General Hux Tunic Update

Summer is pretty much here in Minnesota, which means it’s time for more events and conventions, but also warmer weather! Unfortunately, that means I’ll likely forego wearing the greatcoat with my General Hux costume since it’s wool.

Even though I already did a fair amount of tailoring to the tunic, I decided to take in the sleeves a little and shorten them. They were still quite long and wide, and it looked a little ridiculous. When I was wearing the greatcoat over my shoulders, it kind of hid that, but I wanted to just fix the sleeves once and for all.

I’ve never taken in sleeves with a lining, so it took probably ten times longer than it would have for someone who knew what they were doing.

The photo on the left was how the tunic looked before, and the photo on the right is how the tunic looks now. It’s not super easy to see the difference in the photo, but I did take in the sleeves about an inch or so, and took in the cuffs a few inches.

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Close-up of the tailored sleeve.

I think it looks better, and it definitely looks less baggy on me.

Poe Dameron Wig

There’s a downside to having short, red hair: it doesn’t work with very many characters.

Up until very recently, I went without a wig when I cosplayed as Poe Dameron, which didn’t really sell the character very well. It looked more like General Hux stole Poe’s clothes. (Maybe he did. I don’t know. Poe’s generous with giving people his clothes.)

I found a wig on Arda Wigs’ website that was definitely a good starting point – the Benny Classic in Natural Black.

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Thankfully, Arda Wigs sells wigs that can be heat-styled, so I went to Target and bought some foam rollers and other supplies since I haven’t really had to buy any hairstyling stuff since I was a teenager. I guess that’s what happens when you have short, straight, boring hair.

This is what the wig looked like when I received it:

Definitely more Sherlock than Poe at that point.

The best part of this project was finding reference photos.

Poe DAMNeron, amirite? Ahem. Anyway…

The first thing I did was use a curling iron to kind of straighten out the couple of big curls in the front, since I knew I’d have to curl the hair differently anyway, and it was just easier to start with all of the hair pretty much straightened. Then, I started from the nape of the neck and up, and used the smallest foam rollers to curl the hair. I actually used my Jamberry mini-heater to apply heat to the hair since it’s small, quiet, and doesn’t blow everything around like a hairdryer does.

The wig took really well to the heat, and the foam rollers worked perfectly. It was a long process to curl the hair, but the end result was pretty decent.

When I tried on the wig, though, it looked a little bit like I was an old lady who dyed her hair black. Not quite the look I was going for. I made a few adjustments to the wig by trimming it a little and taming the poofiness in some areas, and ended up with this:

It definitely looked a lot less old lady-ish after that. When I tried it on again, it looked a lot better, but the part was too far over, so I did a little more work to get it just right.

Much better! I did a quick test run with the upper half of my costume just to make sure I looked Poe-ish enough (please disregard my normal cat-eye makeup):

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Not bad. Here’s the before and after:

And here it is in action!

Still has a little more volume than it probably should, but I think it looks pretty decent. It’s weird to see myself with dark hair! I kinda like it.

Poe Dameron’s EL-16HFE Blaster

When I started putting together my Poe Dameron cosplay early last year, I searched everywhere for a way to make his EL-16HFE blaster, or for someone whom I could commission to make one. I found nothing. Granted, at that time not many people were even attempting to put together this particular costume, but I wasn’t able to find anyone who could track down a blaster, either. That’s why when I’ve worn the costume previously, I’d either go for “post-interrogation/pre-crash on Jakku” Poe with the bloodied-up face, or I’d drag around my little BB-8 with me. But, really…I just wanted to have the blaster so badly.

The search never stopped, and I did find someone on Etsy who was selling 3D printed blasters, but they didn’t have photos of a finished product, and that left me pretty wary. I found a couple of other people who made blasters but they weren’t quite what I wanted, so I passed those up. Finally, I found that Do3D started selling 3D print files of the EL-16 and EL-16HFE blasters (sold together) so I bought the files and commissioned JGPenland Props to print out the blaster for me. He was awesome and sent me update photos all the time showing the progress of the printing (which, for a blaster of this size, took about a week) I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and I was like a little kid on Christmas. I was so excited to finish it!

