Start with a plain jacket: you can use one that you already have, make one, or buy one. Look in your closet. You might find an old jacket that would be perfect to alter. If you don't have a sewing machine or very much money to spend, you can usually find a denim jacket at a thrift store for under $10. If you have more money to spend, you can find a jacket online. Deranged Designs sells Cotton Moto Jackets and Faux Leather Moto Jackets that are great for customizing.
Customize it! You can add tons of stuff to a jacket to make it your own:
- Pins/buttons: these fall off easily so put them on the collar or towards the top of the front of your jacket.
- Studs: there are many different kinds of studs you can use, and you can usually put them in by hand. It can be really hard to put studs through leather or thick fabric, so try poking holes through the fabric first with a large needle or awl. (Another tip: do research before you buy a special "stud awl" for studs, they are sometimes made cheaply and the blades will bend easily.) Studs can be difficult to line up perfectly, so you might want to practice on something besides your jacket. I hate putting studs on things so I can't offer any further tips.
- Patches: you can make your own patches with fabric paint (I have a DIY guide for it) or buy them. They fray easily so you'll have to sew them on well. You can use a sewing machine to sew on most patches, but if you are going to put any on the sleeves you will have to hand sew them. Deranged Designs sells patches and you can request to have the edges serged before they are shipped to you. (Serging cuts off the uneven edge and sews around it to minimize fraying.)
- Other ideas: sew random scraps of cool looking fabric on the collar, sleeves, or anywhere else you want. Paint band logos directly on to the jacket, or paint other designs all over. Sew zippers on your jacket. Add pockets. Use an old t-shirt as a back patch. Be creative!
Where to buy supplies for your jacket:
Zippers, fabric, and fabric paint:
- your local fabric store (for example Jo-Ann)
- thrift stores: buy a cheap pair of pants or shirt, cut it up and add the fabric to your jacket
If you have any pictures of customized jackets, go to the DIY Gallery page for directions on how to submit them.
Click on these photos to see the original size and the credit to who made them.