How to Make a Punk Rock Jacket for Under $100
Any punk rocker knows that a DIY jacket is a major staple in your wardrobe! Most of us started out in the scene at the ripe old age of 12 and some of us carried this lifestyle through into their 50’s and will die with only one request: “Bury me in my leather jacket!” So this article is for you youngsters who want to make your very own Punk Rock Jacket. This isn’t going happen in one day, unless you’re super lucky, or already have all the necessary materials, so be patient because this is truly going to be an important moment in your Punk Rock story.
Important Tip Never copy someone else’s jacket, or any DIY clothing article for that matter! Most of us true punks use our clothing as our way of making a “our statement”. This jacket is yours, and you should make it from your own imagination with your own blood, sweat, and tears! Styles and fads have been re-vamped over the ages and it’s almost impossible to do something someone else hasn’t already done, but as long as you use your own creative ideas and materials, and don’t intentionally copy someone else’s style stitch by stitch, patch by patch, and stud by stud, you should be fine. Plus, this is your jacket, and you’re an individual, so why would you want to?
Things you will need:
Read the entire article before purchasing these tools as you may not need them all, or may decide on another method
Leather or Jean Jacket – or make a jean vest
Spikes and/or Studs (prong or screw on) - decoration
Cool Material - decoration
Patches - bands and/or symbols, decoration
Acrylic Paint and Paint Brushes – to paint larger sections, decoration
Paint Pens – to draw or write, decoration
Black and Colored Sharpies – to draw or write on jean, decoration
Dart Awl or Sharp Ice Pick - to make holes and apply studs
Flat Head Screwdriver – to clamp down stud prongs to material
Scissors – cutting off sleeves or material, shredding hems
Safety Pins - attaching patches, decoration
Super Glue – holding patches down
Leather Sewing Needle – stitching on leather and tough jean
Heavy Duty Thread – (I prefer dental floss) – stitching
Thimble – to push the needle through thick material
Pad of Large Plain Paper – sketching original design
Colored Pencils – sketching original design
Goo Gone – painting mistakes
Imagination – most important tool
Finding the perfect jacket
Depending upon where you live, and whether you have a computer, for some this part will be easier than for others. Do you want a leather jacket, or a jean jacket, which can be made into a jean vest? Do you want your jacket to be vintage, new, long, or short? Well whatever the case you should be able to find it for $20 to $50. There are numerous places to find a quality, yet inexpensive jacket for much less than $150 to $300.
Online Web Sites: This is, by far, the easiest and second cheapest place to find the jacket of your dreams. I recommend this route first, because there are limitless opportunities to find the perfect jacket without even leaving your house. There are several online thrift stores and second hand shops, auction style web sites, and stores having clearance sales. You can always check out my online thrift shop: Retro Kitten Apparel, a Retro, Rockabilly, Vintage, Pin-up and Punk Second Hand Clothing Store. Just click on the link to our http://www.gypsiesdoitbetter.com/vicolepujaro.html jacket section as we frequently get leather and jean jackets in and new stuff is added weekly. With online shopping, of course, you will have to pay for shipping for the jacket, but think of all the options you’ll have online, and the time and gas you’ll save!
Tip: Use keywords such as “Used Leather (or Jean) Jacket Size Large” and other variations. Remember: The more specific the search the more likely you’ll get what you want faster. Then let the search engines do the foot work.
Warning: Be careful for viruses. There are verified sites with various logos or green check marks, and even warnings telling you whether the site is safe, and be sure to have your anti-virus software up to date.
Thrift Shops, Yard Sales, and Swap Meets: These are some of the cheapest places to find your “new” jacket, which, of course, will probably be used. However, this can become costly with the high price of gas, especially for non-freeway miles, and you might end up driving all over the city and never finding the right jacket.
Tips: Check the newspaper, Craigslist, or ZZStar for yard sales, Flea Marts, Swap Meets, Church Sales, Estate Sales, etc. Contact the people who list phone numbers or email addresses, or inquire when you arrive at a sale as to whether they have a leather or jean jacket, even if they’ve listed the items that will be for sell, or you don’t see one, because maybe they forgot to list everything, or forgot they even had an old leather or jean jacket in the rafters. Maybe someone else will overhear you and speak up. This will save you time and money.
Army Surplus Store: This is the last place I would recommend, but you can find leather, jean, army, and flight jackets here. You will just need to be prepared to pay a hefty price for it. So now you have the leather or jean jacket you’ve always wanted, and, hopefully, you didn’t pay more than $50 for it! Let’s make it into your very own Punk Rock staple!
Sketch Ideas and Design Your Jacket
Grab your pad of large plain white paper and your colored pencils, including regular #2 pencils, and draw your jacket in detail including every pocket, seam, button, strap, etc. Be sure to cover most of the paper, but leave room for an "Idea Notes" grid (see the tip below for using a grid). Then do the same for the back of the jacket on the other side of the paper (we want to be eco friendly don’t we?). Then gather the items you already have that you want to use like patches, pins, etc., and let’s begin.
