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.
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Sunday, May 19 at 8:35 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.


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.

Possible Design Features

Possible Materials

Possible Sources

From 'scratch'

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?)