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So I Did My Own Desert Night Parka Mod... Here's How it Went...

Getting into Sewing and modifying military clothing- as a beginner

By Edward Pang

( This is not a step by step guide, but hope that you can get some inspiration from this article for those who are looking to do the same project! Also this Project is no doubt inspired by The Full 9 's Article on the Desert Night Parka Mod. Please do give his page and Instagram a look and give him some support ! credits to Chris the Man ! )

Because of COVID-19, I have been stuck at home for more than three weeks now ( I have been out to the post office or to get groceries, that’s it. This is around March- April). New York is in an emergency status. While I am trying stay home and be safe and stay as clean as possible, I needed to find something out of the ordinary to do.

Military clothing and equipment has been something that really interests me since when I was 13. It all started when my friends invited me to play air-soft- a military simulation type of activity which simulates 'warfare', usually with two opposing teams.Some of you might have a better idea of what I'm talking about. Think Paint-balling. One thing that fascinated me the most was the Guns and Equipment looked realistic to real steel firearms and in some cases, the same combat equipment were used. Most guns in airsoft fires a 6mm bb plastic pallet.

And there my friends, fully dressed in authentic specials forces gear and equipment. Eagle industries, LBT. AOR1-2, Crye Precision, MSA, Ops-Core... you name it... When were were 15-16 year olds... That was fascinating to me. And it still is, or else this article wouldn’t be written. ( How in the world did they afford that...)

Fast forwarding to this moment, as I am staring at the Desert Night Parka I just just received through a seller on eBay, I’m thinking how I am going to modify this Parka- which has a distinctive long fishtail design. It’s a rather unique patter as people seem to agree that it doesn’t really do anything other than make one look taticool, but I treat it as a challenge when it comes to modifying, anything ...

Plus, once customised and modified, it will be 'taticool', so it’s fine. After-all, Its a customised piece of gear.

*Photo taken on April 6th, 2020. The elastic cuff trim the hem is already removed. First step in the plan of modifying. Next step would be pressing the sleeves to straighten then and then a Velcro adhesive tape would be added for adjustment of the cuff tightness, as referenced in the next photo.

*sleeves Velcro Cuff adjustment from a ABU Parka, Small Short for reference.

*elastic band removed from sleeves cuff. Will be recycled to be making a mask.

I then threw the Parka into the washer to clean it. I suggest everyone to do that with any gear they purchase... When it came out it sort of straightened the Cuffs and sleeve.

  • notice how its not as bunched up anymore? Useful when it comes to the later step to shorten the length of the sleeves and acting the Velcro adjustment .

I realised I was very excited and removed the elastics on the cuffs really quickly. Although that would be a necessary step, I really recommend writing down all the modifications required , planning everything out might prevent mistakes that could take a long time to fix, if possible at all. I was making my combat shirts from BDU tops, and boy, I ran into mistakes.

  1. Sleeve length trim- they are a little bit long on me and would require an 1-2 inch (estimation- please do measure) of trimming of both sleeves to accommodate my measurements.

  2. Re-seam the end of the sleeve in preparation for cuff Velcro modification.

  3. Add Velcro cuff tightness adjustment tab- inspired by issued Goretex type parkas

  4. Measure and trim Parka to desire length! CAUTION, make sure everything is straight and matched up, If anything give the Back a little bit more allowance or-else the jacket will end up having a LONGER FRONT THAN BACK! ; straight cut and sacrifice the fishtail design. But you could keep it and fabricate it later by yourself. REMEMBER, you can always trim extra fabric, but if you cut too much, you will not be able to fix that.

  5. SAVE the extra trim fabric, will use it later.

  6. Measure out side sleeve pocket from template from pre-flatten shirt pocket x2 and cut fabric , make sure it’s in the right orientation. Flip the template for the other pocket or the opposite arm. Make sure the Template is Flat.

  7. Attach required Velcro strips on the side pocket pre stitched pouch; make sure you sew all the Velcro strips on before the side pockets are sewed onto the actual Parka, it will be extreme troublesome if not done this way.

  8. Sew finished side pockets to sleeve !

  9. **Forgot to add, since the parka was designed to be worn over the BDUs, there are no pockets . I will be adding jacket pockets to them.


