How to Make Your Own Ghillie Hunting Suit: The Ultimate DIY Guide

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A ghillie suit is essential gear for hunters who want to remain unseen in the wilderness. This camouflage clothing helps you blend into your surroundings by covering your outline and disguising your shape. While you can buy premade ghillie suits, making your own allows you to customize it to your environment and needs.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make your own ghillie hunting suit from start to finish.

Key Points

  • Choose the right base material and camouflage colors for your environment. Lighter earth tones work best.
  • Attach jute, burlap, or other natural fibers to the suit with knots and netting. Vary length and color.
  • Add local vegetation like leaves and twigs to blend into your specific hunting location.
  • Condition the suit by crawling through mud or brush to pick up natural scents and materials.
  • Continuously modify your suit as the surroundings change for optimal camouflage.

Materials Needed

The materials you’ll need to make a ghillie suit include:

  • Base clothing: Use light-colored shirts, pants, jacket, and hood in khaki, tan, or other earth tones. Sturdy ripstop nylon or canvas work best.
  • Netting: Tulle netting or mesh fabric to attach camouflage materials to the base layers.
  • Burlap: Tear or cut burlap into long strips to attach as foliage. Dye it if needed.
  • Jute twine: Use jute twine in varying lengths to create depth and texture.
  • Fishing line: Transparent thread like fishing line to attach netting and materials.
  • Foliage: Gather leaves, twigs, burlap, and other vegetation to blend into your environment.
  • Scissors and needle: For cutting fabric and netting and sewing materials onto the suit.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps to make your own ghillie hunting suit:

1. Make the Base Layers

  • Take measurements of your body and create a pattern for a jacket, pants, and hood out of ripstop nylon or canvas.
  • Cut out the pieces and sew them together, leaving room for movement. Reinforce the seams.
  • Make sure the clothing isn’t too heavy. It needs to be lightweight enough for all-day wear.

2. Attach the Netting

  • Cut pieces of tulle netting or mesh in sizes to cover each base layer.
  • Use fishing line or transparent thread to sew the netting to the base layers, spacing stitches every 2-3 inches.
  • You can also use fabric glue sparingly to attach the netting. Avoid over-gluing.

3. Prepare the Burlap and Jute

  • Tear or cut burlap into long strips around 2-3 inches wide.
  • Dye them in earth tones like green, brown, tan, or khaki using fabric dye. Let them dry.
  • Cut lengths of jute twine in varying sizes from 6 inches to 18 inches.

4. Attach the Camouflage Materials

  • Tie small bundles of burlap strips onto the netting using simple knots. Vary the colors.
  • Also tie on clumps of jute twine in random lengths using the same technique.
  • Make sure to distribute the material evenly, avoiding bare patches.

5. Add Natural Foliage

  • Gather leaves, twigs, grass, and other vegetation from your hunting area.
  • Weave them into the netting to blend into the natural environment. Use glue if needed.
  • Focus on adding foliage to the upper half to break up your head and shoulder outline.

6. Condition the Ghillie Suit

  • Get the suit wet and muddy by crawling through brush. This adds scent and natural color.
  • You can also drag the suit behind a vehicle to compress and weather it.
  • Hang it to dry fully before wearing so it doesn’t get musty.

7. Test and Modify as Needed

  • Observe yourself in the ghillie suit from various distances and angles. Identify any gaps.
  • Fill in bald spots with more burlap or foliage. Adjust the color if needed.
  • Add or remove material based on the environment to optimize camouflage.
How to Make Your Own Ghillie Hunting Suit: The Ultimate DIY Guide

Tips and Tricks

Follow these tips to make an effective ghillie hunting suit:

  • Choose lighter base colors like tan or khaki which blend better than dark colors.
  • Vary the size and color of burlap strips and jute twine to look natural.
  • Avoid over-covering the suit. It’s heavy and can hinder movement.
  • Glue small pieces like leaves and twigs so you don’t have to sew every item.
  • Start from the bottom up when adding camouflage material.
  • Use field-tested vegetation that blends with the specific hunting spot.
  • Replace foliage as it deteriorates to maintain camouflage effectiveness.
  • Have a friend observe and give feedback on blending and coverage.

