Maybe It’s Tatooine…

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

Don't ac so surprised, Your Highness - that's is Darth Tommy...

Don’t act so surprised, Your Highness – that is Darth Tommy…

If you don’t know this phrase, you really need to get your head out of your ass and live a little

What's my PIN?

What’s my PIN?

She is perhaps the most iconic princess in cinema history without a tiara – and when she officially became a Disney Princess – well, let’s just say my incontinence was significant. Not only am I a huge Star Wars fan, but I think we all know my affinity to the Disney House of Royalties. With Princess Leia, the circle was now complete

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This isn’t really one of the design concepts of which I am known – but when a friend asked if I could do it, I jumped all over the opportunity. And before any of you start contacting me with projects like this – don’t. You won’t see me take on this kind of thing often…

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It’s not that I don’t mind attempting to recreate movie costumes, quite the contrary – but this design in its extreme simplicity and lack of frippery just didn’t translate to ‘Tommydoll’. So of course, I had to accept…

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Princess Leia, before your new costume’s execution, allow me to demonstrate the full power of bad design…

Kenner

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Kenner issued toy dolls of Princess Leia Organa under the inexorable demand for anything ‘Star Wars’. In their fairness, they were toys – but they were garbage, too. I’m always annoyed at how toy makers use ‘it’s a toy’ as an excuse to avoid convincing detail or quality construction – that certainly didn’t stop Mattel in the launch of the first Barbie doll and fashions. Nevertheless, when you look a toy-grade (pink box) Barbie dolls today, it’s painfully obvious that it’s all about streamlining materials and construction to increase that all-too-important bottom dollar. Shame on you for your lack of innovation…

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Now, understand that the Action Figure market doesn’t really pay attention to clothing. Most of it is molded onto the figure, or highly abbreviated in such a way to make its production cost-efficient. That, and the largely male collector audience in the AF world wouldn’t know a quality garment if it was tied around their balls in your best Merit Badge Knot.

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When I was in my former career, I remember exhibiting at ToyFair – the guys at Sideshow Toys would visit us every year (and us, them) – they would marvel at the level of detail and quality in the clothing; blinded at how we could do it at our asking price. I was no fool…it was kinda obvious they were picking our brains to see what they could take away from it – but prevailing executive egos amongst us were too taken with the slick circle jerk Sideshow presented to actually notice. So it should come as no surprise that Sideshow caught on quickly, and they now show fairly reasonable (and improving) miniature garments on their figures.

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But this ain’t one of them

Commoners...

Commoners…

To think any company would allow a product like this out of their factory and into the hands of its collectors clearly shows they don’t give a flying fuck about their customer. You can pull cost all you want with me…but this poor example from Sideshow was shitastic at best.

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And the collector friend who asked me to remake the costume knew it. It was stitched onto the doll (action figures ARE dolls), so it wasn’t removable – I would have to cut it off. I was curious if he wanted it back to keep the figure ‘complete’ (if not marred just a bit). “Burn it,” he advised.

Okay...

Okay…

The material alone was egregious – synthetic satin – they shower curtain variety made by the millions of miles for thousands of industrial, apparel and toy uses – and yes, such as was used along with synthetic taffeta in the Gene Marshall Collection costumes by Ashton-Drake of the 1990s. They used the matte side for the exposed fabric – leaving a satin interior…and of course, not lined – and the neckband and hood were a separately constructed piece. Morons…

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The original film dress was a matte knit, probably a rayon/poly jersey – the costume had to be durable, and inexpensive (as the original film didn’t have the budget nearing anything like its successors) – but believable as from a science fiction fantasy world from far, far away. The back closure was merely a key hole, slipping over the head. The hood was attached, and gathered into the neckline. Despite the simple design, the drape of the fabric made for a truly remarkable silhouette when the hood was pulled up. But to have it drape with weight and proximity to the head…not likely in miniature…

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The biggest problem I had to sort out: the scale. This is a 12inch figure (1:6 scale). There are amazing fabrics out there that might mimic the drape without contributing to the bulk…but I had Jo-Ann’s – and I wouldn’t find them there. I went with a lightweight interlock poly knit. It would do what I wanted, and it would press well – but the bulk was still going to be a challenge at the neckline.

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The pattern was pretty easy to draft – there are plenty of tutorial guides and images for Leia’s Senatorial Dress – so, I even free-handed my first toile pattern to observe the fit and scale. I used the tutorials to map out the pattern for the hood…and stitched up a quick reference.

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Yes…that neckline was going to be a problem in terms of gathered bulk. So in my second draft, I decreased the hood size in width and length, making it more accurate to the film version, but it just didn’t feel right in 1:6 scale.

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My client made an interesting observation about the width of the collar, noting that Sideshow probably kept it narrow, also because of scale. Partnered with my dissatisfaction of the hood’s look – I made final adjustments to my pattern, and took to the final construction.

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So very much had to be done by hand, because I am just not that accomplished with 1:6 scale sewing on my machine. I also wanted clean finishing on the hood’s hem and collar, instead of top-stitching – and of course, it is fully lined (with the sole exception of the hood – also accurate to the film’s original). This could have been simplified for mass-production, though – omit the lining and use machine top-stitching – and it still would have looked 100% better than the piece of crap that the figure originally wore. Sideshow’s biggest mistake was using a woven fabric, and through all their interpretative techniques to make it work (such as gathers at the waist, when it was the belt that gathered the fullness – or the French-seamed hood interior, that wouldn’t have been necessary if they used a knit) – the person who made the decision to go that direction apparently has little experience with this type of miniature work – they could have easily used knit, and avoided much of the tangential solutions to create a fairly accurate representation of the dress. The belt was cool…so that’s one less thing to make…

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Nevertheless, since I am only making one – I am going to make a great one…or it wouldn’t be Tommydoll.

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And so I present to you, Princess Leia – Senatorial Gown – man-hands and all…

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Maybe she’s born with it…maybe it’s Tatooine

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6 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Tatooine…

    • You’re right! I didn’t realize that until I had read up on the design influences used in the film…the lack of budget was very funny when you consider what it became…

  1. You are one brave soul to have undertaking a project like that, no matter how much you adore Star Wars!! I don’t know how you managed to resist the temptation not glam it up…just a teensy bit!! (Sorry, I only speak la mode.)
    I must say, however, you did a great job with the hood. Left unlined and cut in a rayon/Lycra knit might have brought you slightly closer to the drape you were shooting for. But I suppose JoAnn doesn’t sell it. Bisous!

    • You’re right…Lycra would have been better…but couldn’t find it in a matte finish. And yes…tough to not want to fripp it up with some sparkle…LOL! Thank you!

  2. Wow. I had that Hasbro Leia. I almost lost my mind when I took the buns out and there were these brown plastic roller things inside the hair. Do you think my little 5 year old fingers could get those shits back in? My father later found the head, hair shorn out of pure anger, buried in his garden. But, I still love me some Leia! Can’t wait to see how she’s handled in the new film!

My blog is satire, but your thoughts are welcome!

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