DIY Pirate Vest Tutorial

Yo ho ho!

Do you have a boy or girl in your house who loves to say “Arr”? My girls love to read about pirates and walk around with their fingers crooked like hooks but in a house full of sparkles and fairies I don’t have many excuses to make pirate clothes.

A friend of mine recently asked me to make a set of vests for her two boys to complete their pirate costumes for an upcoming celebration. We met at a local craft store and she chose a basic black cotton. I chose a pleather/vinyl for the pocket details (it was on clearance).

Here is a tutorial to create your own diy pirate vest!

DIY Pirate Vest Tutorial

Supplies Needed:

  • A tee shirt in the same size as the child will wear
  • 1/2 yard of base fabric (cotton or poly blend)
  • Trim materials like buttons, tassels, ribbon, or bias tape.
  • Thread (matching or contrasting)

Fold your tee shirt in half and lay it on the fold of the fabric. Trace around the tee shirt with chalk or lay it directly on the fabric and cut around. This will be the back.

Cut two front pieces, not on the fold. The side and armholes will match up with the back. Instead of a straight line cut a deep V from the neckline to the bottom hem.

I cut the bottom of the front pieces in a “sea-worthy” look.

Match up the front and back, inside out, with the armholes lined up. Pin all three pieces together. (I made two vests at once since my friend was blessed with two adorable boys.)


Sew across the shoulder seam and down both sides.

Pin back your sleeve edges and sew them down. (Do the same thing with the bottom hem on the back piece, and the front edges.) I did a “stay-stitch” (a line of straight stitches) for the tattered bottom on the front. This will prevent fraying.

Tip: Start sewing your armholes on the bottom so if it doesn’t look great you’ll have things straightened out on the top.

Do the same thing with the bottom hem on the back piece, and the front edges. I used a 1/4″ hem on all the edges.


I added some trim for a faux pocket with some clear-drying fabric glue. For a more colorful option you could add buttons or tassels, or if you are feeling adventurous add some bias tape!

Tip: If you glue anything to your vest, make sure to place something on the other side of the fabric to prevent accidental adhesion! Also, leave it flat for 24 hours to ensure the glue has a chance to dry. I placed a playing card underneath each “pocket”. They are non-stick!

This quick little vest can be completed in 30 minutes and the results are fantastic (and cheap!)… Just ask this little Pirate!


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