How to Make a Deerskin Vest

If you are fortunate enough to have a deerskin hide, making a deerskin vest is a simple way to introduce yourself to sewing leather of any kind. A deerskin vest can be made using a store-bought pattern or by using a sleeveless shirt or t-shirt to lay out the pattern. A simple deerskin vest for either a man or a woman can be made in an afternoon if you use a sewing machine or over a weekend if you sew it by hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Sleeveless shirt or store-bought vest pattern
  • Dressmaker's chalk
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Leather needle
  • Heavy, cotton thread

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Lay out the deerskin hide by folding it in half with the right sides (the good sides) facing inward. If you are using a store-bought pattern, fold it according to the directions on the pattern packaging.

Lay a sleeveless shirt onto the deerskin, making sure that the shirt is flat against the hide. Scoop-necked or v-necked t-shirts are perfect for this.

Use the dressmaker's chalk to draw around the shirt. Make your outline approximately one inch from the shirt itself. This will allow you plenty of seam material and make the vest large enough to fit over a separate shirt.

Cut the deerhide using the scissors following the chalked outline.

Lay one piece of the cut deerskin inside the shirt you used as a pattern. Use the chalk to outline the front neckline of the shirt. Cut the neckline following the chalk marks.

Fold the front of the vest in half, and cut it down the middle, making it two pieces.

Insert a leather sewing needle into your sewing machine and thread the machine with heavy, cotton thread.

Work with the deerskin right side in, and sew the two top seams together. Sew these seams at least 1/4 inch from the edge of the material.

Turn the material, and sew the first side seam. Again, sew at least 1/4 inch from the edge of the material. Sew the second side seam in the same way.

Turn your vest right side out. The vest is now ready to wear, because deerskin doesn't require that you turn under and sew the raw edges since leather does not ravel.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you can find a deerskin with the fur left on, the hide will make a warm winter vest. Simply make the vest with the fur on the inside for added warmth.
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