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From camouflage print fabric to bag

The «Modular Clothing and Equipment Project» (MBAS) comprises some 100 components and is divided into the subsystems combat clothing, supporting system, hydration pack and personal ballistic protection. Several of the components are bags for items of equipment which the members of the Armed Forces carry with them – such as assault rifle magazines, medical supplies, army knife, flashlights, radio sets, etc.

The processing of camouflage print fabric into bags, also known as manufacture, is a highly collaborative procedure and encompasses a wide range of different work steps. These will be presented in brief below.

Step one: Provision of material

A bag consists of the camouflage print fabric as well as other accessories, such as Velcro straps, press buttons, elastic bands with cords, edging strips, buckles and belts.

The camouflage fabric is supplied to the armasuisse garment manufacturer, while the garment manufacturer procures the required accessories themselves. This material is purchased by the metre and placed in stock.

Step two: Cutting to size

The camouflage print fabric and the accessories are cut to the correct dimensions either by hand or using automatic cutting machines. Around 40 different bag models are manufactured, which differ from each other with regard to size and function. Each model is comprised of at least three cut to size camouflage print fabric parts and at least three different accessories. A wide range of cuts and accessories therefore need to be prepared and assembled before the actual sewing takes place.

Multiple fabric layers are cut simultaneously on the automatic cutting machines
Multiple fabric layers are cut simultaneously on the automatic cutting machines

Step three: Sewing

The cut parts and the accessories are now sewn together. The sewers do not finish sewing a complete bag at one work station. In what is known as sewing lines, they only sew a few stitches and then pass on the piece to their colleagues for the next work step. Up to 20 work steps might be required before a bag is completely finished. Manual sewing is a global standard for textiles, and accordingly requires a large number of staff. Sewing robots have only been considered in studies, and for the present still remain a long way off. Automatic sewing machines equipped with templates specifically manufactured for the purpose are only used for certain simple stitching that requires a consistent, high quality of sewing – as is the case when sewing on the belt straps. However, this is only worthwhile where the production of very high quantities in the millions is concerned.

Step four: Final inspection and packing

Between the individual sewing steps and after serging (cutting protruding threads), the sewing quality is checked each time and corrected if necessary. This multi-level quality control ensures consistent sewing quality for the mass-produced bags.

Bag for assault rifle magazine: Front open (left), front closed (centre), rear with belt straps (right)
Bag for assault rifle magazine: Front open (left), front closed (centre), rear with belt straps (right)


The sewing work is a highly collaborative procedure with manual routine activities which are organised very efficiently for economic reasons. It is thus important for us that the occupational safety regulations and the working conditions are complied with. armasuisse therefore arranges for regular audits to be performed at the manufacturing plants and requires a seal of quality that is widely used and recognised in the textile industry. These audits stipulate minimum social standards and are reviewed on a regular basis.