ALIEN Ellen Ripley Costume Tutorial (Flight Suit, Shirt & EVA Flamethrower)

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wetcelery

Active Member
Hello! First off, I'll need to admit that I'm completely new to sewing, let alone costume making but I have taken a great interest in it recently, after pretty much completing my Ellen Ripley costume within a week (28th June 2015 - 5th July 2015). I took up sewing just at the start of this summer, having procrastinated for a few years and found that making quilts wasn't quite enough for me, and wanted to move onto clothes. As for where Ripley came in to play, well, needless to say that Alien Isolation and recent news about the upcoming Alien 5 has really sparked up interest in the franchise again; and seeing as her flight suit doesn't looks like it requires seriously advanced technical skill (unlike other costumes such as Loki for example) I thought I'd give it a bash and use this as another project in my journey on learning how to sew! Again like previous costume makers before me, I've chosen to alter a pre-existing boiler suit, instead of making one from scratch as I mentioned before, I'm very much a newbie to sewing and I've definitely not reached a point where I can make a pair of shorts, let alone a boiler/flight suit from nothing.

I think I've done some pretty extensive research on the Ellen Ripley flight suit and I've not seen anyone post much information or in detail as to how her suit can be made so I thought I'd share my take on the costume for other newbies like myself out there, and for feedback on how I could have improved it - or even corrections. So I'll be using this thread to share the process I went through.

Comments, advice, suggestions, all definitely very much welcomed! ��

- Karlie


INDEX
Thought it would be handy to have this! Probably best to view it in this order if you're following this as a guide. Posting order is more how I worked and it's a little bit all over the place.


NOSTROMO SHIRT, A WEE EXTRA & FLAMETHROWER BUILD (I, II, III, IV, V, VI)

FLIGHT SUIT

1. References
i. Cosplay Inspiration
ii. Film Sources
iii. Personal Notes
2. Patches & Badge
i. Patches
ii. Warrant Officer Badge
3. Watch
4. Base
i. Jumpsuit
ii. Clean Slate
iii. Planning
iv. Waist Panels
5. Pockets
i. Measurements
ii. Part One
iii. Part Two
iv. Pull Tabs
6. Taking the Hem Up, Arm Panels and Extender Zip
i. Making the Extending Fabric.
ii. Attaching the Extendable Zips
7. Inner Leg Zip
8. Back

i. Measurements and First Attempt
ii. Panel Measurements
iii. Second and more Screen Accurate Attempt
iv. Cord
9. Finished Base
10. Dyeing
i. First Attempt
ii. Brainstorming for a Solution
iii. Rit Dye Color Remover
iv. Second Dye Attempt
v. Final Wash
11. Finishing Off
12. Hindsight is 20/20
13. Comparison
14. Summary


COMPLETE COSTUME POST
 
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wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

Cosplay Inspiration

I think it's super important to give credit to the other costume makers/cosplayers before me who have posted tutorials online which I referred to and took inspiration from before making my own. So here are the links to those I looked at and images I studied to try and get some hints and tips to make my costume as accurate as possible - and a feeling of what it could be like. Many thanks to:

bargainbeautiful
10566165134_55e4e536ce_o.jpg

sadiethesewingmachine

dsc04353.jpg

Star Kat Cosplay
10914872_1540872606185615_1517445174071884373_o.jpg10498304_1543011482638394_1378638289280317397_o.jpg

Moe Hunt
10474225_835828679784258_4256860371430541757_n.jpg10653773_837717402928719_5823255173002574455_n.jpg

And various other unnamed cosplayers found on Google:
tumblr_nml4grJDR41sawt2do1_500.jpg 860509_10203086917867277_7731874206995171880_o.jpg 762863.jpg
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

Source Images from the Film

And here is the collection of images which I near enough religiously studied to try and ensure 100% accuracy, or to ensure that I didn't sacrifice major detail for the sake of 'artistic freedom' aka the limits of my technical sewing know-how. All found after hours of trawling through the internet and screen capping the hell out of the film.

