The new Starfleet uniforms featured in Star Trek: Discovery – a fairly significant departure from designs seen previously in the franchise – have already set the vibrant Star Trek cosplay community abuzz, with many costume-creating aficionados wondering how to set about building their own outfits.
As TrekMovie’s Aaron Harvey detailed a few weeks ago, there is a lot of tiny, intricate detailing that has gone into the new uniform styling, and Discovery‘s producers have revealed that the uniforms include internationally-sourced fabric and complex, 3D-printed components, neither of which is available to the average fan.
That hasn’t stopped fan Melanie Poston from trying, though! First spotted at the Denver Comic Con on June 30, her homemade Discovery uniform caught the attention of cast members Anthony Rapp and Rekha Sharma, series producer Ted Sullivan, and more when photos of her design appeared on social media last week.
With both San Diego Comic-Con coming in July, and August’s Official Star Trek Convention hitting Las Vegas soon, we reached out to Melanie to get some tips on how other fans might start to build their own Star Trek: Discovery costumes as we approach the series’ debut in September.
Bringing My Star Trek: Discovery Uniform to Life
by Melanie Poston for TrekCore.com
My goal with the Discovery uniform cosplay was not to create a screen accurate costume. I would love to do that some day, but it is definitely beyond my time and resources right now — especially since I started making this costume just a few weeks before the convention I wanted to wear it to.
Rather than working toward screen accuracy, I instead wanted to achieve the overall form, and highlight the recognizable and interesting details of the uniform — and since the series hasn’t even been released yet, I figured that it may not be as recognizable as those from the previous Trek shows, so I concentrated on emphasizing the elements that would communicate that it’s a Starfleet uniform.
If I were to make it more screen-accurate, for example, the Starfleet deltas along the side panels of the jacket would be much smaller, matching the look seen in the promotional material released so far. My choice to keep the chevrons on my costume larger allowed them to be much more recognizable, while still maintaining the overall form.
All the materials used in my costume – with the exception of the boots and Starfleet badge – were purchased from Jo-Ann Fabrics at a total cost of less than $100.
I used about six yards of navy blue, Ponte knit fabric for the uniform jacket and pants. I chose Ponte partly because it’s comfortable and because it resists wrinkles pretty well — a huge benefit for travel to a convention — and it was thick enough that I did not have to line the uniform jacket. (It’s also pretty affordable, which allowed me to buy more than I really needed so I could do a little trial and error without feeling like I might run out!)
I did not use a pattern for the top; I drafted the jacket by hand on a dress form that matches my measurements. There was some trial and error involved, so that extra Ponte fabric definitely came in handy! At this stage, I just created the basic torso part of the top and did not yet attach sleeves, though I did sew the sleeves and collar separately at this point to be attached later.
I cut out the individual gold chevrons for the sides by hand from gold foil iron-on paper, and ironed them onto the uniform eight to ten at a time.
Next, I started working on the gold stripes that run down the sides of the uniform. Instead of trying to set the small parallel lines in place over each shoulder, I used a single, thick gold ribbon and embroidered blue lines over it down it to mimic the look of the smaller stripes’ placement. I then sewed the finished gold and blue striped ribbons to the side of the pants and the jacket.
I embroidered the gold lines on the top of each shoulder — to emulate Michelle Yeoh’s captain’s variant design — attached the sleeves, then used the same technique that I used for the side stripes to create the thinner gold stripes that wrap around the top of the sleeves. I cut a thin strip of the same gold ribbon and sewed it down the front of the top at a slight diagonal and installed a full-length zipper along the back of the jacket.
For the pants, I started with a pattern that I already had on hand (McCall’s M6901) for women’s slacks. It’s a pretty simple pattern, and it includes great instructions for tailoring the pants to fit your body shape. I made the pants higher-waisted than would normally come from that pattern, because I wanted the waistband to rest on the smallest part of my waist, but otherwise I stuck pretty closely to the pattern.
I did not finish making the new badge for the uniform, so I ended up just using a gold Starfleet insignia pin that I already had on hand. It looked much better than the one I had been trying to make myself, so it ended up being the best route, regardless of the inaccuracy.
Finally, as I was packing my suitcase the day before the convention, I realized that I had completely forgotten about the uniform boots! I ran out to a thrift store near my house and was really lucky to find a pair of black boots that were the right size and style.
Overall, I am really pleased with the way the uniform turned out! The stickler in me was constantly thinking about all the little details I missed or didn’t replicate perfectly, but I communicated the idea of the costume design well enough that people at the convention recognized it, so I am happy.
One day, I think I would like to attempt a truly screen-accurate version, but I definitely want to wait until the new show is well underway and I have a ton of source material to reference – as it was, I put this together after watching the Discovery trailer over and over, and going through a ton of screenshots along the way — but it was definitely worth the effort!