Introduction: DIY Assault Ghillie From a Hoodie Mk.II

(Please note - this is a completely rewritten, remastered and more updated version of the old Instructable I posted on another account. It has been reformatted, rewritten and additional steps, modifications and photos included. It may as well be a different Instructable by a different person with the only similarities being a few of the pictures. Anyway - please enjoy).

I love Airsoft. And having used a bolt action rifle as my first main rifle, love the sniping and stealth side of it. But soon simple camo uniform is not enough. A Ghillie suit. I had to have one.

Ghillie suits are a form of camouflage often utilized by snipers and their assisting spotter. They often consist of jute (a form of vegetable fiber spun into course, strong threads) and vegetation gathered from the environment of which the sniper is concealed in. Ghillies and are extremely effective and breaking up the body and allowing the sniper to hide amongst the bushes in complete concealment.

However, I no longer play a serious sniping role, with my new DMR (A semi automatic rifle with a lot higher fire rate than a bolt action rifle) I play a lot more aggressively (metaphorical for moving around a lot more and going on attack).

This introduces several problems with your standard Ghillie:

  • Hot when running
  • Gets caught on branches
  • Heavy
  • Reduces Movement
  • Difficult to quickly take on and off
  • Parts are likely (like a hat) to fall off

And so therefore I have created a more lightweight 'assault' Ghillie to remove these problems, the differences include:

  • Full suit - no sections falling off / easy & quick to put on and take off
  • Back covered only - does not affect ability to lie down / doesn't get caught on ground vegetation / camo when lying down and lightweight for moving
  • Hood - easy to put down to adjust goggles or mask / easy to 'disengage' Ghillie if you are in an area with lots of trees (so you don't constantly get caught on branches)
  • Less burlap - lighter / easier to maneuver / not too hot / fits in a bag compactly / doesn't get in the way of a shouldered rifle
  • Allows wearing a bag (very, very useful to carry HPA tanks and other gear) or webbing for rifle magazines - this is the best bit!!!

This whole project was also made from a simple t-shirt like hoodie I had lying around! I've got to say, the transformation is pretty incredible in turning this trash into treasure!

I need to remember to never put it down in the woods! Or I will have wasted a large amount of work and time. Oh yea, that's another thing. If you want to make this. LARGE DEDICATION is required. Stripping burlap for hours on end it not as fun as it sounds... really.

Step 1: Burlap

Jute is the threading that is generally used to make Ghillies. It can be bought separately, pre-dyed or non dyed though it is slightly expensive depending on where you live. The best thing about buying burlap (essentially material made of woven jute) and then stripping out the jute from it is that it is much easier to dye (see Warning 1 & 2) and is DIRT cheap; which is great for building on a budget. (Jute bought separately can also be a little thick sometimes and will make your Ghillie look like a Komondor dog).

It is a generally the rule of thumb to use 30% jute and 70% natural vegetation, but since I:

  1. Don't like the idea of shoving decaying, insect infected plant carcasses down my top.
  2. Aren't going to be staying in the same section of woodland for long enough for a completely matching Ghillie to matter
  3. Want a Ghillie that works instantly and that doesn't need me to go flower picking before using it

I decided to use 100% jute.

WARNING 1: This is going to take a while. Like 5 hours non stop of pulling string. Like watching paint dry, apart from paint probably dries faster. (And watching paint dry doesn't give you numb fingers!)

WARNING 2: At the small cost of having little stripes of the original colour on the jute you can dye it before instead of after stripping the it out of the burlap sheet. The benefit of this is that you don't have to deal with hundreds of knots in the jute when you dry it (this makes it a pain to dry and organize the wet jute) which then also become a pain when trying to tying small even strands on later. If you want to do this - do the next step before this one!

WARNING 3: Dry jute is VERY flammable, either keep it away from fire completely (like I have) or use a fire retardant.

So anyway, I ordered from eBay a 2m x 3m hessian burlap sheet. In the end I used about 14 30cm x 20cm sections.
To strip it, the best method I found, was to strip 1 cm on one side in order to reveal the edge of each thread and then start stripping those on the perpendicular side.

Also as aforementioned, you might end up looking like you just hugged a fur shedding dog - so get the vacuum ready!