Here’s where your imagination comes in. Ask yourself what you want your jacket to look like? How will your jacket represent you? Should it be a tribute to your favorite bands? A removable upper body tattoo? Or, just a really cool jacket made with all kinds of cool stuff? Well that’s up to you, and this the most exciting part of making your very own Punk Rock jacket.
Begin designing your jacket with your pencils, coloring in painted areas, writing words, drawing patches and areas where material will go, etc. If you don’t like the outcome, erase and re-do, or start over fresh until you have your own perfect personal creation!
Grid Tips: Use the grid to make notes. On the grid, write a headline such as Studs, then, perhaps, use a color system and put a red dot and write “pyramid stud - ½”, and on your sketch draw the stud like a pyramid in red. For patches, you probably won't need the grid, because you can just draw the shape of the patch on your sketch and write the name of the patch on the sketch such as “The Adicts”.
Cool Ideas: Here are some ideas to help get you started, because some of us, try as they might, just aren't artistic. No problem! I'm going to give you a kick start to get your creative juices flowing. Get creative with your paint and paint an entire sleeve blue. Use your paint pens and draw a spiderweb on the other sleeve, maybe on the elbow. Stud the entire jacket (what a job that would be), or just the collar. Add some spikes along a seam, or intersperse them in your studs (be careful, because you don't want your jacket to hurt you while you're wearing it), add some band or symbol patches, or write band names the way they do. Draw some skulls or symbols, or, if you aren’t a great artist, have someone else do it. It’s still your idea, and now you can help promote your friend. Add leopard printed material to the belt. Make a safety pin design, or use safety pins to hold down a patch. Use different colored thread to stitch down patches. Lace up the side of your jacket with hand-made eyelets and leather string.
Buy Your Supplies
Now that you have your design, make a list of the tools, materials, and supplies you've decided you'll need. Also, find a hard flat work station such as your kitchen table to put your jacket together.
Tips and helpful links for inexpensive supplies:
Acrylic paint and paint pens: Try Office Depot or Wal-Mart. Ask for their Oops Paint, which is just paint mixed into a wrong particular color, for super cheap, but make sure it will adhere to leather such as acrylic. Also, try municipal (Metro) recycling where you can get reconstitute recycled quality paint in five or six generic colors for $5 gallon!
Patches, Pins, Badges, Spikes and Studs: Grab a patch, or a pin, from a punk show. Cut up a band tee and make a patch from the band logo, and use the rest of the t-shirt to make your own creative patches. Also, check online for cheap supplies such as http://www.studsandspikes.com for cheap patches, spikes, studs, badges, and even tools.
Material: Get cool material from old clothes, thrift shops, or scrap bins at craft stores or Wal-Mart.
Chain: “Borrow” your dog’s collar.
Thread: You can use dental floss, or fishing line, which both make sturdy thread for stitching.
Dart Awl (aka hole punch): You can use a really sharp ice pick for making holes for studs instead of a Dart Awl, or use different sized nails for different sized holes and hammer them through. You can get a Dart Awl for about $5 or $6 at Studs and Spikes (linked above).
Next, get all your supplies set up in an orderly fashion so your work station is comfortable, and your supplies are handy, then post up your sketch where you can easily reference it.
Begin the transformation
Now comes the blood, sweat, and tears part of making your own Punk Rock Jacket! You have your design, all your supplies, and a nice hard surfaced work station so now all you have to do make your Punk Rock Jacket. My job is done, but I will leave you with some helpful information.
Studding: From the top side of the jacket, make the hole in the jacket and poke the spike through, or a few tiny ones and poke your pronged stud through. Then flip the jacket over and use your flat head screw driver to press down the prongs, or screw on the backing of the spike. This is the most time consuming part of creating your jacket!
Stitching: I recommend using a thimble to push your heavy duty needle through the tough material, and stitch anyway you want! You can use dental floss, fishing line, or thread the same way.
Patches: Add super glue to the back of the patch before placing it onto your jacket then stitch it down, or safety pin it on. That will help keep the patch in place, and it looks more professional, if you want it to look professional.
Mistakes: If you make a mistake with paint try Goo Gone from Dollar Tree, or a similar type of remover. Sometimes, simply using a wet wash cloth, or baby oil/olive oil will work. I've also heard isopropyl alcohol too and then a leather conditioner so it doesn't dry out. I have never personally used any of these options so do a spot test first in an inconspicuous area. Never use polish remover!
FYI: I decided not to post any pictures of my jackets, because there are enough of those online to look at, and like I said, use your own imagination!
Written on 7/18/10 by Lindsay Dominguez-owner of Retro Kitten Apparel, a Retro, Rockabilly, Vintage, Pin-up and Punk Second Hand Clothing Store.