A paintball vest is a garment that serves two functions. The pockets of the vest allow players to carry their equipment, such as extra ammunition and maps. The padding protects a player’s upper body from the power of a close range paintball hit. This basic vest is designed with pockets in the front so they are easy to access. Attached with Velcro, the pockets can be arranged to suit each player’s individual needs. The vest itself is a simple garment and can be made from a variety of materials, provided the chosen fabric is durable and fairly heavy.
Make the Pattern–Back of the Vest
1. Measure the widest part of your chest with the measuring tape. Divide the measurement by 2. Write this number down and add 3 inches to this measurement. This is the width of the vest.
2. Measure the distance from the top of your shoulder to just below the waist. Add 2 inches to this measurement. This is the length of the vest.
3. Spread the paper flat and smooth out the wrinkles. Cut a rectangle from the paper in the width and length you want your vest to be. If your paper isn’t big enough, use two pieces taped together.
4. Measure the distance from the top of your shoulder to the middle of your ribcage, or where you would like the armhole to be. Add 1 inch to this measurement.
5. Fold the paper rectangle in half lengthwise. On the nonfolded edge, mark off the distance from the top of the paper to the armhole. Make a curved line from the top of the paper to this mark, drawing what will be the armhole of the vest.
6. Measure the distance from your shoulder to the base of your neck. Mark this distance at the top of the vest pattern, beginning with the nonfolded edge. Two inches from the top of the paper, make a mark. Draw a slightly curved line connecting these two marks, forming the pattern for the neckline of the vest.
7. Cut out the openings for the arm and neck. Carefully unfold the paper. This is the pattern for the back of the vest.
Make the Pattern–Front of the Vest
8. Fold the pattern for the back of the vest in half lengthwise and place it on top of a second piece of paper.
9. Trace the pattern drawing armholes that are slightly further in and creating a deeper neckline. What neckline to create is a matter of personal preference, but V-neck is a popular style for paintball vests.
10. Add 2 inches more material to the front of the vest (the area opposite the armhole) to create an overlap where the vest will close in the front with either buttons, a zipper or Velcro.
11. Ignore Step 3 if you do not want a front-closure vest. You can leave the front as one solid piece that slips on over your head and add closure ties to the sides instead. The time to decide which style you prefer is now, before the material is cut.
12. Cut the pattern for the vest front and unfold the paper. If doing a front closure vest, carefully cut this pattern in half lengthwise to form the two sides of the front.
Make the Vest
13. Pin the pattern to the vest material and cut the pieces. Repeat with quilted fabric.
14. Match the quilted pieces to their outer vest counterparts and sew them to each other, creating individual padded vest pieces.
15. Pin the vest pieces together. Sew the sides together with triple seams.
16. Sew the shoulder seams together with triple seams. Reinforce neckline and armholes with double stitched bias tape.
17.Pin back 1/2 an inch of the raw edges in the front of the vest. Triple stitch from the top to the bottom. Add fasteners–a zipper, buttons or Velcro.
18. Triple-stitch squares of Velcro to the front and back of the vest. Add elastic loops where necessary to keep equipment from being jostled loose.
19. Use extra vest material to create pockets in various and assorted sizes to fit your gear. Attach Velcro to the back of each pocket so it can be added or removed from your vest as needed. Make sure each pocket has a Velcro closure at the top, so gear doesn’t fall out when you’re moving.