If you did do this step, pat yourself on the back for a job very well done!!! Actually don't, that might hurt your aching fingers - maybe just congratulate yourself mentally and mentally prepare yourself for what comes at step 5!

Step 2: Dye

Now it comes to dying the burlap different colours. As said in the previous step - if you want to avoid knots here - dye the sheet before stripping though you sacrifice good solid colour (you can see what I mean on the brown in the tying step).

Try to take into account your environment and season you want the Ghillie to be effective in and use different colours to break up your figure. Keep in mind any dye you purchase will also blend and merge with the tan hessian colour so for example my amazon green gave me a muddy grass kind of colour which actually worked out well for woodland!

For my muddy, drizzly, English woodland environment I chose 2 greens (amazon and forest), woodland brown and standard un-dyed jute. The colours this gave me were muddy light green, dark green, dark brown and obviously standard tan.

Once done I dried the burlap in my washing machine (by spinning it with them inside) then the washing line outside, then over the boiler overnight.

Follow the instructions on your dye pack (including the use of salt*) and move on to the next step!

Make sure to check if you need salt before you leave the store!

Step 3: Sew

Next we need something we can tie the burlap onto. To do this I purchased pond net (of which the primary is it to stop fish jumping out of ponds and cats jumping in!). This is a lot cheaper and lightweight than the big heavy nautical netting some people use.

This is light weight, strong and DIRT CHEAP. Like seriously, I think I could still sell it to a bulk fish farmer with the amount I have left over!

Most tutorials say use shoe goo but I thought that extra tough nylon thread and my awful sewing machine might create a tougher bond that will stretch a little.

Keep in mind that as you put the clothing on, it expands and all the loose folds expand flat, so if you sew netting too tight on the hood or something - it won't wear properly as the netting wills stop your head going in! The best way to get around this is to choose someone roughly with the same figure of you and sew it onto them while they are wearing it lightly then go over it with a sewing machine later. Just don't prick them or they likely won't be too happy! If you can't do this just puff out the hood and arms and sew the netting a little loose with a lot of extra pleats.

(I didn't sew the bottom of the netting to the hoodie so that I could wear a bag and assault vest under it and it just sits over the top - which is great! (I wear a Warrior Atacs FG cargo pack))

This should take a few hours but it is worth it for the next step!

Step 4: Tie

To tie the burlap, take a few strands of burlap together and thread it though two holes in the netting by going in one and out the other. Tie a simple knot by folding one side over the other and then folding under and going through the loop created. Simply pull tight.

Start at the bottom of the hoodie and work your way along and up like shown in the penultimate photo. Resist any temptation you may have to skip up! You want each layer to be even and each row to overlay the previous one loosely and to not be tied down for any reason.

Try to make sharp colour changes and use dark coloursmore on the bottom. This will severely break up your figure (you primarily are recognized by your human silhouette and movement) and make it very difficult to recognize you in hiding. Think of your environment whilst you do this! I build up my non dominant shoulder in jute to make it less like a human figure. I did the opposite (used less) on my other shoulder to allow a rifle to be shouldered.

This is the pinnacle of fun. The abstract definition. NOT. This took me several days and about 5 hoovering sessions. It is indescribably boring but jeez. The feeling of reward you feel at the end, looking at the finished product, also is indescribable.

Step 5: Cut

I trimmed off the excess material on the hoodie to make it more like a viper hood (last two photos) which is a very expensive Ghillie suit which allows compatibility with a backpack etc. I replicated this with the hoodie to be more light weight and allow me to wear a cargo pack and assault vest underneath. The Ghillie actually sits over these if you did not sew the bottom.

You can use pinking shears to stop the edge fraying, but I chose to just use standard scissors and hem the edge in if it started to fray.

Step 6: Done!

WOO! If you actually did everything and made it to this stage. Well. Well done! Take a break, you've earned it! Go try it out in the woods or put it on your dog to appreciate your fine work and give your aching fingers a break! (Also show me a picture with the "I made it!" button - I'd love to see your handy-work!)

I have also added in a photo of it blending in which it does quite well - see if you can spot it with your eyes blurred slightly - if you weren't looking for it I doubt you would see it!

If you didn't make it I hope you enjoyed this Instructable anyway, please consider leaving a vote with the button in the top right - it really, really helps me! (you can do this if you did make it too xD!)

Thanks! Happy making!

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