~~~ My own interpretation of the classic Gypsy Vest ~~~
I altered the photo to try to represent the solid band of fabric which I chose to make for the Bust area of the vest. I also prefer to lace mine like a corset, all the way from the bottom to the top of the solid part of the Bodice (where nice, natural 'buttonholes' conveniently form along the center edges, when the finishing is done).
Many variations may be done with this basic style. Different types of lace patterns may be used, and different solid fabric patterns may also be employed for it. On some garments, one might prefer to attach the Laces to the vest and tie it in one spot as shown here.
I used Sugar 'n' Cream cotton yarn for Summer; any soft, worsted weight woolen yarn would be ideal for Autumn or Spring. Other choices might include silk or bamboo fibers.
This is a link to the original vintage pattern which was my inspiration. My vest, although similar, is really not the same. Also, I'm pretty sure the original pattern has some serious typos in it (including calling for a size K crochet hook for worsted weight yarn, when it obviously should have said size H instead). The original also did not include a diagram, which I have provided here.
Bodice Back diagram. Arrow points to Center Back of garment.
S = Single crochet
D = Double crochet
T = Treble crochet
NOTE: Depending on where you are in the row when shaping the Armhole and Neck edges (whether at the beginning or end), you may opt for a chain of the appropriate length to fit; or alternatively, with whichever decrease crochet stitch technique is suitable to fit the desired shape.
Bodice Front diagram (reverse for other side). Arrow points to Center Front of garment. In future garments, I might try filling in the two largest gaps at the necklines (both found on the rows of 'solid squares' in the Mesh Lace pattern), with (1 sc, [1 hdc ~ or ~ 1 dc, depending on fit], ch-1). I didn't show that in this diagram, because that is not how I actually finished my prototype vest.
Overlapping lines in the diagrams indicate where stitches are placed into the top of the chains (or tc stitches, as the case may be) on the previous rows. Whether to make those diagonals with chains or tc (or perhaps dtc, if necessary) stitches just depends on where you happen to be in the work.
If I should decide to use the filler stitches in those places, that would make necessary to use the decrease crochet stitch technique on the corresponding opposite locations of the garment. Likewise, when not filling those places in, it is not necessary to use the decrease stitches, but only to place a regular stitch of the appropriate height in those same locations.
(Fortunately, that decision needs only to be made for the Front Bodice of the pattern, right there at the neckline. And the choice all depends on how it looks either way, when finished. I didn't use the filled-in techniques on my prototype, leaving it more open there... and I don't believe that doing so was at all detrimental to the overall appearance of my vest. However, I would be interested in trying the more filled-in, structured option on the neckline next time, just for comparison. If I should like that better, I would then edit the diagram for the Front Bodice, in order to reflect my preference. Until then, it stands as is.)
- To begin, the lace pattern is worked from the bottom edge of the garment upwards, on 117 (129) chains (not counting the one on the hook). Work the first treble crochet in the 9th chain from hook and work across, beginning with the open mesh squares (* 1 tc, ch 2, sk 2 sts *). The foundation row (Row 1) should have 37 (41) open squares.
- Chain 4 at the beginning of each closed-mesh row; chain 5 at the beginning of each open-mesh row.
- The fabric should measure approximately 36" (40") across, using a size H crochet hook and worsted weight yarn... GAUGE: 3 stitches = 1 inch / 1 row of treble crochet = 1 inch.
- Row 2 is made with * 2 tc in each ch-2 space, ch 1 * ... (Row 2 is a closed-mesh row.)
- Row 3 is another row of open-mesh squares, like the foundation row (Row 1).
- Repeat Rows 2 and 3 for the lace pattern. Work a total of about 17 rows evenly in the lace pattern, with the final row always being a "Row 3" (open-mesh row); or until desired length to underarm.
- Now begin making the solid band of fabric at the Bust: First, sc next row, decreasing 15 stitches evenly across. Decreases are made in this row, by working only one sc in the squares, instead of the usual two sts per square. This will be done at the following numbered squares for each of the two different sizes:
- Small / Med -- Squares numbered 1, 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 37
- Large -- Squares numbered 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 39, 41
- The chart diagrams above are for the smaller size; the larger size has the same shaping on the edges of the Bodice, but will have a total of four extra meshes in the lace pattern.
- (NOTE: The larger size will also possibly require an extra two rows of vertical length through the top of the Bodice, with necessary shaping worked in... I didn't make a diagram for the larger size, since everything depends on the actual size and shape of the person wearing the garment. And for taller women, a longer Skirt may be needed for the vest too.)
- After completing the decreases in the first row of sc, work a wide band of solid fabric across the Bust of the Bodice with alternating rows of dc and sc (five or six rows of each for the smaller size; six or more for the larger size, to fit).
- After working the solid part of the fabric (and always ending with a final row of sc), divide the work for the upper Back Bodice and for the two upper Front sides of the Bodice. Follow the diagrams for shaping, using suitable chains or decreasing stitches at the edges as needed for fitting and ease. Begin with the Front left and right sides, reversing the diagram for symmetry. Always start working on the "right"-side of the garment. Doing so will require adjustments in the shaping techniques for the two Fronts, depending on where you are in the process.
- After completing the two Fronts (left and right), leave 3 stitches free at each underarm and begin working the Back also on the "right"-side of the garment.
- After completing the Back, sew or slip-stitch the shoulder seams; then run a row of sc around the entire edge of the Vest, including around each armhole, easing as needed to make it look neat and flat. Generally, you'll need to work 2 sc in each space along the bottom edge of the garment, and 3 sc along the Front Center edges. Work extra stitches around the lower corners and take in on the concave curves (i.e. at armholes). Take extra care around the neckline to obtain a neat appearance there.
- Weave in all loose threads.
- Make a Lace (or Ties if you prefer) for the Front of the Bodice, by chaining at least 120 (more or less, as you wish), then slip stitch in each chain across and finish off by weaving in the loose yarn at the end. 120 chains will make a single Lace just long enough to lace up five 'buttonholes' at each side of the Front (like a corset), and will make a small, neat bow for it too.
My Gypsy Vest easily slips over the head for wearing, after first being laced up and tied with a bow.
Here are a few links for graphing paper and other design tools for crochet / knitwear:
Designer Graph Paper