In 2010, my wife made a gorgeous Queen Susan costume from The Chronicles of Narnia. Since then, I’ve wanted to do a Prince Caspian to go with her, and this year I did it in time for DragonCon 2015. We also ended up replaced about 75% of the Queen Susan costume, but that’s another post. First of all, I am eternally grateful to http://costumes.narniaweb.com/ for their wonderful reference images.
The first thing I tackled was the chainmaille coif. I’ve made a few basic hauberks at this point, but nothing as complex as a hood. Turns out it’s not that complex. It’s just a basic European 4-in-1 pattern with extra rings added every so often to expand the skull cap. Then a flat sheet of 4-in-1 for the back and sides, and an expanding circle again for the collar. You can even see in some of the reference shots how often they added an extra ring for expansion.
Since his brigandine was going to cover most of the hauberk, I cheated a lot on that part, only constructing the skirt and sleeves. That turned out to be not a great idea – I’m going to need to finish at least a half-shirt up top. the reason is that in order for the sleeves to not hang down far enough to show the unfinished edges, I need to cinch them up pretty tight (there’s a band of chain going across the back of my shoulders). This ended up being very uncomfortable. Meanwhile, my wife made me a shirt and trousers. She found some great material for both, and I think she really nailed the trousers. I’m now using them for Éomer as well. They were constructed from a pattern she drafted after ripping apart an old pair of my jeans.
The boots are one of my biggest accomplishments on this costume. Side note: it is very frustrating looking for men’s size 13 costume boots. It seems like women have a plethora of choices, but no men’s boots I could find in my price range were going to work for me. Solution: I made them myself. I found a pattern for doll boots on deviantart and scaled them up to my size (as it turns out I made them a touch too big). I added some thin craft foam for extra structure, as well as backing all the faux-suede with interfacing. For the soles, I cut up a cheap rubber welcome mat from Home Depot and used Barge cement to adhere it. I also built up heels with a couple more layers. There are things I will do differently when I make another pair, but they worked just fine for two days of DragonCon, and seem no worse for wear.
This is a very simple pattern, so I don’t think I’m patting myself on the back very much when I say I drafted it myself. Well, I cut apart an old dress shirt that fit me and used that to draft a pattern. (The one in the photo was later altered to fix the skirt-flap divisions.) Somewhere around this time I got a dressmaker’s dummy in roughly my size which makes this kind of thing MUCH easier. I also ordered a bunch of samples of vinyl and did some tests to figure out how I might be able to accomplish the look I needed. If you look at any of the Telmarine armor, you can see it’s based on real-world brigandines where small armor tiles are riveted to (usually) fabric. In this case, though, you can clearly see the outline of each tile as the apparently thin outer layer forms over the contours. I would guess it’s leather, but there’s no way my budget could cover that, so I went with vinyl. I also had two giant bags of leather scraps from Hobby Lobby or Michaels that I decided to chop up for tiles.
This took FOREVER. Lynette ended up cutting out 90% of these little tiles, which was a life-saver. I had to be super-careful riveting, since I could rip through the vinyl if I was too forceful setting a rivet. There ended up being a couple blow-outs, but nothing significant.
I knew there was going to be no way to achieve the look of tooled, formed pauldrons other than making them from leather. With this costume in mind, Lynette and I took a basic leather tooling class at our local Tandy. This gave us the courage to dive in, and we bought some beginner’s tools. Eventually, we also bought two shoulders of veg-tan leather in slightly different weights in order to construct this armor and to remake Susan’s cuirass. In order to form the compound curve of the shoulder, I first constructed an MDF buck to wet-mold the leather over. I think I may have ended up making it slightly too small. It’s now my opinion that I needed a little bit more length front-to-back.
Thanks to the wonderful reference images available, I was able to draw the tooling patterns for Caspian’s pauldrons in illustrator without much guesswork. I couldn’t find any good answer to the question “Wet mold first, or tool first?” so I wet-molded first. This made tooling a little more difficult, but I was afraid wet-molding might soften or stretch any details from the tooling. As you can see I ended up with some waves at the edges and various other imperfections, but I’m pretty happy with how they ended up. I also made some vambraces, but there was nothing complicated about those. I edged them with craft foam (gasp) because we were running out of leather at this point, and we have a lot of craft foam.
Belts and Sword
The most interesting thing about the belts is that the one that the sword hangs from is tooled/stamped on the edges, and the one around his waist is not. So I carved a small chunk of oak into the approximate shape of the tooling stamp I needed, and stamped the heck out of it. The blanks and buckles all came from Tandy with one small exception. I don’t have a photo of my version yet, but the way his sword hangs is that there are little straps coming off the main belt, and there’s a buckle that attached to the scabbard. by the time I realized I needed this buckle I did not have the free time available to get to Tandy and back. On a whim I stopped by a thrift store during lunch and was able to find a pair of sandals for $2 with 6 buckles of the size and shape I needed! I ended up using one on this and two on Susan’s vambrace. For the sword I intended (still do) to make one myself, but I was out of time. I bought a foam sword on amazon and spent literally the last day before we left carving an approximation of the correct hilt from EVA foam.
Here’s a couple shots of the finished costume – one from DragonCon 2015, and one from a shoot we did later after Caspian got a haircut.