Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dwarf Costume Tutorial

So the time has come! The Hobbit is here! 
Let all nerds rejoice and cheer!
There are more reasons to read, and let your geekiness show!
And if you want to make a Dwarf costume, I'll help make it so!

Well, now that my rhyming is done, I'll show you how I put together Jim's dwarf costume that he wore to the Hobbit midnight premiere! (By the way, if you were wondering, it was AMAZING!! I'm slightly biased, but still - I loved it.)

First, I have to credit Pinterest for helping me keep track of everything. My board for these costumes can be found here, where I kept all of the resources I knew I'd be needing.

Dwarven Chainmaille:
(No fowarding before midnight for luck required)
I was very inspired by this tutorial for chainmaille from soda tabs, posted by quixotiCfluX on He takes you through the process step by step with great pictures.

Here is what you will need:

So, to start, you'll need soda tabs. Lots and lots and lots of soda tabs.
I started a bowl of them early on, and asked all my friends to contribute, while scavenging as much as I could. You'll also want a staple remover in order to bend the tabs so they all fit nicely together. Then a wire cutter, to cut the top part of the soda tab so you can weave them together.

Stick the tab in the staple remover and push down on it, so it bends in the middle.

This helps them lay next to each other and to connect neatly together.

Then, use your wire cutter to snip the middle bit of the top, and slide the top of one tab into a side of the bottom hole. Then keep adding until you start to get shapes to them.

I knew I wanted to have chainmaille along Jim's arms, so I measured around his arm and left a few inches gap along the opposite side of the sleeve so it would stretch a bit.

After a while of watching MythBusters and working at it, I had a pretty good amount done!

I'm sure the kittens thought they were helping.

 I knew that I wanted it to cover half his hand and go around his thumb, so I made thumb holes!

After some consideration, I realized that I wanted some on his hand, and some on his upper arm. So I split them in half, and using the sleeves from a long thrift store t-shirt (cutting thumb-holes in them as well), I taped them into place in order to sew them on. I hand stitched with black thread, and peeled away the tape as I made my way around.

Sewing around the wrist was a little more complicated, as I need to shape it to his hand, so he had to wear it while I sewed. I was very careful and only stabbed him a few times - no matter what he says.

The best way to make sure the tabs stayed attached to the sleeve was to bring the needle up right next to the edge, then bridge the gap with the needle and go back down right next to the other edge.

Leather Bracer:
A 'bracer' is basically an arm-guard, and with all the leather scraps I picked up at a thrift store for $5, I knew I could easily whip up two of them. I thought about embossing them with celtic designs, but that required far more skill than I had, so I left them plain.

I cut out the shapes that I wanted, then marked where I wanted the eyelets for the laces.

Then I used my awesome leather hole puncher to poke holes where marked...

Placed the eyelets in the holes...

And since I didn't want to buy the $25 kit that opens up the eyelets for you, I improvised with some needlenose pliers to flatten them out.

Once all the eyelets were secured, it looked pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Now after staring at the Hobbit production photos for hours, it still didn't help me figure out what kind of tunic would be appropriately dwarf-like and still in my budget. Then I realized that Viking outfits are fairly similar to dwarven ones and made a tunic based on traditional Viking clothes.

First, I bought a large black sweater from a thrift store and turned it inside out to make markings on it. (Have I mentioned how much I love thrift stores? Visit many and visit often, and you'll find all kinds of amazing things.)

I tried it on Jim, then made marks a bit below where I wanted the sleeves to end. Then I chopped off the sleeves about halfway down.

I chopped off the neckline and made an outline of what I wanted the neck to be.

I found some awesome ribbon trim for cheap online, and used it on the edges.

First I hemmed the neck and sleeves to avoid fraying.

Then I used silver thread on the top and bottom borders in order to invisibly attach it.

Now that my tunic was finished and my chainmaille sewn on, I attached the t-shirt sleeves to the inside of the sweater to make one whole shirt.

I sewed the sleeves on with black thread, right above the ribbon in order to be as unobtrusive as possible.

When the whole thing was assembled, it looked something like this:

I also bought a huge bag of leather strings from the Hobby Lobby for $5, so I dug through until I found some that fit.

And with the finished costume, I think it looked pretty authentic.

Add the $3 plastic Halloween axe (also from a thrift store) that I blessed with dwarven runes in silver Sharpie...

(what, like you didn't learn Angerthas in high school because you were geeky and bored?)

And I think he looks like a great dwarf. 

The cloak and beard added to the effect as well. (He enjoyed growing out his beard far too much)

And here we are at the night of the premiere!

Well, hope that helps you with your own dwarf costume, and happy Hobbiting everyone!


  1. you are way too cool a wife. Jim's a lucky man!

  2. Dear guys at Happilygrim,

    we would like to feature one of your tutorials in a gallery we're doing on selfmade costumes. We, that is, germany's biggest platform on sustainable living. If you're interested, please contact me via sr[at]

    Best wishes,

  3. Hello,
    i am working , or starting on a dwarven costume for larp and other events like that. but i am wonder in the sweater you bought, is it more like a t-shirt with long sleeves or like a thick cotten sweater?

    i hope you could help me out,

    an advanced thanks

  4. The black "shirt" was a knit cotton sweater, but not a thick one by any means. Grace will have to weigh in, but I think a long-sleeved t-shirt, or a more heavy sweater could work. One major concern was comfort; it was worn for the Hobbit release in mid-December, which can get pretty cold.

  5. Great costume and thanks for sharing all the necessary steps!

    I thought you and your readers might be interested in the Creative Costume Contest over at You are free to enter as many times as you like, as long as each entry is for a different costume.

    Keep the awesome ideas coming - it's very inspiring.


  6. love it! reminds me so much of theta maille.

  7. Thank you very much for this. Now me and my LARP group can have some easy to make things to have for our attier.


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