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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Brightest Blue: Reconstructing the Khaleesi Inspired Blue Warrior Costume from Season 3

The blue warrior tunic costume worn by Khaleesi in Season 3 of the Game of Thrones series is amazing and when I set about making one for myself I admittedly did not exactly know how to construct this costume. I spent a great deal of time thinking about how I was going to make it and in the end I found I just needed to stop over thinking it and just get to it! 

Finding the right fabric for this costume took time as well. I tried to dye a light weight cotton fabric in a deep blue but the color was not exactly what I had in mind so I ended up abandoning it in search for a material that would be suitable. I finally landed on a soft textured knit teal blue fabric. If you are considering making your own it will help to know that making this took about 5.5 hrs to construct, primarily because of the amount of hand sewing involved. For costumes in the future the construction time might be a bit less however as this was my first try, I took my time and there was admittedly a bit of a ‘design as you go’ aspect to the construction.

List of the materials used (based on costume piece):

Blue Tunic (with cape):  3.5 yards of blue fabric, a medium weight scrap fabric or medium weight interfacing used for a bit of structure around the circle in the back, foam for the shoulder blades (this can be ¼” thick), sewing pins, cotton twill tape, hook and eyes for adjustments on underside of the tunic, sewing needle, black, dark brown or blue thread-I used black and brown to give it that textured wild Dothraki appearance up close but it is really your choice on thread color.

Leather Warrior Straps and Shoulder Blades: 1 yd. leather for the warrior pieces, snaps and a round metal hardware piece, black thread, leather adhesive (shoe glue will work fine here as I have found it is also made to hold heavy leathers together (the adhesive is optional but I used it to give the shoulder blades a stitch-less look around the top), gloves for when handling the glue.

Necklace: Polymer clay, various paints, necklace chain, tin foil (used to keep the clay from sticking to a pan when being baked), gloves for both working and painting the clay pieces (it gets messy, your hands will thank you), glue (elmers should do fine here), wooden skewer or other long pointy item in order to properly form your clay pieces.


Blue Tunic: Essentially I wanted two fabric panels for the construction of the tunic, one on the right side-when worn-and this is the top panel, and then the left side-when worn-in which you have the base layer of the wrap. This way, when the tunic is worn, the intent is to wrap the left side toward the right and then bring the top right side panel wrapped around toward the front left. I used slim cotton twill tape on the inside in order to hold the inside wrap close to the body, and then hook and eyes to hold the rest of the tunic closed.  These are not visible from the outside.

When constructing the tunic I cut out two foam shoulder panels (cut facing each other so they are the same shape) and attached them with a foam shoulder strip in back in order to give the shoulder blades more structure. I then took a measuring tape and measured from the left side of the sewing doll’s back around to the center front.

*If you are making this for yourself and do not have a sewing doll then measure yourself and determine the widest width of your bodice and hips.

I then added a few inches for seam allowance and minor adjustments later on and cut the panel out.  Starting with the right side –when worn- and starting at the top point of the center shoulder area on the right, I pinned the panel up to the foam piece. Then I pinned it around the foam as best I could. I found at this point that the fabric did not want to form all that easily around the arm area but this is when I made a small slit in the fabric about 3” at the lower part of the arm hole.  I cut horizontally, edging up the sides just a bit so it was more half arc shaped. I continued to pin the fabric so that it covered the entire back from the left side all the way around to the center front. 

Once I had the fabric pinned to the foam I sewed the fabric down to the foam at the shoulder blade area on the left side of the back and on a slightly angled slant outward along the lines of the shoulder blade. I only did this for the top around the shoulder blade-I did not sew further down the left back side of the bodice as I wanted to leave size adjustment on the inside in this area. As I worked on this part of the tunic I reinforced some areas on my sewing machine and other areas were hand sewn. You may find this is your best bet when constructing your own as well though if you do decide to have the sewing machine add those funky little textured areas then you may want to practice with a few pieces of scrap fabric before you begin the technique on your tunic.

Next I measured the left side area I needed to cover (when worn), starting at the left side of the back. This area is where the shoulder seam is starting at the left side and ending at the center front. I again added a few inches for seam allowance and alterations later on cut at the widest point. I took this panel and fit it up to the center top of the left shoulder so that there was enough fabric to reach the back upper left shoulder seam and pin it to the foam. As I did with the right side, I again did the same with the left, making sure that when I added the horizontal slit to create the arm hole, I made sure the area was at the same point as on the other side. I again cut a small horizontal slit where the lower arm area needed to be. This slit was cut small and then sewn down at the shoulders as I added those odd little dragon scales around the shoulders and bodice. 

*You will find this half arc shaped slit you made in the arm areas will be used for covering the shoulder areas with those lovely little angel inspired shoulder pads.

Once I had this area fairly covered I found I need to add a little bit of fabric to cover a few areas of the shoulder blades and the underside of the blades. I did by hand on each side. 

This Terry Fox Fashion book shown below has a dress with similar shoulders to the khaleesi tunic.

Once you have the shoulder area finished you will find you need to sew around the edges of both pieces, and you will have an overlap in both front and back. I then pinned the inside and outside where I wanted the pieces to wrap together and added hook and eyes to the underside. I sewed down the edges around the shoulders and bodice, carefully tucking in the fabric. I added an opening area in back at the left side vertically going upward, and this offers a bit of extra space when donning the tunic. I then cut a big hole in back, use a marker or chalk if needed to initialize a decent circle before you cut if you want to, but once that was done I backed the circle in a medium weight fabric to stabilize the circle. I finished it up by adding twill tape for the underside front wrap area as it allowed for the fabric to fall more smoothly in front than the hook and eyes used for the back closure areas.

