Introduction: How to Make a DIY Awesome Heated Vest!

Occasionally you venture out into the world with a jacket that is not quite warm enough - or a sweater that doesn't quite cut it. The DIY Awesome Heated Vest looks to solve this problem as both a jacket liner and stylish outdoor vest. This instructable was inspired from a couple questions that had been floating around my mind for some time: How does mylar work as a textile and How does mylar interact with artificial heat and body heat? The answer is that it works really really good! The DIY Awesome Heated Vest can be achieved using a portable cell phone charger + an inexpensive heating element which is available online. The supplies you need are:

Sewing Supplies:

Straight stitch sewing machine

Quilting pins

Universal sewing needles and one hand sewing needle

Thread polyester or bonded nylon and a cotton thread Extra bobbins

***Most of the above can be found inside of a former Butter Cookie tin converted into a sewing supply stash***

Measuring and Cutting:


Rolling cutter + cutting mat (optional for mylar material - but much recommended for use)


2 standard sheets of poster board

Favorite sweater

1 Marker or tracing instrument for fabric (I used a sharpie for visibility but bear in mind the ink can bleed through on lighter fabrics)


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1.5 meters of Canvas - I purchased mine from here:

1.5 meters of quilted material

1 mylar emergency blanket found in any outdoors store

1 portable cellphone battery charger

Heating pads - I purchased mine from here:

Or you can purchase in USA or Canada here:

Rivet Steps:

Hole punch

Ball peen hammer or regular hammer if not available

8 copper rivets

Pliers with wire cutters (to be used with rivets)

Jeweler's anvil or dense hard surface (to be used with rivets)



Step 1: Creating Your Vest Pattern

This step uses: Your favorite sweater, a ruler, sharpie, scissors and poster boards.

Back Panel:

- Locate your favorite sweater and lay it flat on the poster board with the back side down.

- Use a ruler for a clean trace around the torso until you reach an armpit. Fold in the sleeve along the seam and trace along the curve until you reach the shoulder.

- Repeat the process along the back of the neck line until you reach the other seam at the shoulder.

- Repeat the process for the other shoulder/armpit.

Front Panels:

- To create the front panel pattern, fold the sweater in half and repeat the above process. from above.

Note: Trace only one folded side since this piece can simply be flipped later when tracing onto the fabric.

Battery Pocket:

- Create a 6 inch by 6 inch square on the poster board

Outside Pocket:

- Top edge: 2 Inches, Inside long edge: 10 Inches, Bottom edge: 6 Inches, Outside edge: 4 Inches

- Draw a diagonal line from the outside edge to the top edge to close the pocket pattern.

- Cut all of the above pieces out.

At the end of this step you will have:

1 X Front panel pattern (for left and right panel)

1 X Back panel pattern

1 X Inner pocket pattern

1 X Outer pocket pattern

Step 2: Cutting Out Vest Pieces

This step uses: Vest and pocket patterns, scissors, sharpie, canvas, Mylar and quilted liner.


- Begin by tracing the back and front vest panel patterns onto your canvas.

- On another free piece of canvas, trace two front pocket patterns and one inner pocket.

- For the Left and right panel, use the front panel twice by tracing one side and then flipping it to create the opposite side.

- Cut out all pieces leaving approximately one 1/2 inch around the perimeter of the tracing.

Quilted Liner:

- Trace the back panel and front panels onto the quilted liner and remember: For the Left and right panel, remember to trace once then flip the panel pattern to create the opposite side.

- Cut out all pieces leaving approximately one 1/2 inch around the perimeter of the tracing.


Note: This material is tricky to cut. Scissors will work, but a rolling cutter will improve the speed and accuracy of the cut.

- Trace the front and back panels onto the mylar repeating the
"left and right flip" front panel approach from the previous steps.

- Cut out the shape but this time, take it in an inch. You will not be attaching this using a sewing machine as the material does not puncture easily.

At the end of this step you will have:

1 X Canvas back panel,1 X Quilted back panel,1 X Mylar back panel

1 X Canvas left panel,1 X Quilted left panel,1 X Mylar left panel

1 X Canvas right panel,1 X Quilted right panel,1 X Mylar right panel

1 X Canvas left pocket,1 X Canvas right pocket 1 X Inner pocket

Step 3: Pocket Making

This step requires: A hard surface or jewelers anvil, the canvas shell, canvas pocket pieces, iron, sewing machine, copper rivets, hole punch, ball peen (or regular) hammer and pliers with wire cutters.

Canvas Panel Pieces and Canvas Pocket Pieces:

- Iron all canvas panels and pockets.

- Fold all pocket pieces (including inner pocket) along the outline and press again. This should hide the lines from the trace. Remember: we gave an extra 1/2" on each piece.

- Place inner pocket aside.

- Pin the front pockets to their respective panels.

- Stitch them leaving the diagonal line open. Ensure the folded material is stitched to the panel as well.

Quilted Liner Panel (Which Will Hold Battery) and Canvas Battery Pocket

- Pin the inner pocket to the desired quilted liner panel. Leave the top open. Ensure the folded material is stitched to the panel as well.

