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Tips & Tricks The Basic Costuming Tips Thread

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by JediToren, Nov 16, 2002.

  1. JainaMSolo

    JainaMSolo Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jan 19, 2001
    Bless you, surlygirlie; those are great links.

  2. LeiaYT1300

    LeiaYT1300 Jedi Youngling star 3

    Mar 7, 2002
    Woofer, when I made an outer Jedi tunic last year for a friend of mine, it was made from a beautiful nubby, raw silk from an old pair of curtains that had hung in his home for years. When the subject came up for lining it, we discussed several options, including ordering a silk lining fabric (thin taffeta, or other slick silk).

    However, we finally decided to line the sleeves only, after I discovered using the pause button while watching TPM, that every time Obi-Wan flipped and his tunic flipped up, I could find no lining for the body of the tunic. But the sleeves were obviously lined.

    So, we decided to line the sleeves only, in your basic poly-acetate to save money, but the tunic would still be breathable with the body unlined.

    In short, it worked beautifully, and he doesn't regret the decision (he's a swordsman and historical reenactor, and he found it to be very comfortable). And, as an added bonus, the unlined tunic body clung nicely to the inner tunic, so there was little shifting beneath the belt and obi as he moved, everything staying in place rather well, with no need for added closures, like snaps or hooks, while the lined sleeves gave great ease of movement. :)

    So, give that a try, if you can't find a suitable natural lining.

    Hope that helps! :)
  3. Woofer

    Woofer Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 27, 2001
    Thanks, yes, that was on my list of consideration.

    I guess if I can only find non-natural lining material I'll do just the sleeves then.
  4. surlygirlie

    surlygirlie Manager Emeritus star 4 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 1, 2000
    JainaMSolo, glad the links helped out -- I hope linings are thoroughly demystified for you now! :D

    Leia, I'm glad you liked the "20 things..." article -- it's one that I make it a point to re-read every couple of months or so, because sometimes I forget things, or grow lazy, and it helps me to be reminded.


  5. Jedi_Riibu

    Jedi_Riibu Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 14, 2001
    I used Silk Habotai from [link=]Dharma Trading[/link] to line my Jedi tunic. The 8mm weight is perfect.
  6. jedimelis

    jedimelis Jedi Master star 2

    Nov 5, 2002
    Great Topic, guys. I will reread your posts from time to time. I did, however, come up with a tool that often wish I had when making my last costume.... a protractor. Yes, geometry class does come in handy. I found myself tracing and creating a stencil angle for my project where a protractor would have been quite handy. So I bought one yesterday, haven't used it yet, but I am sure it will be put to good use.

    I am sure the all you expert costumers have one on hand, but just thought I'd mention it.

    Lesson: When recreating or resizing an object or design, the angles stay the same.
  7. DarthBkane

    DarthBkane Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jun 2, 2002
    I hope this doesnt sound too stupid, but I cannot find larger size patterns (2x 3x)for my Jedi Tunics (Inner and Outer), I am TRYING to resize a pattern, can anyone give any advice, or point me towards instruction?

    Much thanks
  8. Darth_Eagle

    Darth_Eagle Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    Any tips on how to get rid of cigaratte smell from a "Cheap" Velvet Cloak? [face_plain]?

    I wore my new Royal Guard Cloak (made out of Tafetta Velvet, the thinnest & cheapest velvet) to a "job" last Friday nite, and it now smell of cigaratte althought I had hang it up to air for many days already. :( (yes, I hate the smell of cigaratte!)
  9. surlygirlie

    surlygirlie Manager Emeritus star 4 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 1, 2000
    Darth_Eagle, there a couple of ways to approach the cigarette smell problem...
    If you can get Febreze in your area, you can liberally spritz the garment with it (it actually cleans out the smell; it's not a cover-up smell, although some versions of it do also leave a floral scent behind.).

    If you can't get Febreze, cheap vodka is a great alternative. Just fill a spray bottle with it, and as above, spritz the garment liberally, then allow it to air dry (if you have an electric fan handy to increase the air circulation in the room, so much the better). It works virtually the same as Febreze, and is an old costume shop trick.

  10. Darth_Eagle

    Darth_Eagle Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    Thanks! :) There is Febreze sold here (I used it on my pillow :p ) so I'll get a new bottle tomorrow to get rid of the smell.

    About the vodka, it's strictly prohibited for me. :(
  11. Paradoxigirl

    Paradoxigirl Jedi Youngling star 1

    May 5, 2002
    Hi everyone,

    This isn't exactly a basic costuming tip, more a basic costuming question.