Once I had the tunic finished I got started on the cape. I cut a long leather strip that was about 17” in length by 1” in width and I folded over the top cape seam twice and sewed a little casing, slipped the leather strip inside, sewed a tiny notch of the cape on each end to the leather strips-add these stitches about 6-7” outward on each side from the center back so that the cape does not slip out from the leather strap in the future, sew the edges down and then sew large metal snaps to the underside of the top back shoulder area on each side of the leather straps and also to the underside of the ends of the leather strip in which the cape is attached.  

*When reading the above measurements you may find you are confused as to why I cut a 17" leather strip, only to sew the cape down so much more inward of those leather ends and the reason why is because you will want to use leather strips long on the ends so you have enough slack to sew the snaps down and attach the cape at the perfect height without having the pieces be too short. You can plan on shortening those leather endings before sewing the snaps on so that is why there seems to be such a discrepancy with the measurements above ;) (just for clarification). 

Leather Warrior Straps and Shoulder Blades:
The leather pieces shown were made from top quality reclaimed jet black leather, the same I use for the Khal Warrior Costume. The leather pieces were all cut and sewn and if you find the shoulder blades are a bit too big then you can easily snip off a little around the edges as needed. I measured from center back up around the opposite shoulder and around to the center front. I added 1” to one end for seam allowance for each strip as I was sewing leather strips to a fairly thick round ring I needed more for seam allowance and the other left about 4-5” in length. I added adjustment for the straps in back-you can’t see them in the photo but one on top and one on the bottom on the right hand side, and this way I could adjust the straps depending on the size. I then put the straps on sewing doll once the ring in the center back was added and determined where the shoulder blades should be attached to the straps. I pinned the blades, removed the piece from the sewing doll  and then on the underside, glued the blades to the straps around the inside neckline area. I left this to dry in a dry space.

*If you are thinking about doing this yourself please make sure you follow the glue instructions on the glue bottle and make sure to be in a ventilated area and wear gloves. I find a popsicle stick or plastic knife to be perfect for distributing this thicker glue. Shoe glue will work well too if you cannot find leather adhesive. I do not recommend a glue gun here as it is just not going to hold well so I would definitely plan on a decent glue if you decide to glue the shoulder blades. You can also sew them down if you aren’t so very obsessed with the seams showing. I was clearly obsessed…

Once finished I then trimmed the blades slightly as needed and I was finished.

Necklace: This was not very difficult to make at all and though I don’t really love the idea of plastic clay, polymers really are a decent material to use when it comes to constructing some of these smaller pieces. I pick up a small amount of white colored polymer clay a wooden skewer and some tin foil. I shaped the little animal teeth both in shape and then punched a little hole into the center of each. I added some teeth scratches to give them a little texture and baked them.

*Polymer clay should be made according to the directions on the packaging. Many find the fumes to be strong and rather hazardous so if you have an old toaster oven you can dedicate to the project definitely go with that.

Once they were done and cooled I took the chain and popped the closure off the ends. I added a little Elmers glue to the inside hole of each tooth and added the ends of the chain to each tooth piece. This took a bit of patience on my part as I found I needed to prop the teeth up and dangle the chain above the hole, so the chain could dry upright inside the hole. As these dried I added a little bit more of Elmers to stabilize the tooth to the chain. Drying took a while for this, perhaps upward of 24 hrs as I slowly added more glue to built up the area, and then in the end I painted the teeth and was all set!

*For future costumes made in this style, if the customer would like a man made material as opposed to a reclaimed leather, I will be using a black suede cloth.  It does not have the shiny leather look but it does have a suede-type appearance with more of a matte look and 100% cotton.

P.S. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope this post helped if you are attempting to  make your own. If anyone is interested in having a costume in this style made feel free to message me over at www.Craftzies.etsy.com and I will be happy to make you one. If you find you need a bit of additional instruction on the construction also let me know, I am happy to answer questions as I can. I do hope I covered everything though every once in a while a question will arise and a bit of additional clarification is in order :)

Final Notes & Possible/ Likely Future changes: Other than the fabric being a bit flatter with less of the texture shown in the images here, the costume will be the same unless of course otherwise noted. I may add a hood to the cape (shown in the original but not here), and I may alter the black leather in the back to create a dual circle opening at the back but until then this costume will be constructed as shown here. Any minor changes made in the future will be noted and photographed if the time arises. Please also keep in mind that this costume usually comes with a pair of brown riding pants which are not shown with this costume. When listed in the etsy shop the pants will not be included-a number of customers in the past have ordered costumes in which they already have riding pants so I have not included them in the likely event that the customer already has a pair. If however you do not have a pair and would like to include them with this costume at the time of purchase please let me know and I will include the price for the leggings with your order, which will be an additional $36 to the order.

*I just listed this costume on etsy as a Ready to Wear/ Ship item. All other orders will be for custom listings, the fabric will slightly different (flatter fabric-I will list a photo soon) and the back leather area will have  circle and lacing. The price will also be higher as well. I really deliberated with pricing as the materials for this costume were really quite high and there is a lot of construction and hand sewing to this. Future orders will have the opportunity to pick the pieces of the costume needed, as the style necklace, there are two available for future orders.