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DIY: Making a Battle Jacket

A guide offering information on how to make a battle jacket/vest as well as a brief overview of the culture associated with punk and metal.

Making Your Kutte

You'll Need:

  • A Jacket/Vest
  • Thread or Dental Floss
  • Sewing Needles (Leather Needles work best with thick patches and/or materials)
  • Patches (embroidered or printed on duckcloth)
  • Sewing Pins or Safety Pins
  • Thimble
  • Enamel Pins/Buttons/Badges
  • Marker/Tailor's Chalk
  • An Awl (optional)
  • Small Screwdriver (optional)
  • Needle Nose Pliers (optional)
  • Studs & Spikes (optional)
  • Fabric Dye (optional)
  • Fabric Glue/ Liquid Stitch (optional)


Step 1 - Chose Your Jacket/Vest

First off you'll need a pick a jacket or vest to use, either buying new or finding one to work with at a thrift store. Denim is a much more forgiving material than leather, any stitch/hole you make in leather is permanent. You'll want something that fits you well and is comfortable, preferably not something too loose fitting or too tight, although it's not a big deal if it doesn't button/zip up. If you have a jacket that you want to turn into a vest that's denim or another woven-type material, cut off the sleeves and run it through a washing machine once or twice to get the frayed look on the sleeves.

Step 2a - Plan It Out!

What kind of kutte do you want to make? Traditionally kutten are music based but the main rule is only that it's yours and a reflection of you, it can look however you want! Personally I have one dedicated to all things Halloween because that's what I enjoy, so whatever you're passionate about or identify with is what you should go with. Start collecting materials for your kutte, you don't need do have everything ready all at once, it's not a race and you can slowly add to your kutte over time.

Step 2b - Dye Your Jack/Vest (optional)

Not happy with the color/shade of what you've chosen? Before you get started in earnest you can bleach your denim to lighten it up a few shades (be sure to wear gloves when handling bleach or dye!) or go straight to dying, the Rit brand fabric dye is the go to to use (fabric dye will work better than synthetic). To dye your jacket fill a large bucket or container with as hot water as you can and add in the dye, stirring before place your jacket in. Adding the jacket in already wet will help the color distribute evenly, as well as adding just a bit of laundry detergent and a bit of salt. Leave your jacket completely submerged and let it soak for a half hour to an hour. If you're looking for a more vibrant or bold color after the initial soak, you can use a color fixative by following the directions on the bottle and adding your jacket to the second bath before rinsing it out and washing it. 

Step 3 - Beginning in Earnest

If for any reason you need to wash your kutte, do it now! After this it's considered bad luck to ever wash it. Generally speaking a good place to begin in earnest would be the back patch, this is a large patch centered on the back of your kutte that can be a patch or even a cut up tshirt or other piece of fabric that will be the centerpiece of your kutte. After you select the patch you want to use you'll want to pin it in place before you get started to make sure it's centered and where you want it. If it is something that you've cut up or has frayed edges but sure to fold the edges in slightly so the fabric doesn't continue to fray and eventually fall off. You can use some fabric glue to glue down the edges or pin them down before you begin to sew.

For thread you can use typical polyester sewing thread- white and black are commonly used, but I tend to use any color I think will compliment the patch I'm sewing the best, or you can even use dental floss as a thread substitute. Cut off the length of thread you'll need from the spool and thread it through your needle and tie a knot at the end of the thread. Going from the inside of the fabric, poke your needle through so the knot is on the inside and continue to sew around the border of the patch from here. As you sew don't start right at the edge but leave a little space to make sure you have a good hold against your kutte. There are two common simple stitches you can use: 

  • Straight/Flat Stitch - individual stitches are made without crossing or looping the thread. These stitches are used to form broken or unbroken lines or starbursts, fill shapes and create geometric designs. These stitches are placed on the interior of the patch and follow along the border of it. 
  • Whip Stitch - used primarily to sew two pieces of fabric together, this stitch will loop around the outside edge of the patch and into your kutte, lacing back and forth.


Step 4 - Patches & Pins!

Now that you have your backpatch done you can start to build more of your kutte around it, you can start experimenting with placement of your patches on the front and back of your kutte and pin them where you like.  Embroided patches tend to be thicker and feature multiple types of colored thread while cloth patches are generally printed in black or white (depending on the color of the fabric) with Speedball ink. Using the techniques from Part 3 sew them on with whatever type of stitch you're comfortable with. If you like you can even start adding pins and badges now, to make sure you don't accidently lose them it might be worth it to invest in some locking pin-backs which you can pick up pretty cheap a variety of places online. For buttons if you really want to make sure they don't fall off and you have access to the equipment you can even solder them 

Step 5 - Spikes & Studs! (optional)

Spikes come in a variety of sizes, styles and colors though most usually will have a screw-back. First you'll want to decide where you want to place your spikes and make a small mark on your kutte using a marker or tailor's chalk. For this next step it's important to be very careful as you'll want to get a sharp implement to mark a hole in the fabric from the inside (just like when you're sewing). I would recommend using an awl, it's a tool used by leatherworkers that is a pointed tool used expressly for poking holes in material but you can also use a screwdriver, knife, or any other thin, sharp instrument. You want to make a hole big enough for the spike to fit through but small enough that it won't fall through or be loose. Once the hole has been made, push the spike through the inside of the fabric and then put the screw into the base of the spike and tighten it with your hand, you can use a screwdriver to finish tightening it. 

The most common type of studs you'll see on kutten are pyramid studs and they come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles as well. These type of studs are typically attached by 2-4 prongs that you'll pierce through the fabric. The prongs tend to be fairly sharp and will easily pierce through the fabric, you'll want to use a thimble, the handle end of a screwdriver or another tool to fold in the prongs to keep the stud in place. If you are making a pattern or design with your studs it's a good idea to put your ideas on paper and diagram it out on graph paper to make use you get the look you want. 

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