After her amazing interview last week, we got requests for more information about how she built her Nights King cosplay. She was kind enough to share her notes with us. Thanks Carrie!
Game of Thrones
Nights King Cosplay
There are several different versions of the Nights King outfit you can find when you scroll through Google images. I consider this character the Nights King and the version with the long hair a White Walker.
I tried to pick materials that looked as close to this costume version as per my personal interpretation. The “skirt” and pant-legs I made using an old canvas paint drop cloth. I cut into strips and sewed together using the photo as my guide. I used grommets and a piece of leather string under the front “apron” to lace up the skirt. The front apron is held on over the lacing using a snap on either side. I held the pant legs (two separate legs) up using vet-wrap high up on my thigh, which was hidden by the skirt. If I had to do over I would have sewn them onto some leggings or other type pants to hold them up better. After sewing I dyed the pieces black. I tried using fabric spray paint and/or regular paint on a sample piece of fabric but it dried too stiff for my liking.
Now for the hard part —- the “armor” My interpretation of the top pieces is that it is more like a leather “shirt” rather than a hard armor. That being said, I wanted as close to the body fit for the top as I could get. Using pieces of leather from a few leather coats found at Good Will I fashioned a tank top with grommets down the side to lace it on with. I used small pieces of foam glued to the leather tank top to mimic the pattern on the photo. I recommend barge cement or specific leather glue. I found other glues did not work well on the leather. Because of your body type, you may be able to achieve a better look by using a form fitting black t-shirt for this piece. I used pieces of the paint canvas for the detail at the bottom front of the shirt/armor and sewed it on. Since I made my costume, I ran into another Nights King at the Con of Thrones in Nashville. He made his armor completely from Eva foam. It reminded me of a Turtle shell the way it fit him. He was also tall and thin so it worked well for him. For my body type, I am not sure how it would fit because “boobs”.
The shoulder pieces are eva foam with the small pieces of foam glued to it to create the look I wanted. I curved the inside of the foam to fit around my neck and used a slight convex curve on the shoulder edge. After several attempts at securing the shoulder piece to the leather vest, I ended up using short screws with washers on the back to hold into place. I found a collar piece that is made for a Kylo Ren costume to hide the bottom edge of the mask. If your skill level allows, I would recommend using prosthetics or make up. I personally found the mask hard to hear and see out of.
After the top was all put together, I sprayed it with black spray foam to seal it and add a bit of texture. Then I used some glitter spray to add an icy look. Arm bracers were made from strips of left over leather. I was not happy with the way they turned out. I made several different versions. It was hard to get them to fit correctly because I didn’t have anyone to help hold them on me while building. If you end up using a black shirt for the top, get a long sleeve one and just wrap leather around the arms to achieve the look. I used a bit of white body paint on my arms and hands where the skin was showing. Not solid white but a streaked look.
Instead of a weapon, I went with Craster Baby instead because I felt it would be an unexpected prop. I found a doll I thought looked most like the reference pictures. To achieve the specific frozen blue eye look, I took the doll to the lady that paints my nails and she painted the eyes to give them the creepy look.
Things I learned with this build:
- navigating a large con in a mask and substantial costume pieces is NOT easy and you probably want to test it out at a smaller con first. I can’t imagine how hard it is for the really BIG costumes.
- It is good to challenge yourself with a character outside of your comfort zone, but it is also ok to say—Nope…this wasn’t for me.
- If choosing a more involved costume get a buddy to go with you to the con. I was alone and this costume was difficult to get into by myself. I also couldn’t take any pictures of myself or others.
Name: Christine Diep
Location: Chicago, IL
Facebook: theshiningpolaris OR ShiningPolaris (Personal)
Other: Facebook Event Page – CosplayersWithoutBanners
Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?
I am a HUGE Game of Thrones fan. Sansa is one of my favorite characters. She, in my opinion, has the prettiest outfits. I just fell in love with her “crow” dress because it signifies her change into a little girl to a woman that is starting to understand the “Game.”
How long did it take to make your Cosplay?
This took me about a month to make. This costume was also made as my entry to Dragon Con Cosplay Contest!
What was your biggest challenge?
Hand sewing each feather and bead into the dress! Feathers were worse because they either broke or didnt look right after touching them!
What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?
My cosplay really have no budget! I love cosplays and spend way to much money on making them. This probably cost me around $100.00 which isn’t bad at all.
What special techniques did you use?
Not really any special techiniques. Basic sewing on the dress and cape. But I hand sewed everything else such as the feathers and beads.
What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?
