Make your own Boba Fett vest
Yes, you can make a Mandalorian flak vest with basic sewing skills and you can make it for under $10. This tutorial will show you how to use an old t-shirt to create a sewing pattern template.
Aim to make the vest fit you, and then make the armor fit your vest. This tutorial is suitable for either the Boba Fett or the Jango Fett style vest. You decide how long you want the vest, the sleeve style, and the opening method. You can read more about Mandalorian armor flak vests here.
So go ahead and visit your local thrift store and look for curtains, blankets, or fabric that is sturdy, not stretchy. The vest holds your armor plates so you don’t want it to sag. But you also don’t want it too stiff or too hot. Keep in mind that pleather/vinyl isn’t an easily washable fabric, which means you would need to hand wash it and it’s more difficult to sew. If you find a fabric you love but it doesn’t look sturdy enough, you can add interfacing to give it more structure. Interfacing even comes in black color and is easily ironed-on. Or you can add a fabric liner if you have more sewing skills.
In this tutorial, you don’t have to cut up your t-shirt but I think it helps. This vest has an opening at the shoulder to fit your head through, and a side opening like the Jango vest. If you make the collar opening big enough you might not even need to do the shoulder opening, making this project even easier. Also if you want a back opening instead of a side opening, just make a slit in the center back. Below you can see a vest with a back velcro opening and a vest with a hidden lapped zipper opening.
Your stitching and darts don’t need to be perfect (mine aren’t). The armor plates cover most of the vest so don’t stress about it. I’ve used velcro but you can use a different closing method if you like. And some trivia for you, VELCRO = velvet, the soft side + crochet, the hard side.
Make a Pattern From a T-Shirt
- Put on your flight suit (and designated Mando bra for females). Grab a couple of t-shirts. Put on the t-shirt over top of the flight suit. Pick one to use to make a vest pattern. You want to choose a t-shirt that fits slightly larger and not stretching to fit over the flight suit. Now, look at the collar opening and armhole opening. Use chalk, pins, or a disappearing ink fabric pen to mark a new shape to these openings if needed. (Note that collar armor rests high up next to your throat.) Next mark where your belly button is or where you want the vest hem to be. Mark the bottom edge, 1-2 inches below the belly button for the Boba style. And lower for the Jango style, or leave long if you’re unsure right now on where to make the hem. The length of the vest will depend on your vest style (Boba/Jango/Din), the armor spacing, and your body height.
2. Cut around the arm hole and bottom edge if you like, but it’s not necessary if you don’t want to destroy your t-shirt.
3. Fold the t-shirt, matching the seams together, and pin. Place on large paper (gift wrap paper, artists newsprint, or pattern paper).
4. Mark the front collar line, the back collar line, and the hemline. Make a long straight line at the folded edge and top edge with a ruler. (see video below for a demonstration)
5. Mark the shoulder top and bottom slant line. And mark the back and front neckline curves.
6. Mark the bottom of the armhole opening (‘armscye”) and the other side of the bottom hem. Make a long line at the side seam with a ruler. (Ladies may wish to taper this line a bit.) Mark the armhole curve and bottom hemline.
7. Cut the pattern with seam allowance. Note that the back and front are the same except for the neckline and armhole. Those areas curve a bit differently. See the photo below.
Congratulations. You now have a paper pattern! Two sleeve pattern styles are shown below. Keep reading.
DIY Mandalorian Flak Vest
- Place your custom-made paper pattern on the fabric fold. Pin in place. For your first vest I suggest you make a test sample vest using some other fabric before using your good fabric. You might need to alter your paper pattern for a better fit.
2. Cut around the pattern. (Add about 1/2inch to create a seam allowance if you didn’t add seam allowance to the paper pattern.) You’ll need two pieces, front, and back.
3. Place right sides of fabric together, line up as best you can and pin at the shoulders. Stitch shoulder seams. Note: Leave half of one shoulder unstitched or else your head won’t fit through the collar opening. If your collar opening is large enough you might not need this shoulder opening. Try on the vest to decide if it will fit over your head without the shoulder velcro opening. (If you’re making a back opening vest, disregard the shoulder opening.)
4. Pin and sew one side seam. Then top stitch the seams and trim any excess seam allowance. Top stitching holds the seams flat and gives the vest a more detailed finished look.
5. Attach velcro or snaps on the shoulder opening. Finish these shoulder seams with topstitch or zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying.
6. Finish the edges of collar opening with zig-zag or overlock stitch, turn over and pin, and topstitch collar.
7. Do the same with both arm holes, zig-zag finish the edges, turn over and top stitch. Double top stitch if you like. Press flat.
8. Sew velcro to the side as the closure method. (Use sewing velcro with sewing machines. Do not use adhesive velcro or you will gunk up your sewing needle with glue.)
9. Try the vest on to check if darts are needed for a better fit. Females may want bust darts in front, and males may want darts at the back. To fix gaping armholes add side darts at the armholes. When pressing darts, press them towards the inside or towards the bottom of the garment. If darts are a new topic for you, learn about darts here.
10. Hem the bottom or leave it until you test out your armor placement and spacing. Lastly, use fray check in any areas that might need it.
Mandalorian Vest Sleeves
Boba Fett Sleeve Cap
Add cap sleeves, 9-12 inches wide and 4-5inches tall (depending on your armhole opening). Print the Boba sleeve pattern and adjust the size as needed. Cut 2 pieces on the fold, and on the bias so it stretches better. (Bias is the diagonal of the fabric threads.) See the video below for a demonstration.
Pin folded together and zig-zag/overlock cap sleeve edges. Press flat.
Mark the middle of the sleeve cap with a pin to help you center in the arm opening. Slip it inside the vest and pin in place, then topstitch. Trying to go over the previous stitch line.
Jango Fett Sleeve Cap
For Jango style sleeves, print the sleeve pattern, cut 4 pieces, pin right sides together and sew where pins are shown below. Leave the top side open.
Clip around the sewed curve to help it lay flat, flip inside out and press flat. Then zig-zag the top edge where the clips are and attach to the vest shoulder by top stitching.
Your flak vest is now done. Hopefully, this tutorial helped you. If anything is not clear, comment below. If you’d like to make a post-imperial style vest (as seen in the new Mandalorian series), you can still use this tutorial, but you’ll need to adjust the pattern a bit at the shoulder area and not include the sleeve caps. Lastly, if you’re not happy with the results, remember you can always get a local tailor to make you a vest. Just show the tailor a photo. This is a simple “bodice” pattern vest. They measure you for a perfect fit, and you’ll be supporting your local businesses.
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