Costuming / DIY

Costuming Sundays: She-Ra

To keep a more regular schedule on this Blog, I am instituting some themed days. This is the first “Costuming Sunday.” Each Sunday, I plan to focus on some aspect of costuming, from works in progress, to makeup, to features on completed costumes. To start off, I ‘m digging out a really old popular post from back when I started blogging on Live Journal. This was my first attempt at costume recreation. Originally written September 17, 2007, after a successful Dragon*Con costume debut. Enjoy!

I was asked by someone on Cosplay.com how I made my She-ra costume for Dragon*Con, and after I typed the whole long thing I figured it would be best to save it somewhere in case the question came up again.

Or maybe just for my own future amusement as my costuming skills improve. 🙂

So first, a bit about the costume. After returning from Dragon*Con last year, I decided that I really wanted to go all out and do a costume for this year. I was brainstorming what to make – initially I wanted to make one of the Padme Amidala gowns, but I know my skills aren’t up to that yet – when layladebloody suggested She-ra. She probably doesn’t remember now that she suggested it… heh.

Thus began the amusing project to recreate a costume for a character I loved when I was 7. A character I dressed up as for Halloween when I was 7. Now, 20 years later:

She-Ra Costume

Ignore the messy hotel room… (and yes, this is the best picture I have of this costume after all these years. See, my photos have gotten better!)

This costume was a hit at Dragon*con, even though I was only able to wear it one evening. I’m not used to the height of those heels!

My favorite in-costume moment was shortly after putting it on, going over to the food court to grab something for dinner. A group of young guys were in the tunnel behind Mark and I, and at first we honestly thought they were going to be…well, asses. And then one of the guys yelled “She-ra!” and…started singing/humming the theme song. And that was essentially the first reaction of the evening – a great start.

Other favorite in costume moments? The guy from Chick Fila chasing me down with his camera phone, and the WoW-Ladies at the meet-and-greet managing to find each other by using my costume as something to spot. I don’t think we ever found the person who suggested we meet in the first place…

This costume will definitly be worn again!

And now, the step-by-step description. 

First thing I did was the skirt, because I had a long, full dance skirt that I could shorten and would work well.

The next part – part with the most construction involved – was the breastplate. I’ve seen some people do the costume as a shirt, but I thought it would look better on me as a breastplate. I used Wonderflex for the shape. If you do a Google search, there’s a really great tutorial out there on how to use this heat shaping plastic. Basics of how I did it:

  1. My boyfriend helped me make a mold of my chest by duct taping me into a t-shirt, and then cutting me out of it. Tape up the cut once it’s off and you essentially have a model of yourself.
  2. Cut the Wonderflex into small/medium pieces and shape them over the duct tape form (I used a rubber stamping/embossing heat gun as my heat source. Yay for a well stocked craft room!
  3. Cut long strips of Wonderflex for a second layer and heat shape them on top of the first, trying to get the whole thing as smooth as possible.
  4. Remove the Wonderflex from the form and cut the edges into the basic shape of the breastplate.
  5. Cut the design shapes for the center and shoulders from Wonderflex and adhere. Don’t overheat, or you’ll lose the edge definition.
  6. Punched holes and added snaps to one bottom corner to later attach the waist elastic to.
  7. Many layers of gesso, sanding between each one, for a smooth finish.
  8. Paint. White first, then gold on the detail areas. A little brown added to the gold for some edge detailing made the design appear to have a little more shape and definition.
  9. Glued (I used Gorilla Glue) end of a wide elastic on the inside bottom, opposite the corner with the snaps. Added the other side of the snaps to the appropriate place in the elastic. (This also makes it a bit more adjustable for future wear and changing body shape.)
  10. Cut strips of gold satin the width of the bottom detailing I needed. I did not hem it, but rather melted the edges with a match so it would not fray. The gold did not quite match, so I painted it with the same paint as the gold details. Sewn into an appropriate V in the middle and glued to the breastplate. When worn, these strips are pinned to the elastic in the back, which is hidden by the cape.
  11. Glued large clear rhinestone to the center of the breastplate design.

I wore the breastplate over a simple white leotard, the front of it pinned down so not too much of it showed over the top of the breastplate.

Other accessories:

Headpiece: Also made from Wonderflex. Much simpler as it’s all one piece. A friend traced my head as I laid down on the Wonderflex sheet, I carefully drew the rest of the design (including where detailing would be), cut it out, and then shaped the flare using the heat gun. Holes were punched with a button hole punch for bobby pins to go through. Painted gold, with brown added for darker detailing to get the fanned shape without actually shaping all of it. Red rhinestone glued to the center (also Gorilla Glue).

Wig – a must for my mid-length red blond hair! Getting a good wig I think really helped.

Choker: Also satin, edged and painted the same way as the bottom of the chestpiece, and just tied.

Bracers: Wonderflex, but no heat shaping needed. Painted gold, holes punched, and laced up to wear.

Cape: Red swimsuit/dancewear material, which may be hard to find now that it’s not summer, but other fabric will work. Cut to a long, skinny trapezoid-ish shape – skinny at the neck, wide and rounded at the bottom – hemmed, and pinned to the shoulders of the leotard to wear.

Boots: eBay

The most difficult parts were definitely making the breastplate, and getting the headpiece to pin correctly to my wig and hair to stay right where I wanted it. It wasn’t going to fall off, but it took a little fiddling for it to feel perfect.

This costume was also an example of adjusting a character costume to look better on a real person, and to be more comfortable to wear. The real skirt I swear is so short there is no way she has a crotch! Just legs, then waist! Plus, I know that my upper thighs are not the most attractive in the world. So I lengthened the skirt, and then also lengthened the cape to something that would look right. The result? I was much more at ease in the costume, and the whole thing was definitely well received.

I feel very accomplished after getting this project done.

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