DIY Die Hard-theme Ugly Christmas Sweater

Introduction: DIY Die Hard-theme Ugly Christmas Sweater

(optional) You may want to re-watch the original Christmas masterpiece, Die Hard, for inspiration! I intentionally chose the yellowy-orange color of my sweater after rewatching the film and realizing that all daylight outdoor shots of LA had this red-orange filter to emphasize the ubiquitous 80s LA smog (hilarious!).


Sweater or sweatshirt
Adhesive: Elmer’s glue or 3M gift wrapping tape or glue gun
Cardboard and/or poster board
Battery powered twinkle lights
tin foil

Step 1: Find Your Images Online!

Total honesty: I wanted some authenticity without having to do a ton of work. I had a hard time finding full-body shots of most of the main characters via Google so I tried to find suitable headshots of each of them instead. The “bodies” then were people in costumes as a limo driver or of Carl Winslow from Family Matters and the falling guy from the opening credits of Mad Men (for, spoiler alert, the Hans Gruber falling from the Tower figure).

Then I looked up “80s limo” and “80s cop car”, etc.

The Nakatomi Plaza picture was a little bit of a challenge that I’ll get into in the next step.

I just copy/pasted all the images into a Word doc and worked on them there.

Step 2: Sizing the Pictures

Reminder: I didn’t want to have to do too much work but honestly this part took the longest - sizing those pictures!

I copied all the images into text boxes in Word and then manipulated the sizes from there. The inspiration for this sweater was the John McClain in a duct ornament that’s all over the internet (definitely Google it!) so I already knew how that one would work. For the figures with bodies I knew I wanted the heads much larger than the bodies so I played around with them to get the right sizes. I also had to lighten some of the pictures because initially my printer printed McClain and Holly and Hans’ pictures REALLY darkly.

After that it was really down to how the heck to print a large enough Nakatomi building. I ended up taking a screengrab of the top and bottom halves of the building separately and pasting each half into separate MS Word docs. Be sure to try on your sweater and measure out roughly how much space you’ll use for the tower. Then use the rulers in MS Word to get the correct size of the images. I eyeballed the sizes for the rest of the images.

Step 3: Print and Assemble the Images

I just used the regular color printer I have at home. I gave them a few minutes to dry (so much ink!). I didn’t cut super closely to each image, sometimes leaving a little bit of white paper “border” on them then either glued or taped them to backing. Because Nakatomi was the biggest piece, I glued it to some sturdy cardboard but everything else was glued or taped to Black poster board. Once the glue dried, I laid out the pieces to get an idea for placement. I took a picture with my phone so I’d remember where it was going to go when I actually attached everything.

Step 4: Attach Pieces to Sweater & Make the 3D Elements

I liked the sweater and didn’t want to ruin it with glue so I used Velcro with a sticky backing to attach each piece to the fabric. They stayed on pretty well throughout the party and then were relatively easy to remove with minimal damage to the fabric.

To make the 3D components: (see pictures)
Holly Gennaro: I triple folded a piece of poster board (like an accordion) and taped one end to the back of her picture and then the other end to the tower so the picture stuck out.

Machine gun-elevator guy: I cut a piece of poster board that was about twice as long as the picture, covered it in tin foil, taped the picture in the middle and folded the ends around the picture like elevator “doors”. They open and close!

McClain in a duct: (you can also Google how other people have assembled these ornaments) I used poster board and taped it into a box shape, covered it in tin foil, then inserted the picture so it’s slightly convex in the box. Then I taped the “box” to the tower picture.

Step 5: Twinkle Lights

I had a set of twinkle lights that I ended up hot gluing to the sweater but you could also do this with Elmer’s or any washable paste glue, it’ll just take a lot longer to dry. I’ve done the hot glue a few times-it doesn’t impede the current and has yet to electrocute or light me on fire. That said - do this part at your own risk!!!

I made sure that the battery pack for the lights had enough slack to fit in my pocket if I walked around and then just glued it in an arc around the rest of the scene. (Wasn’t going to glue anything but I accidentally cut a hole in the sweater and, well, gave in to the lure of my glue gun’s siren crafting call).

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    2 years ago

    You should wear that with a vengeance.