a few of these. Thanks for the share.

  18. Jenn-NY says:

    Great idea. I’ll have to look through the bottom drawer for things to cut up.
    One more option for sewing on lingerie elastic is to use a double needle. This creates a ‘fake’ coverstitch that can stretch (somewhat).

  19. raquel from florida says:

    Thanks for the link! I love your version 2!

  20. liza jane says:

    Both are awesome. I love the blue underwear elastic. I’ve never found anything but white at the store. I’ll have to look around online.

  21. Oh Wow! they are amazing – I’m sure I’ve got a few T-Shirts lurking at the bottom of a drawer that I could re-invigorate with this pattern 🙂

  22. Carolyn says:

    I’m getting so tempted by this pattern. I have a few souvenir type t-shirts that people have brought me from various places, but I don’t end up wearing. Turning them into camis would be a good option for me. Love what you did with yours.

  23. They look great Karen. I’ve been thinking of making some vests (singlets in Aus) for hubby, it’s winter here.

  24. Haha, excellent idea! And great application for those t-shirts

  25. symondezyn says:

    OH MY GOSH!! Those are SO FREAKING CUTE!!! Wow! you’ve just opened my mind up to the wonderful world of refashioning a bunch of unflattering unisex tees into some freaking CUTE tops!! Thanks!! 😀

  26. Danielle says:

    Wow, those look great!

  27. Zoe says:

    Hiya lovely,

    yours are the first versions I’ve seen and they are AMAZING!!! LOVE them! Thanks so much for linking to the download pattern and for reviewing the project.

    You are awesome

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