DIY || Quick Princess Leia 'A New Hope' costume for GeekFest 2015

While I didn't really have a plan for a costume for our cosplay at the GeekFest 2015, after hubby decided he'd go as a Jedi, Princess Leia seemed the appropriate choice, seeing as she's the only woman worth any mention in the original trilogy and seeing as we could dress Emma up as an Ewok. I wanted to wear the outfit Leia wears on Hoth, it would have been more time-consuming than the two hours I used up to make the outfit she wore in 'A New Hope'.

I was inspired by this post on for a very quick outfit to be done at short notice, since I spent most of the time on the Jedi cloak and tunic. Emma's Ewok outfit, however, took an even shorter time to complete. Let me know in the comments if you'd like a tutorial for her Ewok costume (cuteness guaranteed!).

I obviously altered the pattern a little as I went, since I didn't actually have it open at the time I was sewing it. As a result, it doesn't have the hood, but it has wider sleeves and the polo neck seen in the film. Here are all three of us on the day:
All I used for the outfit was two men's shirts. If you plan to do a similar outfit, use a t-shirt that is wide enough between the seams of the armholes (A) to fit around your hips and waist to use as the skirt. This t-shirt should also have short sleeves.
The second t-shirt, which must have long sleeves and a v-neck, should be wide enough for you to gather it a bit at the bottom to allow it to billow over the belt. I made mine a little too narrow but I don't like huge puffs of fabric around my waist, so it really is a matter of personal preference.

The skirt is also a little too short in comparison to the one in the film, so if you have a third shirt that is much bigger than the one you used for the skirt, you can add an additional section to make it longer. My belt was also too wide but I had given my narrow one away, thinking, of course, that I was never going to use it, haha.

So, steps. I apologise for the lack of images; I worked on this late at night and you know what happens with hastiness... If my instructions aren't clear, please feel free to contact me!

For the skirt:

1. Lay out the shirt to be used for the skirt. Cut off the sleeves as close to the seam as possible and then cut across as close to the bottom of the neckline as possible.

2. Fold in half and mark the side of what will be your skirt with a fabric pencil. You will be drawing a straight line from the shoulder seam parallel to the armhole seam and then you will taper your line down to the side seam of the shirt. Cut once you're certain (Unless the t-shirt is very big, mistakes will be costly), leaving the bottom hem intact, as this will be the bottom hem of your skirt.

This is in essence what you will be aiming for:
3.Sew the side seams up.

Notes: Feel free to cut off the bottom hem of the t-shirt if you are adding another section. All you'll need to do is cut the bottom section off the third much larger t-shirt depending on how much longer you want the skirt, taper the seams to match with the skirt, seam, and attach to the bottom of the skirt.

For the bodice:

1. Put on the skirt and the second shirt, measuring where you would like the waistline for the dress. Mark the shirt at your waistline with enough give for a hem.

2. Cut straight along the shirt at the point you marked off.

3. Set your sewing machine to it's widest stitch and sew a line or two of gathering stitches along the bottom of the shirt.

4. Mark the centres of the t-shirt and your skirt; pin the side seams of the shirt and skirt together; and begin to pull the gathering stitches until the centres of the skirt and shirt match. Pin and sew over the basting stitches. Remember to remove these stitches when you've sewn your waistline seam.

Notes: When I tried the shirt on at this point, I didn't like how low the armhole and shoulder seams hung on my arms. I actually cut off the sleeves, made the shoulder seam narrower, and reattached the sleeves. This also really depends on your personal preference and time constraints.

For the polo neck:

1. Cut off the ribbing around the neck of the bodice t-shirt as close to the seam as possible.

2. Mark the centre of the back and front necklines with pins. Now take one of the sleeves you cut off from the short sleeve t-shirt.

3. Pin the sleeve seam to the centre of the back neckline and the point of the upper sleeve to the centre of the front v-neck. It works better if you work from the centre back down to the v-neck for each side of the neckline. Sew it up.

For the wider sleeves:

1. Decide how much wider you want your sleeves to be. This also depends on how much fabric you have left over from your bodice t-shirt.

2. Mark an isosceles triangle into the leftover fabric, with the uppermost point being the length of the point in the sleeve where you want it to be wider.
3. Cut the seams of the sleeves to a little less than the height of the triangle.

4. Pin and sew first one side of the triangle to the sleeve opening, and then the other.
5. Neaten the seam by matching the two seams of the triangle and sewing straight along the original sleeve seam.

6. Repeat with the other sleeve.

7. Put on the dress and mark the point where you want the sleeves to reach on your wrist. You can simply cut across the bottom of the sleeve at this point, securing the seams, or you can seam it. I left it with no seam.


And that's about it! I just added an old brown belt and knee-high black boots. However, if you want the look to be more authentic, you'll need white boots, something I'm not brave enough to purchase! :) I do have a pair of white pumps, which I was going to wear with white trousers under the dress, but the boots looked better. I doubled up on layers as well because the white shirts were pretty see-through. If you have thin hair like me, you may also like to purchase a wig with Leia's iconic buns already on, but this all depends on how much time you have on your hands. If you have more time, you will most likely purchase the correct amount of fabric, all the correct notions, and have everything you need to replicate the official look.

I am actually really chuffed at how well the outfit turned out; how well everyone's outfits turned out, especially since this is the first time I've ever done cosplay. What do you think?

{Image credit: By The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (WonderCon 2012 - R2-D2 and Princess Leia) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons}


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