How to Make an Easy Cowboy Vest for a Toddler

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Cowboys are among the favorites in dress-up ideas for children. Western wear is a popular choice for Halloween costumes, birthday parties or, or everyday play. Toddlers are typically familiar with cowboy themes through books, movies and television, as well as circus or rodeo events. A cowboy vest is an easy cowboy item to make. Toddlers can wear it with other western clothing or over any clothing to dress up like a cowboy.

Things You'll Need

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Fabric paints
  • Purchased string fringe
  • Brown paper grocery bag
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Wide masking tape
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Paint pens
  • Paper cutouts
  • Glue

Recycled T-Shirt

  • Cut the sleeves off a T-shirt. Cut a slit up the center front of the shirt from the bottom to the top.

  • Use fabric paints to decorate the T-shirt to look like a cowboy vest. Paint a star on the left or right side of the vest front and paint brown to black areas to look like a cowhide pattern.

  • Glue string-like fringe around the bottom edge of the vest, or cut a 3-inch slit every 2 inches along the bottom edge to look like fringe.

Paper Bag Vest

  • Make a paper bag vest that children can decorate. Cut the bottom off a grocery-size paper bag and discard the bottom piece.

  • Place the back on a work surface. Cut a 12-inch square from both layers of the bag.

  • Fold one of the squares in half. Cut along the fold line to create two front pieces for the vest. Keep the other square intact. The whole square will be the vest back, and the two cut pieces will form the vest front.

  • Lay the vest back flat on a surface with the printed side facing up. Arrange the two front pieces on top of the back piece, matching the top and bottom edges and the side seams. Make sure any printing is facing inward, keeping all the printing inside the vest.

  • Put a 3-inch length of wide masking tape along the top edge of the layered vest pieces, beginning at the left side. Place the tape so that only half of the tape is on the front side of the vest. Fold the tape to the back and press the tape in place, forming a vest shoulder. Repeat on the right side, working from the right edge of the shoulder.

  • Begin at the bottom of one vest side and place a 4-inch piece of masking tape on the side edges, repeating the process in Step 5.

  • Trim the vest along the backside of the neck, the front edges and the bottom edge as desired to look like a cowboy vest.

  • Have the toddler use crayons, markers or paint pens to decorate her vest. Provide a paper star and other shapes for the child to glue onto the vest.

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