Sewing Instructions

How To:

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:

girl scout project pictures 2009_0009







girl scout ironing micaela







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

girl scouts mic sewing bindinggirls scouts mic sewing binding







5. Have the vests screen printed if you are doing many vests OR iron on “adopt me” letters.

Copy (1) of gs screen print 2girl scout screen print drying






 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.

girl scout tags  






11. Have your dog model your fantastic creation!  Donate vests to the foster dog or shelter organization(s) of your choice!

vests at grandmas

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.

70 Responses to “Sewing Instructions”

  1. This is great! Where are you located and do you have any left? I’m with the Schertz Humane Society/HOmes for Pets in Texas and we’re in need of some vests, trying to raise funds to buy some or find someone local that could make some for us! Thank you so much for your service to animals!

    • My 110 vests were distributed to five Austin, Texas area websites already. I have included detailed instructions on my website so you can sew some vests for your organization. In terms of funding the project, we found that people were very interested in sponsoring a vest (for $10), especially when they could honor a pet by having a personal message on a tag inside the vest (i.e. “In honor of our loving dog Lucky who died in 2007 — we miss you”)

      • If you decide to do this again, please let Austin Boxer Rescue know! We are overflowing with dogs to the point of turning them away and I suggested that every time a foster dog is in public that it should be wearing something like this, but no one in our organization is handy with needle, thread, etc.

  2. Are these vests available for sale?

  3. I love this idea thank you for sharing.

  4. HI I am the volunteer coordinator for a No Kill Shelter in Oregon and am in dire need of some adopt me vest. They seem pretty simple to put together and I like the idea that you can custom your own saying. Being a non profit organization and always in the major red I am always looking for the best bang for my buck and I can see it in these vests. Any recommendations on a material I was thinking of a mesh of some sort for coolness in the summer. Kudos on a great look product and Idea.

    • I have seen commercial vests made of mesh. They may be slightly cooler, but it would be very difficult to sew and also I am not sure how well a message on the side would show up. We used heavy weight denim. This fabric seems to hold up well although needs pressed after washing. They don’t get washed all that often though. Despite being in Texas heat, the denim does not seem to add too much heat to the dog because it is just a little thing that sits on their back. Good Luck!

  5. super instructions! we had these in aspen & it really does make people come over to you on a hike, walking around town, etc. mine will be made from various donated material- think tee shirt, lace, bias tape & ribbon- i’m going for pretty, or at least pretty quirky!

  6. Thanks for sharing!

    God Bless you….

  7. fantastic website and project. Not only a good looking vest, but your sponsor idea really puts these vests in reach for shelters with shallow pockets. Is it possible for you to add a .pdf file of your template shrunk to 8.5″ x 11″ size? Many office supply places offer blueprint enlargements where one could then get the template enlarged for the various sizes. Thanks again for a great idea and site.

    • I wish I would have thought about that! I no longer have the patterns. The pictures do show some measurements on the side to give some relativity to the pattern. Really, the concept is very forgiving. We used large sheets of paper taped together and draped over various sized pups to create the pattern.

  8. Hi – thanks for the great tutorial. Can you tell me where you found bulk bias tape? I’m having a hard time finding it in large quantities. And also, the buckles and straps? Thanks so much for your help!

  9. This is such a great idea….even a beginner like myself can do this project…I’m only having trouble in deciding how long the web straps should be???? Was lucky enough to find the buckles in a local dollar store..Thanks for sharing your idea!! Our furry friends will be a hit in the vests!!

  10. Thank you so much! I’m about to pick up supplies to make some of these for my local rescue.

    • Oh and I’m also wondering how long the straps should be.

      • It depends on the size of dog you are making the vest for. Our straps varied from 4 to 8 inches and they were generally too long. Because they were adjustable on one end of the buckle that worked out well and allowed them to fit each dog in a custom way. Good luck and thanks for helping your local rescue!

  11. Love your vests. But here’s a way to save $4.00 in screen printing! Any sewing machine becomes a ‘free-hand embroidery machine very simply. Practice this: Drop your feed dog on your machine. Put a medium weight (tear away or iron on) stabilizer under your fabric.
    Place fabric (and stabilizer) in simple wooden or plastic embroidery hoop. Place so fabric is flat against sewing bed. Not raised like your going to hand stitch.
    1. drop feed dogs
    2. Remove pressure foot
    3. Place fabric under needle
    4. Lower presser foot (don’t forget this step!)
    5. Push foot down starting to sew while slowly moving fabric

    You can glide fabric and ‘write’ in cursive! Practice on scraps until you are ready for the real thing. I started this when I was 15 yo on an old Sears Kenmore. This will work with ALL sewing machines where you can drop the feed dog. Brothers are great! Questions?
    Email me at: or
    Sincerely, Lori Walsh

  12. Hi. The Humane Society of Forsyth County GA is having a Mutt Stutt walk on June 4th. We would love to have vests like this for our dogs. Not sure any of us can sew. Would it be possible to purchase 10 vests from you?

