Earlier this year I was asked by Marvel to recreate the Wasp costume from the movie Ant Man and the Wasp for their Marvel Becoming series!
I silently vowed to create the best costume I possibly could for this series. I wanted to honor the beautiful textures and costume design, and I also wanted to emulate this strong female character by throwing out all the stops. In doing this, I proved to myself that I could tackle a big project like this. I learned SO much during this build. This is not a replica, but it is a labor of love. I created textures where I thought they would be, and did my best to get the proportions right. I spent an enormous amount of time testing, researching and failing (but learning from those failures). The suit, wings and accessories were all created by hand by me. The helmet was hand crafted by Eric Jones of Coregeek. Talk about being on a dream team!
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video!
Click on the images to enlarge!
I have included a list of materials that were used for this project at the end of this article.
The Suit Pattern
- My first step was creating a new duct tape dummy of myself with some shapewear on that I knew I would be wearing under my suit.
- Next I added another thin layer of clear plastic wrap and covered that with a single layer of silver duct tape.
- Then I spent some time carefully creating the suit details using thin strips of masking tape, labeling everything as I went.
Muslin Mock Up
- When I was happy with the pattern map that I had made on my dummy form, I cut it apart to create a mock-up.
- I combined many of the smaller pieces into larger pieces for the base suit, keeping in mind that I would eventually need to add those smaller bits later in the building process. What you see below is the base suit, with adjustments to better fit my own body.
Transfer to Better Mock Up Fabric
- Next I ripped all the seams on one side of my nice muslin mock-up and transferred the pattern pieces to paper to create a brand new pattern template.
- Then I transferred the pattern to either 4-way stretch or non-stretch fabric, sewed most of it together to create a new mock-up. I always make several mock ups to practice sewing the pattern and allowing myself some time to make vital alterations to the suit for the best fit. Here, I had to adjust the sleeve quite a bit because the inner seam was spiraling to the inside of my arm.
- This suit has interesting lines and to hide the seams I decided to be just as interesting with constructing the pieces together. The upper chest and the sleeves were very challenging for me, but I think I won in the end!
- I used my Cricut Maker to mark and cut much of the pattern pieces for me so I could be very precise while working with pleather and fabric. The arm pieces were all labeled and cut by the Cricut.
The Finished Mock Up
Below is the finished mock-up. You may notice that the right side of my torso needs to be taken in even more. I asked my friend Abby to help me out – I blame poor posture for that alteration!
Creating the Chest Pieces
The next part was to figure out how to best create the chest texture. This was a challenge and I spent quite a lot of time figuring this out and testing methods and materials. The final result was:
- I made thermoplastic breast cups using my mannequin as the master form. The tan-colored mock-up cups shown below are made with Thibra. The final versions were created with black worbla.
- Then I created a hex design to use with my Cricut Maker. Using the fine point blade, the Maker scored the design into 2mm eva foam from TntCosplaySupply.com.
- Next I heat sealed the eva foam, gently forming it into a cup shape over the mannequin chest for stability.
- Once it was the correct shape, I folded the edges of the foam over the Thibra chest cups and used my X-acto blade to completely cut each hexagon shape away from the eva foam.
- After the hex shapes were all removed the resulting honeycomb cups were airbrushed Angelus metallic gold. I used this leather paint because it would remain flexible and wouldn’t crack.
- The second video is showing how I fit the hex cup to the worbla cup. I covered the worbla cup with very thin white eva foam and then machine stitched strips of 4 way stretch to the edges of the cups.
- Then I glued the gold hex eva foam pieces to each cup using super glue (check out the time-lapse video)
Creating the Torso Pieces
- I scanned the duct tape pattern of the torso into my computer.
- Using Illustrator, I traced the designs and converted the file to .svg for use with my Cricut Maker. Check out the video below!
- Next I tested this process using scrap 2mm eva foam from TNT Cosplay using the purple mat and the fine point blade.
- Once I was happy with the final result from Cricut I heat sealed the foam with a heat gun. The foam got a little misshapen with the heat but that wasn’t an issue later in the process.
- Next I cut out corresponding shapes (in white) out of eva foam.
- Then I painted the large piece with the hexagon perforations in the same gold from Angelus.
- Once the paint had dried I cut out the gold pieces and wrapped them around the white cut outs. These pieces would eventually be glued to my suit.
Finding the Right Fabrics
I knew that I’d never find the SAME fabric that was used for the actual suit, so I decided to find fabrics that were as close as possible and within my budget!
- Using Illustrator, I designed a pattern and had it printed at Spoonflower.com. They have a great fabric sampler that you can choose from! When I received the set, I chose my fabric type (Performance Pique), and then ordered the option for a yard with the printed Pantone color chart. This enabled me to keep my colors as accurate as possible.
