How To Make Military Epaulettes for a Costume

If you’re eyeing to be military personnel for a costume party or if you’re enlisted to be in the military for a school play, then your costume should be as complete as the actual uniform. Your costume won’t be complete if you don’t have medals and decorations on your jacket. To make it more realistic, you need to have military epaulettes adorning your uniform. Epaulettes are those stiff rectangular pads military men wear on top of their shoulders. These will distinguish military rankings. For example, if you were a general, a star would be on your epaulette and depending if you’re a one-, two-, three-, four- or five-star general. Having epaulettes made are usually costly but don’t fret, you can make your own! Read on for instructions on how to make military epaulettes that look as authentic as the actual ones.

What you will need to make the epaulettes are:

  • Buckram (for stiffening)
  • Bristol board (an alternative for stiffener)
  • Fabric (use the color of your preferred branch of military service)
  • Fringe (decorative border or hanging strips depending on your military service)
  • Sewing machine (including threads, use the same color of thread as your buckram)
  • Glue gun
Now you are ready to start creating your epaulettes. Follow the step-by-step instructions on making them:

  • Cut out the shape of the epaulette. Measure your shoulder length to make sure the epaulette fits. Cut the shape of the epaulette. There are several shapes for an epaulette – oval, rectangular or ellipse. Take the measurement of your shoulder length and lay it out on the stiffening material (either buckram or 3-ply Bristol board). Draw the shape of the epaulette and cut the stiffening material according to the pattern. Cut out two pieces for both shoulders. Set aside.
  • Cut out the fabric in the same shape as the stiffener. Your fabric should follow the pattern of the stiffener. Lay the pattern on your fabric and cut it to the same shape but add at least an inch allowance on the perimeter of the shape for sewing joints. Cut two pieces of the pattern for both shoulders.
  • Sew the fabric pieces together. The two fabric pieces should be sewn together on three sides. Leave one shorter side open to insert the stiffener. Sew the fabrics from the inside like you’re sewing a pillowcase. This way the seams would be neat. If you are using hanging strips as fringes, sew them together with the fabric. Be sure the fringes are going from the inside out when you flip the fabric over. They should be hanging out from the edges.
  • Insert the stiffener. Once you flipped the fabric (sewn like a pillowcase) inside out, insert the stiffener. Be sure that the stiffener fits the fabric case. When the stiffener is in place, fold the open side of the fabric case and sew it close.
  • Decorate with fringes. If you’re not using hanging strips as fringes, decorate the epaulette’s edges with decorative border - it may be an embroidered edging. Use glue gun to paste the fringe in place. Let it dry before adding any more fringes. Embellish the epaulette with emblems depending on your choice of military ranking.

You can fasten the epaulette on your military costume with a Velcro or you can sew directly on the jacket – just be sure that you’re sewing it on the right location on the shoulder blade areas.


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