As soon as I saw the full poster of Katniss in the Mockingjay Part 1 poster I knew I absolutely had to make that costume. It didn’t matter that I’d never done armor before, that I would have to buy a new, expensive wig, or that I had no experience with making weapons like bows and arrows. I HAD to do this thing.
I started making the costume today! The kydex plastic sheets I had ordered to make the armor out of arrived, and I could not wait to start. Kydex is a type of thermoplastic typically used to make gun holsters and knife sheaths. Since I didn’t need too much detail to the armor, but I need a cheap and easily workable material, I went with Kydex.
It worked so well! I used a utility knife to score the plastic where I wanted it to be cut – then I gouged those lines in pretty deep. You can’t cut all the way through the kydex with a knife, but if you score it enough, bend it a little, then use pliers to bend it back and forth it cracks off pretty easily on the seam you made. So here’s my front armor shape, ready to be heated up:
Then I got myself ready. I didn’t have the materials to make a torso mold of myself, and I didn’t feel like waiting or buying more supplies (I am notoriously impatient!) so I layered up and prepared to heat mold the thing to myself. This is really not something you should do. Okay? Don’t try this at home, kids. Also, don’t breathe the hot plastic fumes. Also totally toxic.
I set my oven to 225 degrees – directions online I read for working with kydex say that 250-300 degrees works best, but my oven runs really hot to I set it to 225. I let it preheat (totally hard for me to wait!) then set the cut piece right on the grate thing inside the oven. Then I waited. Precisely 3 minutes, and it was ready to mold!
It took a couple of tries to get it close enough. I would hold the plastic sheet to my chest (with the gloves one!), pretend my chest wasn’t getting really really really hot, and waited a couple minutes. The plastic started cooling and hardening after seriously a minute and a half. 3 minutes later and it was hardened enough that it wouldn’t bend, and cooled enough that I could touch it with my bare hands.
The first few tries didn’t work quite right so I put the sheet back in the oven, let it sit for 2-3 minutes, then crushed it to my chest again. I’m wearing 4 layers of cloth over my breasts and 3 layers over the rest of me, and my hands were almost burning inside the gloves. So seriously, don’t do this unless you’re completely crazy, okay?
I ended up with a piece of plastic that was molded to my chest! It’s lightweight, hard, doesn’t bend, and easy to re-mold if I feel like trying again and being more precise.
I also made a piece of armor for my back, which required the assistance of a friend as I held the bottom of the piece down to my lower back and he held the top of the piece to the base of my shoulder blades.
Next up I’ll be using Cordura fabric to make the shoulder piece of Katniss’s costume! I’ll have to wait a few days to get the Cordura, but as soon as I do I’ll have another cosplay in progress post up.