How to knit a vest

Vests are my current obsession. I knit both myself and my dad vests last year, and I’ve continued on by completing yet another one so far this year. Plus I have another one on my needles right now! I find the construction of them so satisfying and they go so well with most of my clothes.

A vest is a great alternative to knitting a whole sweater. It is generally a quicker and less daunting project, and requires less yarn and fewer stitches without the sleeves. This makes it an ideal choice if you are looking to complete a project faster or if you are a beginner and find the idea of tackling an entire sweater overwhelming. Additionally, a vest can be a versatile addition to any wardrobe. It is great for layering up in the winter months, but you can also wear it as is, or with a short sleeve underneath in the spring and summer. I find that this time of year is perfect for making and wearing vests. And because it won’t take you months to finish, you can still wear them in the same season that you knit them.


Of course there are always many ways to construct a knit garment, but I will talk about the most typical ways to make a knit vest: with no seams, with seams, top-down and bottom up.

No seams

This is achieved by making one section, then picking up stitches to continue knitting the next section. This should leave you with no lines or edges, just one seamless garment. It usually goes like this: you knit the back, pick up stitches over the shoulders, knit the left and then the right shoulder and join in the round under the arm opening. Then you can continue on in the round until it is the right length.


A vest that is made with seams is knit as two flat panels. So you would make the front panel and then the back panel, each with its own design and shaping. Then you would hand sew the sides of the vest and the tops of the shoulders together to create one piece. This usually leaves you with visible seams on the inside of the vest, but these are not super intrusive from the outside.

Top down vs. bottom up

Vests as well as sweaters can be knit top down or bottom up. When the construction is top down, it will likely follow the no seams approach that I described above. However a vest can also be knit bottom up. With this method, you cast on the number of stitches for the body, knit up until the underarms, then split the stitches to knit and shape the front and back as two flat sections. Finally you join or seam the stitches at the shoulders.


To give your vest that polished look, you’ll likely have to pick up and knit around the armholes and the neck. It can be tricky to figure out exactly how to neatly pick up each stitch around the edge. Watching videos of other knitters doing this process and lots of practices will help a lot. At the end of the day, taking the time to add these finishing touches will make your vest look extra well put together.

Knit a vest with me

I recently completed the Chunky Jellybean Vest by Strikkerlittmye. I loved the dramatic ribbed armholes on this vest. I also hadn’t knit a project with chunky yarn in a while, and was excited to knit something a bit different. I loved that it was a bottom-up construction. Knitting the body of a top is always the quickest and most fun part for me. It was nice to be able to start with that. Because of the chunky yarn, the vest grew quite quickly. I finished up the shaping at the top, but the star of the show with this vest is the ribbing. The lovely folded rib trims took longer than I expected, but they were worth it in the end.

If you like this pattern, it can be found on our pattern streaming service along with hundreds of other patterns that you can get unlimited access to if you are a subscriber.

Vests are great as a fun project that doesn’t require too much yarn or time. There are different constructions, techniques, and styles to explore, all while creating a versatile and fashionable piece. I encourage you to dive into the world of vest knitting, perhaps starting with the Chunky Jellybean Vest for a satisfying and stylish project. I hope that you enjoy knitting vests as much as I do. With each vest, you’ll not only expand your wardrobe but also your knitting skills. If you have a favorite vest pattern, we’d love to hear about it in the comments, or tag us on Instagram.

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