The Hobbit: Bard the Bowman Costume Build


Active Member
Heya! It's been a while since I've posted up a build thread on here but after putting in a bunch of time researching and sourcing materials I thought I'd share it here with you all.

So my next costume is of a character that always stood out to me reading the books as a kid and was great to see him portrayed so well in the Hobbit films by Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman, so I've been planning to get this costume made for a while now.
I started sourcing materials early last year and I've only just started to finally put it all together.

So here's the obligatory pile of materials 'n' stuff before starting the project, including various pelts, leathers and fabrics amongst other pieces. I also picked up the Black Arrow replica from Weta as a cool alternative prop to carry around instead of the Bow and Quiver:

To begin with I needed to start preparing the fabrics. I ordered a really nice loosely woven linen that looked pretty close to what was used that I ordered in from the UK last year, though it was only available in a natural colour so I needed to dye it up grey:

In addition to dyeing, I needed to fade the fabrics for the pants and sash so I gave them a quick wash through with a little bit of RIT colour remover which brought them back to a nice light faded tone:

For the Construction of the costume, my plan is to basically start from the inner layers of the costume and work out from there, so I started first with the pants.
They're a super baggy "Cossack" style of pants so I just used my standard go-to pants pattern and just widened the legs a heap. I included the side pockets too so I'd be able to carry around my phone and wallet at events since they're covered up by the shirts anyway.
I drew my pattern up on to some extra fabric for a mock-up to make sure it was all looking right before transferring it on to the pre-faded cotton upholstery fabric that I'll be using for the actual piece. Once I'd cut and sewed the main parts together I then added a drawstring waistband and draw-string ankle cuffs to gather them in at the bottom:

Next on the list was the grey linen under-shirt. Like with the pants, I made a mock- up by laying out a shirt pattern on some fabric and drawing out the changes and extra parts onto it by eye. I then roughly sewed it all together and tried it on to make sure the fit was right:

I then pulled the mock-up apart and laid it out onto the linen fabric then cut out all the pieces. Since it was a very loosely woven fabric I made sure to go around all the edges with an over-locker and slip-stitched most of the hems for a nice, neat finish:

I added in a thin strip of black interfacing down the fronts to support the buttons. I got some self-cover buttons that I made up using the same fabric as the shirt but then had to sew the button holes in by hand, as my machine didn't like doing it on the loose weave and just chewed it up.
I left the bottom un-hemmed for the time being as I needed to make sure it was a bit shorter than the over-shirt once I had that done:

For the Over-Shirt, I used a handwoven, raw Tussah Silk that I had to import in by the bolt from India which is the same fabric used on the original costume(Though I think the stuff I got was just a little bit thicker).
I followed the same pattern as the under-shirt except for the change in the collar and no shoulder seam or sleeves. They used a sleeveless version when worn with the coat on set to help keep the actor a bit cooler, so it seemed like the natural choice to go with ;).

When sewing it together, I had to bring out the big guns with the industrial machine for this one, as my regular machine didn't like the Tussah Silk at all. I also had to slip-stitch around the collar, sleeve and the front hems by hand so give it that invisible hemmed look.
Then, to finish it off I marked out where the lacing holes up the front would be and stretched them out using a large cooking chopstick to try and keep their shape a little, since I couldn't use eyelets:

I then quickly threw the sash together by cutting strips of the brown linen fabric I'd faded earlier:

I then folded them, sewed them together, rolled it right-side out and pressed the seam before cutting it to the correct length.

So here's where I'm up to so far:

Next on the to-do list will be the Coat and gloves! :)
Sorry guys, been super slack updating this thread. Had to make this whole costume in about 3 weeks so didn't have much time to update, and then it took me a while to get some more photos posted so heads up for some pic spam :p

So after making the over-shirt, I felt the colour needed to be a bit more yellow in colour, so I mixed a dye of watered down Beige and 'Aztec Gold" and come up with a pretty decent result:

Next up I had to dye the Kangaroo and Rabbit skins the correct colour, so I played around with a few shades of brown and when I was happy with the correct shades, poured it into a spray bottle, hung the hides on the clothes-line and gave them a misting of dye:

