Leliana’s Costume Breakdown

Leliana, of Dragon Age: Inquisition, will be the most complicated costume I have worked on to date, simply based on numbers alone. Previous costumes have maxed out at 4 constructed pieces. Leliana has about six separate garment or armor pieces (and I am counting a set of gloves = 1). If I break it down to individual pieces of armor that have to be attached to each other, we are well over a dozen costume pieces (and weaponry props!).

Then there is the issue of construction. In the case of Korra, Elizabeth, Kaylee, or the unnamed Female Assassin all of the costumes pieces I made were sewn. I did pick up a few accessories of each of these characters that were either made by others or thrifted. This will be my first foray into leather (or faux leather) armor. I am looking at either trying my hand at worbla or creating the leg armor out of some other material.

Eventually I’ll be sharing my steps and lessons-learned for each part of Leliana’s costume. For now, I wanted to break down the costume into the pieces I will be working on. I am curious what you see—maybe you see two pieces of armor where I see one, etc.

Let’s start from the head and work down.

Head: her red hair is concealed by a cowled brown hood. The hood is so concealing that it multiple views of her to realize that her hair is still a short bob. This brown (textured) hood fastens just below her right collar bone. It clings closely to her head and looks to be made of a thick (or folded) material. The back (grainy screen capture on the far right) drapes in a semi-circle past her shoulder blades.

Leliana Hood

Upper Body Armor: I see four distinct armor components on Leliana’s shoulders, chest, and arms.  1) leather pauldrons (shoulder armor), with what appears to be a strap & buckle around the biceps to hold the pauldrons in place. 2) The pauldrons appear to be attached to leather that wraps around her shoulders, collar, and upper chest (curving over the top of the bust) and is fastened by the Inquisition insignia. If you look closely at gameplay footage, it looks like this leather chest armor wraps around her sides and curves up below the back of her hood/cowl (lower right). 3) On her lower arms, Leliana wears elbow length gloves that flare widely at the opening, plus her elbows are covered by 4) leather armor (cowters) with two straps holding each in place on either side of the elbow joint.

Leliana UpperBodyArmor

Tunic: Referring to the full body image below, let’s take a look at Lelaiana’s armored tunic. This is more than a cloth tunic (and in truth, it might have a different name—vestment perhaps?). This tunic has a high collar and appears form-fitting. It also appears to contain chain mail panels on the front and back. The back is wider than the front and there are slide slits that go past her hip. I am assume this tunic is sleeveless, otherwise there would be a lot of bulk around the shoulders.

I can’t imagine that chain mail was able to be this form fitting, even when cut into panels. (Any medieval armor experts are welcome to correct me, please!) But I’ll go with it.

leliana-fullbody Cropped

Leg Armor & Greaves: I’m not bothering to overanalyze these knee-high boots yet. They are half covered in armor. I think the armor is gold-colored, but it could also be the warm glow of candles in this particular full-body image. I have a pair of black boots that I will wear and cover with worbla or craft foam leg armor. Above the boots/greaves, Leliana wears starburst knee and thigh armor (cuisse).

Under clothes/base layer: Under all that armor Leliana is wearing a either brown or black shirt and trousers. I haven’t put much though into these because they will be mostly concealed by the remainder of the costume. I’ll probably wear a knit long-sleeve shirt and leggings.

At this point I am working on the tunic and the upper body leather armor components. I’ll be posting about their progress later this week.

Are you working on Dragon Age: Inquisition cosplay? What character? If you are working on Leliana, what part of the costume excites you or intimidates you the most?  


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