How to Make a Darth Vader Costume

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(Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment)

"Luke, I am your father." Those words identify the character of Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, to legions of "Star Wars" fans. The former Anakin Skywalker also is known for his distinctive black cybernetic suit that hid his scars and artificial limbs while making him feared throughout the Empire as the fist of Emperor Palpatine.

Things You'll Need

  • Darth Vader mask/helmet
  • Voice changer
  • Light saber
  • Black riding boots
  • Black ribbed motorcycle gloves
  • Track pants
  • Thermal undershirt
  • Placemats
  • Gift boxes
  • Black faux leather
  • Black fabric
  • Black spray paint (gloss)
  • Black contact paper

Planning the Costume

Get a picture of Darth Vader and study it carefully.

Obtain a Darth Vader helmet/mask from a costume supply shop and a voice changer from an electronics firm. You may have to enlarge the breathing holes in the mask and cover the voice changer microphone with a rag or towel to produce the right sound.

Purchase a pair of black leather riding boots and a pair of ribbed black motorcycle gloves. Polish the boots well.

Find a ready-made light saber or have someone make one for you. If you plan to pose dramatically, you'll want a light saber that displays its blade, which, as any good Sith Lord knows, must be red.

Pieces to Make

Find a pair of running pants and a big-topped thermal undershirt. Tear apart the pants, and pin faux leather to the upper parts not to be covered by the boots, making lines an inch apart. Pick apart only the sides and arms of the shirt, leaving the shoulder areas attached. Attach faux leather to the sides and arms. Sew the faux leather in place, adding Velcro to keep the shirt leather from sliding around and your pants from falling.

Cut upper armor and shin guards out of place mats, shape them to match the picture and spray paint them with gloss black paint.

Fashion a codpiece out of heavy cardboard. Test to make sure it fits comfortably around your navel and doesn't move when you walk. Using the cardboard as a guide, cut out padding of polystyrene foam and, while holding it in place, wrap faux leather around it and the cardboard, hot gluing it to the cardboard. (Do not glue the polystyrene and cardboard together, or the foam will break.)

Buy a belt from a thrift store. Using Darth Vader's picture as a guide, decorate two small boxes to resemble the control boxes on his belt and make a display buckle from a decorated piece of balsa wood glued onto a blanking wall tile (an electrical outlet cover with no openings) attached to the back of the belt. (You'll wear the belt backwards, with its real buckle to your back and its faux buckle to the front.)

Get a six-inch square gift box. Attach two black straps, one on either side of the box and bring the ends around and attach them to the top of the box. Cover the box with black contact paper and decorate it to resemble the control box depicted on Vader's chest.

Make an inner cape of lightweight black fabric stitched together to resemble a sleeveless, pocketless robe. You can use any robe pattern as a guideline for making the inner cape.

Use heavier black fabric for the outer cape. Measure yourself from the nape of your neck to the floor while wearing the boots and upper armor to determine the right length. Cut the fabric such that the cape will cover your shoulders when wearing the shoulder armor. Line the cape with a reflective fabric. You may wish to include leather or satin strips at the top or bottom. Sew the top around black garden chain with waxed thread.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hang the outer cape on a wooden coat hanger so that it properly deforms from its own weight. Wire coat hangers will bend under the cape's weight-and you may be visited by Darth Crawford if you use one.
  • Spend time in the costume to get comfortable wearing it. Walk as you naturally would and do light housework in costume, as well as practice your action poses.

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