FULL BODY
51d5c400496bfa693ee7d753745a91b0.jpg 7d22dd5b09fa1cdc5b275781a6123cef.jpg alien_04-500x500.jpg

TORSO
18892821.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx.jpg 7294705224_5832905e3c_b.jpg alien4.jpg alien-1979-011-sigourney-weaver-in-publicity-still-00m-gx5.jpg 254cc9dc5b34c2467f2282c20b2d6758.jpg

MISCELLANEOUS CLOSE UP VIEWS
tumblr_n7qjlewwTn1qd479ro1_1280.jpg6745f5bd08d6afbce19aae4553324b7c.jpgwomen_sigourney_weaver_alien_e_2008x3010_wallpapername.com.jpgalien-sigourney-weaver-ripley-jones.jpg is.jpg vlcsnap-2015-06-30-18h00m26s310.png ripleyjumpsuitbackjy1.jpg vlcsnap-2015-06-30-18h05m12s482.png

51d5c400496bfa693ee7d753745a91b0.jpg


7d22dd5b09fa1cdc5b275781a6123cef.jpg


alien_04-500x500.jpg


18892821.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx.jpg


7294705224_5832905e3c_b.jpg


alien-1979-011-sigourney-weaver-in-publicity-still-00m-gx5.jpg


alien4.jpg


254cc9dc5b34c2467f2282c20b2d6758.jpg


6745f5bd08d6afbce19aae4553324b7c.jpg


tumblr_n7qjlewwTn1qd479ro1_1280.jpg


women_sigourney_weaver_alien_e_2008x3010_wallpapername.com.jpg


alien-sigourney-weaver-ripley-jones.jpg


is.jpg


vlcsnap-2015-06-30-18h00m26s310.png


ripleyjumpsuitbackjy1.jpg


vlcsnap-2015-06-30-18h05m12s482.png
 
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wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

Detailed Study / Personal Notes

With so many images, and so much information scattered across them, I needed to collate everything into the one and make it clearer for myself so that I could plan what steps were needed at each stage in a more straightforward manner. Hope these help to make the costume a little easier to study!

ripley_bodysketch.jpg ripley_torsosketch.jpg ripley_legdetail.jpg ripley_legdetail2.jpg ripley_backnotes.jpg

Here's HI-RES links for each image:
1. http://i.imgur.com/u2QvqKE.jpg
2. http://i.imgur.com/ERgLZGR.jpg
3. http://i.imgur.com/Ea7cyjm.jpg
4. http://i.imgur.com/mCzUssz.jpg
5. http://i.imgur.com/TDK0zM0.jpg



---

Was I the only one who didn't notice those long inner leg zips at first? I've not seen many costumes with it either... Took me a while hence why I've stressed it to myself so many times, haha. And the back lacing was rather difficult to work out (screen caps weren't great either) but I figure 10 loops seem about right... from what I can make out.
 

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joberg

Master Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

Ah yes, the G-4B Flight Suit (found item for the movie)...always difficult to find and when you do, it'll go for a minimum of $ 400.00 a pop. Good luck into the recreation of this suit:)
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

Ah yes, the G-4B Flight Suit (found item for the movie)...always difficult to find and when you do, it'll go for a minimum of $ 400.00 a pop. Good luck into the recreation of this suit:)
Yes, even harder when you're only at 5ft 2"! Hoping to share what I've done as a sort of guide to recreate the flight suit without having to fork out so much at the beginning! And to tailor it to the individual!
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

BASE

Following on from the examples of others, I needed a base to work from as the G-4B Flight Suit (just mentioned by joberg!) is extremely hard to come by - and even if you find it, extremely pricey. Being from Britain as well, our surplus military gear doesn't really look the part, and isn't the easiest thing to alter either; and anything from the States would cost quite a bit for postage too. Furthermore, I'm quite a small girl, only at 5ft 2" so found it extremely difficult to find anything that wouldn't envelop me completely. Even then, suitable vintage boiler suits were still difficult to find because most of the ones I came across were sizes 12 and over (I'm an 8), better suited to taller people, and usually didn't have the right 'look' of material to them.

