Commando Jacket

Contributed by: AmyJ

Email w/Questions:

Notions and Fabric: [Accessories information is not included in this list]

  • 4 parachute clips [black]
  • 1" Nylon or cotton webbing [black]
  • black vinyl, pleather or leather
  • black fabric for lining
  • black fabric for back panels [recommend black faux suede or ultrasuede]
  • black piping [high profile variety used commonly for interior decoration and furniture upholstery]
  • red fabric [recommend low sheen vinyl or pleather, or red high quality ultrasuede]
  • black cake shoe polish [optional]
  • .5" thick foam batting [1/8 yd.]
  • interfacing with 1" square grid [this is will be your guide for the top stitching]
This jacket is new compared to one that has been featured on the site before. In particular, the sleeves have been modified. They're a closer comparison to the "true" jacket's sleeves. The pattern I used to create this costume is New Look 6168. It is not a unisex pattern, unfortunately, but the cut of the pattern is not originally with what I guess you call "princess" seams [the tailored shape to the torso]. This indicates to me that you can probably adopt the pattern for men of smaller to average builds. As with any pattern you should always look at the measurements of the finished pattern as indicated on the back of the pattern envelope. This will give you a good idea for size and fit.
Commando-front-th.jpg (9271 bytes) Commando-back-th.jpg (6643 bytes) Commando-chaps-th.jpg (6132 bytes)
Modifications to this pattern:
The pattern does not have the "panels" at the sides and the back. I added these. I traced the original pattern onto large sheets of craft paper. Then I sketched the shapes of the panel pieces onto the art paper copies I made. Judging from the mock ups of the patterns, I gave these new shapes a .5" seam allowance. I repeated this for each new panel I wanted to introduce into the pattern. So your end result would look like a jigsaw puzzle of the larger finished pieces. 
Next Steps:
Once you've made the modifications to the pattern to create the side and back panels, you can cut the black vinyl and fabric pieces. The time intensive part is giving the red panels the same appearance as the uniforms as seen in A Bug's Life. Careful inspection of vidcaps demonstrates that the red fabric is decorated with black top stitching that forms widely spaced parallel stripes. [See reference images above] I've been unable to accurately discern the spacing of the stitching, but I feel that the end result with the method I offer here, gives a fairly good representation, although I am certain it's not identical.
After you have cut the pieces of the pattern that are to be red, line them up against the interfacing fabric with the 1" grid. Trim the interfacing to the pattern shapes after securing them with straight pins. Stitch along the pattern pieces with black thread, following the interfacing's lines in a vertical direction. Repeat this for all the pieces of red fabric. You're just making "stripes" on the fabric. The exception to this is the collar. You should assemble this part in a slightly different manner.
Next, assemble the pieces according to the steps in the pattern instructions. You're going to be inserting the black piping that the seams where the arms meet the torso; the back center panel meets the back's side panels; the front panel meets the side-front panels; the cuffs of the sleeves; the collar; and the bottom hem. Note: You're going to want to insert the nylon webbing straps across the front before you apply the two black side panels to the front. Also, the nylon webbing straps that run down the arms from shoulder to cuff should be stitched into place after you're added the top stitching, but before you're ready to attached the arms to the torso.
The collar is a bit different from what is called for the pattern/instructions. After you've trimmed the red [exterior] and black [interior] fabric for the collar's pattern, trim a piece of foam batting to fit inside the collar's outline with a .75" of space. You're giving yourself room for the piping as well as the top stitching you'll be doing to give the collar its ribbed appearance. After pinning the foam batting to the red fabric, take a marker or a felt pen and carefully draw slightly arched, parallel lines the width of the collar. Make them about .75" apart. These will be the lines you will follow for making the top stitching for the collar, but you're going to be sewing through the foam batting. Once you've added the top stitching to the collar, stitch on your piping and then finish the collar off with the black interior fabric.

Accessories/Finishing touches:

Action_Aeryns+HolsterAnd+leg.jpg (48904 bytes)Granted, your jacket's going to look like it just came "out of the box". The actual uniforms as seen in the episodes look more worn and broken in. Either you can wear it while you're mowing the lawn or washing the dog, or you can use a little artistry to give it that dingy appearance. Using a makeup sponge or stenciling brush, you can add black cake shoe polish to the seams. Go lightly and apply it in layers. Use a rag to work it in and remove excess, but don't "buff" it. You want to keep it matte in appearance, not make it shiny! Another suggestion is to use an "airbrush" to apply light gray or brown to the seems and edges. But unless you're used to working in this medium, stick to the shoe polish.
Action_IrreversiblyContaminatedFront.jpg (42365 bytes)Chaps:
If you look at images from The Hidden Memory or the Aeryn Sun action figure, you'll notice that the red/black pants are actually coverings like chaps that go over black leather pants. You can find a pattern for chaps or you can make your own, which is what I did. I used a piece of heavy canvas left over from another project and cut it roughly into shapes that were close to that of the finished result. I used trial and error to get the shape into a basic pattern. When I was happy with the result, I used the canvas pieces as my pattern for black faux suede and the red fabric [with topstitching in black thread]. I used a piece of 2" wide black webbing for the belt and a 2" black parachute clip to form the buckle.
The gauntlets were constructed from a combination of black vinyl, black craft foam and soccer shin guards [youth size]. Everything was painted flat black to give it a consistent appearance. The clips were added later to give "surface excitement" to the sides. Grey and rust colored paints were used to give more detail and depth.
Boots [half chaps]:
Suitability, a business that specializes in clothing item sewing patterns for equestrians, has an excellent pattern for half-chaps. Half chaps are covers that slip over any shoe that will give it the appearance of a boot. I used the Suitability pattern for half chaps to make a pair out of black vinyl. I followed the directions for the most part, but added black clips and nylon straps to the sides to give the layered detail that's most easily seen in Aeryn's footwear on the Aeryn Sun "Irreversibly Contaminated" action figure.
Pulsegun and holster:
These were a created for me by Karl. You can access Pulsegun 101 if you're interested in learning how to construct your own pulsegun and holster.