Skirt Build Write-Up - Chrisco27

All versions of the Praetorian Guard from The Last Jedi

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Chrisco27
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Skirt Build Write-Up - Chrisco27

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Praetorian Guard - Skirt Build

The skirt that came with my armor from Jim Tripon, was made out of plain red felt and was ok to start with. However mine had the wrong overlap; the back panel with the seam and the front panel were on top of the side panels. For a couple troops I just turned the skirt so the front and back panel were on the sides for the correct overlap, but then the panel with the seam was on the side. It wasn’t that noticeable but it was not accurate and really frustrated me. Also the felt wasn’t the right fabric. Plus I am tall and I found that the skirt was a little short. Theres a few reasons but I obviously needed a new skirt.

I had seen a few people on Facebook who had posted about the correct fabrics they had found and templates they had made for the skirt panels. With this basis I figured I could make my own skirt. Plus there aren’t really any options available to buy a nice one unless you commission a seamstress to make a custom one.
As a disclaimer I am a novice at sewing. I know how to use a sewing machine but I don’t know all the tricks of the trade. I did make a few mistakes and others could probably do better, but the skirt was relatively simple and I am happy with the outcome. I will gear this write up more towards the novice, so sorry sewing veterans out there. I’m not going to get into how to sew or use a sewing machine here, but focus more on the process for making this particular skirt. If anyone has tips on how to improve upon my build, please share to help everyone out.

Materials and Skirt Patterns

I found the correct looking fabric based on facebook posts and bought some. In the movie they used a red cavalry twill wool. Obviously it’s a wool fabric that is woven in a cavalry twill pattern (kinda looks like thin diagonal lines. You can see detailed pictures of the screen used suit here on ForcePike.
Well from mine and others research, finding this wool is impossible. Instead myself and others bought a red cavalry twill cotton fabric. But this fabric is also hard to find and I’ve only seen it online. Mine is made by Spechler Vogel. Here is a picture of the cotton fabric.

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Others had said they used about 5 to 6 yards of fabric to make their skirts. I would say this is accurate. I was unsure at first of how much I would need and I found a site with only 8 yards left in stock so I bought all 8 yards. When I was done I had used 5 yards to make the 4 panels and then part of a yard to make the belt the panels were sewn onto (the belt could be a different fabric). If you cut out your panels efficiently from the fabric, you should have little waste. However if you are a bigger trooper, with wider panels, you may need a couple more yards of fabric. Here is a picture of how I cut out some of my panels as an example.

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Here is where I made my first mistake. I knew I had to wash my fabric before applying interfacing (I get to that later) and doing all my sewing, but I was so excited about starting, that I cut out all my pieces before washing. I also wasn’t sure if I should put all 8 yards is the wash. Anyway I put all of my perfecty measured pieces in the wash and low/delicate dry cycle, and they all shrunk. Crap. Across the short distance of the pieces they shrunk half an inch but along the length they shrunk almost 2 inches. This could have been a huge problem but luckily it wasn’t. I added a LOT of extra length to my measurements knowing that the felt skirt was short. I didn’t really care how far up my chest it came because that gets hidden so I went super long to begin with. In the end the shrinkage didn’t make a difference, but I learned my lesson; WASH EVERTHING BEFORE CUTTING!!

For the measurements of each panel I used an excel template from another member of the Facebook group. Huge shout out to Wendee Andursawn. She made a Google Doc excel file that anyone can use and imput their measurements and it will calculate the dimensions of the skirt panels. She also put in notes about making the skirt to help novices like me. This file was put in the comments in a post by her on the Facebook group. I saved a copy of the file and put in all my info. I used the measurements it gave me as a basis to start. I input a waist of 36 in, hips of 40 in, and distance from waist to floor of 47 in (added a few inches here). I also put on my torso/ab armor to verify the skirt would be long enough. The dimensions for the front and side panels (which are the same and trapazodal) were a 14 in top, about a 16 in bottom and a 48 in side. The dimensions for the back panel (also trapazodal) were about a 20 in top, about a 18 in bottom and a 48 in side.

