The Dorky Diva

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Welcome to The Dorky Diva! I'm Savanna, a Star Wars fanatic who tries to sprinkle fandom into every day life. Follow along for new cosplay updates, outfit inspiration, beauty reviews, convention coverage, and more!

The Clawdite Chronicles 3.22.21 - Fabric Selection, Making the Under Suit

It's been a few weeks since I received my Zam Wesell boots and I've already made some good progress on the beginning steps of the costume, so I wanted to update you all with what I've done. Since I intend to document the full process of this build, I came up with a cute little series title for all of these posts- The Clawdite Chronicles! Each post will have the date in the title along with a brief summary of what I'm covering. 

I hope this will be helpful to anyone who might be wanting to make their own Zam Wesell costume in the future. Once thing I've noticed during my many hours of online research is that there are very few photos and very little information from people who have built this costume. The Dented Helmet forums have quite a few threads of progress builds, but the pictures no longer load because they were hosted on Photobucket and that platform doesn't really work anymore.

Anyways, let's get into it!

Creating a Build Plan

Between the fabric parts, leather goods, armored parts, and teeny tiny details, this costume has a LOT going on. I decided that it would be best to create a plan of attack so that I can focus on small chunks rather than being overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. I created a spreadsheet to list out everything on the costume and added fields to attach reference photos/links, any important notes that I need to remember, and a price for the item/materials so I can keep track of my overall cost. I also created a second tab on the spreadsheet just for the leather goods. Zam's costume consists of lots of leather parts that are all different varieties and weights. I made a list of what type of leather and how much square footage I need for each part. I also created a database of all the reference photos I could possibly find online.

My current plan is to make the under suit (long sleeve shirt and pants) first and then the leather vest. I am starting with these items because they are the base of the costume and I need these items done to start layering everything else (skirt, armor, etc) on top of it. After those items are done, I will make the leather belt and skirt, which I expect will take me probably a month to complete because it's a very tedious process. When all of those elements are complete, I will take a look at the armor parts and decide which of those I want to tackle first. I plan on buying my armored parts as raw cast pieces, so thankfully I don't need to worry about mold-making and everything, but I will need to assemble and paint them.

Fabric Selection for the Under Suit

Now onto the under suit! Zam wears a long sleeve shirt and well-fitting pants underneath her armored parts. The screen-used costume had a custom made neoprene suit in a lilac grey color. This is oftentimes one of the more difficult pieces to source or make because the color is difficult to replicate. I was fully expecting to dye my own fabric, but I ended up getting very lucky and found a neoprene fabric online that was the exact color I needed. I ordered a sample piece first and couldn't believe how perfect the color looked in person. 

I bought nine yards of this fabric, which is about three times more than I actually need, but I wanted to get an excess of fabric for a few reasons. My logic is that I will likely need to replace the under suit some day because the fabric might pill or who knows, my body might change and I could need to adjust the size of the suit. Since the neoprene is difficult to find, I will just put some extra material away for a rainy day if I ever need to make a new one. It wouldn't hurt to have a second pair of pants on hand in case one ripped or got stained at a convention- you never know what could happen. I also think I will use a few extra yards to make a cute Zam inspired dress. It's just such a beautiful color!

Color Matching

Zam's entire costume looks like a different color in almost every reference photo I've found online. This could be due to the color temperature of lights, white balance on the camera, and just general aging of the costume itself. I've noticed that her leather vest and belt have seemed to fade over the years, so the costume displayed at exhibits looks much different than how it appeared on film in 2002. Since all of these colors are so different, I needed to decide on a color sample to replicate. I ended up choosing Pantone 5135U for the body suit color match. Everything else I make will be based off this color. Color matching will be something I talk about a lot in future blog posts, so stay tuned for more on this.

Pattern Making and Sewing the Under Suit

While I waited for fabric to arrive, I picked up some stretch polyester material from Wal-Mart for less than $10 to start creating a pattern for the pants and shirt. I have sewn a few things over the years, but I'm definitely not a professional seamstress and I knew I needed to make some prototypes before cutting into the neoprene. I started with the pants because they intimidated me the most. I bought a Simplicity pattern (8424) for $3 on Amazon to use as a start for the leggings. I used style B from this pattern and cut a size medium based on the measurements they provided. 

Zam's pants have inner thigh panels that sort of resemble riding pants, but there is some detailed stitching along the seams that I am calling a "bubble seam" for lack of a better phrase. I have no idea if bubble seams are a real thing, but that's what I'm calling them because they quite literally look bubbled. 

After cutting the pant legs, I also cut the inner thigh panels based on a guesstimate that I made. Her thigh panels hit just above her knee, so I used the knee line on the pattern to determine where I should cut these panels. It's very difficult to describe how I sewed these pants just through text alone, so let's just say that overall they turned out pretty well, but there was one big issue. The front thigh panels and the back thigh panels did not match up on the inside of each leg. Aside from that one big error, the panels fit pretty well overall the bubble seams turned out great.

I took the next week to think about this error and figure out a solution. In the meantime, I was looking at more reference photos and noticed a bubble seam on Zam's inner thigh that I hadn't included in my first pair of prototype pants. I went back to the drawing board. It took me a few hours to figure out how to include that seam and reconstruct the pants properly, but I finally got it right. I made a tiny doll-sized pair of pants to test my theory and got to work the next day making the second prototype. They took me five hours to make, but turned out beautifully! My first error was fixed, the additional bubble seam was included, and I figured out how to alter the pants to fit me perfectly. Success! I am really proud of how they turned out and glad I only needed to make two pairs to get it right.

As for the shirt, I took a long sleeve shirt that already fit me, created a pattern from it, and sewed a prototype in a couple hours. I need to make a couple small adjustments, but overall it turned out great. The shirt was much easier to make than the pants, so I plan on cutting my neoprene and making the real under suit next weekend.

Leather Selection for the Vest

Now onto the vest. Zam's vest is made of lightweight lambskin leather that is laced together on the sides. I've never sewn leather before, but from everything I've read online, I think I can do this on my standard sewing machine since it's so thin. I only need 1-2 lambskin hides to make the vest, but I also need the same type of leather for her cummerbund/belt, so I ordered 4 hides lavender dyed lambskin that I found online. When it arrived, I opened the box in complete shock. The leather was bubble gum pink. They had sent me exactly what I ordered, but the color was definitely not photographed in correct lighting for their website. Thankfully I could return it and get a full refund, so it wasn't a total loss. After a little more research, I found another company that sold pre-dyed lambskin online and took a leap of faith. The hides arrived in the mail a few days ago and they are beautiful! Sometime in the next couple weeks I will start making a pattern for the vest and create a prototype before cutting the leather. I will need to airbrush the vest after it's sewn together to give it an aged, weathered look, but the base lilac color is a great starting point to add painted layers.

That's all I've got for now! Slow, but steady progress has been made. I will post an update in a few weeks when the final under suit and vest are done. Then I will start on the leather skirt and focus on getting that done before moving on to the armor.