Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM

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This shows what a lousy tailor I am... it took nearly eight hours, and as the last step, I trimmed the bottom hem about 1" too short! Uhhhh...not the sort of error one can easily fix. But it was good practice, and I'm ever so enthusiastic about climbing right back on that @#$%@!!!GDMFSOB horse... Yep. The next one's gonna be a masterpiece.

12/01/98- This is much better: The smock (and helmet) by Francis Tavares. I finally found the courage to cut into the splinter camo cloth and made the bandolier, which has opening pouches. Frankly, I don't know how customizers do it-- It took me over an hour and a half just to make the pouch flaps. Even though it was a repetitive operation, I didn't see that making 8 of 'em in a batch really saved much time or work (versus doing them separately). You still have to sew 'em one by one. I think the only way you can make mass-production pay off is if you invest in specialized tools for each operation. For example, if you needed to make 80,000 pouch flaps, you might want to make a die to cut the pattern. The point of this is to give you an insight on why customizers' stuff is so expensive, and why there aren't huge price breaks for ordering tailored goods in quantity.

Despite my own failed attempt to make the paratrooper's smock, I did learn a lot and feel like my tailoring skills have improved. I extrapolated the construction techniques used on the smock to plan how I was going to make the bandolier-- it really does require quite a bit of advance planning to figure out what you're going to sew and in what order. Sewing is very different from sculpting: It's very unforgiving. Sometimes it's not possible to go back and repair a mistake, so it's nearly impossible to "sew as you go".

12/03/98- With most of the major stuff out of the way, I can now begin to work on some of the details. In the top picture, I've added the leather zipper tabs to the pockets and made some grenades to stuff the belt. The grenades have decal lettering, near as I could make out from a variety of pictures: "VOR GEBRAUCH SPRENGKAPSEL EINSETZEN". Whatever that means. The bandolier snap buttons bother me... they're too big & flat (since they're hammered brass rivet heads). I'll probably replace them with more rounded castings. Finally, the belt buckle-- it was really hard to find a reference picture of the design, but I eventually found a blurry one on the 'net. It didn't matter a whole lot anyway, because I found that there's only so much detail that you can engrave with an Exacto blade before you start going blind-- it also makes you feel really clumsy when you inadvertently mash down in the wrong place! Whoops...

12/04/98- Here are some things made for the backside. I don't have any references for the Fallschirmjager, so I'm outfitting this using the Dragon "Gran Sasso Rescue 1943" model as a guide. The breadbag is a pretty familiar sight, and wasn't too tricky to make. Unfortunately, I don't know what color to make it since I don't have any photos, and I have no idea what color "Italeri #1516" is! (BTW, this Dragon kit really sucks when it comes to giving you any historical background, and there aren't any "instructions" to speak of. Unlike those neat Tamiya & Italeri kits.) The other bag looked neat, so I made it-- this time guessing the color from the strap shown on the front, but having no earthly idea what this bag is called, or what it's used for. (If it was used to store sewing scraps, as here, this may have contributed to their defeat in WWII.)

As you can see this looks a lot like Action City's version-- duh! Francis Tavares made all the major parts! I did make the baggy trousers with the snap gather cuffs, but since so much of them is not visible, I didn't bother to get fancy with pockets.

From the plastic model, the boots didn't look particularly unique, so I didn't see the point in trying to create anything like those at Polo Moreno's web site. The only thing distinctive is that they're fairly short, and those from a Formative International's SOTW US Navy set fit the bill.

The helmet decal came from Hal Bryant of Action City-- these are truly quality decals, and priced very reasonably. Although I can make decals, mine aren't nearly as good-- (I did make the Luftwaffe breast eagle, but it's camouflaged on the smock.) I still need to make one more detail-- the yellow collar patches.

12/21/98- (This is some stuff I made a while ago). Grenades: I learned that the M24 grenade was commonly fitted with a fragmentation sleeve, which accounts for the funkily-implemented groove at the top of the Cotswold version. A naked grenade should have a rounded top edge. The one in the center has a serrated fragmentation sleeve made from screen wire. The smoke grenade (left) is distinguished by the extra grooves at the base of the handle-- it had a painted stripe on the handle: mine doesn't have the lettering and broken line graphic on the top yet.

The holster was made from fairly thick leather. I discovered one of leather's neat qualities: If you wet it, it can be stretched and will dry to whatever shape it was stretched to. So it's good for forming things like holsters (and probably as you might imagine from the real world, boots). It's a bitch to sew though.

Finally, a minor detail: for this harness, I cast some metal buckles. They're more uniform than the wire ones I'd been making and have more realistic contours (plus without the gaps at the end of the wire). Metal is much stronger than resin, so it can handle the stiffness of this fairly thick leather.