Monday, October 17, 2011

Star Wars Cosplay, part 3

Costumes and armaments are only most of the story.  To really bring the costumes together it's the little extras that are the essentials.  It's amazing how many little extras were all but impossible to find and things like children's white boots really really put my painting skills to the test (or maybe that was my patience).  Needless to say, everyone needed a belt (well except Yoda) and there were holsters and pockets to make.  Death Star Leia needed extra special care as her belt not only is specially shaped but is accessorized with 3D metal plates. 

I took responsibility for only half of these items as Orcrist rocked the rest.  As such we are going to share this blog post.  I will start telling you my part and he will finish with all the amazing bits he put together to bring our costumes to completion.  We'll dive right in after the jump.

Once it became obvious that there was no way to get white boots for a child, we sought out a cheap pair of boots to paint, which I was assured would be completely doable.  I found a cheap pair of Ugg style boots at Walmart in black.  I wish I could have found brown or anything lighter, but I had no luck.  These boots became the bane of this project.  I should have washed and bleached the boots first, but I didn't.  I didn't think about the fact that I'd bought cheap boots and that meant that there was excessive amounts of dye on it.  I also coupled it with a cheap can of white spray paint, since I went for quantity over quality, something I really should know better than doing.  As always, the quality issue of both products made the color change all but impossible for this setup. 

On the first go, the cheap white paint did not disperse well.  So, I had to spray a lot heavier than you typically would with spray paint.  That highlighted the second problem of the black dye on the boots absorbing the white paint.  In places where the paint was exceptionally heavy the paint turned grey and began to run.  Instead of white boots, or even black boots, I had grey sticky runny mess.  I ended up soaking them in hot bleach water to try to get the rest of the dye to either set or release entirely.  After having the boots dry for a couple days I got some good white spray paint and tried again.  Unfortunately, it took an entire can to get about half of a boot done.  It was quickly apparent that this was going to be a very expensive approach.  I had half joked earlier that I would just use the Sherwin Williams outdoor white house paint with primer.  Well after that can of spray paint only did half the job (of the already greyed boot), and I still had another entire boot to do, I grabbed the can of paint and using a sponge brush lathered the boots (which I stuffed with paper to help hold their shape) with the white latex.  Not only did it succeed in turning the boots white, it survived most of the weekend of GeekGirlCon.  Yay, Death Star Leia white boots, check!

Close up photo of Leia's actual belt from here
To finish off Death Star Leia's costume there's the particular white belt with silver plate accents.  Orcrist lucked out and was able to find an appropriately sized belt with a similar to the Leia belt shape.  Ok, it was black and not white, and it needed a smaller hole punched, it worked great!  First I put a few coats of white spray paint on it (didn't have to break out the house paint for this one), although it did crackle when the belt was rounded - darn cheap white spray paint.  Next I had to simulate the metal plates.  Fashioning aluminum plates was just not an option, both from tool standpoint and a time issue, not to mention it was for a costume for a 4 year old.  The first challenge was finding something that would make the raised circle in the metal plates.  I went looking for glue-ons and found nothing.  Eventually I was touring through the paper crafts at Michael's and I was just trying to think of something that shape when I saw the plastic eyes, you know the kind that you shake and the pupil moves, well painted silver they are just the right size!  I got a pack and painted 8 (Leia's belt has 7 plates).  I was able to paint the plates in silver directly on to the belt and then glue my silver sticky eyes with a bit of hot glue. We lost several over the GeekGirlCon weekend, but at $2 for 16 I'm not too worried about replacing them.

After several of the "eyes" fell off.
Found HERE
Mine doesn't have the gears

Compared to the last two the rest of my accessories were pretty simple.  For my costume I needed an extra large belt that I could wear at a slant.  I found an alright belt, but it was just a little shy of being able to do a good slant, so I sent Orcrist to find a small belt that I could cut up and use as an extension.  He did better than that, he found me a belt that had stylized holes all along it.  I ended up connecting it to my belt and letting the excess hang down the back of a leg.  It worked well.  It even ended up having more slant than I intended because I added a thigh pouch to the belt and that weighed down the side.  It also gave me an awesome purse which I wore in and out of costume and never left anywhere! 