- I ordered a swatch of my custom fabric and had to make a couple of adjustments to the file, so after a couple of rounds the result was perfect for my needs!
- I found black upholstery fabric from my local Joann’s. This was a heavier vinyl that I would be perforating by hand.
- Mood.com had some amazing soft stretch vinyl that was already perforated which was perfect for most of the suit vinyl but it was a jungle green color.
- I painted all of the vinyl blue using French Blue from Angelus and boy was it the perfect shade!
- I also used some stretchy blue fabric that I had to dye a slightly darker blue color. It was a polyester blend that I dyed with 2 packets of dark blue iPoly. Thankfully the color came out PERFECTLY.
The 1st Test Fit
Putting the suit on and being able to zip it up was amazing! I was very happy that I could proceed to the next steps of starting to add the detail layers to the torso and the neck.
- My duct tape dummy is a little longer in the torso which was a challenge later in the build with lining everything up perfectly.
- It all worked out, but if I could have changed anything I would have put that lower yolk-esque seam much higher in the torso, if only to hide the seam behind the torso layer.
- I didn’t want to add the lower legs just yet because the back seam on the knee padding was still something I was figuring out.
Creating the Upper Chest Vinyl Details
Anyone that knows me will say that I don’t like to compromise with detail when I have made up my mind. That’s exactly what happened here!
- I created the upper chest pieces using Illustrator and created .svg files to use with my Cricut Maker.
- After those were cut out, I added the hole pattern to the template
- Next I used the Cricut to draw the holes onto a vinyl sticker sheet, and set it to cut out the corresponding shapes at the same time.
- Then I applied the vinyl stickers with the drawn perforation holes to the pre-cut vinyl pieces
- Using a hand leather hole punch, I punched all of the holes out of the vinyl pieces, using the sticker as a guide.
- I made sure to leave at least 1/8″ border around the vinyl pieces to allow for top stitching at a later time in the project.
More Torso Pieces
After creating those golden perforated pieces for the torso, it was time to start making the other parts of the lower torso!
- Using the Cricut, I drew the template onto vinyl (not shown).
- Then I transferred those shapes to some padding I had – it’s thicker padding with a soft felt on one side and an iron-on transfer on the other. It looks like a stabilizer but it’s spongy and perfect for adding a little dimension to these torso pieces.
- Following my perfection mantra (!) I lined up the custom printed fabric so the pattern was directional (as seen in the pics).
- Then I sewed the layers of custom fabric and padding to a scrap piece of vinyl. This gave it a puffed look.
- Next I cut out pieces of 4mm eva foam and covered them with the blue vinyl, again being sure to line up the perforation pattern.
Upper Torso Pieces
- I followed the same steps for the parts of the upper torso that utilized the custom fabric.
- I used the Cricut and the rotary blade to cut out these pieces of vinyl to ensure they would be perfectly symmetrical.
- Instead of sewing the pieces to individual pieces of vinyl, I attached them to the same large piece of vinyl to allow me to have more precision.
The Lower Torso
- Again, using the same techniques as the upper torso, I constructed the lower torso using padding.
- Instead of sewing these pieces to vinyl, I opted to use the sewable EVA foam from TNTCosplaySupply.com.
- This foam is sturdy yet able to be put through a machine. It provided support and structure for the overlaying pieces.
Creating the Red & Blue Piping
I knew that I needed the piping to be flexible, so I opted to use the same technique that I used for my Hela build!
- I ended up making two different molds for this – one using Dragon Skin silicone (I had run out of the resin, and I wasn’t sure the resin wouldn’t stick to the plastic piping master that I had found).
- The other mold was created using Thibra formed over the silicone casts I made using the silicone mold.
- Using Thibra enabled me to pour silicone into the mold without needing to use a release agent. The release agent would have needed to be washed off, and I didn’t want to do that to ALL of the piping needed for this suit.
- I used Dragon Skin silicone mixed with a small amount silicone thinner and red Silc-Pig to achieve that perfect red!
- Then I used Sil-Poxy to glue the silicone together at the center chest. I used silk pins to keep the silicone in place while the Sil-Poxy cured.
Top Stitching Forever
- Once the front piping was figured out, I could proceed with top stitching the vinyl to the front chest piece.
- I cut thin strips of masking tape to use as stitching guides. My margin was VERY small and I wanted these to be absolutely perfect.
- I used paper to help the machine to glide along the vinyl without sticking or gumming up the machine with a hurricane of stitching.
