Toddler Boy’s Puffer Vest Tutorial

Okay, before you read any further, you must be warned that the word “tutorial” is used very loosely for this post. If this was a book from the 19th century, the proper title might be something like, “Toddler Boy’s Puffer Vest Tutorial, Or A Step-By-Step Follow Along of a Novice Sewer’s Bumbling Attempts To Re-Create a Favorite Vest.” I’m sure a proper tutorial follows the perfected route to make something that a seamstress had not simply tried to do one time…But you’ll have to settle for my first try!

Okay, all caveats aside, here’s the step-by-step follow-along of my creation.

Last winter we found a cute and super-functional puffer-vest for J. It was free, which is why we owned it as I don’t think I could bring myself to pay over $20 for any piece of infant clothing. He wore it all fall and into the winter layered over other jackets. This spring it was running a bit tight (6-12 month sized jacket on a 18 month wearing one-year old), but I pushed it until the weather warmed up and the vest could be honorably retired. I LOVED this vest and wanted to find something like it for little man to wear this fall and winter.

This is the vest on J at the beginning of the fall last year. Isn’t he cute?!

But then I found that a weeny-teeny puffer vest cost way more than $20. For instance, this little number, also Gymboree brand like our first vest, runs $36.95. Yuk.

So I started to do what I always do—scour the internet for a free tutorial or pattern to make a toddler boy’s vest to replace the one J had outgrown. After looking at blog after blog I was discouraged. There were certainly tutorials for vests, but nothing quite like the little vest above.

But then heaven smiled on me. While garage saling one weekend with the fam, I scored a quilted navy blue fabric that was just perfect for a puffer vest. It cost me all of $1 and seemed to be just enough fabric for what I needed.

Armed with cheap fabric and determination, I used the old vest and a 2T jacket we have for this fall to create something of a pattern. The original vest was almost as wide as the 2T fleece, but the fleece had quite a bit more length.

This is what I had after I cut out the first round of pieces from my fabric. I later decided to add a strip on either side of the front for buttons (see pattern). So now, on to the “official” tutorial.

First you’ll have to create a pattern (on scrap fabric, paper or if you’re silly like me, on the vest fabric) by using something that fits your little one. If you have a jacket that fits well, tuck the arms in and pretend it’s a vest, but make sure to add both a seam allowance and between 1/2″ – 1″ on all sides to make the vest a bit than the jacket. Create strips for the snaps by cutting fabric as long as the front pieces and about 3 1/2″ or 4″ wide.d

To get the tutorial, click here for the long, long pdf: Puffer Vest Tutorial (it may take a few minutes to open). For those who don’t want to go through the tutorial but want to see what the vest turned out like, look out below!

Not perfect, but hey, J won’t know any better, right?

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8 Responses to Toddler Boy’s Puffer Vest Tutorial

  1. Leanne says:

    Wow, Sarah! You are amazing!

  2. Okay, not only did you make up a pattern (a complicated one at that!), but you also took the time to take pics and write directions. You’re awesome! Some other mom is going to look for just such a pattern and there it will be for her. You’ve done a great service to other moms and your kiddo looks marvelous too.

  3. Becky P says:

    You never cease to amaze me. Your skillz will certainly come in handy in your future zhong guo life.

  4. piperbrogan says:

    Super cute!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Lucy says:

    You are wonderful!!!! I have been wanting to attempt this myself but have been hesitant. Not to mention, there doesn’t seem to be very good material out there already quilted in this rip-stop type material???? If you find where yours originated from, let me know!!! Thanks!

  6. acloserpeek says:

    Lucy–hope you get a chance to try this! Yes, finding quilted ripstop at a general fabric store could be a challenge. I know you can find ripstop online and quilt it yourself (blech), but I haven’t seen any myself. If I do, I’ll let you know!

  7. Nicola Wilks says:

    Hi there, I know this was written 4+ years ago and it’s very unlikely that you still have this, but I’m wondering if you have a pdf of the pattern at all? This page and the tutorial imply that there is but I can’t find the link to it at all. I know there are instructions on making your own pattern but, as I say, it’s implied that there is a printable pattern so I thought I’d ask.
    If not, I’ll continue with my attempts to make one. Your tutorial is really good & this is the best puffer vest I’ve been able to find online.
    Thanks in advance! 🙂

  8. Zhining Chin says:

    I found your photo from the google image, and wonder if possible, I can use one of your photos for a Children reading book series we are working on, your name “acloserpeek” will be used.

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