Thursday, July 17, 2014

Creating Armour

  My working life is never boring due to the fact that I may be called upon to make almost anything in any given season, and the only common denominator is menswear. Usually that means tailoring which I love to do, but at other times it could be spandex bodysuits or togas, or what I was doing last week, which was armour.
We needed Roman style armour to go with the togas and chitons required in one of the shows I have been assigned. We had some in stock but all in big sizes and not in great shape, or the right colour of leather for the designer.
So I took a look at what we had and drafted up a set of armour in a smaller size.
I started with a general fit using a very heavy denim fused with canvas, tweaked that a bit and moved onto a set in 5mm thick industrial felt, fit that and then tweaked the pattern a bit more before it was cut in leather.

This is the armour in water buffalo hide, in an unfinished state.
The fronts are quick changed in advance so that you can adjust the fit slightly with the straps but the strap mechanism then snaps over so the buckles do not have to be undone to get in and out of it.
The shoulder pieces still need to be riveted down to the body and we need to attach a d-ring on the shoulders for the capes to attach. The designer was contemplating adding a removable apron front, so that may still need to be worked out.

There is a lot of hardware involved- close to 220 rivets per set, 8 sets of buckles, 20 D-rings, 8 sets of snaps, its a lot of hammering.
The backs are adjustable by lacing tighter or looser, so these should fit  quite a few of our guys.

This was a fun project to do, and something that comes along only once in a while, but it certainly keeps things interesting.

They will also be a welcome addition to our stock for future use.


  1. Ever wonder what the ancient Romans used for their hardware? I'm sure they had their own version of a rIvet, but did they use anything like a D ring ? Forget about snaps, too complicated, but I'm sure they used lots of cordage and leather strap sad thongs. Did you reference any Roman armor sources? And before I forget, excellent ways to develop and sample your garments, very similar to my prototyping methods, very necessary to get a nicely finished result as you achieved. Beautiful work!

  2. Oh, I am sure straps and thongs were in order! I didn't have much time to do much research, though I wish I had, I was doing as asked - that is to recreate something we had in stock but in a size we were lacking. They did turn out well, and snaps make theatre happen in those quick changes which luckily the Romans likely didn't have to figure out! :)

    1. I'm sure the Roman officers would have appreciated a quick change (in this case from pajamas to armor) during a nighttime surprise attack by those pesky barbarians! John Y