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Her Universe Fashion Show 2021 FAQ and Audience Winner “This is the Way” from the Mandalorian

Last year I had the wonderful privilege of being one of the finalists selected to be in the Her Universe Fashion Show (HUFS), and then ultimately one of the winners! The show is normally held yearly at San Diego Comic Con during the summer but the applications open up in the spring. Since this year’s show announcement is coming up, I thought this would be a good time for me to write up a post about my experience and the many questions I’ve been asked since last summer. (If you want to see the FAQ that includes what the show is, how the contest is run, any advice, etc. please see the second half of this post after my design photos). In 2021 Her Universe held a virtual show, which meant that instead of walking the stage in front of a live audience in San Diego, we submitted a lot of footage that was edited for judging purposes and streaming as part of Comic-Con at Home. My experience is a little different from the in-person show, but a lot of the information is still applicable!

(Most of the photos in this post were taken by lovely friend Natalie while assisted by my other equally lovely friend Kelsey).

For those of you that don’t know, Her Universe and the HUFS was founded by Ashley Eckstein to promote geek fashion. The HUFS is a runway show where designers submit a “geek couture” design which is high fashion inspired by a fandom. The idea is to make something that wouldn’t be out of place on a Hollywood red carpet, rather than a direct cosplay of a character. Although Star Wars, Marvel, etc. are popular inspirations each year, ideas from books, TV shows, and obscure fandoms are accepted as well.

I was selected as the audience’s choice winner, and Teighlor Johnson and Skyler Barrett and were tied for the judges’ pick in Pokemon and Queen’s Gambit-inspired designs, respectively.

My design is called “This is the Way” and was inspired by the Armorer from Star Wars: The Mandalorian. This outfit consists of 5 pieces (a jumpsuit, a cape, a headpiece, a belt, and a purse). I have nods to her helmet in my headpiece, her fur cape in my epaulets, her tools in my appliqués, and the Beskar steel she works with in the fabric of my jumpsuit.

The jumpsuit is made of a silver and black silk and wool challis fabric woven to look like Beskar steel. The jumpsuit has super wide leg palazzo pants (with hidden pockets!) that are full enough to look like a skirt when standing still. The upper sleeves are fitted with a balloon shape in the lower sleeve, gathered into a cuff.

I love this fabric! Below from left to right is a dart, then an invisible zipper, then another dart. Running horizontally is a seam.

I used gold pleather to make a flame appliqué on the bodice to reference the forge where the Armorer works, and accented the appliqués with gold glass beads. The belt is a gold metal band that closes with an art nouveau clasp in the front. Gold chains hang from the belt on each hip.

The bodice has a wide boat neck that creates a peekaboo effect combined with the high-necked red pleather backless “cape.” The brick red cape (lined in the same color) consists of a neck piece that covers the collarbone and extends to the shoulders, and long open “sleeves” that are long enough to trail on the floor, creating a train effect despite having no gown. The cape is open in the front and back so the jumpsuit is fully visible except for the shoulders, which has light brown fur epaulets on the cape. More gold chains hang from the shoulders and across the chest and back.

The cape closes at the neck with hidden hooks and bars. Then the epaulets and chains go on top, and I have hidden magnets sewn into the shoulders of the cape and the underside of the epaulets. The magnets I used are encased in plastic so I can sew them on. Here are some test pieces I did so you can see what they look like:

The headpiece is inspired by 1920s/1930s flapper headdresses and consists of 3 brass bands across the top of the head, attached to art nouveau style large decorative brass pieces over the ears. The front band has small golden spikes like a crown. The bands and ear pieces are wired together but the spikes are attached by drilling holes in the bands and screwing them in. I also added some gold pleather padding inside the ear pieces for comfort.

The purse is a clutch made of brick red pleather and lined in the same fabric as the cape. The purse flap is pleated like the Armorer’s apron and has her tools appliqued in silver. I created the design using my Silhouette Design Software and used glitter heat transfer vinyl.

The purse opens with a magnetic clasp and is decorated with gold metal half moons. As usual, I hand-sew in my labels.

My wig is from Arda Wigs and my shoes are from Miss L Fire.

Here is a video I made showing off some close-ups, when the online voting opened.

@freshfrippery

My Armorer (Mandalorian) design for @officialheruniverse fashion show! #pose #fashion#heruniversefashionshow

♬ original sound – 𝔞𝔰𝔥𝔩𝔢𝔦𝔤𝔥 ✨

The talented artist Dani Balangawa drew this lovely portrait of my winning design and sent it to me as a surprise!

