How to Alter a Vest to Make It Smaller or Bigger (Easy Tips)

A vest, also known as a waistcoat, is a garment worn mostly by men with suits. A well-fitted vest makes you look put together and can enhance your entire appearance, while an ill-fitting vest only makes you look shabby.

So, what can you do about an ill-fitting vest? Can you alter a vest to make it smaller or bigger? The short answer is yes; vests can be altered so that they are a perfect fit for you. In this article, we will discuss where you can make alterations and how you can alter vests made of different materials.

Can You Alter a Vest?


While vests can be altered, there aren’t too many adjustments and alterations that can be made to them, compared to other men’s garments such as the coat and pants. Comparatively, the design of a vest itself does not require much fabric, and there isn’t much canvas for you or a tailor to work on even if you want to make alterations.

Nevertheless, if a vest is too big or too small for you, some alterations can be made to turn it into a perfectly-fitting vest. If you are altering vests, here are three important guidelines that you should always follow –

  • The vest should be snug against your body but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable
  • The vest front should always cover the waistband of your pants
  • The shirt you wear under your vest should never show between the hem of the vest and the pants

Can You Get a Vest Shortened?


The length of a vest can be shortened if it is too long for you. However, it is not an easy task to take up. This is because the waistcoat has several design elements such as the buttons, buttonholes, and pockets, whose symmetry and balance would be seriously thrown off if the length itself were to be altered.

If the length of your vest is too long for you, don’t try to alter it yourself. Take it to a tailor. It is possible that most tailors would not be up for the task either because this is serious work that can compromise the entire integrity of the vest.

Only alter the length of your vest and approach an experienced tailor when there isn’t much work to be done. If the alteration requires major surgery on your vest, not only will you have to pay lots of money, it may not be worth it since you can’t be guaranteed that you will be satisfied with the results. And nobody wants a vest that looks like it has been botched up pretty badly.

Shorten Vest Length

If you need to shorten the length of your vest by more than an inch, it’s probably best not to get any work done because chances are you won’t be happy with the results. It will surely affect the appearance of the vest and not in the way you’d like.

If you only have to shorten your vest by an inch or lesser, you can do so by following these steps below –

  • First, turn your vest inside out and measure from the hem of the vest to where you want the new hem to be and mark this spot using chalk. This is where your vest will fall after you alter it. Mark this spot all along the hem of the vest.
  • Now, fold up the bottom hem at the spots you have marked, that is, where you want the new vest length to be. To be clear, the crease of the fold should be at the spots you have marked.
  • ​Pin the folded fabric in place using fabric pins. Remember that the vest should be turned inside out while you are marking and pinning the new seams.
  • Using a needle and thread or sewing machine, sew along the pinned hem, removing the pins as you go along.

Remember that this is only a simplified method of shortening your vest length. Especially if you don’t have sewing experience, you may not get the outcome you want. For the best results, it is recommended that you go to a skilled tailor you trust.

Since the bottom hem of vests has a unique cut, tailors usually shorten vests from the seams of the shoulders. This often makes it less complicated and less expensive. It is important that you don’t go overboard with these types of alterations since it can be extremely easy to throw off the proportions. For instance, if you remove too much length from the shoulders, the vest line will look out of place.

How to Alter a Vest to Make it Smaller

If your vest does not fit your properly and is a tad too big for you, the first thing you should do is check if it has an adjustable strap at the back. This strap allows cinching at the waist so that you can adjust the fit easily. However, if this does not cut it for you, if using the strap creates a messy look in your vest by bunching together the fabric, you can get it altered to make it smaller and fit you better.

To alter a vest to make it look smaller, you will have to take in the sides. This is the simplest and easiest way. All you have to do is follow these steps below –

  • First, measure the circumference of your hips using a flexible measuring tape. Measure this circumference at the small part of your waist, which is usually right above your belly button. Then, measure yourself from your shoulder down to the hip bone.
  • Nest. Take measurements of the bottom hem of your vest. Also, measure the front of the vest – from the seam of the shoulders to the bottom hem.
  • ​Subtract the measurements from the first step from the measurements of the second step. For example, if your waist circumference is 40 inches and the vest is 43 inches, subtract 40 from 43, and you have 3 inches left. This is how much fabric you should be taking in to make your vest smaller.
  • ​Turn your vest inside out and mark the new seam lines using chalk. Remember that you shouldn’t take in 3 inches (or whatever number you have arrived at) on each side, but rather half of 3 inches. This means that you have to divide 3 by 2s, which is one and a half inches.
  • Using a needle and thread, or a sewing machine, sew along the newly marked seams. Make sure that you are sewing on both the outer fabric and the inner lining.
  • After sewing is completed, cut off any excess fabric. Your new vest is now smaller and better fitting.

