Introduction: Machete Vest/ Costume

Machete, (Danny Trejo) is one bad dude with nothing to lose! I made this vest out of deerskin leather. I spent about 60$ on the biggest scraps that I could find from my neighborhood cobbler (BKB Leather Lawrence, KS) Beware, this project took about 40 hours to complete. Patience is required!

Step 1: Tools Required

The tools are pretty basic:

  • Drill
  • 5/64" Drill Bit
  • Sharp Scissors or X-Acto Knife
  • Tandy Leather Punch
  • Fabric Pencil
  • Tandy Snaps and Setter Kit (Gold)
  • Artificial Sinew
  • Red 1 Shot, or acrylic paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Leather Needle
  • Hammer (not pictured)

Step 2: Layout the Leather on an Old Vest or Pattern

I had scraps of leather, which turned out really cool once sewn together. All I had was an old vest, but if you prefer you can buy a pattern. I lay all the pieces on the vest and traced what I wanted to cut off, and what I wanted to keep that would equal the whole vest. I liked the look of the natural edges from the skinning. I did it in sections, that way I would not get too far ahead of myself and make a mistake. Once I would sew one section together, I would lay it back down on the vest to make sure it was going the way I intended.

Step 3: Trace Cuts...Drill Holes...Hand Sew

I did this part in stages. I wouldn't drill holes until I knew the existing part would work for the vest. I would trace the new section I wanted to add with my fabric pencil, then cut it with my scissors. Make sure your scissors are sharp, because leather is tough stuff. Drill holes directly across from one another about 1/4" apart and 1/16" from edge of leather. I had a wooden work bench behind my leather, but you might want to drill into a decent sized scrap of plywood. Thread needle onto Sinew and tie a couple knots at end so it does not pull through the leather. Try to get a couple to a few feet of Sinew behind your needle. You can always start a new stitch on the backside of seam when you run out of Sinew. Sew sections together with a diagonal pattern all the way to the end of your seam. This is going to be time consuming. The joyous part is when you get done with one seam all the way through, you have to go back through the opposite way to make your "X" in the seam.

Step 4: Punch Holes for Buttons... Set Snaps... Add Leather Strips for Knives

Draw where you want the Snaps on both sides of front enclosure. Use a hammer, and punch holes into the leather. Make sure you punch into wood or plastic, so you don't damage the end of punch. Use the tools that come with snaps to set them. Use caution when placing snaps, because the fronts and backs can be a little confusing. Make sure you lay em out exactly how you want them, that way you get it right, and not end up drilling out the snap. After all snaps are set I added a couple leather strips to hold knives and Sinew to hold tops of knives. The knives are removable.

Step 5: Paint the Pattern

Once all your sewing is done, paint on the snap details, and vertical stripes on upper front of vest. I used 1Shot which is a sign painters paint. You can use actual leather paint, acrylic, or mineral spirit based paint. I wanted it to be faint, so I cut it with a little thinner.

Step 6: Make Other Accessories...

  • I made these little knives, bear claw necklace, and the machetes. Although this should be another instructable, I will give quick rundown of knives.
  • Cut paper pattern of knife, then transfer to metal
  • Use a bandsaw or plasma torch to cut shape
  • De-burr with belt sander or hand grinder
  • Wrap knives with Artificial Sinew
  • Cut handle for machetes out of wood, drill 1/4" holes through handle and steel blade, place 1/4" brass rod through wood and steel with 1/8" extra. Pound rod with hammer to expand brass rod. Shape handle with belt sander or hand sander.
  • I then splattered red spray paint on knives and machetes. I used a torch to heat up the paint and partially burnt some of it, which made some of the "blood" look old.
  • The necklace was just leather braided rope, with a couple beads, and fake bear claw.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Creation With Your Friends...

We had a great Halloween this particular year! Beware of really flaunting your machetes and entertaining people in front of a bar with giant bouncers, or your machetes will get taken. It happened to me!

Halloween Costume Contest 2015

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest 2015

Leather Contest

Participated in the
Leather Contest