For Christmas 2016, CJ surprised me with an AWESOME gift: a kit to make the helmet Princess Leia wore in her Boushh the bounty hunter disguise in “Return of the Jedi.” I was around eight years old when that movie came out, and seeing that cool character with the intimidating helmet and the thermal detonator turn out to be… Princess Leia (!!) was mind-blowing. It defined my young sense of what a heroine looked like.

This was by far our most ambitious cosplay project to date, involving an entire sewn-from-scratch costume and multiple armor and prop pieces (with their accompanying 3-page to-do list!). We made everything you see, except my boots and the actual gloves. It took us a full year, although there were some lengthy breaks in there, and expanded our repertoire of skills, tools, techniques, and materials well beyond anything we’d tried so far (I made pants. Yes, that’s my takeaway here. Pants.). I am really stoked by how it turned out.

HELMET: Boushh’s helmet is, clearly, the centerpiece of this entire affair. Isn’t it fabulous? The narrow eye-slit, that leather snout, the ominous lights… This one is mostly CJ’s work (I did the leather work): a stunning paint job on a resin mold pull, with weathering and distressing including a giant dent at the top, with the bits and bobs known as “greeblies” in the Star Wars universe:

The snout is covered in a soft pleather from JoAnn, which was beautifully workable—drapey, pliable, and just stretchy enough to conform perfectly to the contours of the helmet. It’s glued in place with Pellon Perma-Stick tape, a double-sided fusible tape I discovered during this build. It’s a fantastic product for unsewable applications, or areas that are hard to otherwise glue tidily. It’s repositionable as you’re working, but becomes permanent with a touch of the iron.  The pleather was less enthusiastic about being sewn (for the back drape).  It took lots of stabilizer, tissue paper, and futzing with the tension to even make a stitch on it.


This ended up being a surprisingly fun piece to make. We found this fabric early on–a lightweight crinkle microsuede in the perfect shade of taupe. I used New Look 6438 for the pattern, lengthened by about 6″, and the sleeves shortened to just-below-elbow-length.

I just scream “badass,” don’t I?

The fabric was very sensitive to ironing–it would not take a crease at any temperature that would not also press out the crinkles, distressingly destroying the distressing, grrr. I ended up topstitching every single seam allowance for a smooth finish–an effect that really helped give the illusion of real leather.

The facings and hems are finished with Pellon Perma-Stick, to achieve the seamless, glued hems from the original costume.

UNDERSHIRT: A simple cowl-neck top from brown jersey. I used McCall’s 7194, which I’ve made several times before for mundane wear. I made the collar narrower/tighter, although not quite tight enough. Boushh wears a leather neck gaiter, and I was hoping this would accomplish the same look without the extra piece. It ended up floppier than I hoped, exposing much more neck than I wanted; but the end results with the rest of the costume are not terribly bothersome. If you go this route, I’d recommend a beefier jersey that will stand up a bit better, or tracking down a true turtleneck pattern.

PANTS: This was one of the more intimidating parts of the project for me. I had never made pants before. The actual construction of a pair of pants is not challenging, but getting a good fit can be. I used a heavily-modified New Look 6246, a slim-fit, elastic waist pull-on woven pant. I also added patch pockets, because this costume is notably lacking in onboard storage!

I sourced several cuts of brown microsuede before settling on this tobacco brown decorator fabric from JA. I make a lot of costuming pieces with home dec fabrics, and many adapt just fine for clothing purposes. This is definitely not one of the more clothing-friendly varieties! The color crocked (glad this wasn’t a sofa I was making!), and there is not one iota, scintilla, mini-scintilla, or partial smidgen of give to it. Fine for standing and posing; less fine for doing things like sitting or driving or bending over or… That said, it feels absolutely luscious, and it really does look just like genuine suede.

Boushh’s pants have these interesting crinkled panels on the lower legs, one of the more fun challenges for this project. I tested a few techniques, and ended up with a modified sort of faux Fortuny pleat, by wetting the panels, twisting them and clamping them to the edge of a table until dry.

The challenge I had was that the 100% poly fabric was fairly crease-resistant; the best sample results I had were with making messy according pleats then blasting them with the iron until they were basically melted into the fabric:

But I couldn’t manage that on the full-size panels–they unrolled too easily, before I could get them clamped. The twisted-in creases managed to persist through eight months or so in storage, although I’m afraid they wouldn’t last through a wash, alas.

Topstitching the panels kept the creases sewn in place.


Did you know you can get gads of cosplay stuff on Amazon? I found a pair of inexpensive taupe gloves, and these excellent screw-on spike studs:

With inspiration from my wrist brace (erm), I was able to create the basic pattern shape for the glove covers. Mockup and final shown below:

Yet another brown microsuede (I think this is #4 for the project), and I whipped these up in a morning.

CAPE: Boushh wears a beautiful half-circle cape made of drapey, coarsely-woven fabric.

In my stash was a hopsack tablecloth with the perfect weight, texture, and drape. I made the cape first, and then dyed the finished garment  on the stovetop with Rit Dyemore. I am a very novice dyer (we have not had good equipment until recently), so at this point colors are largely guesswork. Using the color Sandstone with a splash of Chocolate Brown, I miraculously ended up with exactly the perfect color. I love how the hopsack fibers took the dye differently, giving a rich, beautiful depth to the color.

L-R: Cape fabric before dyeing; cape after; tunic fabric


Resin parts were sourced from the same place CJ found the resin helmet kit pieces.  Includes metal tubes, small metal “flares” and a 2-inch gray webbing found on Amazon.  Weathered with an inexpensive powder applicator kit called Tamiya Weathering Master that we found at Hobby Haven.

ARMOR–non-silicone clear caulk, camo brown PlastiDip and a Satin Espresso Rustoleum

STAFF  Made from a long 1″ PVC pipe, plus yard sprinkler tubing parts (collected during a 90 minute adventure across Home Depot) and a #2 pencil.  The giant mass of greeblie parts at the bottom is in part from a kitbashed broken Stormtrooper rifle CJ received in the mail a few years ago that had been run over by the UPS guy.  He unscrewed the parts and drilled out a core, leaving the dimensional parts to surround the PVC tube.  Also used Crayola Model Magic and Apoxie to fill in gaps (we wouldn’t recommend the Model Magic for long-term use as it does not last long).

THERMAL DETONATOR–CJ had someone make a 3D print of the movie’s thermal detonator.  Extensive sanding and hollowed out with Dremel, then included flashing light, red filter lens cut from a deli package, and multiple coats of Tamiya silver and chrome paint with clear gloss outer layer

BACKPACK Backing to support the two backpack canisters came from our recycled plastic packaging stash.  We used two recycled plastic containers connected with a broken plastic hanger.  CJ carved out space on one for an lighted inner transparent view with old wiring andparts from a broken Stormtrooper rifle toy to replicate some kind of realism in the interior.  Also weathered with Tamiya Weathering Master.

STILL TO COME: In a rush to get a wearable costume done for the premiere of “The Last Jedi,” we skipped Boushh’s leather belt, and the quilted gaiters/spats. looking at the photos, I think I’d like to do the gaiters after all, and there is a belt in the house, somewhere…