I made a couple paper panels to see how it would turn out. I realized that I wanted to add some width to the bottom of each panel so it could flare out more like a bell shape and still overlap a bit. And I also tweaked the back panel to be a little skinnier at the top and wider at the bottom like the other panels.
I played with the paper templates and the final dimensions for the front and side panels were 13 inch tops, 20 inch bottoms, and still 48 inch length. The back panel, I wanted a 14 inch top, 21 inch bottom and 48 inch length. The back panel has a seam down the middle and will be made up of two smaller pieces which have 7 inch tops, 10.5 inch bottoms, and 48 in length.
I know the CRL says the panels are rectangular but that’s not really the case and does not look accurate so trapezoid it is. The CRL does say the panels are double sided so to make one panel, two pieces of fabric are used. So to make the front and 2 side panels, 6 pieces of fabric are needed. The back panel is made up of two pieces of fabric on the outside and one larger piece for the backside of the panel. So this will need 3 pieces. Altogether 9 pieces of fabric need to be cut out.

The dimensions of each panel need to be 1 inch larger for the seam allowance, which will come into play later. So the final dimensions for my pieces are front and sides: 14 inch top, 21 inch bottom and I kept the 48 inch length. Back panel 2 small pieces: 8 inch tops, 11.5 inch bottoms, 48 inch length, and large back panel: 15 inch top, 22 inch bottom, 48 inch length.

I laid out my fabric on the floor, which was the only large surface I had. I used a pencil and 6 foot ruler I had to draw out each piece. Before cutting I should have washed the fabric to pre shrink it and get rid of any chemical residuals.
When drawing out the trapezoids be very careful to keep them square and centered on a center line. I would recommend drawing a center line lengthwise and measuring off of that to either side for your top and bottom. If your trapezoids are skewed to much they wont line up with each other when it is time to sew.
Also because these trapezoid panels will be wrapping around my body and flare out, the tops and bottoms can be curved downward. Wendee shows this in her template file. The bottom curve will drop down ¾ of a inch, and the top can drop about ½ inch.
In the following pictures you can see the slight curves to the bottom and tops.

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Interfacing

Once all my pieces were cut out, it was time to add interfacing. Interfacing is a fabric or material that you add to the back of your good fabric to add strength and rigidity. If I were using the screen used wool I probably wouldn’t need interfacing but my cotton fabric was thin and didn’t drape the right way so it needed interfacing. Interfacing can just be sewn in or ironed onto/fused to the good fabric, which is what I used. I got some mid-weight fusable interfacing from a local fabric craft store. It is sold by the yard but it only comes about 20 inches wide so for my whole skirt I think I used 10 to 12 yards (sorry forgot to keep track). Some of the fabric pieces were a tiny bit wider than the 20 inch interfacing but that’s ok, I just centered it as best I could.

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This was my first time with interfacing, let alone fusable interfacing, so I watched some how-to videos online, which I would recommend to newbies. Once I felt comfortable with the process, I took a small piece of scrap good fabric and a piece of interfacing to test before I potentially ruined a good piece of the skirt. Make sure to attach the interfacing to the wrong side or back side of your good fabric. My test piece worked out fine so I went ahead and ironed on the interfacing to all pieces. This does take a while. Its not as simple as ironing a shirt. The iron, on high heat, has to be held in one place for 10-15 seconds. So doing all these pieces takes a loooong time. But it is worth it for the correct look.


Construction of Panels

All of these panels are a little bit bigger than needed and now the final dimensions/pattern have to be marked. With all the interfacing attached, it does cover any marks you had previously made on your fabric pieces so you can now transfer those to the interfacing. Pencil on the correct shape leaving a ½ space for the seam allowance on the sides and bottom (the top doesn’t need the seam allowance).

To make a panel, two pieces of fabric will be sewn together. Technically you only have to mark the pattern on 3 of the 6 side panels and all the back ones, because marked ones can be paired with unmarked ones and the marking only need to be visible on one side for sewing.
Start by having the right sides of the 2 pieces against each other.

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Then they will be sewn on the sides and bottom along your marked lines, leaving the top open. Once the 3 sides are sewn, the panel will be turned inside out. This should produce the correct sized panel.

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Make the 2 sides and front panel this way.
The back panel has an extra step because of the seam. Take the two skinnier pieces of fabric and lay them on top of one another with the good sides facing each other. Sew down only one long side leaving that ½ inch seam allowance. With this one side sewn, the 2 piece can be opened up to form one large piece with a nice seam. Here is a picture of them face down but sewn together.

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Now take this larger piece made up of the 2 smaller ones, and lay it down on the last large piece for the back panel, good sides toward each other. Again sew around the 2 sides and bottom and turn inside out to see a beautiful back panel with seam.

