Toddler Waistcoat Sewing Pattern

Free waistcoat sewing pattern pdf

Waistcoats are so under-worn, and often reserved for formal occasions, but why?? A simple and savvy waistcoat can be used to brighten up a casual outfit and kids look ridiculously cute in them. This pattern is quick, simple, easy to make, and you don’t need much fabric, so good for using up leftover small pieces you have around.

What you’ll need

  • 3 different types of fabric (see below)
  • Your sewing machine and basic sewing kit
  • 3 buttons
  • light – medium weight interface for strengthening front panel

Suggested Fabrics

The pattern uses 3 different fabrics, one for the front panels, one for the back panel, and the third for the lining. A fat quarter of each will be enough, or you might be able to use some scraps you have lying around, or up-cycle an old garment. A mans shirt works well. Any type of woven is good for the fabric. I used quite a lightweight cotton which needed interfacing to give it some structure. You may get away with not interfacing if opting for a more heavyweight fabric. It’s really versatile though and would work well with cotton, corduroy, linen, denim, even leather for that cowboy look! Go ahead and experiment. Texture and pattern works especially well on waistcoats. For the backing panel use a fabric in a matching or heavier weight material than the front. To line use a basic polyester lining or lightweight cotton.

Prepare and assemble the pattern

Have your downloaded the free PDF pattern yet? If not, you can download the free waistcoat pattern here, or by clicking the image at the top of this post. All 3 sizes are included in the pattern and on separate pages. Each size spans four A4 sheets, so you’ll need to identify what pages you need to print, and then if you don’t want to print out the whole document, print those pages only.

Once printed you’ll need to stick your pattern pieces together. The pattern features a horizontal and vertical dashed line on each page which you match up on each sheet to align the pattern pieces. Cut alongside this line so that you can match up exactly with the corresponding pattern piece.

waistcoat pattern

Cut alongside the dashed line to match up pattern pieces

When the lines are matched, used Sellotape to paste the pieces together. Repeat until all the pattern pieces are joined together and then cut out.

stick the pattern pieces together

Sellotape together at line

n.b a 1/2 inch seam allowance has been added to each pattern piece.
You should be left with two pieces which look like this:

Completed pattern pieces

Completed pattern pieces

Check what size?

The garment comes in 3 sizes. To check the right size measure the childs chest measurement and check the sizing guide below:

Size Chest PDF pages
Age 2-3 55 cm 3-10
Age 3-4 57 cm 11-18
Age 4-5 59 cm 19-26

Prepare and cut out the fabric

If using new fabric, I always recommended washing fabric before sewing with it. Honestly, I am sometimes naughty and do miss this step out, but it’s a good habit to get in to as new fabric can often shrink a little, and you wouldn’t want this to happen after working so hard on your hand crafted item. C’mon – I’m sure you have other laundry to do. I know I do!
Once it’s out the machine and dry give it a good press with the iron so that all the creases and crinkles disappear. This is essential to accurate pattern cutting. Make sure that you are using the correct setting on your iron for the fabric, and carry out a test patch. Some people like to iron with a press cloth between the iron and the fabric to prevent scalding.
I haven’t included a layout guide for the pattern pieces as it’s quite straight forward.

  • Cut out 2 front panels in main fabric, making sure that you have a mirror image of each piece for the left and right hand side. Do the same for the lining fabric
  • Cut out 1 back panel in the backing fabric, and again for the lining. This is cut on the fold.
  • Cut out the interface pieces
Back pieces in lining and backing fabric

Back pieces in lining and backing fabric

Front panels in main fabric

Front panels in main fabric

Front panels in lining

Front panels in lining

Right that’s it, we’re ready to start!

Attach interfacing to strengthen front panels

If you are using a light – medium weight fabric interfacing makes a massive difference to the structure and finish to the waistcoat. It strengthens it around the button area and gives it shape. Use a fusible interfacing to match your fabric, usually a medium-weight interfacing. I quickly cut out a shape to cover 2/3 of the front panel pieces, and then ironed it on, under a damp cloth, pressing with the iron for 8 seconds.

