Note: This is a "work in progress". Please send me your
ideas and thoughts. If you have patterns or plans that have worked for you
that you would like to share, please get in touch. My e-mail address is:
I am also open to spelling, grammar, and presentation
suggestions and corrections as well.
Page counter: 61814/1 Started June 7, 2001
Tuesday, May 21 at 6:32 PM
How to make a Straitjacket
I have often received the question "How can I make one myself?".
This page will try to provide some direction in doing just that,
making your own straitjacket.
There seem to be many motivations for doing it yourself.
Here is a partial list that I have come up with.
- Money. Probably the biggest item. Commercial
and "kinky" sources costs start at about $140US.
A heavy lined and padded leather straitjacket can cost
over $2000. OUCH!
- Availability. Current US Federal law has made it
slightly more difficult to acquire a straitjacket.
- Unique design or special features.
- Privacy. You may not be willing to buy one.
- Special materials
Individual objectives vary. This list is may not match yours.
Before you start, try and determine what you are trying to achieve.
It might take you several tries before you succeed in "getting it right".
First the "Traditional" objectives of a straitjacket.
Other possible design objectives.
- Restrict the motion of the arms.
- Be impossible to remove by the person wearing it.
- Strength. The wearer shouldn't be able to simply rip it off.
- Ease of application.
- Comfort to wear.
- Uncomfortable to wear. (For example, a prison punishment jacket.)
- The ability wearer to put it on.
- The ability wearer to remove it. For example a magician's
- To be locking.
- Tie points.
- One special person.
- A wide range of people.
- Low cost.
Possible Design Features
- Arm loops
- Arms down design
- Crotch strap(s)
- Front closure
- Back closure
- Pull over - like a tee shirt.
- Pull up - like pants or waders.
- Collar (locking?)
- zipper closures
- Continuous sleeve
- Symmetric sleeves
- Access points
- Arm/Sleeve loops
- Sleeve/body attachment seam.
- pack cloth
- Standard weight thread will stand up to some heavy struggling if you
sew over the seam or hem 2 or 3 times.
- #69 "Standard" upholstery thread.
- #138 My current preference. Twice the cross section of #69 thread.
- Good canvas straps or ties can be made by making a long tube of canvas,
turning it inside out (using a curtain rod or dowel inside the tube will
help) and then stitching it flat. Take the dowel out first, silly.
- Silicone spray to lubricate thread.
- Upholstery supply stores.
- Art supply stores.
The heaviest artists' canvas usually stocked in art supply stores is
quite similar to the canvas used by Humane Restraint. You may want to
launder it, as the new canvas can be abrasive.
Straptight says he has "come out of a
straitjacket with friction burns over knuckle and wrist bones after a
couple hours of enthusiastic struggling."
- Thrift stores.
- Military surplus stores.
- Tack stores.
- Your own closet.
- Swap meets.
- Yard, garage, rummage, and boot sales.
For me this has always been a "two steps forward, one step back" process.
It seems I rent as much as I sew. Sew one sleeve and check
it for fit before you sew the second. Measure a LOT. If it doesn't work
tear it out and try again. If you have a specific "victim" or "patient"
in mind, keep them handy. If you are the intended wearer a large mirror
will help too. Not to mention a helper!
Patterns and Fit
Using an existing garment
If you begin with a commercial product and adapt it to your needs
you can have a functioning straitjacket in a minimum amount of time
with a minimum amount of effort.
This is probably the easiest and quickest way to get started.
The biggest problem here is strength. Make sure the commercial product
you start with is strong enough to keep you happy with your end product.
(You may also need to make sure it is light enough that you can sew it!)
The plan is to extend the sleeves and terminate them in a way that
they can be tied together in the back of the body. This "simple"
modification will give you a working straitjacket,
one that will keep most people restrained. If you add a front
arm loop and a crotch strap, you can have a straitjacket
that is quite difficult to escape from, impossible for most people.
Recognize that this will probably end up as a front closing jacket.
This doesn't match many people's ideas of a straitjacket.
It may very well work better than a back closing jacket if you have the
right "victim". With a front closing jacket, it is some times possible
to have the "victim" unable to get out with just the arms tied in place,
with the rest of the closures undone. It is easier to force
someone in to a back closing jacket, but they may be able
to get out if they can get one top back buckle/strap loose.
Starting with a jacket
Try any reasonable weight jacket. An unlined canvas
work coat is a good starting point.
Starting with coveralls
Works a lot like a crotch strap. You really do
have a hard time pulling it off over your head.
Starting with a judo ghee
Often available in both denim and canvas. Usually
made with quite heavy material. The sleeves are somewhat short
to start with, but this really isn't a problem. It takes almost the
the same effort to add 18 inches as 12.
Difficulties and problems (challenges?)
- Locating the needed materials.
- Finding a suitable sewing machine.
A note from Straptight:
Older sewing machines are often more powerful than new ones. Mine is 50
years old and will go through 4 layers of canvas happily; 5 layers with
a little encouragement. I usually use a "chisel point" or "leather"
A note from Louis:
A "chisel point" or "leather"
needle will cut the fibers as it passes through the
fabric, a ball point needle separates the fibers.
I have a Consew 206RB with a 1/3HP motor and a clutch drive.
I think mine will sew across my fingers, but I don't want
to find out.
- Finding the time and the ambition to finish the project.
- Another note from Straptight:
It's probably just me, but as far as
motivation goes, I can't imagine any
better motivation to finish than the prospect of having a brand new
straitjacket, made just the way you want it!