Star Wars Costume Patterns

Trisha Biggar's Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars
Trisha Biggar, Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams, 2005) Image: Abrams.

Anticipation is high for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opens in December. For fans of costume design, it helps that Michael Kaplan, who began his career with Bob Mackie and Blade Runner (1982), is designing the costumes for the new film. (Read Vanity Fair’s post here.) Here’s a look at Star Wars costume patterns.

Audrey Marnay in a costume from "Star Wars Couture," photographed by Irving Penn, 1999
“Star Wars Couture,” Vogue, April 1999. Model: Audrey Marnay. Photo: Irving Penn. Fashion editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image: TFS.

Star Wars’ costumes must be among the most discussed in cinema. In 2005, LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) organized the exhibit Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, accompanied by a book by Trisha Biggar, the costume designer for the prequel trilogy (Abrams, 2005; still in print). Last year saw the publication of Brandon Alinger’s Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy (Chronicle Books, 2014). And a new travelling exhibit, Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, will open in New York next month.

John Mollo's final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976
John Mollo’s final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.
John Mollo's design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976
John Mollo’s design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.

John Mollo’s costumes for Star Wars, which won an Academy Award in 1978, have immortalized a certain strand of ’70s style. Compare Princess Leia’s iconic hooded dress with a 1976 Dior evening gown available as a Vogue pattern; both were made in white silk crepe de chine:

Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, photographed by Chris von Wangenheim; Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Left: Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1976. Photo: Chris von Wangenheim. Right: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Image: PatternVault on Twitter.

(I’ve made the Dior in red; photos coming soon.)

The year after The Empire Strikes Back (1980), McCall’s began releasing children’s costume patterns licensed with Lucasfilm.

McCall’s 7772 includes costumes for five characters from the first two films: Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda, Jawa, and Lord Darth Vader. (Update: the young Jennifer Connelly played Leia for McCall’s.) The Vader view calls for one single serving cereal box. I have several sizes available in the shop:

Vintage 1980s licensed Star Wars pattern - McCall's 7772
McCall’s 7772 (1981) Image: PatternVault shop.

Update: a customer used McCall’s 7772 to make these Jawa costumes:

McCall's 7772 Jawa costumes
McCall’s 7772 Jawa costumes. Image: Erin Griffith via Etsy.

After Return of the Jedi (1983), McCall’s released a children’s pattern for Ewok costumes. And not just any Ewok: the envelope back names “Wicket the Ewok”:

1980s children's Ewok costume pattern - McCalls 8731
McCall’s 8731 (1983) Wicket the Ewok costume. Image: Etsy.

Update: A 1984 McCall’s Crafts counter catalogue presents both patterns with Return of the Jedi backdrops. The Wicket costume is shown with the Ewok village celebration scene, and instead of a wampa cave, the earlier costumes have Jabba the Hutt:

Star Wars pattern McCall's 7772 in McCall's 1984 Crafts catalogue
“May the force be with you!”™ McCall’s 7772 in the McCall’s Crafts catalogue, 1984.

In the 1990s, Butterick took over the Lucasfilm licensing. Butterick 5174 and 5175, official Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker costumes for adults and children, included an order form for the wig and light sabre:

1990s Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker pattern - Butterick 5174
Butterick 5174 (1997) Leia and Luke. Image: Etsy.
1990s children's Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia pattern - Butterick 5175
Butterick 5175 (1997) Children’s Luke and Leia. Image: Etsy.

Butterick also released two official Darth Vader costume patterns for children and adults. Butterick 5176 and 5186 included instructions for breastplate appliqués made from coloured, foam sheet remnants, and an order form for the helmet and light sabre:

1990s boy's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5176
Butterick 5176 (1997) Children’s Darth Vader. Image: Etsy.
1990s men's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5186
Butterick 5186 (1997) Darth Vader. Image: Etsy.

There were only unofficial costume patterns based on the prequel trilogy. The year of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), McCall’s released McCall’s 2433, a “Space Nomads” pattern for adults and children with a version of Sith warrior Darth Maul:

McCall's 1990s Space Nomads pattern, McCall's 2433
McCall’s 2433 (1999) Space nomads. Image: Etsy.

Based on costumes from Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Simplicity 4433 includes Padmé Amidala’s combat suit, which doubles as an Aayla Secura costume (but two-sleeved and without the headpiece):

Andrea Schewe women's Star Wars combat pattern - Simplicity 4433
Simplicity 4433 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Padmé and Aayla Secura. Image: Etsy.

