This thread will follow the construction of a new Batman suit based on the Noel graphic novel. This suit will be made in the same style as the recent Captain America suits – an ‘armored’ torso that fits over a stretch shirt with the sleeves and pants that combine ‘armor’ and stretch elements. Below is one of the many images from the reference library for this costume.
I began with the pattern for the torso. This was made by using a block that matched the client’s measurements. I made a mock up in Swedish tracing paper and sketched on the details.
I then began building the torso. The suit is made of Cordura backed with headliner, dark grey sport-tek stretch and bias tape. The pieces are cut from the headliner first. The seam allowance is trimmed away and the headliner pieces are tacked to the back of the Cordura with a light spray of Super 77. The Cordura pieces are then cut with the seam allowance added back in and sewn together.
The abs were made in the same fashion. In order to created the look of segmented armor, all of the pieces were cut individually and then edged with a darker grey bias tape. The pieces were then stitched together ‘in the ditch’ of the bias edging to make a single piece that appears to be segmented.
Once the two halves of the ab section were complete, the front edges were bound and the they were stitched down to a center front base piece. It was then time to add in the ‘rib’ and upper back section.
To add some flexibility and movement, an inset of dark grey stretch was added that extends under the ribs to the sides of the abs and also makes up most of the back. The back is almost entirely stretch so that the client will have range of motion across the shoulders and middle back and, since it’s completely covered by the cape, will not be seen.
The tops of the shoulders were added to complete the neckline and upper torso. Lower side pieces, made the same way as the rest of the torso pieces, were also added to create stability and maintain the shape under the rib cage and over the hips.
The next steps on the torso are the rib details, back zipper and fishing the edges at the neck and arms. In the meantime, I moved on to creating the undershirt. I began with the sleeves.
The sleeves were created just like the torso – headliner foam backing the cordura pieces and then set onto a stretch piece that will allow for movement. I created all the foam/cordura pieces first and then assembled all the pieces from the wrist up.
Here are all the pieces laid out and a finished sleeve pinned under the torso in its current state.
The rest of the undershirt is all stretch to allow for maximum movement and fit under the torso and has a zipper that extends from the neckline 12″ down the center back. The body was assembled, the sleeves attached and the shirt was finished by binding the neckline.
The next step on the torso was to create the small strap details on the ribs. I made these by halving the bias tape used to edge all the other pieces and edging 1.5″ strips of cordura. These were then stitched down to the rib sections and the arm holes were finished.
Next, the collar was added to the torso, the zipper set into the back and the grommet details added to the rib sections. These images show how the two completed pieces fit together – the only things left on the upper section of the costume are to attach the symbol, hem the sleeves and bind the bottom edge.
With the top complete, the next step was the pants. As usual, I began by using a standard pattern, making some alterations to add shape around the thighs and knees and then drawing on the new seam lines.
I began construction at the front and worked from the waist down. Unlike a lot of projects, I did not trace these patterns to paper, I went straight from cutting the mock up apart to building. The downside is that I don’t have an archive of the specific patterns but the upside, which was more important on this project, was that I could keep everything aligned and keep up with all the little details.
They may not look like it, but these are probably the most complex pants I’ve ever built (with the possible exception of Falcon).
In the reference art, there are black trunks that appear to go over the legs.
I decided that ribbed trunks over ‘armored’ pants might not be very wearable and look odd, so I decided to go a slightly different route. In order to provide maximum movement and still maintain the style of the art, I decided to create the ‘trunks’ area out of the dark grey stretch and add the bias detail to represent the ribbing in the reference.
I then began constructing the thighs. The upper parts of the thighs were made of the same padded cordura and bias trim as the vest. The area that extends around the knee I made of the stretch material to provide movement. These images are of the upper thighs and the stretch section with the back of the thigh attached.
Continuing down the leg, I attached the shin/calf (which has stretch in the back) and the front and back of the knee. The knee pad is padded cordura trimmed and sewn down to the middle section. To create the back of the knee, I backed the stretch fabric with headliner and then stitched down the ribbing lines.
Once both halves of the pants were complete, they were assembled and the waistband added. Here they are complete.
And, here are all 3 pieces of the suit together.
The cape is made of two main components: the yoke/collar and the segmented body. The client wanted the body of the cape to be a full circle made of 16 segments and he wanted that attached to a shoulder yoke with a collar that closed in the front. Here are images of the layouts he made and sent to me.
The first thing I did was print and enlarge one of the body segments using radial projection.
This is a method of enlarging patterns when you don’t have a large scale printer or overhead projector. There’s a little bit of math involved but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. After printing the image, I determine how large I need the finished pattern piece to be and divide that by the longest edge of one segment of the printed image. I then cut out and tape one segment to a large sheet of paper and project out the small piece the number of times it needs to be.
Here’s a basic image that shows how this was done and a picture of the pattern being projected out.
For a more detailed look into radial projection, check out this video.
Once I had the pattern the correct size, I made a mock up of one half of the cape body (only past the shoulders in order to conserve materials) and then drafted the yoke on top of that mock up and the finished suit.
Once I got the patterns together, I noticed that I really needed to remove two of the segments from the body to ensure a smooth fit to the yoke. While this meant that the cape would not end up being a full circle, it was not an issue as there would be plenty of fullness and the fit to the shoulders was more important. Further, since I was removing two segments from an even number of total segments, the jagged edge would not be affected.
With the patterns set, I began building the cape from top to bottom. The yoke is made in six segments, each backed with headliner foam to give them some heft and support for the weight of the body of the cape.
The body of the cape was constructed back-to-front in seven sections. Each section contained two of the panels and completed one of the points of the jags. These hem edges of each section was bound and then all the sections were joined together and attached to the yoke lining.
The collar was added to the yoke shell and it was added to the lining. I basted the shell down onto the lining wrong-sides-together and then bound the front and top edges. The bound edges around the shoulders were pinned down to match the lining and stitched in place. A small zipper was then added to the front of the yoke to complete the cape.
Here are all of the pieces together before they shipped to the client.
Once I receive pictures of the final costume together from the client, I’ll post them here. Stay tuned!