Since this was my first major 3D print finishing project, I took the advice from some of the more seasoned prop-finishers in the Minnesota Force and they recommended Bondo Glazing & Spot Putty and Rust-Oleum Filler Primer to smooth out the printing ridges and fill in gaps. I also bought sandpaper in several different grits, and used a couple of metal files I had.

This is how my blaster looked when I brought it home:

Pretty straightforward. Gray. 33″ in length. (I told you it was giant.)

I picked out any pieces of flash that were remaining (not much, though, since Jonathan did a great job of prepping it already) and used Bondo to fill in small gaps and areas where the printing ridges were a bit more severe. I sanded off the extra Bondo and this was how it looked:

Progress!

Over the next couple of days, I sprayed several coats of filler primer on the blaster. Since I live in a rental unit, I don’t have a garage and I can’t really leave things unattended outside because of the neighborhood kids, so once the blaster was no longer tacky, I brought it inside to fully set. Let me just say that even with the windows wide open, the fumes were terrible and I got really nauseated from it. I really should have done a couple more coats, but I just couldn’t deal with the fumes anymore. I used a little wood putty to do a few more touch-ups after the filler primer dried. This is what it looked like after the filler primer and wood putty applications:

All ready for painting!

So…painting! I wasn’t quite sure what colors of paint I’d end up using since the blaster is kind of a mix of various metallic hues, so I went to Michael’s and bought pretty much everything. I’m not kidding:

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Heh. Well, at least they’re pretty inexpensive. The first thing I did was paint the entire blaster with a coat of DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Shimmering Silver, since that seemed to be kind of the “base” color of the blaster.

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Then, I basically just used a few of the colors I bought:

I thought I’d use more, but those three seemed to do the trick.

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I used various sizes of paintbrushes, and watered down some of the applications depending on the look I was going for. I used paper towels to wipe off excess paint and to help create a weathered look. I used Q-Tips for adding some highlights. Basically, I just took it one section at a time and looked at the few reference photos I had to try and make it look as accurate as possible. It took me about four or five days to paint, but every moment was so much fun!

After the painting was complete, I sprayed the blaster with a couple of coats of matte clear acrylic spray and a coat of matte Mod Podge to help protect the paint. Hopefully that will do the trick.

I now present to you my finished masterpiece!

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Reference photo.

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My finished blaster!

I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. I didn’t expect it to turn out so well, so I’m kind of giddy over the whole thing.

Here are a bunch of photos of the finished project:

I also made a strap for the blaster. I bought some 1 1/4″ cotton webbing in “Moss Green,” a 1 1/4″ gunmetal slide buckle, and two 1 1/4″ gunmetal swivel hooks and made a basic strap. To give it an aged look, I soaked it in a tea dye bath, and when it dried I used small ink pads (like the kind used for rubber stamps) in dark brown and black to dirty it up a little. Then I washed it by hand with some dish soap to soften the look a little.

I actually made two straps – one in Moss Green and one in Khaki because I wasn’t sure which one I’d end up using. I used the Moss Green one, and the photo on the right is what it looks like after “aging” it.

Here it all is together:

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Well, there you have it! My labor of love, my pride and joy…my very own EL-16HFE blaster!

Poe Dameron Pants V2 (AKA Pantsgate 2017)

In the spirit of redoing almost my entire Poe Dameron cosplay, one of the pieces I wanted to redo was the pants. The pants I used originally were pretty close to the right color, but the style wasn’t quite right. I found a pair on eBay that were just about right after a few modifications and some dye. This is what they looked like before I made any modifications:

The things I ended up modifying:

  • Removed the cargo pockets from each leg
  • Removed the back pockets
  • Removed thin belt loops
  • Replaced the buttons on the fly
  • Removed the adjustable buckles on the waist
  • Converted the buttoned belt loops to regular belt loops
  • Created two new belt loops in the front
  • Removed the cinching ties in the leg hems

It sounds like a lot of work, but it didn’t take very long at all. It was mostly taking my seam ripper to everything, and just a little bit of sewing.