Materials sourced:

I was short on time and worldwide shipping was a little dicey at the time I was getting my materials so I bought a lot of things that I knew could get to me quickly. A lot of the items, especially the metal findings, may also be found through my usual sources of Aliexpress, eBay, and craft stores.

Thank you for reading so far! Now for the FAQ!

Where can I see examples of past Her Universe Fashion Show entries?

You can watch last year’s show on the HUFS blog, which also has links to photos from earlier shows. The site also has archives of footage from previous shows. I highly recommend you review those so you don’t inadvertently submit any similar designs.

What is the selection process like?

There is an online application where you can submit up to 3 original designs plus a written description. You will also be asked for a personal bio, info about your design/sewing experience, and some portfolio images. There may be additional questions about how you heard about the show, if you have any previous press, what you think about geek fashion, etc. You can also include links to your social media and personal website and an optional video about your designs.

Up to 25 finalists are chosen by a selection committee that consists of Ashley Eckstein and employees of Her Universe/Hot Topic. Those finalists are the ones that will appear in the HUFS during SDCC. There is one winner picked by judges at the show, and a second winner picked by audience voting. There can be more than two winners in case of a tie.

What should be in your portfolio/video?

The portfolio is a chance for you to show that you can complete your design. HU does not want to select a person who has a great sketch but doesn’t know how to sew. Your portfolio should demonstrate your skill and experience and prove you can deliver a finished item on show day. Personally I recommend submitting a collage for each image so that you can show some close-up shots of your details and accessories made, plus make sure that some of the skills and materials in your submitted designs show up in your portfolio. For example, if you submit embroidery or leatherwork you should show you have experience with embroidery or leatherwork.

The video is optional. There is a time limit of 5 minutes but it is a chance for you to talk about your designs and show off your personality or inspiration. You can hold up sketches, show off fabric swatches if you have any, etc. Not everyone submits a video with their application but I feel like it’s a great way to explain difficult concepts and convince them you should be in the show.

What is the general time line?

Generally, applications open in spring after WonderCon and the show is in July during San Diego Comic Con. In 2019 (live show) applications opened April 1 and closed April 19, notifications went to finalists on April 26, and the show was July 17. In 2021 (virtual show) applications opened March 18 and closed April 2, finalists were announced April 16, and the show aired July 23 but we had to be finished with our designs and submit photographs/videos by June 4 in order to give them time to edit the footage.

What prizes do the winners get?

The judges’ pick and the audience winner get equal prizes. Winners are invited back the following year to judge the next contest at SDCC and their travel is covered. There is also a cash prize (I’m not sure if the amount varies each year), a chance to design a collection for Her Universe/Hot Topic, and royalties from that collection.

What is the HU/HT collection? Do you get your designs reproduced or get to choose the theme?

The collection is determined by HU/HT based on their licensing agreement with an upcoming movie. The 2021 winners designed items to come out in time for the 2022 Jurassic World movie. Some past winners have designed Star Wars, Marvel, and Wonder Woman items. The collection is mean to be casual/streetwear garments and are sold online at HU and in HT shops.

Do you have to have a ticket to San Diego Comic Con to apply?

No, you do not need a SDCC ticket to participate in the show or come watch as an audience member. The HUFS is held at a hotel during SDCC, but is a separate event. Finalists in the show are also often gifted a pass to SDCC.

Do finalists have their costs covered?

No, you are responsible for buying your own materials for your design, and covering your own travel to San Diego. As stated above, you do not need to pay for a SDCC ticket. If you win and are invited back as a judge, then your travel is comped for your subsequent trip.

Is there an age limit?

You need to be at least 18 for HUFS. (One year there was an affiliated junior design contest for minors, but that was different from the main runway show). There is no upper age limit and you don’t have to be fresh out of design school. There are people in the show in their 30s and 40s, with established careers and/or kids doing this for fun.

The contest is called the HER Universe Fashion Show. Are men allowed?

Yes, male designers are allowed to participate. In past runway shows male designers submitted womenswear, but during the 2021 virtual show the finalists could also present menswear designs.

Do you have to model the clothing yourself?

No, you can have a friend model the clothing if you don’t want to wear it yourself and many designers prefer to hire a model for various reasons (runway experience, having a particular look in mind, ease of fitting, honoring a particular culture, etc.) However, many people also love modeling the clothing themselves! It is up to you.

Do you need to be a great fashion illustrator or submit professional drawings?

No, the design sketches just need to be able to convey your vision clearly to the selection committee. You are also allowed to include written descriptions and your sketch can be a collage that includes pics of fabric swatches, etc. You can also use your optional video to describe your design.

