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How to Make a Weighted Vest

Therapists and people with autism use weighted vest to help keep themselves or their clients focused on the task at hand. Weighted vests can help provide anxiety relief for some people with autism, according to Carin Yavorcik writing for the Autism Society of America. Vests can be costly, and they often only come in a few patterns. A person may be more likely to wear a weighted vest when the colors and print appeals to him. If you make the weighted vest yourself, you can create a more fashionable vest.

Cut the shell and lining pieces out according to the pattern instructions. Transfer all pattern markings to the fabric.

Match the shell fabric front panels to the shell fabric back with the right sides together. Line up the pattern markings. Stitch the pieces at the shoulder seams. Repeat for the lining fabric.

Cut 10 pieces of fabric that measure 4 1/2 inches square. Turn the edges under and hem 1/4 inch on four sides. Stitch to the shell fabric on three sides, leaving the top open. Stitch two at the top front, bottom front, top back and bottom back. Stitch a pocket on the top of each shoulder, with the opened edge pointed toward the back.

Pin the lining and shell, right sides together. Stitch from the lower front left corner, around the neck and on to the lower front right corner. Stitch the around both armholes.

Turn the vest right side out. Sew the shell side seams together. Turn the raw edges inward. Insert your hands through the open side seams of the lining. Hand stitch the shell fabric from the inside. Sew the lining side seams together using a hand stitch.

Open the vest to expose the lining side. Turn the bottom edges of the vest up so the top half is inside the bottom half. This is only temporary. Place the lining and shell fabric right sides together and stitch across the hem. Leave 2 inches open. Turn. Close the opening with a hand stitch.

Cut twenty 4-by-4-inch squares of fabric. Pin two squares with right sides together. Stitch around three sides. Repeat until you have created 10 pouches. Fill the pouches with even numbers of steel bead weights. Stitch closed by hand.


Add and remove the weight pouches to achieve the weight amount you need.


Remove the vest every 20 minutes to check for pressure points, indicated by reddening of the skin.

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Things Needed

  • Vest pattern
  • Shell fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • Fabric pencil
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
  • Hand needle
  • Thread
  • Steel bead weights

About the Author

Jennifer Terry is program director for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities. As a University of Alabama graduate, she holds a Masters in rehabilitation counseling and a Bachelor in psychology with an emphasis in child development. She also earned an Associate in business management and second Associate in computer information systems from Bevill State Community College. She holds a grant writing certificate from North Georgia College and State University.

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