The Visibility Vest




Introduction: The Visibility Vest

when riding your bike at night it's important to be seen by others.
there is only so much you can do with the bike, so i wanted something wearable. unfortunately, the wearable options are either very ugly or quite expensive.

so i made my own vest from reflective fabric that is a little bit more fashionable and not as expensive.

sorry about the not-so good nightshots!

Step 1: Drawing

i made a few drawings of how my vest should look like, and this is the final design i chose to go with.

Step 2: What You Need

- reflective fabric (this is quite expensive, i paid 20 euros for a piece 30 cm long and 150cm wide
- matching grey fabric (you only need very little, some scrap piece is enough)
- yarn, pins, scisssors
- tapemeasure, ruler
- pens, paper
- dress form (if available)

Step 3: Cut the Strips of Reflective Fabric

on the left side of the reflective fabric, draw parralell lines 1 cm apart all along the lenght of the fabric (150 cm). i used 10 strips 1 cm wide and 150 cm long.
cut the strips. now you have nice reflective linguine!
you can see the how different the reflective material looks when reflecting or not reflecting light on the pictures - one was taken with a flash, one without.

Step 4: The Shoulder Part

using the pattern cut out two shoulder parts out of the grey fabric (you have to double the pattern along the center back line).
add 1,5 cm of seam allowance on all sides.

maybe you might have to adjust the pattern a little if you are much smaller or taller than i am (i'm 1,67 meters tall).

on one of the shoulder part pieces make little marks 1 cm apart on the sides where the strips will later go. (see picture). you only need to do this on one of the parts of the fabric.

Step 5: Cut the Strips

we need 22 strips in total.

you have to add 1,5cm of seam allowance on both ends of each strip.

i am going to number the strips to make it easier to see where each strip will go later.
the first numbers you have to cut twice (1 AND 1*) for each of the "sleeves".

you need

1 and 1* - 57 cm long
2 and 2* - 63 cm
3 and 3* - 68 cm
4 and 4* - 79 cm
5 and 5* - 82 cm
6 and 6* - 85 cm
7 - 2 cm
8 - 24 cm
9 - 32 cm
10 - 37 cm
11 - 46 cm
12 - 55 cm
13 - 56 cm
14 - 65 cm
15 - 70 cm
16 - 77 cm

Step 6: Attaching the Strips - the Arm-part

on the scematic you see where each of the strip will go. when the number appears twice it means that one end goes on the one position with the number and the ender end to the other number.

with pins mark where the strips will go on the front side (the 6 cm long side). on the right side of the fabric, pin one end of strips 1-6 to the shoulder part  so that the reflective side of the strips face the fabric (see pictures).
sew the strips to the shoulder part.

now mark where the strips will go on the back side of the shoulder strap (the 32 cm long part).
pin the loose end of strips 1-6 to the back part where indicated on the scematic in step 5. (see pictures). sew the strips to the fabric.

repeat with strips 1*-6* on the other side of the shoulder part.

Step 7: The Back Part

now pin one end of strips 7-16 to the shoulder part where indicated and sew them to the fabric.

form a triangle with the tiny center-strip (strip 7) like you can see in the picture and pin the other end to the shoulder part. don't pin the other loose ends of strips 8-16 yet.

now the part where a dress-form would come in handy begins: put your vest on the form.

pin the ends of strips 8-13 to the shoulder part like in the picture.

strips 14-16 have to be interwoven with strips 1-3 and respectively 1*-3* as seen in the picture.
weave them first, then pin to the fabric. for this weaving part the dress form is really helpfull. i you don't have one you can also do it by lying the vest on a big table or the floor.

take the vest of the dress form and (whitout losing the weave) re-pin the loose ends to the shoulder part so that the reflective side lies to the right side (see last picture). sew the strips to the fabric.

when pinning the strips to the fabric make sure at all times that they aren't wisted.

Step 8: Finish

pin the second shoulder part on the first one, right side on right side. this will be a bit tricky, because all the sewed-on strips will be indside between the two shoulder-part layers. things can get bulky!
sew the parts together, leaving about 5 cm open to later turn the right side out.

when you finished sewing the parts together, cut away triangles of the seam allowance at the corners close to the seam. where the round neck-curve is, cut into the seam allowance every centimeter. see pictures.

turn your vest inside out.

pin the opening shut. sew once all around the shoulder part close to the edge. this way the opening will also be closed.

and your done!

have fun riding savely through the night or even take your new vest to a party!

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    i found some on the ground, spilled when they load the truck that paints the lines on the road. I came back with a dustpan and whiskbroom, and scored about a pint jar of the beads. I've used some on address signs for our houses. Still got a lot left!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very useful and safe. I hate those cyclist that go at night without light. When a person is driving at night in a poorly lit road, and a car in front lights with bright light, the driver may be momentarily blinded and lead to tragedy.

    I don't know the prices, but I think micro glass spheres are a lot cheaper than reflective fabric. You can glue them over any fabric, getting a good reflective effect.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Good idea. I bet they make light weight plastic ones as well, which would lighten the load. That would be significantly less expensive :-)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I think these glass microspheres are very lightweight. They go in a coat of only one.

    Here in Argentina they cost around 12 U$S dollars/Kg. I suppose 100g are enough to cover a vest.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    "BRILLIANT" idea!! I like how it's light weight and air is able to flow freely (for when you're building up a sweat while biking). It looks cool and is reflective on all sides.
    One suggestion though that I personally think would make it look even more slick and fashionable: Instead of the large looping area in the middle on the back of the vest. I would have the straps intertwine each other and cross over to attach to the opposite side. That way you still get the same effect of the reflectiveness in the center, but it's in neat and flat 'woven' design. This would be a great idea for people just walking at night. I can't tell you how many times I've had pedestrians cross against the light in the middle of the road (not even on the crosswalks), and they're wearing ALL black, so that you barely see them until you're almost right on top of them. They don't seem to "get it" that cars just cannot see them at night. You barely can see a silhouette.
    Fantastic idea, you should market this as part of a clothing line or 'something'. It NEEDS to be out there on the market!