Making Your Own Ghillie Suit
Whether you’re a prepper, a hunter or simply an individual in need of a tool for a prank, you’ve probably came across the term ghillie suit. For those who have no idea what that is, it’s a type of clothing used for camouflage and is made of either twine or burlap strips. Vegetation is optionally used to increase authenticity.
Outside its intended environment and to an outsider, a ghillie suit would look bizarre, like a huge pile of grass that resembles a yeti. This strange appearance, when properly made and placed in the right environment can be difficult to spot. Due to this ghillie suits have been used by hunters, nature photographers, police and the military to obscure themselves and hide from their targets.
Premade vs Homemade
If you are hoping to have a ghillie suit of your own, chances are you’ve already scouted shops or searched online to buy one. That is, if you have the money. Since there are no express ways to mass produce them to lower the cost, high quality premade ghillie suits are expensive. There are inexpensive suits of course, but most of these aren’t made for the specific conditions that you have in mind.
They lack texture and don’t match the color scheme of the surroundings, making it stand out rather than blend in. The right fit is also an issue, especially if you’re ordering online. The measurements they put on the description may or may not be accurate, therefore there’s really no knowing if it will conceal you properly when worn.
So while it is convenient to buy or order one online, finding the exact one that is best suited for you and to the environment you plan to use it in is quite low.
A homemade ghillie suit takes time to craft. In fact, it takes skill and a lot of patience to create one, especially a high quality suit with great detail. The upside to this is, you can build it according to how you want it to be built.
You can add certain modifications to fit to your preferences and adjust it to match the setting of the environment without having to pay for the extra features. It’s cost-efficient, gives you complete control, and hones your fieldwork skills as you construct it.
So why not make a ghillie suit from scratch?
Before you take out all the materials required for the suit, scout first the environment you’ll use it on. Bring a camera, a notepad, pen and even color pencils with you. Take note of the dominant colors such as greens, browns and yellows. Associate those colors with the specific dyes. Pay attention to the lighting, the texture and the place itself.
Do it during the specific time you’ll be using the suit, as the change in light positions and shadows can make your camouflage darker and thus revealing your position. It should give you a concept on what to use and which features to include.
If you finally have all the details you need, you’re finally ready to make your suit. Procedure one will cover the suit that requires a base, while procedure two will introduce a suit that is made of decoy bag. Pick the process you think will provide the best concealment for your selected terrain and remember, be patient.
Materials you’ll need:
- Base suit
- Glue/ Shoe Glue
- Fishing line and/or white dental floss
- Spray paint (base colors)
- Jute twine or burlap
Step 1. Dye the burlap.
- Identify the colors of the environment you wish to use the ghillie suit on and match them with specific dye colors. If you’re using jute twines, then you don’t need to dye them. But you can if you aren’t satisfied with the color. Just bear in mind that the color of the twine will affect the end result.
- Take the dye and follow the instructions written on the packet.
- Once they’re dyed, run them through cold water until the water runs clear. Expect the color to be darker than desired. It’ll lighten as it dries. Let it dry completely before determining if the color is right. If it’s too dark, you can submerge the fabric in a solution of water and bleach. Adjust the bleach and water ratio until you have your desired shade.
Step 2. Make jutes from burlap. If you have purchased jute twine previously, then skip this step.
- Cut the bottom and side stitching of the burlap sack with scissors.
- Using a large-toothed comb, separate the strands from the burlap sack. Or sit down, secure the edges with your feet and start pulling out the fibers that are horizontal to you. Pull enough horizontal cloth until it is the same length as the vertical one and then cut the fiber off. Keep pulling until you have about four to five pounds of strands.
Step 3. Prepare the base suit.
- Though it’s easiest to start with a camouflage outfit, you can create a camo suit out of normal clothes using spray-paint and/or fabric patches in base colors that match the surrounding of your choice. BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform) and military suits are preferable choices. Any durable work outfit can also be used as long as they’re painted with earthy tones.
- Stitch or glue patches of burlap on the elbows, knees and chest parts of the suit. This is to provide protection to areas prone to scrapes when crawling.
Step 4. Attach the netting to the base suit.
- Lay the netting into the base suit and stitch it in place using a fishing line or dental floss. Apply glue for strength, if preferred. Cut the netting around the suit with scissors afterwards. If stitching is not your forte you can glue the netting into the base suit instead, applying glue every couple of inches on the edges of the mesh. Let it dry before trimming the edges.
Step 5. Tie the jute into the netting.
