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Make Your Own Legend of Zelda Link Costume
Believe it or not, making your own Link costume can be fairly easy, even for those with little to no sewing experience and even with no costume making experience. This guide will walk any beginner through the steps of putting a realistic Legend of Zelda costume together!
You can piece together much of your costume together by modifying apparel that you most likely already have lying around the house, but let's begin with the main pieces, which are the pieces that may require some sewing. Do not let that frighten you, because these pieces can be crafted while doing very little sewing and with little previous sewing ability.
Choose Your Link! - Which Link will you choose?
The first thing you need to do before you begin, is to decide what Link you want to model your Legend of Zelda costume after. For kids, a Wind Waker style costume can be a fun and cute look, while a gamer adult may want to go for an Ocarina of Time look. If you want a more realistic look, you can opt for a Twilight Princess style costume. You can also choose to take elements from various Links from the video games and create your own unique look based on the Nintendo character.
Tunic and Cap
List of Materials
You will need:
-2 to 5 yards of green cloth
-Short sleeve t-shirt that fits loosely
Getting Started (Tunic and Cap)
Decide how much cloth you need! Now, I suggest 2-5 yards of green cloth for the tunic; the exact amount of cloth you will need will vary depending on the size of the person who plans to wear the costume. Before you head to the fabric store, grab a t-shirt from the closet - preferably one that fits a bit loosely - and measure the length from the shoulder to the bottom, and add a few inches accordingly (Link's tunic generally fits past the length of a normal shirt, down to the middle of his thighs). Now, measure from the end of each sleeve. Double each value and you should have an idea of the total amount of cloth you'll need for the tunic. Add about one yard for the cap and some extra breathing room in case of mistakes.
Select your cloth! Now that you've decided how much cloth you need, it's time to select a cloth. Think about the purpose of the costume and level of skill in sewing you possess. If it's something you want to let a child play in, you may wish to use a more durable fabric. Otherwise, a broadcloth works fairly well and won't break the bank. Select an appropriate color, brighter greens for an Ocarina of Time look, a mellow pastel green for a Wind Waker look, or a deep rugged green for a Twilight Princess look.
Crafting the Tunic
Creating the tunic can be simple and intuitive. First, get that shirt that you used to figure how much cloth you needed. Now, lay a large section of cloth on a flat surface, preferably a table and lay the shirt on top. Lightly trace the outline of the shirt on the cloth with your marker, adding an inch or so around the outer edge, and extra inches at the bottom to make the tunic thigh length. It's immensely important to add those extra inches around the outer edge if you have little sewing skill to allow for a greater safety net for errors. Now cut it out using your scissors and use your newly cut piece to use as a tracer for a duplicate piece to cut out. You should have two pieces of cloth ready to make a tunic!
Now comes the actual sewing. The only parts you must sew are along the top of the sleeves, and along the bottom of the sleeves. Even for one extremely inexperienced, this should be pretty easy. You can also sew along the sides, but this part is unnecessary, since you will be wearing a belt that can keep the sides closed. With no previous sewing experience, I was able to use the instruction manual included with an old sewing machine my parents had lying around their house to figure out how to do some basic sewing, so don't fret if you've never sewed before!
Crafting the Cap
Link's cap is another signature piece to his gear. If you made it through the tunic, then the cap will be a cinch. Take your tape measure and measure the circumference around the top of your head (or the head of who will be wearing the costume), to just behind the ears. Add an inch for potential sewing and fitting errors and take half the total number (measurement 1) . You're going to use this number for the width to create the pieces for the cap. Now you will want to measure from the top of your head down to the middle of your back. This number will be your length. Lay your cloth on a flat surface and draw a straight line for a length of the width. Now, mark the middle and measure a perpendicular line, the length of your second measurement, straight above. Use your marker to make a small mark at the appropriate length (measurement 2). Then, all you need to do is connect the edges of your line to the point to form a triangle. Cut it out and repeat the process to make two identical triangle pieces. (Note that the diagram may not be spatially accurate, but is just intended as a general idea for where to sew).
When it comes to sewing, you will just have to lay the two pieces flat on top of each other and sew them together along the long edges of the triangle. That isn't so hard, is it?
Shirt and Leggings
Here come some really easy parts. You'll need to wear something under the tunic for a complete look. A simple white long-sleeve shirt works great for a look based on Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess. If you're making a look based on the Wind Waker, just use a light green long-sleeve shirt.
Link doesn't get real fancy with his pants. You can use a common pair of khakis to use as pants for adventuring in Hryule.
Belts and Bandoliers
These are another common item that you can find around the house. A basic brown belt will work for Link's belt. If you chose not to sew the sides of the tunic, this belt will also keep the sides closed. The adult Links usually wear a bandolier, one which his scabbard and shield are slung. All you need for this is a slightly loose belt that can be slung around the shoulder.
List of Materials
Replica Hylian shields are available, but any toy shield can work. If you're going for a homemade theme, you can make a shield fairly easily with paper-mache. You will need:
-Elastic bands or cloth strips
-Paints (acrylic work well, as do spray paints)
Getting Started (Shield)
Flour, newspapers and water should be a pretty easy find. Elastic bands make for a great way to secure the shield to your arm while holding it, but a few pieces of cloth strips can be used instead. If you ask at local grocery stores, you can often find an old cardboard box to use for your base. That just leaves the paints. You can get fairly cheap acrylic paints at any craft shop. Spray paint also makes a good choice, but you will need a fair selection of colors, so keep that in mind when selecting your paint. You will need a large amount of blue and silver, with enough red and yellow to create accents. Just make sure that whichever kind of paint you choose, you consistently use the same kind - not all paints mesh well with each other when you use them in unison. The next step is preparing your cardboard for paper-mache.
