Introduction: Leather Armor With Metal Pattern

Whether you are participating in a LARP battle, standing on a stage, or showing up at a fair or costume event, you will look and feel unique in this handcrafted leather armor. But looking impressive is second only to mobility and adequate protection. This armor is as practical as it is decorative. It is features a celtic metal pattern and geared towards celtic, viking, or barbarian characters in a medieval or fantasy setting. The fantasy shoulder armors create the unusual costume look.

This armor was made of genuine leather dyed in brown several years ago for one participant of LARP, and consists of torso and shoulder armors. The thickness is about 4 mm. The torso armor is not long which allows for better movement and gives the wearer more room to work with. The torso armor is made like a cuirass composed of 3 parts: 2 parts of front (breastplate) and a back. The Back part is connected (buckled) to the front via shoulder straps and two straps at each side of the torso. The Front parts are matching metal eyelets with dark brown lacing. The Front edges of the torso armor are decorated with Celtic knot ornament using metal plates, hidden in between the two layers of leather. This way of decoration makes this armor really shiny and sets it apart from others armors. This armor will make you look quite impressive. Each shoulder armor (pauldron) is made from two pieces of leather, joined using metal rivets. The top piece is made in form of an upright wing riveted to the main piece. The main piece features a buckle that secure the pauldron to the shoulder straps of the armor. Although you can choose to wear this leather armor with or without pauldrons. Other pieces of the shoulder armor are riveted in series. The bottom piece has a buckle and strap that fixes the pauldron to your upper arm. The shoulder armors have on the main piece (on the sides) a Celtic pattern in the form of a wolf, also made using metal plates.


cow leather, 3 mm thick (for under layer), vegetable tanned,

goat leather, 1 mm thick (for upper layer), vegetable tanned,

aluminum sheet, about 0.3 mm thick,

brown lace,

dark brown dye,

neoprene glue,

paper/cardboard (for templates),

metal belt buckles, 8 pieces,

round metal eyelets (grommets), 18 pieces,

leather rivets,

a pen,

a pencil,

a ruler,


a knife,

a cutting mat,

a hole punch,

eyelet pliers (tool to make eyelet),

brushes (big and very thin),

a rotary (to grind down and smooth the edges of leather),

an adhesive tape.

Step 1: Planning the Armor Design

It all starts with planning and drawing / sketching. The future owner of these armors expressed some of their requirements: he wanted not long armor, consisting of two separate parts - torso and shoulder armors, with a Celtic pattern. We decided to connect the front parts with a lacing, so there should be metal eyelets for the lace in front - 9 pieces on each side. We decided to fasten the front and back of the torso armor on the shoulders and sides with buckles and straps: two at each side, two on top.

To highlight the border - Celtic knot and make it literally shiny and striking, I decided to use aluminum plates. The aluminum surface of the plates should shine through the cut pattern in the leather. But since these plates need to be fixed for something, without affecting the appearance of the armor, the only way with this decoration technology is to use two layers of leather. The aluminum plates are fastened with rivets to the inner layer of the leather, and then the outer second layer of leather with a cut out pattern is glued on top of the aluminum plates and the inner layer. The result is not only a beautiful and spectacular exterior, but also a safe interior.

To decorate the shoulder armors, we chose a Celtic wolf pattern using the technology described above (with aluminum plates). In order to completely hide the upper layer of the skin, I decided to first make shoulder armors from the inner layer of the skin (bend and fasten with rivets), then attach an aluminum plate to it with rivets, and then glue the outer layer with the cut out pattern on top.

To the main part of shoulder armors, I decided to attach an additional part using rivets. And also lengthen shoulder armors from the bottom with additional leather strips fastened together and with a strap for attaching it to the forearm.

The shoulder armors will be attached to the torso armor with the help of straps.

For better contrast with the pattern, I decided to dye the outer layer of the skin with dark vegetal tanning.

Now we start to make it.

Step 2: Taking Measurements and Making the Paper Templates

You need to take measurements:

chest contour (from side-to-side across the chest),

waist contour (from side to side across the natural waist),

biceps contour,

shoulder width,

from the neck to the natural waist line.

Now you need to draw an armor template (pattern) on paper. These paper templates will help you not only with transferring your design to leather but also to test that your measurements were correct and your future armor will fit great. This is a very important step.

First make the front and back pieces of torso armor out of paper. For this you need large sheets of paper (you can glue several sheets together with adhesive tape). Lay the paper horizontal and draw templates (see photos). Draw a grid on your paper, then look at the photo of my armor template and draw the lines out the same way on your grid. Repeat this process for all pieces of the armor. Make the same for shoulder armors. Then cut all the pieces out.

Remember: measure twice, cut once! So as not to spoil the leather, you can make a dry test using paper/cardboard: cut using your pattern and check if this paper armor fits good. Sure that it doesn’t work that well as leather, but it helps to see flaws in the template. Remembering that it must be loose enough that you can still move when it is stuffed. You can even try to make the pattern using some old material, but I don’t think that you will have problems, as the style of these armor is very convenient and simple, and the strips will always help to adjust the size.

Print or draw on paper the wolf pattern and a fragment of a Celtic knot of the required size.

Step 3: Making the First (Under) Layer of Leather

Mark out and cut the pieces of the pattern from thick leather (for under layer). Do not forget to flip the templates for front of torso armor and for shoulders.

Fold the pieces for the shoulders and fasten them with rivets. Use extra pieces of leather on the sides (put them inside).

Cut out pieces of aluminum sheet of the size necessary for the Celtic patterns and fasten them with rivets to the leather (at the location of the patterns) (see photos).

Step 4: Making the Second (Outer) Layer of Leather

Mark out and cut the pieces of the pattern from thin leather (for outer layer). Do not forget to flip the templates for the torso front armor and for shoulders.

Mark the outline of the Celtic patterns and cut it out.

Dye leather. Let it dry.

Step 5: Connection of the Layers

All pieces of armor have two layers of leather. Now you have to glue the outer layer of the leather to the inner layer.

Set eyelets for lacing. Lace up the two halves of the front.

You have to make the straps to connect the front and back of torso armor. Cut from the leather strips 1.5 cm wide: 8 pieces 20 cm long and 8 pieces 7 cm long. Dye them.

Make holes in the long strips and fasten them with rivets one on the shoulders and two on the sides of the front parts.

Fold the short strips in half, make holes in the middle and along the edges, insert the buckle and fasten with rivets one on each shoulder and two on each side of the back.

Step 6: Assembling the Armor and Adding the Details

Connect the back and front of the torso armor buckling the straps. If desired, you can shorten the length of the straps.

Using buckles on the shoulders fasten shoulder armor to torso armor.

Your armor is not ready yet. There is lacking details. It's the details that makes it awesome. Rivet the top piece of shoulder armor in form of an upright wing.

Connect other pieces (four strips) of the shoulder armor using rivets in series and add to the bottom piece buckles and straps that will fix the pauldrons to your upper arms. The guy for whom this armor was made asked to lengthen only one shoulder. I like this idea.

Now this leather armor is ready. Enjoy the work done!

Leather Challenge

Participated in the
Leather Challenge