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Caught-In-The-Act Cotton Straitjackets and Bodybags

How we make these devices

Caught-In-The-Act makes cotton, denim and especially latex straitjackets and bodybags; however, this brief overview is on the making of the not-so-traditional Caught-In-The-Act straitjacket.

The 100% cotton is unbleached. It is a heavy #8 imported cotton duck, that is: 18 ounce cotton.

Blue jeans are 8-10 ounce cotton duck and they are pretty strong, so #8 is very heavy, and very strong.(The smaller the number the heavier the material)

Hospital sjs are usually made of lighter material #10 or #12, but the heavy stuff just seems to feel better.

Unbleached cotton contains no dyes, so has a slightly uneven colour.

In use it will pick up dirt readily but will wash out. The purpose of most sjs is to be used and look well used.

A well used sj demonstrates an unspoken degree of experience of the owner.

To clean: cool or warm wash and hang to dry.

So, the sj starts as a piece of material on a roll, it gets pre-washed and allowed to shrink up to 10%.

Dried and smoothed out, pattern pieces are laid out, marked and cut.

Seam markings and webbing positions are then marked and sewing begins with the front and back followed by each arm.

Webbing is added either before or after some assemblies are made.

The collar is made separately adding loops and soft cotton webbing before being mounted on the sj.

Main seams are serged and double sewn.

The trick to strength we think is to make the sj with reinforced webbing to seams and to the main straps and loops.

The extra effort means stronger and better product even though it adds 12 hours to the make-up time.

With the basic sj in place, sewing the inside webbing begins, followed by the heavy belt and loop webbing.

The sleeve ends are finished, then the flap at the back.

Some models have extra belts and collars that are detachable.

These complete the order.

The sj is washed again, hung to dry and in two days is ready to ship.

In all a 5 day process for one person.



The pattern layout on preshrunk cotton 


Basic seams are sewn


Sewing machine Consew 226 with very heavy needles (#24 is needed to sew seams 1/2" thick. Seams are serged to prevent unraveling.)


details of front sleeves and loop, notice biceps strap and sleeve loops


detail of sleeve end done up, and side loop


rear view of collar area and d-rings

just waiting for you!


both sleeves, end details


sj collar loops, with cotton web collar


detail of front crotch straps


inside of sj has reinforcing


detail of buckles and webbing

Our workshop is a simple one horse work space. We are looking for an experienced sewing person but not much luck so far. We use Consew, Durkopp Adler and Rumoldi industrial sewing machines. The workshop is a tiny space which we convert from a sewing room to a latex room as needed.

In the photo above: in the foreground a Rumoldi serger. To the right rear: Durkopp Adler walking foot. To the left rear a Durkopp Adler cylinder arm.

Below is a comparison of relative needle sizes we use. On the left is the typical # 18 regular sewing needle used in home machines. In from the left is a medium duty industrial walking foot #22 sewing needle. On the right are samples of the heavy duty needles #24 and # 27 almost 3" long.


Above is the Durkopp Adler 205-370 cylinder arm sewing latex. The machine is so heavy it is mounted on a gas lift pedestal table. It sews up to 3/4" thick but can be increased to 1.2".

Above is the Durkopp Adler 267 walking foot modified for heavy materials.


The Durkopp Adler 205-370 is the leather working machine of choice. It sews: latex, leather, biothane and cotton. Size may be deceiving in the above photo. Dr. Mad Max provides a different perspective below.

The 267 below is used primarily for sewing straitjackets and bodybags.

And our most recent addition two Durkop Adler 767 computerized sewing machines, with one set up for latex and leather the other just for cotton.

Our work space is tiny but outfitted with the best pneumatic and hydaulic tables and machines.

Now back to work.

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