Hair is one of the most stunning pieces of costuming in the Star Wars franchise, however, sometimes working with synthetic hair can be difficult. Here are some suggestions that might make working with synthetic hair easier.
Why Synthetic Hair?:
Synesthetic hair is a better option for making hair pieces for achieve Star Wars hair styles then human hair in most cases. Often times human hair is unethically sourced so avoiding it is a good idea, unless you know it’s origins. That said, if your human hair can he ethically sourced then it can also work well, however, it is always going to be a less affordable option.
Some articles that break down the ethical issues of human hair extensions
Synthetic hair is also more affordable, for many of the hairstyles in Star Wars a lot of hair is required, and that can become very expensive. Synthetic hair like Kenekalon Braiding Hair and other brands like it are typically a more affordable option when buying a lot of hair. Synesthetic hair can also hold up longer then human hair when taken care of
Another alternative to human hair is horse hair, buying horse hair extensions, they are less affordable and depending on the sealer may also be unethically sourced. However, as an option, the hair is natural and looks so.
Weight, real human hair can be heavy, synthetic hair is often times lighter weight then real hair and can be worn longer because of this.
Styling products, when styling with synthetic hair, styling products such as hair spray or moose, are not needed, because the hairs are all the same length unless altered there are few if any fly-always that need to be smoothed.
When using synesthetic hair for a costuming it can be hard to find a matching color, this is partly due to the fact that natural hair is not one color, humans have several different colors making up teach individuals hair including high-light and low-lights. Synesthetic hair is typically one color, and it’s hard to match and make it look natural right out of the package. For a more natural look blending 2 too 3 colors of hair together will help, see video for tutorial on blending. (Note: for making hair look more natural, using more of the base color and chose a smaller amount of your high-lights and low-lights.)
2 of the main textures for synesthetic hair are natural or yaki and silky, both will work great, however, most Star Wars hairstyles in the movies use a silky finish, this is not as important when doing a hairstyle such as Classic Leia (a.k.a Political Gown Leia), however, most of the headdresses that Queen Amidala wears require silky hair finish to be used, such as her Red Invasion Gown headdress.
Synesthetic hair can tangle easily, so to untangle it start by brushing or combing depending on the need, at the ends and slowly working up the tail of the hair. Starting at the top and going to the ends will only make the tangling worse and more difficult to get out. Sometimes using fingers to come the hair can be easier then a brush, and if using a brush a wig brush would probably work better then a normal hair brush. For general untangling and styling a wide toothed come works grate.
For some people synthetic hair can be itchy right out of the package, to remove the coating the hair comes with make a bath or water and vinegar and let the hair sock a while, then rinse and let dry. This processes might be easiest if the hair is still in its loosely braided form that it comes in right out of the package.
Storing the synthetic hair for reuse, put a fabric covered elastic at the center of the hair bundle and loosely braid the hair. Coil the braid into a circle and place inside a hairnet. See Alexa Poletti’s video on storing wigs.
According to Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, Luke’s puttees or leg wrappings are made out of soft suede. and unlike WWI puttees, Luke’s leg wraps do not appear to be held in place by a ribbon tape, instead double sided adhesive tape may have been used.
Luke in the New Expanded Universe movies, The Force Awakens, wears what appear to be short puttees. Short puttees typically go around the ankle, Luke’s appear to go a little higher then short puttees usually go, but they are not full length or long puttees.
What Are Puttees:
Puttees are a wrapping around the lower legs that became very common for militaries to wear at the turn of the nineteenth century. There are two kinds of puttees, long (that wrapped all the way up from the ankle to the knee) and short puttees (that only wrapped around the ankle and a little up the calf.) The long Puttees that were worn during the turn of the nineteenth century were roughly 3 ½” to 4” in width and around 9 ft. long. Puttees help keep the elements out of boots while also protecting and supporting legs.
“Silk crepe de chine, from the French “crepe of China”, is a famously versatile silk, possessing a very glossy luster and a subtle texture, as well as a surprisingly light weight and truly excellent drape. The fabric, slightly more textured than silk 4-ply woven crepe, is made with tightly twisted weft yarns, or filling, running in reverse directions from left to right. These twisted yarns produce both the crepe texture of the material and its flexible drape. Silk crepe de chine is probably the most durable of cultivated silks – those woven of single, reeled strands – and is found to be exceedingly even and uniform in texture. Silk crepe de chine is popular for bridal and formal evening wear, and also works well in blouses and men’s shirts. Also used in home décor, the fabric lends a light and luxurious feel to any project. Silk crepe de chine is also an exceptionally forgivable silk when it comes to sewing, as it takes thread well and will typically not fray overly when cut. Dry cleaning is the recommended method of care for this fabric”.
The body of Leia’s political dress is very simple; the dress seems to be cut out on a ‘T’ pattern, the fabric being folded in half fully length ways and then again width ways.
Because of the way the fabric is folded before cutting there are only 2 seems one on ether sides. There is no front or back seems, there are also no shoulder seems and no seem on the top of the sleeves. There are really only 4 seems on Leia’s dress, the 2 side seems which are continuous up through the underside of the sleeves, 1 seem for the collar and the seem for the keyhole back opening.
