View Full Version : DBZ Saiyan Armor: The Materials, the Method, and the MADNESS

02-01-2011, 10:38 PM
Hey guys! I havenít put up any pics of my cosplay before, but I think today is a new day. I have a nicer camera, a bit more experience since I first joined (but really not as much as Iíll probably need), and the lady-huevos to tackle a costume Iíve always wanted to make, but never felt I had the right method for it...

Saiyan Armor
Dun dun dunnnn....
Reference Pics:
Side View (http://img232.imageshack.us/img232/1010/goku20and20gohan.jpg)
3/4 View (http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/8576/gokuposinginarmor.jpg)

Yes, I know, weíve all seen numerous threads regarding this tricky but oh-so-recognizable item. Yes, I know, most of those threads involve people begging for tips, tricks, and tutorials. This is not a thread of begging, my friends. This is a thread of discovery and exploration. Iíve come up with a half-baked method that I think will work, and if it does, I hope that it helps anyone who, like me, always dreamed of having that sleek, form-fitting Saiyan armor that doesnít have to be foam-cast and cost 300 smackers to buy/make.

So anyway, enough introduction. Letís move on to the meat of the matter.

I. Materials Collected:

1. Dress Form dummy
Thank kami-sama I finally broke down and bought it. itís been a godsend! However, if you canít afford one or donít want to buy one, Iíd suggest making one of those Duct-tape dummy things you may have heard about before. Youíre going to need something to pin your pieces to, so either one is a must for my purposes.

2. Half-Inch Thick Batting/Upholstery Foam
I picked up a few yards of this at a discount price at my local Hancockís, and it works really well so far. Donít get the Green foam or the really squishy springy kind. The kind you want will be stiff and more solid. Also make sure you get the kind that can be washed. Some of those foams canít be laundered.

3. Fabric
The only fabric Iíve gotten so far for this costume were two different kinds: A nice, stretchy, white jersey knit, and a gold-colored broadcloth. This section may be updated when I move onto the straps, but Iíll leave it like this for now.

4. 1Ē Piping Cord
Get a yard of this. Youíll be using it for the bottom of the armor.

5. ĹĒ Piping Cord
Get at least three yards of this. It will provide the piping for the other parts of the armor.

6. White, Sew-On Velcro
Iíve decided on Velcro for the closure mechanism, but if you like, you may use a zipper, snaps, or hooks and eyes; whichever you prefer. I like the simplicity and coverage that Velcro offers, though.

7. Thread to match your fabrics
This oneís obvious.

8. Newspaper
For making pattern pieces. :)

9. Tight-fitting, Light-Colored Baby Tee or T-shirt Youíll be drawing on this and using it for reference, so be sure to get a cheap one you donít want to keep. An old T-shirt will work, if you tack it in so that itís good and form-fitting. Just make sure itís a light color.

10. Pins, Sharpie, Pencil, Yardstick
Other things youíll need.

II. My Method

This whole idea centers around a dressform double, so if you donít have one and donít plan to get/make one, you might as well stop now. That being said, on we go.

Continued in Next Post...

02-01-2011, 10:40 PM
Step 1: Dress the Dummy and Draw the Armor
Put the Tee on the dressform and make sure itís well centered and firmly set in place. Make sure itís not loose-fitting at all. You may need to baste-stitch some parts in more tightly just to be sure. Donít worry if you have to do this while itís on the dummy; we wonít be needing the shirt for anything else.

Next, use a pencil to sketch out the general design of your saiyan armor on the shirt. Try to be as proportioned as possible, and keep an eye on your symmetry. Once you have your ďsketchĒ the way you want it, go over it with a sharpie so that itís easier to see. Here are two images of what Iíve done to mine:

Front View (http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/4448/tee1p.jpg)
Back View (http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/9599/tee2e.jpg)

Step 2: Create Pattern Pieces
Next you're going to want to take newspaper and pin it to your t-shirt over one of the sections of your armor. To determine what the sections are, just look for that thick line that divides everything up. Each of these parts is going to be cut out and created separately before pieced together:

Sloppy Diagram (http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/6103/diagram1u.png)

To make your pattern piece, pin the newspaper over the section in question, and then (carefully) cut everything away that doesn't fall inside the lines of your pattern piece. If you can, leave a half-inch extra on all sides, or even easier, remove the finished piece of paper, then transfer it to a new one with an extra half inch seam allowance. I think we'll need it, because with the width of the foam, it would be a snug fit on us without a little extra room.

Every piece in the pattern should tack down pretty easily, since most of them are small. However, the bust will give you a bit of problems if you don't fold your excess paper over into a simple dart to account for its convex nature. This fold will be important when we put our pieces together, so don't lose it when you remove your pattern piece and set it aside. Draw over it with a pencil or pen if you want to make sure not to lose it.

