DIY Turkish vest (sew & no-sew!) – Thrifty Belly ep 2

DIY Turkish Vest for belly dance - sew & no sew

I like DIY’s using T-shirts.


They are easy and cheap to get, and because they are simple, you can do so much with them 😀


In the first episode of Thrifty Belly, we made an off-shoulder peasant crop top out of an old t-shirt. I paired the top with a DIY Turkish vest also made from a t-shirt. I really like the lace up decoration, it’s so cute, and you can make this vest sew or no-sew. And today I’ll show you how to make it! Let’s get started!


Watch the video:


Sign up for Sparkly Belly newsletter and get free course Belly Dance Costume Making 101!



To make this DIY Turkish vest, you need:


T-shirt – A cotton T-shirt works best for this project.

Scissors, a fabric marker, a ruler

If you’d like to sew, have your sewing machine ready.



How to make a DIY Turkish Vest (sew / no-sew)


First, put on your T-shirt. If you want to go for no-sew, use a T-shirt that is fitted. If you sew, and your T-shirt is a bit loose like mine, put it on inside out, mark how much you need to take out to make it fit. Take it off, place it on a flat surface, and place pins symmetrically. And just do a narrow zigzag stitch along the pins. You only need to make it fit up to about 6in (15cm) under bust.


Make t-shirt fit


Resize t-shirt


Now put your T-shirt back on inside out still, and take your fabric marker. Stand in front of a mirror, and mark 3 things.


1 – the bottom of the opening. The opening tends to stretch if you go no-sew. So make it an inch or so smaller than you’d like.

2 – the side of the opening. This is how far you want the opening to go. Again, make it an inch or so smaller than you’d like.

3 – The bottom of the vest. I made it about 4in (10cm) below the bottom of the opening.


Draw marks on t-shirt for DIY Turkish Vest


Take your shirt off, and place it on a flat surface. Extend the bottom line to the side, and connect the opening with a nicely curved line. You can extend the line to right next to the neckband.


How to make a DIY Turkish Vest


Take your scissors, and cut off the sleeves and the bottom line of the vest. Fold the front side in half, cut out along the curved line and continue cutting off the neckband.


Cut the front opening of Turkish vest


If you’d like to sew, you can fold in all the raw edges towards the wrong side and sew along the edge with a straight stitch to create a clean finish. But you can leave the raw edges the way they are for the no-sew option, and it created a nice, tattered look, in a good way. 🙂


Next take the bottom part of the T-shirt, and cut off a strip that is 1/2in or 1cm wide. If you can cut out a continuous 20in (50cm) or so of strip, that’s great, but if not, you can tie a couple of pieces together. And run the strips in your hand, stretch them out a little, so the edges curl in and make a nice strap.


Make a strap out of t-shirt for lace up top


On the front of the vest, find the centre. From there, measure 1 1/2in (4cm) and 2 1/4in (6cm) on both sides, about 1/2in (1cm) down from the top, and mark those points. Move down another 1/2in (1cm), and mark the same 4 points. Keep going until at about 1/2in (1cm) from the bottom. I’m using a Sharpie here so you can see, but I recommend you use a fabric marker that disappears, because I made a couple of points in wrong places and these won’t go away 🙁


DIY Turkish Vest pattern


Take your scissors, and snip a tiny hole at each mark. These holes can enlarge, so very little snips will do.


Cut holes for lace up Turkish vest


Then fold in between the holes so the adjacent holes line up. And fold it over towards the centre like this.


Fold lace up DIY Turkish Vest


Put a safety pin at the end of the strap we made earlier, and start threading it through these holes. At each side, make sure to go through both layers and then move over to the other side.


DIY no sew lace up Turkish vest


If you tie 2 straps together, hide the knot behind the folded section.


Weave through the holes like you would with your shoelace. 🙂


To finish up, I like to knot the ends of the strap.


DIY no sew Turkish Vest for belly dance


Then I just used the leftover bottom part of the T-shirt to make a simple, matching overskirt. Basically it’s the same overskirt as the 10-minute overskirt I made previously. 


And your Turkish vest is finished! It’s stretchy and comfortable, and you can adjust the lace to make it a little tighter. I like this cute, casual finish of this no-sew option.


But again, if you’d like a cleaner finish, go ahead and fold over the edges and give it a top stitch. You can layer it with the peasant crop top or a coin bra. It give a bit of coverage, and you can wear it as a practice outfit or costume. You can decorate it too as you like.


DIY peasant crop top and Turkish vest


Hope you liked this DIY Turkish vest, and if you did, please share love and share this video with your dance sisters. It’s an easy troupe costuming option too!


And if you want to make more belly dance costumes, sign up for my free course, Belly Dance Costume Making 101!


Thanks for reading, and keep sparkling!



Like what you read? Want to make more costuming bits yourself?

Belly Dance Costume Making 101

Sign up for my newsletter here and get my free course, Belly Dance Costume Making 101!



Share love! Share this pin 😉


DIY Turkish vest

  10 comments for “DIY Turkish vest (sew & no-sew!) – Thrifty Belly ep 2

  1. Juanita
    January 30, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Use eyelet metal circles that you hammer on to keep snipped holes not strecth out. Like your tennie shoes, home made shower curtains. Hope this idea helps. Blessed be.

    • Mao
      February 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Yes, great idea! 😀

  2. Nicola Francis
    June 21, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Brilliant !!! Made this for a colleague from your fab and REALLY CLEAR instructions. Very many thanks N

    • Mao
      June 22, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Oh so happy to hear that, Nicola! Thank YOU!

  3. Meri
    July 29, 2017 at 5:28 am

    Moa all I can say is I love what you are doing, I am about to retire and I will be taking your courses often

    • Mao
      August 2, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Aw thank you so much, Meri! Congratulations on your retirement, and let me know if I can help you with anything! 🙂

  4. Ron Parker
    May 2, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    I added the eyelets and a fancy trim. Actually looks pretty amazing to have formally been a t-shirt. I’ve never done anything like this before in my life, so thank you so much for the instructive video.

    • Mao
      May 4, 2018 at 10:52 pm

      That’s very cool, Ron! So happy to hear that 🙂 If you’re comfortable, feel free to share your creation in our FB group You’ll inspire other people! 🙂

  5. Flor B
    March 23, 2019 at 3:26 am

    Thank you so much
    Lovely. I can’t afford to buy belly dance costume…with this I’m very happy
    Thank you

    • Mao
      March 25, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      Yay! My pleasure, Flor! 🙂

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.