Aela the Huntress Costume (Progress)

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Aela the HuntressStill obsessed with Skyrim here! I am so excited about doing this costume that I’m already making a post for it! :) I’m wearing this one to Momocon ’13 and probably Dragon*Con ’13 if I don’t already have too many costumes.

Ancient Nord ArmorThere are so many amazing outfits in this game, especially with armor. This particular armor set stands out to me because its visually interesting and has a variety of elements, such as steel plating, chainmail, fur, stones, etc. I’ve noticed this has been a fairly popular cosplay – not surprised since people seem to gravitate towards the sexy ones, and this is one of the most revealing outfits in the game. Nothing wrong with that! Its just that this costume speaks to me for more than just sexiness for some reason. I’d like to attempt a very accurate version of it with nice materials. I’ll make a list of the elements and why I like them.

-The main bodice is definitely of a very revealing nature. But- its made of leather! This is a good excuse for me to work with real leather. I’d focus on really getting the pattern exactly right (probably using scrap cloth first) and using the best leather match that I can find. I don’t know anything about leather, all I can guess is that I need something fairly thin, pliable, and a bit worn to the achieve the right look. I’m thinking lambskin.
-It has detailed armor, but its a very manageable amount. I can try out different materials this time (aka not foam). The armor is in several pieces and attached in various places, meaning I have no giant annoying bulky parts to figure out (like the Lydia costume). The armor also has pretty stones in it. I’m going to try to find some nice turquoise stones that have the right shape. Otherwise those cheap glass stones you put in decorative vases and fish tanks would work.
-Boots would need to be crafted. They are a bit boring, but it looks they are made out of some animal skin or suede, so that would be fun to work with.
-There is a green fabric on the gloves. I’m guessing I would use linen since its light. I’d get to play with dying and weathering it.
-Chainmail! I have an excuse to use my chainmail idea with the jewelry jumprings.
-FUR! There’s not much, but its there! It is a rather odd fur, reminds me of bison or something. I’m hoping I can find real stuff similar enough.
-It would give me an excuse to do a cool weapon. The weapon would add substance (credibility!) to the pretty skimpy outfit. :-P
-If I go with the Aela version (rather than just the player wearing the armor), I can use the cool facepaint. Also wouldn’t need the helmet. As cool as the helmet is, its not 100% necessary. She does have red hair though, so I’d have to wear a wig or spray color my hair. x_x

I know its been a long time since I’ve updated this post, but I’ve actually been working on this costume little by little this whole time! I’ve just been too busy to update my blog. :-P A lot has happened with this costume in the meantime! I will address each thing by sections.

Poor Ugly Leather CoatSo the absolute awesomest thing about this costume is the material I’ve chosen for the garment part. I originally was thinking lambskin (which seems to be what the source is), but I’d have to pay a pretty penny for a nice hide that I’d be distressing and possibly mess up. So one day I randomly remembered that my mom used to have this old dark brown suede coat. Turns out she still had it! It was utterly disgusting and dead to the world as a coat. It was super rough and had a large hole from years of wear (I’m betting its at least 40 yrs old, maybe a lot more). To add to the coat’s shame, my mom was using it as a bed for our outdoor cats!! So it was even more worn and dirty, and some of it was bleached from being in the sun. Poor old crappy coat… fortunately this made it PERFECT for me! I have this wonderful fairly thick suede that has been naturally aged and distressed, and all for free!

So I retrieved the coat from my parent’s house outside of Atlanta, cleaned the dirt and cat hair off, and began taking it apart. Right now I have several large pieces I can use, and I’m pretty sure I have enough for the whole outfit, as well as for the quiver for my bow and arrows. Unfortunately the pieces aren’t large enough for my pattern, so I’ll have to cleverly add some extra seams in. This makes my accuracy side sad, but overall its worth it.

So far I’ve mocked out the entire outfit with duck cloth and rings from Home Depot. I ended up buying a dressform, which helped tremendously. It looks really effing awesome on the dressform. Unfortunately when I tried it on myself, it looked very messy. (The dressform doesn’t want to mimic my dreadful proportions apparently :-P) I’ll have to make adjustments. One thing I’ll need to do is buy fake boob inserts to sew in, so that I don’t have to wear a bra, and so my boobs look more accurate (aka bigger). :-P

I began making the armor by making templates out of old posterboard scraps. I placed them on the mock to make sure of their awesomeness. Then I took old foam scraps and new foam and began cutting and hot-gluing away. Eventually I formed the base of each piece of armor. My plan is to buy Wonderflex and form it over these foam shapes to strengthen them. Then I plan to put moldable plastic (which I already bought) over the Wonderflex to smooth it out. I will then put all of my “hammer dents” and swirly designs in the plastic. For the smaller pieces and metal rings, I’ll skip the Wonderflex and add the plastic only. I bought some rounded flat turqoise stone beads for the armor stones, but I don’t have all the sizes yet.

