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How to Make a Stormtrooper Costume

Stormtrooper costume

The iconic infantry soldier of the Empire from the Star Wars films is an easily recognizable and popular choice for a costume. A milk jug and some craft foam will get you started on a homemade costume that's sure to amaze.

Stormtrooper Helmet

The helmet will be the most complicated piece of this costume. This is made out of a 1 gallon milk or water jug and some other pieces that are attached with hot glue. Empty and wash out the milk jug and remove any labels before beginning your project.

What You Will Need

  • An empty 1 gallon milk or water jug
  • Scissors

  • A pencil or marker

  • A craft knife

  • A hot glue gun

  • White acrylic paint or white spray paint

  • Black acrylic paint

  • Gray or silver acrylic paint

  • Two pairs of round bottle caps, soda bottle bottoms, or similar round somewhat flat items (each pair can be different)

  • A string or piece of elastic

Making Cuts

make cuts in milk jug
Making cuts
  1. You will need to cut the milk jug to form the pieces of the helmet. The opening to the jug will make the part of the mask that sits at your chin. The bottom of the jug will become the top of your helmet. You are going to keep these two main pieces lined up along your main cut (see the photo), but they are going to be reassembled at an angle to create the sloped front of the Stormtrooper helmet. Draw lines on the jug with a marker pen before starting to cut.
  2. Cut out the indented section where the handle attaches. You won't use this part. This is the part that will sit around your neck.
  3. On the opposite side from the handle, make a cut that starts about 1" down from where the angled part of the top meets the vertical side of the jug.
  4. For the rest of this cut, extend it downward along the sides of the jug.
  5. Cut around the bottom of the jug (toward the handle side) to free up the rest of this piece.

Assembly

assemble milk carton pieces
Helmet assembly, step 1
  1. Using a hot glue gun, attach the chin piece to the main section that will cover your face. Reinforce with a second layer of glue if needed. You may need to use your own creativity at this point as not all gallon jugs have the exact same contours. If the two pieces don't line up well, you may need to add another section in between these two.
  2. Take a pair of round flat bottle caps or similar items and use hot glue to attach one of these along either side of the jug's opening. Large lids were used in the painted image below. Test out the hot glue on your bottle first. Some plastics will melt and deform with the heat of the glue and may not work as well.
  3. Take the other pair of your round flat items and glue these to the sides of the helmet, approximately where your ears will be. In the painted image, the bottom part of soda bottles were used.

Details

details and painting the helmut
Painted helmet
  1. Place the helmet on the head of whoever will wear it. Approximate where the eye holes will be and mark these with a marker.
  2. Remove the helmet from your head. Cut out the eye holes with a craft knife.
  3. Punch holes in the sides of the helmet near the back. Attach a piece of string or elastic to tie the helmet at the back of your head.

Painting

  1. Paint the entire helmet with white acrylic paint or white spray paint.
  2. You may need to apply multiple coats of paint, particularly over any lines you have drawn, or anything that was printed on the jug.
  3. Using a photo of a Stormtrooper as a reference, paint the other details. These include the side vents, nose vents, eyes, a black band above the eyes, and several small gray or silver squares.

Chest Plate

To create a simple version of the costume, you can limit yourself to creating just the front part of the Stormtrooper armor for the torso. If you prefer to add a piece over your back, you can make a simple tracing of your torso and extend it to your waistline in a similar manner.

What You Will Need

  • White craft foam
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • A black long-sleeved shirt
  • A hot glue gun
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro
  • Silver acrylic paint (optional)

Measure and Cut the Foam

  1. Lay the black shirt out on a flat surface.
  2. Place a piece of craft foam over the front of the shirt. For this piece, it will be easier to use a roll of craft foam rather than the smaller sheets.
  3. Use your pencil to draw the general shape of the shirt on the craft foam.
  4. Cut out this shape and lay it on the shirt again.
  5. The Stormtrooper chest plate has a simple shallow neck line and stops just before the shoulders.
  6. Trace these features on your craft foam. Your chest plate doesn't need to extend over the shoulders.
  7. The bottom of the chest plate should follow the bottom of your ribs. Trace this out on the craft foam as well. Alternatively, you can use card stock or posterboard to make a pattern first. Once you have a shape that you like, trace this onto the craft foam.
  8. Cut along your lines and now you have the upper part of your chest plate.
  9. Continuing from the curved section under the ribs, draw another line that will correspond to your waist.
  10. Cut along your lines to create the lower part of the chest plate.

Assembly

  1. Glue the two pieces of the chest plate together with hot glue. Position them so that the upper section is on top of the lower one along that curved rib section. Overlap them by about a half inch when you glue.
  2. Try on your black shirt and hold the chest plate up to it to check the fit.
  3. Trim the edges of the piece if needed.
  4. Use Velcro to attach the foam to the shirt. Position several small pieces along the edges and corners of the foam.

Adding Details (Optional)

If you would like to add some of the details found on the bottom piece of the chest plate, you can attach them at this point. Use your own creativity to guide how much to do from here. The typical Stormtrooper costume has a few raised vertical lines and two small rectangular boxes containing a collection of silver-black buttons.

  1. Cut strips of craft foam to make the vertical lines. Attach with hot glue.
  2. Cut rectangular pieces to make the boxes. You may want to use more than one piece of foam stacked on top of each other to make a thicker rectangle.
  3. Use either a dark silver acrylic paint or mix some silver and some black paint. Use this to create the buttons on the front of the rectangular boxes. You may need to apply a few coats because craft foam is very absorbent.
  4. Attach the boxes to the chest plate with hot glue when the paint is dry.

Belt

The Stormtrooper belt features a series of vertical ridges and a section that extends over the groin.