  13. Great idea! Ive visited this site for almost a year now… just never had time to make them. Have an adoption fair coming up and refuse to pay 25.00 for one.. We are using Canvas we got for $5 a yard and all the other supplies are cheap enough for our 10 vests.

    Here’s my questions (I know you are sick of dumb ones…I apologize). The issue I ALWAYS have with these types of vest is regardless of how well they are made, if there isn’t an attachment to the dogs collar, they lose it or it comes lose.

    Are all 4 straps under the dogs body or is the one for around the neck? I cant quite make it out in the pictures and there isn’t just a picture of a single vest :\

    That said, and assuming the strap goes under the body, in your experience, how would a neck strap work on these vests? Or a Velcro type attachment to keep the vest from sliding at all?

    Also, how much bias tape does one medium vest require? I don’t wan to buy more than I need.. I doubt I’ll make these again and I’ll just pack rat the extra like i do everything :S Trying to avoid that!

    • There are no dumb questions! I don’t remember how much bias tape a medium vest took…. whatever the perimeter of the fabric is. I am guessing about 1 and 1/2 yard so you would need one pack of bias tape for each two vests.

      There is a strap under the belly and another strap under the neck. They stay on unless the dog is really running all over the place hyper. If you wanted to make them even more secure, you could velcro the vest to the dog collar up on the back of the neck.

      Good luck!

  14. Love this idea and I’m trying mine today with a bit of a change. I’m the Director of an East Coast Beagle Rescue and we often need “Donate” vests so I’m going to try adding an alternate color strip of fabric to this crosswise with clear vinyl pockets on either end to hold money for donations. I’m using red fabric w/yellow bias tape so will use the alternate yellow color for the cross fabric & I’ll iron on black “Donate” letters. I spent about 25.00 at my local Joanns and purchased 1 1/2 yrs brite red broadcloth (Heavy grade), 4 pks of wide bias tape, 1/2 yd brite yellow broadcloth, 4 yds of 1 inch brite red webbing and 1/2 yd vinyl so each of my vests will be about 7-8.00 which is 1/3 the cost of anything online that I can purchase.

  15. Velcro vs Buckles…I’m wondering if it isn’t more cost effective to do Velcro not to mention easier to take on and off. Did you try any with Velcro? I’m just curious whats the easiest?

  16. This is such a great project! If you decide to do this again at any time, I know some screen printers in the Austin area who could help out. : )

    • Hi Sarah,
      My name is Diana & I live in San Antonio but go to Austin quite often. If you happen to still know a screen printer, I am going to try to make some of these great vests (thanks to the young lady who posted this : ) and donate them to San Antonio Pets Alive. Please let me know. I just think screen printing looks so much better and will last longer.

      • Unfortunately we didn’t get the screenprinting donated… just paid the regular price. We had friends and neighbors who paid $10 to cover the cost of the fabric, materials and screenprinting. I agree that it looks the best. Good luck with your project!

    • Hi Sarah,
      I am trying to help out a fifth grade class with this same project for Austin Pets Alive. Do you still have a line on a screen printer?

  17. What an amazing effort!

  18. Thanks so much I just adopted a dog from the rescue here in NH and was looking for a vest for him, he has a single coat so he gets cold when the sun goes down, I lined mine with fleece for warmth by cutting up a fleece pullover and decided to leave the collar out for fashion. Thanks for your site, Reece now has a new home and a new vest! Im planning on making some adoptable ones for the rescue in th near future! 😀

  19. SUGGESTION FOR RESCUES who contacted you asking for vests: they should send a link to this blog to their local Girl Scout organization and ask them to pass it on to local Troops to see if any of them might be interested in doing the project for their area. People who volunteer (like me) are often stretched thin so doing the project themselves may not be feasible.

    I sent the info to my local GS org and have gotten a couple of responses expressing interest. I am hopeful that one of them will decide to do it.

    Thank you so much for doing this and sharing it through your blog. What a great project! The fact that you did this not only helped your local rescues and animals but continues to help many more as the idea gets passed along.

  20. Thank you for every other informative web site. Where else could I get that type of info written in such an ideal method? I have a undertaking that I am simply now working on, and I have been at the glance out for such information.

  21. question do you have the adopt me logo on one side or both and where dp the straps go?

  22. also sorry to bother you but how did you fundraise the 1000+ for the vests

    • We made 110 vests. We asked people to donate $10 for the sponsorship of a vest. For the $10 they were able to put a little message on an iron on tag inside the vest. People honored pets and pet-lovers, both living and dead…. for example “In memory of our faithful companion Spike. We miss you”

  23. Hello there, I found your website by means of Google at the same time as searching for a related topic, your website got here up, it seems to be great. I’ve bookmarked to favourites|added to bookmarks.

