This post is originally from September 2012 but since then I’ve updated this outfit and added some new things so I went ahead and added more to the post and edited the post to reflect that!
After finishing up the Tenel Ka Djo fanart-inspired outfit for Dragon*Con 2011 (the NJO armor from the fanart by Todd!), I was inspired to remake an old TK costume I had made a number of years before – a version of the Young Jedi Knights armor! I say “a version” because I know whatever I came up with wouldn’t look exactly like any of the official art of the armor that has been drawn (I am not that skilled, lol). For Dragon*Con 2012, I was finally able to finish it and wear it! There were a few things I wanted to fix/change a bit, but overall I was very excited to have made another version of this armor.
I had fiddled with both scales and wonderflex thanks to the fanart outfit and the Tempest cover outfit and knew I wanted to incorporate at least one of these things in the new YJK costume (I thought the aluminum scales might not be organic enough for this outfit, so I’ll be using them on another TK outfit I’m working on :D). The first couple versions of this costume were basically the shorts, bodysuit and two boleros of differing sizes layered on one another (I had absolutely no idea how to attack that armor). When I started costuming, Tenel Ka’s YJK outfit was one of my dream costumes and I never had any faith that I could pull anything like it off so when I actually was able to put something together for the first time, I was really proud of myself! Now I wanted to challenge myself again and try it once more (I’ve wanted to do so for a couple years now, I just never got past the planning stages, haha XD). She is definitely a favorite character of mine from any form of media and has been since I was a tweenbot derp reading the Young Jedi Knight books. This is probably a duh thing though since I always gush about her when the topic of Star Wars comes up and I keep making costumes relating to her, whether it’s a new Queen Mother outfit or a really obscure jumpsuit that’s mentioned once in one book. I can’t help it! She’s the tough, brave girl I always wanted to be when I was younger! :3
When I started looking at redesigning the outfit, I knew I wanted to use the same green fabric I used for the shoulder armor in the fanart-inspired outfit. I loved the shade and the texture was perfect. It’s never really said where she’s made (or received) her armor from, but it’s been described in a couple of places as lizard-hide and/or rancor-hide, depending on sources. So I sort of went with both. I figured the texture of the green fabric would work with the lizard hide thing – I had a copperish-brown fabric that was the same texture so looking at the images of her armor, I planned on putting the copper on the green together. These colors resembled the image of her armor on the cover of Young Jedi Knights: The Lost Ones.
When trying to decide on what shape to make the armor, I debated between a few things – from the pointed shoulder pieces of the image from the Essential Guide to Characters, to the rounded ones of the Lost Ones cover, and even checked out some medieval armor, trolling numerous websites and looking at old school defense and protective covering. The one thing I knew I was going to do was have the two layers – the top copper and the bottom green – and then have the top layer wrap around my neck and then spread out over my shoulders. With the fanart-inspired outfit, the top layer of the armor went all the way around the neck and rested comfortably on my shoulders. I aimed to do something like that with this one as well. The bottom layer of the armor (the green layer) is built into the green bolero, like the image of the armor from the Essential Guide to Characters.
I made the bottom layer a bolero with Wonderflex under the shoulders to give it some stiffness, then the whole top copper part is a piece of Wonderflex that’s slightly smaller than the copper fabric over it. For the shape of the shoulders, I ended up going with something in between the two shapes I debated between, having the edges a bit rounded and the tips pointed. The fanart-inspired outfit I did had round edges all around, as does The Lost Ones image, but I did like the way the pointed ones in the EGtC looked. I made sort of an indent in the copper shoulder pieces and cut out scale shapes in a different reptile-textured fabric, using them to fill in the cutouts in the shoulder piece.
When designing the shape of the top set of copper armor and Nate was helping me pattern/cut it out, he mentioned it going down further in the back. It would give more protection in between the shoulderblades, plus give me a place to use all the extra scale shapes I cut out! The back of her armor has never been shown so I figured it would be cool to have some fun with it! The fabric I originally used for the scales started out green, but I painted it with three different shades of spraypaint to begin with, then went over the edges in rust and copper colored paint. You can’t really see the detail on them unless you’re close-up, but I had a lot of fun making them and painting them. I also went through a lot of glue to keep them all on!
One of the main things I wanted to keep in mind with this outfit was comfort – the first version I made of it was a breeze to wear and I had a lot of fun in the woods getting goofy Yavin IV shenanigan photos. I knew that it would be more difficult to keep that aspect with this outfit, since it would be more detailed/made out of harder fabrics – but I was determined! Comfort is a huge aspect when I make most costumes because I goof off a lot in costume (if you’ve seen The Derp Collection on our Facebook page, you are aware lolol). XD That leads me to the shorts! With the fanart-inspired outfit, I made the shorts out of a shiny snakeskin vinyl sort of material. It was a bit stretchy but they didn’t breathe well. With the fabric I used for the armor, I knew I would have the same problem. In the EGtC image of her armor the shorts match the bottom piece of the armor/bolero… so I knew I wanted to try to find a way to match them. The material used on the armor is upholstery fabric and doesn’t stretch or breathe one bit (naturally, since it’s upholstery fabric! XD) — so I had to be very careful when patterning/cutting them out and then sewing them.