Canvas and Copper Rivets:

- Lay the front canvas vest panels pocket side up for this step

- Do the same for the quilted liner piece with the pocket on it.

- Using a leather hole punch, punch a hole on corners of the pockets that will receive a lot of use. ***(Think front jean pockets)

- Place rivets through the punched holes from the inside out so that they stick out through the front of the pieces.

- Place a washer (part of the rivet kit) on the top.

- If the washer does not slide down to the base, use the pliers as a setter by placing flat on the washer and lightly tapping until the washer until settles secure at the base. Use the hard surface if required.

- The order of materials should appear in this order: Rivet base, material (front canvas or quilted liner) panel, canvas pocket, rivet washer.

- Trim the rivet leaving 1-2 millimeters using the pliers with the wire cutters.

- Using the hard surface or jewelers anvil lightly tap the area of cut copper to round it over the washer. Do not hammer straight on. Slow and steady will do the trick here.

At the end of this step you will have:

2 X Canvas outer panel with reinforced pockets

1 X Quilted liner with inner facing pocket

Step 4: Creating Two Separate Vest Pieces; 1 Quilted Liner and 1 Canvas Outer Shell

This step uses: Canvas panels, quilted liner, sewing machine, polyester and bonded nylon thread, bobbins, quilting pins, universal sewing needles.

This step will be essentially creating two separate vests. The quilted liner and canvas will be sewn inside out. I'm using heavier thread and a single stitch on my sewing machine.

This is also a great time to lay out where you intend for the heating pads go in future steps

Canvas Vest:

- Pin the panels together as if to make the canvas outer shell inside out. Leave the arm holes and bottom unpinned. They are not being sewn in this step.

- Stitch along traced lines on either side of the neck to the shoulder. Remember: do not stitch the arm holes.

- Stitch from the under arm down to the waist opening.

- Leave the vest inside out

Quilted Liner:

- Pin the panels together so that the sides of the fabric that are facing inward when worn are hidden. leave the arm holes unpinned. They are not being sewn in this step.

- Stitch along traced lines on either side of the neck to the shoulder. Remember: do not stitch the arm holes.

- On one side, stitch from the under arm down to the waist opening. Leave an opening approximately 2 inches long next to where the inner pocket if you are using the heating pads. This is where the power cables from the heating pads will be fed to the inner pocket.

At the end of this step you will have:

1 X Canvas outer shell

1 X Quilted liner

Step 5: Tacking Heating Pieces to Quilted Liner

This step uses: Quilted liner panel pieces, mylar panel pieces, heating pads, hand sewing needle and thread.

Quilted Liner and Heating Pads: ***(Skip this step if you are not using the heating pads)

- On the inside out quilted liner, feed the power cables for the heating pads through the 2 inch opening left in the previous step.

- Leave enough slack for the cables and place in the inner pocket.

- On the heating pads I am using, they have ample perimeter material allowing for a needle and thread to penetrate without compromising the electronics. Tack the corners and tie off each one.

- I placed the heating pads so that they would line up with my outer pockets and serve as hand warmers if desired.

-Since the quilted liner is made up of several layers, I opted to only sew through the top layer.

- Feed the power button and USB cable and stitch the two inch opening closed around the wires.

Quilted Liner and Mylar:

- Line the mylar up with the corresponding vest pieces and tack around the perimeter sewing only through the top layer. ***(Remember this material is intentionally smaller so that it does not have to interact with the sewing machine.)

At the end of this step you should have:

1 X completed quilted liner

Congrats! You are ready to put it all together!

Step 6: Putting It All Together!

This step uses: Finished canvas outer shell, finished quilted liner, sewing machine, hand sewing needle, quilting pins

***This step is the most important and critical step in the instructable. I've created a model and drawn lines/arrows indictating certain directions and steps to take.

The aim here is to stitch the darker side of the quilted liner and the outward facing side of the canvas shell in such a way that the vest will need to be turned inside out to reveal the pockets for the outside and the inner battery holder. Think of sewing a bag together and pulling the material through the remaining opening to hide the stitches.

Quilted Liner and Canvas Outer:

- Using both the canvas outer and quilted liner turn them
inside out so that the eventual non-visible sides of the vest are outward.

- flip out the panel and stitch the dark quilted liner to the outer shell. Start at the bottom of the back where the seam from the arm pit reaches the bottom of the vest.

- Move away from the back and up to the neck line. See red arrows on model in first image and repeat across the neckline to the other panel. Continue down until you reach the mirrored side of where you start.

- Do not stitch the bottom back pieces together, arm holes or shoulders.

- Turn the vest right side out by reaching up through the bottom and pulling the neck through.

Right Side Out Vest:

- Reach into vest and push the corners out.

- Tuck the material for the openings at the arm holes inward and pin.

- Tuck the material for the bottom opening inward and pin.

- Stitch these three openings closed. This will leave an exposed seam but it will look clean as the edge is tucked away.

At the end of this step, you should have:

1 X Awesome DIY Heated Vest!

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