Saturday, August 10, 2013

DIY Denim Patch Vest

It's here! After struggles with technology and fabric it's finally come together. It's a really fun-- and surprisingly easy-- project that anyone with basic knowledge of sewing can do. The name of the game is random and messy looking, so it's perfect for people (like yours truly) who like to play "fake it till you make it" when they sew. 

  1. 2+ pairs of jeans of different washes, it looks better with more contrast (ie dark and light wash)
  2. Sewing machine and needle/thread (it's faster to machine sew but you can hand sew if you have the patience) 
  3. Fabric scissors-- pinking shears, or normal ones work fine
  4. Dark colored thread
  5. A vest or jacket (something with a fit/shape you like and that has little/no stretch like the denim you are using)
  6. Lining fabric (optional)

1. Cut along the inseam and the sides seams on both jeans so you have total of 4 separate jeans fabric pieces.

2. Decide from which pants you want the pockets (in the front of the vest) to come from and cut out a diamond ish shape around one pocket, flip it over so you get a second diamondish shape connected to the first.

3. Separate the pockets

** A note: I did the other half first, so these photos show me "building" the other half... to make it easier to visualize this is what it looked like when I started the second 1/2'

4. Lay the vest flat and line the pockets up with the edge of the vest, adjusting it if you need to in lenght/width. Use a bigger piece of denim and cut so that it follows the edge of the vest... You can break the bigger piece up if you want more patches in the front

5. You will notice that most vests/jackets have sort of seems or bulkier lines where it looks like different pieces of a pattern were sewn together. The rectangles are your guides as you cut strips of fabric, varying in size and color, to fit the shape of your

(yellow lines indicate where on the vest the seam lines are)

6. Pin as you go, making sure to only pin through the denim not the vest/jacket you are using as a template. You can sew all of it at once, or do what I did and sew the vest in three big sections: front left, back, front right.

7.  This is not necessarily need to be step 7, I did the armholes as I went-- Doing the curves of the armholes are the only thing a bit tricky here. I found that cutting smaller, triangular shaped pieces made the process go a lot easier, and really making sure to follow the seam lines as closely as I could. 

8. Connect the front arm strap thing to the back to finish the armhole and sew. 

9. Once you've successfully pinned/sewed all the little pieces together finish with a zigzag stitch or straight stitch all the way around the vest and each patch to keep things together for longer. 

The fabric might curl a bit if you zigzag stitch it, and stretch the fabric while sewing, because denim in jeans especially has some stretch. Straight stitching is less like serging, so it won't contain all the loose threads, allowing the vest to have a more distressed look.

9. OPTIONAL-- embellish with studs, rhinestones, beads, patches, fabric, lace, trim, ric rac, paint, embroidery, unicorns, etc. as you please! I left mine plain but have fun with yours. Also, you could add a lining if you want it a. to be better quality and last longer b. don't like the messy inside look and/or c. want some badass fabric poking out when you wear your creation.


  • IF YOU ARE USING A JACKET: you do basically the same thing as with a vest, just follow around the arm holes with the strips of fabric... This is what it would look like working with a denim jacket

  • You can sew large pieces behind smaller pieces to make cutting fabric easier. Just remember to cut around the excess fabric to reduce bulk
  • Turn strips of denim around to get more values/colors
  • Play with grain-- it looks cool to see the grain going in all different direction
  • Do NOT machine wash-- hand washing is a lot better because it won't make your creation fall apart
You may be thinking, "Well now I've can make this, but it looks a bit of a mess, how on earth will I appear in public in this?!" Not to worry self conscious individual! I've given you a few examples of how I would wear it, although disclaimer my taste in clothes in life is unique to my own cultural exposure, blah, blah..


  1. I love the combination of the formal with the informal!!!! The prom dress with the denim patch jacket!! Awesome!

  2. Very creative, love the vest!