Festival season is almost upon us and there is no better accessory than a battle jacket.
Its become somewhat of a uniform for metal heads but can be traced back to the biker gangs of the 60’s who used patches on their leathers to show which club they belonged to. Since they were adopted into punk and metal culture, as a means of expressing oneself and the love they have for their favourite bands.
Vests or jackets are usually denim or occasionally leather and adorned with patches, though some people paint band logos, add studs or safety pins, even chains.
So, how do you make your own Battle Jacket?
First you will need:
- A jacket/vest of your choice
- Patches, pins, studs, fabric/acrylic paint, anything else you want to decorate yours with.
- Fabric Glue
- Sewing thread
- Sewing machine (optional)
Where to find your Battle Jacket
Purists will say only Levi’s will do, but any old jacket will do. First decide between leather or denim. Both are good options but make sure if you choose leather you get a leather needle and thimble.
In my eyes the cheaper the better; get down to Primark or a charity shop. Black or blue denim is a classic but coloured denim could look bold. Just try and avoid anything pre-embroidered or studded as it can look pretty shitty and can make it hard to make any changes.
Cut the arms off if you want a vest or leave em on, its your fcking jacket do what you want.
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Where to find patches.
Gosh, everywhere. I can guarentee your favourite bands have patches available. Check out their merch stores and sites, for older bands look at eBay or websites like Gridstore and EMP. You can even make your own from band t’s, but that’s a tutorial for another day.
For none band related patches and pins check out Etsy.com.
It doesn’t matter if you get iron on patches or sew on patches as you will have to sew them anyway if you want them to last in the pit.
Band patches often come with ‘raw’ edges that fray easily so fold the edges over and iron them so you have a nice clean edge. If you like the look of the frayed edge on the patch then use fabric glue to glue the patch down before sewing, this will top it fraying away once its on your jacket.
Okay, so get all your shit together.
Plan out what you want where. Try out different combinations and when you’re happy we can get started.
If you want to do any handpainting/dyeing/distressing of the jacket I suggest doing this first before you add your patches.
Secure your patches. Iron on any iron-on patches and if you’re not that confident in your sewing skills use fabric glue to stick sew-on patches. This can make it a little easier to sew as they wont shift as much, it also limits the things stabbing you as you sew. If you are pretty confident in your skills, and don’t mind being stabbed occasionally then secure your patches with pins.
Use a good quality thread. Gütterman Heavy Duty is probably the best, cheap ones tangle and snap easy, but work with what you can. You can use a colour to match the patch or go wild with other colours; remember its your jacket, your rules.
If you’re using a sewing machine get it set up, or thread your hand sewing needle.
Seamstress trick here: Double up the thread. Cut a piece as long as your arm, thread it through the eye then tie a knot in the ends so the needle won’t fall off. It stops your needle unthreading which can happen a lot when going through layers of thick fabric.
A back stitch is more secure but a simple running stitch works just as well, you can even play with stitch lengths if you want, you don’t have to be precise and neat.
You can also stitch around the edges if you want an even more raw look. Here’s a handy guide to different stitch styles and how to do them https://www.wikihow.com/Sew
Last step is to add any extras.
Pin’s. If you’re worried about losing them and you’re not bothered about being able to take them off you can solder or superglue the backs of them to stop them coming off.
Studs. You can get these cheap of eBay or Alibaba. Put a piece of cardboard underneath your jacket, press the spikes through, then use pliers or a thimble to bend the prongs inward to secure the stud. You can pre-poke holes with an awl if you want to make it easier on your fingers and secure them in place with superglue to give them some extra hardiness.