This is what they looked like after the modifications:

A lot less “stuff” on them, that’s for sure! That meant only one thing…DYE TIME. I used Rit Liquid Fabric Dye in Dark Brown, because I assumed (and this is where it will come back to bite me later) that the pants were 100% cotton. Why? I have no idea. Because of that assumption, this is what they ended up looking like when they were dyed, washed, and dried:

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The dye only dyed some of the fibers, and the rest were left khaki. If I wasn’t going for a particular color, they would have looked really cool, but…unfortunately they were all wrong. A comparison shot of the before and after:

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I immediately checked the listing on eBay to see if the fiber contents were listed, and it turned out the pants were actually 65% polyester and 35% cotton. Whoops. I purchased a bottle of Rit DyeMore in Chocolate Brown, which is meant for synthetic fabrics. That also meant I needed to borrow my mum’s giant stock pot for some intense stovetop dyeing fun. This is what they looked like after the second round of dyeing:

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Darker, but not quite the dark chocolate brown I was hoping for. Sigh. Here’s the comparison between the original pants, the first round of dyeing, and the second round:

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For the third attempt, I bought a packet of Jacquard iDye Poly in Brown and a packet in Black. I used the entire packet of brown and about 1/3 of the packet of black. I figured the black might help darken the brown a little. The result was more of a dark olive green than I expected:

I’m not really sure what happened. The dye coverage was definitely better with the iDye Poly than the Rit dye, which made me happy. Here’s a comparison of all four iterations of the pants:

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At this point, I’m going to call it good and go with this sort of brownish/olive/whatever color they ended up being.

The plus side of all of this is that the Rit DyeMore and iDye Poly dyes will actually dye plastic buttons and zippers, so I didn’t have to replace the zipper in the pants. I guess that’s something that turned out better than I expected!

Poe Dameron Shirt & Belt V2

Since I’m revisiting many parts of my Poe Dameron cosplay, I decided to re-do the belt as well. I bought a brown leather belt from Amazon and a plain, blank belt buckle from Tandy Leather. The belt had a raw edge, and the belt itself was a little more red than I wanted, so I used some brown leather dye to darken the edges and add some weathering to the rest of the belt. For the buckle, I coated it with a couple coats of matte black nail polish and then layered a few coats of silver and gunmetal grey metallic acrylic paint over that. I took a fine grit sandpaper over it to scrape off the majority of the silver color. I’m not sure how screen accurate it is, but it looks like all of the Resistance belts and Poe’s belt I’ve seen.

The left side is the plain silver buckle, and the right side is the finished version.

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This is the photo I used as a reference for finishing the buckle. Kind of close? Maybe?

And here is the buckle on the belt itself! I think the belt is still a little too reddish for my liking, so I may do some additional work on it with more dye. We’ll see, I guess.

Remember my Poe Dameron shirt from this post? I dipped the shirt in a tea and coffee bath to see if I could change up the color a bit. I can notice a difference, but I don’t think the lighting in the photos captures it very well, unfortunately.

The left photo is the shirt before (with just the taupe Rit dye) and the right photo is after the shirt soaked in a tea and coffee bath for about an hour. The shirt doesn’t seem to have a peachy undertone anymore, which is good, and the tea/coffee bath fixed the issue where the dye hadn’t quite soaked through in some areas because the fabric was creased. So, I’m happy with how it looks and I think I can call this one good to go.

General Hux: Hat & Tunic

I haven’t posted in a few days because I’ve been busy working on a few costume pieces. That just means there’s going to be a lot of posts coming up!

I received my General Hux costume from CosplaySky on Monday, and I’m actually pretty happy with it, for the most part.

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The greatcoat is well-made, but I’m going to need to get it professionally tailored because it’s very big in the shoulders (which isn’t a fault in the coat’s construction – I just have small shoulders). I’ll also have to take off the rank insignia bands on the right arm since they’re only supposed to be on the left arm. I’m also going to remake the bands, since they’re not quite what I’d like.

The trousers are great and probably won’t need any alterations. They’re super comfy.

The tunic is a good start, but needs tailoring as well. The neck and shoulders are really big on me, and the same thing applies with the rank insignia bands – the ones on the right arm need to be removed. The shoulders don’t have epaulettes, either.

The belt is very cheap and doesn’t even have a buckle (just silver vinyl) so it’s not really useful, even for a “close enough” costume. The gloves are pretty cheap, too, so I’m glad I bought a different pair.

But, considering the price, this is a steal. Even with the cost of having to get the greatcoat tailored, it’ll be a deal.

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at tailoring the tunic myself.

