Making Ghillie Suits

A Marine wearing a ghillie suit

Be it for hunting, paintball, Airsoft or just for fun, ghillie suits can make the wearer nearly invisible to the naked eye. Buying a suit is often expensive and can lead to disappointment, but making them is cheap, easy project. It also means you can customize your ghillie suit to suit the terrain.

Materials

Making a ghillie suit requires a shirt and pants—usually military battle dress uniform (BDUs), which you can buy on the Internet or in military surplus stores—that fit you comfortably and give you some room to move around in. You will attach the netting to the suit, and then tie dyed strips of fabric onto the netting. The easiest way to obtain a net is to purchase a replacement volleyball net, which are available at sporting goods stores or big-box stores. You can buy the strips of cloth—burlap works well—at a fabric store and the dye can be picked up at supermarkets or big-box stores. Also purchase a tub for dying, some plastic clothes hangers, multipurpose adhesive (Shoe Goo works well), a sturdy sewing needle and unwaxed, unscented dental floss.

Assembling the Suit and Netting

Sew netting to the front, back and arms of the shirt or BDU top and to the front and back of the pants. Sew each knot of the netting in place by running the sewing needle with dental floss as thread through it. This is a time-consuming process, but will ensure the durability of the suit. Once you have sewn the netting on, slather multipurpose adhesive, such as Shoe Goo, around each knot to glue it into place and secure the netting. According to GhilleSuits.com, recent experiments of skipping the sewing and just using Shoe Goo have proven to keep the netting in place on the BDUs it was tested on. Sew a flap of netting—three squares deep by four wide is the minimum size—to the back of the shirt’s neck. This will act as the hood of the ghillie suit.

Dye the Strips

Depending on the color you want your camouflage to be, dye 18-inch strips of fabric or burlap. Use mostly base coat colors, which can be olive, khaki or almond, depending on the camo style. To dye them quickly and effectively, fill a tub with the dye solution. GhillieSuit.com recommends draping the strips of cloth over plastic hangers and then dipping them into the dye before hanging them to dry. Dye several different colors, such as green, black, brown and tan, or whatever you want your color scheme to be.

Tie the Strips to the Netting

Start with your base color strips and tie two to each of the squares of the netting that is sewn to the shirt, hood and pants. Alternate colors, with the darkest color going next up to the lightest color, until the pattern is complete and the suit is covered with the strips. Lift up the suit occasionally and shake it out, making sure your coverage is thick in all areas. Add strips where the camouflage looks thin.