How It Was Made: Daredevil
September 28, 2015
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The latest project to get underway is a replica of the red Daredevil costume from the new Netflix series.

Suits like this seem to be a big trend now – an ‘armored’ chest and torso section, with an undershirt that contains the sleeves and pants with a belt that covers the join at the waist. It’s very similar to the patterns I made for the recent Captain America Age of Ultron suit. So, naturally, I decided to create a new block pattern based on that project to use for other costumes that are similar.

I began with the block and created a mock up of the torso ‘vest’ and the undershirt in white and started sketching out the seams based on my reference library for the suit.

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I’d like to take a moment here to address something that I’ve gotten questions about in the past. Looking closely at the front picture above, it’s clear that, the way the new seams will work, there would be a dart right in the middle of the chest inset.

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Obviously, I don’t want a dart running through the middle of this inset, but I still want the contour in the chest piece that it creates. So, I need to move this dart. Here’s how:

When the pieces are cut and laid flat, I get the the diagram below (not to scale). In the diagram, the dart is shown in the middle of the stripe in blue and is a 3/4″ dart. What I then do is take that 3/4″, move it to the top of the stripe, mark it and draw a line to the pivot point. This top section is then cut away.

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This serves two key purposes:

  1. It moves the dart out of the middle of the piece and places it on a seam line where it belongs
  2. It make the stripe a uniform width throughout, so it will look correct when ‘armor’ padded and finished (again, the diagram is not to scale).

With that edit made, the new pieces will look like this.

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This method does elongate the dart a bit but it’s negligible and will not impact the shape enough to be a problem.

With the pattern altered, I was able to begin construction on the chest. I first stitched the two chest pieces together with the insets. Next, I cut the ‘armor’ pad for the black inset from 2mm craft foam (less the seam allowance) and spray mounted it in place.

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Each piece was then completely backed with a headliner foam pad and the topstitching around the inset was completed. Lastly, the center piece that attaches the two sides was sewn in.

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With the shell of the chest assembled, I moved on to the abs. There are a lot of small angles and edges to this section. I cut apart the mock up piece by piece and made my paper patterns. Then I cut the cordura and worked from the bottom up.

The center bottom and center top insets are backed with headliner foam so that they will have the padded look, but still have good flexibility and not be too restrictive. The front tabs for the buckles also needed to be incorporated at this point.

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The hardware will be added next to the torso and then the middle center and two side inset sections will be ‘armor’ padded with craft foam and all the backing and lining will be added to both the chest and abs.

Here’s what the two sections look like together at this point.

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Once the base pieces were completed, it was time to build in the rest of the under-structure and armor padding. For the chest, I decided to build up the armor sections so that they would be very defined.

I created both upper and lower templates for the pads. I then cut the upper pads from 2mm craft foam and the lower from 6mm foam.

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I cut the 6mm foam with a bevel so that it would have a nicer dimension when stitched into the layers. I removed the old 2mm foam from the lower chest section and added in the new pieces with Super77. I also added headliner foam padding to the center section to make it more substantial.

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Next, I moved on to completing the abs area. Just like the chest, I made templates and cut 6mm beveled foam pads for the upper side insets and the center inset. The upper and lower center insets are already padded with a layer of headliner foam – so, they will have 2 layers of that when the piece is done. I added these in with Super77 and glued the entire piece down to a section of headliner foam.

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The headliner was trimmed away and all the top stitching was completed. Next, this piece was joined to the chest.

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With the entire front section together, I needed to add on the sides. The sides consist of two main sections: the ‘ribs’ and the lower sides.

The ribs have a small black inset that was stitched in and given a 2mm foam pad. Then the entire piece was backed with headliner and top stitched. The lower section was constructed and lined with muslin and the two sections were joined.

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The seams that join the sides to the front also feature some narrow black piping. I created this piping myself by encasing elastic cording in a thin nylon/spandex material. I wanted the piping to have some stretch to it so that it could easily make the sharp corners on the piece.

