Time taken: 10 hours.
Materials: Wonderflex, sculptamold, air dry modelling clay, black 1.2mm leather, brown 1.2mm leather, 38mm belt blank, leather thonging, chocolate leather dye, 810 cap 9mm shank rivets in antique brass, 7mm eyelets, waxed thread, contact glue.
Tools: Craft knife, scissors, marker pen, heat gun, rivet setter and anvil, hole punch, steel ruler, speedy stitcher.
Techniques: Leatherwork, thermal moulding, fabrication.
Difficulty level: This was quite hard, mostly because of the fitted shape on a woman’s waist, and the fiddliness of creating the chevron pattern.
After looking through a bunch of armour glossaries, I still don’t know the name of the dangly thing that hangs down the front of most qunari armour. The closest I can find is the tare of Japanese kendo armour, but that is quite different from this and made in a different way too. Part of me wants to call it a codpiece.
Anyway, I used these three pictures as references:
The first part of this work was to use the templates I’d made while making the collar and pauldrons to cut pieces of Wonderflex. I’d opted to use only one layer of Wonderflex, because unlike our friend Ketojan up there, my belt would not be held on by magic and therefore would need to be flexible enough to take on and off, and to lace tightly up the sides like a corset. I cut 6 pieces, which would hopefully help with the shaping to my waist. They were cut to have enough overlap so that when worn, the belt ends would just cover each other.
Using a bit of heat, I then stuck the three parts for the front together to make one half. Because Wonderflex becomes soft at a relatively low temperature, I was able to heat it till it was just malleable, then using a layer of greaseproof paper between myself and the Wonderflex, laid on my back and let it set into shape.
Doing the back piece was the same but a little more complicated because I had to stand up and hold it in place while it set. This would be a good time to enlist the help of a patient friend. Anyway, when I’d done that they looked like this:
As you can see they don’t look all that pretty or solid at this point, but the entire thing would eventually be covered so I wasn’t too concerned about that. You can also see on the closest bit (which is the back) that the curve of my waist had caused some inevitable wrinkling in the Wonderflex. If I were more fussy, or more skilled, I could perhaps have used clever darting to avoid this. Instead I filled in the holes with Sculptamold and smoothed it off with air dry modelling clay.
Once I was happy with the smoothness, I cut the hole for the chains to go through, and carefully copied the shape of the chevron pattern from the ref pics onto the belt with pen. Then it was a case of laying the leather onto the shape, carefully drawing around where it would go, and cutting the individual pieces so that they would slightly overlap each other. My method was to cut one piece from each side at a time, then glue them on, then cut the next overlapping bit. I guess I could have cut them all first, but I was concerned that the weird shape would make it so they didn’t overlap properly and I’d lose the crispness of the pattern.
It took about three hours in total. A point to remember – the sides and top will be partly exposed so it’s important to make sure the leather goes over to the back side far enough to keep any Wonderflex out of sight and provide a smooth edge. I found using clamps on the side bits really helped with this.
Once both parts were covered, I lined the back with black felt since it’d be against my skin, and then punched holes down each side for the eyelets. These are to thread a leather thong through to lace it on. I’ve found that keeping one side permanently laced makes it quicker to put on, and is possible because the belt is still quite flexible.
This was then put aside and I went back to the ref pics and measured the length and width of my codpiece-to-be. Then the various pieces of leather that make it up were cut, and the two leather straps for the upper part needed to be dyed. The main flap is made of two pieces, one black and one brown, and the various patches were cut slightly smaller.
Then the leather patches that decorate the main flap were lined up and sewn on. This is the point where I had a brainwave I’m kind of proud of. You see, wearing costumes is great fun, but they tend not to lend themselves to pockets. When you’re walking around a con in costume you often get stopped for photos, and this means putting down your valuables so they don’t spoil the pic, then finding and retrieving them every time. It’s a pain in the arse, especially if you’re in a costume that makes it hard to bend. So for this costume, I added a pocket high up on the front flap – large enough for my phone, keys, and some money.
The pocket is almost impossible to see, but that’s kind of the point. It’ll be my little invisible stash of stuff I don’t want to lose track of. Mwuahahaha!
So anyway, once the leather was all stitched together and the horizontal straps riveted on, I carefully lined up the top and bottom flaps so they’d hang straight, and riveted them onto the belt. And that, as they say, was that.
Unfortunately the belt doesn’t fit my dummy very well because The Hoff is an adolescent boy and I’m not. Also, it still needs weathering, but since this costume is really old and huckery and dusty looking, I thought I’d make a separate post about it when I have all of it done.