Gandalf the Grey

Discussion in 'Replica Costumes' started by SithariRog, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    My journey in creating Gandalf the Grey…

    As with most recurring characters, costumes change (sometimes not so subtly) between films, and this is true for Gandalf the Grey, as well. While his staff changes most drastically, the rest of his costume mostly remains true from film to film, though there are minor differences (like embroidery, the texture of the outer cloak, the design of the outer cloak, and a few other minor things). While I am mostly going for the Gandalf version seen in The Hobbit: And Unexpected Journey, I did (study and) take from all of the six films. The bottom line is: I wanted a quality quintessential “Gandalf” costume that is easily recognized as such, and is as screen accurate as is feasible (for a costume that I might wear twice a year) and that only the hardened critic could recognize nuances of how the costume differs from various incarnations seen in the films. As for the costume build: I’m making everything myself (except the staff, the scarf, the shoes and belt buckle), and will explain each piece.

    So…with that said, here’s my take on Gandalf the Grey from (mostly) The Hobbit: And Unexpected Journey.

    First, I studied various screen caps for many months, and read as much as I could find on the costume (which is very little), and how the few others who have made this costume made theirs. As with most costumes, there is very little information available and what is available is often out of date, with some broken links.

    Main Robe (Tunic)

    -The main robe or tunic seems to be made of a hand woven material that is aged (severely worn and stained). Regardless of what was used in the film, I chose to use a hand woven 100% cotton from Dharma Trading. This fabric seems to be available year around, and comes in a raw (ivory) color.
    This fabric shrinks a LOT. The test piece I washed and dried (roughly 10” long by the width, which was roughly 55”) shrunk by nearly 40%. Because of this, I ended up using very nearly all (and I mean all) of the 20 yards I ordered (for the robe…I ordered another 10 yards for the pants). After washing and dying, it ended up being somewhere between 14-16 yards long and about 40” wide.

    It’s easily dyed. I used Gunmetal Gray (PR50) and mostly went by the tutorials on the Dharma site. I will say that I doubled the dye, because I wanted it to be a dark gray. However, it ended up being too “blue”. So I set out to bleach the crap out of it and start over. After the second bleaching, the color lightened just enough to eliminate the “blue” tint and, to my eyes, looked nearly perfect.

    Here’s the fabric raw, washed & dried, then stained (and box pleated).

    11 Fabric RawWashedDyed.jpg

    As you can see, were it not for the box pleating, this fabric would be too thin (or see through) without some kind of liner. No liner was used for my Gandalf (again…because of the thickness gained through box pleating).

    On with the costume development!

    I’ve made MANY Jedi costumes, and realized that Gandalf’s main tunic is very similar. Basically, there are two front panels and a back panel, joined to a yoke, then full sleeves are added.
    Nielskovich likes this.
  2. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    The Yoke:

    The first task was to develop the yoke pattern. I set out doing a drape method of developing the yoke. Rather than using fabric, I used tissue paper. This stuff is the same paper that is used to pack or cushion gifts, and can be bought from any craft/hobby store. It comes in roughly 20”x20” sheets, and is thin (see through) but sturdy enough to use for copying patterns for use to make whatever.

    1 Developing Yoke.jpg

    Here’s the front and back made of fabric:

    2 Yoke Try Back.jpg 3 Yoke Try Front.jpg

    I decided the front and back points of the yoke was too pointy…

    4 Gandalf Back Yoke.jpg

    …so I rounded them a bit;
    5 Yoke Mod.JPG
  3. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    The Mock Up:

    I always do a mock up, especially for a new costume. I chose a flannel “Black Watch Tartan” set of sheets. I wanted to test 2-inch box pleats with this mock up. Here is the box pleats being pinned:
    6 MockUp Mat Box Pleats.jpg

    The yoke was made in two layers, rights sides sewn together, then turned inside out, and the opening sewed shut. The yoke was attached to the panels, right sides together, then flipped, in order to hide these stitches. It took a little doing, and thinking. No pics of that, but if anyone wants more details on how I did that, let me know.

    Front and Back Panels sewn to the yoke:
    7 MockUp Front.jpg 8 MockUp Back.jpg

    The panels turned inside out and laid on top of eachother. The arm holes were cut through front and back panels, so the arm holes would be even.
    9 MockUp Adj Arms.JPG

    I’m sorry, but I don’t have a picture of the sleeves. They were basically trapezoidal in shape, where the shoulder side was longer than the hand side. Five box 2-inch box pleats were centered on the shoulder. After this was done, the sleeves were more “squarish” in shape. These were sewn to the yoke-panel section….THEN the side seams were sewn together.

