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How to Make a Vest From a Sweatshirt

Sweatshirt vests work on bears, too
Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

An old sweatshirt can be transformed into a wearable work of art when you make it into a vest. Sweatshirt vests are comfortable, durable and can even keep you warm on a chilly day. All this, of course, can be done with style. Several ideas outlined below will have you showing off such a cool vest that folks won't believe it was once a boring old sweatshirt.

Sweatshirt vests work on bears, too
Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

Things You'll Need:

  • Scissors
  • Needle And Thread Or Sewing Machine
  • Miscellaneous Novelties
  • Fabric Paint And Glue (Optional)
  • Sweatshirt

Pick the sweatshirt. Choose a sweatshirt that fits closely to your body. Those that are too big and bulky will not make for good vests. You want one that is slim and trim. It can even be a little on the small size.

Cut the sweatshirt. Use fabric scissors to cut off the sweatshirt's arms, right below the stitching that goes around the armhole. Also cut off the bottom gathered area and the neck. The neck can be left circular or cuts can be tapered down into a V-neck. Make one final cut down the front of the sweatshirt so the vest opens at the chest.

Jazz up the edges. If you don't want to leave the cut edges as they are, you can make them a tad jazzier. Stitching ribbon around the bottom, armholes, neck and down the front makes for a creative touch. You can also sew on strips of lace, leather, beadwork or fringe. Any additions along the edges can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine. Just make sure to place the item you are sewing on top of the front of the edges to hide them from view.

Add closure. If you wish to make your vest close in front, you have several options. You can sew buttons down one side of the vest and make ribbon loops to hold them closed. You can also sew a zipper down the front, add snaps or place three or four eyelets on each side through which you can lace up ribbon or leather cord.

Add other appliqués, patches, items or artwork. Glue or stitch on any extras, such as patches, beadwork, random buttons or pins, old jewelry pieces, shells, or anything else that suits your fancy. Make sure to use a fabric glue. You can also use fabric paint or fabric paint pens to create designs throughout the vest or along the borders.


All the supplies you need can be found at fabric or craft stores. You don't have to use an old sweatshirt. You can buy a crisp, new one just for this purpose.
Plain, crewneck sweatshirts are the easiest to work with, but you can use hooded sweatshirts, too.


  • Pick a sweatshirt without pockets or you'll have to work around the pockets or cut them out entirely to make a smooth-fitting vest.
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