How It Was Made: Punisher
June 4, 2016

The latest entry in to the How It Was Made section is all about Punisher’s vest from the 2nd season of Daredevil. This piece was begun in a similar manner to the Daredevil season 1 suit that I made last year. Using the below picture as my main reference for the vest itself, a layout of the pattern and the basic shapes was created with Swedish tracing paper based on the client’s measurements.


If you’re not familiar with it, Swedish tracing paper is a soft, formable and sewable tracing paper. I like to use it for these types of projects – that have a base layer and then a number of detail pieces that all have to fit together on top of that layer – because I can keep my base pattern in tact and simply trace the detail layers on top. It’s also less expensive than muslin, so I don’t mind going through it and saving the muslin for projects with heavy draping and tailoring.

Back to the pattern. Here are the base layer pattern and the simple detail shapes cut from the tracing paper. Note that I’ve added darts to a garment that typically wouldn’t have them in real life. I did this for two main reasons:

  • I wanted to add some contouring to the piece so that it will be quite fitted under the coat
  • He is a comic book character, after all, and I wanted to accentuate the chest, narrow the waist and create a more exaggerated ‘V’ shape to the torso.


I began construction with the detail pieces. I typically do ‘armored’ costumes like this one using a combination of headliner foam, 2-4mm EVA foam, Cordura or a similar ballistic nylon and lots of Super 77. On this particular piece, I began with the lower chest.

These two flaps that sit below the main pectoral plates and above the ab section are made with a base of 2mm EVA foam. The main fabric for the entire piece is a black coated ballistic nylon from Rockywoods. I cut the pieces from the foam, spray mounted them to the back of the nylon and then folded over the allowance and stitched it down to the underside. Thin EVA is very easy to sew through and creates ‘armor’ plates that are super light, very flexible and very durable.


I then moved on the main pectoral plates. These are a bit more complicated as they need to be ‘beefier’ and have some multi layer design elements within the plate. These were made with one layer of 2mm EVA cut to the full plate size and another layer of 2mm EVA cut to create the added dimension and spray mounted to the base. I then mounted the entire foam piece to headliner to give it some padding and make it thicker without making it less flexible.


Using the same method as the lower chest plates, the nylon was then spray mounted to the front and pressed into the details. In order to maintain the detail, I used a zipper foot and stitched right against the top layer of EVA to seal the deal. Then, since I didn’t want stitching all the way around these pieces, I simply used hot glue to secure the allowance to the back of the plates.

Here are the four plates completed so far pinned to the form.


The center part of the ab section was next. This is comprised of a center piece and two smaller detail pieces that also hold down the strapping that goes across the front of the vest. Using the same method as above, the three main pieces were made of EVA covered with nylon.


I then added 1.5″ webbing to my tri-glides and they were glued down under the top layer pieces. As such:


With the main front sections complete, I needed to assemble the base that they will all be attached to. I used my pattern (from the first image) and cut the entire front from the nylon and a soft but heavy cotton twill (for the lining). The piece was lined, the darts (for contour and fit) sewn in and all the edges except the sides were bound with black bias tape.


At this point, it was time to start layering on the details. The first pieces to add were the side flaps under the lower chest pieces:


I wanted these pieces to be very soft and have not as much weight as the rest of the details so I lined these segments with wool felt. I determined the placement by marking the center front of the vest base and laying the other pieces on top of it. I was able to mark the top edge of these flaps and stitch them down.


I then added the abs section.


I decided to add some grommets to the lower chest pieces to represent the ‘clips’ on the top and bottom of those segments on the reference picture. Here are all of the pieces together so far (note the chest pieces are just pinned on at this stage – they cannot be attached until the front is complete and the shoulder straps are attached.


The upper and lower straps were attached to the side bars and the middle sections were created using the same nylon as the rest of the vest. I created 2″ wide strips of the nylon lined with itself and secured one end under the center ab section. I then used a small spool of thread and a zipper foot to make sure the ‘loops’ were straight and even.


Once these initial ‘loops’ were stitched down, I split each one in half and finished the edge at the side with a tension lock tri-glide. The same tension lock tri-glides were also added to the upper side flaps. Here’s the side section complete.


With the front nearing completion, it was time to get the back underway. I created a base for the back using the same method as the front – the nylon was lined with soft cotton and then all the edges were bound with bias tape. The back piece only comes part of the way up and ends in a point between the shoulder blades. The upper part of the back will actually be part of the shoulder straps.


Next, I needed to draft the shoulder strap/upper back piece. I pinned the back and front pieces to the form and used my Swedish tracing paper to create the template.

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These pieces were lined with felt and then the details – strap, tri-glide and snap – were added.


The straps were then sewn to the front of the chest. The pectoral plates will cover the join once they are connected.


The last details to add before the chest plates go on were the small snap tabs the connect to the lower chest plates. Once these were finished, the upper and lower chest plates were glued in place.



The small ‘metal’ pieces at the bottom of the center front were cut from 4mm EVA foam as a solid piece and beveled with an x-acto knife. The piece was plasti-dipped, painted and glued in place.


Lastly, the upper back was finished and attached to the main back, the straps and velcro were added to the main back piece as well as the large slide-lock buckles. The vest is now ready to paint.

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To create the skull motif on the front, I decided to use my Swedish tracing paper to create a stencil. I traced out the main vest and mapped out the armored sections using the patterns and then sketched out the skull.


I cut out the stencil and used Super 77 to tack it down to the vest. I had to cut it into sections because there were so many little edges and strips that I knew it would be impossible to put the whole thing down in one piece.

The good thing about using the Swedish tracing paper is that it’s very flexible, so I was able to press it into the various layers of the vest with ease. While I didn’t need (or necessarily want) perfect edges on the entire motif, I wanted to avoid an abundance of over-spray. The other good thing about it is that I can see the vest through it and be sure I’ve got everything aligned properly.

I used scraps of tracing paper to cover all the exposed parts of the vest and used a white floral spray paint (made for painting silk flowers) to lay down a base coat. This was done just for coverage so that I didn’t have to hand paint all the expanse.

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After a couple of coats, it was time to pull of the stencil and here’s the base paint complete.


Using a combination of sponge, dry-brush and splatter, I added some of the detail.


There are a few more techniques I want to apply to really make the paint job complete. Stay tuned!