Introduction: Sew a Game of Thrones Dragon
This was my Christmas present to my sister (posing) who is a huge Game of Thrones fan. I made it with the vague idea of someday using it in a Daenerys costume we could theoretically make together.
I scanned the internet before creating this but there is a dearth of dragon tutorials so I thought I would make one for here.
I made the pattern myself with a lot of switching back and forth between pretty shoddy reference images and trial and error. This is my first attempt at pattern construction and I am really happy with it. That being said, this is definitely a do what I say, not what I do instructable as I refined my technique as I made the dragon. Therefore sometimes the best way to do things is not the order I myself completed them in. The pattern is A4 sized.
In theory this dragon is Drogon, but I became confused and thought he was green in the pictures I saw. I am sure you will all do your research better so please forgive me.
And with that, let us to the Materials!
Step 1: Materials
For the Body and Head
- Fabric scissors
- Chalk or permanent marker (I used marker because I couldn't find my chalk and would paint everything anyway)
- An Unpicker (optional)
- Needle and thread
- Sewing Machine
- Material of your choice
- Pencil or Skewer
A note about material: I used plain calico for this dragon for a few reasons, firstly because it was what I had on hand without going to a fabric store and because I had a lot of it in case I made a huge mistake. This meant I had to paint the texture on. You can use whatever fabric you want, just take into account how much it frays, stretches etc. In my dreams I would have used a dark velvet embossed with a scale pattern.
For the wings
- Wire - I used fencing wire because I had it, thinner wire would give a more flexible dragon (though the paint counteracts this).
- Hot glue gun
- A variety of brushes, including one you won't mind wrecking a bit
- Acrylic paints in appropriate colours
- Acrylic medium - This makes the colours runnier without diluting the colour, which is useful as they go a bit further. Water can be used.
- Gold paint or glitter (optional)
Step 2: Making the Head
When cutting out the pattern pieces using calico I would suggest having a decent seam allowance because it frays like crazy. It also gives you a little leeway if something goes wrong.
Start to stitch together the side of the head and the chin, right sides facing each other. The easiest way to do this is to draw the outline of the piece on each bit of fabric and simply connect the lines using a sewing needle, see third picture.
Sew the other head piece to the chin using the same technique.
Next sew the top of the head on, making sure to join it correctly at the mouth part of the head and to reinforce the corners that form there. Cut wedges into the edges of all the pieces so that it will curve nicely. You can now turn it inside out and admire your handy work.
Note: I hand sewed this bit as I found it quite difficult to pin the pieces in place as they are quite small. A sewing machine could probably be used if the pattern were enlarged.
Step 3: Horns and Neck
Sew around the outline of the horns. I hand sewed this but it would really be better to use a sewing machine. My horns are a lot pudgier than the ones in the pattern. I changed this because I thought mine looked like an udder. If you like mine just sew shorter horns.
Cut around the horns with a decent seam allowance, adding notches where it seems like the fabric will bunch. I think I put small ones between each horn.
Turn right way out and sew one side to the forehead of your dragon. Then sew the other side to the back-neck, making sure not to sew the horns closed.
Using the connect-the-lines method as seen in "Sewing the Head" attach one side of the neck to one of the here-to-fore unsewn sides of the head. Curving the neck to follow the side of the head should give it a rounded edge. Do the same with the other side. It is easiest to do this if the head is inside-out.
Then do the exact same thing with the under-neck part and sew only one side of the neck closed where the two neck-bits meet. Leave the other open because we will use it to stuff the head later.
Step 4: Making the Wings
The wings are the part I am most proud of. They actually aren't that hard once you get the hang of it.
Firstly cut out and sew, using the machine, two lots of the wing patterns. Sew everything except the top from the second wing turn (picture shows area).
Cut notches to stop bunching then turn right-way-out and poke the points back into the wings using a pencil or skewer. Be gentle if using calico.
Next cut a length of wire about as long as your forearm, so longish. It is better to have too much than too little. Make a small curl using pliers then bend it somewhat into the shape of the first wing bone. This is only hard for the first one, the rest use the natural curve of the rolled wire. Place it on top of the right-way-out wing and mark a channel slightly wider than the wire. I used permanent marker, you can use whatever suits your needs.
Use the sewing machine to sew the channel then slide the wire in. You can bend it into better shape now it is there. Gently bend the remaining wire so that it runs parallel to the unsewn edge of the wing. Before you are done with the wing sew a few stitches through the loop at the end of each wire bone to stop them moving too much.
Now rinse and repeat for the remaining bones and wing.
Step 5: Making the Wings, Part Two
Next thing to do is finish the arm bit of the wings. The best way to do this is to bunch the bits of wire that hang out of the channels in a loose group, mark where they go and, being very careful not to destroy your sewing machine like I nearly did, sew the inner edge of a large channel for them, going to the edge of the wing.