You are allowed to hire a pro artist or friend to polish up your designs, as long as all the ideas are your own. For example, maybe you’re not confident about rendering fabric or comfortable about your illustration skills, you can have someone do your final sketches, as long as they are not helping you design.

For myself, I have submitted before using my own drawings, and have also applied by having my drawings translated by costume illustrator Emily Hasty. You can see below my original sketches and notes and the professional rendering by Emily.

Here is the sketch from Emily I submitted as part of my HUFS application.

What is the “portfolio review” at WonderCon?

At WonderCon, a few months before SDCC, and before the HUFS application officially opens, the Her Universe/Hot Topic team will usually host a portfolio review at WonderCon. (This is separate from the HU panel that consists of the past year’s winners that will be judges for the year). This is a chance for aspiring applicants to have a few minutes with some HU/HT reps to get some quick feedback about their designs. This is completely optional, and is a nice bonus for anyone who’s already attending WonderCon who wants a second opinion, but is not a requirement to enter. (The HU/HT reps may or may not be the same people on the final selection committee).

Is there another place to get feedback?

There is an unofficial Facebook group called “The Workshop” that is a support group consisting of many past finalists and people who are interested in applying. It’s a friendly place to ask questions or talk about your designs.

I also highly recommend you read the fantastic blog series “So You Think You Can HUFS: An Insider Guide to the Her Universe Fashion Show” by show veteran and previous winner Kristi Siedow-Thompson. It’s full of great information.

What is the HU panel you referred to at WonderCon?

The panel consists of the previous year’s winners and gives info on the upcoming show plus a sneak peak at the HU/Hot Topic collection that is being released.

Would you recommend participating?

Absolutely! I had a wonderful experience and the people involved in the show (both organizing and participating) were lovely. The HU/HT staff provided lots of guidance, were available for questions, and were really responsive. Prior to applying for the first time I had talked to previous finalists about the general vibe to see if HUFS was something I wanted to join. Everyone I asked said that it was the type of show where people hyped each other up and helped each other backstage so please keep that atmosphere going if you participate! Since the 2021 show was virtual, we had weekly Zoom meetings hosted by HU and a private Facebook group. People were offering to help each other shop for materials in the LA Fabric District or mail spare supplies. When online voting opened the participants were encouraging their followers to check out the other finalists as well. It definitely felt more like a bunch of theatre kids banding together to put on a show rather than competitors in a pageant. I am very grateful to have been part of this experience and am looking forward to being a judge this year and cheering all of you on!

Jedi Librarian / Archivist Costume for Rebel Legion (in Ravenclaw Colors!)

I am happy to have an approved Jedi librarian/archivist costume for the Rebel Legion!

If you have not made a Jedi costume before I recommend you first read my post “DIY Generic Jedi Costume for Rebel Legion (A Head to Toe Guide)” because I use some of the same techniques referenced in this post.

I made my costume according to the Rebel Legion Jedi Librarian/ Archivist/ Historian Costume Standards but please note, I am not a RL judge and this post reflects my own experience making my costume and is not an official guide of any sort. This blog post will take you through the layers of my costume (with a dressing video at the end).

I used heavier fabrics like wool and cotton twill because I intend to use this for winter events; you’ll want to stick to cotton and linen if you plan to use it in warmer climates.

The bronze and blue colors I used are the same as Ravenclaw house colors, hence my Jedi name being a reference to a founder of Hogwarts.

UNDER TUNIC AND SKIRT

I made the under tunic out of a poplin fabric with slight stretch. You actually don’t need a full shirt; a dickey just showing the collar is sufficient. However, for warmth and laundering reasons I wanted a full shirt.

Any mandarin-collared shirt pattern will do but I used a modified Simplicity 8768 (affiliate link), simply because I already owned the pattern. It is the top half of View A. Instead of a zipper I put snap openings down the center front. (The pattern runs large so I had room for the overlap closure).

The CRL guide requires either pants or a floor length skirt. I opted for a navy cotton twill skirt with a very full sweep. The skirt is self-drafted, but if you have basic sewing skills you can make one. Mine is made from gored panels to reduce bulk at the waist, but if your fabric is not thick you can do a simple gathered skirt. Please note that if you are planning to wear this for Saber Guild or any activity that requires stuntwork, I recommend a full circle skirt for mobility reasons. You can’t do a high kick with a narrow skirt!

I’ve also seen that some people do sew the the inner tunic and skirt together, so you don’t have to fuss with waistbands if you prefer.

