When you think about isometric open-world indie games, you probably don’t think of zombies. But in Project Zomboid, an early access survival game developed by The Indie Stone, you can explore most of Kentucky in a zombie apocalypse that is far too realistic. You’ll need to master car mechanics, survival basics, and first aid necessities in order to make it a few weeks in Project Zomboid.
And while skills in Project Zomboid such as whittling spears from logs and fashioning splints from tree branches make sense in the zombie apocalypse, one skill, unfortunately, flies under the radar: tailoring.
Now, I get it: being a seamstress during the end times doesn’t seem all that impactful, but hear me out. Being a tailor means you can alter clothing. And being an intelligent tailor during the zombie apocalypse means you can alter clothing to make it more durable, defensible, and bite-resistant.
That’s right; if you level up tailoring enough in Project Zomboid, you can fashion yourself impenetrable armor. You can stitch layer after layer of thick denim and tough leather to ensure no zombie’s teeth break your skin.
Do you want to know how to become the ultimate tank in Project Zomboid? Then check out my Project Zomboid tailoring guide.
Key Info Up Front
Skills are pretty easy to figure out in Project Zomboid, and tailoring is no different. Get the necessary tools – eedle, thread, scissors – and start altering clothing. You’ll gain exp as you do. The more exp you get, the more you can alter.
See? Pretty easy.
Your Apprenticeship Begins
Thankfully, tailoring is an effortless skill to grind. Unlike farming in Project Zomboid, which requires you to wait for your plants to grow, tailoring can give immediate results. And unlike metalworking or carpentry, you don’t need many tools. The main items you’ll need to use your tailoring skill to the max are:
Although you only need a few items to get started altering your clothing in Project Zomboid, some of those items are notoriously hard to find. If you’re lucky, you can find all these items in the first few houses you pillage. If you’re not so lucky, you may search all over your city and not find a single piece of thread. Here’s the easiest way to get everything you need to start tailoring.
By far, the most complicated item to find in this macabre simulation is the needle. The needle spawns almost exclusively in bathrooms, or you can find it in a sewing kit which is more likely to generate in utility closets or maintenance areas. However, empty sewing kits can exist, and bathrooms rarely have just a single needle waiting to be picked up.
So what do you do?
You stick with your conviction and search every single bathroom in town until you find your needle. And you burn down every bathroom that doesn’t have a needle, so you know not to search there again.
Part of the problem is that you need a sewing needle to tailor your clothes. Suture needles are far more common in Project Zomboid, you can find them lumped in with most medical supplies, but they don’t work for tailoring.
When spawning in Rosewood, I went through every single home and never found a needle. On my seventh day, rummaging for supplies in the back of Spiffo’s, I found a random sewing kit with a needle in it and danced for joy. You’d think clothing stores would have needles, but apparently needles don’t spawn there any more than they do in bathrooms. Go figure.
Bathrooms, clothing stores, utility closets, shopping malls, maintenance halls – these aren’t just your best bet for finding a needle; they’re your only bet.
By far, the easiest tool to acquire for a tailor is the thread. You can find thread lying around the map in the same places you might find needles, but you can also create thread.
Find any piece of clothing that isn’t being used; it could be something you picked up in an empty house or a shirt you grabbed off a corpse – doesn’t matter. Take that clothing and rip it. Rip and tear until it is done.
As you’re ripping clothing, you’ll end up with ripped sheets and thread. You won’t always get thread when ripping clothes, but it’s the most guaranteed way to get your hands on the stuff. Grab yourself a bunch of clothes and start ripping.
Thankfully, scissors are listed as a common item in Project Zomboid, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a pair. I’ve seen them in office desks, kitchens, fire departments, police stations, courthouses, and car trunks. Thanks to scissors being so universal, they spawn universally in Project Zomboid’s open world.
That doesn’t mean you’ll start with a pair in your backpack, but the search shouldn’t be nearly as time-consuming as the needle.
If you followed my steps to get thread, you already have clothes. Clothes are all over the place in Project Zomboid. Clothing stores, locker rooms, bedrooms, dressing rooms – you have so many options.
However, these particular clothes shouldn’t be items you want to keep. These clothes should be items you’re happy to rip into pieces. You’ll want clean clothes – not bloody, soaked, or dirty.
Take those clothes and tear them into sheets. Those sheets will be your new defenses. And if you want to get the most out of your tailoring skill, try to find denim and leather clothes. Denim shorts, jeans, and leather jackets will provide the most protection from zombies, so those are your priorities.
Let the Sewing Begin!
Before you start going wild with your newfound tailoring skills, let’s make sure you’re in a safe place. Nothing will hamper your tailoring grind like a bunch of pesky zombies breaking into your house and eating you alive. So get somewhere you can spend plenty of time and not be bothered.
Once you’re in a safe place and have all your supplies ready, you can start the glorifying act of altering your clothing.
To start, click on the heart icon on the left. When looking at your health, click the protection tab and check out your levels of protection. This tells you how much protection your character currently has for every part of their body.