    I was wondering if anyone here uses a book called 'Patternmaking For Fashion Design'? It's by Helen Joseph-Armstrong, and the edition I'm referring to is the third, though I'm in the process of getting the second.

    I'm looking to see if anyone can point me in the right direction as regards instructions from the book, since some are a bit confusing for sewing newbies like me. Thanks a lot!
  12. JediToren

    JediToren Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 20, 2000
    Costuming on a Budget:

    I've never really liked that phrase. It implies that there is a group of costumers that are low on funds and the rest have no budget restrictions at all. Everyone in this hobby is on a budget. Everyone is going to look for a way to do it cheaper. Even those that have allot of money aren't going to be stupid with their money. They won't take a more expensive route if there is a cheaper alternative of equivelant quality.

    That said, here are some tips for saving money on a costume:

    The Goal of Costuming on a Budget
    Let's keep in mind what the goal of budget costuming is: It's to save money without substantially lowering the quality. In other words, your budget costume should look like MORE than the sum of it's parts. If the costume or item in question looks like what it cost, then the purpose of doing it cheaper is defeated.

    Work Within Your Budget
    The first tip for budget costuming is to choose a project that is financially within your means to do well. As noted earlier in this thread, there is a limit to how cheap you can get something. Vader is a $1000 project, and that's about as cheap as you can make it and still have a "most impressive" costume.

    If you can only afford a $200 costume, then do a costume such as a Jedi, Imperial Officer, etc. that can be done well on that budget. If you try to tackle Vader, Chewie, etc. on that budget, you will end up with a cheap-looking costume that looks like what it cost.

    Stockpile and Think Ahead
    Stockpiling materials and parts is another great way to save money. You should visit your local fabric stores once a month and hit the bargain bins/racks. When something is out of season, you can score it for 1 or 2 dollars per yard, but you may end up spending many times that later on. Buy stuff for future costuming projects if you see something you need for a great price, as you may spend allot more when you actually need it. You can always find something when you don't need it, but it's always lost when you do need it. The same applies to this hobby. This may seem like spending more money, but it will save you allot of money in the long run.

    Do It Yourself
    You can usually save money by making things yourself, or having close friends make something. Instead of shelling out $150-$200 for 14" drywall stilts, I got my dad to make me some great metal stilts for free!
    However, keep in mind that, while most of the time you will save money by doing it yourself, this is not always the case. It is generally cheaper to buy a Don Post mask than it would be to make one yourself.

    Be careful where you save money
    One popular method of saving money is getting rid of details. This is a bad idea, IMHO. Details make or break a costume. I've seen people making a Jedi costume that decide to get rid of all belt details save for the sabre. On one occasion, I read a post where someone said they would forgoe having a lightsabre just to save money. While that is an extreme example it helps me make my point. There are usually cheaper ways of making pouches or other details, but scrapping them altogethor is not the way to go. Details are the difference between a mediocre costume and a great one.

    Remember, this is a hobby
    This is a fun, and often expensive hobby. But never forget where it lies on your list of financial priorities. On the RPF, I often see "That's what Visa is for, right?" Wrong. My mom was born an accountant and probably read tax laws while most other kids played with coloring books. I learned some financial wisdom whether I wanted to or not. I often tired of hearing her go on and on about being sensible with my money but now that I am living on my own I am grateful for everything she has taught me.
    I see most others in my age group (college age) with extensive DVD collections, sweet car stereos, home theatres, etc. Most of my peers have extensive credit card debts and struggle with paying their bills. I watched for years as my cousin struggled to get a loan to buy a house and had difficulties wi
  13. JainaMSolo

    JainaMSolo Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jan 19, 2001
    What are good sewing books that people have found, other than the Vogue, Singer, and Reader's Digest megabooks? How about books that teach you to draft your own patterns, or show how to construct different shapes?


    FERDALUMP Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 12, 2002
    I know I have several costuming books that have the construction details as well as small scale patterns that have to be drafted up using 1" grid paper. Working with a french curve you can adjust the pieces as necessary.
    Draping is another technique to learn how to make custom draft costume patterns.

    I will do some research for some resources for books for you--but another tip I can give you is this:
    Go to resale shops and stuff and search out clothes and stuff that have an element that you like (a collar, a sleeve etc). You can more than likely buy it cheap. Take it home and take it apart to learn how it was constructed. Take notes as necessary. This is a great learning tool.

