This is a very fun and cool project. I finally completed it after trying 4 prototypes most of which failed miserably. My friend and I swore to not let anyone else go through that again, so now i'm writing this instructable.
It is armor based loosely on the second age elven armor from the Lord of the Rings, as seen in the prolog of Fellowship of the Ring.
You will need:
- 6 sheets of bristle board (Dollarama)
- Around 9sq ft of leather (Tandy Leather)
- About 2m of leather or suede string (Tandy)
- Lots of masking tape
- Optional: leather stamps and dye
- Industrial hole pouch or drill
- suede needle
Step 1: Basics
To start your awesome Elven Armor you'll need to take some measurements. The most important will be from the centre of your back, across your shoulder and under you arm to the centre of you back. The armor is made up of 13 pieces of leather, 6 long pieces that run from that entire length and 6 that cover your torso, with a final small piece at the bottom. The top 6 are 1 ½ in wide, the bottom 3 in.
The 6 long pieces look like w's where one side is longer than the other (my armor was made for a girl). That side goes over your shoulder with the other coming around your waist.
Step 2: The Top Half
This is what the bristle board and newspaper are for. First you need one piece that can rap around your body as described in the last step. This is the hard part. it needs to be completely flat, with out buckling, so that it is possible to cut out of leather. The W curve worked for my friend and I, but it may be different for other body types. Try this first with newspaper, then bristle board.
Now you have the first piece, you're off to the races. The next piece is the mirror image of the one you have, so you can flip it over and cut out the 2nd of 13. The rest aren't quite so easy. Tape a piece down on newspaper and measure out 1 ½ in from it. Connect all the dots and trace the line of the taped piece. This should give you a pretty good template for the next layer. Try it on and make any adjustments necessary before tracing that on to the bristle board and making its reciprocal. Repeat this process for the last 2 long pieces.
Note: You may want to start labelling your pieces as you make them or it will get very confusing. We did 1a, 1b and so on to keep track of which pieces go together.
Step 3: And the Bottom
The shorter bottom pieces are much easier to make as the are all the same. To start it is the same as before, tape and trace the last long piece you did (3b), but only up to around the middle. Then measure out 3in and draw the line.
Once you've cut out that piece and checked it with the rest, you can use it as a template for the other 5, with 3 being mirror images. Check all of these, and see if it's enough or too much as you may be tall or shorter than my friend. One trick is to cut down the bottom 2 pieces so that you can bend over properly.
Finally, the last piece is a trapezoid used to fill in the gap between the 2 pieces at the bottom. Once you have all the pieces, tape them together securely and try it on!
Step 4: Lacing
This step is optional. We did it to prove to ourselves that it would work, but if your lazy, you don't have to.
Basically, we thought about all the places it would make sense to attach it and drew lines. Then we punched holes along it. We found it was best to go in and out with the string so that inside pieces had a hole on either side. Don't have the string coming through 2 holes at once or it won't work.
This is the same thing you will do with the leather but its good to have some practice.
Tip: Get a really big needle that the string can fit through. So much easier!
Step 5: Leather!!
Okay, you have a working prototype, now you have to make it out of leather.
If you laced it together, take it apart, if not take the tape off. The pieces are so weirdly shaped that it is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to fit them all together. We laid them out on the floor to figure out approximately how much leather we would need. I recommend you take your pieces with you to the leather store as the hides are irregularly shaped, also don't get the thickest leather they have, your going to want to have a bit of flexibility when your wearing it. If your cheap you can splice some of the longer pieces to make it all fit better.
Once you have it lay down all the bristle board pieces up side down on the wrong side of the leather (That's VERY important!!). When you have all 13 pieces not over lapping you can tape, trace and cut with really good scissors.
Step 6: Make It Pretty and Put It Together
If you want to dye or stamp your Armor, DO IT NOW! Later it will cause headaches. We did a nice celtic border along the bottom edge and dyed alternate pairs brown and green; it adds a nice touch.
Now you have to redo step 4 but with leather or suede strapping instead of string. Leather is tough stuff, so to punch the holes I used an industrial hole punch which has a variety of sizes. if you don't have one of these you can use a drill and small drill bit, but I feel bad for you.
Tip: Get a really big needle that the leather or suede strapping can fit through. So much easier!
Step 7: Putting It On
We had some difficulty with this step, zippers are very annoying to work with but it was the only way we could think of.
Basically, we sewed the zipper onto a larger piece of fabric, that got laced on in the same way as all the weaves holding the leather together.
The shoulder straps come and meet each other at a right angle, and can be laced together permanently, as it will just slip over your head. To attach the top to the bottom we used a buckle, simply tie it in with leather strapping through 2 holes.
This method works but is very obviously non-medieval. You can attach it all with lacing, punching one hole in each of the pieces, but it is difficult and requires a second person to put it on. If you have any suggestions on different methods or questions on how we did it, please leave a comment below.
Step 8: Your Done!
I hope you've learnt a bit about designing and leather working, enjoy your new, cool Elven Armor.
Weta would be jealous.