Crafting the Shield
Begin by tracing a shield pattern on your piece of cardboard. The exact size will depend on the size of person using the costume; a child will obviously need a much smaller size than an adult. The outline should more or less, look like the clip art outline seen in the picture. Now comes the attachments for holding the shield. Cut two small horizontal slits on each side, like depicted in the image. You will want to slide the cloth or elastic band through the upper and lower slit from the bottom side (the side that will not have the Hylian Shield decorations on it). Connect the loose straps on the top side of the shield. You can use staples or even duct tape since you will be covering over the top side with paper-mache anyway. Just make sure to leave enough space to get your arm through the straps, since this is how you will carry the shield. (A photo to better illustrate is in the works. Until then, this diagram shows the slits where you will need to slip the cloth.)
Have you worked with paper-mache before? It's easy! First you need to cut up strips of paper. The length and width of the newspaper strips is up to you. Longer and thicker strips work well for covering large areas, but thinner and shorter strips work better for smaller areas, so keep that in mind. Although there are various recipes for paper-mache, I like to use a 2 parts water/ 1 part flour mixture and then if need be, add a splash more water until it gets the right consistency. The consistency should be a little thinner than pancake batter; thick, yet still pliable. Simply dip the newspaper strips in the paper-mache mixture and gently wipe off excess goop with your fingers (it will get rather messy). Then place the strip on the outer layer (the side that you want to paint like Link's shield from the games). Make sure to cover the front entirely - you even want to cover the cloth strips that are showing. Once you've covered the entire front side you just have to find a good spot for it to dry and wait. It can take a couple of days to dry, so don't get frustrated if it doesn't dry completely overnight. You can put multiple layers of paper-mache on to make it sturdier and create a bulkier look, but one layer should get your shield where it needs to be. (Covering the back with paper-mache is also optional, but go ahead if you feel the need to do it. Just make sure you don't cover your shield handles!)
Painting the Shield
Now it’s time to paint the shield. Whether you chose to get acrylic paints or spray paints, the base of the Hylian shield is blue, so you will want to cover the front of the shield with a coat of blue paint. This is where it will get a bit different depending on which paints you selected. If you chose acrylic paint and you are decent with a brush, you may be able to free hand the details on the shield, like the yellow triforce triangles near the top and the distinct red avian creature on the bottom. If you are not so artistically inclined, you will need to make stencils. The triforce sections are easy enough. Just make an equilateral triangle. The bird can be more difficult, but just look closely at a picture of the shield you want to mimic and try your best to trace a copy of it. Once you have stencils, it’s just a matter of placing them on the appropriate spot on the shield and painting. Here’s a pretty good image from Zelda Informer that displays the shield’s details.
Master Sword and Scabbard
The sword is another item that can take a lot, or a little effort, depending on how much work you want to put into it. You can use any toy sword from a toy store, or you can make your own Master Sword with paper-mache. Here's what you'll need to make it from paper-mache.
- Paints (use the same kind as the shield for a matching look)
- Masking Tape
Getting Started (Sword and Scabbard)
The method of making the sword out of paper-mache is actually pretty similar to how the shield is made. You'll need to trace an outline of the Master Sword on cardboard. Here's a picture of one of the replica swords that you can find at many different Nintendo memorabilia and costume sites. You can use this as a model, but the main defining characteristic of the Master Sword is the upturned hilt that forms wings. Once you've traced an outline of the sword, just cut it out and make another batch of paper-mache, like explained in the previous section for the shield. Coat each side with a healthy layer of paper-mache, you may have to do one side, and then let it dry, before doing the other side. Paint the hilt and handle section in blue and the blade section silver for a realistic appearance.
Crafting the Scabbard
Whether or not you decided to make your own sword, or use a toy sword, you can make your own Zelda themed scabbard. Paper-mache is an extremely handy tool for this project as well. You will need the sword that you have selected to go with your costume and some more cardboard. The sheet will need to be long enough to cover the length of your sword’s blade, with a few inches extra. Place the sword flat on the piece of cardboard and trace around blade, but add an inch or so around the edge. Your sword is going to have to fit inside, so if you don’t add the extra space it will be too small. A diagram is included to see how your tracing should look. You will need to make a second identical piece.
Finishing the Scabbard
Now that you have two pieces of cardboard, you will need your old friend paper-mache. Here’s where you’ll need that masking tape. Take the two pieces of your scabbard and sandwich your blade in the middle of them. With the sword still inside, wrap the masking tape around the entire scabbard. Make sure you don’t wrap it too tight, otherwise your sword will be stuck inside and you’ll want to be able to draw it out! Just cover the entire outside in paper-mache and let it dry. Leaving the sword inside is a good idea to make sure that it will keep its shape, just be sure that no paper-mache actually comes into contact with the sword, otherwise it may stick to the scabbard. Once it’s all dry, pull the sword out of the scabbard and paint!
Just because this was the way I did it, doesn't mean it's the best way! There are more instructions on how to make a Legend of Zelda costume, so why not check them all out and decide which one is best for you? Below are a list of links that will show you other methods of creating your own Link costume. You can mix and match ideas to tailor your costume to suit your needs.
- Link Costume Tutorial
A great costume idea for those with some slight sewing experience. Includes detailed pictures and step by step instructions.
- Great Shield Designs
These instructions include a great idea for making a shield with wood that turns out quite nice when finished. It requires a tad bit more effort, but the results may be worth it for you.
- Tot Link Costume
If you're making a Link costume for a tot, this set of instructions includes some great pics and ideas to help you make your little one into a Hyrule hero.