    Here’s the mostly finished mock up, make black and white, to remove the distraction of the tartan design:

    10 MockUp Finished.jpg

    In the end, I added some belt loops and pockets, made a belt…all for a really cozy winter house coat!

    Now that my design was deemed “good”, I set out making the main robe with the dyed woven cotton fabric. Here are the progress pics of this step:

    Stabilizing the box pleats with basting stitches:
    12 Stabilizing Box Pleats.jpg
    The fabric has such a lose weave that pins wouldn’t stay, so I had to pin the box pleats, then stabilize them with basting stitches. The pins were removed before sewing. After the tunic was together, I removed the basting stitching.

    Front and Back (no sleeves):

    13 Front.jpg 14 Back.jpg

    This picture shows the sleeves added. Here, I’m removing the bottom excess material, and showing that, with all of the box pleating…the bottom border of the tunic is over 4 yards long! I used some of this excess fabric to do the hems at the sleeves and at the bottom of the tunic.
    15 WSleeves and Hem.jpg

    The front, close up of the nearly finished tunic. Note the stitches at the waist line. This was necessary to stabilize the box pleats…otherwise, they would easily fall out. This double stitching will be hidden by the belt.
    16 Close Front.JPG

    And a floor length view, pre embroidery:
    17 Finished Main.jpg

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    The Embroidery:

    The yoke, sleeves, and bottom are all have embroidery. The tunic is also split up the back from the floor to the belt. Interestingly, research reveals that there are two kinds of embroidery. The yoke/sleeve/bottom embroidery (that can be referred to as “horizontal” embroidery) is different than the vertical front and back split embroidery.

    First, I did some experimentation. I used basic knitting yarn. I found it too thick (top). The bottom right was a thinner yarn…but it just didn’t look right. The bottom left is the same yarn as the top, but I separated the four strands of yarn into two stranded pieces.
    18 Embroidery Tests.jpg

    This shows the two kinds of embroidery. Left is the “vertical” design that is seen on the front and at the back, from the floor up to the belt. The right shows the “horizontal” design that is seen around the yoke, and on the sleeves and parallel to the bottom hem.
    19 Yoke Designs.jpg

    Here’s a close up of the embroidery around the yoke:
    20 Embroidery Yoke.JPG

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    Tie String for the Tunic:

    The front of the tunic on the yoke is held together by a tie string that is laced through five pairs of holes. I searched high and wide for the right string, and find it difficult to find a cotton string that was 3/8-inch wide. It was ultimately dyed with the same dye as the tunic.
    21 Tie String.jpg

    There is no reinforcing stitching on the outside of the yoke for the string or lace holes. However, this yoke is backed with an osnaburg cotton, dyed the same grey color. I did put reinforced stitching on the inside. Of course, this makes it difficult to thread the string through the holes from the outer surface. To help with this, I used Super Glue on the string ends to make them stiff.
    22 Tie String.jpg

    Also, on this picture, I’ll address the hems. The hems at the end of the sleeves and on the tunic bottom is about 6-inches wide. It’s also rather thick, so that (in my opinion) it can give weight to this, otherwise, light fabric. This allows the sleeves to hang well, and allows the bottom to flow properly when walking. This is how I did it:
    -First, I took a strip of fabric that was about 14” wide, and the length of the sleeves (or bottom). This was sewed on the outside, with right sides together, and about 6” “up” from the ends of the sleeves or bottom border. There was about an inch of excess of this border fabric. The border fabric was then allowed to hang “down”. This means that the stitch made didn’t show. The border fabric was then turned under about an inch, ironed, then turned under about six inches…and to the inside. This inside stitch was hand sewn. This gave the sleeve hem and bottom hem three thickness of the woven cotton, which made it thick and gave it some weight. The embroidery was then placed along the edge of the hemmed sections. You can see this above.
  4. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    The Belt:

    Sorry for the small picture of Gandalf’s belt:
    23 GtG Belt.jpg

    To me, this looks like a fabric belt (i.e., not leather). I decided to make my belt out of a stiff canvas. In addition, the belt is obviously woven. I compared various woven belt pics from a Google search, and decided that an eight-braided belt looked right. There’s a tutorial on how to weave an eight-strand belt on DYI Instructables:

    I but strands of canvas ¾” wide. The length was about 240-inches long. I needed a 60-inch belt. I doubled this length, not knowing how much of each strand would be taken up in the weaving. Then, this tutorial uses four strands that are doubled, so…120-inches times 2 equals 240-inches. I folded each strand into thirds, then sewed them together. One side of the raw edge was “inside” these folds. The other raw edge was visible. I needed to de-fray this exposed raw edge. Also, when weaving this belt, I made sure the raw edge was going to fall on the “inside” of the belt.
    24 Belt preparing strips.jpg

    Sorry for the blurry picture. Each strand was looped through a 1 ½-inch silver colored, square belt buckle (from a leather craft store).
    25 Belt, beginning braid.jpg

    The braiding:
    26 Belt Braiding.jpg
    From the cutting of the canvas to the finished braid took me about 6 hours.

