Disclaimer: this tutorial will be neither slick nor polished, but as I am eternally grateful to the handful of people who shared their Astrid costume tips/photos online, I wanted to add mine too in case someone out there wants to try their hand at making this costume. Who knows, Astrid might make a comeback for Halloween 2014 since How To Train Your Dragon 2 hits theaters in June!
How To Make an Astrid Costume
Gracie settled on being Astrid for Halloween long before Decision Day (October 1) and while it became increasingly clear that I was going to have to make said costume, I couldn't possibly say no—it is awfully hard to say no to someone who has read every single book in the series, watched the movie multiple times, and is up to date on every single episode from the Cartoon Network series via Apple TV and the DVR. So I studied the image of Astrid a lot, searched for as many tips online as I could find, and started scoping out supplies. Here is what we chose to make:
+ shoulder armor
+ arm wraps
+ outer skirt
+ fur-covered boots
We left out the little pouch she carries, and bought toy weaponry at the last minute.
+ two small bags of Crayola Modeling Magic
+ 1 yard of faux leather fabric (this was more than we needed for Gracie's size)
+ 1/4 yard of greenish duck fabric (this was not enough for the underskirt I realized, but I turned it into the arm wraps)
+ brown felt (this was on hand from the owl costume of 2011 and 2012, probably about a half yard)
+ 1/8 yard faux fur
+ sticky back velcro
+ 1/2 inch elastic
+ a sheet of gray craft foam
+ 4 brads
+ leather cording (had this on hand, but used less than two yards)
+ black and beige (technically, "Dune") stamp pads
+ black marker
+ silver and black acrylic paint
+ hot glue
Bird Skulls, Metal Spikes, and Shoulder Armor
This was by far the most fun part, and the part Gracie (and Maddie and Bridget) helped with. I read somewhere that Modeling Magic was the way to go, and that tip did not steer us wrong—it's incredibly lightweight, not messy AT ALL (the polar opposite of, say, MOON SAND) and very easy to manipulate.
We made lots! To make the bird skulls, we studied the image very carefully—then rolled the Modeling Magic into a ball, smashed it flat, pinched out the shape, and used our pinky fingers to poke the eye holes and a knife to create the lines (Maddie and I did the knife part mostly). The spikes were just smaller balls, then shaped into little cones. We needed two sizes: skirt size and shoulder armor size. I later made a couple more flat "rivet" types for the headband. I originally thought we should let them dry for 24 hours before adding color to them, but then changed my mind—they took the color just fine after only a few hours of sitting.
I used the Dune stamp pad to brush a little color on them, then very lightly brushed with the black for a little more texture. We put the black into the eye sockets in a few ways, but decided poking the end of the paintbrush into the ink pad was the best one. I added a drop of water here and there to make them a little less even.
Because the Modeling Magic is bendy, we just bent them a little to add marker into the knife lines. Super easy. It almost looks like working with marshmallows, doesn't it? It was nice to not have anyone trying to eat the supplies... ah, toddlers, how sweet you are, yet how difficult you'd be to have around when making complicated costumes. Sometimes it's OK to be done with that stage.
The shoulder armor took some creative thinking to pull off, but in the end was very easy overall. I originally thought I'd try to cut the strips out of cereal boxes and then paint it silver, but Bridget and I found that craft foam comes in all kinds of colors on one of our trips to Hobby Lobby, including gray. It was also cheap ($.89 a sheet, and I only used 1/3 of a sheet). I cut it into strips, held it into shape THEN punched holes on the ends (vs. punching holes on the ends and then putting into shape—otherwise the holes won't line up properly, if that makes any sense). We used brads to hold the strips together after fanning them out gently.
I started to paint the spikes with a little paintbrush (silver acrylic paint with a splash of black mixed in to darken it up and make it more metallic looking) and it didn't go so well... hard to hold them, hard to paint all sides, they kept slipping into my bowl of paint... until I realized that it would take approximately 1/32nd of the time to just fingerpaint them. Done in about 13 minutes.
After drying, I hot glued them onto the shoulder armor, along wth a bird skull on each side. A few brushes directly from the black stamp pad and we called it done:
Except I hadn't thought about how exactly they would attach yet, but we'll get to that.
Now, the shirt:
My advice is this: if you know how to sew, avert your eyes from this part. If you don't know how to sew, start earlier in your quest for an already made shirt that is green and stripey.
After striking out pretty much everywhere for a shirt or material that looked even remotely green and stripey, I found this women's shirt on clearance at Target. Because I had sort of scanned a tutorial I found on Pinterest about remaking t-shirts, I believed this to be a fine option.