The green stuff is the modeling putty
that is filling in the recessed swish.
I also wanted some gauntlets for my costume.  Orcrist felt that using some sports guards would be a great technique to make the gauntlet so I bought some small shin guards.  They had a big Nike swish on them that I puttied over with some craft putty, and then sanded them entirely and gave them the same spray paint treatment that the blasters had gotten, except in grey.  I used some metallic purple and the silver paint to add detail and interest.  I then had Orcrist (who as you will see below) rocks at hand stitching (which I hate doing), stitch on some suede to the edges of the shin guards so I could lace them on.  The end result was warm, but they looked rather cool.   
My finished jedi gauntlets

And now Orcrists talents:
There were several black leather accessories that were needed for the Jedi and Endor Leia costumes. We needed at least four belt pouches and two blaster holsters. Originally, I had planned to just buy a yard of black pleather from the fabric store and cut and hand stitch it into the right shapes. Instead we went with a slightly more creative approach. I found a nice condition pleather laptop bag at the thrift store which had enough large pieces and pockets to make a nice number of accessories.

Re-purposing a laptop bag turned out to be a good idea and saved a bit of time and money. It cost me about $3 (much cheaper then the fabric store pleather) and had a number of small accessories in the form of snap buckles, snaps, velcro, and the like that I could re-use on the pouches. Next time I might use the actual leather bag I have in the office, that is too small to hold a modern laptop, to make some nice leather pouches. The bag I used was stitched with double rows of strong black thread. I used a seam ripper to separate all of the large pieces before I got started on making anything. This turned out to be a boon as I was able to simply stitch through the existing machine punched holes pretty easily. It also left a nice looking pattern on the areas where I didn't stitch or didn't stitch beautifully even lines as it still looks like it has a rows of perfectly spaced holes. If I needed a smooth edge, I could use those double rows to do a simple roll hem on the pleather as well.

I used up an old heavy gauge black thread that has been floating around since my wife was a little girl since it can't be used with a sewing machine. To stitch I just used a standard sewing needle. Ver1 thought it was really cool that I was hand stitching just like she had learned to do on one of her 4H Clover Buds projects. She though it was amazing that Daddy could do it too.

For Endor Leia I found a black leather child's belt at a thrift store. Leia doesn't have a large flashy buckle in this costume so we just buckled it in the back and the poncho covers the shiny brass buckle.

Endor Leia's Belt with holster and functional pouches

I made two pouches. For the first one I simple cut out a pocket that was already on the laptop bag and stitched the square luggage tag to the back for a belt loop. This made a long skinny pouch with a velcro closure that she ended up using frequently to hold various small things she was given at vendor tables as she could get it open and closed easily.

For the second pouch, I wanted to make a wider, shallower one for slightly off center of the front of the costume. I folded a piece of the pleather inside out and just stitched the pre-punched seams back together, leaving some on the top for a fold over flap.  Then flipped it around and had a nice pouch. For the buckle and the belt loop I re-purposed the small strap and buckle that was holding the luggage tag and wrapped it around the pouch, stitching it in place on the top and bottom of the back side and to the flap on the front.

Finally, Endor Leia needed a gun holster, but Leia in the movie had a long skinny holster and I wanted to mimic that since it would really bring the costume look together. I used a large piece of pleather and made a cone out of it and flattened the tip slightly by cutting it off and tucking it back up inside. It made a nice simple upright holster that kept the gun from falling out, but also allowed her to draw it out easily. I have read online that pleather used as a holster can stretch and mold around heavier guns (such as metal steampunk style) and make it hard to draw them. This wasn't a problem with this design and the plastic blaster at all.

For my Jedi costume, I needed a couple of pouches as well in adult size. I made one with the same method as the Leia pouch. Turn the pleather inside-out and fold it over, stitch through the existing seam and turn is back around. I then added one of the plastic snap clips that used to hold the laptop bag closed to the underside of the pocket flap and the bottom of the pocket. Then I could just snap it open and closed with one hand.