Thankfully, I got super lucky when I had a wee browse at H&M one day and found this in the sale section for just £7. Whether I was going to make a costume or not, I'd have still bought it because I've always wanted a khaki jump suit.

3wq4cb3.png

So a pretty good start: a decent 100% cotton twill jumpsuit that looks the part and is certainly blank enough (only two front chest pockets, decorative zip, two bum pockets, and discreet side pockets) to make it an easy alteration job - and more importantly, one that fit me too! All for under a tenner!

In case the product is removed (reckon it's now "last season"), here's some images I saved of it. You can still find it on eBay under "H&M Twill Jumpsuit" for about £25.

hmprod (1).jpg $_57.jpg

EDIT (27.8.2015):
Here's a visually informative comparison thread on the G-4B and G-4A flight suit. Also kristenhenry70's detailed photographs!
 
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joberg

Master Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

Well, if you ever see one wetcelery, being 5ft 2" is actually better to fit into those (it seems that fighter pilots are on the small size;)) I was lucky to discover a suit being 6ft 2" that suited me at the time...
 

nick daring

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

Great research! I love seeing a costume broken down like this. :)
 

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wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Boiler Suit

Well, if you ever see one wetcelery, being 5ft 2" is actually better to fit into those (it seems that fighter pilots are on the small size;)) I was lucky to discover a suit being 6ft 2" that suited me at the time...
Really? Ah, pity I never came across any sort of flight suit around that size... all the ones I found at the time were all 5ft 7" and above... would have been nice to have gotten a proper one (if I didn't have a small budget too)!

Great research! I love seeing a costume broken down like this. :)
Thanks! I hope it's clear enough and could be useful to others?! :)





JUST A WEE NOTE...

Anyway, before I carry on, just going to stress that this is my first costume and I have to admit, did rush it a bit (attempted to do it within the week for a mini-convention the following weekend. I state now that I never succeeded but I'm certainly close to it, just need a few tweaks here and there but I feel that I've got 80%-90% done, as of today). Didn't plan on going 100% accuracy to begin with because I doubt my limited sewing ability allowed for that, nor do I have the much admired knowledge base of other Alien veterans. :) However, now that I've done most of it, and did more reading and research after (such as reading near enough every post here) I'm even more enthusiastic to try and aim for 100% (to the point of transforming the spare jumpsuit and starting all over haha). And in hindsight, I realise where my mistakes are and how I can correct them and I would really like to refine it as much as I can for the MCM Scotland Comic Con in September.

So treat this as a really basic guide to making an 80% screen accurate costume from a newbie and still as a progress thread for my piece?!
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

CLEAN SLATE (DAY 1)

So first off, I used some masking tape to mark where everything was going to be just to set my mind straight on what needed to be done.

IMG_5261.JPG IMG_5263.JPG IMG_5262.JPG

( sale sticker = proof of my bargain hahaha)

Throughout this entire process, my friend's mum (Neet) gave me tips on how to achieve what I wanted. And being a fairly skilled costume maker, creating outfits as accurate as she possibly can with basic items around the house or
in shops (even if it's not 100% her pieces certainly look it) I gladly took on all of her advice.

So here, we consider re-using the existing chest pockets and plan to just unpick a part of it to just turn it in on itself.

IMG_5264.JPG

Flaps have been removed. Will probably come in handy later.

IMG_5265.JPG IMG_5266.JPG IMG_5269.JPG

Trialling this look of reusing the pockets.

Unpicked the bum pockets to be moved onto the front for the thigh pockets. At this point in time, I wanted to try and use as much of what was there already before going out and buying fabric. My mentality was: "75% accuracy is good enough, budget is around £2-£30 including the jumpsuit." lul. Hence why I've not unpicked that extra zip as it didn't bother me too much and I wasn't fussed about the drawstring at the waist (and frankly, I didn't realise there were those extra little waist panels).