  24. I’ve learn some good stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot attempt you put to make the sort of wonderful informative web site.

  25. How can our group get on your mailing list for a few vests? We save pit bulls.

  26. Hello,
    I am a head volunteer for the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter in NY. I was wondering if you sell your “adopt me” vests? We have been looking for someone to make them but haven’t found anyone yet. Are your vests for sale or do you offer services to make them? You can email me at Thank you.

    • Sorry – we do not make the vests for sale… my daughter who did this as her gold project is off to college now and no longer makes them… we keep the website up to teach others how they are created. It only takes basic sewing skills so hopefully you will be able to find someone – good luck!

  27. Your daughter could probably make these on the side to make a bit of money while she’s going to college, and it sure will teach her a lot about business, and cash flow, and other life skills! Congrats to all the additions, this is a tremendous resource!!!

  28. hey just wanted to offer my services! i own poshpetwear and we make all types of handmade/custom clothing for dogs. We are proud to say that all of our doggie clothing is made in the USA! We will be launching our site late summer/ early fall, but till then if anybody is still interested in purchasing an adopt me vest i would be happy to help (or anything else for your furry friends)! you can reach me at Thanks and good luck with all of your rescues!

  29. I have a Girl Scout Troop in Cedar Park TX. We will be Junior Scouts next year and I would LOVE to have them do some of these. I do not understand how you did the buckle though…not the world’s best at sewing but willing to learn and teach my girls. Please email me at if you would be willing to walk us through one. Thanks! Troop 698.

  30. Thanks so much Abbi, I love what you’re doing. I am just learning how top use a sewing machine so I probably won’t have time to make one for Rex by Sunday, but I’ll be doing one in the future for sure 🙂

  31. Thank you for any other excellent article. The place else may anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

  32. Hi! You can find dog adoption jackets here:

  33. I am currently making some for the Denver Dachshund group and I used cotton material for the vest and the binding. I am going to experiment with the shape of the vest since I am making these for really small dogs, But for now this shape will work. I’m also going to try and make a couple of snug sacks for the dogs that like to be warm 24 hours a day. Thank you for sharing this.

  34. […] inspiration from here, here, and here – I decided to take on the adopt me vest and make my own version for […]

  35. This site has the small for $5 & some change.
    Also type in adopt me vests on Ebay, lots of people selling them cheap.

  36. […] Make Your Own “Adopt Me” Vest […]

  37. I make and sell vests for rescues on my Etsy site:

    I also am able to do the screen printing for the vests as they are made.


  38. I am currently making some of these vests using the instructions on this blog. They are so easy!!! I volunteer for a local animal shelter and they are going to use these vests for the upcoming holiday events to try to get some animals adopted. Thanks for the easy instructions and measurements. Much appreciated.

  39. What a great Idea will try to make some soon for the homeless Dog Shelters in the area thanks

  40. Would Velcro work instead of buckles?

  41. I am a seamstress who does lots of work for rescues. I am currently recycling T shirts into dog T shirts, sweaters into dog sweaters, etc…I also make lots of custom pet items, dresses, beds, etc… I was looking for a pattern for the ADOPT ME vests, as I have an embroidery machine and will be embroidering the letters on each vest. I am so thankful to you for what you’ve done and I will be making lots of these for the rescues I work with all over the country. I especially love your idea of putting a tag in so that people can sponsor a vest in memory of a dog or whatever they want. I was a girl scout growing up so this touched my heart. You should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished. If you have anyone looking to purchase some, feel free to give them my e-mail address:
    Thanks again!

  42. […] * Check out the great “Adopt Me” dog vests that our volunteer Girl Scout Micaela made for our shelter dogs. We hope other volunteers will make them too! If you go to her website to the sewing instructions section there are complete step by step instructions with photos! […]

  43. This would be a great starter project for home ec classes in high schools.

  44. Can you give some tips on sewing the bias tape around the curves? It does not want to do the curves smoothly. I tried once around, stitching through all layers. That was a disaster. Then I tried it in two steps (once on the reverse side along a fold, then top stitching on the front). That was better, but I am still not satisfied.

  45. […] Are you a born match-maker? Create attention-grabbing “Adopt-Me” vests to spotlight available pets at adoption events held by shelters and rescues. We’ve found DIY options for those of us who avoid sewing as well assewing-machine wizards. […]

  46. Amazing, I help a charity and we just looking at buying them, but they so expensive…well done you, bet the charity you have them to were over the moon with them

  47. […] Are you a born match-maker? Create attention-grabbing “Adopt-Me” vests to spotlight available pets at adoption events held by shelters and rescues. We’ve found DIY options for those of us who avoid sewing as well as sewing-machine wizards. […]

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