Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crafting Adventures: Leia on Endor Halloween Costume

So yesterday I showed you how I assembled Chief's ewok costume.  Today I'm going to show you how I made my costume- Princess Leia's military uniform on Endor.

Time to complete: 1 naptime (aka 1 hour.  If your child naps for longer than an hour, you can probably complete both this costume and the ewok costume together during one naptime)


-2 1/4 yards camouflage fleece
-light wash jeans
-combat-style boots
-holster belt
-black thread
-sewing machine

[Leia's combat poncho (who the eff wears a poncho into battle...) is actually made of a lightweight, probably waterproof material with more of a watercolor palette than this.  I decided to use fleece because it would save me some work- no hemming needed!  Remember, I wasn't going for 100% accuracy, just something passable for Halloween festivities.  If you're looking for extra credit, get some 1" wide yellow ribbon and attach it down the length of the jeans on the outer seams.  These are jeans I plan to wear again, however, so I left the ribbon off.  I found the faux-leather holster at the costume store in the cowboys and Indians section- it's basically a belt with a holster that you can slide to either hip.  The "blaster" is just a pistol from the police and military section of the costume store- it makes a very futuristic sound when you pull the trigger, nothing like a real gun.  The selection of Star Wars weapons was pretty limited in the store where I was shopping- mostly light sabers, obviously, and some big obnoxious white guns.  Leia carries a huge black blaster, but this little pistol worked just fine.]

-The poncho should fall to about knee-length in the back and hip-length in the front, so use a long piece of measuring tape and measure out that length, draping the tape over your shoulder just as the poncho will drape.  Cut a rectangle from the camo fabric that is the length you measured.  I was happy with the width from this particular bolt of fabric, but there was a white strip down one side naming the brand and style of fabric so I cut that off.  You want your rectangle to be wide enough so that when you put it on (after you cut a hole for your head) it will reach from wrist to wrist when you hold your arms out straight.  (It doesn't have to go all the way to your wrists- the important part is that it completely covers the width of your torso.)

a helpful diagram for the next bit
-Now you need to decide where to cut the hole for your head.  Fold your rectangle of fabric in half lengthwise.  The total length of this rectangle is k + h, with the variables defined in the diagram above- k is the length from your collarbone down to the backs of your knees, and h is the length from your collarbone down to your hips.  Measure one of those lengths- h is easier to measure on yourself, and it's shorter- and mark that spot on the fold of the rectangle with a pin.  When you unfold the fabric, that pin will mark the center of where your neck hole should be. 

-Place your measuring tape along your collarbone to determine the width of your neck hole.  I decided that 10" would be wide enough for me- this fleece stretches, so you don't need a terribly wide hole to fit your head through.  Cut a slit of that length, making sure the center of your slit is on the pin you used to mark the position.

-Now, you can totally stop there and no one will know the difference.  Leia's poncho technically has a hood, but I don't think she ever wears it (I need to watch the movie again!) so nobody would know if you didn't make one.  I figured that I had so much extra fabric, I may as well give it a shot.  Take your extra fabric and measure 2 rectangles that are each 18" high and the same width as your neck hole (in my case, 10").

-Lay the rectangles on top of each other, right sides together, and pin them together along one short side and one long side (it doesn't matter which).  Using a zig-zag stitch and a dark thread (I used black because it was already in my machine), sew the rectangles together along those pinned sides.  Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end!  I chose to use a zig-zag stitch because this fabric is a little heavy, and I figured it would both allow for some stretch and hold itself together well against the weight of the fabric.

-Turn the hood right-side-out.  Because you're working with rectangles, it will be sort of pointy.  You can either choose to not push the corner all the way through, leaving it sort of curved, or just not wear the hood anyway and no one will know :)  If you're going for total accuracy, round one corner of each rectangle before you sew them together, like the hood for the ewok costume.

-Just like with the ewok costume, find the center point of the front and the back of the neck hole and mark them with pins.  Find the midpoints between these pins and mark them with pins, so that you've divided your hole into fourths.  Do the same with the hood- the seam will be the middle of the back and the ends of the sides of the hood will be the middle of the front when they come together.  Line up the quarters of the hole and the hood and pin them, right sides together.  Using the same thread and zig-zag stitch, sew all the way around the neck hole to attach the hood.  You may need to gather it slightly, but that shouldn't matter.

-If you plan to wear the poncho all night, it doesn't matter what shirt you wear underneath.  In the movie, Leia wears a short sleeved khaki button-down work shirt with a front pocket.  She wears light blue slacks with yellow stripes down the outside, but, for simplicity's sake, I went with jeans.  (I bought some light grey leggings, but at the last minute I decided the slightly looser jeans would look more accurate.)  Leia's boots are knee high and black, but I wasn't about to buy new shoes just for this costume (though it was tempting, to be sure).  Wear your holster belt so that it buckles on top of the front of your poncho and wraps around your back inside the poncho.  This will give you some shape and hold the poncho in place.  I opted for natural-looking makeup and a nude lip

-And now we need to discuss that hairstyle.  Never fear- Princess Leia definitely used hair extensions, because it would be impossible to pull off all of those styles with just the hair she was born with.  (Especially if you look at the length and thickness of her hair when she wears it loose at the end of the last film.)  For this look, she has a double row of braids circling her head, and a braided bun at the base of her neck.  (It may actually be two braided buns- I couldn't find a picture with a good angle.)  If you want to skip the hairstyle entirely, you can try to find a helmet like the one she wears on Endor.  I knew a helmet would be too cumbersome and hot indoors- wearing this fleece poncho is kind of like walking around in a Snuggie, so I was already a little uncomfortable- so I decided to attempt the braids.  If you can find braided hair extensions in your coloring that will wrap around your head, use those and focus your attention on the bun (or buns).  If not, here's how I did the hair:

This is a diagram of the top of my head that will be helpful for the next part

-Part your hair down the middle.  Divide your hair into three sections by brushing your hair back at the crown of your head so that your part extends just over half of the length of your head.  You now have 3 sections- the two sides of the part in the front of your head and the back of your head beyond the crown.  (I made sure that the front sections included a little bit of hair from behind my ears.)  Pull the back section into a ponytail to keep it out of the way.

-Braid each of the two side sections and tie them off with a small rubber band (or just temporarily secure the ends of the braids with bobby pins).  Start the braids as close to your scalp as possible, and keep them tight as you go.  Drape each braid over the top of your head like milkmaid braids, only don't overlap them- lay them flat, one in front of the other.  Pin the end of each braid under the beginning of the other with bobby pins that match your hair color.  Try to hide the braids in your hair.

-Braid the back ponytail, then wrap the braid around the base of the ponytail and secure with bobby pins to create a bun.  If you have a lot of hair, you could make two ponytails side by side and create two braided buns, but, again, I'm not sure which is accurate.

-Spray the heck out of everything with hair spray.

My hair is getting long, but it's never been very thick, so my braids are thin and lame, as is the bun in the back.  The best results come from long, thick hair.

So that's it!  After a brief interruption tomorrow, you can come back Thursday for the last and simplest costume of the three- Han Solo!

What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos are personal*

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