IMG_5273.JPG

Don't have a photo for this next one but when I looked at the piece overall, and saw where the pockets came to, I decided reusing the existing pockets was a dumb idea because it would mean having a mixture of cotton twill and some other similar material - which I worried would be visibly obvious. Furthermore the size of the pockets weren't right either, which is pretty central to the entire outfit seeing as it's almost pockets everywhere. So, saving the pockets as material for other things in the future, such as the cloth pull tabs for the zips!
 

joberg

Master Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

Looking good so far. Yep, lots of pockets on that flight suit. The lacing is also key for that one (paracrodgalaxy.com) is the one you want for parachute cords (for the lacing) and for the patches, Merliner is the one to contact.
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

MORE PLANNING (DAY 2)

Having worked out that I needed a number of things to really start my costume making, I duly headed out to a fabric wholesales in Glasgow, Texcraft.

12 zips in total:

  • 2 Chest
  • 2 Thighs
  • 2 Lower Legs
  • 2 Inner Legs
  • 2 Extenders
  • 2 Back
1m of cotton twill or like material
Chord
Other bits and bobs like straps and swivel clips that I needed to help with kit bashing my flamethrower at a later date.


IMG_5309.JPG

I ended up buying:

  • 100m Round White Elastic at 1.5mm (£7.68)
  • 10 6” Greyish Navy Blue nylon zips (£2.70)
  • 10 12” Greyish Navy Blue nylon zips (£3.20)
  • 100m Cotton Twill Stone (£2.95)
  • (Ribbon was my own)

Total spend of this trip was £24.78

Not bad at the time as it meant I was ready to power through with this costume, and I was pretty hyped that I got everything I needed and was super looking forward to getting it done.
However, in hindsight, there are a few things I would have liked to have corrected (which will be proven by the actions/mistakes I make in the following posts). I’ll quickly jot a note of why I bought some items and what I should have done instead of being too eager to make a start:

  • I shouldn’t have jumped the gun and bought the elastic so quickly. However, choices were limited at Texcraft (which admittedly was a bit disappointing considering it was supposed to be a massive wholesale. I was probably better off getting the rest of my stuff, save for the zips, at Mandors - a large store that was more convenient as it was located in the city centre) and other chord options were all on the more nylon/plastic-y side (think of fake white rope used for toys and the like) that I knew wouldn’t dye well. I thought I’d take my chances with the elastic, despite knowing full well it definitely isn’t as thick as the lacing used at the back of Ripley’s flight suit. But beginner's mistake I suppose.
  • If it weren’t for the fact that I had to buy zips in bulks of 10, I would have liked to have gotten my hands on a pair of 24” zips that they had available. This would have really neaten things (and maybe an accuracy point?!) but I doubted I would ever need the 8 left over so I had practicality and money dictate my decisions. Zip lengths I will also explain later with my pocket measurements. Again, thinking back, it was fairly cheap anyway so I probably should have just bought a bulk of 24".
  • Again, if I wasn’t so eager to start, I should have bought different fabric elsewhere. For a wholesale, they seemed to only have canvas and this dense cotton twill that supposedly matched my jumpsuit. I should have gone to Mandors where there was more choice at a slightly extra cost. But enthusiasm didn’t allow me to think sensibly at times, ha.

In any case, I was still super chuffed with my purchase and set to work with more planning.

IMG_5302.JPG IMG_5305.JPG IMG_5307.JPG

(You can see my wee drawing plans ha. May upload my messy notes later.)
Only then did I realise that there are extra side panels on the flyer suit and found that one existing pocket is enough material to make two panels! Which meant that I could easily remove the drawstring and hide the holes (accuracy point +1)! Again, another bonus here because the drawstring could provide a template and reused for the cloth pull tabs! Hurrah!



IMG_5309.JPG


IMG_5302.JPG


IMG_5305.JPG


IMG_5307.JPG
 
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wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

Looking good so far. Yep, lots of pockets on that flight suit. The lacing is also key for that one (paracrodgalaxy.com) is the one you want for parachute cords (for the lacing) and for the patches, Merliner is the one to contact.
Thanks! Yeah, will be looking at something similar to paracord, which I will mention later on. But for convenience and budget wise, I may try and find something similar looking instead - currently considering round, woven shoe laces? Desperate for something that will dye easily after a 'dyelemma' that happened... again, will write about that soon enough.
 

