Complete beginner on a very small budget

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by jcgoble3, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. jcgoble3 Bonanza winner!!

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    Hello. For a few years, I've been wearing a set of Jedi robes I purchased off of eBay. I've worn it to CV and CVI and for a few Halloweens. However, it's a royal pain in the *** to work with, being very uncomfortable and difficult to move around in. It's also not screen-accurate. I'd like to explore the possibility of making my own, more comfortable, and maybe more accurate Jedi robes. The problem is that I have never touched a sewing machine (I do have access to one if needed, but probably not the instruction manual or anyone that can teach me how to use it) and have practically no experience with sewing by hand. I am also on a small fixed income and so can't afford to spend a whole lot; ideally I need to keep the cost under $100 to $200 (but I don't even know if it's even reasonably possible to do it on that little).

    I'm not looking for perfect screen accuracy down to the last detail or the level of quality required by costuming groups like the Jedi Assembly here, just something a bit more comfortable and easier to move around in that I can take some level of pride in knowing that I made it myself. The basic robes (tunic, pants, cloak, and maybe the belt) are all I need to start out with; accessories like pouches, a lightsaber, and proper boots can come later when I have more money and experience. So two questions:

    1. Is my budget of $100 to $200 reasonable for what I'm looking to do, and if not, about what cost would I realistically be looking at?
    2. Roughly how much time should I expect to spend on this, given my total lack of sewing experience?

    Thanks in advance for any answers!
  2. Miana Kenobi Costuming & Props Mod - Retired Admin

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    For JUST the soft fabric parts, I'd say $200 is definitely doable. Maybe not with the belt, though, unless you're planning on making that yourself.

    As for time frame, several months at least.

    Honestly, Jedi robes are quite simple. It's a lot of straight lines. You can find patterns and ideas in the Rebel Legion's Jedi tutorials for those. :)

    What you definitely need to do is find a pattern so you can get the number of yards of fabric you need, then go fabric hunting.

    For learning how to sew, youtube is a FANTASTIC resource. Honestly just go get some thread, get some cheap spare fabric (or even use an old sheet or t-shirt you don't mind destroyed, and just start practicing. It's really just a lot of hand-eye coordination plus foot coordination learning how your machine flows.

    Let us know what we can do for help and advice!
  3. jcgoble3 Bonanza winner!!

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    Thanks. I'll dig into the RL's tutorials in the coming days.

    Fabric: Where would you suggest buying fabric? Walmart would be easiest for me, given that it's within walking distance of my house and anything else requires driving to the next town (which can be easily done if needed), but would it be the cheapest? Or is this a case where I'll have to shop around in multiple places before purchasing anything (which I hate doing)?

    YouTube: Given that I'm not usually very good at searching, any specific videos you would suggest?
  4. mavjade It's so Fluffy Fanfic & New Movies Manager

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    Hey jcgoble! I too, am very new to sewing (still only working on things that are a sewn in a straight line) and while my mother taught me the very basics like how to use a machine and how to read a pattern years ago, I know very little and have been using youtube for just about everything.

    You can search "Sewing basics" or "Sewing for beginners" and get some pretty good videos, but one of the channels I have found that I really turn to is Professor Pincushion. Her most recent video are for more advanced sewers (but she shows you all the way through a pattern which is very nice) but if you look at some of her older videos, she does the very basics, from general machine usage, reading a pattern, different kinds of stitching, etc. When I come to something I don't know what the heck it means or I'm a little nervous about, I look to see if she has a video on it first.

    Hope that helps!
    BultarSwan likes this.
  5. jcgoble3 Bonanza winner!!

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    OK, thanks! I'll keep you guys posted on whether I do this and how things are going. :)
  6. Skiara ~• Manager WNU •~ ~• RSA FFC •~

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    I did a costume once (Slave Leia) and I needed to keep an eye on the costs as well. I ended up spending about 100€ (including shoes, fabrics, etc.). Of course, this needed planing, not too many "wrong cuts" and lots of research about where to find what for the best price plus finding the best way to do it properly.

