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Hoth Snowspeeder Jacket Tutorial

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Darth Lars

PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:53 pm    Post subject: Hoth Snowspeeder Jacket Tutorial Reply with quote

I think that it is about time that I posted the tutorial that have been working on ....
Several people have asked me to make them jackets, and I do not have any plans to make any for sale.

The tutorial does not contain a complete pattern, but information on what a regular jacket pattern could be modified into. I think that the jacket is quite simple to construct for a costumer with moderate skills. I think that the hardest part is actually to find a resonably screen-accurate fabric for it.

I would like to thank Peter/The Tusken Emperor for helping me with proofreading an early draft, even though I have changed a lot since.
If someone would like to point out grammar/spelling mistakes or omissions, please send me a PM and I will edit the tutorial here.

Rebel Hoth Snowspeeder Pilot Jacket Tutorial
by Darth Lars (Johan Hanson)


The pattern is based on the same racing jacket that Luke wore in the Award Ceremony at the end of the first movie.
There are some notable differences with this jacket: Most of all, the collar is larger and padded.
Contrary to widespread belief, the ribs are not padded like on the ceremonial jacket - the ribs on this jacket are box-pleated.
In general, the jacket is much simpler in construction. The pattern is mostly rectangular in shape and there is only one pocket: an external windowed chest pocket with no closing flap.

I believe that there is no insulation or lining.
In the movie, Luke grabs the jacket from a hanger using one hand and it can be seen that it is quite thin. When the outdoor scenes were shot in the very freezing temperatures of Finse, Norway, Mark Hamill had to wear a thickly padded crew jacket on top of the pilot jacket to keep warm in-between takes. In several reference pictures (here's one), it can be clearly seen that the interior of the jacket has the same color as the exterior.
Also, I think that unless you will be trooping in freezing temperatures, your jacket will not need any insulation. At any time, in 99% of the world's trooping locations, together with the flight suit and flak vest, and with a balaclava and helmet on your head, you will be warm enough -- believe me!

There are several pictures that reveal that the jacket is closed with velcro (TM) at the collar, but that is all we know about how it is closed.
Unlike the Ceremonial Jacket, but like the flight suit, there is a bib that covers the closing mechanism.
On my jacket, I used a 1" square of velcro at the collar, but used a zipper for the remaining length.
I would advice against letting the zipper go all the way up -- the collar could get too tight if you do.

The jacket is not very long. The lower edge is maybe four inches below the waist (a man's waist). It should barely touch the seat when you sit down.

Materials and equipment:

* 7 feet (2.1 m) of orange fabric. Preferrably a coated wind-poplin or nylon "jacket fabric" that has a bit of stiffness in it. It is somewhat in-between a typical windbreaker fabric and a rain coat fabric. The orange color should preferrably be a little bit lighter (more yellow and/or less saturated) than the color of your flight suit. Do not use signal orange or neon orange!
* Thick batting, for stuffing the collar.
* A roll of orange thread
* A strip of 1" wide orange hook-and-loop tape (velcro(tm)), at least one inch long. Both sides. (I got mine from when I got the webbing for my ejection straps)
* A zipper or hook-and-loop tape for the front. 2" shorter than the length of the bib in the front. Measure before you buy a zipper. Unless you have the tools to adjust the length of a zipper, it would be better to get a slightly shorter zipper than one that is too long.
* Pattern paper
* Pencil, fabric pen or similar
* Measuring tape. Preferrably one with imperial markings on it, but be sure to avoid entanglements.
* Ruler. Preferrably a right-angle ruler.
* Pins
* Sewing machine, with needles
* Shears

Good to have
* Fabric glue
* Your Hoth Rebel Chest Badge ready at hand
* Your Flight Suit and Flak Vest ready to wear
* Time and Patience.

* Orange lining fabric. Is not necessary. I will not cover this here. If you want to line it, then sew an identical jacket out of lining fabric and join the two jackets by the hems.

Drawing The Pattern / Cutting out the pieces

The overall pattern is very symmetrical and has mostly right angles. You have to draw your own, but you can base it on a pattern for a simple jacket or shirt. Your original pattern should have a single seam going down each side connecting the front and back panels. You could also do what I did: copy a real-world jacket. The difficult parts to make by hand without any template would be the curves at the neck opening and where the sleeves are attached.

The jacket consists of:

* One very long rectangular strip -- for the ribs on both sleeves:
The strip is at least 8 inches (20 cm) wide and (at least) ...

(length of shoulder + length of sleeve - 8 inches) × 3 + 10 inches

.. long. This should be about seven feet.

Cut this first from your length of fabric, so that you don't have to splice. This large rectangle will later be divided along its length into two strips that are four inches wide each. The resulting portion of each ribbed pleat will be 3 inches (7½ cm) wide when finished.