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wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

SOME SMALL THINGS (REMOVING THE EXTRA ZIP & SIDE PANELS) (DAY 2 CONT.)

Thought I'd make this a quick post before I go do another long one about my pocket measurements.

I figured that if I could remove the extra zip, it would mean I could bring the Weyland-Yutani wings down a little more and it wouldn't bother me so much as it started to. Plus, the wings seemed like the right size to cover/hide the alteration anyway. Even then, in my opinion it still looks like those wee slots you see on military blazers/uniform etc. where one can pin their extra badges, so it's not too out of place. Proved to be quite an easy job, just lots of unpicking.

IMG_5349.JPG IMG_5363.JPG

End result isn't too noticeable, and the dye job at the very end should make it discreet.


As I mentioned before, the removed chest pockets were conveniently the right size to make the side panelling seen at the waist.

IMG_5346.JPG IMG_5361.JPG

The original pocket was about 6 1/2" wide and 6 3/4" long (excluding the seam allowances). The part folded out was originally stitched behind the pocket to thicken the opening end for support and design. This gave me an extra 1.5cm added to the length of my tabs, which was perfect.
So after my I cut the pocket in half, I did an overedge stitch (seeing as I don't actually have an overedge foot I just did a tight zigzag... haha) all the way round, then a top stitch to hold the shape in place. Will be sewing this on later once I finish all the pockets and work out the exact placements of them in relation to the chest pockets.

IMG_5348.JPG IMG_5347.JPG

The end result for the tabs when ironed out and straightened are 7 1/4" in length and 2 1/4" in width.
And you can see that it neatly hides the scrunched up fabric from previously having housed the elastic, and the hole for the drawstring. Here I've already removed the draw string; I pulled it all the way out and cut where the elastic joined the cloth draw string. This will be used for the cloth pull tabs later.

IMG_5346.JPG


IMG_5347.JPG


IMG_5348.JPG


IMG_5349.JPG


IMG_5361.JPG


IMG_5363.JPG
 
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joberg

Master Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

Looking good so far. I admire your courage for those transformations are not easy to do (zippers...I hate them:angry) Keep up the good work!
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

PATCHES

Nearly forgot to do this vital detail! Thought I'd write about this first before more humungous posts!

So having done some research into the patches, all the cosplayers before me had recommended me this seller from eBay. They have a fair range of patches for the Alien franchise and sets for Dallas, Kane, Brett and Ripley. They also sell their patches separately which can be quite handy if you need just one extra.
For Ripley, they have THREE different sets.

1. ALIEN / ALIENS Nostromo Officer Patch Set (RIPLEY) - Set of 5 Shirt Patches NEW £11.99


$_1.JPG

2. ALIEN / ALIENS Nostromo Officer Patch Set (RIPLEY) 4 Jacket Patches + Badge NEW £12.95

$_1.JPG

3. ALIEN / ALIENS Nostromo Officer Patch Set (RIPLEY) 4 Jacket Patches + Badge NEW £12.95

$_1.JPG

(Be wary of Set 3, though this is the main photograph, the other photographs seem to have the varieties for Set 2 - Seller mistake? Probably ask the seller to double check)

Now, bear in mind that I am writing this thread 2 weeks after pretty much finishing most of my costume, and one and a half month since starting this project (i.e. purchasing the patches and the main component that is the jumpsuit). Annoyingly, back in May, I'm pretty sure they only sold Set 1, which is the one I've now got. Now that I'm looking through their selling list again, they seem to have added two more: Set 2 with the Nostromo DARK background and blue W-Y wings for the white shirts the entire crew wear; and Set 3 which is basically what you want because it actually includes a pin badge.

To be fair, Set 1 isn't all too bad, h
ere are some photos of them in person:

IMG_5533.JPG IMG_5534.JPG IMG_5536.JPG IMG_5537.JPG

I’m pretty chuffed with these. They’re not 100% screen accurate as the green colouring and yellow band of the planets are not exactly in line; and they have a blue band at the bottom (here’s a great patch comparison thread) but I’m really pleased nonetheless. Of course the minor details count but I’m happy as it is.

