Since I am a linear thinker, I’ll be going from top to bottom in describing the processes that went into building my Shannan costume. So first up is the cowl! The cowl began with no drawing, but an intense desire to not replicate the typical Robin Hood-esque medieval cowl. I went hunting through page after page of cowl and hood images. After wanting to throw up my hands from finding nothing but the stereotypical head stockings, I was saved by remembering the top of one my favourite costumes – Altair from Assassin’s Creed.
I thought it was perfect with its pointed crest. For Shannon, it could signify her relationship with her other animal companion, the eagle, Kato. However, I did not want to copy Altair’s hood exactly. I emailed a few Altair cosplayers to inquire what they used for their pattern. But in the end, they all said theirs’ were custom built. I studied Altair’s overtunic as well as one cosplayer (RBF) from the Netherlands off of thedentedhelmet.com. I was given the suggestion of softening the appearance of the cowl to give it more of a feminine look (see above photo).
I teamed up with one of my childhood teachers (as sadly, I can’t sew to save my life. *gasp!* I know…sad, but true. I’ve tried for years, but alas, I’m known more for being the Grim Reaper of sewing machines than anything else. So I do what I do best (design, research, helping with side tasks, photoshoot planning, final modeling, and promotion) and leave the sewing and prop-making to those more experienced). For the construction of the pattern, we knew we were going to have construct our own. We started with McCall’s 7323 as a base. The bottom was measured a bit wider as to widen out the base of the cowl for the fabric to lay in softer folds in contrast to the sharper angles in Altair’s hood.Mrs. Elrod took the earlier head measurements and measured out the pattern to cut and pin to an old bedsheet.
(Mrs. Elrod’s gingerbread scissors. Cute, no?)
We then pinned said bedsheet to my head (to my head, not in! Pinhead, I am not).
Stick me and we’ll see who has the last laugh…my face seems to say.
We cut a ‘beak’ in the form of a half-shield to go on top of the head. At first it was cut too long (it covered the back of the head from the hairline to the nape of the neck). So snip snip snip went the scissors and chopped the beak in half. Then the beak ended at the back top of the head.
Now the problem with cowls, as I’ve been told by fellow costumers, is that they have a fondness for moving around. Rather than seeking a modern way to secure the cowl (such as velcro), we opted to create a sort of half-shirt/bib to attach the hood portion to. The top of the bib rounds out in a simple yoke.
(Note that the final hood will lay differently as the fabric is of heavier stock.)
In one of our thrift store runs, Mrs. Elrod and I swung by Hobby Lobby to check out the fabrics. Although I wanted to stay away from modern fabrics as much as possible, we couldn’t find any fabric that would be both light and have give to drape into the folds we wanted. So we compromised with a dark brown poly-suede.
Hmm….feeling a little ‘dark-side-of-the-Force’ here….
After Mrs. Elrod cut and sewed the cowl together, I came over for a fitting. While the longer t-shirt style yoke was definitely the right idea for keeping the cowl from popping out of the jerkin, there was still the issues of how to keep the bottom from flopping around. So we opted to attach ribbons of the same fabric to the four corners and pull them through D-rings like a belt.
About a week later, the cowl was finished. (We ended up chucking the Assassin’s Creed beak as it was proving to be too much hassle for the rest of the design we had done.) So here is the final cowl!
Stay tuned for the next part of the costume!