OUTER TUNIC

I used the same pattern for the wool outer tunic as my linen Jedi one, except I skipped the lining. As before, I used the modified McCalls M6940 Game of Thrones pattern (affiliate link) for the body and Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link)  for the sleeves so please refer to my Jedi post for full details. It is a wrap dress with princess seams to be more figure flattering.

As before, I have a hidden tie closure inside the tunic, plus hook and bar closures on the outside.

The use of a coat weight wool for my tunic means it hangs beautifully like a real coat, and will be cozy for the winter!

BELT AND TOOLS

The belt is hidden under the obi, and is only used to hold up the tools. I’ve heard that these “tools” may be keys of some sort. They are actually optional items, not required for RL approval, but I think they add something interesting to the costume and are fun to make! Since the belt is not seen, I just used a modern belt.

My tools are based on the ones that Jocasta Nu wore in the Star Wars prequels.

Since I do not own a 3D printer I made the tools using items like broken pens and other items I had around the house.

I figured out that the “syringe” looking tool is made from a dental syringe easily purchasable through Amazon (affiliate link). I removed the metal washer and top handle, added a plastic cap and metal nut on top, add then a pen part on the bottom.

The bulby thing used a wooden honey dipper (Amazon affiliate link). I drilled a hole in the top of the honey dipper, added a button cover and 2 pen parts on bottom, then added pairs of metal jump rings to the handle and top of bulb.

The stylus thing consists of 5 pieces from various pens reassembled plus half a jewelry clasp at the top.

Everything was glued together with E6000 and painted with Rub ‘n Buff. Key rings were added at the end and then I cut leather straps to hold them to the belt.

POUCH

The CRL specifies the pouch must be suede with a drawstring closure. I found a suede pouch on eBay and then modified it. I punched extra holes and moved the cord so that the pouch would be gathered in the center front similar to Jocasta’s. I also cut a leather strip (slightly wider than the ones I used for the tools) and sewed it to the back of the pouch to give it a hanging loop. I swapped the wooden bead with a different closure I had in my stash.

If you want to make your own pouch from scratch, it’s a simple U shape. This is what it originally looked like before modifications:

OBI AND TABARDS

I would say that the defining feature of the Jedi librarian are the long tabards with the geometric designs. The original ones that Jocasta had were embroidered, but I’ve also seen people use upholstery fabric that’s woven with designs, or draw them on themselves with fabric pens or paint. I opted to make my own custom fabric using navy heat transfer vinyl flocking on to of bronze silk shantung. (At the time I made my costume I had not seen anyone else in the Rebel Legion use this technique for librarians, but I was approved and the CRL is vague about how to achieve the geometric designs).

I used a Silhouette machine (like a Cricut) to cut the designs after drawing them in the software. For those of you not familiar with these machines, they look like printers but with a thin blade instead of an ink jet. After cutting you peel away the excess material, apply it to your fabric with a hot iron, then remove the clear plastic backing. I used flocked HTV so the navy blue material had a velvety texture against the bronze silk. Here’s a test piece showing you what it looks like up close.

Here are some videos of the process.

@freshfrippery

Putting flocked appliqués on my #Jedi librarian #costume for Rebel Legion. #starwars #cosplay

♬ Star Wars (Epic Main Theme) – Samuel Kim

My obi closes in the back with hidden hook and bars. To keep the tabards level I have them sewn to the obi.

As for more explanation about the pattern shape for the tabards/obi and what shapes are acceptable under RL guidelines please refer to my Generic Jedi post. A few important points:

  • There are no shoulder seams. The top portion of the tabards curve from the front to the back.
  • The tabards are angled like a Y. They will not sit right if you just try to have 2 very long rectangles. You can save fabric by hiding the seam behind the obi.
  • The exact dimensions depend on your height and size, but for me I started with a lot of 6″ x 36″ rectangles and cut off extra as needed. You will need 14 rectangles (2 top tabards, 4 bottom tabards, 1 obi, then double everything for a lining). This includes seam allowance.
  • The tabards and obi have 2 layers: sew them right sides together on the long edges and one short edge, flip right side out to sandwich the raw seams, then hem the remaining short edge to your desired length. The hemmed end hides under the obi.
  • I used silk shantung which is lightweight by itself, but got heavy enough with the addition of the appliqués. I recommend using interfacing if you use thin fabric because you will want the tabards to have a decent weight to not flap around when you walk.

To help prevent the tabards from slipping off my shoulders I have a hidden snap on each shoulder.