- Urging my machine along VERY SLOWLY, I was able to get that perfect stitch along the edges of the vinyl pieces.
- Yes, you can sew through the silicone! I wasn’t sewing through very thick material, so my needle handled it very well.
- Next I glued the longer pieces down using Barge Cement. I could have hand sewed these pieces to the suit but it’s a costume, so…. I allowed myself to use glue for this tiny part 🙂
- I used the Cricut to cut these out of vinyl that I painted blue with the Angelus leather paint.
- Then I used the Cricut to create the perforation map with vinyl, similar to the earlier step.
- Using the leather punch, I hand punched all of the neck pieces, again leaving a small margin around the edges to leave room for top stitching.
- I used thin strips of masking tape to follow with my machine.
- I sewed the collar pieces together by attaching them to thin strips of vinyl at the seams. At the time I thought this was really clever, but I wish I had just sewed it down to the fabric collar that I created later to allow for a little bit more stretch in the collar.
A friend once said “Evil Sleeves = Sleevils” and she couldn’t be more right!
- These sleeves were HARD for me. The seams were all over the place and I had to really wrestle with it to make it all come together.
- Thankfully the pattern was based on my duct tape dummy so I wasn’t too worried and could focus on the construction.
- I spent a lot of time making sure the suit fit me from shoulder to shoulder before I started sewing anything together.
- I also began making sure that I used a zig zag stitch whenever possible on seams that I knew would be covered by the silicone piping. Silicone won’t stick to the vinyl very well, so adding the zipper stitch gives it something to grab onto.
I have to admit that I’m pretty proud of how I made the golden details on the sleeves.
- Once the sleeves were sewn together, I used blue painter’s tape to create the shapes of the golden areas on the sleeves.
- Next I scanned them into my computer and made a template complete with the perforation holes.
- Next I printed the templates onto printable vinyl sticker sheets and cut them out.
- Then I adhered them to a scrap piece of the heavier vinyl.
- Using a hexagon leather punch, I manually punched each shape out of the vinyl, leaving a small margin around the edges for top stitching.
- Next I wiped the vinyl down gently with Leather Preparer from Angelus.
- Then I painted each piece with several layers of Metallic Gold from Angelus.
Constructing the Shoulder Gold Details
This part of the sleeve was a little tricky, and I had to make them twice. These images are mostly of the second attempt!
- First I cut out a medium-sized piece of the custom fabric, and sized it to the sleeve area.
- Then I cut a piece of the thicker spongy foam and placed it under the custom fabric.
- Next I used some Stitch Witchery around the inside of the foam piece.
- Then I sewed the custom fabric along the inside edge of the foam piece. At this point I also added a couple of the other details using the same wrapping methods that I used for the torso.
- At this point I realized I had made these golden details too long! I took about half a day to correct this error, but I am stubborn. 🙂
- When everything was stitched down, I used more blue painter’s tape to make a template.
- I used the painter’s tape to cut a piece of vinyl I had painted with the gold metallic paint.
- Next I scanned the blue tape template and created a perforation guide that I printed onto a sticker vinyl sheet.
- I placed the sticker on the vinyl and punched all of the hexagon holes out with the leather punch.
- After the holes were all punched, I cut a slightly smaller piece of batting and another piece of thinner vinyl that I had painted in the same gold.
- Then I pinned the edges around the batting.
- Next, using the perforated vinyl, I pinned the edges around the solid vinyl that I had just wrapped around the batting.
- Then I added blue painter’s tape to help guide my stitching.
- With everything pinned in place, I sewed it all down to the sleeve using a top stitch.
The Elbow Pads
For the elbow pads, I used a similar technique, but painted the vinyl blue instead of gold
- I made a template and then scanned it.
- Then I printed out a sheet of the vinyl sticker but with the small circular perforations printed as a punching guide.
- Then I cut corresponding vinyl backing, foam padding, and a top layer of blue vinyl.
- I then taped the edges down to create a margin that was about 1/2″.
- Next I placed the printed sticker on the vinyl and hand punched both knees.
- When that was done I created another template for the small front detail and made that using the custom fabric.
- Then I added a medium piece of the custom fabric and tucked it under the blue vinyl margin to the raw edge would be hidden by the vinyl.
- Next I top stitched the vinyl.
- Then I sewed the small detail to the front of the pad.
- Then I hand sewed the pad to the sleeve using a leather needle for strength.
The upper legs on this costume have details that connect from the lower torso all the way down to the knees. I sacrificed some stretch in the legs for the top stitching, which I preferred for the overall look.
- First I positioned the lower leg pieces in place over the torso, and marked where they would connect.