The back pieces didn't need any darting, but I may change my mind about that later as I assemble my pieces. For now, I've kept them flat.

Tip: If you're worried about the symmetry of your design, choose one half of the dummy to focus on and make your pattern pieces based on it. Just remember to double over pieces 3, 4, and 5 in the next step, since you'll be producing only half a pattern piece for them.

Step 3: Cut Foam
Now you're going to take those newspaper pattern pieces you've made and cut out pieces of foam to match them. Be sure to make reverse pieces for parts 1 and 2! Don't be afraid to use your sharpie to mark out your pieces; That part of the foam can be turned toward the inside of the garment, so even with the white fabric to cover it, it won't show through. Just be sure to only write on one side of each piece (and opposite sides on your reversed ones).

Step 4: Cover Foam Pieces in Fabric
There are two pieces in our garment that have the gold, ribbed armor in them (3 and 5). These are special, and we'll focus on them first. First off, place a layer of fabric both above and below these pieces, and pin securely around the edges of them, forming a little ravioli type piece with the foam as the filling. The pins should be snug against the edge, but not so tight that it causes your foam to bow or bend. Be sure to leave at least two inches of extra fabric around all edges. This rule will be in place for all our pieces, by the way. These long selvages have a purpose, but we'll get to that later.

The first thing you're going to want to do is stitch in all of your ribbing lines. This is actually very easy, as long as you mark off your straight lines before you take them to the sewing machine. Use your yardstick and your pencil to mark in the lines on pieces 3 and 5. Note that piece 3 has 3 lines, dividing it into 4 sections. Piece 5 has 4 lines, dividing it into 4 sections. Measure your pieces first so that you can divide them as equally as possible. Lengths of ribs will vary according to your height.

Next, sew along these lines with your machine, using a tight zigzag stitch with black thread. The reason for this is because it will make the seam show out more, and the black thread will accentuate the texture and shadow of the ribbing. This is a detail I don't see very often in sewn Saiyan Armor projects, and since my goal for this garment is to be able to wash it later if need be, paint is a nuh-uh, and so is sharpie.

When you've finished sewing in the ribbing, use your gold-colored thread to single stitch all the way around the boundaries of your pieces, getting as close to the edge of the foam as possible. If you catch a little bit of it, that's okay, but try to avoid it if you can.

After pieces 3 and 5 are done, you're ready for the white pieces. We'll hold off on pieces 1 for now, and instead focus on 2 and 4. Cover these in white fabric on both sides, pin them in, and cut them out with a 2Ē selvage. Stitch in the boundaries in white thread. They may slip a bit if you don't pin them securely, so be sure to pin them inside the piece, near the edges of the foam, so that the stretchy fabric and the sliding foam don't throw off your seams. We didn't need to pin the gold pieces because of the sturdiness the ribbing provided. ;)

Piece 1 will be a little more challenging. First, cut out the folded over dart from the foam piece, if you haven't already. This should remove a thin triangle from your foam. Baste stitch that triangle closed, pressing the sides together firmly but not so firmly that you pinch the foam. We just need it to stay in place, and if you are thorough without being too tight, it will hold just fine. Make sure that the side of your piece that juts outward is the side without any writing. Do the same for the reverse piece.

- - - - - - - -


This is as far as I've gotten as of today. As I make progress, discover shortcomings, and revise my technique, I'll update this er... tutorial and post new pictures. Let me know if any of you are interested in seeing how this thing turns out. I'm curious to find out if I'm the only one who still wants to build DBZ armor from scratch, but doesn't want to make it out of cardboard, duct tape, fosshape, or some other non-cloth medium. :) Heck; I don't even know if there are that many people still interested in DBZ cosplay; it's kind of a touchy subject for a lot of us, or so I gather. Some people think it's too cartoony and over the top, I guess. Then again, that's part of what endears it to me. ^_^

02-02-2011, 09:16 PM
please please please please PLEASE keep posting! I'm making costumes for about five people (including me!) by next halloween, and this is perfect so far. This is really good, and yes, there are people who still make costumes from scratch ;) Again, thank you for posting this!

02-08-2011, 09:12 AM
Step 5: Attach Pieces to Dress Form and Cut Piping

Next youíre going to want to pin your pieces together. This can be somewhat difficult, and it will give you some indication as to how difficult it will be to actually stitch them together when the time comes. Now that Iíve finished my first attempt, I can tell you with all certainty that the difficulty is only going to increase from here on out. Nevertheless, it can be done, and if you keep at it, it will turn out decently enough. Lay your pieces out in the general fashion seen below:

Configuration (http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/1323/pieces2.jpg)

Pin the front part and back parts together before pinning them to each other. Be sure to leave one side free of pins so that you can slip the whole thing onto your dummy before pinning it. Once youíve got things fairly well arranged, pin the whole thing up onto your dress form, and make sure to make it as snug and close to the seams as possible. At this point, if you need to make any alterations, do them now. In my case, my dress form had originally been set too large, and the armor was too big on me. I had to take in some slack on the back side, and as a result, my armor looks a little different, but thatís okay. This isnít as exact as it could be, and there is always room for improvement and alteration.