BOOTS

My boots are the same ones used in my Generic Jedi costume:  “Gabi” boots purchased from Slimcalfboot.com during a sale.  The CRL calls for “low-heeled and closed-toe shoes” for skirts and calf-high brown or black boots if you’re wearing pants. Zippers must be on the inside of the leg if present.

GETTING DRESSED

Finally, here is a quick video of me putting on all the layers! The 3D printed Jedi holocron is from 3D Pro Designs on Etsy. I put my hair up in a bun and have 4 vintage U-shaped hair pins sticking out.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Your cost will vary a lot depending on what materials you use. I used a lot of wool, silk, leather, and flocked HTV, which raised my costs, but I got my fabrics on sale and reused my boots, which lowered my costs. If you’re on a budget I recommend looking at upholstery or drapery fabric for materials that already come with geometric designs, and sticking to cottons for your tunics. I also got really lucky on a crazy deal for my wool, which should have been the bulk of my cost. I’m also a bargain hunter when it comes to cosplays and go looking for deals on eBay or other places instead of buying everything “new.”

Materials list:

  • Inner tunic: 2 yards of 45″ cotton poly poplin shirting ($5.36 from Fabricmartfabrics.com)
  • Outer tunic: 3 yards of 55″ wool ($16.75 from a “garage sale”)
  • Skirt: 3 yards of 62″ navy twill ($21.58 from eBay)
  • Tabards/obi: 3 yards bronze silk shantung ($41 from Fabricmart)
  • Appliques: 5 sheets flocked heat transfer vinyl: $16.25 from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Suede pouch: $11.79 from eBay
  • Leather strips: free, from a friend
  • Belt: $5.41 from eBay
  • Dental syringe: $10.37 from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • 2 honey dippers: $6.56 from eBay (I bought 2 in case I make a mistake drilling)
  • Holocron: $27.30 from 3D Pro Designs on Etsy.
  • Thread, hooks and eyes, pens, paint, etc. from stash ~$5

    Total cost (with reused boots and lightsaber): $167.37

If you need to cut corners because of budget the tools and holocron are not needed for approval, but are fun.

Thank you for reading and May the Force Be With You!

DIY Generic Jedi Costume for Rebel Legion (A Head to Toe Guide)

I’ve had some questions about how I put together my Jedi costume, which is not of any particular character that appeared in the Star Wars universe, but follows the guideline of what a Jedi would have worn in the Old Republic. This kind of costume is called a “generic Jedi” in the Rebel Legion organization, of which I am a member. I made my costume according to the Rebel Legion Jedi Costume Standards, which is a useful reference even if you want a costume for fun and not for RL approval. (Please note, I am not a RL judge and this post reflects my own experience making my costume and is not an official guide of any sort).

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-4

Photo by Ribidib

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-1

Photo by Ribidib

The fun thing about doing a generic Jedi is you get to put a lot of your personality into it. You can choose your own colors and there are different kinds of shapes that are allowed. I’ll discuss some of the options available to you in each section.

The basic parts you need for a Jedi costume are:

  • Outer tunic (the beige part of my outfit)
  • Tabards (the blue parts that go over my shoulders and down the front)
  • Obi (the blue sash around my waist)
  • Pants or skirt
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Lightsaber
  • Lightsaber clip on belt

For RL approval you need at least 3 out of these 4 items:

  • Inner tunic (the white part of my outfit)
  • Two or more (leather or resin) pouches
  • Food capsules (the colored things on my belt)
  • Hooded robe

I didn’t want to hang too many things on my belt so I opted to have only one pouch and fulfilled my requirements by having the other items. (If you are petite you may have trouble fitting two pouches and eight food capsules onto the sides of the belt and have to opt for one pouch and four food capsules).hoodfront.JPG

My inner and outer tunics, pants, and robe are made of linen. The obi and tabards are wool. These materials were personal preferences due to breathability and durability but natural materials are not required if you are on a budget.

The RL Costume Guide linked above has suggested colors; Jedi tend to be earth-tones so you’ll see a lot of brown, black, gray, beige, etc. but other colors are approvable. My blue ensemble is not particularly common but still allowed.

OUTER TUNIC:

The outer tunic is similar to a kimono in concept in that one side folds over the other side and there are big sleeves. IMG_0407

IMG_0410

You can see the opening on the right side here.IMG_0408

There are lots of tutorials and free patterns online for Jedi robes and tunics, so I will not reproduce them here. However, most of those are meant for male or unisex figures. They assume you have a boxy tunic that will be fitted to you with the belt, but creates some extra bulk at the waist. I opted to have a tunic with curved princess seams in the front and back to be more figure flattering. If you are not female-bodied or you want to save time by not worrying about extra seams, the free online Jedi tunic patterns are great. Otherwise, I would modify a wrap dress pattern for your Jedi.