These are the original rank insignia bands. They’re made of the same fabric as the tunic, and the white bands are satin fabric. They’re pretty wide, and they’re only sewn on at the sleeve seam and then tacked down in a couple other spots, so they kind of flop around on the sleeve.

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And this is the original tunic. You can see the rank insignia “floppage” pretty well, here. The neck is also really big, and you can see that the shoulders are kind of big, too. The zipper is also kind of chunky and more noticeable than I’d like.

The first thing I did was take my seam ripper to the rank insignia bands and removed those from the sleeves. Then, I removed the collar from the tunic. After that, I ripped out the zipper. I was left with random pieces of my tunic, and kind of went into freak-out mode thinking this might not work at all.

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New epaulettes!

I took apart the rank insignia bands and used the black fabric to create the epaulettes for the shoulders. I just hand-sewed them onto the shoulders.

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Altered collar and new zipper.

I took in the neck at the back center seam a little, and then took in the front at the zipper a little, which made the neckline a little smaller and ended up kind of pulling the shoulders in just enough so that I didn’t look like a football player or an extra on an 80s sitcom. I thought I’d need to adjust the collar size, but I didn’t need to after all. I reattached it to the tunic and modified the little flap that fastens under the collar so that I could tighten the neck a little when I wear it. It’s not as snug to my neck as it probably should be, but it’s much better than it was.

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New rank insignia bands!

I installed a different zipper – a black one that is much slimmer, so it doesn’t show up as much. Then, I made new rank insignia bands by using 5/8″ black grosgrain ribbon and white fabric piping trim. I sewed the rank insignia bands on by hand and sewed them all the way around so there’s no more “flappage” happening. Then, I sewed up the open seam on the right sleeve where I had ripped it open to take the rank insignia bands off.

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After some cursing, trial and error, and determination, I think it looks better!

Later in the week, I received my General Hux hat from theEmpiresNewClothes. Let me just say that this hat is absolutely fantastic and is so well made. My head is kind of small, so usually hats are just too big for me, so having one made to fit me perfectly is such a treat. Katie did such an amazing job on the hat, and I could not be happier. I can’t recommend her work enough! If you need a First Order officer hat or an Imperial Officer hat, definitely order one from her. She can even make one using fabric you’ve used for the rest of your costume.

The pin is the one that came with the cheap First Order officer hat I bought off of Amazon. It looks really nice on my awesome hat, doesn’t it?

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I tried to pull my best Hux face, but I don’t know if I’ve got it down quite yet. I may have also been too happy to make an angry face since I love this hat so much.

Anyway, that’s some of what I’ve been up to the past few days! I’ll be taking in my greatcoat for tailoring this weekend, so that will be the last bit that needs to be altered. I placed the order for my belt, but I’m not sure when that will arrive. I’m hoping I’ll be able to wear my Hux cosplay by mid-April or early May, at least.

Poe Dameron Shirt V2

Now that I’ve worn my Poe Dameron cosplay quite a few times, I figured it was time to start fine-tuning it. This is usually how I am with my costumes and cosplays – I make a “good enough” version to get going, and then find ways to improve it.

One of the things I decided to upgrade is the shirt. My current shirt is an off-white linen mandarin-collar shirt that buttons down all the way. It’s definitely close enough, but not quite right.

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The version Poe wears in the film is based off of a Kurta, and there are no buttons on the neck or collar, and no buttons on the sleeves (as far as I can tell). The shirt is also kind of a taupe/olive color.

I found this shirt on Amazon and thought it could definitely work. For around $20, it was worth a shot. This is what it looked like before:

It’s also off-white, and it has buttons, but the buttons and button loops were easily removed with a seam-ripper, leaving a nice Kurta-style shirt with no buttons anywhere!

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Ta-da!

Then, I decided to dye it with taupe Rit dye to get it to be a little closer to the right color.

It’s definitely darker (and the photos don’t really show it very well) but maybe not as olive as it should be. There were also areas of the shirt that didn’t get dyed (there was a wrinkle along the sleeve seams that the dye didn’t quite seep through) so I might give it another quick dip in some more dye…or, I might not worry about it since the jacket will cover the sleeves anyway.

This was my first time dyeing fabric, so I’m actually happy with how it turned out. I was expecting a huge mess and somehow screwing up everything, but I think I did alright.