Just knowing that I did it and it was accepted to DragonCon Contest which is super hard to get in! Also looking at it, it was well made and fit. It made all the Baelish cosplayers jealous!
If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?
Maybe redo the beading on the bottom of the dress. I did it in a hurry so it is coming apart. My necklace too. That piece was also done last minute.
About Cosplay in general:
How often do you Cosplay?
I been cosplaying since 1996. I now do it almost every single week!
How many cosplays do you do?
Last year for an example I wore 50 cosplays! Maybe made 30 new ones!
What do you want to make next?
I enter the Crown Championships every year which is a huge extremely difficult costume contest to enter. I am working on Rocket Racoon for that one.
Favorite cosplay moment?
I won Best Seamstress at the Crown Championships in 2015!
Favorite fandoms to follow?
At the moment I love Doctor Who, Flash, Gotham, and Game of Thrones
What sewing machine do you sew on?
I actually won a Bernina 830 from the Crown. But I use a regular brother from Costco!
What materials do you like using?
I don’t really have a favorite? I try to buy cheap stuff that looks the closest to what I am making!
What materials do you want to try?
Worbla one day!
What materials do you wish were easier to work with?
Worbla and foam!
What techniques are you dying to learn?
This week we are reviewing the pattern Cloak X by Cosplay By McCalls™. This line of patterns is a custom line that McCalls put out several years ago specifically for the cosplay market. These patterns are currently only available online and come on durable white pattern paper and a thicker large cardstock envelope that we like.
For this pattern Cheryl worked on the long cape and Tracy worked on the fur capelet. We used Shannon fabrics Luxe Cuddle Hide in Caviar for the body of the cape and Shannon Wolverine Fur in Taupe and black for the capelet. You can find Shannon Fabrics at many local quilt shops and fabric stores, or online at stores like fabric.com, fabricdepot.com, fatquartershop.com, missouristarquiltco.com and theminkyboutique.com. You can also view their Store Locator to find more online shops and shops near you.
Cheryl – I made the long cape. The only challenge I had using the Cuddle™ Hide was when I got to the neck facing. (The neck facing is the tube along the neckline.) Using Cuddle™ for this section was a bit thick and if I had to make this cape again, I likely would use a different fabric for this section.
Tracy – I made the small cape that sits on the shoulders. I have made capes before, but this was the first time I made one using faux fur. Cutting out the fur needs to be done carefully so it doesn’t get that “bad haircut” look. Here is a short video that Cheryl and I made while we were cutting the pattern where Cheryl discusses some great tips for working with fur.
Attaching the lining was a little tricky because the nap of the fur was pretty thick. It was fine along the neckline and center front part of the capelet, but I wasn’t liking how the bottom of the cape was stitching because the fur was so thick. I ultimately decided to hem the bottom of the lining and tack it to the fur in a few places instead of stitching the fur to the lining. It was a simple fix and I love that it allowed the jagged edge of the wolverine faux fur to look kind of like a hide.
I think it looks great and I love that I can make more of the small capes to change the overall look of the cape to make different cosplay with one pattern!As you can see from the packaging, this one pattern offers a few different options for the look and would work well with many different cosplay.
We really liked this pattern and will use it again.
As a Film and Television costume embroiderer, you often work on garments after they have been already constructed. How scary is it to work on the finished garments directly?
On Game of Thrones I am given a huge workload for a single hand embroiderer, it is a full on Job where deadlines are always looming, most of the time you are working long hours in order to get the job done. The main thing you have to learn, which is not solely exclusive to working on a production like Game of Thrones, is to adapt your process to suit the deadlines that you are presented with for each design that you are asked to create.
As an Artist I have never liked to dampen down my ambitions for any of the designs I have been asked to create, and I have always been driven to create the best work I can even in a limited timescale, so it is a constant battle for me to be highly creative as well as practical in my approach to my work. One solution I have developed to aid me to achieve my ambitions within my work is for me to start the embroidery separately to the costume on silk crepeline or organza, creating a kind of motif that I can then apply to the costume and work on it further if needs be.
When I start my embroidery I will draw my design onto tracing paper and pin it to the costume or costume toile (prototype) to work out the flow and scale of the design required. The reason I quite often start off on the design on some organza, working separately to the costume, creating a kind of motif that I will then apply to the finished garment, is because the costume is usually still being made and there isn’t time to sample and plan the embroidery to fit to the pattern pieces before the construction of the costume.
The way I approach my embroidery, as I work on it, is as if I were drawing or painting using threads and beads instead of pencil and paint and the design will evolve organically as I work on it.
The reason for me using silk crepeline is that it is very sheer and can be dyed to match the costume, so that when I stitch the embroidered motif onto the garment the base fabric of the silk crepeline becomes almost invisible.