    Most of the books I have have these pieces and notes from this techinique being done with antique and muesuem type garments. That's how we learn.
    ~Ferd :)
  15. Paradoxigirl

    Paradoxigirl Jedi Youngling star 1

    May 5, 2002
    Caitlin, I mention a book a little further up in the thread called 'Patternmaking For Fashion Design' by Helen Joseph Armstrong. The book is really comprehensive but some parts are hard to understand, which is why I was asking for help on some of the concepts. I understand that the same author also wrote a book on draping which is quite good. Hope this information helps you!
  16. Kev-Mas_Colcha

    Kev-Mas_Colcha Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 15, 2002
    Well, going back to lining, I don't do it.

    My reasons for not lining are:

    It's too hot in Phoenix,Arizona(personal issue, you may have it too, if you also live in a hot climate, which I like to call mine Tatooine :D).

    It saves me money.

    It saves me time.

    Those reasons may sound silly, but it's true, because when the bottom two come together with the top one, it makes sense(at least for me).

    Now, if you live in a colder climate, lining is your best friend, and depending on the temperatures, that depends on the fabric. IE: Cotton and Silk for temperate, and heavier fabrics like wool for cold climates.

    Now, if you are curious, here are the materials for my costume.

    Cotton(Tunic, Pants, Sash)
    Vinyl(Arm Bracers, Gloves, Vest)
    Sintra(Vest and Bracer armor pieces)

    If you haven't guessed already, this is going to be a Jedi Costume, and maybe you guys could help me, on how to make a pattern for it.

    Here's the picture:

  17. Darth_Eagle

    Darth_Eagle Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    Is there a kind of paint that I can use to cover up peeling of my boots? Will Spray Paint (like Krylon) works without peeling off immediately after I wore it?

    My HK made White Fake Leather Boots top layer finally peel off (before it was just some small scratches or peels) and I hate to just chunk it into the dustbin cause it had been break into well. The peel is currently at the side only.

    Any advice?
  18. Jedi_Riibu

    Jedi_Riibu Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 14, 2001
    If you can get it in your area Darth_Eagle you want to get Nu-Life spray, which acts like dye in a can. Regular spray paint like Krylon will flake off virtually right away (it's just not flexible when dry).
  19. JediToren

    JediToren Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 20, 2000
  20. Raef_Wolfe

    Raef_Wolfe Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 12, 2003
    I was making my costume, sewing the band around the neck and fron when I ran into a problem.

    One of my pins fell out and cause my fabric to be longer on one side than the other. I could've just cut it, and it would've been fine, but I decided to make it look different. As I was just going across the shoulder, I still has a chance to do this.

    You know how in men's work shirts, on the back, you will have 2 folds in the fabric, tucked under another part of fabric, and sewn? I did that here. I just tucked it it and sewed it by hand (wayyyy to hard for machine). It looked great, even better than the 'normal' backed one.

    Just a suggestion-try it, it looks really cool. It adds folds to the fabric that make it look more natural.

    I can't find a picture on the internet of the back of a work shirt....ugh....however, I will add that the tuck is at the base of the collar, centered, and not in the middle of the back. I will get a picture of it up as soon as possible.
  21. across0the0stars

    across0the0stars Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jul 29, 2003
    can someone point me in the way of learning embroidery? i started getting okay at it at a young age but i've forgotten it all.
  22. PadawanRoo

    PadawanRoo Jedi Master star 1

    Aug 7, 2003
    I owe a lot to the Star Wars costuming community. I was still very new to the costuming world when I attended a workshop on it at Balticon the year before last (Balticon 36, I believe). After that, it was all over: I set out to make myself a Jedi costume, and got dragged headfirst into the fandom.

    Well needless to say, I made all the newbie mistakes with my first Jedi costume.

    ALWAYS, ALWAYS pre-wash natural fabrics, even if it says it's pre-shrunk. It only takes an hour, and will save you the terrible disappointment of making a gorgeous cloak/gown/etc, wearing it once, washing it, and finding it two inches too short when it comes out of the dryer. I made this mistake with my cloak. Luckily, it was big enough to begin with that it didn't really show, but it could've been much worse, and I could've avoided the problem entirely if I had ignored the little 'pre-washed' sticker on the bolt.

