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DIY Tearaway Hi Vis Vest

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

We’re back with another extremely specific prop! This week we needed to make a hi vis vest that looked like it was getting caught in an angle grinder and got ripped right off John’s back. Easy peasy. Tearaway clothes are super effective on camera, and (especially in a health and safety video) no one will be expecting it. Here’s how we made it:

1. Cut the shoulders

First, I cut the seams on the shoulders open. We wanted the vest to stay in one piece post-tear so we left the side seams intact. You can use a quick unpick if you want but scissors are a lot faster and easier. The quick un-pick will result in a tidier finished product however.

2. Hem the new edges

Next I folded the new raw edges under about half an inch and hemmed them so they were nice and tidy. It’s important to keep the hems as even as possible as the reflection strips need to line up on the finished vest.

3. The tear away element

We opted for Velcro but you could use snaps or even tape. The trick is to keep the vest shoulder seams barely together so they tear away super easily. We used a very thin strip of Velcro along each seam, and left a gap in the middle. You don’t want good quality, strong Velcro for this project otherwise it will be far too hard to tear the seam. Pay close attention to where you are placing your velcro and how the finished seam will line up.

4. Sewing

I’d highly recommend actually sewing the Velcro down and not just buying the sticky backed stuff, especially if you plan on using the tear away garment more than once. You can hand sew or machine sew but make sure you reinforce each end of the Velcro with an X.

5. Practice

We put the vest on John and did some camera tests, we checked to see if the seam was noticeable, and how hard the vest would need to be pulled to come off in one go. Everything worked pretty well and with some minor adjustments we were ready to film the real scene.

And that’s about it, it was pretty easy and it’s super effective. I’m pretty keen to make some full tearaway workers overalls too. What else could we make into a tearaway garment?


Media Melt is a Video Production Company based in Dunedin, New Zealand. If you have any enquires, feel free to contact us here


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