A key thing to understand about this costume is that it takes a LOT of fabric to
achieve the right look. This is not a form-fitting outfit, and you do not want it
to look flat or tight. There are many layers, and each layer has a lot of folds
and gathers. Donít skimp on the fabric. Buy a lot more fabric than you think you
are going to need...., and then use it all!
We approached the construction of Darth Nihilus' robes with the understanding that
there are distinct layers found on both the upper body and the lower body. A color-coded
image prepared by another Darth Nihilus costumer helps to make these layers very
evident. Thanks, Izzie!
We determined that the upper body had three layers to it: the innermost shirt, which
provided the ribbed sleeves, a middle sleeveless tunic that closes tightly over the
chest, and an outer sleeveless tunic that is somewhat open in the front. The key
issue to the inner tunic is that the sleeves are a distinctly different fabric from
the rest of the costume. They seem to be made in a smoother fabric, and are quilted
in a manner similar to the sleeves of a Darth Vader costume. To create the tunics,
we selected two patterns. The first was a Ninja costume pattern to provide the shape
for the tunics themselves, including the overlap in the front. The second was a standard
button up shirt pattern that we used to make the sleeves.
In order to reduce the number of layers that Iíd have to wear, and because none of
the innermost shirt is visible except for the sleeves, we chose to attach the sleeves
onto the middle tunic instead. The sleeves were made from two layers of cotton broadcloth
with medium-loft batting sewn between them to produce the quilted stripes. These
sleeves were then sewn well inside the shoulder holes of the tunic to produce the
illusion that they belong to a separate garment. To the bottom of this inner tunic
we also decided to attach the outer skirt. The outer skirt was constructed of two
lengths of material sewn together side by side to produce a long panel. The skirt
fabric was then gathered before being sewn to the bottom of the tunic, giving it
plenty of drape and gathers that it wouldn't have had otherwise.
In this picture you can see the sleeveís quilting, and how the sleeve is attached
to the inside edge of the middle tunicís arm opening. It appears to be two shirts
because they are made of different material.
The sleeves of the inner tunic, the middle tunic, and the outer skirt... all in one
This reduces the layers of fabric, and makes it a lot easier to put the costume on.
After this tunic was complete, we made a sleeveless outer tunic using the same ninja
With the upper body completed, we next turned our attention to the lower body and
the two layers of skirts that Nihilus wears. We already had the top skirt attached
to the tunic, but we still needed the inner skirt. In order to produce the flowing
look seen in the artwork, we sewed three lengths of fabric together side by side,
creating one very long panel. Each piece of fabric was 45Ē wide, so the final skirt
was 135Ē wide! A channel was sewn into the top edge of the panel and a belt was
fed through. When the material was gathered in close enough to fit on the length
of the belt, it created the gathers and waves that are shown in the reference photo.
We left about six inches of the fabric unsewn on the end of the belt. This section
of fabric becomes a flap that can be tucked over to disguise the belt buckle.
The final piece of the robes is the obi. This consists of a simple strip of material
that wraps around the waist over the outer tunic. A strip of heavy interfacing was
added to the center of mine so that it wouldn't flop over. It closes in the back
with velcro, and then the leather belt goes over the top of this piece.
We chose Black Raw silk, which is sometimes called Silk Noil, as the material for
most of this costume. It has a rough, almost unfinished look to it as well as a semi-loose
weave. This texture really helped with the shredding of the costume, as it allowed
the threads to be more easily separated than they would be in a more tightly woven
fabric. Because of my size and the many layers, the construction of this costume
required nearly twenty yards of material, to provide the correct amount of drape
and flow. We elected to purchase two bolts of black raw silk from Dharma Trading
company for this, which is slightly more economical than purchasing the material
by the yard.
Please see the Weathering page for information on how I did the tattering on the