How to Make a Military Style Ghillie Suit

A ghillie suit is a form of camouflage which employs scraps and/or strands of naturally colored material to resemble foliage. A military-style ghillie suit is a ghillie suit which leaves the chest, belly, and tops of the thighs free of ghillie material to permit crawling in the prone position, or "creeping." This article will explain how to make a military-style ghillie suit from scratch with minimal cost.


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    Dye your burlap by filling buckets with fabric dye and hot water. Mix in the dye until the color of the water matches your desired result. Stuff the burlap sacks into the buckets and leave them to soak overnight.
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    Hang your burlap sacks to dry. Make no attempt to work with wet burlap (it's miserable).
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    Cut off the bottom and side stitching of the burlap sack. This will produce a rectangular piece of workable material. You can either discard the cut-off stitching or save them to tie onto your ghillie suit.
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    Using your fingers or a large-tooth comb, separate the individual strands of jute from the material. Keep these strands organized by length and color.
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    Cut your netting to the same size as the panels of fabric on your BDUs that are exposed when you're lying down. In my experience, the easiest way to do this is to put on your BDUs and lie on your belly while a friend or assistant drapes the netting over you, chalking over the netting where it meets the seams on your BDUs so you know where to cut it later.
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    Attach your netting onto the back of your BDUs using a combination of the following; unwaxed dental floss (high tensile strength and because if no wax, it holds a knot a LOT better and does not rot like thread will over time) and ShoeGoo. You can either attach the netting with just ShoeGoo, or you can use dental floss like you would use a needle and thread and then, ShoeGoo on top/over the knots you've made w/the dental floss. Anchor the netting onto the seams of your BDUs with unwaxed dental floss every 3 inches (7.6 cm) or so, adding additional stitches in areas of high stress such as the shoulders. (keep in mind, this takes a few hours to do it right. Ideally you don't want the netting to pull up any more than an inch to 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) off your back or you will deal with a 'sagging' effect.
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    Attach a piece of 2'x4'netting onto your boonie hat or ball cap style camo hat in the same fashion. The netting should be large enough to completely cover your head and drape down below the neckline except for your face. If you want the netting to cover your face for some situations, you'll need to cut the face area in a manner that will allow you to tuck it up under your hat when you do not desire to conceal your face.
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    Taking between 8 and 16 strands of jute of the same color at a time, tie them onto the netting using an over hand knot. You'll want to snug the knots well enough to stay, but not too tight, as you will ultimately need to add/remove burlap over time, to fit the colors of the area you're in. If the knots are too tight, removing colors that don't match your environment can be a real time consuming process. This step takes hours, but a good ghillie suit should.
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    Keep in mind, you want to create a "mounding" affect that breaks up the outline of the human shape. In doing so, you will need to use enough burlap, but, this makes for a very HOT and stuffy existence in the summer months, so take care in where you put the jute/burlap and how much you use. I know from experience that if you use too much, you will suffer because of it, both in weight of the ghille and the heat.


  • Consider the environment in which you'll be using your ghillie suit. Lacking some colors of the environment is fine, however adding more colors will get you spotted fast.
  • Your objective is to eliminate the human silhouette. Take care to use extra material on your head, neck, and shoulders.
  • Perform what's called a "Ghillie Wash" once you have tied all of your jute to your netting. Soak the suit in water, crawl though mud, dust, grass, and deadfall in the suit and even drag it behind a vehicle over a dirt or gravel road. This process breaks in the Jute and adds earth and vegetation to the jute.
  • Rather than cutting burlap sacks, try ordering pre-dyed jute. It comes in 1 pound bags and in many colors. The colors between strands will be more consistent this way.


  • Don't get too friendly with bushes - if a branch sticks through your suit and into the netting, there's no stealthy way to snap the branch off.
  • Separated burlap is very flammable. Add a soluble flame retardant to your dye water if this concerns you.

Things You'll Need

  • x1 Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) jacket and pants or OD Green flight suit- You can buy BDUs and flight suits at a military surplus store for a decent price or, since you're going to be dirtying them up anyway, get them at a second-hand store for much cheaper. It's not important that they match in print/style.
  • x1 Boonie hat or cap.
  • 1" netting. You'll need enough netting to drape over your head (like a hood), your back, your arms, and the back of your legs. One place to find this netting is party supply stores (it's sold as decoration for luaus).
  • ~10 Burlap Sacks - The more material you have on your ghillie suit, the less your outline will resemble a human figure, thus providing better camouflage. I suggest starting with about 10 sacks worth of ghillie and adding more if necessary (depending on your size and preference of camouflage to weight of suit ratio). You can get burlap sacks from shipping supply or feed stores for about $1/sack.
  • Optional: Fabric dye - You'll want colors that match the environment in which you'll be using your ghillie suit. For example, the color of burlap (without dye) works very well for some desert and Mediterranean climates. However, if you're using your ghillie suit in a wooded or marshy area, you'll likely want to purchase green and/or brown dyes to complement the tan of the burlap. You can buy fabric dye at fabric supply stores or even some supermarkets.
  • Buckets - one per color dye.
  • Scissors
  • Needle & naturally-colored thread
  • Fabric glue - also available at a fabric store for about $5.
  • Large comb

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