League of Legends
Why I chose to make this costume:
Riot Games approached me in November to create Vayne's (newly updated) full costume and props, as a part of the celebrations for the 2021 League of Legends season start!
I was very happy for the opportunity to portray a long-standing Champion such as Vayne, and after a long year of feeling creatively stagnant (yay 2020!), I thought this would be a great challenge to take on. I've made five other League costumes so far, either because the design spoke to me or because something about the character resonated with me. Vayne was one of the first Champions in League that caught my eye (years ago!) but I'll be honest, I wasn't drawn to her old default skin. It was quite cartoony with the huge oversized crossbow and superhero red and blue color scheme. That's why I became really intrigued by the updated design, which is much more realistic and wearable, and I'm really stoked that I got to make this costume.
How I made this costume:
Please watch my full build video for a more in-depth look at how I made this costume, but I will break down some of the materials and process here as well.
When I signed onto the project, I had exactly one month to make the costume, do a photoshoot and edit an extensive video documenting everything. So, I started collecting materials and patterning out the costume right away. This project involved a lot of planning because I had to split up the work between two locations to accommodate the sheer scale of it and the video recording. I did all the garment work in the sewing room at my house and used my warehouse for prop building where I could use power tools and get really dirty. I ended up keeping a daily task list on my phone that helped me stay on course and be efficient with my time. I would sand foam, mold pieces or paint in the warehouse in the mornings and then I’d be sewing at home while materials were curing or drying.
The update to Vayne’s classic Night Hunter skin makes it more realistic but also more difficult to make because there is less room for interpretation or mistakes. At first, much time was spent drawing up templates and making test pieces, so that when I got into the time crunch phase, I could forge ahead knowing that my methods would work.
I built the base pieces for the large crossbow out of 10mm EVA foam sheets, stacked on top of each other and glued together with Barge cement. Brian helped me make support structures for the props with PVC pipe and metal rods, and he also had the genius idea of using bicycle brakes for the moving mechanism in the wrist crossbow. The large crossbow breaks apart via PVC pipe joints so eventually, I can take it in a suitcase. The small wrist bow is permanently attached to the gauntlet and moves in a snap motion.
There were many days of cutting and layering foam sheets, then sanding them into the shapes I needed and piecing them together with the support structure sandwiched in between. Then came the days of making the details and adornments for the bows, including resin-casting the round gear buttons and creating the gold armor plates using foam sheets and triangle bevel trims. A lot of small fiddly bits. Once everything was made and glued on, we sealed the props with Plasti Dip and I went on a fun adventure of wood grain painting. Shout out to Kevin at Hobby Town in Kennesaw, GA for giving painting advice and paint suggestions. With a combination of acrylic paint, Tamiya spray paint and airbrush paint, the props were finally finished.
Would you like to see a more in-depth video or blog-post about the wood grain paint process?
Vayne was a very precise sewing project. It’s honestly 10 times easier for me to sew a ballgown than it is to sew a tight fitting hunter suit out of pleather lol. I made sure to pattern out the collar and coat so when it came time to sew everything, I didn’t waste any of my precious marine vinyl. Oh yeah, I was able to find vegan materials for the costume, such as a dark red upholstery pleather for the coat and navy blue superpreme 4-way stretch fabric from Cosplay Fabrics. I also used this great brown textured pleather from my fabric line for all the belts and boot covers.
Without a doubt, I spent the most time on the coat, which was a beast to wrangle at times thanks to the heavy upholstery material. The “petals” on the back of the coat added a lot of weight and layers so that I had to hand-stitch them on with a thimble and needle-nose pliers.
Also, every edge and hem on Vayne’s coat is finished with a Hong Kong binding so I spent a lot of time turning under binding strips and mitering corners.
The bodysuit was the last major piece I made on the costume because after so many years I can make a bodysuit in my sleep. I added the applique pieces the same way I did on Zhen Ji, except that the pieces were simple enough to stitch out on my sewing machine rather than having to digitize them and embroider them. I cut out the designs in matching navy superpreme and spray-fused them to a second layer of pleather for stability, then adhered the pieces to water-soluble stabilizer. After satin-stitching around the perimeter of each individual applique, I washed away the stabilizer and was left with nice clean designs, ready to be attached to the bodysuit. Because the bodysuit had to be tailored first, I stitched all the appliques on by hand in order to not have to take the garment apart.
This is a costume that keeps surprising you with more components lol. I had the foresight to get long wefts and a ponytail clip from Arda Wigs at the beginning of the project, but then only found time to make the ponytail in the last days before the photoshoot. Thankfully the styling went pretty quickly and I was able to affix the ponytail to my head without much problem. I sprayed my purple hair black on the day of the shoot.
Arrows and hardware:
There are many metal bits and hardware on Vayne’s costume, down to her shoes. Just her collar has two large emblems and a dozen hardware pieces! It became a scramble in the last two days before the photoshoot to get all the details made, painted and affixed. Brian was a big help in making the center emblem and casting out a bunch of hardware bits for me, and I also had him make on the arrows while I worked on the bows. He mostly used resin and apoxie sculpt, and I made all the shoe armor and collar hardware out of EVA foam.
Thoughts on this costume:
This is a very special costume to me because I really got to sink my teeth into the costume build for a whole month and put a lot of the skills I’ve learned over the years to the test. Thanks to Riot Games hiring me for a promotional campaign, I was also able to document the entire process and take the time to make a solid build video for everyone. I really appreciate the opportunity, especially since I haven’t been able to do a lot of collaborations like this in the past. Pre-pandemic, I traveled far too often to be able to take on this kind of work, but while making Vayne, I really benefited from having a hard deadline and schedule to adhere to.
It was also really cool to be able to do a photo/video shoot in a cemetery once the costume was done. Thanks so much to Legend of Micah and Brian Boling for doing the shoot with me. It was a cold wintery day in December, we lost the sun half-way through, and I became quite exhausted from the brisk temperatures and action sequences, but the showcase really brought the character to life.
Please do give my full costume build video a watch if you have time, the cosplay showcase is at the end of it!
➸ Get all the news on the 2021 League of Legends season.
➸ Watch the full costume build video!