- Clump 4-10 strands of jute together and tie them into the netting. Remember to use three to four colors according to the dominant huesof your chosen environment. Place them randomly to prevent a color from dominating a single spot. It’s best to work with one color at a time.
- Pick up the suit, shake it lightly and place it back down. Fill in any missed spot. Repeat the process until all areas are covered.
Step 6. Wear it out.
- You can skip this step if you prefer. Soak the suit in mud. Rinse off most of the dirt afterwards and let it dry. This gives the ghillie suit a dull and authentic look, making the jutes look like actual foliage and allowing the suit to blend in better with the selected environment. You can also run it over or drag it around the block with your vehicle.
Step 7. Make the hat.
- Glue or stitch an oval-shaped netting on a hat. Fasten the jutes similar to how it was tied on the suit. Make sure the jutes are long enough to cover your neck at the back but short at the front, just enough to cover the brim.
Step 8. Use Vegetation.
- Incorporate objects from your environment to your suit. If you are in a forest for example, use sticks, small branches and leaves but avoid plants that cause skin irritation like poison ivy. If you are to pass through a different kind of terrain, it’s essential that you integrate objects from that specific terrain into your suit.
- Break the human outline by adding wider things around your neck and head to avoid detection, since the shape will most likely give you away.Add more on the back of the suit rather than at the front. You’ll probably do plenty of crawling and additional bulk on the front would make too much noise. Change the live vegetation you used on the suit frequently, since it’ll change coloras it dies.
- You can use artificial vegetation, but these have an unnatural sheen to them. You can remedy that by usinga flat-spray paintof the same hue. Since leaves don’t change colors uniformly, use different shades along with the base color, such as yellow and brown. Using artificial vegetation is advisable if you’re going to be using the suit for extended periods of time.
Materials You’ll Need:
- 36″ x 50″/ 30” x38” decoy bag
- Jute twine
- Fabric dye
- Spray paint
Step 1. Find a decoy bag that’ll fit you without restricting your movements.
Step 2. Remove the shoulder straps.
- Use a cutter, a sharp knife or a seam ripper. You can spray paint the mesh after removing the shoulder straps, if you prefer. Spray it in lines or splotches to break the color monotony.
Step 3. Cut the head and arm holes.
- Lay it flat with the bottom facing you, and then divide it into three equal parts using a marker. Cut out the center part. From the bottom rim of the mesh decoy bag, measure 10-15 inches on each side towards the bag opening. Be sure to mark your measurements. Cut both sides of the bag starting from the bottom up towards the measured line.
Step 4. When done, check if it’s the proper fit.
- It shouldn’t restrict your movement and should be spacious enough so the user can wear clothes underneath it. If the head and arm holes are too big, tie the edges with a string, twine or any obscure string.
Step 5. Lay netting over the desired part of the decoy bag and secure with twines or any strand as long as it will not stand out.
Step 6. Follow step 1, 2 and 5, 6,7 and 8 of procedure one.
- Veer away from natural lines such as trees. Hiding next or behind one will look unnatural.
- Moving forwards, not side to side, will make it difficult for your target to spot you. Hide in the shadows as much as possible.
- A Ghillie suit doesn’t make you invisible. It blends you in, therefore incorporating the suit with the location is very important.
- Slow and deliberate movements are a huge factor in avoiding detection. The suit is useless if the user’s movements are rash and hasty. If you are to move, do it calculatingly.
- Since the materials used in the ghillie suit are flammable, it’s best to apply fire retardant as you’re making it for safety measures. Use a fire retardant spray specifically made for man made or natural fabrics. If you can’t find one, go to your local fire department and ask for the materials you need to make it.
- If you are hunting, remember certain laws and be aware of other hunters. Don’t make any sudden move or else you’ll give away your position and might scare someone into shooting you.
- Try asking a friend to spot you in the forest with binoculars. If they can spot you immediately, then the suit needs to be modified.
Ghillie suits are highly effective as a camouflage, yet it’s not without its drawbacks. It’s heavy especially when wet, hot, and can snag pieces of vegetation and objects around you. Using it requires stealth and long periods of holding still. It’s still a great kit, if used properly and professionally.
If you are a hunter who wants to disguise as a bush or a nature photographer who wants elusive shots of rare animals, the merit the suit may bring will outweigh its inconveniences. Not to mention your skills can be upgraded due to the observation phase you need to go through before crafting the suit.
But if you’re a person out to use the suit for a harmless prank, then there’s really no need to do all those observations unless if you really want the prank to be seamless or you’re storing the knowledge for future use.
Now that you’ve had the basics down, it’s time to build that suit.