I already had this McCalls M6940 Game of Thrones pattern (affiliate link) for a cosplay project so I modified it:68385897_722415068187496_2174166372844568576_n

  • Start with View A (the picture on the right).
  • Tape the skirt hip gore (yellow part with the lion) pattern piece to the skirt hip (red part above it) pattern piece so that you can use it as one big pattern piece. You should not have that extra horizontal seam at your hip on your Jedi tunic.
  • Shorten the skirt. My preference is above knee-level but you can make yours shorter or longer. (For RL approval it will need to cover your butt at least). You can also have a “hi-lo” tunic where the back is longer than the front.
  • Make a wide band (about 2 inches wide) for your collar instead of the narrower one in the pattern.
  • Use different sleeves. The Jedi sleeves are big cone shapes like wizard robes. I already had Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link) so I borrowed the sleeves from that pattern, but made them longer. (For RL approval your sleeve should be knuckle-length).68369096_2548470338771719_1778429370386350080_n.jpg
  • Closures: instead of visible ties as shown on the McCall’s pattern, you want to have hidden closures on your Jedi tunic. I put hooks and bars on the right side of my tunic, and then a hidden ribbon tie on the inside left for extra security.IMG_0405IMG_0404

Unless your fabric is thick I recommend lining your tunic to give it better drape. A thin, flimsy tunic is going to look a little off if you want to look like an Old Republic Jedi or get RL approval. (If you are doing this as a casual Halloween costume then by all means do what’s quick and easy if you prefer!) I used two layers of “blanched almond” 100% linen from Fabricmart for mine. I have not used it myself but I have heard that Joann Fabrics has a “linen look” linen-rayon blend that is pretty good if you don’t have the budget for full linen. Crinkle cotton gauze is also a popular choice. You may be able to find a good polyester/cotton blend but it may be hot to wear.

INNER TUNIC: 

Although not required I highly recommend having one. It’s a layer that you can launder without having to wash your whole costume each time. You can either make a full shirt or just a dickey (false shirt with just a collar and a bit of a front and back). The important part is that the collar shows.  Mine is a full wrap shirt with a band collar about 2 inches wide. IMG_0402

As you can see it is a very simple shape, with just a snap closure, because you won’t be seeing most of it while the costume is worn. My pattern is self-drafted but you can modify any basic shirt pattern. The easiest thing would be finding a wrap blouse pattern  with a V neck to start with, but if you have some basic sewing skills you can extend one “flap” of the shirt pattern over and cut out the neckline to be a V shape.IMG_0403

Mine is made out of linen because it wicks moisture. Wearing lots of Jedi layers can get warm!

TABARDS:

When worn, tabards look like two pieces that go over your shoulders and down the front and back of your outer tunic.  They are NOT straight rectangles because they need to be angled to sit right. You can cut them out as Y-shapes but I preferred to have pieces where the seam was hidden by the obi because it saved fabric. Here is an in progress shot to show you what I mean.  The top pieces need to be long enough to cover the front and back; there is NO shoulder seam for Jedi tabards.IMG_8962.JPG

The exact dimensions are going to depend on your height and how broad your shoulders are. They should be wide enough to extend past your shoulders slightly. Mine are 5″ wide  but I am not a very large person. For the upper pieces cutting out rectangles about 6″ x 36″ wide was a good starting point for me. I am 5’6″ tall and that was enough fabric to have 0.5″ seam allowances and a lot extra to trim off when angling the ends. (The tabards are double thickness so cut 4 identical rectangles out).

The bottom half of the tabard is where you have a lot of chances to show off your personal preferences.

  • The ends can be squared off, pointed, or rounded. Mine are pointed and curved on one side.
  • The length can vary but must be at least as long as your outer tunic (for RL approval).
  • You can have the tabards meet and become one piece hanging in the front.
  • The back tabards can cross or not.
  • They can be fabric or leather.
  • You can put decorative symbols on them with paint or embroidery.IMG_8928.JPG

For the lower tabards I started with 4 rectangles that were 6″ x 28″, which like the upper tabards were enough for seam allowance and extra for trimming. My curve starts about 6 inches from the end.

I constructed the tabards by sewing the right sides together, turning them right side out, and top-stitching. They are the same on the front and back.