If you’re only wearing a t-shirt, pants, and a hat, you’ll have zero protection. If you’ve layered on a long sleeve shirt, a jacket, and a hoodie, you have much more protection. But what if you beefed up the defenses on that long sleeve shirt, jacket, and a hoodie? Now you’re even more protected!
To enhance your clothing, open up your inventory and select the clothing item you want to alter. Right-click on the clothing and select inspect. You’ll be shown a screen like this.
You can open this screen for nearly every item of clothing in the game – every item you can alter at least.
Let’s look at this jacket I’m wearing and figure out how to upgrade it to the max.
The jacket gives me plenty of protection. It’s broken down into sections: arms, forearms, back, torso, stomach, etc. Each area is vulnerable to a zombie attack and must be altered separately. This means you must click on each aspect of your clothing to upgrade it. I’ll select the first section and choose to add denim strips for all sections of the jacket.
Now my clothes offer slightly more protection. Not much, I know, but that’s because my tailoring skill is so low. I can choose to add leather strips instead for increased protection. Ripped sheets are the weakest form of defense but far more plentiful. With each level that your tailoring skill increases, the amount of defense you get from strips will likewise increase.
- Ripped sheets will give a 1% increase to defense at level 1 and rise to a 5% increase at level 10.
- Denim sheets will give a 1% increase to defense at level 1 and rise to a 10% increase at level 10.
- Leather strips will give a 2% increase to defense at level 1 and rise to a 20% increase at level 10.
All clothing items in Project Zomboid have integrity, meaning they can take damage. Zombies can be pretty relentless in Project Zomboid; they’ll try to eat literally every part of you, even your shoes!
Since everything can be damaged, it stands to reason that everything can be repaired. Correct?
Things like bulletproof vests, military boots, police helmets, and firefighter pants cannot be repaired. If your bulletproof vest takes too much damage from zombies, a) holy shit, those are some serious zombies, and b) you’ll have to find a new bulletproof vest, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Aside from those particular items, just about every other article of clothing in Project Zomboid can be repaired.
You can see the damage the zombie does to your clothes when you get attacked. Holes, rips, and tears will appear – along with lots of blood. With each hole you see, your protection goes down. Repairing and patching your clothes can help get back some of their original protection. Alas, you won’t be able to fully repair items back to 100% until you obtain a level 8 tailoring skill.
The Quickest Way to Level Up Tailoring
You’ve read your tailoring books, procured your needle and thread, and have more leather strips than a dominatrix in the late 90s.
You’re ready, my padawan.
Open up your inventory, click the clothing you want to alter, and select to add patches to each area. Sit back and let your character put in the work. Once they’re done, rip all those patches off.
When your tailoring skill is low, you’ll have a low chance of recovering patches upon removal. But for each successful removal, you’ll gain more experience. When your tailoring skill is five or six, you’ll end up successfully removing patches more often.
Once you’ve removed all the patches, turn around and re-patch your clothing. Then, you guessed it, remove all the patches. Do this until you run out of thread, run out of patches, or get your tailoring skill to the desired level.
The Pitfalls of Tailoring
Look at you running around Louisville with your leather jacket, hoodie, long-sleeve shirt, jeans, and military boots. You’re a certified survivor!
Although… now that I think about it, that’s a lot of clothing. In the summer. In Kentucky.
If you run around with too much defense in Project Zomboid, you’re penalized. We can’t make the game too easy, now can we?! If you layer up with a tank top, shirt, sweater, and jacket, you’ll undoubtedly have the best protection, but you’ll also sweat your ass off.
And if you sweat your ass off too much, you’ll get dehydrated and find yourself covered in sweat. And since Project Zomboid is brutally relentless, mechanics exist where you’ll get sick if you’re wet for too long, and you’ll get tired quicker if you’re dehydrated.
If you plan on performing a supply run, it’s a good idea to layer up for protection, but then it’s also a good idea to bring extra water bottles with you to keep you hydrated – or keep an eye out for water supplies while scavenging.
If you plan on staying indoors for the evening, reading some books and working on a few carpentry projects, removing some of that protection wouldn’t hurt. Your character will move quicker and won’t sweat so much.
It gets a bit tedious taking off your armor and putting it back on whenever you plan to head out, but that’s Project Zomboid summed up in a single word: tedious.
Victor’s Wish List
Of all the zombie games I’ve played in my extensive video game career, of all the survival horror titles that contain undead abominations, Project Zomboid has the worst combat. Period. Isometric games with close-quarter combat are challenging for players, as the view doesn’t lend itself to aiming or targeting very well.
When I first started PZ, I spent a few lives just grinding combat, trying to get a feel for melee. There were a few tricks I learned along the way – multi-hit, enemy highlights for melee weapons, etc. But once I learned about the virtues of tailoring, I knew what I had to do.
I get bitten all the damn time in Project Zomboid. Even after learning the ropes of melee combat, even after making it two weeks in the wilderness, even after surviving horde after horde, I still get bitten.