What You Will Need

  • An old belt
  • A ruler
  • White craft foam
  • Foam blocks (cut a larger sheet or use floral foam blocks trimmed and painted white)
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro

Cover the Belt

  1. Make sure that the belt fits and figure out which hole you will use to fasten the belt. If there is a lot of extra belt beyond the buckle you may want to trim it to a shorter length. For this costume you are going to wear the belt backwards.
  2. Lay out a piece of craft foam and place the belt on top of it.
  3. Trace the outline of your Stormtrooper belt by making lines along both sides of your old belt. Move the belt over and line up one edge with one of your pencil lines.
  4. Trace another line along the old belt (so you now have three lines). Make your lines as long as the entire belt. If you only have sheets of foam and not a roll you may need to use several shorter strips for the belt. Attach them end to end with craft glue before proceeding.
  5. Cut out the foam along the outer two lines. This will create a Stormtrooper belt that is twice the width of your original belt.
  6. Measure your foam blocks and cut them so that their height matches the width of the belt. You will want them to be 1 to 1.5" wide as well. Trim to this size if needed using a craft knife.
  7. Lay out your foam blocks along the portion of the belt that will be over the front of your body. Space them equal to the width of the blocks (1 to 1.5"). Use a pencil to mark their locations.
  8. Attach the foam blocks using a hot glue gun.
  9. Cut another piece of craft foam in the shape of the groin section. Glue this to the underside of the front of the foam belt piece.
  10. Use your adhesive-backed Velcro to attach the foam piece to your old belt. If any of the foam belt wrinkles or bunches when you bend it around your waist, you can adjust the Velcro for a better fit.

Shoulders, Forearms, Thighs, Shins

These pieces all follow identical instructions. The only part that changes is that you are fitting each piece to a different body part. These directions explain how to make the shoulder pieces.

What You Will Need

  • A flexible measuring tape
  • A pencil
  • A ruler or other straight-edge
  • White craft foam
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro
  • A hot glue gun
  • An empty plastic bottle

The Basics

mark a rectangle on craft fabric
Draw measurements on craft foam
  1. Using a flexible measuring tape, measure the length of your upper arm, from below the shoulder to just above the elbow. Measure the circumference of your upper arm (biceps). For the circumference measurement, take the number that you get and subtract 1 inch. You won't want the ends to overlap.
  2. Draw a rectangle of these dimensions on your craft fabric and cut it out.
  3. Hold the rectangle up to your upper arm to check the fit.
  4. Make a second rectangle of the same dimensions. This will be for the opposite arm.
  5. Use this same procedure to make the forearm, thigh, and shin pieces. You may need to trim some foam from the tops or bottoms of each piece which will result in an angled shape rather than a rectangle. Do this before you make the second piece for the other side of your body so that everything is symmetrical.
  6. Once all of these pieces are done, secure them to your black shirt and pants using Velcro. For a more secure fit, use the Velcro that you have to sew into place on the fabric side.

Adding the Curve to the Shoulders

The Stormtrooper costume features a rounded shoulder piece that overlaps with the upper arm piece. To create this curved section, you will have to use a slightly different technique. You may want to experiment with card stock or posterboard to create a pattern before using the craft foam.

making the shoulder
Making the shoulder
  1. Start with a 9 x 12" piece of craft foam. Using a pencil, mark the midpoint of the 9" edge and draw a line from the edge toward the center of the foam sheet.
  2. Cut along this line. For small shoulders you will only need to cut 2 - 3". For larger shoulders, you may need to cut 4-5".
  3. Starting at the inside end of the cut you just made, draw a line from that cut to one corner of the foam.
  4. Overlap the cut edge to line up with the line you just drew.
  5. While holding this in place, mark where the corner (of the cut part) intersects with angled line that you drew in step 3. Release the foam and lay flat again.
  6. Sketch out a rounded shoulder as seen in the photo. For a smaller shoulder, you will have to draw all the way to the end of the sheet. For a larger shoulder, just extend the curve out to meet the 12" side of the sheet.
  7. Cut along this line.
  8. shoulder
    Curve the shoulder
    Overlap your central cut as you did in step 4 and secure this with hot glue.
  9. Use three small piece of Velcro to attach the rounded part of the shoulder to the black shirt.
  10. You may find that the lower part of the shoulder piece flares out at the bottom. To fix this, use an empty bottle or other rounded piece of household materials that resembles the curve you want there.
  11. Cut out a small piece of this bottle so that it will fit at the end of the shoulder piece. Attach it to the inside using hot glue. Be careful - if you use a thin plastic bottle, it may deform with the heat of the glue. Try to find one that is a little more sturdy.
  12. You will need to have motion between the top shoulder piece and the biceps piece, so don't attach these two pieces together.

Shoes or Shoe Covers

This is one area of the costume where you many not want to spend the time on anything complicated. The easiest way to pull off the footwear is to wear white shoes.

If you don't have shoes that match, you can make shoe covers out of craft foam, but this will also mean that you are using hot glue or Velcro to attach the cover to your shoes. Follow the same technique as you would for the other pieces of the body armor to make a piece of craft foam that will fit over your shoes. Secure it with hot glue or Velcro.

Wearing the Costume

When you are finished, you will need some help to get into the costume.

  1. First, remove all the pieces of the body armor from the shirt and pants.
  2. Get dressed in your long-sleeved shirt and pants. Once you have this on, attach the armor pieces to the clothing with the Velcro.
  3. Place the helmet over your head and tie in the back.
  4. At the end of your costume party, remove the body armor from the shirt and pants before trying to undress.

Show It Off

Now that your costume is complete, you are ready to wear it somewhere to show it off. Whether you are headed to a themed Star Wars party or a Halloween event, your homemade Stormtrooper costume is certain to get some attention.

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How to Make a Stormtrooper Costume