OBI:

The obi is the wide sash around your waist. The RL standards say that the obi should be the same width as your tabards or about the 3 times the width of your belt. I did the first option so my obi is 5″ wide, but yours should be proportional to your height and shoulder width. The length will depend on your waist measurement. You’ll want to have add at least several inches for overlap in the back, plus more for seam allowance.

The easiest obi is just a long rectangle, but a lot of people like to add texture and visual interest. Mostly this means pleating or scrunching up the top layer horizontally. I put in a series of diagonal tucks. I have not seen anyone else do this so I want to note that even though I got approved, if you are going for RL submission your judge’s opinion may vary. IMG_8956.JPG

The obi cannot have any visible closures. You can use velcro, hooks and eyes, or snaps but they must be hidden in the back overlap. (I used 2 large snaps). Some people also do not add closures and rely on the belt to keep the obi closed, but that makes it a little harder to get dressed.

I recommend sewing your tabards to your obi. (Then you put it on like a backwards vest, with the obi closure in the back).  This will keep them from shifting while you are wearing them and they will hang symmetrically without having to adjust  them each time. If you are clever about it, when you sew the tabards to the obi you will form small pockets between the tabards and obi for your credit cards and cash, or stickers and trading cards to pass out to kids.

BELT:

Leather and pleather belts are both approvable, but I chose a leather belt for durability since I plan to wear this costume a lot. My belt was custom-made for me by Mag Mel Creations on Etsy.  David does really great work and has wonderful customer service; I highly recommend his shop.

The classic Jedi belt consists of a wide belt with a skinny belt down the middle, with a buckle and studs holding the skinny belt in place.  My belt is dark brown leather and 2.5 inches wide but the width can vary depending on your height. There are different buckle types you can get but mine is the “Obi-wan” style. The buckle in front is not actually the main closure for the belt. Jedi belts overlap in the back and closes with studs (mine), Velcro, or snaps that are then hidden by a loop of leather that slides over the opening. IMG_8522.JPG

Your belt can be brown or black but should match your boots.

BOOTS:

Like the belt, your boots can be brown or black but need to coordinate with the belt. If you are following RL standards:

  • They should be tall but not extend over the knee.
  • Boots should be low-heeled.
  • Laces are not allowed.
  • Zippers are ok but need to be facing the inside of your leg.
  • Decorative buckles are ok but not if they are overly numerous.
  • I have an elastic gusset down the back of my boots, which are considered ok if they are discreet and blend in.

Like the belt, boots can be leather or pleather, but if you are going to be trooping a lot or marching in parades get some good quality leather boots to be kind to your feet!

I have very narrow calves so my options are limited, but I was able to get “Gabi” boots from Slimcalfboot.com during a sale. They also have a sister company called Wideshaftboot.com.Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 1.39.46 PM

PANTS:

Getting pants are the easiest part of the ensemble! Only a little bit between the bottom of your tunic and top of your boots show, so there’s a lot of leeway to choose pants. You may even already have some in your closet that work.

  • Pants should be plain and in a solid color.
  • If there are pockets they should be hidden by your tunic. (No cargo pants with pockets down the side of your leg).
  • Whether they close with elastic, drawstrings, or buttons doesn’t matter because it won’t show. (Your outer tunic is supposed to be long enough to cover your butt).
  • Skirts are also allowed by RL instead of pants but they are supposed to be long enough to not expose any skin.

I made my own pants to match my robe, but many people buy nursing scrubs or use khakis. My pattern is self-drafted but you can use a pajama pants pattern and then taper the legs a bit.IMG_0398.JPG

I added 2 pockets to the back big enough for a phone and a wallet. My waistband is elastic because that’s a lot faster than putting in a zipper and placket. IMG_0400.JPG

ROBE:

The robe is an optional item but fun! Jedi robes are very oversized with really large hoods and sleeves. I used the aforementioned Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link) but made a few adjustments:

  • Wizard hoods are pointed. Jedi hoods are rounded. You’ll want to cut off the pointy tip and round out the back of your hood pattern piece.
  • You’ll need to cut your hood bigger by extending the pattern pieces in all directions. Jedi hoods are HUGE. Did I emphasize they are SUPER BIG? They are so large that when you wear them the sides of the hood cover your shoulders. hoodfront
  • When the hood is down, the back of it almost touches your butt. To get all that fabric into your neckline you’ll need to do big pleats. (Your hood does not need to be lined, but I did because I wanted all the seams and edges to be very neatly finished. I’ve seen Jedi with serged one-layered hoods get approved so it’s not necessary).robeback.JPG
  • The sleeves are humongous and long enough to cover your hands. If you are using the Harry Potter robe pattern you’ll need to extend the length of the sleeves.
  • The robe should be close to floor-length.  (The RL standard is no more than 2 inches off the floor). The HP robe pattern only goes to about knee length so you’ll want to lengthen the robe. Please note, if you plan to run, drop the robe!68369096_2548470338771719_1778429370386350080_n

