Has this white winter completely lost its charm? Fear not, spring is just around the corner. Pretty soon you’ll be able to ditch that bulky winter jacket for something lighter. While the warm weather is still weeks away, I’ll be damned if I’m not ready for it when it gets here. This past weekend, I got snowed in and created my own version of the perfect spring denim vest. I took this simple Levis vest ($54) and embellished it with clear pastel gems, gold spikes, and some 90s-esque daisy patches. So basically, all of my favorite things! The coolest part about this project is that it was an absolute cinch to make something totally unique. While there are tons of fun ways to up the spunk on your denim, I’m going to show you the three techniques I used. So get out your sewing needles and hit up your local crafts store, in the time it takes to watch the first season of Girls (or less), you’ll have your own spectacular one of a kind denim vest.

First things first. Here’s what you’ll need. You probably have some of it already so this project should be fairly cheap. If you are starting from scratch, however, this stuff won’t put you out too much and either way, you’re getting an awesome denim vest out of the deal!

Denim Vest DIY - Miss KL Blog

The List:

  • Unadorned denim vest. I used the Levis Trucker Denim Vest, available on MissKL. We also would recommend the Levis Authentic Trucker Denim Jacket, The Cheap Monday Tess Denim Jacket, or the Cheap Monday Taylor Denim Boyfriend Vest.
  • Plenty of room. It’s important to stay organized when working on a mixed media project. Otherwise, cleaning up is going to be a bitch. I used my living room rug.
  • Iron-on patches, available at craft stores.
  • Iron
  • Beads, sequins, and/or buttons to your taste.
  • Sewing needle
  • Strong thread. I recommend embroidery thread but if your beads are really small you may need something thinner. Just look for something that’s durable, none of that drug store sewing kit bullshit.
  • Fabric marker
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Screw back studs
  • Beer (optional)

Great. You’re past the hardest part: leaving the craft store. Now you’re ready to get to craftin!

Denim Vest DIY 2 - Miss KL Blog

Step One: Patching

Because the patches I told you to get are the iron-on kind, adhering them to the vest is either self-explanatory or written somewhere on the package. Before you apply the patches, fully unbutton the vest so you can spread it out flat on your workspace with the outside facing up. Now, you can arrange the patches however you’d like and proceed with application. You want to do the patches first because it’s easier to decide how to place your beads etc once the patches are attached.

So, COOL! You’re done with Step 1. Now on to…

Denim Vest DIY 3 - Miss KL Blog

Step Two: Beading

Spend some time arranging your beads (before sewing them) onto the vest, which should still be laying flat. Once you have an arrangement that you like, use your fabric marker to draw a small reference line underneath each bead so that you can later remember the location and direction of each one. Because I was working with multicolored beads, I also found it helpful to loosely recreate the alignment of my beads on my workspace next to the vest. Once you’re done planning, you can go ahead and sew each bead into the vest. Use a separate piece of thread for each bead. Double knotting is recommended.

Hopefully you left enough room for the final step!

Denim Vest DIY 4 - Miss KL Blog

Denim Vest DIY 5 - Miss KL Blog

Step Three: Studding

Now that your beads are all sewn on, I bet your vest is looking pretty sweet! I saved the best part, studding, for last, mainly because the sharpness of the spikes would have interfered with the first two steps.  Studs and spikes can sometimes be found at local specialty stores but I bought mine on the good old fashioned WWW. I used screw back spikes because I knew they would be easy to use and durable. To start, use your fabric marker to draw a dot wherever you’d like a spike to sit. Then, place a piece of cardboard between your vest and a flat surface and use your X-Acto knife to carefully cut a small X through each dot. The X should create a hole just big enough to pull the screw through the denim so that the spike can be twisted on tightly.

So that’s it! Not bad right? Hopefully your new piece of art will make the last few weeks of winter go by a little bit faster.

Oh, and there is a fourth step which I forgot to mention earlier, which is to snap an awesome selfie while wearing your new creation and post it on the internet so we can see! Don’t forget to mention us, @RealMissKL on Twitter and Instagram. Our done deal is below!

Denim Vest DIY 6 - Miss KL Blog


– XO Jane Wiseheart