Kaiya Liin (Original Jedi Character) – Star Wars

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When I received my lightsaber as a birthday gift in 2016, I decided I really needed to create an original Jedi character so I had an excuse to use it. I mean, obviously.

The nice thing about creating your own character is that you can do whatever you want, and it’s up to you how “canon-compliant” it is. For me, I knew two things: 1) She had to have an orange lightsaber and 2) She had to be badass. I started off by looking around on different websites for patterns, and found one on McCall’s website that looked really cool – M6941, which is a pattern for a tabard, skirt, and belt. It’s pretty much a fantasy-type costume and I wasn’t sure how well it would translate to a Jedi costume, but I risked it anyway. I also bought Simplicity 5840 for the robe.

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From there, I created a concept drawing of how I wanted the finished costume to look. Granted, the drawing isn’t very good and I totally forgot that the robe had sleeves, so it’s a little off. But, the basic concept is that the tabard would be grey and orange, and the skirt would be black and orange, and then I’d wear black leggings, black boots, and have a black robe. Icing on the cake is the orange lightsaber! My character is named Kaiya Liin, and while I’m still developing her backstory (I mean, come on, I have to know who she is before I can “become” her, right?) she is a Jedi investigator (despite looking kind of like a Sith) from Coruscant. And, anyone who knows me knows that of course I would pick a planet where the name means “glittering or sparkling.”

Because I hate myself (apparently), I decided to use silk for the fabric on the skirt and tabard. I did find some gorgeous silk (the orange and black were purchased from Joann Fabrics, and the grey silk was purchased from SR Harris) and the colors were exactly what I wanted. I bought grey, black, and orange cotton broadcloth for the lining. The robe fabric is a black suiting fabric that has a little texture to it, and I bought that from SR Harris as well.

I had to modify the tabard pattern quite a bit for a few reasons: the pattern has a circle cutout on the back that looks really cool, but is totally impractical because my bra band would have been completely visible. So, I omitted that completely. Then, I had to adjust the pattern size-wise because the largest size wasn’t quite big enough for me in certain areas. I ended up having to cut out some of the pieces twice and ripping out a ton of seams and re-sewing things. Needless to say, it was frustrating. Sewing silk can be a beast because it’s so delicate and it sheds everywhere.

I sewed the lining to the outside layer, but then had to do sort of a quilting stitch along the seams so that the outside layer didn’t poof out away from the lining, so that took a lot of time because I had to hand-sew it so that the stitches weren’t visible. When the tabard was done, I was so relieved. The main issue after it was finished was that the neckline was so deep, I ended up having to wear a tank top under it.

After the tabard was done, I began working on the skirt. Initially, I thought the skirt wouldn’t be big enough, so I made the pattern bigger and after all was said and done, the skirt ended up being too big in the waistline. Whoops. So, now I get to wear it with a safety pin to take in the waistline a little. Good lord.

The belt pattern wasn’t quite what I wanted for my costume since it definitely had more of a fantasy character look to it, so I just decided to make up my own pattern. Again, I apparently hate myself. I started with doing little panels with the orange silk and made knife pleats (first time doing that and it looks alright, considering I had no idea what I was doing) and then used some pleather fabric and some of the black lining fabric to create a belt. The intention with the knife pleats was to kind of give a nod to the sleeves on some Rebellion and Resistance jackets. Despite  not using a pattern and totally coming up with everything as I went along, I think the belt turned out pretty cool.

The robe was really easy to make, which was a relief after having so many issues with the tabard and skirt. The only issue was dealing with the panic I had because the pattern called for 7 7/8 yards of fabric and I was only able to get a little over 7 yards (I bought whatever was available on the bolt). Luckily, there was enough fabric and even some to spare. The only modification I made to the robe was rounding off the sort of “tail” of the hood, since that didn’t really look right for a Jedi robe.

The last two pieces I made were a pouch for my belt and a necklace. The pouch was another completely free-handed project, and the intention was to have it hang from the belt I made. Unfortunately, because the belt I made is just fabric, it couldn’t hold the weight of the pouch even with nothing in it. So, I decided to just hang it from a leather belt I had already (the same one I use for my Catwoman cosplay) and just decided to opt for a double belt.

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The necklace is made from a large lava stone (basalt) that I acquired several years ago. I loved it, but never found a good use for it until I started working on this costume. I just thought Kaiya needed jewelry of some kind, and lava stone seemed extremely fitting for her. If you believe in healing properties of stones, lava stone is a grounding stone used for calming emotions. In folk remedies, it was given to soldiers to help calm them during battle. I paired it with a few silver beads and kept it very simple.

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My lightsaber was already amazing, but since I knew I’d be going to cons and other events (and potentially some outdoor events), I decided to buy an orange day blade for my lightsaber, and then program the blade color orange (oooooh, double orange!) and the blast and clash color pink. That way, my lightsaber would always look orange.

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For my makeup, I used three different shades of orange eyeshadow: Kat Von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow in “Doce” and Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow eyeshadows in Tangerine and Copper Red. My grey lipstick is Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid in “Sinful Stone.” I absolutely love the grey lipstick, but the coverage isn’t very good and it comes off too easily, so I might need to find a different brand.

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I debuted my costume at MarsCon 2017, and while the costume fits oddly in certain areas, I think it looks pretty good and it’s actually really comfortable. The robe is incredibly warm, so I probably won’t wear it for very long when I’m in warmer conditions (like crowded cons or summer events).

One issue I had was with the pouch: once I put items into it, it just started looking kind of lumpy and odd (which makes sense, because it’s just made out of fabric) so I actually found a great vendor at MarsCon called DaVinci Scientifica that sells leather steampunk accessories, and they had a perfect hip belt/pouch. I bought it and I’m so glad I did, because it looks amazing and is incredibly comfortable. The best part is that I can swap out the pouch for a different one (in my case, I’ll probably need a slightly bigger one). I can’t recommend them enough – they had such cool stuff! Anyway, that’s what’s nice about creating your own character – you can change things however you want.

I’m happy with how this turned out, especially since this was the first time I made a costume based on an original character. I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak this costume as time goes on, but for my first version, I’m happy with it.

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