The Vault 101 Jumpsuit is a favourite costume amongst Fallout fans and cosplayers. Although there are many variations of the jumpsuits worn by the inhabitants of Vaultec vaults, and many people like to customise their jumpsuit costumes, the basic numbered jumpsuit the Lone Wanderer wears is made up of four parts. These are: a blue denim jumpsuit, a Pip-boy 3000, the zipper strap over the left shoulder, and a belt. Our website has already published articles on how to plan the denim jumpsuit and a Pip-boy. This article is about how to make a Fallout 3 Vault Jumpsuit belt using craft foam, glue and nylon webbing.
- EVA foam (I used a selection of 10mm and 15mm thickness)
- 3mm craft foam
- Nylon webbing (1″ thickness)
- Plastic clip buckle
- Acylic paint (black, silver or grey, and a light brown colour)
- Ruler and measuring tape.
- Small Stanley knife
- Contact adhesive
- Hot glue gun
- Protective mask
- Heat gun
The belt consists of a back plate, the front buckle, and the 16 segments around the sides. First, measure the distance around your waist or hips (wherever you want the belt to sit). Naturally, when you are making costumes from screenshots you need to strike a balance between making an exact replica of the game model and something that will actually fit on your body. In the first two versions I made of this jumpsuit belt I tried to copy the exact proportions of the Lone Wanderer’s in-game belt and transfer them to our real bodies. Unfortunately this felt like having WWE wrestling belts on our lower backs, and the buckles were like wearing a big block of chocolate on our fronts. The size that you make all the pieces will also depend on whether you are petite, husky, or somewhere inbetween.
Making the Parts of the Belt
The picture below shows all the foam pieces that I used to make this vault jumpsuit belt replica.
The backplate makes up about 30% of the cicumference of the belt, so if you have a 36″ waist it will be 11-12″ long. It is 2.5″ wide at the ends and 6-7″ wide at the middle, and I constructed it using the 15mm EVA foam and the craft foam. The actual backplate in the game is a 3D texture on a flat surface, but rather than just paint this texture onto a large piece of foam I decided to build a proper 3D model using the thin craft foam. It also very difficult to make smooth and neat indented shapes in EVA foam, so building-up the shapes is a better option that cutting them out. You can see in the picture below the pieces that were made form the craft foam, and in the following picture it shows everything layered together. I used the heat gun to soften the foam and bend it to better conform to the shape of my back. I also used a dremel with a sandpaper attachment to round off the edges and slightly taper the ends.
The buckle was made made with two layers of the 10mm EVA foam, which was also curved slightly with the heat gun and the edges were rounded off.The dimensions of the buckle is 5″ by 3″, any larger than this and it gets in the way when you sit down.
I used a water based contact cement to join everything together. Other foamsmiths have recommended using Barge cement to join pieces of foam, but I found that this water based glue was just as effective, is easy to apply, and the smell doesn’t lower your Intelligence statistic.
The easiest parts to construct were the squares connecting the back plate and the buckle, but they are also hard to get right if you want a belt that fits comfortably and has no gaps. There are 8 squares on both sides, and they gradually get thicker from the front to the back. Take your hips/waist measurement, and subtract from this number the length of the backplate and the length of the buckle. Divide this new number by 2 (for each side), and then by 8. This is the basic length of each square. I drew up a 8×2 grid like on the blue mat in the above picture and cut out 16 squares. As you can see in the picture above, they gradually got smaller in size. I made them 2.5″ high to match the ends of the back plate.
I’ve made this belt twice and both times I used different painting methods. For the one that I think gave the best results, I first coated everything in Plasti Dip, then did two coats of dark grey spraypaint. The Plasti Dip coat helped smoothe the uneven parts and provided a good surface primer. EVA foam just soaks up paint and doesn’t look good if you don’t use a primer such as Plasti Dip or PVA first. For the dark sections I just used black acrylic paint, and around the circles on the backplate I used a watered-down black ink to add shadow and depth effects. The rest of the belt has a dirty metal-type look, so I used a dry brush to apply a thin coat of silver mixed with raw sienna.
Putting it all Together
The actual functional belt in this costume was two lengths of nylon webbing, fastened to the backplate and connected with clip buckle at the front. As you could probably see from the pictures already, the foam buckle isn’t functional. The reverse side of EVA foam is useless and won’t stick to anything, including nylon webbing, however using a method recommended by Punished Props I got the webbing to stick to the foam like.., um.., glue! You first score the foam with a sharp blade, blast the score lines with a heat gun to open them up, and then stick the webbing to the foam with hot glue. Finally, to attach the foam buckle to the plastic buckle, I glued a piece of metal to the plastic buckle, and glued a small rare-earth magnet to the foam buckle. This method worked well enough, although you could also use velcro.
The picture below shows the finished Vault jumpsuit belt (twisted around itself to show the backplate and the buckle together). I also put in two screws into the belt to match the game model.
Wallet…keys…phone. The Lone Wanderer checks his pockets, adjusts his belt, and sheds a single tear as he looks at the entrance to Vault 101 a final time before setting out into the Capital Wasteland