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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tribal Vest - Super Easy DIY

A few months ago I did the costume designs for a new version of The Jungle Book at Synetic Theater. I had a really great time working on this show and imagining what the characters should be wearing. We wanted to go with something pretty edgy and not too animalistic. In other words, we needed to find a way to portray the animal characters in a new, modern, and essentially human way.

A lot of this came from the costumes, I used animal prints and tribal influences. I was really inspired by all the awesome tribal art out there and especially how it is influencing fashion. Tribal fabric is so beautiful and unique. I'm sure the patterns and colors have some deep meaning in the cultures that they come from, but for me and, I would guess, most American's they are just beautiful expressions of a cultures art.

Tribal Vest

One of the costumes I was most excited about was a simple denim vest I designed and painted for one of the wolf pack characters. I loved it so much that I had to make another one that I knew wouldn't just sit in costume storage collecting dust until the next performance. The only problem was that I can't wear motorcycle vests, they just don't do my figure any favors. So, I made one for my sister!
Tribal Vest in Fashion Action!

Here is the thing with this project, its SUPER EASY! Seriously, this is one of those projects that you can do in an afternoon with a good cup of coffee and some reruns of The Office. There are no rules when it comes to tribal patterns, graphic is good, and monochromatic makes the pattern really stand out, but there is nothing saying that you have to make your vest look anything like mine.
Tribal Vest - front

Tribal Vest - back

I purchased the vest from Forever 21, and used a black fabric marker for the first vest I made (the costume). The only problem with using a fabric marker is that I got a little lightheaded working on the vest. I used fabric paint on the vest I made for my sister, and that worked just as well. It just depends on what you are more comfortable using.

Tribal Vest - Super Easy DIY

  • Denim vest (you could use pretty much any light-wash vest. Check out a thrift store! I got mine from Forever 21.)
  • Black fabric marker or fabric paint and brush (I used black, but feel free to try out other color combos!)
Find some inspiration for tribal patterns, decide what you want your vest to look like. I painted only a few sections, the front panels and the bottom band.  I thought about painting a tribal elephant on the back, but that didn't end up happening. 
Plain old vest - needs something awesome!
Tribal Vest - painting 

After you have decided what you are doing, just get to it! Paint or draw on your pattern. If you are painting, make sure you put down newspaper or something to protect your surface. Don't be hindered, just go for it! Like I said, there really isn't a way to mess this up. If you have an area that you don't like, just fill it in. 

Tribal Vest - painting progress

See? Super EASY!

Here is the pattern that I used (I don't have any rights to this photo, check out for the original source):

Kate Moross - Multicolour Tribal

Here are a few other tribal inspirational ideas (again, I don't have the rights to these photos):
Pattern by Sandra Dieckmann

Tribal Crayon by Vasare Nar

Tribal Henna Elephant

Tribal Elephant Sweatshirt

Indian Woman by AnastasiaMarie

Tribal Feather

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