So, today, I’m going to go over how I embroidered the skirt panels for Aloy’s skirt from Horizon Zero Dawn.
If you’re looking for how I made these panels in the first place please go have a looksie at part one right HERE!
Okay, are you ready? Then here we go!
Note: for this tutorial, I’m going to assume that you used real hide, like me. This changes the process quite a bit! (I.e. it takes a LOT longer, but the results, in my humble opinion, are worth it!)
Here’s all that you’ll need for these steps:
- Your finished panels. You will need 6 in total (4 large ones, 2 smaller ones on the sides)
- A hole puncher
- Red wax chord 1mm thick (approx 50 metres per panel)
- Sand/white wax chord 1,5 mm thick (50 metres is enough)
- White/Ivory/off white wax chord 1,5 mm thick (30 metres should cover it)
- A large hobby needle/leather needle. Any needle with a big enough opening should do. (Insert dirty joke here)
- A piece of paper
- An exacto knife
- A marker
- Some nice music/Netflix/movies or something. This will take a while!
Ready? Alright, then!
First step: The red chord.
Now, if you look closely, you will see that the red panels on Aloy’s skirt are actually twine of some sort that has been wrapped around the fabric a bunch of times. Again, I don’t know what leather needles that girl has been using (or maybe she’s got superhuman strength, who knows?) but I could not for the life of me get any needle through the leather without bruising my hands and fingers.
But fear not, my friends. There is a solution and it’s called: a hole puncher!
Mark the parts where you want the red chord to be with chalk, based on the reference images.
PAY ATTENTION! You will need to hide some tiny knots and stuff on the back of your panels to fasten the red twine. Keep in mind that Aloy actually folds her flaps over at the top. This means that you need to keep in mind where the top of your panel is (or mark it, like I did) and make sure the knots are on the ‘RIGHT SIDE’ for those parts. This means that you won’t see any of those knots when you wear the panels the way you’re supposed to.
Take your hole puncher and make small holes adjacent to each other. MAKE SURE THEY DON’T OVERLAP! It’s okay if this happens once or twice, but in general, try to get them as close to each other as possible without making one giant, gaping hole.
Now, grab your needle and carefully thread the chord through the holes. I found that a good rule of thumb was to thread each hole at least 3 times, so there’s not as much room showing in between. If you really want a fuller look, I also suggest going slightly diagonally every once in a while.
BE CAREFUL! Sometimes, it might still take some force to get your needle through and you might accidentally end up stabbing yourself in the leg. (True story)
It’s okay if you tear up the blue fabric a bit. It’s nice and sturdy anyway and your chord will cover any holes. In the end, you won’t even see it.
It’s also okay if the fabric ‘pinches’ a bit where the red chord is. In fact, Aloy’s skirt isn’t completely straight either, so this will just add to the authenticity! Yay!
This step is not that hard, but it is VERY time consuming! Doing the red chord on any panel usually took me between 5 – 7 hours.
(Please tell me everyone makes this big a mess when they’re working on cosplay…)
In the end, however, it’s worth it!
This is the most time consuming part of the embroidery!
All done? Time for part 2!
The stitching on the sides
The sides of Aloy’s panel have stitching in a V-pattern that are identical on the front and the back of her flaps. This means that you have to position the holes and the chord in such a way that the front and back are identical.
Here’s what I did.
You need to punch your holes in this pattern. Two dots on the ‘ground’, one in the ‘sky’ in between. Keep this pattern up all throughout the panel.
Start embroidery in one way. So, as you can see above, I went from left (bottom) to right (top). Keep this up until you reach the end. As I’m easily confused, I only punched a couple of holes before filling them with thread. This way, I was sure I wouldn’t make any weird mistakes.
Also: see these little dots there? Get used to finding these EVERYWHERE! I swear, I will probably still be finding those things sometime next year. They’re in my work room, in my bathroom, on the stairs, downstairs and probably some hidden in the fur of my cat.
Once you’ve gone all the way around, you need to turn back! You will now need to embroider from right to left in order to get the V-shape you see above. Continue this all the way through.
If you’re done, it will look like this 🙂
This took me about 2 hours for each panel.
Okay! One more step to go!
The sun embroidery
(This is where I admit that while doing this I realized it was a sun pattern, the game was called Horizon Zero Dawn and my mind was BLOWN! Yes, that took me forever to realise…)
So while it’s totally possible to freehand this, I am too much of a control freak (and a perfectionist) to free hand this embroidery. But I did want it to LOOK as if I’d free handed it.
Here’s what I did!
First, I took a piece of paper and placed it on one of the panels. I then used a pencil to trace out where the side embroidery was, to prevent I’d draw my pretty design all over them. Make sure you decide how high you want your design to be beforehand!
I then took my pencil and started to sketch out the pattern I wanted. Just single lines, nothing fancy.
Now, take a thick marker and trace on the ‘stripes’ that will turn into your embroidery later on. Make sure your stripes are nice and thick (but not too thick) and that they’re not too close together.
Take an exacto knife and something to protect your surface and gently cut out the marks you just made with your marker. Be sure to take it slow! Trace gently and be careful not to ruin your paper. You could also use cardboard for this step, if you prefer.
ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WHEN WORKING WITH KNIVES!
Enjoy your handiwork and, optionally, use the sheet of paper as an innovative mask to scare your neighbour’s kids.
Carefully place the sheet of paper on your panel and tape it on. Be careful you don’t damage the material (I used painter’s tape).
Take a thin pen (those fineline stabilo marker things are great for this) and place dots at the top and bottom of each opening you made. Be super careful and make very tiny marks! You don’t want them showing up later!
Now, take your hole puncher and ONE BY ONE, punch the holes of the different suns on. Doing this one at a time ensures you don’t get confused amidst the whirlwind of dots and you’ll keep track of your pattern.
Use a brighter thread than the one around the sides to fill this in.
And voila! You are done!
Here’s a view of two of the panels on the back with an unfinished scarf:
I’ll add some nice pictures of all the finished panels as soon as they’re done 🙂
Good luck everyone!
If you make this costume or use this tutorial for something, do let me know!
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