Dyeing Fabric for Game of Thrones Kingsguard Armor
HBO’s Game of Thrones has a huge cast of characters which means if you want to cosplay someone from the series, you have several options to choose from. The Kingsguard – the guards that serve the King – have become a popular choice, and I’ve seen their shining armor at a few conventions in the last year. Replica Props Forum (RPF) user Matt Dash made a Kingsguard costume for Dragon Con this year and documented the steps for anyone else planning to tackle a Kingsguard cosplay.
I often highlight the construction of armor when I feature costumes like this one because I’m impressed by the ways people make foam and Worbla look like real metal. However, it’s not the only important part of the costume. Making the fabric tunic that goes under the armor and aging it is also key, and Matt discussed the process he used to dye the material. It needs to look lived in rather than appearing snowy white. The citizens of Westeros didn’t have access to washing machines and bleach.
Matt used Rit liquid dyes, watercolor paints, and a brown Conté crayon. You could also use coffee. This is definitely a technique that is forgiving and has room for errors so read Matt’s process and experiment:
It’s extremely hard to judge what the final color will be while you’re dyeing without going through a whole dye/wash/dry cycle on a test piece, so there’s a little guessing involved if you’re as impatient as I am. In any case you can expect the final color to be much paler than it looks while wet.
(Obvious in hindsight tip: It’s probably a good idea to also dye whatever scraps you have leftover for future use in patches etc. Also note that if you use polyester thread it won’t take dye, so either use cotton thread or match the thread color to your intended finished color.)
Weathering: I wanted the bottom of the coat to be nice and dirty. (This is the only part that really shows under the armor, so I didn’t bother weathering the rest of it). Coffee is probably the obvious choice, but I don’t drink coffee. I do however have a bunch of watercolor paints, so I used those. Basically I mixed up a little paint with a lot of water, creating essentially the leftover dirty water from when you rinse your brush. Then I just used a gloved hand to fling drops all over the coat. Much like the dying, the colors will end up a lot paler once they’re dry. (Compare wet picture below with final pics in previous post)
This technique will end up getting paint everywhere, so it’s probably best done outside. I did it in my bathroom though… the good news is that watercolors clean up super easily with water.
The bad news is also that they clean up with water, so this will wash right out. You could probably do exactly the same thing with acrylic paint to get a more permanent staining. Since the bottom of the coat doesnt get too gross when you’re wearing it, i’m just going to hand-wash the top half while trying to keep the bottom dry to preserve it. (This weathering is fun and easy though so it’s not too bad if you had to redo it.)
Read about the build process for the entire costume at The RPF.
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