* Two front panels -- mirror images of each other:
The overlapping bib on the jacket front is approx. 1 ¼" (3 cm) wide and is located in the center, as on the X-Wing flight suit. That is: the bib is in the center, not the opening (Costumebase's flight suit is wrong, btw.). Remember to add sufficient amount of fabric to each panel for folding the fabric around the bib. Make it at least two times as wide if you are using velcro, or at least three times as wide if you are planning to install a zipper.

* Two side panels per each of the two sides -- the pieces of each pair are basically mirror images of each other:
The panels are largely rectangular -- the jacket is not fitted in any noticable way.

* Two sleeve pieces per each of the two sleeves -- the pieces of each pair are basically mirror images of each other:
Remember to subtract 3 inches from the the sleeve width on your original pattern to adjust for the final width of the ribbed strip. The seam that connects each two pieces continue into the seam down between the two side panels on that side.

* One single back piece

* A rectangle for the chest pocket:
The outer dimensions of the pocket should be only large enough to fit the badge, and the window in the middle should be only as large as the features on the badge. If the chest badge fits snugly then you won't need any fastener to keep it from falling out. On my badge (that I got from CE), the greeblies will fit within a window that is precisely 2" × 1½" (51 × 38 mm). Start by cutting a rectangle that will give you at least 3/4" (2 cm) seam allowance around the badge and place it on a table with the back-side up. Measure the absolute center and draw the window there. Then draw a 45° angle line from each of the window's corners. Cut a small rectanglar hole in the middle and then along the lines that you have drawn to each corner. Be careful so that you don't cut too far. If you put the half-finished pocket (or pattern) onto your badge and press with your fingers down the badge's edges, then you can measure how large the pocket needs to be. These dimensions are not for the pocket's outline, but for where the stitches are going to be: Add a few more millimeters.

* Two identical collar pieces -- top-side and under-side:
The Hoth collar is not just a circle that lies flat on your shoulders, nor is it a mandarin collar, but something in-between. When laid out flat, it has the shape of a crescent. If the finished collar did not taper into points in the front it would have the shape of a funnel.

Measure the neck opening's circumference on your original pattern (or jacket) and subtract 1 ¼" (3 cm) for the front bib. Let's call this measurement c.
In the middle of a large sheet of pattern paper, draw a half-circle with the diameter 2×c / pi (pi is approx. 3.14159). (You could use a compass to draw this. I used a dinner plate Very Happy )
At the apex of the arc, draw a line that shoots straight out from the arc at a right angle, five inches long. Then draw a large circular arc that connects the endpoint of this line to the two endpoints of the first arc.

* Two small swatches of scrap fabric.

Most seams are plain seams, but it is apparent that the seams joining the front/back panels with the side panels and ribbed strips are top-stitched on one side. Each of them are made by first making a simple seam on the inside of the jacket. Then turning over and top-stitching a second seam ¼" (6 mm) from the first.

Pleating the ribs

I suggest that you start with the pleated ribs. These will take most of your time. When you have finished these, the rest of the jacket will feel much easier. Smile
Unlike Luke's ceremonial jacket, which has quilted ribs, the ribs on the Snowspeeder Pilot jacket are box-pleated -- each rib consists of two opposite folds. No batting is necessary - the folding and the stiffness of the fabric will keep the pleats puffy by themselves.

I have scaled pics and measured that each pleated strip is 3 inches (7½ cm) wide (plus seam allowance) and that there is one pleat for about each ½ inch (13 mm).

Each strip is pleated from the middle of the forearm, over the shoulder, to the collar -- they do not go around the back.
The strips are not pleated all the way down to the wrist: The last eight inches (20 cm) are flat. Not only does this save work and fabric, but it is also easier to fit unpleated sleeves into the cuffs of your gauntlets. The gauntlet cuffs will cover up most of these lengths anyway.

In this tutorial, we make a single pleated strip at twice the width, and then cut it apart into two -- this way, we save a lot of work.

1. Take the long strip that you have cut out. Turn it over so that the bottom (non-coated) side is facing up.
2. Measure the center and draw a line, or mark the center at points along the strip.
3. Lay down your measuring tape right along the line that you have just drawn. Make a mark at each half inch (13 mm).
4. Take your right-angle ruler, and draw a line across the strip at each mark, so that there is a space of ½ inch between each
line. Each tree spaces will form a single box-pleat.

Each box-pleat consists of two simple pleats: One in one direction, and another in the other direction.
There may be other ways of doing it, but I made the pleats on my jacket in two steps: First the downward-facing pleats and then the upward-facing pleats.
Now the jacket should be finished enough so that you can try it on: You can adjust how long your sleeves could be, and how far down the lower hem should be. If you have chosen to line the jacket, now is also the time to attach the lining.

For each three spaces: pinch the first space in and over itself and pin, so that two lines meet. There should be no line inside the pleat (that would make it too large). Do this at the left side, at the right side and in the center. Then jump over two spaces and repeat for the next pleat.