    Braiding is done:
    27 Belt not dyed.jpg

    The first belt I made (pictured earlier) was made from canvas that had been dyed a dark brown. I liked the belt, but it was really too dark. So, I decided to make another belt. This new belt was painted with fabric paint, and the finished project:
    28 Belt Painted.JPG 29 Belt finished.JPG

    The colors in the picture are off a bit. It’s a darker brown than it appears. However, in the near future, I will tweak this costume a bit, and will add some gray to the belt to get it closer to the film color.

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    The Bag:

    Gandalf’s bag is a simple bag made of a canvas (same fabric I used for the belt). It has a fold over top, and a braided strap (this time a wider strand and a three-braided strap, as compared to the belt…but essentially followed the same method).

    Here is a design picture:
    30 Bag development.jpg

    Here is the finished bag, undyed. The bag was double thickness canvas with the back panel longer than the front, so that it could fold over for a simple closure. The strap is sewed to the inside of the top flap. The bag and strap were dyed a medium gray (Charcoal Gray (PR41) from Dharma Trading.
    31 Gandalf bag undyed.jpg

    The embroidery around the edge of the flap used regular hemp rope, that was dyed a dark brown. I cut the edge of one end of the hemp to a point, then sealed it with Super Glue (to make it stiff and so it would act as a needle when sewing around the border). I used an awl to punch holes at the proper interval to achieve the design. If memory serves, I punched two wholes ¼-inch apart, then skipped 3/8-inch, then made the next two holes.
    32 Bag embroidery.jpg

    Finally, the bad was “aged” by airbrushing on “dirty” colored paints. Sorry for the small picture, but this gives an idea of how it looked when done.
    33 Bag finished.jpg

    Oh…and the bag, being functional, is a great place for the keys and cell phone…and other stuff of necessity!

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    The Pants:

    Research revealed that the general consensus believes that Gandalf’s pants are floor length culottes. The pants are really not visible except when walking and riding Shadowfax. So…I chose to rip apart a pair of scrub pants and use those as a pattern. I merely made them EXTRA wide, then gathered them back to the original pattern size, and sewed them together, with a draw string. The scrub pants were taken apart at the inside leg/crotch/front/back seam. The outer side seams were left intact. Here is the basic pattern (which shows the gathering).
    34 Pants Pattern.jpg

    And here is the finished mock up, followed by the finished pants:
    35 Pants text.jpg 36 Gandalf Pants finished.jpg

    The bottom hem of the pants was achieved in the same way as the sleeves and bottom help of the main tunic.
  5. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    The Hat:

    Believe it or not, but there was a tutorial on “how to make a Gandalf hat” on Youtube!!!

    I, basically, used this tutorial. But there were a couple of things I changed.
    -Obvously, I needed to resize things to fit my head (with hair).
    -I made a mock up, which will be pictured shortly, and felt the slope of the hat wasn’t enough, so I made the final hat slope more.
    -I used heavy buckram (two sheets) for the brim, because I thought the tutorial version was too floppy.

    First, I did an overlay composite picture of me and Gandalf to get the slope right:
    37 Hat pattern.jpg

    Then…with hair in place, I made the brim pattern:
    View attachment 38 Hat Brim Development.jpg
    The poster paper was a tad floppy, so the brim front looked a little weird at this point.

    The mock up, using one sheet of buckram, and the same flannel sheets as before:
    39 Hat Mock up 1.jpg

    And the mock up…note how floppy this brim is. It also looks a little small. I altered the pattern, and ultimately used two layers of heavy buckram.
    40 Hat Mock up 2.jpg

    And the final hat, before and after shaping:
    42 Hat slope and shaping.jpg

    And here is all of the soft parts (minus the mittens):

    41 GtG Soft Parts.jpg
    The scarf was ordered from a company in New Zealand, and is an “approved” prop from the film (or based on the film’s scarf). The staff was ordered from United Cutlery (through Amazon) and is a REALLY nice prop…but rather heavy. I’ll probably make one, eventually, that will weight considerably less…and probably with a light.

