Saturday, 14 December 2013


One thing I've noticed lately is that in order for me to get going on a project, it has to feel like a challenge. A good example of a project that I didn't feel so interested in was to make a jawa costume. Basically I needed a 501st costume to wear, while my tusken female is under reconstruction, and I had promised to make my nephew a proper Star Wars costume. With the jawa I made a costume that we can share, which made it more justified for me to spend some more money on it, for example buy finding a vintage ammunition belt and not a modern replica.

The costume didn't involve any interesting or challenging sewing, and I didn't think it was fun to make the mask and the eyes. When I finally sat down to do it, it didn't take long though.

jawa robe spread out
The most important thing for me when doing the jawa was to find a good fabric. The original is made from a very heavy twill, and that turned out to be impossible to find. Most jawas I've seen made up have used thick upholstery fabric, but I didn't want to use that. My goal was to use a natural fibre, so that it could breathe, with a pronounced weave. In the end I found a cotton-linen-viscose mix that was perfect. It was in a natural colour so I had to dye it. This turned out to the most challenging thing with the costume. Finding good dyes isn't easy, basically I only have one brand to choose from and they have quite a limited range of colours. In the end I used two packages of brown and one of red, to get a brick colour. It ended up a bit more brown than I had hoped for, but in some light you can see the red tones.

detail of the neck and arm seams
I thought I would be able to make the robe a simple t-tunic, but the fabric was just a tiny bit too narrow for that. Instead I used the instructions from this link
 and set two separate sleeves. One thing I added though was a facing around the neck, in brown cotton. I made that to be sure that the neck opening didn't stretch, and to also make it more comfortable. I didn't want the rough fabric straight onto my skin at the neck.

For the hood I used this tutorial, but I cut the straps at the bottom from the same fabric, I didn't sew them on. Since my fabric is quite soft I lined the hood first with an interlining of brown cotton before adding the visible black lining, also cotton. In hindsight this has made the hood quite warm, but it holds its shape very well. To make it keep its shape for the front opening I made a boning channel and inserted a piece of synthetic whalebone from my stays project into it. That's one way that it pays off to be both an historical costumer and a Star Wars costumes.
The one that worried me about this project was how to make the glowing eyes. I'm confident when it comes to sewing, but scared to death about plastic and electronics. I found a lof of tutorials with fancy ways of adding LED ligths and different kind of batteries and wire them together. I also had a half promise from my brother-in-law to help me. In the end I made something a lot simpler though.

I found a pack of yellow halfglobe lights at IKEA, made to be table decorations. They had batteries in them and had the right colour. They were a bit too big though, closer to 4 cm than the maximum size of 2,5 cm. I taped some black electric tape around the bottom to make the light source smaller, and then I simply used the same tape to attach them to a cheap Halloween/hockey face mask. Then it was all covered in a black interlock fabric. The fabric looks solid, but it's just transparent enough that I can see through it. Sure it's not the best visible but it works. To finish the jawa I bought a set of autenthic Swedish bandoliers from an auction site. I also wrapped a pair of boots in the leftovers from the robe. The weathering was done by lending the robe to a friend who was going to do a dramatization in the mine where I work, and she needed a long dress that could get dirty. In fact it got so dirty that I had to wash the robe, and it's still look really weathered and worn down.

I am a bit of a tall jawa, but there are actually examples in the film of jawas in adult human size. Still this isn't a costume that I consider a main costume. It's been accepted in both the Rebel Legion and the 501st Legion, and my main use of it will probably be to bring it to celebrations or bigger cons. It's nice to have a costume that's easy to pack, isn't fragile and I can be in the photos of both groups.

I used it at the Stockholm con and also got a chance to run around the R2-builders booth and steal some droids.

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