    It's not a Jedi-Costume, but maybe it gives you some hope. :)
    Last edited by Skiara, Feb 9, 2013
  7. Miana Kenobi Costuming & Props Mod - Retired Admin

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    As for fabric, I guess it really depends on what's in your local area.

    Our Wal-Marts don't have much of a fabric section anymore. If you are anywhere near a JoAnns, Yardage Town, or any kind of fabric store, those would be ideal.

    If not, there's always the internet. A lot of times you can order a swatch (a small scrap) of the fabric to test out if you like the color, weight, feel.

    A fantastic place to start online is http://www.denverfabrics.com/.
    BultarSwan likes this.
  8. jcgoble3 Bonanza winner!!

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    There's a JoAnn's not too far away. I may try them.

    For something like this, I wouldn't even dream of trying to order online. I want to be able to see and feel what I'm buying before I buy, and being a man, I want to do it all in one trip if possible. Internet would require ordering a swatch, test it out, maybe send it back and get a different swatch, before finally ordering the fabric, and even then I would probably only be able to try out a very small percentage of what's available. Going to a physical store would make that a lot easier.
    TrakNar likes this.
  9. ShadaErsari Jedi Master

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    Sep 17, 2003
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    Personal opinion is that your budget is doable - especially because you stated that you're not a stickler for 100% accuracy. I think everyone has been in this beginner phase before, so take heart that you're not alone! A friend and I learned how to sew (without any previous experience) when we made Jedi robes and tunics for AOTC. We still costume to this day (beware: this is an addiction ;p).

    I know a couple of other folks have given you excellent resources for learning how machines work and different beginner techniques. I just wanted to comment about the fabric question you had. My last two batches of tunic fabric have come from the clearance bin at WalMart. I would just go in and look at what they had every so often, and I hit a couple of lucky streaks. Pick what looks right to you and what feels right - a lot of my fabric I choose based on touch and drape. Pick stuff up, unravel a bit of it off the bolt, drape it over your arm. Does it feel like a Jedi tunic should feel? Does it look like what it should look like? Everyone has a preference and everyone has an opinion. If you just go and browse things (JoAnn's is great for browsing), you're bound to run into the right choice for your project.

    Tips on the other parts (belt, boots, pouches, etc.) -- I believe in thrift stores. Thrift store are my friend. And clearance racks at the store. You'll run into all sorts of cool finds - you just have to look at things a different way sometimes. Check out WalMart, walk down hardware store aisles, check out your local thrift store, or even someone's yard sale. This was the best way I found to keep my budget down. Ebay can be good for shoes/boots, too (if you don't have a weird wide foot, like me).

    Best of luck! Can't wait to see what you come up with. :)
    jcgoble3 likes this.
  10. jcgoble3 Bonanza winner!!

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    Thanks for the tips. This has been put on the back burner while I deal with some aggravation with my car that has the potential to cost me over $1,500 if I can't get Kia to cover it under recall. If I do have to pay out of pocket for the repair, it could be a year or more before I can even think about tackling this.
  11. Giovs Jedi Master

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    Apr 29, 2013
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    There's no way I would be able to make my own costume. I plan to order a Han Solo costume from costumebase on ebay, does anyone knows if it`s reliable?
    Thanks.
  12. Jabari Force Ghost

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    Jun 25, 2007
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    I don't know about Han, but doing a Jedi costume for under $100 is completely doable. I believe I spent $60 on the fabric for mine- got lucky and the stuff I liked was on sale at Hancock Fabrics. Discount stores like TJ Maxx are also good - I found my boots there for $40, and got some pants for under $20 (athletic/jogging pants, which I use for general use too) and my belt was from Goodwill (where I've found several other pairs of boots too.) The undershirt I already had, but it was on clearance from Shop-Ko I believe. So, $150 or less for everything except the lightsaber. (which was a gift - though you can get a very basic Ultrasaber without sound for $60)