I had originally made them all out of the green fabric and they fit well enough, but I wanted to add some color in somehow. I ended up making uneven panels (I was going to make them even first but figured just randomly cutting the fabrics and putting in two panels down the sides of differing sizes would add to the organic/cobbled-together-lizard-skins look) and cutting the side seams of the green shorts, then sewing in the panels. I liked having the copper color in somewhere besides just the top armor (plus I had more of that fabric sitting around!) and figured that would be a good place to work it into the shorts.
My original plan for the bottom of the shorts, after adding the copper panels, was to do the same thing I had done on the top shoulder armor – I was planning on making a cutout on the outsides of the shorts and adding some of the cut scales in, but once I cut the shapes out, I thought they would work better as “vents” of a sort and I ended up stabbing some holes with an awl and lacing them up with extra suede cord I had (after using it on the stick and necklace, which we’ll get to in a bit!)… it might not seem like a lot but the vents were extra helpful with keeping my legs somewhat cool!
Other big details include the bodysuit/leotard and the hair. The leotard was a dark gray one I had for the original version of this costume – I ended up wearing another one I had (more of a earth-tone one) then but decided to switch to this one for the new version of this outfit. It matched the EGtC image better and broke up the green and copper and brown better than the other one. A friend of mine, Bria (of White Hot Room), had learned how to do fishtail braids a month or two beforehand (due to us nerding around on a hairstyle site one day, hehe) and practiced when she was over for BasementCon II a couple weeks before Dragon*Con 2012. She came over to our hotel room the Friday morning of con and did them again (which I am extremely grateful for)! <3
The bag is the second bag I had made for an earlier version of this costume. I kept it for this one and made a new belt out of a fabric I thought looked slightly rancor-ish in texture. I need to fix up the belt since hers gets smaller up on her waist and bigger behind the bag (somehow! XD)… in the EGtC picture she has some sort of cord or rope on her belt on the side without the bag, so I actually ended up tying bits and pieces of suede cord I had used on different Tenel Ka costumes I had made in the past together and attached them to my belt. Kind of a nerdy callback to other TK costumes I had worked on, plus the fact that they were all rugged and worn made it look like the rope/cord had been used for jungle shenanigan climbing stuff, hehe. I made some last minute shinguard pieces from the same fabric I had used for the scales on one side and the same fabric as the belt for the other. I had originally planned to use a pair of boots that went up my legs more, but the shorter boots gave my legs more air, so I went with those instead. Plus, the shinguards I made ended up fitting them perfectly! Got lucky there!
I had a few different pieces I could’ve used for the focal point of the necklace, but I went with a green stone piece that matched the armor colors somewhat. I strung the piece on more of the suede cord that I had used on the short vents, holding the faux closure on the bag and wrapped around the stick. The stick was one I found in the woods on a walk one day and I wrapped more cord sort of around the places she had cord wrapped on hers in the EGtC image. I used a lighter cord on the upper part where I would be holding it most of the time (to look more worn since that would be the most used “handle”) and darker parts around the two prongs and the lower handle, for when she used the stick two-handed like on the cover of The Lost Ones. As far as the lightsaber, there’s a whole post on that!
I knew I would be wearing this for the first of two Outlander Club shoots at Dragon*Con 2012 and I was really excited because there would be a Teneniel Djo and a Ta’a Chume at this shoot as well – as you can see above! They are both absolutely darling people and amazing costumers and I was honored to be able to get number of “three generations of a family that is really uncomfortable with each other” group shots!
Jesse, the Teneniel Djo, made an awesome beaded necklace with a giant carving-covered tooth she gave to me (momma to daughter Dathomirian gift, b’awwww) and I put it on the stick and kept it there throughout the shoot. It is my favorite thing from D*C 2012 and is hanging up near my computer where I can nerd over it every day! XD
It was also a lot of fun taking photos of the Jedi Academy kids we had there – Tenel Ka, Jacen Solo, Raynar Thul and Tahiri Veila! There were a lot of shots of us throwing– err, “LEVITATING” rocks with the Force. You can find all of our Outlander Club photos here and check out the OC site!
Even though there were things I wanted to fix on this costume, I didn’t get around to playing with it until Spring of 2014. Some friends of ours were planning on having an afternoon in a park for photoshoots. It was a wooded park with little streams and small waterfalls and stuff and I thought Tenel Ka would be the perfect costume for it – I could finally get GREENERY SHENANIGAN PHOTOS! I went back to the costume and looked over it, trying to decide what I wanted to do with it for the shoot. I knew the biggest thing I wanted to change were the scales so I cut scales out of Worbla and replaced the fabric scales on the shoulders and back part of the armor with Worbla scales then I painted those with a few different colors of paint and tried to make them look worn. I also built up the edges of the under part of the shoulder armor with paperclay and added a few greens to that as well as added a lace up cord to the front of the armor. It helped it stay on better and tied it into the shorts more stylistically as well!
Here are some more shots of the updated costume!