Friday, June 06, 2008

free pattern friday: cowgirl butterfly astronaut vest


When we were little, we had playclothes and good clothes. We wore our good clothes to church and to other events that required good grooming, and most days I couldn't wait to get home and tear off my fancy clothes to put on my overalls (or as my Grandmom called them, "dungarees"), and go play outside. My little sister on the other hand loved to wear fancy clothes, the frillier the better, and would beg to be allowed to wear her shiny patent leather Mary Janes (which she called "clacks"), out to play.

This vest is an homage to all the girls in clacks, who want to be frilly while they play outside. I imagine it being worn over a T-shirt and jeans, while they play cowgirls or astronauts or whatever else they want to do, and look good at the same time. It's knit all in one piece, bottom-up, starting at the ruffle, and finishes with a ruffle as the cap sleeve. Have fun making this for your favorite dress-up girl.

Edited on 6.19.2010 to correct several errata.

size: girls' 2 (4, 6)

chest: 27 (30, 31.5) inches
back length: 12 (13, 14) inches

1 (1, 2) ball/s Cascade Sierra (color B) 100g/192 yd
2 balls Cascade Sierra Quatro (color A) 100g/192 yd
size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needles
size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles
tapestry needle
3 (three) 1/2-inch buttons

gauge: 16 st / 26 rows / 4 inches over the K4, P2 rib (lightly stretched)

broken block pattern
(8 row pattern repeat)
R1 and R3: *(K4, P2), Rep from * to end.
R5 and R7: *(P2, K4), Rep from * to end.
All even rows: Knit the K's and Purl the P's.

cast on
You will start with the ruffle at the bottom edge. Using color B and larger needles, CO 248 (274, 288) st.
K 2 rows (garter st).
R3, 5: Purl
R4: Knit
R6: K2tog every st to end. 124 (137, 144) st rem.
R7: Purl
R8: Change to color A. *(K4, P3). Rep from * to end. K2tog 1 (0, 0) times. K to end.
R9 (WS): K all P's and P all K's.
Cont in K4, P3 patt for 6 rows (each RS row begins and ends with K4).
Next RS row: K4, *(P2tog, P 1, K4). Rep from * to end. 106 (118, 124) st rem.
Cont in K4, P2 patt until piece measures 6.5 (7, 7) in from cast on row.


(high) waistband
Next RS row: Change to color B. K to end.
WS: K to end.
Next RS row: Change back to color A and beg Broken Block patt. Patt 4 rows.

divide for sleeves - right side
Patt 26 (29, 30) st, turn. Place rem st on a st holder - you will now be working just these 26 (29, 30) st.
Next 2 WS rows: BO 3, patt to end.
Next WS row: K2 tog 0 (1, 1) times, patt to end. 20 (22, 23) st rem.

shape neck - right side
Cont in patt until armhole meas 3.5 (4, 4.5) in.
Next RS row: BO 4 (4, 6), patt to end.
Next RS row: BO 2 (2, 2), patt to end.
Next 2 RS rows: K2tog 1 (2, 2) time(s), patt to end. 12 (12, 13) st rem.
Cont in patt until armhole meas 5.5 (6, 7) in.
Place the 12 (13) shoulder st on a holder.

Join yarn, BO 3, Patt 49 (57, 61) st, turn work. Leave rem st on holder.
Next row: BO 3, Patt to end.
At start of next 2 rows, BO 2 (2, 3).
Next 2 (1, 1) rows, dec 1 st at each end. 40 (44, 50) st rem.
Cont in patt until armhole meas 4.5 (5, 5.5) in.

shape back neck
(RS): Patt 16 (17, 19), BO 8 (10, 12), Patt to end
Next row and all WS rows: K across in patt
Next RS row: BO 2, patt to end.
Next 2 (3, 2) RS rows: Dec 1 (1, 2), Patt to end.
Cont in patt until armhole meas 5.5 (6, 7) in. Place rem 12 (12, 13) st on holder.
Repeat in reverse for other side of neck. Place rem 12 (12, 13) st on holder.

shape left side
Join yarn and repeat as for right side, above.

Using the 3-needle bind off method, join shoulder seams.


