Friday, July 15, 2011

A Weighted Vest Tutorial

A weighted vest is a therapeutic treatment for kids with varying special needs. It can be used for kids with ADD to help them focus, for kids with anxiety to help them feel comforted, and to help curb various behaviors for kids with autism. Occupational therapists swear by them. Recently I saw a post on freecycle of someone looking for one and I was touched. I have a sister who has given much of her life to treating the special needs of her sons. Her son who has severe autism was non verbal until he was almost 5. He is now 12 and mainstreamed in school without an aid. If there were a poster child for the wonders of specialized treatment he would be it. So I offered to make one.
Weighted blankets are a common treatment for the same symptoms. But they are not practical in the summer.
The problem with most weighted vests you can buy is A: they are expensive, and B: they are ugly and scream special ED. I was a bullied kid. I think we owe it to our kids to do what we can to not draw attention to their problems.

I did not get a picture of the finished product, so you will have to use your imagination.
This is a reversible vest pattern I used. This is perfect because I made a removable lining to add and subtract weights from, That fits inside this vest .the idea is a liner with pockets to fill with metal washers
Supplies :
stuff to make the shell
4-5 yards of fabric (it does not need to be pretty I used a sheet)
½-3/4” metal washers whatever total weight you want.
Invisible ink (my favorite thing ever!!!)
Sew in Velcro.

1.Make your shell vest but leave the shoulders incomplete. Add a invisible (or lapped)zipper along one of the side seams.
2.With a helper cut out your vest (the same pattern-.5” on each edge)in any throw away fabric you can find. ( I used a sheet I got from when I worked as a housekeeper. Don’t worry I washed it.)

My baby sits on anything I try to do on the floor. Here she is having a snack break.

3.Next make the “pockets” I did it by making tons and tons of 3 inch strips and sewing them in tubes, and turning them. If I could do it again I would just press them in half

4.Attach them to the vest in horizontal rows onto each piece. if you folded the strips in half sew them with raw edges facing up along where the bottom of the pockets should be, then fold it up and press. hiding the raw edges.

5. next make 1” pockets by sewing vertical lines over your sewn on strips. Mark sew lines with invisible ink.

6.Sew the side seams of your vest. (Do not sew the shoulders.) with the pocket sides facing each other. Turn.

7. finish the edges of lining vest with a serger if you have it or use an overcast stitch to enclose the edges. your sewing manual can tell you how to use it. My sewing machine has a special stitch and a foot, but there is not really a standard.

8.add Velcro to the unsewn shoulders on the OUTSIDE of the vest. On each of the 4 corners.

This part is done!

9. take a piece of heavy fabric(I used an old pair of khakis), and make a 2 squares the width of the shoulders minus 3/4”. (sorry for the fuzzy pic.)

10: attach Velcro onto each of the 4 corners of each square all on the same side of the fabric.

11: finish shell vest shoulders as the instructions here demonstrate, place the Velcro square in between the layers with the Velcro facing down(as in if you are looking at the vest from above the Velcro should face the floor), half the Velcro in front and half in back. Sew the shoulder seam.
That’s all!

1. to get the shoulders to line up better line up the edges of one side by feeling for the edge on the other side as you pin.
2. inserting the lining can be tricky. when I played around with it, I fount it was easiest to start by putting in the front panel of the opposite side than the zipper. 1st, the back on that side next, then the other side back after that, and finally the front of the side with the zipper.
3. I chose washers because the weight can be shifted in a multitude of patterns. The research says that around the shoulders, and upper back seems to work the best. If you don’t want to have them move around, you can sew them in, but be careful not to break your needle.
3.When researching this I saw a suggestion. when compression is needed to use a neoprene swim shirt (thrift stores have them sometimes) under the child’s clothes

If anything is unclear please let me know or suggest changes!

Here is to all those amazing pro-active mothers out there!

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