1. Purchase and wash material to pre-shrink (iron if needed) I took it out of the dryer when it was still a little damp and hung it up to make ironing easier:
2. Create Patterns using poster board, card stock or butcher paper. I taped together some regular 8.5″ x 11″ paper so that you could get an idea of what size and shape I made the medium vests:
Large – I made just a few of these for extremely large breeds like St. Bernard .
Medium - This size is good for dogs that are about 30 pounds up to about 70 pounds.
Small – These are for medium small dogs. Tiny dogs will need much smaller ones (which I didn’t make):
3. Cut vests out of fabric – Check sizing on a dog
4. Sew bias tape all the way around edge of vest, folding end under first
5. Have the vests screen printed if you are doing many vests OR iron on “adopt me” letters.
6. Cut webbing to desired length for neck straps and stomach straps. Burn the ends lightly to stop fraying. My sister and her friends helped me with this step – we had 440 straps to cut, burn and sew!
7. Sew 1/2 of each buckle to a piece of webbing strap
8. If you are screen printing onto the vests, do this now, before sewing any straps or buckles onto the vests because otherwise the buckles and/or strapping could melt in the professional screen-printing high heat dryers.
9. Sew two straps that have buckles onto the vests.
10. Sew remaining 2 straps to vests on the other side (leave these adjustable)
10 Sew on sponsorship tags if applicable. I had family and friends sponsor a vest for $10 ($6 for materials when bought in bulk and $4 for screen printing). Then I placed a tag on the underside of the vest saying things like “This adopt me vest is donated in memory of Fluffy.” I put whatever the donor wanted. I created these tags by typing the donor information into a label template and then printing it out onto iron-on t-shirt paper. Be sure to use the kind that will print well onto dark colors. Then I ironed the labels onto a piece of ribbon and sewed the ribbon tag onto the vest. You could also probably iron the label right onto the vest and save a step.
11. Have your dog model your fantastic creation! Donate vests to the foster dog or shelter organization(s) of your choice!
Here’s a picture of the 110 vests that I stacked in piles of 10 as I finished sewing them. It was a lot of work, but worth it if they help homeless dogs find good homes.