Can a Tailor Make a Vest Bigger?


It is possible for a tailor to make a vest bigger if it is too tight for you. However, this is one of the toughest alterations that you can make to a vest and one of the last resorts for a tailor. This is because a vast majority of vests are not made with much or any extra material or fabric built into the sides. This means that since there is very little to no seam allowance, it is impossible or next to impossible to let out the sides of a vest that is too small or tight for you.

Even if there is some seam allowance and you find a tailor who is willing to make the changes you want, you will have to pay lots of money because it involves heavy work. The tailor has to take apart the entire vest and put it back together. Such huge changes are likely to throw off the balance of the different design elements of the vest, thus compromising its whole structure and integrity.

One option you have is to alter the fit of your vest by adjusting the strap or chain that is often located at the back. If your vest has this adjustable strap or chain, it allows you to loosen or tighten the body, thus making it more fitted for your size.

How to Alter a Suit Vest

A suit vest is an essential garment that is required to complete the men’s formal or evening look. If it doesn’t fit you well, that is, if it isn’t comfortably snug against your body, a suit vest can be altered by a tailor to fit you better.

When it comes to a suit vest, the body itself and the length are the main parts that can be altered. Most suit vests can be taken in on the vertical side seams with ease, but it is unlikely that they can be let out since there is little to no seam allowance.

If you wish to tighten your suit vest and the seams are taken in a large amount, your tailor may have to do some work on the armholes too. This is because it is likely that the armholes will have to be adjusted to compensate for the way they will lay after the alteration to the side seams is done.

How to Alter a Puffer Vest


If you have a puffer vest that is not the right size for you, the best and easiest way to alter it is by taking in the side seams (if you want to make it tighter or smaller), or letting out the side seams (if you want to make it bigger).

It’s best to take your puffer vest to the tailor if you want to get alterations done since it is not an easy material to work with. Most puffer vests are made from polyester, and the puffy design makes doing alterations on it more challenging than usual.

If there is not much seam allowance at the sides of the puffer vest, your tailor may even suggest taking in the darts or letting them out.

Altering a Leather Vest

If you have a leather vest that doesn’t fit you properly, there are several alterations that can be done to help you out. If you have sewing experience, you can even alter your leather vest on your own. You may think that working with leather is tough, but if you have medium sewing skills and a good sewing machine, you shouldn’t have a problem with the material itself.

When it comes to vests, making changes to the shoulders and the armholes can be very challenging and risky. If you are going to alter your vest on your own, make sure that there is no work to be done in these areas. Moreover, if your leather has a unique lining or an insulation system you are not familiar with, it’s better to go to a tailor.

Alter a Fleece Vest

Altering a fleece vest can be done by taking in or letting out the sides (to alter the size), making changes to the shoulders, etc. If your fleece vest has an inner fabric lining, altering it becomes more complicated because you don’t want the lining fabric to cinch or bunch together. This can further affect the outer appearance of your fleece vest.

How to Take in a Denim Vest

If you have a denim vest that doesn’t fit you well, you can alter it yourself or take it to a tailor. If you are altering it yourself, make sure that you have a good sewing machine or a good needle that can stitch denim fabric with ease.

If your denim vest is too big for you, you can easily take in the side seams by following the steps outlined under the section “How to alter a vest to make it look smaller.”

How Much Does it Cost to Tailor a Vest?

The cost of altering a vest may differ vastly depending on how much alteration is required and where and how you wish to alter it. For instance, only taking in the side seams to make it tighter and fit you better is pretty simple and doesn’t require much work. So, it will be much cheaper than adjusting the length of the vest or letting out the sides, both of which require much more skill and work. Moreover, vests with lining will cost more to alter than those without lining.

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