Then cut three longish pieces of new wire and twist them together. Wearing a rubber glove is good for this as it gives grip and you don't have the possibility of blisters. Nestle these new wires someway amongst the non-twisted ones, stitch around and amongst them a few times to keep them in place then carefully hand stitch the open seems closed. When I can, I like to turn the edges of the fabric into each other, like your hands do when making a heart shape, and then stitch that closed. But of course I did not leave enough seam allowance (I actually forgot altogether) and therefore I just whip stiched liked crazy until it looked ok.
Leave two small gaps, one before the spike and one after and use these to stuff the wing channel a little, then sew closed. Repeat for second wing.
Step 6: Making the Body
Sew the tail together, right way in, then turn inside out. Sew one side to one side of the torso. Sew the back of the neck to the back part of the torso.
Here is an example of what happens when no seam allowance is left. It frayed like crazy. My trick for this is to put the zigzag stitch of my machine on its closest (width) setting and sew over the hole. It works pretty well (though I had so many holes I had no choice but to hand stitch them).
Sew the back torso piece (has head and tail attached) to one side of the hole that is the end of the wings' large channel.The hole should still open.
The Twizzler stick wire should pass each other towards the top of the torso piece. Use a few stitches to keep them in place, they don't work very well but help a bit. This part will give you hell because it is slippery, but stays in place once stuffed. Next bend the wire into a rectangle/oval. I did this vertically (see picture) but I think having it flat to the back of the dragon might be better, not sure how easy it is to do that. Cut off any excess wire. Just grip with the pliers and rock back and forth to make it break.
Hot glue the wires together where they touch (don't get it on the fabric) and cover any sharp bits.
Sew on the second torso piece. This takes a little patience but hang in there. Sew the wing membrane going all the way through all fabric (remember membrane has no width and doesn't need to be stuffed).
Step 7: Making the Body Continued
Now sew any loose hanging pieces onto the body. Leaving the previously mentioned neck gap and one where the body meets the tail.
When stuffing start with the horns first and use very small bits of stuffing first. Poke it in with a pencil then get larger. Do this with the tail too. Make sure you stuff everything very tightly so that it can support itself (or close enough). Sew gaps closed.
The legs are pretty easy. Simply sew around the pattern on the machine, leaving a gap for stuffing. Cut notches like I did. Turning them inside out is a bit of a pain but be patient. I found if I hooked a little fabric with a pin then pulled gently it helped, but be careful not to rip anything.
Stuff them, again using very small bits at first.
Sew them closed the attach them to the body using whip stitch (or whatever works, it was a little hard).
And your dragon is done, pale and naked, but done!
Step 8: How to Paint Your Dragon
Now comes the fun bit!
Mix the paints with medium.
I started by painting the dragon a dark-ish green (I swear I though it was right) all over the back section. It ended up a bit darker than intended as I had to paint over a large number of mistakes.
While this was drying I painted the back half of the wings bright red, leaving the channels white. I then mixed some green and red to find a mid-dark-ish red and painted that over the bright crimson to about halfway down each wing (working on one wing at a time). Blend the two together a little, adding more crimson when necessary. The last bit is to use your darkest dragon green (used later) and then paint in the very top edges of the wing, getting a nice gradient.
You can go over and retouch this as much as you like. Using a lot of medium helps when blending.
The back now dry, I placed the netting tightly over the dragon and, using undiluted darkest green, patted paint onto the net in a motion similar to tapping a touch screen. The thicker the paint, the better this works but it does muss up your brush. Do this all over the dragon, being careful not to go over the same place too much because it gets messy. I think a slightly larger weave than my net would have been better.
While this dries, paint in the wing channels, being careful to leave as little plain fabric as possible.
My scales looked a bit weird so I used dark paint diluted with water (makes it translucent) to darken the edges of the dragon at the seams. I also gave it a red scale stripe down its middle to define the back.
When this dries flip over and repeat on the front, leaving the tummy a little lighter than the rest.
I used the same gradient on the horns as the wing, making the tips crimson. Make sure to paint over all the seams, including those of the wings so that no unsightly calico shows.
Scale the face then use very pale green, red and white to paint the eyes, mouth and nostrils.
Because I thought it needed some pizzazz I used a gold paint and a very fine brush to give the dragon some gold scales, also brushing along the wing tips, tail and horns.
Step 9: Amaze!
Because I am a huge dork and had some gold wrapping paper I used a Sharpie to draw scales on the paper, like its own hatching egg. Be warned however, this is not an easy present to wrap (especially without enough paper).
And there you are! Show it off, amaze your friends, become the best sibling/spouse/grandparent in the whole of King's Landing (though that isn't really saying much). Enjoy.
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