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Bandoliers and You: How to lengthen and weather them.

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TrooperPX (David Ramsay)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:49 pm    Post subject: Bandoliers and You: How to lengthen and weather them. Reply with quote

Jawa and Tusken Bandoliers.

There are tutorials for making your own, and fan-made bandoliers out there. However, some of them are made from vinyl or thin leather, or have the clip pockets spaced too far from each other. They also just don’t have the same feel, hang, and look of the real-deal, reproduction/replica made from a good piece of leather. I’ve been very happy with “luckyline1945”, an eBay seller, and the quality of their bandoliers. I will be using theirs in this WIP for my own Jawas.

Jawas wear their bandoliers over their shoulders (none around the waist). And they need to reach the waist… above, at or below what is considered waist area. But importantly, not tight around the chest. In most cases an extension of some length will need to be added.

I’m keeping an eye out for used goods stores like my local SaVo or the Open Door Mission, The Goodwill Store, The Resource Exchange, etc. for materials. I snatch up every leather belt I come across. You just can’t beat a strip of leather for $1.99, and some are weathered and worn beautifully! That can save you the time of distressing it yourself. ;-)

I have a 9-pocket and a 5-pocket 1903 Bandolier.

So I pulled out several belts to look at.

Sometimes the skin side (outside/front) looks nice, but sometimes the flesh side (inside/back) has a better color or texture, so be sure not to miss looking at the back when you’re shopping for belts.

First I removed the loop and triangular ring. Don’t need those. I removed and saved the buckle from this to use later.

So I found one that was the same width as the ends of the bandoliers.

For the first one, I’m going to use the buckle-end of the donor belt.

I just buckled the bandolier tab into the belt buckle. For maximum material I used the first hole. If I needed more length to reach the belt loop I would. Note the “outside” of the bandolier tab is the flesh side since I removed the triangular ring and stretched it out. It makes a nice textural change with the belt facing skin side out.

I need seven inches (7” or 18cm) of extension, so I measured from the end of the bandolier tab, and added two more inches to account for the overlap on the other end. Measure after you attach one end so you know exactly how much donor belt you need to end up with the extension length you actually need.

I used the buckle on one end in case I wanted to undo it and add another pouch, a bag, etc. On the other end I permanently used a 3/16” pop rivet and washers.

Here is the completed extension.

I used garden sheers to cut the leather, and a hole punch for the rivet holes.

This bandolier was fairly soft and broken in, so I just focused on surface weathering. I used some 60-grit sandpaper on a block.

Weathering is a multi-step process. First scuff up the edges of the belts, pouches, pouch flaps, and some on the flat surfaces. Then I put on some gloves, make some diluted black (since my pouches are dark brown) RIT dye into a spray bottle. Then sprayed the leather, working the dye in with my hands. I used some newspaper to rub off some of the standing dye. After it dried (overnight), I went back with my 60-grit sanding block and selectively went back over the edges and some surfaces to re-expose some raw leather. This is another reason vinyl won’t weather and wear like real leather. Now you have the original dark brown color, some black (or at least darker) spots, as well as some highlights.

Make sure to get the edges and some of the back to complete the look. You can dust on (very lightly from a distance) some tan matte spray paint to mimic sand dust if it needs it.

For the second bandolier, I used the tab end of the donor belt.

I mounted the bandolier buckle that I had removed earlier.

Passed the belt tab through the second buckle. This was more difficult because this bandolier is new and stiffer, making working with short tabs hard on the fingers.

Measured what I needed for this extension, added two inches, cut, punched a hole in the bandolier end, and pop riveted them together.

So I wouldn’t have a mushroomed end to catch on my robe fabric, I pounded the pop rivet end as much as I could. Then carefully tapped down the edges of the bur I created by doing that.

This bandolier was new and fairly stiff, and the embossed surface left the edges a little sharp. I pulled out my edge beveller to take care of that. Be very careful when using one of these as it can easily skip off the edge and into your holding hand.

I took the edges off the belts, pouches, pouch flaps, then did all of the same weathering as above.

Give any shiny new-looking buckles or rivets a spritz with some black matte spray paint and blot some off.

The more you handle your pouches, the softer they will eventually get.

If you come across any old or dried out leather, I highly recommend treating it with some Fiebing’s leather care before working with it. Use it with a cloth to help remove any rivet schmekus or other buildup. Working with dried out leather can cause it to crack and break like cardboard. You need to rehydrate the leather. To do so, I put on some gloves, and liberally work in the leather conditioner into every nook and cranny. Really get it everywhere… work it behind pouch flaps and tabs, into stitching, etc. Then put it in a plastic bag and somewhere warm for a week. The warmth will help the conditioner soak in. You may need to repeat this depending how sad the leather is. It’s not a cure-all, but can bring an otherwise unusable piece back to life.


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Amalphiea (Kellie)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A great tutorial. Thank you for sharing your professional costuming awesomeness.
Kellie Hendley
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