Introduction: Spy Vest

About: I like to do arts and crafts, spend a lot of time reading and just general playing around...! :P

This is a vest with many pockets for travelling.  It is customizeable, made out of a vest and shirt I bought at  a thrift store.

This instructable was inspired by a few different items on the market.  Basically it is just a vest with a lot of pockets in it, some of which are not immediately visable.   I am assuming that you have basic sewing experience. This is down and dirty sewing, so do not be offended if my seams are showing.  :)

     Disclaimer: This vest is just for fun.  It is made for travelling, and not for smuggling or anything illegal.  I am not responsible for what you choose to do with it.  Be careful wearing it thru airports.  :) 

Step 1: To Begin:

So, first you need a long sleeve shirt and a vest, approximately the same size.  You can try them together, turning the shirt inside out to see if they will work, and are close to the same size.  Another thing that would be handy is if you can find a shirt made out of fabric which does not have a "Right" side, so that both sides of the fabric look pretty much the same.  This is because you will be flipping the tail end of the shirt up and the "Wrong" side will show.

I went to my local thrift store and bought a fleece vest that I thought would work for this, and then I went and fell in love with this silver shirt.  If you are really trying to be surreptious, I would use a shirt that is the same color as your vest, though.  I also made a mistake in buying a shirt that was smaller than my vest, and telling myself it would still work, which was dumb.  :)  Buy a shirt that is the same size or a little larger as your vest, it will save you work.  The less altering you have to do, really, the better.  One of the things that people say about these kind of vests is that they are kind of hot to wear.  If that is an issue for you, I would suggest a vest (and shirt) made out of lighter  breatheable material.  However, the polar fleece was really forgiving and hid my extra sewing well, so keep that in mind.

Basically, what you are doing is flipping the shirt inside out and using it as a lining for the vest.  I would pick a shirt with long "tails" so you will have deeper pockets.

1.  Cut the sleeves off of the shirt, leaving yourself sufficient seam allowance to turn under around the arms. The armholes of the vest and the armholes of the shirt might not match, so keep this in mind as you are putting together your vest.  You will probably have to adjust a little.

2.  Trim the collar off, right next to the seam, leaving about a 5 inch piece in the back to cover your headphone cord, plus a little for seam allowance.  Turn the edge under, and sew. I used fray check on the cut off edge of the collar.   If you want to sew snaps or an extra headphone loop or two, inside, go ahead. I would suggest not using velcro, however, or buttons.  They might get caught in your hair if it is long.

Step 2: Right Side Pockets.

   For pockets, you might want to finish them before you sew the shirt to the vest.  I kind of did them as I went along.  

First I cut the shirt up the seams of the side of the shirt so I could sew pockets.  Cut up the seams as deep as you want the pockets to be. (Half the pocket, probably about 6 to 8 inches.)

Right Side Pockets-
     For the front zipper pocket, I sewed the zipper onto the front of the shirt, right underneath the regular shirt pocket.  Then I sewed the bottom of the shirt tail onto the other half of the zipper.  I sewed it right along the hem edge so it would kindof make a cover for the zipper.    Then I  turned the edges under and sewed the sides shut to make a pocket.  This side is done.  So you have a zipper pocket on this side, and the regular shirt pocket, which is good to put your earbuds in if you are not using them.

Step 3: Left Side Pockets.

Left Side Pockets-
  For the other side, I cut off about 6 inches of sleeve to make a pocket.  I sewed up the sleeve opening most of the way, and I hemmed the bottom.  Then I sewed it on at the bottom and at the back of the top sleeve section, leaving it open at the sides.  This is for your mp3 player.  You need to leave the top couple of buttons on the shirt as well, however you can cut the rest off.   I used  "Scunci no slip grip all day hold" smaller hair elastics with a knot tied in them to fit around the buttons and be a channel for the earbud cord for your mp 3 player.

Below the sleeve pocket, I folded the tail of the shirt up, hemmed the edges to make a big pocket, and then sewed right down the middle of it to make 2 smaller pockets.  These are good for holding your water bottle and your sunglasses.  You may want to put velcro or something on these to hold them shut. 

Step 4: Back Pocket, Secret Pockets, Adjustments, Finished!

Back pocket-

5.  For the back pocket, I did the same thing that I did for the front right  zipper pocket, except it goes all the way across the back.    

Secret Pockets- 
Well of course I sewed in secret pockets.  It wouldn't be a spy vest without them, would it?  But you have to make up your own for yours, I can't show you mine.  That would be telling.  :) 


7.  For mine, I had to make a lot of adjustments, but if you use the right size of shirt hopefully you won't.  One thing that might help you to fit everything correctly, which certainly helped me was this:  When I sewed the side panels together, I sewed my black fill in lining fabric to the silver fabric on one side.  then I ironed it over the other side overtop of the silver fabric so it left an imprint in my lining fabric.  I then cut my lining fabric to fit- plus seam allowance.  Then I ironed  the seam the wrong way so I could see where it should go, and then I immediately ironed it back  the right way and sewed it.  Does that make sense?  It helped me be able to adjust it the right way.   This works best with thin lining fabrics.

Attaching the lining-

8. I sewed my lining along the neck line and the front two sides of the vest, and around the armholes.  Again, you might have to adjust your armholes a little (or a lot) because they might not be the same size.  I used extra pieces of black lining fabric to make my lining bigger, because my shirt was smaller than my vest.  The polar fleece was very forgiving in not letting my extra sewing show too much.


I have put my vest on and you can't really see that you have a lot of pockets.  Occasionally the line from the zipper wants to show, and if you pack it full, the vest will make you look heavier.  (Sorry.  :)  )  (Does this vest make me look fat?...)  The water bottle will stick out quite a bit if you put one in, just because it has a lot of volume.  

                Thank you for viewing my spy vest instructable, and good luck creating one of your own! 

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