Dress shields are absorbent sweat pads that you sew or pin into shirts to block armpit sweat stains. You can buy them in a store, online, or even make your own.
Forget about stuffing your shirt with paper towels, sticking maxi pads to your underarms, or pinning socks or trash bags to your shirt (it's true — some folks have actually attempted this). In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make dress shields at home with step-by-step instructions tailored to your sweat level. So, whether you’re a light, medium or heavy sweater, you can make DIY dress shields work for you.
Benefits of DIY Dress Shields and Armpit Pads
Making your own dress shields is an inexpensive, practical armpit sweat solution. For a few dollars, a trip to the fabric store and some elbow grease, you get absorbent, reusable pads that last.
DIY dress shields are easy to apply. All you have to do is sew or pin them to the inside of a garment at the underarm area. We recommend using safety pins so you can easily remove them.
Unlike store-bought stickers and pads, homemade DIY dress shields are 100% customizable. If you make your own, you can tailor the size and thickness to your sweat level and shirt size. That means smaller, tighter shirts are no longer off limits.
Price Comparison: DIY Dress Shields vs. Other Solutions
Let’s take a look at how the price of making your own shields compares to buying them in-store or online.
DIY Dress Shields
To create 24 individual shields at home, here's what you'll need:
- One yard of flannel fabric ;— $5.00
- Scissors — $4.00
- Needle and thread — $3.00
- Ruler — $1.00
- Pencil — $1.00
- Safety pins — $4.00
Total: $18.00 or less to create up to 24 DIY sweat pads — that's approximately 75 cents per dress shield!
Store-Bought Sew-In Dress Shields (Kleinert’s)
Kleinert's "Sew-In" Reusable Underarm Dress Shields are currently priced at $11.99 for a pack of two — about $6.00 per shield.
It's easy to see what gets you the most bang for your buck: DIY dress shields.
Now that you know the benefits of making your own dress shields here’s how to do it.
How to Make Dress Shields and Sweat Pads at Home: 8 Easy Steps
DIY dress shields done easy! Follow these instructions on how to make sweat pads at home.
1. Gather these materials
- One yard of flannel fabric for the absorbent center of the shield. Pick a color that matches your skin tone so that the dress shield will be invisible under your clothing. (Stores like Jo-Ann, Mood or Fabric Depot are great for fabric.)
- Scissors to cut and trim the fabric.
- Needle and thread or an overlock sewing machine to stitch the shield layers together. (If you’re going to be making multiple sets of shields, an overlock sewing machine will speed up the process.)
- Pencil to mark the fabric with correct measurements.
- A ruler with centimeter marks to measure the fabric and shield inseams.
- Safety pins to pin the shields to your garment.
Make sure you have a flat surface to work on.
2. Trace Squares Into the Flannel
Using a pencil and ruler, draw a 5 x 5-inch square onto the flannel. Make the square bigger or smaller depending on your shirt size and sweat level.
If you’re petite or prone to small sweat stains, try a 3 x 3-inch square. If you’re larger or get giant sweat stains, try a 7 x 7-inch square.
3. Cut Out the Flannel Squares
Using the scissors, cut out one square in whichever size you prefer. You’ll use this as a template to cut out more identical squares.
Light sweaters: Cut out three more squares. (You should have a total of four squares.)
Medium sweaters: Cut out five more squares. (You should have a total of six squares.)
Heavy sweaters: Cut out seven more squares. (You should have a total of eight squares.)
The more squares you have, the more absorbent your shields will be.
4. Trim the Squares into Circles
Next, working two at a time, stack the squares on top of one another so they’re aligned. Use the scissors to trim the squares into circles — cutting off the corners and edges. Repeat this step for the remaining squares. Don’t worry if the circles aren’t perfect!
5. Sew the Circles Together
Once you have your circles, it’s time to sew them together. If you’re a light sweater, grab two circles and stack them on top of each other — be sure to align the edges. Use a needle and thread to stitch the edges together. We recommend the blanket stitch technique — watch this video to learn how to do it.
If you’re a medium sweater, sew three circles together. If you’re a heavy sweater, sew four circles together. You can use an overlock sewing machine to make this step go quicker.
6. Fold and Pinch the Circles to Create Seams
After you’ve completed step four, you should have two multi-layered circular shields. Take one of the shields and fold it in half. Then, move the fold slightly off center — so one half is shorter than the other. Pinch firmly at the new off-center fold to create a crease.
Repeat this step for the other shield.
7 Stitch Seams into the Shields
Keeping the shield folded off-center, hold the ruler perpendicular to the crease. Measure 1/8-inch down from the crease and mark this spot with a pencil. Now, trace a line parallel to the crease at this 1/8-inch mark. Stitch across this line to create a seam. Check out this video to learn how to sew a straight line by hand
Repeat this step for the other shield. Now you’re finished creating your own dress shields! All that’s left is to pin them into your shirt.
8. Pin the Shields into Your Garment
If the garment is a pullover style, turn it inside out and lay it flat on a table, so the armpit area is exposed. If the garment opens at the front like a jacket, open it up so you can access the underarm area. Place each shield in the armpit of the garment, with the seam facing up. If you were to put the shirt on, the fold of the seam should touch your armpit. Lay the shorter half of the shield in the sleeve. Lay the longer half in the bodice.
Pin each half onto the shirt with a safety pin. The smaller the pin, the more discreet it will be. We also recommend matching the color of the safety pin to the color of your garment.
Once each shield is secured, throw on your shirt and go out into the world without worrying about pit stains!
A Better Alternative to DIY Dress Shields: Thompson Tee
Making your dress shields can be time-consuming and isn't for everyone. So if you’re looking for a no-hassle sweat solution, check out the Thompson Tee.
The Thompson Tee is an undershirt with built-in, high-tech dress shields. Made with patented Hydro-Shield technology, the Thompson Tee absorbs underarm sweat and releases it as a vapor. (See how it works here.)
The result? 100% protection against unsightly pit stains (wet marks and yellow rings) or your money back. Although the Thompson Tee costs more than DIY dress shields, it’s a high-quality product that will save you time and effort — no cutting, sewing or pinning.