Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Make a Star Wars Shoulder Harness

For my Mara Jade Halloween costume, a prominent feature of the costume is the shoulder harness. It's not exactly something you can buy on amazon, so I set out to make my own.

First, I started with the most important feature: the buckle.

From looking at this image, I created my own three dimensional model in a solid modeling software (perks of being a mechanical engineer). I based the width of the flanges on the width of the leather straps I bought from Hobby Lobby (1.5 inches with holes spaced an inch apart). The holes in the flanges were 6mm in diameter for screws and nuts I had on hand. The rest of the dimensions I chose just to recreate the look of the buckle, while making sure it wouldn't be flimsy enough that it would break in wear. I added in some filets and curves and voila! Star Wars buckle! (If you would like a copy of my solid model files or a dimensioned print to make your own, send me a note on my "Contact Me" tab.)

With my model and very lucky access to a 3D plastic printer (yay perks!), I ended up with this:

If you don't have access to a 3D printer, you could also mold it out of clay, glue together different pieces (like a coaster and some paint stirrers), or if you're really handy, carve it out of something.

I originally tried to paint it to look metal with some silver craft paint, but it really didn't want to go opaque. However, some aluminum colored spray paint went on brilliantly. If you make this yourself, trust me, choose spray paint.Be careful, though, because metallic spray paint is notorious for paint transfer, so make sure to also hit it with a coat or two of clear sealant.

With the buckle in hand, I just needed to make the two leather shoulder straps. Since I didn't want to waste leather by just guessing at the lengths it should be, I made a prototype using string (I made my prototype before paint just to make sure I didn't accidentally chip the paint). After several failed attempts, I came across a length that worked.

From hole to hole, 25 inches worked well for me (I'm 5'6" and wear a medium at Target if that helps any). I cut each strip an inch longer so that there would be 1/2 inch extra once the holes were added. It's probably the shortest I would go, an inch or two longer would still work nicely, too.

I created the holes in the leather similarly to the ones I needed for my floating shelf: nailing the strips to a piece of scrap wood. On one end of each strip, I angle the holes so that the leather would lay flat against my back. The first hole was half inch from the end of the strip and the second hole was an inch, with an inch distance between the two holes.

Once I screwed it all together, you end up with this:

I'll post more pictures later in the week of my completed costume, but this shoulder holster is definitely the coolest accessory. You can barely see it from the front because my hair and cowl cover the straps, but it's so epic from the back. Epic, I say!

{Sidenote: if you do use screws to hold everything in place, be careful sitting in chairs so that the screws don't damage things if they end up being a little too long, like mine.}

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