Baby Breathless: Another Free Baby Sweater (French Sailor Edition)

The perfect baby gift for my cineaste friends, Inga and Chris, would really be a baby ones-y silkscreened with the New York Herald Tribune logo. However, since this item doesn’t seem to exist…yet, and I have exactly zero dollars to spend on a baby gift, but plenty of free leftover black and white wool yarn in my stash and some vintage bakelite buttons, I decided that I would knit the next best thing: An A BOUT DE SOUFFLE-inspired sweater vest.

Because it’s never too early to expose your child to French New Wave Cinema.

Inga and Chris decided that they wanted to be surprised, so they won’t know if they are having a Jean Seberg or a Jean-Paul Belmondo until Inga actually pops the le petit chou out…sometime this week. So, a black and white sweater that doesn’t have a gender-specific button placket, is a handy solution for those mystery babies.

There seems to be a dearth of free knitting patterns for toddlers. Although I think the original pattern looks oddly frumpy in the Crystal Palace finished project photographs, with a few modifications and good button choices, the pattern can be transformed from “dated” to “retro” very easily. I based this version of the sweater vest on the Breton–the classic French sailor sweater, adding stripes and modifying the neckline, and I think it turned out pretty cute. I jammed this out in about 8 hours from start to finish. This is also a terrific stash busting project, as it takes just under 300 feet of worsted weight yarn to complete.


  1. Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    That is one fantastic baby gift! As you know, I am a birth doula and I make a little sweater or blanket or something for each of my clients. So I am always on the prowl for new ideas.

    You did a great job there on the knitting and the being resourceful and creative. Two thumbs way up for you!

  2. Melissa
    Posted July 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I love your French sweater vest! The modification you made to the neck looks so great. Can you tell how you did it? I have no idea how to make changes and would love to make what you did. Thanks!

  3. Posted July 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi Melissa! The original pattern makes the finished neckline look almost like a mock turtleneck–The front and the back end up looking even. To get the slight dip in the front neckline, I start making the front neckline earlier. So if the pattern says, “Work until the armhole measures 4 inches. I start making the neckline at 3.5 inches. I also work one shoulder at a time instead of going back and forth between the two sides like the pattern calls for.

    Also–instead of picking up the number of stitches stated in the pattern for the arm holes and the neckline, I pick up two stitches, skip one stitch, etc… all the way around. The pattern calls for too many stitches so the armbands especially kind of flare out out too much for my taste.

    Good luck!

  4. Mary
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I love the vest! Where can I find the pattern?

  5. Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mary–

    If you click on the highlighted text Crystal Palace in the story above, it links you directly to the free pattern. Happy knitting!

  6. Bernadette
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Where can I buy this vest?? I love it

  7. Alicia M Alvarez
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    The Crystal Palace link doesn’t work. Is there another place to find the pattern?

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