After playing through the Companions quest again and taking Aela everywhere with me, I’ve decided to make the hunting bow she always uses. I will probably craft some monstrosity out of hanger wire, foam, Wonderflex, and moldable plastic. Stay tuned! :-P

I’ve already sewn the green gloves! I bought a thick green linen and made basic fingerless gloves going to my upper arm. The part that will be covered with the gauntlets is muslin, my hope being that its more airy. I put elastic in the top to hopefully keep it up there. It will be covered with the armband eventually.

Whew, I’ve made a lot of progress since December! I’ve completed about 95% of my armor. Even though it only consists of small separate pieces (no annoying cuirass or butt armor like Lydia), it took foreeeevr.

I will go over the process for making the armor, though the progress pics I’ve added to the gallery below should make more sense. So I started by taking the foam armor structures I made earlier and
added a layer of Wonderflex to the top surface to make them sturdy. Then I surrounded the top and edges with a layer of moldable plastic and pounded it with the end of a chopstick to give it a hammered look. This was a very long and not fun process for me, but it allowed me to create the right surface texture to mimic hammered metal. For swirly pieces I drew the designs on the Wonderflex layer below and carefully placed long strands of melted plastic along the designs on top of the surrounding layer of plastic. I could have used hot glue, but using the plastic allowed me to control it better. I reheated and poked at it with a clay tool about 3 times before it got nice enough for me. Then I heated up a pair of scissors and sliced big scratches in the plastic here and there to give it that lovely Skyrim battle look. (Yeah, hot scissors… thats what happens when someone like me without fancy tools has to make due :-P) The gauntlets got a special layer of suede (hot glued), which I covered with masking tape for the spray-painting steps.

Rivet time! I totally stole Volpin Props’ furniture tack method for this. :) Since I don’t have a drill, I heated the plastic, pushed in the tacks, then took them out to make the holes. I cut them and glued them back in. After that I cleaned up the edges with my hot glue gun. By holding it against the plastic I was able to remelt it and get a decent flat edge. I did this about 3 times for each piece.

Painting time! Fairly obvious from the pictures, but here are the paint steps I did. If I was knew what I was doing at all, there would probably be more. :-P
1) Coat of extra thick grey spray primer (specifically for plastic)
2) Coat of Rustoleum hammered texture spray paint in dark grey
3) Brushed on a sheer pewter paint to lighten it a bit, unshiny-ize (new word!) it, and add a barely noticeable metallic sparkle
4) Mixed white with the pewter paint and lined the edges of the armor to give it the “my-armor-bumps-into-a-lot-of-stuff” look (I’m full of technical terms today!)
5) Mixed black with the pewter paint to do all of the tarnish, using special care to highlight all of the little hammer dents I made
6) Mixed dark brown and purple for the first layer of rust
7) Dry brushed a medium coppery brown for the final layer of rust
8) Lightly coated everything with a glossy spray paint

I am SOOOOO happy with the way it all turned out!! I still need to add a layer of felt for comfort on the inside of the gauntlets and add the turquoise stones to the front pieces and armbands. I’m saving final pics for when the entire costume is complete.

Been workin’ hard! As of now I’ve finally finished the main garment of this costume. It looks easy bc it’s skimpy, but man it took forever. There are tons of straps, me riveting/sewing/gluing the crap out of them bc I’m paranoid something might come undone. Lots of snaps, decorative stitching, tricky armor attachment, and annoying boob construction. After many burnt/poked/glued fingers later, I’m finally done (until I notice some other snap/doodad/thing to secure)

At this point I just need to attach the pauldrons to the shoulder straps, thigh plates to the side straps, and the… crotch plate?… to the front of the skirt. Also I’m about 70% done with the chainmail side flap things. Technically that will complete the garment once they’re attached.

Anyway, after that is accessories! I’ve made progress with the bow but I don’t want to post pictures just yet. I’m not sure that its turning out so well, this being my first handmade weapon prop ever (terrible spray painted kids sword doesn’t count :-P ) I think I’m about 80-85% done with this costume, and my goal is to be 95-99% done this weekend! :O

I managed to finish this costume before the con, yay! I was too busy to post the past couple of weeks, so I’m finishing this progress post up now.

Boots: I accidentally found the base of the boots at Walmart on clearance for $7! They are faux fur lined house shoes. I built the boots’ bases with foam, covered them in fabric, lined them with fur, and spray painted them to look dirty.

Bow and arrows: The bow actually turned out decent! Its a hanger with wire mesh around it, covered in Wonderflex and moldable plastic. I scratched wood marks into it and painted it. The ends are simple foam/Wonderflex shapes spray painted with hammered texture paint. The string is my leftover decorative thread. The arrows were made of dowels, foam arrow heads, and real feathers on the ends.

Chainmail side flaps: I did this all by hand bc I’m cray. I apparently used wire that was too thin because it kept pulling apart. So I sewed every other row down on the flaps, then put a dot of super glue on each opening, which seemed to hold up well during the con. Chicago screws are holding the flaps on the garment.

Wig: The wig is an Arda Matilda in dark copper red. I straightened and cut it myself! Lets just “say” I was going for the rough dagger cut look. >_>

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