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The piping was stitched to the side pieces first and then the sides were joined to the front and the seams top stitched.

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Moving on to the back of the vest, I began with the shoulder blades. These are the only pieces on the back with any kind of padding and they have just one thin backing of headliner foam. The black accent pieces were attached to the upper center back and the shoulder blades were inset and top stitched.

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The rest of the back pieces were assembled moving from bottom to top and the upper and lower back sections are joined with a ‘v’ shaped stripe in the middle.

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The second major component of the costume is the undershirt with the sleeves. I began this piece by cutting apart the mock up and transferring the sleeve patterns to paper.

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Once the patterns were done, I began construction. The red bicep sections were assembled first. All of these sections were backed with muslin for support and also to make the costume more comfortable against the skin. The black inset section was cut from a stretch fabric. The shoulder area of this piece was backed with a single layer of headliner foam – this was done to provide additional structure to this area as well as provide good support for the rubber ‘armor’ plate that will be cast and attached here.

The black  piece was inset and the upper part of the shoulder (in red and also backed with headliner) was added to complete the upper arm.

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Once the upper arms were together, the forearms and elbow sections could be attached. The elbow band and the inner part of the forearm are made with the same stretch fabric as the upper arm inset. The outer section of the forearm is made of black cordura.

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At this point, I just needed to close the last sleeve seam. Except – there’s an elbow pad that needs to go on and the seam runs up the back of the sleeve. So, I stitched the seam up to the red section and then attached the elbow pad. Leaving the red area open allowed me to turn it back and have access to sew the elbow pad in place.

The pad is simply made of a piece of black cordura spray mounted to a headliner foam pad and then spray mounted to the sleeve to hold it in place. I then turned the sleeve inside out up to the red and stitched it down. Once that was done. I was able to finish the sleeves.

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I then completed the body of the shirt. The shoulders consist of red cordura with a black cordura accent that matches the black on the front of the sleeves and continues part of the way around the neck.

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The main body of the shirt is made in black jumbo spandex and ponte that matches the red cordura – red on the sides where the underarms show at the vest – and black in the center front and back. Once the body was assembled, the sleeves were attached. There will be a stand up collar attached and a zipper in the front, henley-style.

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Here are the shirt and the vest pieces are they are now.

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In the midst of the shirt construction, I also began working on the pieces that will be cast – the shoulder plates, the plates on the vest straps and the belt and leg holster sliders.

I began by cutting the shoulder plate from 6mm EVA foam based on a template I made from the sleeve pattern. I then used a power drill with a sander attachment to round off all the edges.

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Next, I marked the detail lines around the edges with a silver Sharpie and used an xacto knife to make a slice about halfway through the thickness of the foam. When a heat gun is used, the foam recedes and the slice opens up to form a very fine bevel. The more heat, the wider the bevel opens – but care has to be taken not to bun the foam.

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I then used a dremel to create the recesses for the hex bolts that accent the shoulder plates.

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The next pieces to prep were the shoulder straps. Unlike the plates (which are symmetrical), I had to create two strap pieces – one for each side. I began by creating a paper template and then tracing the two layers onto 2mm craft foam.

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I cut the layers, used Super77 to adhere them together and created the small lines in the lower layer using the same method as above.

Next, I cut the sliders for the belt and the leg holster out of foam and sanded and shaped them as I wanted. At this point, I needed to get them on the base of my mold box. I cut the base from cardboard, covered it in packing tape and glued the pieces down. Then, 3 coats of ModPodge to seal them, the rest of the box was constructed and the whole thing was sprayed with some gloss metallic paint to help it release.

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The mold was made with Mold Max 30. Once cured, it was removed from the box, trimmed and the pieces were cast using VytaFlex and colored black with So Strong tint.

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While all of those pieces were curing, I moved on to finishing the shirt. The next step on that was to add the collar. The collar is black in the front and red in the back and connects at the same point that the red and black intersects on the shoulder. Once the collar was attached, the entire upper edge of the shirt was bound off to finish it.