Safety Considerations

When making and using your ghillie suit, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Use sharp scissors, knives, and needles cautiously when constructing the suit.
  • Select non-toxic fabric dyes if using dye and avoid skin contact.
  • Wear protective clothing like gloves when conditioning the suit with mud and brush.
  • Check local hunting regulations for any restrictions on full body camouflage.
  • Avoid ethanol-based fabric glue and opt for low-fume options if using glue.
  • Prevent overheating by wearing breathable lightweight base layers and staying hydrated.
  • Avoid drinking river or lake water which may contain bacteria or parasites. Bring clean water.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Here are solutions to some common ghillie suit problems:

Issue: Burlap strips or jute detach from the netting.

Solution: Use improved knots or extra glue when attaching material to the netting.

Issue: Foliage falls off the suit.

Solution: Weave natural materials further into the netting or use fabric glue if needed.

Issue: Suit is too hot to wear comfortably.

Solution: Choose lightweight, breathable base material. Remove extra unnecessary bulk.

Issue: Camouflage material appears too dark and unnatural.

Solution: Use lighter burlap and less dye. Bleach dark burlap to lighten it.

Issue: Suit makes excess noise when moving.

Solution: Eliminate unnecessary material bulk. Apply glue to prevent foliage from shifting.

How to Make Your Own Ghillie Hunting Suit: The Ultimate DIY Guide

Alternative Construction Methods

While the sewing method is most common, here are two other options for making a ghillie suit:

Knotting: Tie burlap strips and jute directly to the clothing base using sturdy knots without any netting. This creates texture but takes more time.

Gluing: Adhere the netting and camouflage material to the base with fabric glue instead of sewing. This is quicker but less durable.

In the end, sewing offers the strongest construction for a long-lasting ghillie hunting suit. But test out different methods to find your preference.

The Benefits of Making Your Own Ghillie Hunting Suit

Constructing your own ghillie suit has many advantages:

  • Cost savings: DIY suits are 50-60% cheaper than buying a pre-made one.
  • Customization: You can modify the suit for your climate and personal needs.
  • Upgrades: It’s easy to add better camouflage and features than off-the-rack versions.
  • Durability: Homemade suits use heavy-duty base material built to last.
  • Stealth: Suits made with local foliage blend better than generic versions.
  • Pride: There’s great satisfaction in field-testing your own hand-built creation.

The Drawbacks of a DIY Ghillie Hunting Suit

However, making your own ghillie suit isn’t without some downsides:

  • Time investment: From start to finish, expect to spend 5-15 hours constructing the suit.
  • Trial and error: Some experimentation is required to get the best camouflage results.
  • Maintenance: Homemade suits require more care and repairs than retail versions.
  • Expertise needed: You’ll need some sewing and crafting knowledge and skills.
  • Ongoing upgrades: Environment changes mean constantly modifying the suit.
  • No returns: If you’re unhappy with the end result, you can’t return a homemade suit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about making ghillie suits:

What is the best fabric for a ghillie suit base?

Lightweight canvas or ripstop nylon work well as base layers. Avoid heavier materials like denim that cause overheating.

How do I cut the burlap strips?

Shred or cut burlap into long narrow strips around 2-3 inches wide. The length can vary from 8-20 inches. Mix up the sizes.

What kind of thread should I use?

Use strong transparent thread like fishing line so your stitches blend in. Nylon or polyester thread also works.

How do I attach the foliage and burlap to the suit?

Use basic knots to tie burlap strips and jute twine onto the netting. For leaves and delicate materials, try weaving them in or using fabric glue.

Should I wear anything under the ghillie suit?

Wear moisture-wicking base layers under the suit. Avoid cotton which holds sweat and moisture.

How often do I need to repair and update my ghillie suit?

Expect to modify your suit before each use to match the foliage. Thoroughly update it 1-2 times per year as the environment changes.

What colors should I use for my ghillie suit?

Choose lighter earth tone colors like tan, khaki, or muted green that blend into nature. Avoid black or bright colors that stand out.

Can I re-use a sniper veil/poncho as a ghillie suit?

Yes, military style net veils make useful foundations to build upon with burlap and foliage. Add a hood and trousers.

Should I use dye on my burlap strips?

Natural undyed burlap works well, but dyeing it allows you to create custom camouflage colors to match your terrain.

How to Make Your Own Ghillie Hunting Suit: The Ultimate DIY Guide

Conclusion

Constructing your own ghillie hunting suit is extremely rewarding. By following the steps in this guide, you can build a fully customizable suit tailored specifically to your terrain and needs. With the right materials, some simple sewing skills, and field testing, you’ll have superior camouflage and stealth when you hunt. Just remember to regularly modify your suit as the environment changes. Mastering DIY ghillie construction takes time and patience, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website CaptainHunter.com. When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.

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