How to Make a Wonder Woman Costume
I love halloween, and I love to sew, so when my friend Karen announced she was retiring her Xena costume of 10 years and moving to Wonder Woman for the next 10, I had to help. Well that and Rob and I met at her halloween party, so I guess I am a little indebted.
These were the parameters:
1. Old school Lynda Carter Wonder Woman
2. Modest enough to wear to work
3. Authentic enough to awe her party guests
My primary inspiration was a photo of Lynda Carter in full Wonder Woman glory, The Mannequin Project had the best deconstruction, and a sketch that I don’t have the source for any more (below).
The top part of the costume began as a premade corset, Since my corsetry skills are minimal, I figured this would be a good start and have enough boning and support. To give her a bit of extra coverage I had her order a size larger than her usual. If I did it again I would start from scratch , given the amount of reworking I had to do. I removed the front hooks, custom fitted the cups, added stretch panels to the back and added an underlay to the lacing. The bottom of the corset was also cut to match the line of the belt, which is attached.
Looking at the Lynda Carter top gold work, and other people’s homemade Wonder Woman costumes online, I realized it was too complex to make look good with the time and devotion I had, so we went to an alternate image, based more on the comic book. I found the sketch above, blew up the detail and used it as a pattern. I cut the pattern out of vinyl, then pin fitted it to the front of the altered corset. When we had the size and shape right, I cut a pattern using a stiff interfacing (usually used for hats) and then covered each piece individually using the lightweight gold vinyl on the front and a lightweight muslin on the back. By using the vinyl for the fit pattern, I had a better idea of how it would lay when finished. The stiff interfacing in the final product gave it the body to look a little more like metal than vinyl.
The breastplate was made up of 7 separate pieces.
Since pieces 1, 2 and 3 sit on top, I machine stitched all the way around, using 2 pieces of muslin on the back so I could turn it easily.
For pieces 4, 5 and 6, I only stitched around the bottom, since the top would be hidden and to reduce bulk.
Piece 7 was stitched all with 2 pieces of muslin so it could be turned and then I whip stitched the backing together.
1 was the top piece, then 2 and 3 were attached to either side
5 was then attached under 1, and 4 and 6 were attached
We basted all the pieces together so they were shaped to the corset, then attached piece 7 directly to the corset, and laid the others over top and top stitched all the way around.
The belt followed a similar model, but I made 2 pieces, the top and the bottom (seen below attached together in the prototype pattern below.
I considered not attaching the belt, but it just didn’t seem like it would sit properly, so it was attached by top stiching along the top, then the corset was trimmed to shape underneath and the belt muslin was whip stitched over the raw edge.
For the tiara, I cheated a little and used Simplicity 9966 for a base, then trimmed it a bit to match the Lynda Carter shape.
The skirt was made using a Nike skirt as a pattern, then iron on stars were applied. They didn’t stick. They were then sewn on individually. We have since found a Nike Volleyball skirt (with attached liner) and will be using that this year.
We were quite excited when we found these glass bead iron on stars in various sizes in red white and blue. They don’t stick to spandex….we will try attaching them to the cape this year. Which brings us to the cape…
First the credit to The Mannequin Project needs to be reiterated, they have a great breakdown of how to build one of these…I took their idea, then applied what I knew about making circle skirts for belly dancing.
Rather than than making a full paper pattern pattern, I folded the fabric into quarters on my cutting board, then using a pin, a string and a felt tip pen, sketched out a 1/4 circle. If you have never done this technique there are great instructions here.
I then used the string to mark a straight line to cut the blue and white sections and one red section.I wasn’t nearly as precise as the guys on the Mannequin project, but I figured I needed about a half-circle of red, 2/3 of blue and 1/4 white. so if you are buying fabric, that, one length of red, double the width of the fabric, and one length of blue, dougle the width and white, the same length as the width. The seam allowances and front finish will use up enough fabric to make it just about perfect in terms of size (I ended up with about a full circle).
I then sewed the red, white, and blue sections together, using a flat felled seam, because I didn’t want to line the cape, and I wanted it to look good on both sides. After sewing all the pieces together, I accordion folded it once more, and cut a neck opening using a radius of about 4 inches. I attached a neck tie made from red satin cut on the bias. I happened to have some red satin bias taping that I had made in a previous year, if you don’t have that lying around, you could use the scraps from the edge of the cape, or just a strip of red satin.
VERY IMPORTANT STEP, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. The cape needs to be hung, preferably for at least a week. Do not trim the bottom. Do not hem it. Let it hang. The fabric is all cut on different grains and will stretch to different lengths.
After I had hung the cape for a few weeks, I marked the bottom cutting line by hanging the cape from the chandelier, I identified the shortest point, and then I measured from the floor up to that point and marked it. I then worked around the whole cape marking the same length from the floor. The front opening is the only place I measured from the top down to make sure the 2 sides would come together evenly. I serged along this line, then did a rolled hem including the serging.
I ran out of time, and the stars didn’t get attached to the cape this year, but they are ready to go.
We were going to make the bracelets out of the same vinyl as the breast plate and the belt, but then I found some online that were too cool. We just ironed on some embroidered stars.
Once more the internet was our friend. Karen found the Wonder Woman boots on 6pm.com.
Most importantly, Karen loves her costume, and is fully commited to giving it the same 10 year run her Xena costume had.