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Finishing construction on the vest was next. I set the zippers into the sides and added the black strap to the back. These straps were accented with the same grommet detail as the front. The male ends of the buckles were attached to these straps, the top edges were bound off to match the shirt and the hem was trimmed and finished to complete the vest.

They are not pictured here, but there are also snaps on the upper corners of the vest that attach them to the shirt just below the collar. These keep the two pieces aligned and prevent the corners from curling forward under the chin.

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The next major piece to be constructed was the pants. I began with my muslin pattern and then drew on the seam lines for all the details.

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The muslin was cut and transferred to paper and the process of construction began on the actual piece.

I haven’t found a large amount of good reference on the pants specifically, so some of the details are inferred rather than documented. I also wanted to make sure I got all of the details in and tried to give them all a good scale for the size of the garment as well as allow for ease of wear and movement.

The red is, of course, the same cordura as the rest of the suit. The black is a 2-way stretch textured knit. The pants are cut to be as fitted as possible without being too snug and the stretch elements will add movement and flexibility but the 2-way (rather than 4-way) will also maintain the structure.

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Here are images of the pants completed front and back.

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At this point, all of the rubber bits were cast and cured and it was time to apply them to the suit. I started with the shoulder straps on the vest.

With the vest complete (and all the edges bound), I used Gorilla Glue to adhere the rubber to the vest straps and LockTite to glue the hex bolts into the holes. The straps were then sewn down to the front of the vest.

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Similarly, the shoulder pieces were attached to the black sections of the shirt.

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With the main costume complete, I needed to move on to the accessories. I began with the gauntlets and gaiters. I made templates for the pieces in posterboard and then constructed them from craft foam and PlastiDip.

I started with the gauntlets. These pieces are made of layered foam. The images below show the individual layer templates and how they will stack on top of each other to create the design.

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When working on layered pieces like these, I typically work from top to bottom. I only cut the edges that are going to move from layer to layer and then leave some ‘flange’ on the outer edges.

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Then, once all the layers are contact cemented down, the inner edges are all finished and the outer edges have some extra foam all around.

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Then, the entire piece can be cut out through all the layers and the outer edges are completely smooth and even and, since they were contact cemented past the edge and then cut, there’s no worry about the layers separating.

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Once these pieces were done, heat sealed and slightly shaped, I moved on to the gaiters. For the gaiters, I made the front as a separate piece and then built the side/back sections.

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The side/back sections had to be made a little differently than the gauntlets as they have to have a curve. The base pieces were cut in foam and then fused to headliner to give them some support and padding. Here’s the base flat with the accent templates laid on top.

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The back seam was glued first and the accents and stripes were cut in solid pieces to cut the seams to a minimum. All of the pieces were cut at a bevel and contact cemented down to the base. I used a silver sharpie to mark all the lines and center back on each piece so I could align them properly while gluing.

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Next, PlastiDip! 4 coats on each piece and here are the finished parts ready for straps and assembly.

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I didn’t take photos of the straps on the gauntlets, but here are the assembled gaiters on another pair of boots I had at the shop to show how they fit.

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Next, I built the holster. This was made of two strips of 1.5″ elastic with details made of found sliders and nylon strapping. The holster tubes were made of craft foam covered with cordura and trimmed in nylon strapping. I used the wide elastic as the base for the leg straps to ensure a snug fit without having to mess with a lot of fiddly adjusting and there is a piece of wide velcro under the tubes that attaches to the pant legs to give support and keep the whole thing up.

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The belt was constructed from the red and black cordura used in the vest and 4 snaps hold it in place to the vest hem. The buckles were cast in resin as part of the same mold that was used for the rubber components and the center front was finished with a cordura strap and grommets.

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The last piece to complete was the cowl. This was made from black jumbo spandex and is a half shirt (just down to the chest and under the arms) to reduce bulk and heat. The hood zips down the back to allow for getting it on and off but still being fitted to the neck and chin. Here are images of the cowl alone and with the helmet.

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Here is the final costume:

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