Re-Creating Jen

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Jen Backstage

Jen's Wig

For Jen's hair, I had to purchase a wig with straight hair that could be cut to the right length.

I also had to remove part of the back-bottom edge of the wig, and re-position it at the front to create the bangs.

I then streaked the hair with a silvery gray to approximate the look of the character. The ears were sewn into the sides of the wig.

Jen's Costume

Jen had the most complicated costume of the project. It took six months to complete, working evenings and part of every weekend.

In places, it had multiple layers of fabric in addition to quilt batting.

It required skills, not only in quilting, but in batik, leatherwork, ceramics, and a variety of dying and fabric painting techniques. The tunic was entirely hand sewn.

The sketching, pattern making, and materials preparation and experimentation took the most time.

Sketch of Jen's Costume

The tunic was made up of several parts, overlaid with quilting and dyed highlights, as well as ornamental stitching, piping, and added textures.

The basic fabric of Jen's tunic was faux suede. I chose this over chamois (which appeared to be what was used on the costume on display at the Craft and Folk Art Museum).

Faux suede wouldn't shrink or decompose as natural chamois might, and it had a consistent thickness. Faux suede was available in the basic colors, length, and width I needed.

Testing the fabric showed it could accept washes of acrylic paint to create the subtle details easily and uniformly.

I found that I had to make the washes considerably darker, as they dried much lighter. It took some time to detail the fabric and stitching using this technique.

I grew bold enough (or perhaps tired enough) one evening to try washes that appeared to be too dark. I wondered at one point if I had ruined it, but when it dried, it was still a little lighter than I had wanted! I had to go over it again.


The under-tunic was a fairly simple, long-sleeved shirt which terminated into a tapered "V" in front, about 6 inches above the knee. It had detailing only on the bottom third of the garment, from waist to the ragged, unfinished hem.

Detailing consisted of lines of stitching that followed the line of the "V." This was augmented with rust-colored acrylic washes.

The washes actually dyed the thread darker than the surrounding fabric, which added a rustic touch to the stitching.

Overshirt of Jen's Costume

Over that was a shorter overshirt that tapered down the front into a rough V-shape. It had short sleeves which were wider in diameter than those of the under-tunic, with stitching running parallel to the rough hem of the sleeve.

I used acrylic washes on the lower part of the "v." I gradually added the rust colored decoration until I achieved the desired contrast.

Top Layer of Jen's Costume

The top layer appeared to morph into a cape-like-structure at the level of the shoulder blades in the back. In the front, it tapered down into a highly detailed, but less steep, "w" shape. Attached to this layer was the standing collar, which had piping running across the top and down the front to merge into the garment.

On the shoulder was a tapered shoulder cuff. Under the cuff, a longer, petal shaped arm-guard extended down almost to the elbow joint.

All parts of this top layer had quilted appliques of brown swirls and triangles, over which was a layer of dyed cheesecloth (which had every other strand of warp and weft removed). In some places, there were five layers of fabric plus quilting to be sewn together.

At the wrist, the long sleeve of the tunic was covered by a tapered wrist guard that was highly textured and dyed. Strings and knobbly fabric hung off various parts of the wrist guard and the cape in the back to give additional texture. The cape emanated from the points of the ruddy-brown colored overlay. The cape fabric was light at the top, gradually becoming brown by the time it terminated in a tattered fashion just below the back of the knee.

Each of these elements had to be patterned, the fabric dyed, cut, fitted precisely, weathered, and integrated to the garment as a whole. By the way, the costumes at the Craft and Folk Art museum had subtly different designs than those of the costumes used in the film. They may have been back up costumes, or ones created just for the exhibit.

Jen's Leggings and Belt

The leggings were made from cotton jersey. The fabric was off-white in color, and was batiked (a wax resist dying technique). The fabric was treated with wax in the areas that were not to be dyed. The purplish color was then applied, allowed to dry, and then the wax removed. The pattern was then cut, and the leggings (made like footless tights) were sewn. The seam ran up the back of the leg.

The belt was a pre-cut piece of leather from a leather supply shop, which was hand-dyed. It was trimmed to the right length, holes punched for the various beads, lacings, and the buckle (which was custom made from my supplied re-creation of the design, and cast in a foundry). The hardware was strapped on with brown leather lacing.

Jen's Footwear

This presented a new challenge. It took some time to figure out how to do it practically, and at the same time as close to the original as possible.

Jen's Shoe Pattern

On the character as seen at the Craft and Folk Art Museum display, there was only one seam, parallel to the plane of the foot, on the inside foot at about the level of the ankle, tapering down to where the shoe opens to reveal the toes. I tried to match it as closely as possible.

After much experimentation with brown postal paper and tape approximating the placement and proportions of features, I created a pattern that is one piece. The heel tab rose halfway up the back of the leg toward the knee, and the tongue rose up the front to about the same height (though from the top of the instep).

The material was folded over the instep, creating the heel tab and tongue, and then the flap on the opposing side was folded back over that, and stitched with lacing. It had to be made from two pieces bonded together for the right thickness and to hold their shape. I also bonded the last tab that folded over the top for added strength.

The pattern was reversed to do the other shoe. The result was actually comfortable to wear. I was fortunate in that the design actually hid one of my own toes, revealing only 4, which was the number of toes the character had in the film.

In retrospect, I would have done some things differently on the costume. In reviewing the photos, I see that I set the triangle of beads too low on the finished costume, compared to the original production sketch. They were sewn on in after midnight, the night before the convention. The sleeves on the under-tunic appeared a little too loose-fitting, and the arm-guard was a bit too long proportionately. But, it was an interesting experience, and yielded new skills that I have applied to other projects.