You will pick up all the armhole stitches and create a small ruffled sleeve cap using short rows. The cap sleeve is knit back & forth, rather than in the round. You will sew the small underarm seam when finished.

Using color B and smaller needles:
Starting in the middle of the underarm, pick up and knit the BO st as you move up the front of the garment. Pick up and knit 3 out of every 4 selvedge st, all the way around the front and back of the armhole until you meet the BO st on the other side. Pick up and knit all the remaining BO st until you reach your starting point. Do not join. You will have about 60 (70, 80) st on the needle.

Turn work and knit 3 rows in garter st (not in the round).

Next RS row: BO 9, then Kfb every st until 9 st rem. Place these rem 9 st on holder and turn work.

Next row (WS): Purl. As you work your way back, place a st marker at the center top of the shoulder. P to 20 (24, 26) st beyond M, wrap & turn.
Next row (RS): K to 20 st beyond M, wrap & turn.

Next row (WS): P to 4 st beyond the last turning point, wrap & turn.
Next row (RS): K to 4 st beyond the last turning point, wrap & turn.
Repeat these last two rows 2 more times.

Next row (WS): P to end.
Turn work and K 4 rows in garter st.
Next RS row: BO all st, incl the st rem on holder.
Sew underarm seam.

Repeat for second sleeve cap.

button bands
Using smaller needles and color B, pick up 3 out of every 4 st up the right side of the garment - approx 52 (57, 60) st.
Knit 3 rows in garter st. BO.

Repeat on the left side, picking up st and knitting one row.
R2 (buttonhole row) : K to waistband. K1, YO, K2tog. K to halfway point (towards neckline), YO, K2tog. K to last 4 st, YO, K2tog, K to end.
R3: Knit.
R4: BO.

Using smaller needles and color B, starting at right front, pick up and knit about 17 (18, 20) st on right front. Pick up and knit about 22 (26, 30) back neck st and about 17 (18, 20) st on left front.
K 3 rows in garter st. BO.

Mark button placement and sew on buttons.
Weave in all loose ends.

important notice: This is a free pattern and you are welcome to use it for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce this pattern to sell, and you may not sell what you make with it. You may donate what you make with it to charity, and you may use it for charity fundraisers only if 100% of the proceeds are donated to the charity (and by charity I don't mean your kid's college fund). Thanks for understanding!


  1. That's adorable. I'm sending it along to a friend with a little grand daughter. Perfect for anywhere!

  2. Ha... you're sister in frills... that'll keep me smiling all day!

  3. Dumb question: this is knit flat, right, and not knit in the round and steeked?

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Good question! It's knit flat, but all in one piece, and then separated out for the sleeves. A bit wonky, but I'll do anything to avoid sewing seams!

  6. so cute!
    now i need friends
    to start having girls!

  7. I'm going to make this for my little cousin. It's perfect for adding a little girliness to everyday clothes. Also thanks for the different links on your site that are environmental and political etc.
    P.S. Thanks for sharing and making patterns with few seams.

  8. This is just too cute. I think my daughter might actually wear this, since she is in the 'dress only' phase. Thanks for posting the pattern!

  9. I have put this in my ravelry queue. I can't wait to make this for my daughter - she will love it!

  10. just queued this on ravelry!
    it's adorable and i've been thinking that my girl needs a vest.

  11. Just sweet--my oldest daughter (who wants to be a Cowgirl Ballerina) will love it!

  12. Thank you, again. Your Free Friday patterns are always such a treat. You are a good soul to share them with the knitting world. Eventually, my new grandbaby will have this CBAV to wear and stretch her imagination.

  13. very cute:)thank you...

  14. I don't have anyone to make this for, but I want to make it anyway. It's so cute!

  15. I just found your work through Ravelry. Your patterns are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. I don't have children, and I almost never knit for them, but this is a sweet pattern and I'm going to save it. what little girl could resist!

  17. This is fantastic, and has the high-waisted + flared bottom shape I've been hunting for. How would one go about substituting long sleeves for the ruffles? I'm sure it's fairly easy, but I'm design challenged!

