The Clothes Make the Jedi
An Interview with Star Wars Costumer
and Padawan's Guide Creator Maggie
July 16, 2010
Star Wars costumer and The Padawan's Guide founder Maggie stitched her first Star Wars costume in 1999, decided to put her Star Wars costuming tips online in 2000, and ever since has developed the site into one of the leading Star Wars costuming resources on the internet.
But it all started back in 1999. Halloween was fast approaching and Maggie, along with one of her friends, wanted to make a Jedi costume. Not just any
Jedi costume would do. Maggie and her friend wanted the real deal--they wanted to stitch their own, accurate, high quality Jedi robes and tunics. Here's how one Jedi costume helped inspire an entire Star Wars costuming website.
How did you become a Star Wars fan?
I hate to admit it, but I didn't really become a Star Wars fan until college when I went with friends to see a special showing of the Original Trilogy (pre-Special Edition). I had a friend at home that
was really into them too, and she threw a Star Wars themed party that summer (complete with very budget costumes). I was hooked and wondered why it took me so long to really get into Star Wars!
|Your site mentions you made your first Jedi costume for Halloween in 1999. How did you decide to make a Jedi costume and how did you know where you begin?
Well, the movie had just come out that May, and I had a friend who always had a Halloween costume party. After seeing the movie once, one of my other friends and I were obsessed with the Jedi costumes. I mean, they may be nothing special now because we're so used to them, but they left a big impression on us at the time. We thought they were really cool.
We didn't really know where to begin - so we watched the movie a ton of times (too many really!) and looked for seams. Then I went online and found Amber's Jedi Meditation Chamber. Wiliqueen's Jedi cloak pattern was on there - it modified an existing pattern. So I went ahead and do that. I just winged it with the tunics. :-) And my friend and I proudly wore our accurate Jedi costumes to the party!
Screen Shot of Padawan's Guide
Maggie's site, The Padawan's Guide, has been online since 2000.
How long did it take you to make the costume?
I don't remember now. I do remember I didn't have a sewing machine. My mom lent me a little gadget that did chain stitches, so I used that on the robe, but the tunics I did (badly) by hand.
Before making the Jedi costume, did you have a previous interest in fashion or design?
Not particularly. But Star Wars definitely got me interested and then I saw Ever After and that got me hooked on the idea of making costumes from other movies.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts about Star Wars costuming?
The best parts are all the friends I've made. For sure. Some of my best friends are people I met through my website and through Star Wars costuming and they're people I know in real life now even if the friendships started online. I also have picked up a lot of skills and I've really learned how to sew and how to fit patterns to myself. I learned that I can stick with and finish a project even if takes a long time. Big projects seem insurmountable when you first start out sometimes--it took me 9 months to embroider my Leia Bespin costume (and it's not that recognizeable, so I never get as many comments as classic Leia does)--but I'm proud of the fact that I finished it! I think there were more challenges to Star Wars costuming early on--fewer costumers, fewer resources, fewer pictures... there's so much more information available now.
Describe one of your favorite Star Wars costumes or designs. What is it that you like about it?There are so many favorites. I love the pretty, romantic, look of Padme's picnic costume. I liked that costume on first sight. I also have always loved Leia's Bespin costume--I can't really say why. I loved how Leia moved it in, and I love the scenes with her and Han. It was always my favorite, even before I was really a Star Wars fan. It's really thrilling to have my own version of it!
How did you decide to put your costuming tips online?
I was bored and decided I needed a way to keep my web skills sharp. I liked Amber's Jedi Meditation chamber and was hugely appreciative that she'd put her own tips out there, because I couldn't have made my Jedi costume without her. I didn't want to tread on her territory or copy her, so I decided I'd make an Episode II Padme costume site, since that movie was a few years away. Eventually I decided to put my own "how I made it" up there for the Jedi costume - and heavily linked to her site. (She later sent me a super nice email, so I felt better about not trying to encroach on her!) Anyway, the speculation leading up to Ep. II was SO fun. More fun than the movie was. And the costumes were one prettier than the next! It just made sense to continue on to Episode III. And include the Original Trilogy (especially because I had made a Leia costume!) Now the prequels are done and my life is so much busier, so the site doesn't get updated much anymore.
What was your original goal for The Padawan's Guide and how has the site evolved over its 10 year history?
I didn't really start out with a goal, other than keeping myself entertained, but then it evolved to being the best resource [it] could be. To help people, and to share information. I really wanted it to be as complete as possible, but that's pretty impossible, especially when it comes to [costumes] I haven't made or don't know anything about (armor, especially) or costumes I'm not that interested in. Now I'm sure parts of the site are out of date (though I tried to keep it updated with the new info we learned from the FIDM exhibit) - especially since patterns do tend to go out of print. Now it's more
or less just an archive of information.
What do you think of Dressing a Galaxy? Has the book changed your approach to any costuming?
I thought the book was fabulous! Fabric samples? Clear pictures of the costumes? Yes, please! I'm not sure it really changed my approach, though it did give us new information.
Who's your favorite Star Wars character and why?
Princes Leia--she's smart and spunky and she's not at all passive. She's flawed, but she's a great heroine.
What's next for you?
Well, after I became interested in other movie costumes besides Star Wars, I created another site The Costumer's Guide - but really that's become even more of an impossible task than Star Wars! There are a million costume movies and only one of me! That's been very hard to keep up with too. I was 25 when Episode I came out (young Obi-Wan's age!) and my life has changed a lot in the last 10 years. I have less free time and more work responsibilities. I think at some point, you just burn out too. Right now, I'm just posting when I can and maybe someday I'll have more time. The sites aren't going anywhere anytime soon hopefully they'll stay useful resources for people.
Currently I've become interested in historical and period clothing and that's mostly what I've been sewing for myself. Next up, though, is DragonCon it's such a fun mix of "anything goes" - that [why] it's fun to make costumes for!
A big thanks to Maggie for taking the time to share her story with SWBookZone.com. For more information, visit Maggie's website at padawansguide.com.
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