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Star Wars Costuming 101

Posted By Dustin on September 3, 2010

So you're back from Star Wars Celebration and thinking to yourself, "How can I get into costuming?" Well have no fear we're here to help! Fan of TheForce.net Craig B. has sent in a nice write up about his own costuming experience. Check it out below! -Dustin

You're looking through photos from CV and are thinking to yourself, "Those are some great costumes! I really wish that I could pull off something like that. It's just so expensive and I know that I don't have the skills to do it."

I have one thing to say to that: "You must unlearn what you have learned." I can't sew. I don't have a trust fund. I've never even put together a model that required glue. Here's one of my costumes:

These pictures are proof that all it really takes to create your own costume is diligence and some borrowed know-how. One of the most beautiful things about the Star Wars fan community is that it's really one big family and there are always plenty of people willing to help you in any endeavor, especially costuming. The number one thing to keep in mind when beginning any costume is to take advantage of the knowledge that has already been gained by others. Learn from their successes and failures and your own process will be so much easier. There are many forums dedicated to almost any type of costume that you can think of. Of course there are the big ones, like those found on Rebellegion.com or 501st.com, but there are also a number of more specialized sites such as www.crazyoldwizards.com.ar (for all things Obi-Wan) or Whitearmor.net (Stormtroopers). Sites like these will provide valuable information for everyone from the seasoned veteran to the "shiniest" rookie and will give you the best ideas about what options are available to you, the time involved, what you can expect to spend on certain things, and much, much more. You will even be able to obtain certain items from members of these forums that are movie quality for a very reasonable price. Star Wars fans are an incredibly creative group of individuals who are generally more than happy to share not only their knowledge, but the fruits of their own skills and hard work as well. The fans are the ones who are the most passionate about getting things right, so they will be your best source for information and materials.

Yoda gives us another key to the start of any costume: "Patience!" That is the number one tool for overcoming the expense involved with any costume, as well as the best weapon to combat a lack of certain skills. The overall cost of many costumes may seem overwhelming at first, but can be made much more manageable by simply pacing yourself and spreading out the expenses over time. In fact, patience can actually help decrease the cost of a quality costume. It's always cheaper to wait a little longer until you can afford the right part/piece or develop the ability to make it yourself than it is to buy an inferior one only to have to spend even more to replace it later. It also helps to plan your purchases around certain events. For example, I needed a pair of boots for my Obi-Wan Kenobi Ep. III costume but didn?t have the skills to make them or the money to buy a custom-made pair. I knew that as the fall of the year approached people would begin to list more and more costuming items for sale in preparation for Halloween. I was able to find a good pair for a much more affordable price because I waited. Before and after conventions are also great times to find items on sites like eBay and craigslist.org, as people are selling off excess items to raise funds for the trip or have decided that they no longer need certain items afterwards.

Yet another great way to overcome some of the obstacles that you may face is to contact a professional costume designer directly. After much fruitless searching for the right fabric for my Obi-Wan Ep. III costume, I finally decided to contact a designer that I found online. She had access to a much greater selection of materials and fabrics that made quick work of my problem, not to mention the ability to cut and assemble the materials so that they would fit properly and lay correctly when worn. Additionaly, contacting someone local, be it a friend or an alteration shop, to help you with any necessary adjustments is extremely beneficial. Having someone with sewing knowledge to help you adjust things while you are wearing them will greatly increase the likelihood that the finished product will fit right. Regardless of whether or not you work with someone to acquire and/or sew any necessary materials, it's always a good idea to get samples of the fabric before purchasing a significant amount to ensure that you?re getting what you need. Also, the old construction adage of measure twice, cut once always applies! (Little things like this are just a small sample of the wisdom I gleaned from some of the aforementioned forums.)

No matter what your skill set is there's a way for you to create a quality costume. It may take time, but I assure you that it's absolutely worth it. There's no better feeling than having a parent walk up to you and say "My son is absolutely convinced that you?re Obi-Wan Kenobi. Do you mind if he takes a picture with you?" Star Wars costuming is one of the most entertaining and rewarding hobbies out there and anyone can be a part of it.

I hope this encourages you to take your first step into a larger world. There?s always room for more in this galaxy!

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