I’ve always wanted a jacket so tough that it basically works like a suit of armor. The closest to this I have ever seen is either my 1970’s heavy wool hunting jacket or a new nylon Carhartt jacket that looks and feels like a piece of luggage. I have decided to make this legendary jacket on my own. This is a part how-to article, and part information on fabrics and clothes in general.
I have already made a vest with similar goals in mind, and it works quite well, but there were several problems with it, including the fabric shrinking when I dyed it so the vest ended up being slightly tight. I also want something with sleeves and maybe a hood for added protection.
It will eventually look something like this, but from a different pattern.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided the best material is cotton duck or canvas. There is no difference between “canvas” and “cotton duck”. Canvas is the slightly more popular term, however.
The problem with normal work clothes canvas is that it lasts about five years but starts wearing out in the edges. This is because it really isn’t that thick.
Canvas or duck is graded by ounces. More ounces equals a heavier, stronger fabric. Two layers of 18-oz canvas will be 36-oz thick. By comparison, Carhartt’s famously durable (and rightly so) jackets are only 12-oz thick. That’s one third the weight. The vest I made before was from 10-oz canvas with two layers, and that is extremely protective, but it still falls 16 ounces short of this new jacket, plus it doesn’t have sleeves! Thorns and other sharp objects cannot penetrate the vest unless they have a lot of force. Needless to say, I am very excited about this jacket, since it will be even better quality than the vest!
I am planning on wearing it going through dangerous parts of the woods, dealing with sharp fences or the metal shop or anything else with sharp edges, farm work, riding, and during any other activity with a good chance of injury through sharp objects or something which requires durable clothing. If I also need protection from falls or blunt trauma, I’ll wear some cushy clothes underneath it for padding.
How To Make:
There’s a pattern for a civil war era jacket laying around. It should work well for this purpose, although a hood will have to be added unless that makes things too complicated. After I sew the regular part of the jacket, I’ll add clear nail polish to a second layer inside the jacket. This layer will be 1 inch smaller in all directions. I will be using buttons for fasteners. To avoid snags, I will either use one or no pockets.
Here is the type of canvas I will employ:
I will be using tea to dye it. I would use butternut dye, but walnuts aren’t in season and they don’t grow around here so I can’t. Tea makes a pleasant yellow/tan color.
Finally, I will be hand sewing with heavy thread or upholstery thread and add box X’s to stress points. Maybe I’ll even use the double-W pattern for stress points that I heard of. I think I’ll use the running stitch with two lines of stitching for non-stressed parts of the jacket.
I’ll keep y’all updated on how it’s going. Thanks for reading!
Time= unknown, possibly 8-12 hours