Once you have pinned the whole strip, stitch near the left edge, near the right edge, and right beside the center line. Work your sewing machine in the direction down over the pleats, not in the direction against them.

Then do the same thing over again, but in the other direction: Each new pleat should meet with another in the other direction. When you are done folding and pinning the pleats, each box pleat should be ½" wide. This time you should also sew three seams, over your previous seams: at the left side, at the right side and right next to the center line, but in the other direction.

Once you have sewn it all together, you are not quite done yet:
There is only one seam down the middle, just a little bit off the center-line. Now make a new seam alongside the center-line, but on the opposite side of it from the previous seam. After you have done this, then you can cut the two pleated strips apart.

Front closure

It might be easier to complete the front closure at this step, before the front panels are attached to the rest of the costume.
There is an outer bib (wearer's left) and an inner bib (wearer's right) that overlap. Each bib is 1 1/4" wide (3 cm).

If you use only velcro and no zipper:
Glue the pieces of velcro on (helps them sit still) and then top-stitch them on. Then fold each bib over itself and top-stitch it closed 1 1/4" from the edge.

If you use a zipper:
Close the zipper and stitch the zipper and velcro to the outer bib first. Then top-stitch the outer bib closed 1/4" from the edge. Then pin the closed zipper (with the left panel attached) to the inner bib/right panel. Then open the zipper and stitch it to the inner bib. Stitch the inner top square of velcro to the inner bib last.

There will also be a seam top-stitched 1/4" from the edge, but we will do it later.

Putting the jacket together

1. Stitch the sleeve pieces to the side panels. ( × 4)
Always start at the armpit.
2. Stitch the front-side panels to each corresponding front panel and the rear-side panels to the back panel.
For each regular seam, turn over, iron and top-stitch 1/4" (6 mm) from the first.
3. Attach the pleated ribs to the back panel. ( × 2)
Start pinning at the neckline and continue down each shoulder and sleeve.
First a regular stitch, then turn around and top-stitch.
4. Attach the pleated ribs to the front panels ( × 2).
On each side, align the double-top-stitched seam joining the back/back-side panels against its corresponding seam that is joining the front/front-side panels.
Start pinning from these points. Make sure that the finished strips become 3 inches (7 ½ cm) wide.
Then seam double-top-stitched seams similiarly to before.

Now, you should have something that looks like this:

5. On each side, pin starting at the armpits down each side and along each sleeve and stitch it together.

Last adjustments

Now the jacket is finished enough so that you can try it on. It is also the time to decide the exact location of the chest badge and its pocket. The pocket will be sewn onto the outside of the left chest panel. The best location depends on how large you are, how large you have made the jacket, and how large your flak vest is.
Many fan-made flak vests are wider than the original vests and and one size does not fit everyone the same way. There is no point in wearing a chest badge if it is totally obscured by the flak vest.

Put on your flight suit, your half-finished jacket and your flak vest. Adjust the flak vest so that it fits snugly.

Wear your now half-finished jacket with your flak vest on top and look yourself in the mirror. Decide how much you should shorten your sleeves and the lower hem.

Then place the badge where you think it looks best. The badge should be partially obscured, peeking out from underneath the flak vest. At least one of the four square buttons should be visible. In most pictures of Luke Skywalker in his Hoth pilot outfit, you can see three buttons, but not the fourth. Mark the position with a pencil or with some tape.


If you have chosen to line the jacket, now is also the time to attach the lining.

Fold and hem each sleeve. Fold and pin the bottom hem. Then place your sewing machine needle at the top of the front closure (left or right does not matter), 1/4" from the edge and top-stitch down towards the bottom, around near the lower edge and up again to the top on the other side.

Chest pocket

Fold the inner flaps inwards, iron them and then top-stitch around the window's edge. You can also use fabric glue to help hold the flaps folded in.

Similiarly to how you made the inner edges, fold the outside flaps inwards. Use fabric glue if you have to. Top-stitch the top edge for the pocket's opening. Then position the pocket straight onto the jacket and stitch it on.


Cut the sheet of batting from the same pattern that you cut the fabric pieces from.

To prevent the batting from escaping from inside the pointy tips, you could first stitch the batting near the tips to small swatches of fabric and then stitch the swatches to the collar's lower half. There are seams on the underside of the collar near the tips on the screen-used costumes and I can only speculate that this is what they are for.
Stitch the outer seam, joining the two halves around the outer rim.
Then turn inside-out so that the batting and the seams are on the inside and stitch the collar closed around the inner rim.
Add a loop at this step if you want one for hanging up the jacket.

Cut away excess from the pleats at the neck, and pin the collar to the jacket, starting at each tip and the middle of the neck. The two points should not meet - the bib should be in-between them. Then stitch it on.

Congratulations! Your jacket is finished.
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