Interface cut to size and sewn on

Interface cut to size and ironed on

Sew the front panels

Match up a front panel lining piece and a front panel main piece and place them right sides together. Using the 0.5 inch seam allowance and a straight stitch, sew the diagonal seam running from the top of the shoulder down the middle of the body. Turn right side out and press the seam.

Sew front panel diagonal

Sew front panel diagonal

Place wrong sides together again and sew around the arm hole seam.
Tip! – Marking the seam curve can help sew a good curve if you’re a beginner, and sewing a little slower helps also.

Sew arm seam

Sew arm seam

Once the seam is finished it’s time to clip the curve, to ease the fabric around the inward curve and help give it a flat, pucker-free finish. You can use pinking shears if you have them, or  small sharp scissors. If using scissors snip every 1/2 inch along the seam, 3/4 of the way up to the stitching. You can now turn right side out and press this seam too.

Clip arm seam

Clip arm seam

We have one more seam to sew on this panel and that’s the down the front of the waistcoat, (the seam that will eventually have the buttons/button holes attached). Sew this section, turn right side out and press again.

Sew front panel edge

Sew front panel edge

Repeat this stage for the other front panel.

Both front panels sewn and pressed

Both front panels sewn and pressed

Sew the back panel

We are going to sew all 3 curved edges on the back panel. Take the back panel lining and backing fabric and place right sides together. Sew along the neckline and both armholes in 3 separate stages as shown.

Back panel sewn at neck and armholes

Back panel sewn at neck and armholes

Clip once again like we did with the front panels. Turn right side out and press the seams.

Clip all the curved seams

Clip all the curved seams

Attach the front and back panel

Now this part sounds tricky but it’s easy to do. We are going to attach the front and back panels by joining and sewing at the shoulder seam. Sandwich one of the front panel pieces in-between the back panel piece. The back panel piece is turned inside out and the front panel piece is the right way round. The shoulders should neatly fit inside each other so that the front panel just sits snugly inside the back panel at the shoulder. If it does not, you can re-sew the top part of the shoulder seam of the front panel ever so slightly, just to narrow the curve and give a better fit. Align the two shoulder seams and pin together once happy. Sew along the shoulder seam.
!Tip - Make sure you get the panel the right way round. It should be that the armholes are on the same side and the right side of the front panel fabric is touching the right side of the main backing fabric. (I made mistakes here a couple of times…oops)

Attaching at shoulders

Front panel inside layers of back panel. Pin at shoulder.

Repeat this step for the other front panel piece, joining at the opposite shoulder. You’ve now got one piece. Hurrah! Turn it right way round and press at the shoulder seams.

One piece

Sew up the sides

Now we join the back and front panels of the waistcoat at the sides. To do this unfold and pin the right sides together, making sure to match up the point where the front/back fabric meets the lining under the arms. Sew this seam on each side.

Attach side seams

Preparing to sew the side seams

Sew up the bottom edge

The last step of machine stitching is to sew up along the bottom edge of the waistcoat. We will leave a small gap large enough for you to fit your hand through for turning at the end.
Turn the garment inside out, and line up and pin along the bottom edge. It won’t sit flat but do your best to work with it and accurately align the bottom edge.

Sew up the bottom edge

Sew up the bottom edge, leaving a hand-sized gap

Sew from one end to the other, leaving a gap in the centre of the back panel for turning at the end. Pay attention when sewing the corner angles, as you want them to be really crisp and sharp. Either stop sewing and pivot on your needle at a corner, or sew all the way along to the fabric edge, stop and do the same for the other seam, crossing over the stitching at the corner. Clip the seam allowance away from the corners before turning out.

Give the garment another press to make sure you’re happy with it before hand stitching closed.