- Then I airbrushed the vinyl with the French Blue from Angelus. In hindsight I didn’t need to use my airbrush because the Angelus paints are wonderful to use by hand. I could have saved HOURS if I had tested this first (always test first!).
- After the paint was dry I began top stitching the vinyl panels to the fabric, using the blue painter’s tape as a sewing guide for my margins.
- I repeated this same process for the upper and lower back.
2nd Fit Test!
With the chest and torso pieces pinned in place I put it on and was able to zip it up!
Knees & Lower Legs
Some of these images will be slightly out-of-order so I can explain how they were put together.
- The back of the knees didn’t have a seam! So it made sense to hide the seam under the knee padding.
- I used my stretchy blue fabric and some thin batting to create the padded lines.
- Then I pinned the padded strips to the backs of the upper legs, basting in place.
- Next I tackled the lower legs by starting with the zippers.
- Then I top stitched the blue vinyl to the fabric underneath.
- I cut out the arrow shapes and top stitched those to the lower legs.
- Next I positioned the lower legs to the upper legs and hand stitched them in place.
I used the same method here as I did for creating the elbow pads, hand sewing each pad in place.
3rd Fit Test!
Gold Waist Belt
Next up was covering up that waist line with the golden waist belt.
- I used the same method to make this as I did for the shoulders.
- After pinning it in place I top stitched it to the suit.
- (Note: I later realized that I wanted to have more length in the waist for better movement and perhaps even sitting down. So I took out the waist a little and re-sewed everything back down. This adjustment took me an entire day it seemed!)
Adding the Silicone Piping to the Suit
I cast many red piping pieces using Dragon Skin Silicone mixed with a small amount of silicone thinner and red Silc-Pig. I glued them to the suit using Sil-Poxy. This is the same method I used for my Hela costume.
Wrapping Up the Suit Details
I used some hand sewing and machine sewing to connect the torso and chest pieces to the suit.
I used the same process to make these boots as I did for my Hela costume. I actually used the same pattern!
- First I cut out the blue vinyl material, being mindful of the perforation pattern.
- Then I sewed the seams together on the top of the boot and the back heel.
- Next I hemmed the edges.
- Then I used barge cement to glue the hemmed edge to the boot.
Making the Bracers, Blasters and Hand Details
- I started with the paper template created from blue painter’s tape.
- Then I cut out the shapes using 2mm and 4mm eva foam.
- After sanding edges and assembling with Gorilla Glue, I added some red plastic film to an inner cartridge that I later used for holding an LED that ran off of a coin battery.
- Later I installed tiny buckles to keep the straps on my wrist.
- For the bracers, I used my Cricut to cut out the hexagon shapes using 2mm EVA foam from TNT Cosplay.
- Using a pint glass, I glued the hex foam to the bracer base sot it would keep the curve a little better.
- I later installed a brad and some velcro to keep the bracer in place on my wrist.
- I sealed the bracers with modge podge, and then painted them with the same gold from Angelus.
I started by making an outline directly on the suit with tape.
- Next I took a photo of the outlines and traced it in Illustrator
- Then I overlayed the wings on the wing pack for scale.
- Next I created a paper template of the wing pack to begin making the shapes with EVA foam.
- I needed the top to be removable so I could install the large wings or the small wings, as well as change the batteries if needed.
- To do that, I embedded rare earth magnets into the cover and the base.
The Large Wings
I started by making a digital template, printing it out and gluing the paper wings to cardboard.
- From there I re-scaled until I was happy with the shape.
- The wings were eventually simplified and made even smaller. Note: I should have made them small enough or able to break down to fit inside my suitcase! At this point I was in a hurry because Dragon Con was fast approaching!
- Using Super 77, I transferred the paper wings to sheets of acrylic. I really wanted to use my cricut to etch the pattern into these wings but the wings were too large for the 24″ maximum length.
- I used a scroll saw to cut the shapes out of the acrylic and cut a few extra pieces to glue to the base for support
Large Wings: Creating the Support Spines
Next I printed out the overlay details (in orange) to cut out of acrylic.
- My original plan was to stabilize the wings with a piece of acrylic glued to the top, but it turned out the gel showed up really well between the layers and looked terrible.
- I could have used a liquid but I was running out of time so I switched materials instead.
- I ended up creating the spines with wood, and used Loctite epoxy to glue them to the acrylic.
Wing Pack Refinement
The next step was to glue a platform for the wings to mount upon and refine the base of the backpack with more layers.
- First I taped the wings and the wing pack together and mounted it on my mannequin to make sure it was all even.
- Then I glued pieces of wood to the eva foam backpack base (backed with Wonderflex for support so the eva foam wouldn’t rip).
