In my mind, the greatest Star Wars costume…is Darth Vader (from Episodes IV-VI, take your pick). However, as I do not have thousands of dollars to spend making that costume, I went with the next best thing; Princess Leia’s Metal Bikini, as worn by the talented and lovely Carrie Fisher.

This is not the first time I have made this costume. A long time ago I made a sad, sorry version out of a clothes hanger and model magic. I followed a “tutorial” I found online that had about 6 quick steps, a great accompanying photo, and it sounded SO easy. It…it was…well…it was something from the dark side.

I really wanted to revisit the outfit one day and do it proper justice. So, after sculpting, casting, molding and painting other costumes in the past, I decided to take another swing at it.

I tried to take progress photos along the way, so I can show others the way I made the outfit. It is not the only way, it is not the best way, and there are steps and materials that can be changed. But hopefully it can be of some help to you. I recommend looking at how my Liara, Donnie Darko and Terminator costume pieces were constructed if you’re just starting out in sculpting and casting – and definitely do further research on how to make copy of your body!

1: I had a ton of latex (and wire) on my hands. 2: There were two bikinis used in the movie, one that was actual metal, and one that was rubber…so making a latex one seemed to be a safe bet. And 3: making one out of metal would be expensive (same goes with resin, which would need an expensive silicone mold). You could make one out of resin if you like! (Just replace the ultra cal mold with a silicone one, and sub in resin for latex)

Step 1: Supplies

- 407 Slush Latex
- Plasticine (or any oil based clay)
- Ultra Cal 30
- Sturdy non-stranded coated wire
- Cheesecloth (or burlap if you don't mind the mess)
- Sculpting Tools
- Old Cake Piping Bag and Small Icing Tip
- Silicone chalking
- Gold (Latex) Paint (you can mix in...)
- Red (or purple, or brown, or whatevercolouryoulike) silk(ish) fabric
- Brown (or purple, or dark red, etc etc etc) suede(ish) fabric
- Thick black elastic
- Fabric snaps
- Pair of old tall flat boots from your closet or Value Village
- Cheap gold (coloured) thin wire hoop earings
- Back of stud earrings
- Leather cord/thong
- Two hair clips(French barette)
- Silver Paint
- Copper paint
- Thin aluminum wire
- Dollar Store Round Shower Curtains
- Wire Snips (or some other means of cutting thick plastic)
- Hot glue gun and glue
- Variety of brushes, sponges
- Oven, parchment paper, cookie sheet
- Gloves, goggles, dust mask and 2 pairs of thick needle nose pliers
- Body Double and Head Double (see next step)

Depending on your hair, you may need to buy a braid or a wig.
Depending on your shyness, you may need to buy pasties and underwear. (Costume malfunctions can and do happen!)


Styling your Hair tutorial, by Tristanc2003
Instead of parting my hair into 3 sections, I did 2. I made a pony tail, attached my fake braid underneath it, wrapped the braid once around the based of the ponytail and then followed the rest of the tutorial.

Fake Leia Hair Braid, from PuppyCatMeow (Tressa)
She not only sends you free colour samples, but she can do custom colour blends for your braid! This is the one I got.

‘Strapless’ panty!, by Shibue Couture
Because you really, really should be wearing something underneath.

Sculpting, Casting and Molding forum, at TheEffectsLab
The people on this forum were a big help. For example, I was stuck on how to do all the fine lines on the hip plates. Their solution? Putting caulking in an old pastry bag and using a fine icing tip!

Gallery and Chain/Boot/Earring tutorials, from Kay-Dee.
Her site not only has a wonderful reference gallery of photos taken of the REAL costume, she has a tutorial on how to make chain links (and earrings, and how to do the boots, and fabric as well!). She made her chain links out of resin, after making a mold from tubing.

Make The Bikini – with Sculpey! By Angel Monkey Studios

Make The Bikini - with PVC Polystyrene! by ‘Kim’

Kristen Andrews aka Mirax – a *huge* inspiration.

