The Belvedere Waistcoat
Updated: Apr 24, 2021
I am a big fan of waistcoats - firstly I just love the way they look, nothing says dapper more than a good waistcoat. Secondly, I love the way they look on me - they are a great way to hide curves, and emphasis your shoulders. I can find that blazers swamp me a bit in the arms and shoulders - there are no such worries with a waistcoat.
The Belvedere pattern by Thread Theory Designs is the pattern I have been using for the last few years. It is a relatively simple pattern, and easy to customise.
This waistcoat (and the whole outfit actually) was inspired by a similar one worn by Gene Kelly in one scene of the movie 'Singin' in the rain'.
I had been looking for some bright mustard yellow fabric for this project for a while, then found the perfect colour on a wool/poly blend from Craft and Thrift on Etsy.
The lining and back are made using a deep green satin fabric with leaf motif from Fabworks Online.
This waistcoat took me a while - I was working on it for around 6 weeks. In a previous life I'd be able to finish a waistcoat in a weekend but a combination of a teething baby, lots of design commissions on the go, and trying to figure out buttonholes in my new sewing machine meant it took much longer.
Still, slow progress is still progress. And actually I have found that I make fewer mistakes when I'm only sewing in small increments, as I'm not rushing to finish the whole thing in one go like I used to do.
Anyway, I love it! Perhaps I'll create a waistcoat in every colour of the rainbow. I still need to practise my welt pockets more - I might try a different method perhaps next time or at least watch a few videos to improve things.
This waistcoat, along with my white shirt and grey trousers I'm wearing here, finishes off my first outfit of 2021! And it's only April so I'm pleased with that.
I often get comments regarding the fitting and adapting of this pattern. I am not an expert at fitting and really only have experience of my sewing for my own body, but I have included a sketch of the adjustments I made to the pattern pieces at the end of this post in case this is useful to someone. This adjustment needs to be replicated throughout all the pieces (front, back, and linings).
In general waistcoats are supposed to be well-fitted to the body. But I prefer a waistcoat that just skims over my body, smoothing and hiding my curves instead.
I started with a size XS traced out. (Pick a starting size that will best fit your shoulders.) All adjustments were then made to the side seams of each pattern piece only and I kept everything else (curve of the front piece, buttons, pocket placement etc.) the same.
For my first re-drafting, which was before I was pregnant, I just raised the armpit level, and slightly straightened the side seam. For my second redrafting, for when I was pregnant and postpartum, I needed to adjust for my larger bust and belly, so I extended the side seam out a further couple of inches, as well as lengthening the whole thing. I kept the curve of the side seam roughly in line with the original pattern piece but this can be easily tweaked later on if necessary.
The other adjustment I make is to either omit the vertical darts, or make them very shallow so they are mostly just decorative. This stops the shape of the waistcoat front from emphasises my bust too much.