I created a vest from a jacket by removing the sleeves. Now I see that the vest arm holes are too big.

I have two ideas how to make the arm hole smaller I would like to know the best way.

My ideas so far:

  1. make several v-shaped cuts all around the arm hole and take little tucks

  2. take out the upper and lower seams and take in more material and re-seam


1 Answer 1


Cutting into the existing armhole will most likely end badly, because you need a lot more fabric to secure those darts than is available at the arm hole.

If you want to make the hole smaller, you have to sew more material to it. I hope you didn't throw the sleeves away yet, because that is the perfect material for your endeavor.

You didn't post a picture or write any details, so I can only guess where exactly you need to add material.

If you have enough fabric at the arm hole, but not enough to seam it properly, try cutting bias tape from the sleeves and hem the west with that. Since the arm hole is a circle, the tape must be cut on the bias or it will wrinkle and be a pain to sew on. Keep in mind that the tape you cut must be 4 times as wide as the hem should be in the end.

If the west fits well enough at the soulders but has a gaping hole below the arm, it's going to be more complicated. First I would try the bias tape method, but with wider tape below the arm that protrudes from the actual seam (basically extending the fabric there) and narrower tape at the top of the shoulder that doesn't protrude at all.

You could also try opening the shoulder seams and sewing them a little tighter towards the side, but that will change the fit of the whole garment. You should first pin the shoulders and try the vest on to see if it still fits or if the shoulders become too sloped or the collar stands up weirdly.

If the seams are almost invisible in the fabric, you can try inserting a halfmoon shaped piece below the arm. But in most fabrics the seams are too obvious for that.

If nothing else works, buy or knit cuffs in a color that matches the vest (or adds a nice contrast). Add cuffs around the arm hole, at the bottom of the vest and - if it fits and you like the look of it - also at the collar.

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  • When you say, "the tape you cut must be 4 times as wide as the hem should be in the end". Is this 2 times the exposed portion folded over and 2 seam allowances?
    – piton
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:51
  • It's the shoulder that sort of sticks out, a gap between my shoulder and the vest shoulder, but a lesser gap all around. I have the sleeves to scavenge as you mentioned. From your description, the length of the seam binding that I create will be the new circumference of the arm hole. That's how I'm understanding you. I have pictures, but it looks like the forum doesn't have the option? I guess I have to put a link to somewhere else?thx
    – piton
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:59
  • @piton You can edit your question and upload pictures by clicking the picture icon at the top of the text box. It's best to use the browser for this, the mobile version doesn't handle all functions equally well... If the shoulder seam is too high, you can open the shoulder seam halfway and pull it inwards to reduce some width. That will automatically change the 3-dimensional shape and slope the fabric tighter around your upper shoulder.
    – Elmy
    Apr 12, 2021 at 19:10
  • As for the bias tape: when you buy bias tape, it's usually pre-folded to a quarter of the width. You can take that as orientation. You need 1/4 width facing outside, 1/4 facing inwards and 2/4 seam allowances on either side. If you don't have enough material, you can get away with less for the seam allowances, but that makes pressing the creases more complicated. The standard method is to fold and press the band in half, then opening it up again and pressing one edge right to the center line, then repeating that with the other side.
    – Elmy
    Apr 12, 2021 at 19:15
  • to be clear, the edge at the vest shoulder is in excellent shape because I carefully cut away the sleeve. If the seam binding you suggest is for cleaning up a rough age, that 's not a problem . I think I'll start by taking in at the shoulder seam.
    – piton
    Apr 13, 2021 at 4:32

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