At our house, there’s a whole lot of princess dressing up that goes on every day. I often scratch my head wondering how the girly costumes seem to accumulate. I honestly can’t tell you where all the dresses came from or if I remember buying them. But somehow there’s a big white chest in our front room filled with glittery chiffon and colorful satin. This means that on any given day you might spot Owen in a tutu, dancing right along side his sister (while my husband cringes).
So we’re changing that!
Time for my boy to dress-up like a BOY. And the easiest place to start is on the Frontier.
The kids came home from school at Thanksgiving time with a very simple pilgrim’s vest made of felt. I loved it. And decided it could easily be embellished with fringe and pockets to make a kid’s playtime vest.
I tried to come up with a clever name for the vest but nothing was working…
Wild Wild Vest?
My husband just looked at me and then went back to working on his computer.
Gritty Vest? a la True Grit?
But the vest doesn’t seem gritty at all. There’s a happy little felt star on it!
An Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle Vest?
Way too long. And way too obvious.
Less obvious. And you’ll shoot your eye out.
So I went with something simple since I was sick of Will Smith bouncing around in my head (we going straight. to. the wild, wild west….)
Too many pop culture references.
We’ll just call it the:
Of course if you’re making this for a little girl, you can certainly call it the Jessie Cowgirl vest or whatever your country belle is into. But for the boys today, we’re gonna Kid Rock it up and down the block! Because I wanna be a cowboy baaaaaby!
This vest is very simple.
It’s made of felt–which means you don’t have to finish any seams (and can disguise mistakes more easily). But the real beauty of this project is that you can make it as plain or as detailed as you want. In fact you don’t even have to sew it! You can glue the sides together! If you’re like me though, once you start adding things it’s hard to restrain and stop the sewing fun. And little by little the embellishments are everywhere. It’s one of the few times I can go overboard for a boy and feel okay about it.
Ready to head out West?
Let’s get started!
(UPDATE: I have a video showing how to make felt vests now, too! Check it out here.)
* Start by downloading and printing the 2 page pattern HERE.
– The pattern will fit children ages 2 to 4 years old, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
You can always adjust the pattern by trimming it down all around for smaller kids or extending it out for older kids.
– The pattern prints on 2 standard-size pages (8 1/2 x 11 inches). Match the two pages up at the arrows and tape them together. Do not overlap the pages, just butt them up next to each other.
* Purchase Felt Fabric in whatever colors you like (buy the felt from the bolts, not the little pre-cut squares). For girls you could even try hot pink! A 1/2 yard of fabric can make 2-3 vests.
With your pattern pieces printed, taped, and cut out you’re ready to go.
* For the BACK piece – fold the fabric and place the pattern on the fold, where indicated by the “FOLD” rectangle.
* For the FRONT pieces – fold down the diagonal on the pattern to create a V and cut two pieces. It’s easy to do this by folding the fabric and cutting both pieces at the same time. But remember that the pattern does not have to be “on the fold”.
Okay, SUPER simple sewing (or glueing) here!
With right sides together, sew the front pieces to the back pieces. Sew down the sides and sew across the shoulders, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
If you’re going for the simple/minimalist look, then you’re done! You can leave it as-is or cut fringe strips at the bottom of the vest edge.
If you want to embellish, let’s keep going!
Here are some ideas…
* Top stitch the seams with a zigzag stitch in a contrasting color that pops on the felt. This will also help the seams lay more flat.
* Add a Sheriff’s Star by sewing a felt star to a felt circle. Position the circle on the vest and sew it in place.
* Add edging around the neckline and/or arm holes. This is the same concept as using Bias Tape but it’s suuuuper easy and you don’t need to be precise! Cut a long strip of felt in contrasting color, about 1 inch wide.
Start at the bottom of one front flap and sandwich the edging around the vest. Pin it place and continue doing this all the way around the vest front, the neck, and back down the other front side. When you get to the “v” in the neck, fold/tuck the edging down a bit. Sew everything in place.
* Add Fringe to the bottom. Lay the vest out flat and cut a piece of contrasting felt the same length. Use scissors to cut fringe strips–leaving an inch of un-cut fabric at the top. Fringing can be done before or after sewing.
Overlap the fringe on the vest bottom, pin it down, and sew the fringe in place. For added decor, sew a second top-stitched line about an inch over from the first line.
And you’re done!
Giddy up Cowboy. The Frontier is calling.
Ready for another? Let’s add pockets and fringe around the collar.
For this version I added blue felt into the mix.
* I added edging to the armholes this time as well. I sandwiched the blue felt around the armholes before sewing the whole vest together. I’ve found that with armholes this is an easier method.
* With the vest sewn together, cut strips of various felt colors to create fringe.
– Make sure each strip is long enough to go all the way around the front V and around the back of the vest. Each strip should be about 1-2 inches wide. No rules here. Just do what looks best.
– Pin the first layer in place, spacing it evenly all the way around. Make sure it’s long enough to come down to a V in the front so it’s flush with the edge of the vest.
As you pin and sew around the shoulders, some of the felt will be bunched and gathered up a bit. This won’t matter because it will be cut into fringe and will be cased with felt edging at the end.
With the first layer of fringe in place, pin down the next layer and sew it. Then sew the final fringe layer after that. Finally, cut the fringe strips.
* Sew edging to the bottom of the vest. I did not sandwich the edging this time. I just sewed it right on top so that it looks wider than the other edging.
Use the same felt strip to create edging all the way around the vest and neckline. Sandwich it in place and sew it down.
You’re almost done!
Kids love to gather treasures when playing so let’s add pockets!
Cut two rectangles for pockets, cut two smaller rectangles for fringe and sandwich it at the top with the same felt edging.
Pin them in place and sew them down.
And you’re done!
Time to play.
Or take a break.
Being the Sheriff is hard work.
Home home on the range little partner.