Separation zipper will be added and replace the bottoms for a full jacket adoption, short strips will also be added as a second layer for organisation and overall tidiness.

Ok I think that’s it for now, will add more when I think think of more steps or if I run into any modifications on the go.

Continuing ,I trimmed the sleeves by around 2 inches.I simple wore the parka and then folded the sleeves to the right length. Cut one side the flipped that trim inside our for a mask for the other side. Worked well.

I didn't have an iron at that point but I am intending to flatten the trim from the sleeves. I broke all the seam so I can work with the fabric flap and trim more if needed.

  • First set of excess material. Excited.

The next morning I proceeded to sew in the hem of the sleeves. It went great. I flipped the parka inside out and folded the seem 1/4 inch inwards . Single stitched both sleeves and then folded it back right side out. And then I folded the sleeves again so then it would overlap what I just did to make things look nice . Single sitched again and done!

And while watching Ozark after dinner with my Girlfriend, I have cropped and trimmed the fish tail and the overall length by around 10 1/4 inches measured from the bottom of the front side. I tried to make sure everything is straight and not bunched up together. Using masking tape I taped out the line I needed to cut. Went ahead and did the cut and worked out great!

I was really into the process so I only have the finish steps photographed. My apologies.

Back to it, after cropping it I quickly sewed the hem and folded it to single stitch it again to tidy it up. Wore it and it fitted well. I think I should have gave it a little bit more length so I would leave an extra inch and half.

But here o ran into a problem; the bottom was a bit wide for me... I should have remembered to add the elastic but I forgot...

Guess what I had to do... took the seam breaker and went ahead and removed what was going to be a final product at this step... but I don’t regret doing this at all!

After repeating the step but making sure I add the elastic, the overall functionality of that just made this modification makes more sense! After all , it’s going to be sort of a wind breaker !

I finished the night by added Velcro at the end of the jacket , hook side facing outword. A productive night !

Cuff Tabs:

These were measured out from 10 1/2 inch by 3-14 inch rectangle strips. After folded in inward I managed to get a sense of where my Velcro would be added for the cuff tab.

These were measured out from 10 1/2 inch by 3-14 inch rectangle strips. After folded in inward I managed to get a sense of where my Velcro would be added for the cuff tab.

I am loving the results. The length of the parka is still bothering me but I am getting more and more excited .

After working two days on and off, not really focusing... this is what I made. One can probably do this in a day or less easily.

I used the pattern from the pockets I took of from when I modified a AOR2 BDU top, check the below photo.


It’s been a while since I have updated to this project. The Date is May 20th, 2020.

The jacket is complete by this point. The buttons have been removed in order to add the zipper at the appropriate space. I have thought about leaving the buttons on so in case there’s a need for the use of buttons, however I would have to make Velcro covers for each Velcro tab along the zipper and it would take a bit of time,, material and also might are the overall garment look slightly messy. I didn’t go that route.

The Zipper i have installed was a YKK Branded Separating Zipper( I will add the model name / size later for reference). I have measured from the bottom ( around where the last button / where I added the bottom Velcro Tab. Measured from there, the Zipper is 18 inches long and in black. They are the same ones you would find on normal BDU type Goretex/ Parkas/ Jackets .

  • For the Pockets I basically measure out and made a pattern out of the opening of the pre existing opening. Made two of those cut the fabric, and sewed them on to the jacket and finished by sewing the two pieces of the pocket along the seam. Note that the piece of the pocket that is closer to the body should be longer than the piece that is between that and the jacket.

Overall I think this parka modification is a very fun and practical project. Not only the Parka is now an actual, normal sized jacket, It also has pockets and it has a hood, making it kind of a unique abomination of a combat shirt/ Raid Mod BDU Top/ Parka/ Jacket… You name it. It is a special piece of clothing and with its history, it really is more of a tacticool item than anything… But hey, who doesn’t like some weird rare camo?

Note that to make this a little bit more low profile, you could have some velcro panel covers with the same fabric from the project . Simply measure out the size of the Velcro panels you want to cover and using the extra fabric , you basically make a patch that is the exact same camo.

Or go all out, put a sparkly patch on it with pink and lots of glitter. Green on pink / Christmas almost?

Edward Pang- Tribute Custom Works

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