Hand stitch closed

I use an invisible hidden stitch to sew the last piece of the waistcoat seam closed. If you are not used to hand stitching here is a link to a post on Fern and Freckle, an invisible seam and hidden stitch tutorial.
Make sure the seam allowance is tucked in to the waistcoat (it should do this naturally) and you have a nice straight bottom edge. Hand sew the opening closed. This is my favourite part. I find hand stitching very relaxing. Unless my toddler is jumping on me whilst I have a needle in my hand … which is quite a lot actually!

Almost done! Not looking bad eh?

Almost done!

Sew and attach the buttons

You’ll want to measure the size of the buttons you are using, and work out how large you need to make the button holes. My button holes needed to be 3/4 of an inch. I used a ruler and tailors pencil to mark 3 x 3/4 inch lines, equally spaced on right panel of the waistcoat.

Measure and marking button placement

Measure and marking button placement

I then used my machine to sew the button holes. I don’t think my measuring was spot on, but I can live with that. I leave enough cotton on the button holes to hand sew in the thread ends tidily, so I know the button holes won’t unravel.

We have button holes!

We have button holes!

Sew on the buttons

I particularly like the cute anchor buttons on this waistcoat. Choosing the right coordinating buttons can really set a garment of perfectly. To hand sew buttons I make sure I stitch them on at least six times, and then to finish, with the thread under the button, but above the top layer of fabric, wrap the cotton 6 times around the middle of the stitches you have just made. This makes a nice little protective edging for the stitches and makes for a strong button that hopefully isn’t going anywhere.

And here we have the finished result. A versatile addition to any child’s wardrobe, and an excellent way of showing of bold and striking prints. I think I’ll be making a few of these!

Attach the buttons

The finished garment!

Show me your creations!

The best part of creating patterns is sharing them with others and seeing how they creatively interpret your designs. I’d love to see what you have made and share your work on my Pinterest page, so please post me a link to a photo of your finished garments. You score brownie points for cute children wearing them :)

Variations on the waistcoat pattern

You could try to:

  • Add some pockets
  • Add a collar / lapel
  • Add a tie at the back
  • Top stitch or add piping to edges


This is my first sewing tutorial and released pattern! It’s incredibly exciting for me to put this together for you all, and I would love any feedback, good or bad, and ideas on how I can improve both the downloadable pattern and instructions. I’ve already got a few more toddler patterns in the pipeline, so hopefully I can incorporate any ideas in to future releases. My aim is to add to the bunch of amazing free sewing patterns for boys available online and to come up with some fun and quirky designs in clothes that children love to wear.

34 thoughts on “Toddler Waistcoat Sewing Pattern

  1. Lisa W

    A lovely pattern and very easy to follow. I adapted it slightly to make the waistcoat as part of a pirate fancy dress costume for my baby, toddler and myself.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks so much Lisa! Glad you liked it. Have you got a photo, would love to add it to my pinterest page :)

  2. Karen

    I like Lisa used your pattern for a fancy dress costume for my son. One of those moments when you see a notice on the nursery notice board on a Friday evening to say they were having a fancy dress day on Monday!!! Queue panic stations as I had nothing organised. Your pattern however saved the day. It was very easy to follow and the waistcoat turned out brilliantly in fact too good really just to use for fancy dress. I had it whipped up in no time and I am by no means an expert with a sewing machine. Looking forward to your next pattern releases

    1. admin Post author

      Aww thanks Karen, really glad it worked out for you :) I’m releasing a cowboy style shirt soon, it’ll be free too, but my computer has broken so it’s delayed things a bit, hopefully be sorted in a week or two x

  3. Laure

    Thanks for the tutorial, made one for my son to go to my brother’s wedding. Got some bright and bold fabric for the front and I have to say I’m pleased with it. I’m by no way an expert but found it relatively easy to make. Added top-stitch to the front part as I forgot to use interfacing. Does the trick. Please make more, much appreciated

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Laure, so glad you found it easy to follow and were happy with your make. I’d love to see a photo! look out for my free shirt pattern soon x

  4. Pat Waymouth

    Made this waist coat today for a 4 year old, easy to follow instructions thank you
    Do not know how to upload photo for you to see my effort.