Front (http://img190.imageshack.us/img190/4294/pinned1.jpg)
Back (http://img547.imageshack.us/img547/6610/pinned2.jpg)

Once youíve put your pieces up on the dress form, itís time to start cutting off lengths of piping for the parts in between our pieces. Being liberal with your approximations, run piping along each of your edges, and cut them off with at least two inches extra on each end. Yes, weíll be wasting piping, but itís better to cut too much off than not enough. As you cut your pieces, pin them to the dummy, so that youíre sure which pieces go with which sections, and you can tell if you got them all or not. Remember that the larger piping is for the bottom part around your waist.

Example (http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/2105/piping2.jpg)

Draw yourself a diagram of your pattern pieces and number off the different areas where your piping lies. When youíve done that, attach labels to each piece of piping, assigning its proper number so that youíll know where to put it on your armor:

Example (http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/3435/piping3.jpg)
Close-up of Example (http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/2382/piping4.jpg)

Next, cut strips of white fabric to sew around your piping. You want to sew the seam as close to the piping as possible, but try not to catch any of it in the seam if you can avoid it. Youíll be needing to slide the seams back a bit to cut off excess piping before you actually attach it to the garment. Don't forget to keep the labels on the piping as you finish sewing the covers.

Covered Piping (http://img192.imageshack.us/img192/561/piping1.jpg)

When youíve got all of your piping covered, youíre ready to stitch your armor together! Stitch each inside seam first, and save the piping on the top and bottom of the garment for the very last.

Beginning to Sew Pieces Together (http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/44/sewing2.jpg)

You will find as you are sewing your pieces together that near the end, the number of layers of fabric youíll be sewing through will get to be rather unmanageable for most sewing machines. You may have to resort to hand stitching in the end, but do as much by machine as you can. Remember to leave one side of your garment unattached. Thatís where the closing mechanism will go. You wonít be able to simply slide this armor over your head, because it wonít be stretchy enough.

When you have attached all the pieces together, your armor is almost done. All you need now is the closing mechanism and the straps. Attach your closing mechanism first, and be sure to test it to see if everything still fits. I used Velcro, but now that Iíve done it, I wish I had used a zipper instead. The Velcro shows, and I still had to use an extra hook and eye fastener for the bit above the Velcro. ^_^ Anyway, use your judgment and youíll be fine. Messing this part up will only affect you if you attach everything by machine before testing the garment on yourself. Ripping out basted seams is much easier than ripping out machine stitches.

And now youíve got the worst part of it done! All thatís left is the straps, and those are easy peasy.

02-08-2011, 09:14 AM
Step 6: Making and Attaching the Straps

The straps took me a while to figure out, but I finally came up with a good idea, thanks to some input from a helpful member named FE Freak (http://www.cosplay.com/member/48885). Weíre going to need the following materials:

1. More of the same gold/yellow fabric we used on the ribbed part of the armor.
2. More of the foam we used in the armor.
3. Two large sheets of plastic canvas (the stiffer the better).

So first off, we need to measure how much distance we have from the front of our shoulder to the back, relative to the armor and where the straps go on it. You can use a tape measure for this; just be sure to figure in at least six extra inches in your measurement. Youíll need at least three inches on each end just to fix the strap to the armor.

Cut two strips from your canvas, anywhere from two to three inches wide, and as long as your measured value. Be sure to remember how wide these strips are, because it will be important later. Cover these strips with the gold fabric. How you do this is up to you, but I took some measurements and sewed the fabric by machine before sliding the strips up into it and sewed the ends by hand. I found that to be the easiest way.

Bottom of One Strap Covered in Fabric (http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/6330/straps2.jpg)

Then cut a bunch of small pieces of canvas that are the same width as the first two, but much, much shorter. I tried to figure in enough length to allow for eight sections on my straps, but I ended up with seven thanks to the added bulk of the fabric. :x At any rate, this is sort of an eyeballing thing, so you may need to suit it to your own measurements and tastes. Youíll want two of the little pieces per section on the strap, so if your straps are each going to have seven sections, youíll need 28 of the little pieces.

Little Canvas Pieces (http://img833.imageshack.us/img833/6259/canvas1.jpg)

Next, measure off a little rectangle of foam for each of your sections. I measured mine by making them about a canvas square less all the way Ďround. You want it to be a little bit smaller than your canvas pieces.