    The friday of a conference, half an hour before you're getting in the car, is a BAD time to be hemming your obi. Procratination leads to anger; anger leads to hate... just don't do it.

    and just to echo: research can do more than make your costume look fabulous- it can save you a LOT of time and money.
    For example: The fabric used to make the Jedi costumes in Star Wars episodes I and II is called Indian Homespun. It's a loose-woven cotton material (The kind that Ghandi wore and made while protesting British textiles), and it's available for two to five dollars a yard in any ethnic fabric store (and many non-ethnic ones). It comes in a veriety of light cream to coffee colors because it generally isn't bleached or dyed prior to shipping. The same material was dyed black for Sith costumes.
    Indian Homespun is MUCH cheaper and usually lighter than raw silk, and can be thrown in the laundry with your everyday clothes. It's also easy as pie to work with, and goes to show that more expensive isn't always synonymous with better.

    Also, something that hasn't really been adressed yet: Makeup. If you're dressing as a non-human character and need makeup or prostheses, take the time to do them right.

    Spirit Gum is invaluable when attaching fake ears, noses, antenae, or what have you. Some people will thell you to just use glue- IGNORE THEM. Glue can be toxic, cause breakouts, react poorly with your prosthesis, come undone, and get very messy. And never, EVER try to dry-remove a latex prosthetic. Either it will rip or your skin will, and either way, it ain't pretty. If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for spirit gum remover, non-acetone nail polish remover works just as well (test it to make sure it won't screw up the prosthetic first, though).

    As far as the makeup itself, fixing agents are your friends. You can get fixer in powder or spray form, and it's worth its weight in gold. There are a few pictures floating around the net of a white twi-lek jedi who looks like she has a degenerative skin disease. Why? Because I forgot to buy fixing powder for balticon. You just apply it over your makup to keep it from peeling, smudging, and flaking (which it will, if you're wearing it for any length of time).

    and again, it's always good to do some research when planning your makeup, especially if you're doing something difficult or obscure. If you can't find the prosthetic you need (ears are easy, horns and noses are harder, and antenae are downright impossible), you'll want to know that months before you actually need them, so you have time to special-order them or make them yourself (and never underestimate the value of liquid latex-- it's not just for fetishes).

    ok, well, that rather long-winded post brought to you by the nuber six an the letter J. Don't forget your grain of salt, now- like I said, I'm a novice.
  23. surlygirlie

    surlygirlie Manager Emeritus star 4 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 1, 2000
    across0the0stars, [link=]this page[/link] has directions to do many, many embroidery stitches. It's one that I very recently came across, and what I've seen of it so far has been really great.

  24. StormtrooperPrincess

    StormtrooperPrincess Jedi Youngling star 3

    Apr 10, 2002
    Nothing wrong with being a novice. Everyone was at some point. :) Besides, tips from people aren't as skilled are just as good as tips from people who've been doing this all their lives, sometimes better because of the newness of experience. Reinforces what others have said, and points out things others may have forgotten to mention because it's been so long since they first started. If that makes sense.
  25. queenseamstress

    queenseamstress TFN Costumes Staff star 3 VIP

    Jan 30, 2002
    JediToren-I am in total agreeance with you about the financial aspect of this hobby...My parents brought me up with the importance of good credit scores and not living beyond your means...I know someone who recently refinanced their house to get money to fix their teenage daughter's teeth and then when they got the money from the refinancing they bought a camper...and their daughter's teeth are still in need of repairing.
    I don't use a credit card to buy costuming supplies or go and get a personal loan at a finance company to buy a big screen television...when I shop online I use my debit card from my checking account, and if I don't have money after paying the bills to get costume supplies or belly dance items-then I just don't get any. (I have TWO expensive hobbies!)
    I think that is a very important point that you made discussing this...I am working on armor for my husband and it is a pretty darn expensive we have been doing it for almost a year now...buying the expensive pieces such as the boots and bodysuit little by little as money permits instead of "charging it" to have it all now.
    As far as the other aspects of costuming advice...I think it is important to do a lot of research on any costume you want to tackle...find out whatever you can about its construction, search through the internet and through old issues of the Insider...check out the small details while watching the films with a notebook and pen handy for sketching and taking notes.
    Also-don't look at everything like it is...look at it for what it COULD be...with an extravegant costume piece-use your imagination...some plastic can totally look like metal with the right finishing tecniques...and sheer fabrics can be layered together for a totally different color or texture effect. Most of the time you are not going to find a fabric right off the rack that matches Amidala or a handmaiden...usually you are going to have to dye it, embroider it, layer another fabric on top of it...or perform some other dauntingly strange task to morph it into what you need-you just have to have an open mind when shopping around and looking at things.