Xena’s Journey to Hades and Back in Cosplay Form began as an ambitious Halloween costume idea in August 2022 and “finished” August 2023…so, well past Halloween and yet also in time for Halloween. Despite not being quite finished, it’s now “old” so in true Sisyphian fashion I’ve started on another ambitious cosplay that will almost certainly not be finished in time for plans I don’t have. I could learn my lesson, but why?
Xena: The Costume Base
I decided to construct this cosplay from leather, primarily because I wouldn’t then have to go shopping to find just the right brown vinyl fabric. Especially when I already had some damaged hides on hand that I’d purchased at a deep discount for just this type of experimentation and I could get started right away. Leather also offered the benefit of durability and the beauty of natural material; the dings and scuffs of bargain bin leather add character to a project like this. Leather has visual weight.
It also has physical weight. I absolutely, positively, 100% cannot flip around like Xena regardless of what I am wearing or the power of trampoline upon which I might hop, but the added weight of this leather armor keeps me extra grounded.
Using leather in the interest of saving time turned out to be an exercise in self-delusion. With fabric, you just cut it out and sew it together. With leather, the cut pieces need to be dyed on all sides, multiple times if you want deep, dark color. The excess dye needs buffing off the surface. The edges need burnishing. Places where attachments are made can need skiving to remove bulk. You need to align pieces that are to be joined so stitching holes will match, and then you punch all those stitching holes by hand and sew it all together by hand. Leather also needs conditioning and finishing. And if you screw up, if the pattern was not quite right? Sometimes you’ll have to cut a new piece of leather and start the process over while feeling guilty about the animal who died so you could suck at cosplay.