[Before beginning, I would like to make a few points clear to readers unfamiliar with the Star Wars costuming world. There are two sister organizations: the 501st Legion (which is most popular, in my opinion and pronounced five-oh-first) and the Rebel Legion. To make it easier – think good guy/bad guy. Do you want to be a good guy like a Jedi, Rebel Leader, or hero? Join the Rebel Legion. Do you want to be Darth Vader, a stormtrooper, bounty hunter, or an Imperial Officer? Join the 501st Legion. Both the 501st and the Rebel Legion do not charge for events that they attend. They are active in the local community and participate in many charities as well as conventions. The legions are divided up based on location. For instance, I am trying to join the Alderaan Base of Rebel Legion, which is the New England section. 501st and Rebel Legion are just umbrella terms for all active participants throughout the entire world. Yes, they are all over the world.]
I’m working on my first costume. Now, I’ve been working on my first costume for almost 10 years. When I first began it, I had almost the whole tunic completed when I was in high school but then I went to college, got married a few years later, moved, and now I have no idea where that costume is. So I had to start over from scratch.
I hate sewing. Hate it. Loathe it with a passion. It’s just one of those things that I don’t click with. The sewing machine gives me an evil eye whenever I walk over to it. Because of this extreme dislike between the sewing machine and I, it took a long time for me to work up to the point where I wanted to start over on a new costume.
So when I finally realized that yes, I do want to be part of the Rebel Legion and yes, I do want a legit Old Republic Jedi costume, I had to find someone to help me. I wanted an Old Republic Jedi costume because I like sticking to costumes easily recognizable from the films. I also fell in love with Qui-Gon Jinn when I saw The Phantom Menace (TPM) and wanted to be him when I was younger: a good, noble Jedi, but not afraid to bend a few rules here and there.
But man, what a process. You can’t just get anyone who can sew to make you a costume. There are so many requirements in order to be part of the Rebel Legion. All the costumes have to meet their costuming standards and be so close to movie replicas or “canon” as they like to say. You can have a costume from anything in the Star Wars universe, and that includes all of the Expanded Universe, but since I am going for something as generic as an Old Republic Jedi, it has to be as close to movie standards as possible.
After posting that I needed help on the forum to start my costume, I received tons of responses. One woman, I’ll call her Mother Bear, was so kind to say she could help me sew together the costume. Only problem – she lived 1.5 hours away and my hyperdrive isn’t working. But I had been talking about this costume for years, and I wanted it done so I slowly jetted my way to her place a year ago to begin the process all over again.
I naively thought that I could convince Mother Bear to basically sew the whole thing for me. Of course I would help cutting and pinning the fabric, but I didn’t want to touch the sewing machine. How wrong I was. Not only did she teach me how to cut the pattern to my size and pin the fabric to the paper, but she forced me to sew! Ah. And of course, if the line of sewing was not straight enough, I had to start all over again. Joy.
I also thought that we could get this costume done in one day. Honestly, I thought, how long will this really take? 5 to 6 hours? No. I was there once in September for about 6 hours, once more in October for 6 hours, and then finally this last Saturday for 6 hours. I’m finally, FINALLY done with the main part of sewing. Towards the end, Mother Bear got so impatient that she did do some of the sewing herself for which I am SO grateful.
Ignoring how wrinkled everything is, here was my process on the costume before Saturday.Keep in mind this is after 12-13 hours of work. Not much, eh?
Can you imagine how long a costume like a stormtrooper takes? How about a Twi’lek with all the body paint? The only other character I would like to be in the Star Wars universe is a Nightsister from the Clone Wars (I don’t even like the Clone Wars that much which makes this choice ironic) because they are so awesome, and if you know me, you know I am drawn to strong female characters who can kick butt and take no prisoners. But can you imagine how much harder a costume like that would be? Don’t be fooled by how little fabric there is because I’m sure it’s not only complicated to put on, but also the body paint, combined with the face paint that has tattoos and designs would be a long process. I know someone who made a Tenel Ka costume and just one shoe/foot piece alone took 20 hours. TWENTY HOURS. That’s crazy. Does anyone else think that’s just nuts? Of course, the costume looks amazing and I have never seen anything as well done, but 20 hours for just one segment? Ugh, just that thought alone makes me want to be done with the costuming world. I’m very seriously considering getting any other costume commissioned.
Anyway, I am almost done with my Old Republic Jedi. The sewing has finally all been completed thanks to Mother Bear’s help and I resemble a Jedi. Once I get my boots and belt, I will really resemble a Jedi. And then once I get my very own lightsaber hilt, I will be a Jedi. Kind of. Then there is the whole process of getting approved by the Rebel Legion, but that’s something in and of itself…
I think my biggest problem with this whole process is that there is no real liaison between someone in the Rebel Legion and someone trying to join. When you say you are interested, they immediately just direct you to their forums and you have to post on their forums to find someone can help you out. Never mind the people who respond and say “Oh, but really, it’s quite easy, all you do is sew this, and then sew that with this pattern, and this kind of string…” It’s enough to make your head explode like Alderaan and is extremely unhelpful for someone who has zero experience sewing. I feel like there needs to be someone who has an assigned task of taking newbies under their wing and asks simple questions like “How much experience do you have sewing and/or costuming?” “What kind of costume are you trying to make?” “Where do you live?” “Here are the requirements and how to find people who can help…” and then aiding them from there. I know this is the Executive Assistant part of me coming out but really, from a firsthand experience, I can say there needs to be more organization centered on new comers. The regulations are so strict that I worry that it intimidates a lot of people and makes them give up before they even start. If you do not have the type of personality that is a go-getter, you will be left behind because you are too daunted to continue. I would love to be that person who helps newcomers for New England, but right now I’m just not knowledgeable enough. And I haven’t been approved, I keep forgetting that point.
The exciting part is yet to come – my own unique lightsaber. This is the part of the costume I have been most excited about. I doubt mine will be anything special since I seem to be leaning towards really simple designs because I have smaller hands, but it will be so nice to say, “This is my lightsaber, especially designed for me.”
I will continue to post updates on my progress with my costume and hopefully (soon) I can wear the full costume.