And of course:

Leia’s Metal Bikini – Buy It!
Plan B: Buy one ;)
Years ago I read a great book called <em>Sewing For Plus Sizes </em>by Barbara Deckert. In the book she details how to make a dress form without killing yourself. She states that this method has been around since the 1930 and is cheap. It does take two people to make the paper-tape dress form. I'm quoting from the book. First put on a tight fitting old tee shirt that covers your hips and you are willing to destroy. Then use strips of brown Kraft paper tape that has a wetable glue on the other side. Be sure to go to the bathroom as you need to be able to stand for about 2 hours without a break. Use a large sponge in a basin of water to wet the paper tape. Wrap the strips snugly, slightly overlapping them, around the body over the tee shirt. Use shorter, diagonally placed strips to define the curves of the bust, neckline and armscyes and longer strips to wrap the torso horizontally, mummy-style. Wrap about 3 layers of tape evenly over the wrapee, with some exta layers around the neck, armscye, and lower edge for durability. When you are finished wrapping, use a hair dryer to dry the tape thoroughly, or the form will lose its shape when you remove it. When the form is quite rigid, use a sturdy pair of large shears to cut the form carefully up the center beck, right through the tee shirt. Carefully pry open the form to allow the wrapee to escape. Then use more paper tape on the underside and the outer side of the form to seal the cut up the center back. Once completely dry, you can hang the form on a hanger, set it on a table, make a T-shaped stand with 3 pieces of PVC pipe and a T-joint mounted in a Christmas tree stand.&nbsp; The author suggests using an old dress form to mount the new one.&nbsp; I know that I've seen some great ibles on how to use the expanding foam to fill up a dress form.&nbsp; It seems to me that building an armmature and a base first out of either PVC or wood would be the best place to start.&nbsp; Then you can mount your dress form to it and fill it with foam or some other kind of stuffing.&nbsp;<br> <br> I hope this helps you design a better dress form without harming yourself in the process.<br> <br> Awesome ideas and techniques with great documentation.&nbsp; Keep up the good works.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this out!!! I remember my Nana telling my about using the paper tape method to make her own dress-form. And now that I think of it, my mom did that too...I guess I was trying to be a rebel in the family by trying plaster of paris ;) I think the method you mentioned (or the duct-tape one, which is pretty similar) is one of the best, safest AND (bonus) cheapest ways to go.
Hoo boy! Please look at my website, http://www.lifecast-art.com. I did a foam body a couple of times, but I make much stronger clamshell plaster molds, I block off leg and arm holes with more plaster/glass, and I use a more expensive, less explosive urethane foam rubber. This gives a mannequin you can endlessly stick pins into and see effects of stretching cloth tight.
Love the step 8 digression about Leia's footwear. Also, this project is awesome. That cross-promotional Frank/Leia lead image is a stroke of genius and also mildly disconcerting.<br /> <br /> Great build, really useful links, and you gave plenty of time for legions of Halloween 2012 revelers to figure out other ways to make a body mold. (Two options for molds: <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-Dressform-from-Paper-Packing-Tape/">packing tape</a> or <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Body-Casting-and-Chocolate-Molding/">silicone/chocolate</a>.)
Those are great links! Though I think the chocolate might be a bit of a problem when it comes to sculpting/casting everything ;) <br> <br>(But in all seriousness, that tutorial is great for seeing how to do a body-mold part. You just use foam/ultra cal/plaster of paris/cement in place of the chocolate. You can also sub-in alginate for silicone!)
Wow lovely I'd love to meet you and show you my light saber
<p>Nice figure.</p>
Beautiful. ..and the costume too....
you really look dangerous
Have you tried putting your heated plastic curtain rings under running water while holding them in position with the pliers? The cool water should make them harden up almost straight away, so you won't have to hold onto them for so long.
For those looking there's a pretty cool body form instructable that may work for them for your project. Some similar ideas with the foam but they used that brown water activated paper tape stuff. <br> <br>http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-Dressform-from-Paper-Packing-Tape/
