Jettie Monday on the Making of a Red Sonja Costume

Jettie Monday as Red Sonja (Copyright Eric Fiallos)

From Geek News Network cosplayer Jettie Monday shares her experience with what goes on behind the construction of a Red Sonja costume. Some of the things she writes about: hiring a blacksmith, making her sword convention-friendly and the demands for the costume to keep the “goods” covered.

Jettie Monday:

As most of you already know, or soon will, I dressed as Red Sonja for Phoenix Comicon. It was a blast and a lot of people got to see it and take photos with me, and it’s already been featured in a few photo galleries and blogs.

What you may not know is all the hard work and effort that went into the costume. And how much of that costume was to wear!

Let’s start at the beginning. Eric Fiallos and I came up with the idea around November of last year. We were really hoping to get it all finished by Amazing Con, but that didn’t work. And due to a LOT of miscommunication, we weren’t able to finish it in time to do a snowy photoshoot (don’t worry though, this WILL happen in the future! I just have to wait for it to snow again up north!). We didn’t even really get the ball rolling until around March, when scales were purchased and a blacksmith was commissioned.

This is around the time when I realized that I would be wearing very first midriff-exposing costume (le gasp!), and I started working out with Insanity. It’s awesome and I highly recommend it! There is even video proof of its awesomeness on my page (shameless plug).

ANYWAY! Back to the story!

Eric is very familiar with the Renaissance Fair crowd and introduced me to one of their blacksmiths, Mike Sobrado of Dragonforge LLC. Mike made my pauldrons, armband and weapons. He also lent me his gloves to use (Sonja would TOTALLY wear welders gloves, you know it!) and a belt with a buckle he hand-forged. Pretty legit stuff!

The sword he made is the coolest part, I think, because it’s like if Sonja and James Bond had a baby. The blade is a totally real blade, live steel and all, but then you can unscrew it and detach it completely, and replace it with a metal rod to hold it in place so that it’s convention-friendly! How cool?! It was perfect for photoshoots, where I wanted the blade to be out and flashy and gorgeous, but then perfect for conventions being all not-a-deadly-weapon and all.

Jettie Monday as Red Sonja (Copyright Bill Nash)

Eric hand-made all the scale-mail for my bikini. This was a bit tricky for the both of us. For him, he had to figure out a way to give the costume shape without standard sewing tricks (like pin tucks or even just general tailoring). And I had to figure out a way to stay inside of it and stay decent! He ended up using one of my bras as a model essentially and then we had about 3 different fittings, making sure everything would stay put. He lined the inside of the cups with suede so that there was no pinching going on. And also to help it not be so cold. The bikini is FREEZING when you first put it on!

He also did a cool little trick for the bottoms, too. He made them attached to a belt, with the front and back moveable so that I could shift the front and back from side to side. They were attached underneath by a make-shift pair of undies. One of my first demands when it came to this costume is that I did NOT want to show off the good China every time I hopped on the escalator! He did a great job in keeping the goods covered (if only barely, hahaha!).

Eric finished the top and we connected it with metal links to the pauldrons (which Mike had drilled some holes into). After the top was connected, we ran into the problem that the front was WAY too heavy (boobs + metal bra + unstable pauldrons will do that!). So we attached a strap from the back of the pauldrons to the back of the bikini top, so that everything stayed in place. Finally it was coming together!

I bought some good looking faux fur for the cape. The only problem was that the inside looked like carpet padding. But, not to be discouraged, I went to Michaels and bought 2 bottles of soft fabric paint. This did two things, I noticed. 1) It covered up the inside of the cape perfectly! It didn’t look awful anymore! 2) It also made the cape extremely unbreathable. But that’s okay. I wasn’t going to be outside very long, and the convention showrooms are always a little chilly, so I was fine.

I used some leather straps and safety pins to tie the cape underneath the right side and over the left side of the pauldrons, mimicking my favorite Red Sonja cover by Frank Cho. After the cape was on, the whole thing REALLY came together!

Red Sonja by Frank Cho

I had a pair of brown over-the-knee faux suede boots I’d bought last summer on sale (from $15?! Can’t beat that!). I used some spare strips of a brown faux suede curtain (bought at a thrift shop) to lace up the boots, wrapping them up my leg, giving them a little more shape than the slouchy boots originally had.

I added a horn I’d bought at the Ren Fair, a pouch Eric lent to me for my cell phone and business cards, and after a quick waxing at European Wax Center at Tempe Marketplace (Savannah is the best!) and a touchup on my hair color, I was ready to hit the town!

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