Although Padmé’s Peacock dress was cut from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), it was widely seen in promotional materials for the film:

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress
Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress. Image: Pinterest.

Andrea Schewe produced two versions of the Peacock dress and headdress for children and adults, Simplicity 4426 and Simplicity 4443. The adults’ pattern includes both Padmé and Princess Leia, while the children’s has Leia, Padmé, and young Anakin and Obi-Wan:

Padmé, Leia, Anakin, and Jedi costume pattern - Simplicity 4426
Simplicity 4426 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Children’s Leia, Padmé, Obi-Wan, and Anakin. Image: Etsy.
Women's Padmé and Leia costume pattern - Simplicity 4443
Simplicity 4443 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Padmé and Leia. Image: Etsy.

Men’s costume pattern Simplicity 4450/059 includes Anakin and Obi-Wan Jedi costumes, together with an unidentifiable warlock Tion Medon:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi tunic and cloak pattern - Simplicity 4450/0579
Simplicity 4450/0579 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Anakin Skywalker, Tion Medon, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Image: Etsy.

Based on Padmé Amidala’s nightgown in Revenge of the Sith, McCall’s 4995 is a dress with boned bodice, separate drape, chain or bead trim, and tassels made with three sizes of beads:

Padmé nightgown pattern - McCall's 4995
McCall’s 4995 (2005) Bedtime Padmé. Image: eBay.

Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, perhaps there will be more licensed Star Wars patterns…

Update: Irving Penn’s 1999 editorial was not the first Star Wars-themed shoot in Vogue magazine: see Ishimuro’s “The ‘Force’ of Fur” in Vogue, November 1977. (Thanks to Devorah Macdonald for the reference.) Vogue recently posted some outtakes and reminiscences.

300073_orig
Simplicity 8074 by Andrea Schewe (2016) Rey + Sand Snakes.

Update 2: Simplicity 8074, a Game of Thrones / Star Wars costume pattern (Sand Snakes / Rey) adapted by Andrea Schewe, suggests that Disney hasn’t licensed costumes from The Force Awakens (yet).

McCall's The Force Awakens patterns - M7421 and 7422 (Rey and Kylo Ren)
McCall’s 7421 and 7422 (2016) Rey + Kylo Ren. Images: McCall’s.

May 2016: McCall’s has released two patterns based on costumes from The Force Awakens: Rey (M7421) and Kylo Ren (M7422).

December 2016: in memory of Carrie Fisher, the New York Times published a gallery of readers’ Princess Leia costumes: see Amanda Hess, “Your Photos as Princess Leia, a Rebel and Role Model.”

June 2018: Simplicity’s Fall release includes a pattern for Arya Stark and Rey from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (S8718). There’s also Rey’s cape (S8721) and a children’s version (S8724).

Last Jedi Rey and executioner Arya costume Simplicity 8718 (Andrea Schewe)
Simplicity 8718 (2018) Rey + Arya Stark. Image: Simplicity.
Simplicity 8721 and 8724 (2018) Adult and children’s Rey costumes. Images: Simplicity.

Unisex flight suit pattern S8722 doubles as a Ghostbusters boiler suit. Works for resistance mechanic Rose Tico or X-wing pilots like Poe Dameron:

Unisex flight suit costume pattern (Star Wars, Ghostbusters) Simplicity 8722
Simplicity 8722 (2018) Unisex flight suits: Rose Tico, Poe Dameron + Ghostbusters. Image: Simplicity.
Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, 2015
Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Vanity Fair, June 2015. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Image: Vanity Fair.

11 thoughts on “Star Wars Costume Patterns

  1. ha ha ha! How fun. I’m making Butterick 5174 and 5175 for the family this year. My son loves it when we dress up with him (he’s four). I’ll blog about it when I finish.

    1. When I first saw the Dior I thought it must have been influenced by the movie. They’re certainly close cousins. I understand the hoods are also different; the Dior’s is detachable.

  2. I will admit to some geekdom here- I have the Dressing the Galaxy Book- I bought it in Tattoine Traders at Disney a few years ago- it’s a beautiful read- so much detail and fabric lusciousness!

  3. The “Unidentifiable Warlock” looks an awful lot like Utapauan Tion Medon. Yeah, I’m that big of a nerd. He was a member of the Banking Clan. 🙂

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