There’s always that one zombie that comes from behind when you least expect it. Or that one waiting for you silently on the other side of the hallway door. I get bitten all the damn time.
That’s why I always focus on tailoring in Project Zomboid. I’m tired of getting bitten even when I’ve done everything a good survivor should do. I’m tired of crossing my fingers and hoping that they only scratched me instead of bit me during the encounter. So, I start altering my clothing the second I find a needle, and you should too.
The negative effects of dehydration are not so extensive that you should worry about your clothing or layers. I often choose the High Thirst trait and still pack on the layers in the middle of summer in Kentucky. I also start my character with as many layers as possible to begin with the best defense.
On the character select screen, make sure your character starts with a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket. Give them jeans and sneakers, glasses, and a ranger hat. The ranger hat is important. Can’t tell you how many times that hat saved my life. Jeans are denim and offer good protection; the only defense that’s better than jeans are firefighter and military pants.
Starting with a jacket, long sleeve shirt, and tank top gives your upper torso the most starting protection. Plus, if you get wounded and don’t have clothes nearby to scavenge, you can always use the tank top for ripped sheets.
Here’s my wish list. Your priority should be to find the following while scavenging:
- Gloves – fingerless gloves work too. Just any protection for your hands.
- Pants – Firefighter and military pants offer the best defense in the game. Look in the locker rooms at the police station and fire department.
- Jackets – Leather jackets are the pinnacle of torso defense. If you’re playing vanilla, your best bet is to search bedrooms and clothing stores. But you can wear more than one jacket in PZ for increased defense. Therefore, also grab a hoodie while you’re out. The hood adds extra protection to your head when up.
- Police helmet – No zombie will bite your head when it’s encased in a police motorcycle helmet. They’ll break their jaw before they succeed.
- Bulletproof vest – Once again, pillage the police department and see what you can find. You won’t be taking any bullets unless you’re in multiplayer, but the Kevlar still repels zombies.
- Shoes – Military boots are the best thing you can find. Firefighter boots aren’t bad either, but you should aim for military-grade. You can’t alter or repair them, but they come with such high durability and defense that you shouldn’t need to.
- Clothes to rip – Look for leather and denim since they provide the best defense. Grab a few leather jackets and several pairs of jeans and that should do it.
If you’re diligent, observant, and downright lucky, you’ll end up with the best defensive outfit in vanilla Project Zomboid. And while that outfit provides solid protection by default, it can also be upgraded. Each piece of clothing can be enhanced with leather and denim to increase your chances of avoiding a zombie bite.
If you managed to find all the items, you shouldn’t need to worry about zombies for the rest of your character’s life.
Unfortunately, there are still plenty of other things to worry about in Project Zomboid. And also unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find all the items listed above in a single playthrough. I rarely did.
Yes, hitting up the police station and fire department is a great way to get most of the items on the list, followed by a quick trip to the clothing store. But many times, you’ll find the station and department empty of good loot. And I defy anyone to name somewhere in PZ that consistently spawns gloves.
However, if you’re like me and can’t seem to keep the zombies out of your personal space, tailoring can help.
Question: What are the Best Clothes to Upgrade?
Answer: Find yourself military anything – pants, shirt, gloves, sweater, jacket, etc. They not only provide the best protection right off the bat, but you can also use them for high-quality materials.
I’ve found plenty of leather aviator flight jackets in clothing stores, and if I already have a leather jacket, I rip those aviators to shreds. You won’t be able to upgrade boots or helmets, but you can alter just about everything else.
Question: Where Can I Find Gloves?
Answer: I’ve found gloves in the locker room of the police station pretty regularly. The fire department sometimes has a pair. Outdoor, home supply, and clothing stores sometimes have a pair.
Question: What’s the Highest I Can Upgrade My Clothing?
Answer: Let’s say you’ve leveled up tailoring all the way and have both a leather jacket and plenty of leather strips. You can increase the defense of each part of your clothing by 20%.
With a leather jacket that already has 20% bite defense and 40% scratch defense, adding another 20% to both gives you 40% and 60% respectively, making it pretty hard for zombies to bite you.
Project Zomboid is a challenging, tedious, and enraging experience at times. Its simulation is top-notch when it comes to recreating a 1990s zombie apocalypse in rural Kentucky. But that’s what makes it so darn frustrating at times.
The zombies are ruthless, and mother nature is more so. And if you don’t stay on top of all your skills – repairing generators and foraging for bugs – you’ll revert to the same naked state you started the game in.
But there are specific skills and items that players should focus on if they want to sustain their Project Zomboid gameplay. Combat is a no-brainer, and choosing either carpentry or metalworking would be wise as well.
But it seems only professionals know of the virtues of tailoring. They always have a tailor on the team to ensure bites are minimal and protection is maximum.
Tailoring. The best kind of defense in Project Zomboid.
That doesn’t mean you won’t die from any of Project Zomboid’s other dangers, which are just as deadly. But at least you can worry less about all those pesky zombies.
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