  18. I love this! I saved it in my bookmarks because my printer wasn't working, but now that I've come back, the pictures aren't showing up. Am I doing something wrong?? LOL

  19. The jellyfish scientist/vet/opera singer/ inventor will love it! Thanks for the great patterns and ideas.

  20. I have a 5 year old who is the size of a 7 year old (thanks daddy!). How hard to adjust the pattern to fit?

  21. Replying to Anonymous: If you feel pretty confident in your pattern-adaptation skills, go for it! It won't be the easiest pattern to size up, but if you're up for the challenge, I think it's do-able.

  22. hmmm my 2 year old has a 21 inch chest. Should I size down? I tried to figure out how you came up with how many to cast on and there are different numbers between the sizes so I'm confused...

  23. Hi, I found this beautiful pattern while looking for a sweater for my 2 year old daughter. I decided to make it instead of a cardigan. Everything was wonderful until I got to the right sleeve. After two full days of working on the pattern, I realized there was a flaw where you say to bind off for the sleeve. It wasn't a large flaw so I adapted it so that I was back on track. Unfortunately, that is not the only flaw in your pattern. The broken block pattern is flawed as well. I finally ripped out the whole thing ten minutes ago. The next time you create a pattern and post it online for others to utilize, please check to make sure that you wrote it correctly. Thank you.

  24. ouch. i do knit, chart and proofread all my patterns, but problems can always slip through. if you send me some more detail about the problem/s you encounter, i can usually post corrections. thanks for putting up with the imperfections of a free pattern written by an amateur!

  25. I just made this and I love it! Thank you for the pattern, it's so cute!


  26. Hi, I'm knitting the smallest size. Am doing the first row with Colour A (I'm at the bottom, at the beginning). I have 124 stitches and it says to knit K4 P3 until the end, then K4. Problem is that you end up with an extra stitch. So I'll just do K5 at the end, but thought I should let you know. 7 doesn't go into 124 evenly... :o)

  27. Thanks for sharing this pattern. I just blogged the one I've finished for my daughter (who picked this pattern out herself from among some others on ravelry, "I do like that one but I WANT this one" - perfect for a girl who loves to be outside in the Vermont weather!

  28. I love this vest and would dearly love to make it for my daughter but when I try to print it out I get the first page and a list of your previous posts. I will warn you there is probably some simple explanation but I am a complete technophobe and have as much comp knowledge as a three year old child if you could help me with this situation I would be really grateful.

  29. Pippa: If you're having printing problems, the easiest work-around is usually just to copy the text from the web page, paste it into a Word document and print that. Sorry I can't be there in person to diagnose your technology issue! Good luck!

  30. I love this vest, but I seem to have a problem with the area involving the dividing of stitches for sleeves. How do I k2tog on the smallest size o times and get 3 stitches less? I am not having a fun time with this pattern. Please help.

  31. Anonymous: On the previous WS row you bind off three stitches. Hope this helps!

  32. I don't understand the sizing for this pattern. My almost 8 year old granddaughter picked this out for me to make her. Her chest measures 23 inches. How can that be smaller than a size 2? The lady in the yarn store told me to make the smallest size for her, but 12 inches long can't be right either

  33. Judy: The design is somewhat oversized, and incorporates plenty of ease (about 6 inches) so that the vest can be worn over other clothes. I would probably make her the largest size, since kids grow quickly. You should also consider her back-waist length and decide for yourself which size to make based on what you think would really fit her. If she has a lanky build, you could always make the medium size and lengthen it.

  34. If I make the largest size, is the back length measurement of 14 inches the full length of the vest or is it the measurement of the childs neck to waist measurement? Judy

  35. Judy: That's the full length - but of course you can make it as long as you like!

  36. You are so kind to post these patterns, and I want to give you a hug for each person who sends an angry comment. Friends, please, they are free patterns for charity, lets honor the loving intention.

  37. I just finished this vest for my 7 year old grand daughter. Had to add a little here and there, but did it in hot multicolored yarn and hot pink trim, with miss matched buttons from my button jar. It is the most fun think I have ever made, and best of all Gracie loves it! Thanks so much for the pattern!!!

  38. have just finished a dress version of this for my 3 year old - my adjustments to the pattern weren't great (I'm not a designer!) but it's looking ok. If you like I could write up adjustments for dress (as I would do it were I to do it again) to add to your pattern. My daughter is loving it btw, dancing around very proudly!