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For screen accuracy and CRL approval, each panel must also be top stitched on the sides. A top stitch is just a regular stitch on the finished side of the fabric (as opposed to the turning inside out stuff we just did). So take each panel and run it through the sewing machine and put a stitch down each side. Im not sure how close this stitch has to be to the edge. The CRL certainly does not say anything, but from detailed photos of the costume, the top stitch looks very close to the edge. I just lined up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the sewing machine foot and went to town.

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Belt

To hold up these panels I figured I would make a belt of fabric (could be the same fabric or different, doesn’t matter, cause it wont be seen). The panels would be sewn right to this belt and then it would have a velcro closure. To have a nice wide base I decided on a 5 inch wide belt. I measured around my torso about where this would sit to get a length (36inch) then added about 6 inches for overlap where the Velcro would be (final length of 42 inches)
I figured this belt would be supporting a decent load so I wanted to triple up the fabric. I cut a piece of my skirt fabric that was 42 inches long by 15 wide. Then folded this piece twice lengthwise to get the 42in x 5in belt. I pined it up and sewed it. Again this belt will not be seen so my sewing job was pretty crude.

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For my Praetorian build I initially bought a big piece of red Velcro that was about 20 inches by 4 inches. It was an awesome piece but I did not end up using it for the armor. This came in very handy for the belt. I cut a piece that was about 4in x 4in to use (any sew on Velcro should work, just add enough for a secure closure). I took the hook side Velcro and sewed that onto one of the ends before attaching the panels, for ease of sewing. I did not attach the loop side yet. I wanted to see how everything laid out and lined up.

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Attaching Panels to Belt

Now it was time to sew the panels onto the belt. Thinking of the final product, I knew I would have a Velcro closure and that the closure should be in the back, between the back panel and one of the side panels. I didn’t want the closure to be in front, because depending on how tight or loose I pull the skirt around my body, it could change the spacing and overlap of the panels. That could look bad if seen in the front, but I could more easily hide it in the back. I chose the back right arbitrarily.
Knowing this, I laid my belt on the ground, with the hook Velcro patch I put on, face down. This part now gets a little tricky and takes some math. I need to find my overlap of panel to panel, Wendee’s template can help a bit with this too. I know my torso measurement is 36 inches, and the tops of all my panels add up to way more than 36 inches. 13+13+13+14= 53 inches. So my overlap is the total length minus my waist measuremtn (53 inches minus 36 inches which is 17 inches). There are 4 overlaps so 17 inches divided by 4 is 4.25 inches for each overlap.
With my belt laying out, I put a long ruler next to it and started laying the panels on top of the belt. I started with the right panel, next came the front panel, which goes under the right panel with 4.25 inches of overlap. Next was the left panel that went over the front panel with the same overlap. Then finally the back panel under the left with 4.25 inches of overlap. The back panel did extend past my 36 mark by 4.25 inches. But I had to remember that this extra will be covered by the overlap of the right panel once wrapped around my body. Make sure the back panel, with seam, is facing the correct way.
It took a lot of adjusting to get just this whole alignment perfect on the ground but once I was happy I pinned it in many places to keep it together.

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From there I sewed across the top, attaching the panels to the belt. Take your time, as all this fabric can be a lot to handle and keep straight while sewing.

Once I had the skirt together, the last step was placing and sewing on the loop side Velcro. I wrapped the skirt around me where it would normally be and marked where the already sewed on hook side Velcro sat. this gave me the location where to sew on the loop side. I then sewed that and was done with the skirt.

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Hip pad Construction

In addition to the skirt, I wanted to make some hip pads. For the proper look, the skirt should angle out on the sides as a continuation of the ab armor angle.

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My first skirt did not do that and hung down in a sad way.

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To help fix this, hip pads are added. Or if you want, you can call it a bustle. My wife was always amused when I said I was sewing my bustle for my skirt, haha.
But there are screen shots where you can see that these hip pads were used by the actors in the movie.
The pads could certainly be attached right to the skirt but I decided to separate them for ease of construction and simplicity. I planned to make another simple belt of fabric with Velcro and sew on pads filled with stuffing.

For the movie, it seems the pads are only on the sides and Im guessing probably the back. It doesn’t seem like they are really needed in the front, plus with the legs spread in combat type stances, they could be visible. So I decided to start the pads at about the 2-o-clock position on my body and continue it around my back to the 10-o-clock position. I thought about making 3 separate pads (2 sides and one back) or even one continuous one, but in the end I made two separate pads, with a seam in the back. I’m sure other ways would work but this seemed to be simple and effective.
For the material and stuffing, I went to my local fabric craft store. I got some plain black fabric (maybe 2 yards), so it would blend in with my pants, and some batting, any type should work.