- Next I added more pieces of 4mm eva foam to create the raised details on the backpack base.
- I also created a chamber inside the backpack base to hold an LED strip for later use.
Wing Pack Hardware
- Once I knew the wings were going to fit well and the back pack top was fitting well, I drilled holes into each wooden wing base.
- Then I sealed the wooden spines with shellac and primed with Rustoleum Sandable Primer.
- Then I taped the spines to the acrylic and installed the wings on the backpack to test everything one final time before adding the hexagon texture to the acrylic.
Adding Texture to The Wings
- The next step was adding the hexagon texture to the wings.
- Again, I created the hexagon pattern in Illustrator and cut it out of sticky back vinyl with my Cricut Maker.
- Next I added the hex shapes to one side of the acrylic using Cricut’s transfer tape.
- I then used two light layers of Uberfrost frosted glass aerosol spray over the vinyl.
- Next I spent about 8 hours peeling up the vinyl stickers (!). In hindsight I would just get these laser etched but I was running out of time and this was just how I had to do it.
Adding Detail to the Wings
I wanted a little more detail in the wings!
- I designed an overlay that I cut out with my cricut using adhesive backed 2mm eva foam.
- I sealed the foam with modge podge and then airbrushed them with black.
- Then I airbrushed them with a silver acrylic.
- Next I peeled the stickers and pressed them into place on the acrylic wings. They adhered surprisingly well!
- These also were designed to completely hide the wooden part of the spines that were visible through the acrylic. This is why I love having digital templates to work from!
Installing LEDs in the Wing Pack
I bought some remote controlled battery-powered LED strips from Amazon to install into the Wing Pack cover and base.
- I hot glued one strip into the underside of the cover.
- The second LED strip was glued on the base and wired into the hollow chamber.
- I lined the hollow chamber with aluminum tape for maximum light reflection.
- To diffuse the light, I installed some lightly sanded acrylic pieces.
- To enhance the red light I added red plastic film to the sanded acrylic.
Making the Small Wings
I needed the smaller wings to have something on my wing pack when I wasn’t wearing the large wings.
- I started with creating a paper template using the digital backpack pattern I had already created.
- From there I refined the shape using paper and blue tape until I was happy with the shape and the fit when the cover was in place.
- Then I scanned the paper template back into my computer and traced the shape using Illustrator.
- Next I added the hexagon pattern and sent the file to my Cricut.
- The Cricut did a fantastic job etching the shape into the acrylic. I used a special tool to achieve this.
- The last picture is the eva foam spine that I created for the smaller wings. These were made using 2mm eva foam from TNT Cosplay Supply.
Installing the Small Wings
- First I cut out each wing from the acrylic. I ended up cutting them out separately but in hindsight I would have kept them together instead to save time later.
- Using the hardware holes in the large wings as a template, I drilled the corresponding holes into one piece of wood that I later mounted to the wings using Loctite.
- Then I used my heat gun to form a slight curve into the wings to better match the curvature of the wing back base.
- Next I glued a small piece of acrylic to bridge the two wings together.
- Then I taped the spines to the wings to test the fit.
Making the Retracted Helmet
To make this part I used part of an AntMan child’s mask! It was the perfect size.
- I cut off the parts that I didn’t need using my Dremel.
- Then I created the side shapes using circular furniture moving disks (yep!) and eva foam circles.
- I made a paper template and transferred that to eva foam.
- Then I glued it all together using Gorilla Glue and CosBond.
- Next I sealed the eva foam with Foam Putty and sanded the plastic with 400 grit sandpaper.
- Then I added some details with EVA foam to the inside of the plastic.
Sealing, Sanding and Prepping for Paint
I used Epsilon Pro to seal the wing pack and the retracted helmet
- To get the uber smooth surface on the wing pack, I applied a thin layer of Foam Putty to the entire surface
- After it was dry I used 400 grit sand paper to lightly sand the surfaces. This closed the eva pores even more and helped the Epsilon Pro self-level.
- I applied two layers of Epsilon Pro and allowed it to cure for 16 hours before painting.
Painting the Wing Pack
- After I lightly sanded the epsilon surface, I used Wicked black opaque airbrush paint to set the base color.
- Then I brushed several layers of Wicked Aluminum airbrush paint. I didn’t realize that I needed to “wet coat” the paint, which is applying enough paint to create a wet surface without too much to avoid drips. By painting several thin layers I got plenty of coverage but it wasn’t shiny at all.
- To help get some shine back into the pieces I airbrushed everything with Wicked Pearly Silver.
Attaching the Wing Pack to the Suit
I added some velcro to the upper shoulders and back of the suit to connect the wing pack securely.