  39. forgot to provide the link: (post date 14 May 2010)

  40. Love this vest! I am making one for my skinny 3yo. I started with the pattern for the size 2 and just added some length. Now I'm about to start shaping the arm hole and I'm confused. I start with 26 st, BO 3, K2T 0 times but am supposed to end with 20 stitches. If I BO 3 times and have 23 stitches, it throws off the broken block pattern. Am I missing something obvious? Thanks!!

  41. I have the same problem as the poster above, knitting size 2 - I have 23 stitches after binding off 3, but then if I k2tog 0 times I don't have 20 stitches, I still have 23!
    Oh well, I am just keeping 23 stitches and doing the broken block pattern (which I don't find a flaw with, btw) and continuing as the pattern directs.
    Thanks for this gorgeous pattern!

  42. oh, what a crack, it is sooo curte. love it so much.

  43. Having issues with the wrap and turn...on next row (RS) k 4 st beyond the last turning point it say to wrap and turn but when I knit to 4 beyond last turning point I come to the wrap from the k 20 st beyond marker wrap...what do I do? Pick up the wrap and do a wrap and turn after that? Or was I supposed to knit 3 st beyond the last turning point?was this another mistake in the pattern?

  44. Hi Anonymous. Wish I could see your knitting to better help! Maybe this will help: The marker is at the center top. The first time you wrap, you have knitted 20 st beyond the marker, then do the wrap & turn. Then knit to the marker and then 20 st beyond, then do the wrap & turn again. So you have a wrap & turn partway around the sleeve cap on each side, with the marker right in the middle. Now you should knit all the way to the turning point on the opposite side, then go 4 st beyond it before you wrap & turn again. If you do that each time, you should be getting closer and closer to the armpit -- nowhere near that marker. The marker is at the top of the shoulder, and the turning points are 2/3 of the way down to the armpit on each side. I hope that helps!

  45. Hello! I picked up the stitches on the sleeve and knitted garter stitch for 3 rows. I know I have to bind off 9 stitches, but I don't know what fb means? Thanks for your pattern!

  46. Kfb = Knit into the front & back of the stitch, ie increase by one.

  47. Thank you for the pattern, i am working on size 4 and have run into a problem on the back section. After decreasing on either end of the row (this is following all of the binding offs), i still have too many stitches, 48. When doing the math of starting with 57 stitches after the initial BO of 3, i do not see how i can get to the expected 44 stitches (i did the secod BO3 and then the two addl BO2 rows, the 2 decreases in the last row only gets me to 48. What step did i miss? Thanks for your help.

  48. I'm totally confused. The main body of the pattern looks like ribbing but it says to K the P's and P the K's. That means (to me) knit the pearls and pearl the knits. Then in the broken block pattern it says to Knit the K's and Purl the P's. Purling the knits and knitting the purls would not produce a normal ribbing. Would it? HELP!!! I just got the yarn and am anxious to get started.

    1. Hi Anonymous: You're right, the main body is knit in K4 P2 ribbing.
      When you get to the broken block pattern, you knit the K's and purl the P's on the even rows.
      Don't overthink it. : ) Just start knitting and follow your instincts. If you are too unsure, just cast on a swatch and practice the stitch pattern til it looks right to you. I always find that knitting is much easier than reading a pattern!

    2. I am stumped on this as well. I stopped knitting because I am stuck and confused by what should be ribbing but doesn't look like it.

  49. Hi i'm confused with the broken block pattern as it says for row 5 and 7 p2 k4 but when i follow this i alwasy end up with 4 stitches left after i have so are these supposed to be p2 k2 please help as i want to finishe this for my little girl x

  50. R8: Change to color A. *(K4, P3). Rep from * to end. K2tog 1 (0, 0) times. K to end.

    does this mean to knit 2 rows, sorry, I love this pattern but I don't get it

  51. I LOVE THIS PATTERN! I made 13 of them as Christmas presents for grandkids, great grandkids and a really good friend's girls! They love them!!! Kathy in WA

  52. Hi! Any pointers on how to keep the cap sleeve affect but make it a long sleeve?


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