you re looking soooooo beautiful:D
Sexay! That mask is so hot! <br> <br>Oh, and I guess that bikini is nice, too.
Hot. And very creative. As are your other costume posts. Do you act as well as SFX?
Eh. I used to do youth community theatre and took a class here and there. Next year I'm hoping to get into reenactment, along with really taking on the roles of costumes I wear (not too easy for me as I have a voice that's quite different from all my costume characters!)
Hot Hot Hot!
Wow! like the movies. And your model, well, Wow once more.
I've seen the other pictures from the link... I assume that they are the SFW ones, given the &quot;angles of attack&quot; and the evident careful skirt-holding! Cheered up my day, no end! Excellent work.
Impressive work!
Hey! I'm working on creating a form to sculpt on, and tried using &quot;Great Stuff&quot; expanding filler to fill up the form - in this case it's a thigh, but I'll do each piece and eventually get the torso. I had pretty poor success because the Great Stuff doesn't really expand that much. <br> <br>So I have the opposite problem you had, the foam isn't expanding enough! What foam did you use? If you did it again, would you use the same stuff with a vaseline'd up duct tape form? That's my direction, but I've never done this before.
Hoo man, I'm a bit hesitant to say what foam I used, since the whole body double thing went a-muck...and I'm not even sure if it would be the best material to use for sculpting form. My original foam body double was meant to be a sewing mannequin, but it was so awful, it ended up being &quot;demoted&quot; to a &quot;sculpting body&quot;!<br><br>The foam has its advantages and disadvantages. On the good side, it's light, and the foam did cast...however it really &quot;leaked&quot; through the plaster of paris bandage mold and is pretty porous so the clay REALLY gets in there. So, foam at your own risk!<br><br>I used a 2-part-liquid 4LB Density Urethane Pour Foam (I believe <a href="http://www.shopmaninc.com/foam.html" rel="nofollow">this</a> is where I got it from).
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I always just assumed that since Jabba doesn't have feet he doesn't think about feet.
I am fan of Star Wars and I certainly like your costume! :)
I hope you didn't get too cold on that beach (:
It never fails; of course it was hot all summer except for that day! Brr.
Also like the shock tactic namely the Donnie Darko mask an amusing combination :D <br>I'm glad you enjoyed your self, must have been tricky getting the full body cast stage done. I find faces to be the trickiest myself. <br>
Pretty cool... and looks convincing enough.<br> <br> Question since you brought it up - kinda.<br> <br> Do you happen to know what the original costume varous parts were made from or out of?
Sadly, no. All I know is that one was &quot;metal&quot;, the other &quot;rubber.&quot;
DANGER: plaster of paris doesn't dry. It cures releasing (lots of ) heat.
Precisely why I say to use the plaster of paris bandages - the stuff you can get in craft stores. Direct plaster of paris is bad stuff - and straight on ultra cal 30 is even worse! So be safe and use the bandages! Doctors have been using it for years for casts :D
Would have been a convincing sell without the monster mask. You may want to forget about sending those resumes to Madison Avenue.
We have powerful friends. You're going to regret this.
Very nice and very cute! Oh and the outfit isnt to bad as well.
Dan knows his stuff, so I would listen to him. My dad also does the same thing Dan does, so I've seen lifecasts done MANY times and been a model for them too. That being said, I've never sat for a straight up plaster bandage cast. I do, however, know that plaster bandages heat up really quickly when they start to cure and they get really hot. <br> <br>The heat of the plaster is probably part of the reason you felt like you were going to pass out. Maybe Dan has a better suggestion for a medium to reduce the heat, but I would think you could reduce the heat by putting some cotton gauze around your body before starting the cast. It will add a little bit of bulk, but it will save you a lot of pain and stress in the long run. <br> <br>I can't say much for the filling because I usually don't work with that type of medium.
I dont know what type of plaster bandages you are use to using, but if you are running into a heat issue, you are not using enough water to start them. Plaster cures by a chemical process and the water initiates it. As it cures the water evaporates and should cool the surfaces, even those in contact with the skin. Fiberglas media that is currently used as cast material to splint fractured limbs heats up even worse than plaster but still doesnt generate that much heat.
