Time taken: 19 hours
Materials: Expanded PVC foam board, Wonderflex, sculptamold, lightweight air dry modelling clay, contact glue, hot glue, black 1.2mm leather, small pieces of brown leather, black acrylic felt, 20mm belt blanks (2), 20mm antique brass buckles (4), antique brass rivets 810 cap 8mm shank).
Tools: Craft knife, scissors, pen, heat gun, glue gun, edge bevelling tool, hole punch, mallet, rivet setter and anvil.
Techniques: Pattern making, leatherwork, fabrication.
Difficulty level: Straighforward but fiddly. Probably about medium difficulty.
I used these pics as my reference:
As usual, the first step involved drawing a front, back and side view in my quad book, and working out roughly what the dimensions would be. As you can see, I used the same set of drawings for the skirt, the belt, and the collar. You can also see that my drawing is.. um.. rustic at best. I like to think it doesn’t matter as long as everything’s in proportion.
Once I had the dimensions, I made cardboard templates and transferred them onto the thermoplastics I’d be using. I chose Wonderflex for the pauldrons because it’s light and easily shaped, and PVC foam board for the collar because I wanted it to be strong and fairly stiff, to hold a circular shape while bending it.
Then they were shaped using a heat gun. The pauldrons were shaped over the top of the cardboard template which I sat on my shoulder with a sheet of greaseproof paper to stop it sticking. The Wonderflex wrinkled quite badly but since they would be covered, I wasn’t too worried about it at this stage.
The collar was heated section by section and slowly curved (just a note here – the fumes from this stuff are toxic so do it in a well ventilated area and use breathing apparatus if you have it). I figured it would be most even if it were still under some tension, so I didn’t quite make a full curve, then I sewed up the front thus:
It’s actually quite easy to sew PVC foam board with a speedy stitcher awl and waxed thread. But when I tried the collar on with my mask, it sat too high and too close to the face and I couldn’t move my head. Damn.
So I cut a new section of PVC foam board and put it in the middle at the front, then secured it in place with a combination of hot glue and Wonderflex. So much for my tension, it was now under compression and I had to do some fiddly reheating to get the front to curve evenly.
At this point it was time to draw the lines where the chevron pattern would go. I just copied them straight off the ref pics.
Adding the leather was fiddly. The ref pics don’t show any sewing lines so I couldn’t sew them together as the skirt had been. I opted to glue the pieces on with contact glue. This involved holding the leather on the pauldron and tracing around each shape that forms the pattern, one at a time, starting at the bottom and slowly building them up so they overlap by about 1mm all over.
It was this far into it that I realised the leather wasn’t going to hide the wrinkles in the Wonderflex well enough, and added some Sculptamold followed by air dry modelling clay to smooth them out. It held up the process a bit since it’s winter and the stuff took a week to dry, but the improvement in the finished look was well worth the wait. At this point I also added black felt to the insides of them as a liner, pushed in to form the shape then glued in with hot glue.
The next step was to add the leather straps to the pauldrons. This involved cutting 2 20mm belt blanks into 8 lengths, then bevelling, punching holes in appropriate places, and dyeing them dark brown. I wasn’t too worried about accuracy at this point because I knew I could cut extra off later.
Once the buckles and rivets were added, I carefully riveted them onto the pauldrons, starting from where the buckles would sit so they’d be lined up properly, and working back towards the part where the pauldrons would join the collar. I cut small rectangles of brown leather for the straps to thread through, to provide flexible hinges to attach to the collar, and to emulate the ref pic.
Unfortunately I couldn’t work out a way of attaching the pauldrons to the collar *after* the collar had been covered with its leather pattern, because any rivets or stitching would show through. So I attached them while the collar was still mostly just plastic, using the speedy stitcher and waxed thread. I also added an extra hinge in the middle, to prevent the edges of the pauldrons sliding out from under the edge of the collar.
Once the pauldrons were on, it took another three hours of lining up leather, drawing around it, and gluing each piece on to complete the coverage of the collar. It spent an evening being held with clamps where the pieces of leather go over the top of the collar under tension, to ensure that the glue would hold them down. The final step was to add black felt to the inside to line it, and then it was done.
I have since completed adding the lining. The only thing left to do here now, like the rest of the costume, is to make it look old, huckery and dusty. I plan to use actual dust for this. 😉