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Now that I had my materials and plan, I did some measuring. I knew my torso was 36 inches so to make my fabric belt I added a few inches to overlap for the Velcro closure. The belt was around 40-42 inches. I planned for a width of 5 inches and figured I would double up the fabric for strength. I cut out a piece of fabric that was 42 inches by 10 inches and folded it in half lengthwise to form the belt.

For the pads I planned to make them rectangular with rounded bottom corners. I will take two pieces of fabric, sew them together along the sides and bottom, then turn it inside out, fill with batting and sew the top to the belt, while also sealing in the batting. The distance the pads covered around my body was about 26 inches, so each pad was 13 inches wide. I wanted the pads to go over my hips to hold out the skirt so I chose to make the actual stuffed pads 9 inches long with another 5 inches above that to sew onto the belt. With a half inch for seam allowance on the sides and bottom, the final dimensions for the pad pieces were 14 inches wide by 14.5 inches tall with rounded bottom corners. I needed 4 of these.

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Sewing

I had all my fabric cut so I started sewing. First the belt. I just sewed around the perimeter of my folded over piece to secure it (sewing on the pads will further strengthen the belt). I didn’t worry about the rough edges of the fabric or my poor sewing here because this will all be hidden. I pinned together the pairs of fabric for the pads and sewed the sides and bottoms using the half inch seam allowance. Here is a picture of the sewn pieces.

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I turned them inside out to form the pockets.

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I then took the sewn pocket and laid it on the batting. I made sure that only the bottom 9 inches were on the batting to get the right size (9inch long pad). The top of the pocket hung off the batting by 5 inches (this is the unfilled part that will be sewn onto the belt). I traced the shape of the fabric pocket onto the batting with a marker then cut out a lot of layers of batting. The batting measurements were about 9 inches long and 13 inches wide, with the same rounded bottom corners.

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I was not sure how much or how many layers of batting I would need for stuffing material. I knew the skirt had some weight and guessed that I would need the pads to be relatively stiff to hold out the skirt. I cut out quite a few layers of batting for each pad, about 6. I stuffed the pads to see how it would look

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To get the right stuffing, I put on my skirt and nicely positioned the pads were they would be underneath. I then put my ab armor on, to see the full effect. I realized that I did not actually need that much batting in each pad. Through trial and error of test fitting, I found that 6 layers of batting was way too much and I only needed 2 in the end.

Final Assembly

For the final product, I figured I would have the Velcro belt closure in the front, which makes sense because the pads are all around the back. So for alignment, the pads would be sewn onto the belt about in the middle. I took the two pads stuffed with batting and pinned the top of the pads to the belt. I sewed across the tops a few times to attach those all together.

To finish, I needed to attach the two Velcro sides for the belt closure. I took a little bit of the large red Velcro strip I used for my skirt. I cut a piece around 4in by 3 in, but any size should work as long as it holds. You could also sew a few strips of skinnier Velcro to form a larger patch. I sewed on the hook side to the back of the belt on one end. Then I held up the belt on my body where it would sit and marked where this hook side Velcro should attach to the other end of the belt. I marked where the loop would be attached and then sewed that on.

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But of course I had to try on the whole set up. I threw on the skirt, and ab armor to see how it looked.

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I am pretty happy with the way it turned out and it is a huge improvement over the unpadded felt skirt.
TR-42488 Praetorian Guard
Lobster Chris
New England Garrison

"We are about accuracy, not elitism"

User avatar
Madighon
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:01 am
TKID: 90603
Location: Monmouth, OR

Re: Skirt Build Write-Up - Chrisco27

Post by Madighon »

Thanks for all the great info here. I was wondering if you would be willing to post the Google Doc, or at least a link to it, that you used for the sizes?

Thanks,
Josh

weaver7237
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:26 am

Re: Skirt Build Write-Up - Chrisco27

Post by weaver7237 »

Madighon wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 5:09 pm
Thanks for all the great info here. I was wondering if you would be willing to post the Google Doc, or at least a link to it, that you used for the sizes?

Thanks,
Josh
Josh - I found the link on the 501 Praetorian Guard Build group facebook page.
The link to the FB group is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/176717492870963/

The original poster in the FB group now has a profile name of Wendy Forbes.
Her post is here after you join the group (if you haven't already):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1767174 ... 512604326/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... Is-rTC8TAg

Good luck!!

Bryan
Last edited by weaver7237 on Mon Jun 29, 2020 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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