The side seems are left open from about the knee down, to allow for ease of movement, this split in the dress does no go any high then Leia’s knee, (roughly just below the knee cap).
Leia’s political dress is self lined, meaning that the same fabric that was used to make the dress is used to line it. Leia’s dress has the raw seams enclosed between the lining and the body of the dress.
The bottom hem of the dress comes down to break at the top of Leia’s foot and is a folded hem that is secured down with invisible stitching, possibly sewn by hand.
The top of Leia’s dress is blouses and appears to have elastic ruching used to gather in the waist. (Sadly there are no pockets).
Though different necklines where plaid around with in the concept art faze for Leia’s political dress, the approved design has a turtleneck collar (possibly more of a mock-turtleneck since it does not fold over). This turtleneck collar closed in the back with what appear to be hooks and eyes that are sewn on the inside of the collar so they are not visible from the outside.
Princess Leia’s political dress closes with a series of hooks and eyes closer at the neck, and a keyhole back opening. This opening is more or less a strait cut opening down the center back that goes no lower than mid shoulder blade.
Leia’s hood is made out of a single layer of crepe de chine (so it’s not lined), the hood comes down to roughly just below the top of Leia’s hips. The hood seems to be likely cut out on a trapezoid shape and gathered on the edges before being sewn under the collar.
The hood is attached under the turtleneck collar and the hoods hem is a rolled hem which is stitched down by hand with an invisible stitch. The hood is also left open in the back and is not a closed hood, the fabric for the most part lays over the top of the head.
Leia’s political dress has open wide cut sleeves, Leia’s sleeves at the widest point, the wrist, appear to be more than 14” long (Pam’s Costumes: suggests 14″ inches in length for the sleeves). The image below shows Leia’s hand at shoulder level and the sleeves drops down to roughly Leia’s waist. (Perspective in the image has to be taken into account when figuring out the proper length of the sleeve.)
Note: that for movies there are lots of the same costume made, and often times those used during action sequences will have shorter hems and less full skirts and sleeves. It is likely then that Leia’s dress will appear slightly different throughout the movie and promo stills.
There are no shoulder seems or seems on the top of the sleeves, [some of the patterns that were released had raglan sleeves; however, this is not how the screen dress is constructed]. Since the dress is cut out on a ‘T’ pattern, the only seems that exists are on the underside of the sleeves where it’s the continuation of the single body seem on the side of the dress.
Leia’s political dress belt was made to have a medieval look, the belt itself is made out of leather with aluminum medallions. Leia’s belt also has a clear line of stitching around the entire border.
There are 7 to 8 medallions depending on the belt (the belt worn in ANH has more medallions then the belt worn in ESB). There are 6 to 7 rectangular medallions and 1 center diamond medallion (though more rectangular medallions can be added as needed as long as there evenly spaced). The medallions are made out of aluminum and snaps are used to close the belt in the back. In some versions of the belt, such as the one worn in ANH, a medallion covers up the snap closure, however, the belt worn in ESB appears to only have 7 medallions, leaving the snaps uncovered. (This picture pattern below for the medallions is a rough pattern and may have to be adjusted for each individual Leia, figuring out proportions helps.)
(Note: crepe de chine is most likely the fabric used for the dress, as the other construction details in Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy seems to check out with what is known about the dress from other sources.)
A good material to use for Leia’s belt medallions is aluminum flashing, it is inexpensive, (around 6.00$ for a 6X10 roll). The Flashing can be cut easily with hand scissors, and requires little or no sanding to finish.
The round center part of the medallion can be made with cover buttons, (these are buttons that you cover with fabric yourself, however, when left uncovered they make good centers for the belt medallions.) Pam’s Costumes says that 1 1/8” size works well. The Costumes and Art Work blog, uses thread and a curved needle with a backing button to go through the cover button shank to attach the cover buttons to the medallions. Pam’s Costumes, used epoxy glue to attach the cover buttons, she removed the shanks and filled the backs with resin, hot glue could make a good alternative for filling the backs.
One of the common myths about hairstyles in the Star Wars universe is that these intricate styles are achieved with a person’s own natural (often times long and thick) hair. In reality a combination of wigs, hair pieces and hair extensions, among other techniques, where used to give the length and volume needed for these styles. Princess Leia’s and Queen Amidala/Padmé’s hairstyles are commonly attributed to this myth. However, both Leia’s and Padmé’s hair is achieved through the for mentioned hair help. Within universe the characters achieve these hairstyles with wigs, hair filler and forms among means other than their own natural hair. In [Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season: 3 Episode: 11, Pursuit of Peace,] a short scene near the end of the episode shows Padmé talking with her handmaiden Teckla Minnau. In the scene Teckla is holding Padmé’s senatorial wig/headdress which Padmé wears with her (blue and gold) senate dress from the Clone Wars TV show.
A behind the scene photo of Padmé’s [Star Wars: ThePhantom Menace] (black Coruscant) wig/headdress from [Padawan’s Guide] shows that the wearers real hair is tucked beneath the wig/headdress.