Booker DeWitt is the protagonist of the video game Bioshock:Infinite. I made this costume for Greg to wear at PAX Prime 2013. Shortly after Greg started playing Bioshock:Infinite, we decided this would be our “couples cosplay” for PAX. As a history geek, I liked the alternate history details throughout the story and I really liked the female character who was so integral to the protagonist’s quest. The Elizabeth-Booker interplay resembles the Meris-Greg interactions while Greg is playing video games. I point out treasure, ammunition, and puzzle clues while he mashes buttons and kills the baddies. For Greg’s part, he liked the character of Booker and felt comfortable taking on his persona.
You rarely see Booker because you are playing in the first person mode. Thankfully, the depictions of Booker in promos and cover art include 3/4 of his body. Overall, this costume required minimal pattern drafting because Booker’s attire is not so different from men’s attire in the 21st century.
- Pinstripe pants—Thrifted (Value Village), hemmed for length
- Black button up shirt with white cuffs & collar— Thrifted 2 shirts (Goodwill), deconstructed
- Canvas Vest with lapel detailing—Thrifted casual blazer (Goodwill), modified
- Cravat—Self-drafted pattern based on Gentlemen’s Emporium description (fabric was a thrifted women’s scarf)
- Cloth bandage—Scrap muslin
- Sky Hook—Purchased on Amazon.com
- Shoes—Greg’s regular everyday brown shoes
- Murder of Crows Vigor Bottle & Effect—Made by Greg (see follow-up post)
As with many video games, I reckon, there were slight variations between Booker’s appearance in the game cover illustration, promo images, and in-game clothing design. Overall, I aimed for that happy medium between the various imagery sources.
Although the above image shows a pinstriped shirt, I felt that a pinstriped shirt on top of a pinstriped pants was too much. The in-game imagery and one of the alternate covers showed a solid black shirt, under a gray vest, with black or dark gray pinstripe pants (below).
Thrifting & Constructing Booker
The majority of Booker’s costume was thrifted from our local Value Village and Goodwill stores. Regardless of how much I enjoy the puzzle-like challenge of pattern design, I was grateful to find most of what we needed for Booker ready-made. It eases some of the pre-convention pressure and let me focus on the details. That is not to say that Booker came together without any sewing. If ever I wish to call myself a “Fabric Alchemist,” it is when I take on projects like Booker, which require taking pre-made garments apart, altering them, and refitting them into something new.
The hardest garment to find in store was a black shirt with white cuffs. These exist, but tend to be more formal (and thus more expensive) than your average button-up oxford shirts. We only found a few online, and they all cost $60 or more. My solution was to buy a used white shirt and a used black shirt, and then transpose the white cuffs and collar onto the black shirt.
The pants were a little long, so I hemmed them with a blind stitch. If you ever need to hem dress pants and keep the seam hidden, these are two great tutorials about sewing “blind hems” from Buzzy Bee’s World and Coletterie.
The sleeves had to go and the hem was shortened to hit at Greg’s wait/belt buckle rather than his upper thigh. Otherwise the lapels were the right shape, the material was a suitable blend of rugged and proper (what I might expect from a former solider in an era when suits and neckwear were the norm) and the breast pocket added a nice detail.
The jacket was not a full black, but a charcoal gray. While I’ve seen a great deal of black lining for the lapels in other Booker costumes, the sleeves of this particular jacket were lined with a fantastic gray satin-like material. This decision saved me money and time, and since the in-game image of Booker (above) makes his vest lapels look more gray than black, I felt the source material justified my decision.
For aesthetic reasons, I hand-stitched the lapel contrast satin lining and the decorative white trim. I did not want seam lines to show on top of the lining, and I was having trouble getting these oddly shaped pieces of fabric to stay in place long enough to be machine stitched. I do not recall how long it took to hand-sew the collar, but I know it was during a mini-marathon viewing of Eureka.
I used “rat tail” (horrible name) satin cording for the lapel trim and white embroidery thread (about 2-3 single threads together) to embroider the curly-loop design. The stitch is a combination of a “split stitch” and a “stem stitch.” I defer to the interwebs and YouTube if you have any questions about embroidery.
Costume in Action
Look for more Bioshock?
I will be posting about Elizabeth’s costume shortly, as well as sharing photos of Booker and Elizabeth in action at Pax Prime, GeekGirlCon, and the Child’s Play Charity Dinner. But if you are a fan of the Bioshock franchise, check out the amazing costume and prop work being done by Those Crazy Gilberts! They are a wife-husband team of cosplayers and we stumbled on each other while we were working on two very different Bioshock cosplay projects last summer.