I got inspired to create a dwarf costume after seeing an awesome knit beard/hat combination. With that already in place, I set out to complete the outfit. I wanted the costume to be low-cost and reasonably warm, and I decided I wouldn't worry how things looked from the knees down.
My main task was to come up with something knee-length and sleeveless that was made of leather, or at least had that appearance. I also wanted to create the appearance of wearing chain mail beneath this garment, but wasn't interested in wearing actual heavy chain mail.
First stop: thrift store.
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Step 1: Secure Raw Materials
At the thrift store, I headed to the coat section. I scanned the bottom edge of the rack, looking for the longer coats that hung lower than most of the others. I was lucky enough to find a long fake leather coat with a color that resembled deerskin.
Step 2: Pare Down the Coat
Once I got the coat home, I got out my seam ripper and set to work dismembering it.
I started by taking out the lining; I knew once I removed the sleeves, it'd be difficult to keep the lining in place, so I decided to live without it.
Next I took off the sleeves. I used a seam ripper to remove the stitches, leaving the fabric that had made up the seam.
Then I cut the collar from the band. The band is the the strip to which the collar is attached; on some coats, the collar might be attached directly to the body piece, but this one had a band connecting the two. I liked the look of having a small strip around the neck, but without a collar.
Finally, I removed the belt, belt loops, and buttons. Because the coat was faux leather, I took my time to cut only the thread, to avoid damaging the coat itself.
Step 3: Finish the Armhole Seams
Because the shoulders are at or near eye level for many people, I wanted the armholes to look somewhat polished. I settled on whip stitching along the seamline where the sleeves had been attached using a contrasting thread. The color choice made the stitching stand out, and slight variations in stitch length and hole placement gave the piece a handmade feel.
Step 4: Get a Belt to Cinch It
The jacket was big enough to overlap around me, but the belt that came with it was invisible against it because it was the same color. I had a dark brown natural leather belt that looked good against the deerskin color of the garment and still fit into the homespun, weathered look I was going for.
An extra long belt would've let me loop the end over and down, making it look tied rather than buckled for a more old-timey feel. But in this case I went with what i had.
Step 5: Add a Gray Thermal Shirt
I used a gray, long-sleeved thermal shirt as the base layer. From a distance, it would at least allow people to imagine that I was wearing chain mail, but both kept me warm and allowed me to avoid the discomfort and weight of the real thing.
Step 6: Put It All Together
I put the gray thermal on first, followed by the coat, which I then cinched with the belt.
I bought a ready-made crocheted hat-beard combination, but if you have the skills, you could make one like
I opted not to arm myself, to facilitate Halloween carousing and entrance into movie theaters. However, if you want to add the canonical axe, you could try
I was also lucky enough to borrow some fingerless leather gloves to add an extra touch to the ensemble. If you found leather or faux-leather gloves at a thrift store, you could cut off the fingers just below the knuckle to get a similar effect.