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    The Mittens:

    Gandalf’s mittens were knitted, something I have no current desire to do…so I went looking for a wool fabric that gave a reasonable look for completeness. First up the design:
    Mitt Design.jpg

    The design is fairly simple. A top and bottom, sewed together, with a hem around the finger, and no hem around the thumb. Top is the mock up, bottom is the final mittens:
    View attachment 43 Mit mock up and final.jpg

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    Hooded Cloak / Outer Robe

    Gandalf’s hooded cloak is really an open front, hooded poncho. The design is simple. If I ever make this component, I’ll take a rectangular piece of fabric, but a hole for the head, open the front, hem the edges and add a pointy hood.

    I didn’t make hooded cloak for a few reason:
    -I haven’t found a suitable fabric yet.
    -Gandalf doesn’t wear the hooded cloak much. Most scenes are without.
    -It’s * hot in Alabama, and a layer of thick wool on top of everything else would be way too not for comfort, except maybe in January.

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    The Pipe:
    While seen less than the hooded cloak, this was an easy prop to make, so…I made it. Total time took about 4 hours from design to finished, except for staining and varnishing.

    Gandalf’s pipe is a plain pipe with two tones of wood. The tobacco well is darker than the mouth piece. I used pine for the tobacco well, and an oak dowel for the mouth piece. They were stained with Special Walnut, then varnished. This pipe is not functional.

    A hunk of pine and a design:
    44 Pipe Design.jpg

    I drew the design onto a piece of pine. While my drill press allowed for angles and such, I found it easier to design the angles into the block of wood and kept the drill press in its original position (where the drill is perpendicular to the plane of the drill press table).
    45 Pipe Design 2.jpg

    The holes do match up, but it wasn’t really necessary…being non functional:
    46 Pipe drilling.jpg

    Sanding and shaping, with the mouth piece being fitted for angle:
    47 Pine shaping and assembly.jpg

    And the final prop (minus the varnish):
    48 Pipe final.jpg
    -To get the “bend” in the mouth piece, I sanded on the top ends, then on the under middle…if that made sense. This gave a pseudo bend to the mouth piece. I chose those method, because I didn’t have time to wet, steam and bend the dowel.

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    The Hair:

    Well…I ordered this hair set from a decent wig/costume site. It’s not bad. Well…it’s awful for a Gandalf costume”. Having said that…for the money (under $125), this wig and beard/mustache set isn’t bad for Gandalf. Maybe one of these days, if I were to either decide to learn to make my own…or were to decide to spend many hundreds of dollars for a movie quality set, I’ll upgrade. Until then, this set will do. My problems with this set?
    -The main hair is too wavy. Also, this wig is a pull on wig, and not a lace wig. So, there is no widow’s peak. I don’t mind that so much, because…what’s Gandalf without the hat, right?
    -The mustache is stiff and doesn’t really match the other “hair”.
    ***the wig and mustache are synthetic**
    -The beard…well, the beard is a glue-on lace beard from real/human hair. The wig is pretty darned nice, actually.

    49 Hair.jpg

    And a word on the shoes…
    Gandalf probably wears a dark brown boot. I really didn’t want to invest in something that really isn’t seen. So, I work my dark brown suede Rockports, that I’ve had for decades. They look “right” and have been broken in…and therefore are comfortable.
  6. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    The final costume:

    50 Final Costume.jpg

    I actually won a costume contest at the “Master” level during a local sci-fi/fantasy con. Pretty cool, huh?

    51 Final Costume 2.jpg

    Final word: This was a really fun costume to make. It’s ridiculously comfortable to wear (except for perhaps all the hair, but even that’s not so bad). This wasn’t one of my more usual detailed tutorials, so…if anyone has any questions on how I did something, please let me know.

    What's next for Gandalf? Well...I'd really like to age and dirty up the costume, as it appears in the films. I've got the acrylic paints and airbrush...but need to find time to do it. Maybe...before the next con ;) We'll see. Beyond that...I'd like to gray up the belt a bit, and maybe...get some knitted mittens and a better hair set.

    Next project for myself (other than Emperor Palpatine…I’ll post this VERY detailed tutorial over on the Sith Lords Detachment forums) will be Professor Snape, complete with cartridge pleating on the academic robe. I’ll post that WIP/project here on the RPF forums. Until then….have fun!!!
    bigbenlor, EmmaInCandyland and George like this.
  7. George

    George Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Well done,SR :thumbsup or should I say: The White Wizard ;) (next costume?)
    Congratulations on your award !
  8. SithariRog

    SithariRog New Member

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    Well...actually...Gandalf the White will probably make it to my queue at some point. A friend of mine wants to do Saurman, and I told him I'd do the two costumes. But..I've got a bunch to finish first, before taking on those. the "whites" both have tons of embroidery, like, the fancy stuff. But if and when I do those costumes, I will definitely post here.
  9. Stivie

    Stivie Well-Known Member

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    Awesome build and turned out great!

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