    Thank you

    Pat Waymouth

    1. Rosi

      Hi – I adapted your pattern to make a “Woody” waistcoat for my 3 year old grandson – very successful and loved by everybody. I’ll email a photo.

  5. clare

    Thank you for the FAB! pattern.
    My son very kindly told his teacher i would make his costume for the Christmas play..
    Bowtie and waistcoat.

    Followed your pattern and it looks fantastic, so much so that my 10yo now wants one to wear on Christmas day.

    Thank You :D

    1. admin Post author

      You are most welcome! really glad it turned out well for you. You’ll be sewing for the whole class soon no doubt :)

  6. Debby

    The design is phenomenal! Can you believe I downloaded it on my phone and took the measurements using a ruler then transfered on paper and it worked so well!!! I hand stitched it coz I have no machine. I LOVE IT!!!

    1. admin Post author

      You are welcome! I am trying to get my head around your process, sounds complicated but glad it worked out for you! I bet it’s a great little project to hand stitch. I’m sure the little recipient will look adorable :)

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Cindy, want me to email you the file and you can try that? I checked the file and it seems ok to me. Very strange!

  7. Laila

    Hi, I wondered if you could help me. We are going to a wedding and I would like to make a waistcoat for my son who will be 8 months old. I love your pattern and wondered how I adjust it to fit him. Any ideas would be much appreciated? Thanks in advance. Laila

  8. Bev

    Hi, I too have used your pattern to make a fancy dress outfit for my grandson’s birthday party. (Mr Tumble from CBBC). Thank you so much! The waistcoat has turned out lovely. I am thrilled with it. I will send a photo via email shortly (Not sure how to upload to pinterest.)

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  12. sammie

    thank you very much for this pattern :) i have just made a mr tumble waist coat for my son for his birthday and im sure he will love it! i am very pleased with it! the only problem i had was there was some of the pattern missing. page 26 and another page (i cant remember the number) were blank so i had to print off the smaller sizes to replace those two pages

  13. Rosy

    Thanks so much I have made a lovely waistcoat from fat quarters. ALSO MADE IT REVERSIBLE BY PUTTING BUTTONS ON FRONT AND LINING. Very chuffed, hope my grandson likes it as much as me.

    1. admin Post author

      That is wonderful, reversible sounds like a great idea. I’d love to see a photo. I’m sure your Grandson will love it xx

  14. OkeCrafter

    What a lovely free pattern and a fabulous tutorial. Planning to use this to make a couple of reversible waistcoats for my grandson. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Amy

    I love this pattern so much, thank you. I have made my son one for his second birthday in three weeks time. I have made it in a pirate pattern. It has no buttons because it is only for play

  16. Bethany

    Awesome pattern thank you for sharing it! I had fun making it. Just to confirm what another commenter said though, some pages are mixing, I had to draft part of the back myself. Easy enough but you might want to check the file. Thanks x
    Bethany recently posted…Unique Handmade Christmas GiftsMy Profile

  17. Dorothy

    Excellent waistcoat pattern – easy to follow instructions.
    One criticism though – I’m surprised that you are satisfied with appearance when using iron on vilene here It spoils the look of garment – it looks puckered on front. I used sew in type and did not have this problem.

  18. Maz

    Hi, I love this pattern and cant wait to make it for my grandson but, I am unable to print page 20 + 26 can’t work out what I am doing wrong. :-(

  19. Kerry

    I made one of these for my 2 yr old using a tractor print and get so many compliments I have now made a dinosaur one. I use tartan for the back panel/lining and put buttons on both sides so that it is reversible. You then have a formal waistcoat which you can reverse for party time!!! Thank you so much for the free pattern. I find the sizes and the gap under the arm come up big and it took me ages to work out how to sew up the side seams. I kept getting that wrong but that’s probably just me! Thanks again :-)

  20. Alison

    I have up-scaled the pattern for my 7 year old’s school play costume – it is the first time I have attempted this so will let you know how I get on….


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