Let's continue with our Belvedere Waistcoat customisation today!

I've printed and assembled my PDFs, if you haven't done this already, now is the time!  Check out our PDF assembly tutorial for help with this.

Okay, let's get our rulers out and dig in...

Change the shape of the hem

waistcoat with straight hem

While most waistcoats feature angle points at centre front, you are not limited to this conventional shape!  It is very easy to alter your Belvedere to feature a straight hem or to have round points.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

To adjust our hem we will be working with the Front, Front Facing and Front Lining pieces.  For small adjustments to the points you likely won't need to make changes to the lining piece but for larger adjustments, such as a removing the angle to create a straight hem, you will need to adjust this third piece. First I'll show you how to create rounded points:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-2

Always begin pattern adjustments by drawing in your seam lines. We will be making the changes to the seam lines and then will add seam allowances back on.  The seam allowances included in this pattern are 5/8".  I just measured in 5/8" from the paper edge at various points and then connected the dots.  Above you can see the Front and below you can see the Facing and Lining.  I only added the seam lines to the relevant area that we are going to be working on.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-3

Grab a French curve ruler or find a curved object (a cup, egg cup or small bowl for instance) and use it to draw the shape that you would like.  If you can't find something to trace along you can try drawing your curve freehand!

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Begin by marking the curve on the Front and then mark the same curve on the Facing so that they will match perfectly when you sew them together.

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Since our curve was small enough that it intersected with the original seamline before reaching the right hand edge of the facing we do not need to make changes to the lining.  If you draw a long gradual curve you would need to continue it on to the lining piece. Now let's add our seam allowances back on!

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Measure out 5/8" from your new seamline at various points and mark with dots.  Connect all of the dots.

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Now you can trim off the pointed tip along your seam allowance  and you're ready to use your customised pattern! To make a larger change to the hem such as removing the point entirely so that the hem extends in a straight line across the front begin by once again drawing in your seamlines...this time along the entire hem and up the side seam and centre front. You can see in the photo below that I did not extend my seamline up centre front very far...this ended up being a mistake as you will see very soon! I've included it in this post so you can see how easy it is to accidentally switch to using the edge of the pattern piece and not the seamline...its actually a lot more fool proof to just fully cut off your seam allowances entirely when working with a pattern.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-8

Use a ruler to draw your new hem angle.  Position the ruler so it begins at the bottom of the side seam (the seam line, not the edge of the paper).  You can still create a slight angle as I have done or you can make your line completely horizontal by making sure it is at a right angle to the grainline. You can shape the centre front corner so that it is pointed or rounded.  I'm showing you how to do a rounded corner here.  Begin by extending the centre front so that it no longer angles to the right.  You will need to glue or tape your pattern piece to another piece of paper for this extension. Now watch out, here is where I make my seam allowance mistake!  Can you see what I'm doing wrong in the photo below?

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-9

I've extended the straight line downwards using the pattern piece edge rather than the seamline!  Now, when I go to draw my curved corner with my french ruler I am drawing it from the seamline to the outside edge.  If I were to sew the hem like this the curve would be a different shape from the one I am drawing.  Don't worry, I will fix this in a moment!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-10

Now it is time to add in our seam allowances.  You can see my corrected seamline in the photo below (the yellow line) and my added seam allowance (the green line).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-13

We are ready to transfer these changes to the lining and facing!

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Place the lining on top of your altered waistcoat front and trace the alteration.  If you can't see your line through the paper you could cut off the extra paper and place the front on top of the lining so that the armholes and side seams match.  Then cut off the lining where it extends below the front pattern piece. Repeat this process for the facing:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-11

Now let's change up the shape of the neckline using the same techniques!

Change the height and shape of the neckline

seven button waistcoat

If you would like to raise the neckline and add another button to your waistcoat, here is how to go about doing this.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-14

We will be using the Front and Front Facing pieces.

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Draw in your seamlines along the entire neckline and shoulder seam.  Position a large sheet of paper underneath your pattern piece and tape or glue it in place.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-16

Use a ruler to extend the centre front (no need to measure right now, just draw a line 5 or so inches long so you have lots of room to work).

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Measure the distance between the existing button markings (2 1/4").

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Add a new button marking 2 1/4" above the top button.

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Use a french curve ruler (or freehand) to replicate the curves of the neckline.  You can choose to keep them the same as the existing neckline or you can alter them to suit the style you would like (more v-shaped or more scooped).

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Taper your new neckline so that it meets the original one before the shoulder seamline.

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Add your seam allowance back on:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-22

And now transfer your changes to the Facing so that it matches the shape of your new neckline.

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And voila, you are ready to sew a seven button waistcoat!  

Add a collar

Shawl collar waistcoat 2

Last, but certainly not least, I'll show you just how easy it is to add a shawl collar to the Belvedere - I've done this change to the pattern free hand (using only my measuring tape and a pen) to show you that you don't even need to have fancy rulers to do this. The shawl collar we are drafting will look like this: shawl collar waistcoat 3

Notice that it does not extend around the back of the neck making it easy to draft, super easy to sew, and comfortable to wear under a suit jacket.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-25

We will be working with the Front and Facing pieces.

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Begin by drawing in the neckline seamline.  You might like to draw the shoulder seamline as well.

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Now sketch in your finished collar shape beginning just above the top button and curving up the the shoulder seam.  This sketch is not actually part of your revised pattern piece, it is just a way to help you visualise the finished collar shape.

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When you are happy with the shape of your collar, you can use this handy technique to mirror it so that it is positioned correctly on your pattern piece.  Measure from the seamline to the edge of your collar sketch.

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Next, measure the same distance out from your seamline to find the position of the actual collar edge.  Do this at various points the entire length of the collar and then connect the dots.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-30

The top edge of the collar will be sewn in to the shoulder seam so it needs to match the angle of the shoulder seam when the collar is folded as it will be when the waistcoat is finished.

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Sorry for my messy sketching lines!  Without the aid of a ruler they don't look very smooth...if yours are a bit wobbly too just keep smoothing them out until you are happy with how they look.  And remember we have nice large 5/8" seam allowances to work with so if you can cut and sew straighter than you can draw you will be able to hide any wobbles within your allowances! Let's add those allowances back on:

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And finally, we must add what will actually be the visible side of the collar to the Facing pattern piece:

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I can't wait to sew one of my waistcoats using this shawl collar design! If you would like to try a different collar style, here is a couple of tutorials for you to check out:

June 28, 2022 — Morgan and Matthew Meredith