I'm going to say that while the plaster heating probably contributed to my fainting spells, I believe that it was standing in on position for so long (and originally with &quot;locked legs&quot;) that caused me to black out. In the past I have almost passed out from just standing on the spot in one place for too long (without any bandages). Either way, I think there were a couple of factors that made it difficult!
Oh no! That doesn't sounds good. What about the possibility of kneeling? Less strain on your body. You just have to make sure that your legs stay relatively close so you don't end up with distorted hips. <br> <br>Lying on your back is a bad idea, also. Aside from the fact that you want a full torso (back and front), lying on your back will distort the proportions of your body, so anything like this, you always want to be upright. <br> <br>On a side note, it sounds like it was a good thing you weren't doing your arms so you could eat! <br> <br>And even though I didn't say this before, I love this instructable! This Leia costume has always been one of my favorites and you did a great job with it!
I'm curious, does anyone know what they did for Carrie Fisher? I know &quot;the&quot; story behind the body mold. One of the guys kept going on and on about how excited and eager he was to mold Carrie Fisher, to the point that he made everybody uncomfortable so was replaced shortly before the mold was made. But what exactly did they use/do for the mold?
I never realized just how tricky doing a plaster cast was until reading this step and Dan's tech page. Much more tricky than casting inanimate objects where I just throw some release compound (assuming I'm not too lazy) and slather the plaster on! Your detailed description (and associated comments) of the wrong way to do it has been very insightful; thanks!
great ible i would like to make a sith mask this way. you are also very beautiful.
Woof! Hoping to get extra vote for showing skin?
I don't know what you're talking about. I am a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan...
here's this story. i worked for a bronze sculptor at one point. one of my jobs was to take plaster casts from female models. one of the models, i had just finished covering with plaster and we were waiting for it to set up. the heat built up, she passed out and i had to grab her to keep her from smacking the concrete floor. <br>be careful!!!
Awesome build! You should definitely change the first picture to the one without the donnie darko mask though. The mask is cool, but unrelated. <br> <br>James
I find the pic with the mask tends to be the least frightening photo I have ;)
Having now seen them all, I disagree strongly ;)
Absolutely beautiful ! <br> <br>The costume / bikini is not bad either!
This site: http://www.smooth-on.com/Special-Effects-an/c1241/index.html contqains materials and instructions for molding and casting body parts, among other things. Rather than placing plaster directly on the skin, a resilient coating is first painted on. Then the plaster is applied to hold the shape of the form. The process may take longer for only one person to apply the material, so a helping hand is most desirable. <br> <br>Great work, and a great model.
Smooth-On is great! I've used their products before (as seen in my <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Terminator-Eyepiece-10/" rel="nofollow">Terminator</a> and <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Frank-Costume-from-Donnie-Darko/" rel="nofollow">Donnie Darko</a> Instructables) and <a href="http://www.smooth-on.com/video_play.php?video_id=r8AO_oFhO6Q&autoplay=1" rel="nofollow">this</a> video in particular is a good reference - but (like a lot of other body life-casting vids/tutorials I've found) it only does half the body. Another interesting point (seen in this and other videos) is that they have the model on a raised and slightly tilted platform, so her whole body is resting on a board - so chances of fainting are a lot slimmer! However I think that may only really work for doing half the body (you could do the two sides separately, then carefully attach the two molds together). The only limiting factor with the Smooth-On is, as wonderful as it is, is that it's a lot more expensive than duct tape, paper tape or plaster of paris bandages!

About This Instructable


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Bio: I'm an indie game developer who enjoys making costumes, comics and cupcakes. I like video and board games, halloween, and laser dolphins.
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