So to answer your question, no I am not scared to work on a finished garment, it doesn’t bother me, it is a necessary part of the process, there is not a right or wrong way to decorate or embroider you just have to find the best solution to each particular situation and for me by creating the initial stages of my embroidery on organza/silk crepeline it means I can be more ambitious with the work that I want to create and have less pressure on myself as I am not holding up the Costume Makers process.
As the Game of Thrones embroiderer, the embroideries on the costumes always seem to tell a story about the character in some way. How do you come up with the designs we see on the show?
Whether you are working on a Contemporary, Period or Fantasy TV or Film Production a costume is always a fundamental devise to present a character’s personality to an audience. Each costume with its cut, colour, style, and small details, is a very important narrative tool that can express much to a viewer. One of the smaller details of a costume can be that of the embroidery, and my work as an embroiderer entails visualizing and capturing what the Costume Designer on a production wants for a specific characters costume, I myself have to understand what is appropriate in order to reveal and portray each characters personality.
I have always enjoyed incorporating hidden meanings and metaphor within my designs for a character’s costume especially on Game of Thrones. I will place imagery mostly naturalistic such as flowers that I have researched and have found them to add some meaning to the personal narrative and personality of a character that I am working on. For example for Sansa’s Wedding Dress that was featured in Season 3, I embroidered a band that wrapped around the dress and I incorporated pomegranates interweaving and growing throughout the design. The pomegranate has many meanings, a symbol of life and death, and of fertility and marriage. My use of the pomegranate was to represent a meaning that it was the death of Sansa’s freedom, virginity, and her fertility now was to be devoured like a ripe fruit by her enslavers the Lannisters.
I mostly create embroidered decoration for some of the principal female cast, such as on the dresses for Cersei Lannister, who was an obvious candidate for some decoration, her embroidery could be quite rich and decorative given her status. Regarding showing her personality within her embroidery designs, one of her first costumes I embroidered was her blue bird dress, the embroidery reflected her position at the time when we are introduced to her in Season 1, she is a beautiful woman with a hidden desire for power and wishing to be regarded as an equal in the male dominated world she inhabits. At that stage she lives in the shadow of her husband King Robert Baratheon, who holds power over her and the Kingdom, having this imagery of a bright colorful bird on her costume helps to belie Cersei’s intention of power under a soft unthreatening feminine look.
After Robert’s death Cersei and her family the Lannisters take over power when her son Joffrey becomes the King, at that point Cersei grows in position and strength and starts to reflect this new authority and loyalty to her family by wearing the Lannister Sigil of the Lion on her costumes more predominantly. She presents a stronger more powerful look that has a regal structure and adornment, so the embroidery on her costumes was a useful symbolism to express her personal script narrative, following her status transformation from a weaker woman to a more powerful one.
My process when creating an embroidery design for a costume starts by having a meeting with the Costume Designer Michele Clapton who will have illustrations, moodboards, colours and fabric swatches of the costume that I will be creating a design for. We may discuss a character’s back-story, their traits, their personal narrative within the script and this will all go towards influencing my design.
After my initial conversation with Michele I will then go away and research in relation to the piece I am creating, this usually involves me looking for imagery to inspire me, either by visiting museums, looking through historical costume reference books or just looking on the internet.
For the next stage I will need to start sourcing suitable materials that are suitable for the design and will help to portray the character’s status and personality. I will then start with some sketches of a design, followed by creating samples and then the embroidery will develop and evolve from there.
Your tutorial on the Dragonscale smocking that has been used on Danerys’ costumes throughout the show is very popular with cosplayers. How did you think of the smocking as a way to represent this character?
It was in Season 3 when I started to be involved in embellishing Dany’s costumes, this was when Michele Clapton wanted me to incorporate a dragonscale like texture into her costume which would grow and become more pronounced as she developed in power and strength.
To create the desired look for these dresses I began by doing some samples experimenting with beads, stitches and smocking, and the North American smocking was chosen as the base for the texture with some lock stitch and mesh wire highlights.
What is your take on cosplayers who try so hard to faithfully recreate garments that you have worked on for the show?
It’s fantastic and it is always a joy to see them in their costumes, showing off their passion and attention to detail. I am always amazed by how much effort they put into all aspects to create the character they want to portray.
Do you ever get sent any cosplay photos from cosplayers who dress up as characters from the show?
Yes I have received many, it is really a joy to see them. When I see their work I am always mindful that I may be witnessing the virginal careers of many future Costume Makers and Costume Designers, so it very encouraging to see the abundance of talent out there, talent who may wish to use their skills further, possibly contributing to the future of the craft of Costume within the Film and Television industry.