POUCHES:

Jedi have leather pouches attached to their belts. (If you want to use it as a RL minimum extra you’ll need 2). The pouches are allowed to be pleather or resin. There is a lot of leeway to the pouches as long as they match the look of your belt. A lot of people use military surplus ammo pouches because they are easy to find and inexpensive. You may prefer to find a pouch large enough to hold a phone or wallet. I opted for a small pouch due to my proportions, and because I already put pockets in my pants.

My pouch is a military surplus leather slingshot pellet holder (affiliate link) that I darkened with a few layers of shoe polish and wax.

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Some Jedi belt makers will also make you a custom matching pouch if you ask.

LIGHTSABER:

Lightsabers are a very personal item with lots of possibilities. As a generic Jedi and not a specific character you can pick a design that appeals to you instead of looking for screen accuracy.  If you want a fun costume you can pick up a plastic lightsaber at a toy shop. If you want a nicer one with a metal hilt the cost varies wildly depending on design, if it has a sound board, if it can do multiple sound effects, if it can change colors, if you had a saber smith do custom engraving, etc. I’ve seen lightsabers cost anywhere between $50-$1000 or more. There are a number of companies out there making lightsabers so make Google your friend. IMG_9995

However, if you are interested in mine, it is a YDD from Amazon (affiliate link), which was recommended to me as being good for small hands. At about $80 with sound effects it is a great deal. I like the smooth look because it’s comfortable to hold. As far as I can tell it is the same as the Kyojin Tiny Giant from Pach Store, but I have not purchased from that company myself.Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 9.06.25 PM

LIGHTSABER CLIP:

There are two main ways to attach your lightsaber hilt to your belt depending on your lightsaber. If your hilt has a D ring then you will need a “hook” type of attachment and if your hilt has a Covertec wheel then you will need a Covertec-style belt clip (affiliate link).

I have a hook attachment for my belt. You can buy “Jedi lightsaber clips” but a really cost-effective way to get the look and function is to buy an archery quiver clip (which is used to hold the quiver of arrows to your belt) from a sporting goods store. Mine is a “Neet chrome belt clip” (affiliate link). One end hooks onto your belt and the other end is a hook for your D ring.

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FOOD CAPSULES:

Clipped to the belt are also little metallic pieces called “food capsules.” If you are going for RL approval you will need at least a set of 4; some people have 8. I bought my Jedi food capsules on Amazon (affiliate link), and they come in a set of 8 but I only use 4 of them.IMG_0017.JPG

HOW MUCH FABRIC DO I NEED?

The amount of fabric you use will depend on your size of course, but to give you a rough idea this is how much I used (as a 5’6″ tall slender person):

All fabric was wide widths (about 54″).

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

The cost of your Jedi costume will vary widely depending on what sort of materials you use, how fancy your lightsaber is, and whether your goal is to be Rebel Legion approvable or have a quick Halloween costume. I plan to wear this costume multiple times a year for many years and need to be comfortable during long hours so I invested in nice fabrics (all linen and wool) and high quality genuine leather boots and belt. Including my lightsaber (which was on the low end of the price range) I spent about $500. DON’T PANIC.  If you use cotton or polyester fabric and pleather boots and belt I think you could put together a Jedi for $200, or even maybe $100 if you get creative at the thrift store. If you are on a budget I’d recommend going to a thrift store and looking for used boots there, and seeing what curtains and sheets you could use to make your garments instead of buying new fabric. If you have a bit of skill you can try your hand at making your own belt as well. (If you are not looking for RL approval you have a lot more flexibility in terms of faking the look with a store-bought belt). If you skip the robe, which takes up a lot of fabric, that will bring your costs down as well.

I wrote this guide with Rebel Legion approval in mind, but if you are not interested in that you can simplify or skip items. Also please keep in mind that your goals are your goals. Don’t let anyone make you feel embarrassed if you have a low budget, like unusual color combinations, or want a costume for fun and not for official approval.

Good luck and May the Force Be With You!Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-1

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My Rebel Legion trading card, graphics by Colin Adams (OddViking)

HEY WHAT’S UP WITH ALL THESE “AFFILIATE LINKS”?

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