Therefore in my opinion the only fault is the Warrant Officer badge. It’s a noticeably larger than what it should be, and you can see this when you place it on the suit and see it in relation to the other patches and the rest of the outfit.

IMG_5535.JPG IMG_5362.JPG

Of course, I kind of saw it coming, considering the listing does state that it's 4cm in diameter. This didn’t bother me at first but the more I look at it, and the more time I’m spending on my costume, I’m feeling a little less than satisfied. Luckily, they are also selling the badges separately (again, new listing judging from the numbers sold, which may explain the introduction of the new sets) and it's not too expensive at £3.50 (which brings my total spend on the patches and badge up to £15.50, £2.50 more than what I could have paid for if I got Set 3 but oh well). So I think I'll just get that as soon as. I will post an update about that when it arrives.

You can also see that I'm thinking of using the cover previously on the chest pockets as the other extra tab on Ripley's flyer suit.

$_1.JPG


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IMG_5533.JPG


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IMG_5536.JPG


IMG_5537.JPG


IMG_5535.JPG


IMG_5362.JPG
 
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Mike J.

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

I bought a US Air Force surplus jumpsuit a few years ago for my Ghostbusters costume (not super accurate, but I didn't care too much) and the one thing no one has mentioned is that those suits are made of synthetic, fireproof fabric and they are very hot. I think you'll enjoy wearing your cotton jumpsuit a lot more than a real one.

Why did they feel compelled to put the name tape in there? That's not on any of the crew costumes, is it?

This is fascinating. It's like they just needed more work for the costume dept. to do: add more zippers! And pockets! And laces!

I did a half-assed Kane for Halloween last year, and just picked an off-the-shelf blue-gray shirt with epaulettes without doing any real research.... Add two shoulder patches, the winged sun, and a stuffed chestburster and no one was the wiser.

Thanks for sharing.
 

wetcelery

Active Member
Re: ALIEN Ellen Ripley Flight Suit

I bought a US Air Force surplus jumpsuit a few years ago for my Ghostbusters costume (not super accurate, but I didn't care too much) and the one thing no one has mentioned is that those suits are made of synthetic, fireproof fabric and they are very hot. I think you'll enjoy wearing your cotton jumpsuit a lot more than a real one.

Why did they feel compelled to put the name tape in there? That's not on any of the crew costumes, is it?

This is fascinating. It's like they just needed more work for the costume dept. to do: add more zippers! And pockets! And laces!

I did a half-assed Kane for Halloween last year, and just picked an off-the-shelf blue-gray shirt with epaulettes without doing any real research.... Add two shoulder patches, the winged sun, and a stuffed chestburster and no one was the wiser.

Thanks for sharing.
Fair point. I thought material might have been a slight issue too - I was definitely concerned that it would be a little heavy for me or it wouldn't dye as well, so I'm also quite glad to have a cotton one instead.

No idea why the name tape is included either - perhaps for those who want to be clearly identified?? However, it's not without it's use if you're going for a Nostromo inspired character, or a slightly inaccurate Amanda Ripley from Alien Isolation? She has a label... or even Ellen in the DLCs. In any case, the answer for that one escapes me too. ��

Initially I wasn't too fussed about the accuracy either but as I've said, the more time I spend on it, the more I love it and the more I want to really perfect it.

Well I believe that for the flyer suit, it was a basically unaltered 1950s US G-4B Anti-Gravity Flight Suit so the costume department wouldn't have done anything but sew on the patches and wings, dye job and maybe some tailoring to Weaver's figure.

mc651591.jpgmc651591_a.jpg

From a costume-making point, it's certainly a pain! It's a little tedious making multiples of the same thing. Having finished everything, this feels more like a big alteration project that making something from scratch; which for me I found useful though as a newbie learning how to sew, and doing this costume has definitely taught and given me practise on a lot of basic things I needed to know.
 
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