It was quite nice to see Sansa embroidering her clothes in Season 6, which was revealed to be a Direwolf sigil. Did you happen to give any tips for Sophie Turner (the actress) on how to embroider?
No I haven’t, there is no need to, as you know Sansa is an amazing Embroiderer, she was taught by an excellent tutor Septa Mordane, I am so glad she kept up with the noble craft even after the death of Mordane who was killed off in Season 1. I suppose Sansa has had many hours to practice her embroidery over the Seasons when she has been locked away by various nasty people she has stayed with, or married. One thing that amazes me is how she gains access to all her materials for her embroidery when she is stuck in a far-off land, locked away, maybe there is good Online shopping in Westeros, delivered by Raven couriers, well that is what I am guessing.
What kind of formal training did you have in embroidery and stumpwork? Are there any resources you could give cosplayers to learn these traditional techniques?
I’ve never had any extensive education in embroidery, my skills in sewing were forged at an early age, being taught some basic stitching by my Mother. The first major manifestation of using embroidery as a creative medium was while I studied Fashion Design at college, a lot of the designs I was conceiving there I wanted them to have a sculptural presence, so I started to develop a passion for Stumpwork and in order to get the desired look I invested much time into learning skills to aid me, such as embroidery, millinery and knitting.
After leaving college I worked in Textile Conservation, repairing and restoring historical textiles for private collectors and museums, specializing in hand embroidery, this is where I would say I truly honed my hand needle skills, and apart from learning different techniques and stitches, I absorbed inspiration from all the beautiful historical textiles that passed through my hands.
My advice for Cosplayers are interested in learning skills of embroidery is simply learn by doing, start with something easy, try out different stitches, some are easier and quicker to do. You may find it easier to copy some existing embroidery you like and then progress towards designing your own, you will develop your own style naturally.
Some threads are easier to use than others so experiment, metallics can be tricky and need more patience, you just need to practice, as with anything, and a lot of the accuracy of technique is in the control of the entry and exit points of the needle, you will gradually use most of your fingers on both hands to feel the needle and thread as you work.
There are too many books to list on embroidery but if you have one good basic one that shows you all the stitches this can always be referred to and then if you find a particular style of work you like, then look to specific books on that technique, and there are also lots of Online Video Tutorials out there that can be helpful if you need to see a stitch or technique in practice.
What was your biggest costume challenge on the show? How did you solve it?
The wonderful aspect of working on a production like Game of Thrones for me is that it has given me the opportunity to experiment and develop my craft, trying new ideas and processes each season. Each design I work on can pose a challenge in some way, either technically or in sourcing the right materials in order to create a suitable piece for a particular character. But the main angst is always will I be able to achieve the design that I have envisioned in the limited time I am allocated, although sometimes this forces you down a new route and you stumble across or develop something that you hadn’t thought of before.
One costume that was quite a challenge was for the character of Myrcella which was featured in Season 5, it was a bias cut chiffon dress with a low cut back. The difficulty was, I was unsure as to how the embroidery that I had created separately on some fine silk crepeline would technically sit on the fabric when I stitched it to the dress, as I had created a fairly heavily beaded embroidery to apply to the costume, and I thought it may drag and cause unsightly puckers. Thankfully it turned out fine, which is just as well as there would have been no time to change it or start again with something different.
Lastly, what’s your favorite costume that you have done on the show so far?
That is a very difficult question to pick just one costume, as with each embroidery that you work on you are continually developing, experimenting and trying to achieve the elusive vision in your mind, so you never feel you have quite done the best you could.
To mention a few, I do like the collars I created for Catelyn Stark and those for Lisa Arryn with their concentrated areas of rich embellishment using different beads, gemstones and fish scale sequins.
Another favorite is Cersei’s rust red kimono with the lion heads on each arm that have a 3 dimensional quality, as well as Daenerys’ dragonscale textures.
I also loved creating the Qarth beetles, moths and grasshoppers, rather than being just the stitches it was really about finding the right materials to create the creatures.
Maybe on the next season I will have a more defining favourite, but I doubt it. I am never completely happy with something I have just finished and always think how I could have improved it with more time, so I am always driven in the search of perfection in my work.
Can you feel it in the air? The feeling that something is coming? We can too…
Announcing an entire week dedication to GoT cosplay in anticipation of the premiere of Game of Thrones season 7! We will be sharing fantastic cosplayers, a pattern roundup, pattern review and a SPECIAL GUEST that we just can’t wait to… well, you will see soon enough!