Next up, got a mock up in fabric made of the coat, making sure it had all the correct seams in the right places, then pulled it apart, laid the pieces out on my pelts and made sure I had enough to make it. Turned out I was 3 short so quickly ordered 3 more totaling 9 Kangaroo skins all up needed for the coat! :O
I marked all the parts on with a leather pen, then took to the cutting mat with a sharp scalpel and began to try and cut the pieces out with surgical precision, trying to avoid cutting the fur on the other side:

After that I took to the back panels and shaved back the fur for better movement and to help keep the jacket a little bit cooler. I read this is how they did it on the original coat too:

Next, I started to measure out the stitching holes along all the seams and pre-punched them all with an awl. I then hand sewed it all together by hand using a lock-stitch with linen thread.
Once sewn I opened up all the seams with a Cobbler's hammer(leather equivalent of pressing garments with an iron ;)).

For the false shirt sleeve pieces, I glued in some of the over-shirt silk to the cuff edge of the inside coat sleeves before sewing. Then when sewing the sleeves together and to the garment, sewed the silk into the seam allowance giving the appearance of the over-shirt sleeves sticking out from the ends of the coat sleeves, as per the film coats construction:

Then to finish, matching to screenshots and images, went around the edges of the coat front, bottom and sleeve cuffs with a marking pen, then again, cut with a scalpel carefully to get the correct, rough looking edges.
Once I was happy with the fit, I tried on the finished coat and was pretty happy with the result:

For the Gloves, they also began with a mock-up, with the basic shape just drawn around my hand, then pinned and tried on for correct fit and shape.
Then I cut out the pieces from the rabbit skins I'd dyed in the same way I did for the coat, gave them a finish to help smooth them up a bit then sewed them together on my machine.
Again, I hammer-pressed the seams to finish:

Then I got some Sisal rope for the ties and they're done!

Out of time for updates at the moment but I'll post pics of the shoe and wig construction later tonight along with some finished photos from the conventions I wore it to. :D
Awesome! Love all your material choices. May I ask how you sourced the raw Tussah silk from India?

Lots of Google image searches until I found what look right, then followed the links to their websites. I ended up ordering it from a place called JP Handloom.

The next part of the costume I worked on was the wig. It started out as a generic full lace human hair wavy wig. I also purchased some black and "silver grey" wefts so that I could ventilate the wig's hairline so that I could match it as best I could to Luke Evan's since the hair is tied back.
To prep the wig I marked out the area to ventilate with some ribbon, then carefully shaved back a bit of hair around the sides where I needed less. I then went on to add in the mix of black with the occasional strand of grey along the hairline.
It was my first time doing anything like this so it was a bit of a learning curve, but after a bit of trial and error, got the wig finished to a pretty decent standard:

The last section of the main costume build was the shoes and leg-wraps.
I bought the moccasin pattern from Tandy as a base but ended up pretty much changing the whole design anyway. After winging the pattern by eye, I transferred it onto the leather pieces and cut them out.
Next I shaved back the Goat fur a bit as it was far too long and the original screen shoes looked quite evenly shaved back as well so I ended up with a similar result once done:

I then hand stitched all the sections of the shoe together:

Once the base shoe was done I moved on to the soles. The first layer was two thin layers of soling leather that I wet-formed the toes up and left to dry. I then dyed and sealed them brown. Once that was dried I then sandwiched them together with contact adhesive:

The next layer was a piece of EVA soling foam. This stuff is quite dense and hard to cut through. I cut out the basic shape, then contact bonded them to the bottom of the leather soles. I then evened them out with the bench grinder. There's also a final thin 1mm layer of rubber soling on the bottom for a bit of grip. It was then attached to the main body of the shoe, then finally ground back to the correct contours, and dyed along the sides of the soles to cover up where the grinder had stripped back the leather:

I then added some basic lacing to help keep them together and they're done!

By this point it was late in the night before the convention, so I'd kind of rushed the leg wraps. I cut out 2 rough rectangles from the sheepskin and have them a quick top coat to smooth and darken them:

I then pretty much just wrapped them around my ankles and tied them on with rope. I'll cut them up and patch them back together properly before the next time I bring it out, but still had the right look.
I still haven't had a chance to make the Bow, arrows and quiver, but for the two events I've worn this to so far, I've had the Black Arrow which has still been a pretty awesome prop to carry around.

Here's a few pics of the near finished result so far:


(Photo by Snap Happy Ian)


(Photo by TitanZee)


(Photo by Brett Woolgar Photography)
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