Foam Pieces (http://img220.imageshack.us/img220/2104/foam1.jpg)
All Parts for Straps (http://img199.imageshack.us/img199/3043/straps1.jpg)

Now you can visualize the general shape of each of your sections. Theyíll be formed by making little sandwiches of the canvas pieces and the foam pieces, like so:

Section Sandwich (http://img602.imageshack.us/img602/250/sections1.jpg)

All you have to do for them now is cover them in gold fabric. I found the easiest way to do this is to sew over a long strip of fabric leaving just enough width for the skinny end of the sandwiches to squeeze through. Then you can cut lengths off for each of the sections.

Fabric-Covered Sandwich (http://img573.imageshack.us/img573/8863/sections2.jpg)

Move the seam up on the underside, by the way. We don't really want it on the side like I've shown up there. ^^;

Now itís time to arrange our sections onto the straps. Mark off the area you have to work with (if you havenít already). Remember that youíll need at least three inches on either end to use to attach it to the garment. That portion will need to be flat up against the inside, so no sections will go there. The rest in the middle is up for grabs. Spread your sections out on each strap, and try to leave as little space between them as possible. If you overestimated the number of sections you could fit on there, like I did, try to at least make the spacing even. Pin them onto the strap by folding each side of the fabric over and around the edge and pin it in place.

Example (http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/2451/straps3.jpg)
Close up of Example (http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/6131/straps4.jpg)

Now, hand-stitch your sections onto the back of the strap. Be sure to catch all the layers of fabric as you stitch it. When youíve finished, it will look rather ragged and messy. All you need to do to fix that is to place another piece of fabric over the ragged edges (be sure to fold under its own edges) and sew it on by hand over them. When youíve finished, you should have two straps ready to attach.

Two Straps Ready to Attach (http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/6405/straps5.jpg)

Now for the final task for your armor. Attach the straps to the garment by stitching through the holes in the plastic canvas and through the inside portion of your armor. Be sure to not poke your needle all the way through to the outside of the armor! You donít want this to show on the outside.

And voila! Youíre done! Hopefully now you have a completed set of Saiyan Armor. Just complement it with a blue unitard, some boots, and some gloves, and thatís it for the clothing portion of the costume!

I hope this tutorial helps someone. Itís certainly not perfect, and there are parts of it which could easily be made more efficient, neat, and simple. Iím just not a good enough seamstress to figure it out just yet. ^^;

My First Attempt: Front (http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/2606/armor1b.jpg)
My First Attempt: Back (http://img28.imageshack.us/img28/9476/armor2t.jpg)
Er... please excuse my ugly face and whatnot... >_>

FE Freak
02-16-2011, 12:59 AM
You, my lady, are spectacular. That is a clean-looking Saiyan armor. It has the right width of piping and the panels are neat. You have opened the door for many a Z cosplayer.

02-16-2011, 07:51 AM
I thank you, but to be honest, I don't like it. It's heavy and bulky, and it isn't form-fitting in the slightest. xD

I'm currently redoing the whole thing, using batting instead, and I'll post back when it's done. Suffice it to say that it's turning out MUCH better, and I'm hoping you'll be just as pleased with the results as I am so far. :)

But thank you for the kind comments!

02-18-2011, 01:04 AM
Dude, you rock for sharing this with us. My boyfriend is in love with DragonBallZ and now I finally have a way to make some armor thanks to you.

03-09-2011, 11:02 AM
Wow it turned out!!!!! I think your tutorial is very informative and gives a great idea to people who don't know how to go about patterning and constructing that darn armor >_<

One thing that jumped out at me:

3. Fabric
The only fabric Iíve gotten so far for this costume were two different kinds: A nice, stretchy, white jersey knit, and a gold-colored broadcloth. This section may be updated when I move onto the straps, but Iíll leave it like this for now.

I'm going to have to put in that common jersey knit is not the ideal option. Stretchy it may be, but once it gets laundered or too stretched out it will not go back to it's original shape. It also doesn't hold a zipper or velcro well.

I suggest spandex! Ok, it's more expensive to get a nice spandex, but not only does it have high stretch, it will keep it's integrity and hold up to the stress the sides of the armor are going to be enduring.

The chest plate and back plate are sewed down onto the body of the armor and so the stress of this, coupled with the cinching effect you want on the sides requires a strong material.

That's not saying you can't use a non-stretch fabric to do the armor, since I've done that too.. though fitting it perfectly is a huge B*tch.. XD

05-27-2011, 12:13 PM
you.are. AMAZING! Thank you so much! I'm going to start on this project and will post updates on how it looks! Thank you sooo much! Im so excited to work on this