One of the most iconic costumes in the Star Wars movies is the gold bikini worn by Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi. Also called the "slave Leia costume," this skimpy look makes a great choice for costume parties, conventions, and other events. You can make your own version of Leia's bikini, or you can purchase a ready-made costume online. Either way, you'll be sure to get attention.
How to Make a Slave Leia Bikini
There are a lot of great ways to create this costume, depending on your budget and level of experience. The project below offers one of the simplest and most affordable methods to make this costume, but you'll still need to spend many hours perfecting the bikini pieces. You'll also need Adobe to download and print the directions.
Things You'll Need
- Six feet of four gauge round copper wire, available at The Whimsie Studio
- Super Sculpey Firm oven-cure clay
- Copper wire mesh
- 1/4 yard metallic gold stretch fabric
- Two yards dark red chiffon fabric
- Four yards decorative gold braid
- One foot gold elastic
- Gold acrylic craft paint
- Super glue
- Disappearing fabric marker
- Safety pin
- Tin snips
- Clay modeling tools
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Two pairs of pliers
- Sewing machine
- Pins, hand sewing needle, and thread
What to Do
- Start by adjusting the dress form to be an exact copy of your measurements. Making this costume without a dress form is very difficult, since you'll need to be able to perfectly shape the wire to fit your bust line.
- Unroll the wire, being careful not to kink it as you work. This gauge of wire is very stiff, so you'll need to use pliers to work with it. You'll be creating an armature, or wire frame, to support the clay. Use the hacksaw to cut the wire into two two-foot pieces and two one-foot pieces. Each longer piece will form one half of the bikini top, and each shorter piece will form a hip loop.
- Looking at pictures of the costume, such as those on Wookieepedia, begin bending one of the two-foot pieces of wire into the shape of half of the bikini top. Start with the longer, curved section that goes under the arm, and then move on to the scrollwork at the cup. Be sure to create a small loop at the underarm section so you can attach the ties. Do not try to fit the bikini to the dress form yet.
- Take the other two-foot piece of wire and try to exactly copy the bikini piece you just made.
- Working with one cup piece at a time, hold the wire armature up to the dress form and make small adjustments with the pliers to mold the wire to the bust line. Continue adjusting it until it is a perfect fit. This is essential for comfort and for an authentic look. Repeat with the other cup piece. When you are satisfied with the shape, set both pieces aside.
- Create a loop of wire out of one of the one-foot pieces and mold it to the hip of the dress form. This will be the hip piece of the bikini bottom. Repeat with the other short wire piece.
- Using the tin snips, cut the wire mesh into the appropriate shape for the front and back of the bikini bottom. Carefully mold the mesh against the dress form to get the appropriate fit. Check your hip measurement to ensure that these two pieces and the two wire hip pieces will be the appropriate size.
- Following the directions on the Sculpey package, cover the wire and mesh pieces with the clay. Use the clay modeling tools to create the details of the texture. Poke small holes through the mesh pieces along the top edge to give you a place to sew the skirt pieces. Oven bake the clay according to the instructions.
- When the clay is cured, use sandpaper and your modeling tools to refine and smooth the shapes. Paint everything with gold craft paint and allow to dry.
- Wrap the gold fabric around the torso of the dress form, and then try the bikini top on the dress form on top of the fabric. Use a safety pin to hold the two cup pieces together in the center, since you have not attached those together yet. Use a disappearing fabric marker to draw on the fabric half an inch outside the line of the bikini cups.
- Remove the bikini from the dress form and cut out the area you outlined on the fabric. Use that as a guide to cut a second piece that's exactly the same. Stack the two pieces with their right sides together and secure with pins. Use your sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch to sew almost all the way around the bikini top, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn it right side out through the opening, and then sew the opening closed.
- Starting at the center of the bikini top, hand sew the clay pieces to the fabric. Once both of the clay pieces are secured to the center, put the bikini on the dress form to continue hand sewing. This will ensure that the fabric stretches appropriately. Use gold thread to match the clay pieces.
- Measure from just below your waist to about two inches above the floor. Add one inch to this measurement to get the length of the skirt. Cut two pieces of chiffon that are 18 inches wide and the length you determined. Hem these rectangles of chiffon on all four sides. Gather each rectangle across one short side.
- Hand sew the gathered portion of the skirt to the front and back pieces of the bikini bottom, using the holes you made in the clay.
- Attach the front and back pieces and both hip pieces using small loops of gold elastic that you hand sew. Check the fit on the dress form and lengthen or shorten the elastic accordingly.
Your bikini is done. Wear it with a gold swimsuit bottom, leather boots, and gold jewelry. If you want, add the neck chain that kept Leia confined.
Keep these tips in mind as you work:
- Take the time to look at lots of images of Leia's bikini and keep those pictures handy as you create the costume. This is particularly important as you're shaping the cups.
- Work slowly and expect this process to take some time. Creating the wire and mesh armature, sculpting the clay, painting the costume, and sewing the fabric are steps that you'll take over a series of days or weeks.
Buy a Costume
Making this costume is quite labor intensive, and not everyone has the time to devote to this type of undertaking. You can also purchase high quality versions of this outfit from online retailers. Consider these options.
Official Star Wars Costumes
If you want an officially-licensed costume, Official Star Wars Costumes is the place to shop. They offer a very affordable Sexy Slave Princess Leia Costume in sizes extra small through large. It includes a top and belt out of molded foam and spandex, as well as a brief, hair combs, and skirt. It does not include footwear or jewelry. This affordable costume retails for about $45.
While this version of the slave Leia costume probably won't get you compliments at a fan expo or convention, it would be great for Halloween or another informal event. The affordable price makes it a great choice for fans on a budget.
Turn Heads at Any Event
Whether you choose to make your costume yourself or purchase a version of this iconic outfit, you'll be the hit of any event. Princess Leia's gold bikini has captured the imagination of almost every male fan of the Star Wars movies, and emulating this look is a sure way to turn heads.