Except that really, I don't know how to sew very well. I can do straight lines and binding strips with my eyes shut these days, but clothes... whoo boy, that's another story. But with the half-read tutorial loosely in the back of my brain, I mostly ignored it and just cut into the purchased shirt in a way that seemed like it would work. (Maybe this is my problem with sewing clothes? If only I thoroughly read tutorials?) I quickly decided to ditch the sleeves, and made it a tank... sort of... as long as you didn't stand within four feet of the neckline, it was fine. Moving on.
If you look closely, Astrid wears a pointy underskirt and a leather outer skirt. I purchased a greenish fabric for the underskirt, but didn't buy enough so ended up using brown felt I had on hand. It's a little too much brown (Astrid's leggings are more dark blue than brown, but we had brown leggings already so that's what we used) but it worked alright. To make the underskirt, I measured Gracie's waist, added an inch, measured the 1/2 inch elastic and sewed it together at the ends to create a circle. Then I cut out the pointy strips of felt and folded them over the elastic and sewed them down. There is undoubtedly a more sewerly way to do this, but this worked just fine. It was an underneath touch, and less important to be perfect.
Plus whenever I got concerned that it wasn't going to be perfect, I reminded myself: VIKING GARMENTS. Probably weren't perfect all those years ago anyway : )
The outer skirt was a little more precise. Based on Gracie's waist again, I eyeballed the amount of faux leather fabric I thought it would take to make a belt-like waistband; this I sewed from two strips, right side in, and then turned right side out. Note: If you buy faux leather fabric, it doesn't iron well. In fact, you might even melt it just a little at the lowest setting, so just come to terms with unpressed seams. Ahem.
From the same fabric, I cut strips to match Astrid's from the image—about 2 inches wide with a rounded end. In retrospect I probably should have cut them a lot shorter than I did to maintain the right proportion, but not a big deal.
It helps to have a dog supervise this costume creation, if you can arrange it.
After I had the strips figured out, I just sewed them onto the waistband:
Then I added velcro stickyback squares to make a closure. I was going to sew them down but maybe you're not supposed to do that... they made my sewing machine needle all gunked up (two needles stopped working before I realized what was going on) and it was too thick to hand sew with what I had available, so I just added a dab of hot glue to reinforce the adhesive. That worked fine. I hot-glued the spikes to the strips, and then the bird skulls to the waist band. It is extremely easy to use hot glue on Modeling Magic—no melting or distortion in shape from heat.
Gracie already had moccasin-style boots so we just wrapped the part with the design in fur. I couldn't figure out how to sew this fur wrap closed, so I glued it. They slipped over the boot opening, and she was able to slip her foot in without unzipping the boot. Easy-peasy.
For the arm wraps, I cut the duck fabric I didn't buy enough of into strips and sewed them together in a very rustic, Viking arm wrap kind of way. They have a thin finger-strip that I sewed to the side of the strip, so it could slip over her finger before the wrapping part started, and I sewed some leather cording to the very end so it could wrap around her arm the way Astrid's does. We roughed them up with the stamp pads to make them look aged and as if they've been close to dragons. I read on someone's explanation that they had used Ace bandages, and this is also a great idea—except for that we threw out our ratty old Ace bandages before we moved, and I did not want to buy new ones until we actually might need them. I had plenty of fabric to cut enough to wrap the length of Gracie's forearm, though; even if the costume wearer was bigger, you wouldn't need very much fabric to make this work.
The headband is just a strip of the faux leather fabric folded lengthwise and sewn, with a length of leather cording sewn to either end for a tie. Mine was long enough to wrap up her braid a bit. The "rivets" are just hot glued on.
Attaching armor to shirt
You can also see in this picture that the shoulder armor appears to be laying on top of the shirt. This is the part we never fully did figure out even though it looks like we did. I thought we might attach those shoulder things with some elastic sewn underneath, but the structure of that didn't hold properly. Then Gracie had the brilliant idea to punch holes in the shirt and just slip the brads through, which really was brilliant—except that the t-shirt material wasn't really strong enough to get punched without stretching out and turning into a big disaster. I cut little patches to sew on top of the holes as reinforcements, and this worked... OK. It was definitely the most delicate part of it all, and the part I was most worried about lasting throughout the night, but it stayed on right up until the end of trick-or-treat. This would not be an issue if you had a shirt made of thicker material, or were better at thinking up creative ways to engineer garment construction.