The other pocket ended up more creative. I decided I wanted a button panel that you often see on the fighter pilot belts in Star Wars. The Jedi also have small vials on their belt that I assumed I cold mimic with the pen holder and some painted dowels. I used the inside of the bag where there was a pocket and a pen holder. The pocket was canvas with a pleather backing. I just added a belt loop to the back and filled the pocket with a couple of toddler board books to give it a solid look. I ended up finding some small metallic permanent markers on sale at Staples for $1.25 and I used those to color the buttons and as the vials themselves. Not authentic, but good enough for my budget and it looked pretty good.

Jedi useable pouches with drawn button panel

I combined this with a double belt (one standard brown and one a large flat black) that I overlapped for a basic Jedi belt look. I also stitched one on the plastic loops from the laptop bag that used to hold the carrying strap onto the black belt as a lightsabre clip.

Finally, we needed a holster for that large Han Solo style blaster my wife was using on her costume. This was tricky as she wanted it at a 45 degree angle and directly above the flap on her thigh pouch. This took a bit of design work because of the wide shape of the gun and getting the angles just right, but the stitching went quick. I made a wide cone shaped holster with a thin strap and a small snap to hold the gun in place. Then I made a belt loop at the correct angle, but added another of the plastic snap clips to the actual belt loop so that the holster can be removed easily without first taking off the thigh pack. This way she could change in and out of costume, but still keep the thigh pack that she was using for all her important stuff on her belt without any hassle with the holster.

That's about it. This all took several hours, but it was time spent putting the toddler to sleep and watching Stargate Atlantis late in the evening. Also, I have several left over pieces of the bag that I can use to make more accessories for costumes in the future.

KtCallista back for some final words on hair:

Both of the Leia's needed her iconic long hair hair styles and even though their hair has rarely been cut (not at all for the 4 year old), their hair is not nearly as long as Princess Leia's.  First to do the iconic bun hairstyle that everyone knows I took my 4 year old's just passed shoulder length locks and pulled them into low pigtails behind her ears.  She did not have enough hair to cover her ears, but a tightened once and a half time around bun with a couple bobby pins and "a lot of hairspray" held the style for much longer than I thought it would.  It took me a while to get the hair twisted and laying flat against the head, but eventually I was able to do it on both sides of her head.

We didn't add the post Ewok villiage straps,
but that can be a nice accent too.
Endor Leia has her hair braided, but not just simply braided.  In the movie the massive amounts of hair is braided from two spots on the back of the head wrapped around the forehead from both directions (two bands) and then the starts wrapped around by the remainder of the braids.  While my 6 year old has waist length hair her hair is not nearly long enough, nor thick enough to have braids that cross her forehead and return to the back.  So for her I started just behind the ear, parting her hair in the middle and twisting the hair and having her hold it while I start the braid.  Then I braid over her head towards the other ear.  I do the same on the opposite side.  I then cross the braids so that each braid ends behind the other and pin it in place over her forehead with bobby pins.  The look is good enough to convince and aid the rest of the costume. 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing how easily these costumes came together over the course of a little over a week.  Costuming can be done accurately and easily as you can see.  It's also loads of fun!  Not to mention all the fun we will have for the rest of the year (possibly longer) using this stuff.

1 comment:

  1. One other thing I forgot to add to the post about Endor Leia's belt. I was originally shopping online for Star Wars belts and I ordered the Padme Amadala belt and blaster set. This also had two pouches and a holster and even though it is cream colored, we thought we would be able to paint it black and it would work well enough. The blaster is all wrong, but V3 could play with it and we would use the blaster we had for V1 instead.

    When it arrived it became apparent just how cheap the belt was. It doesn't have pouches, they are little rubber blobs glued to the belt that are supposed to look like canvas pouches from the movies. The belt itself was also rubber. It looked cheap, un-paintable, prone to falling apart, and very likely to irritate V1 as she has a mild latex allergy to latex band aids.

    We shipped it back for free and got a full refund (go Live and learn.


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