Have you ever wanted to make your own Fullmetal Alchemist military uniform? I will detail exactly how I made my own from scratch. I will prove that you don't need a lot of experience (this is actually the first thing I've ever sewn by myself) and you also don't need fancy things like commercial patterns and dressforms. I drafted all the patterns myself so if you are attempting to make your own make sure to get your measurements correct. First off I want to thank AndSewingisHalftheBattle for all the info they had on how to make the uniform. I used it as a guide and made a few adjustments and improvements along the way.
Jacket - the jacket will give you the most trouble by far. It's quite boxy in shape and has an overlapping front panel that had a fold down rectangle. There are two epaulets, one on each shoulder. The cuffs fold up and have a V-shaped slit in them.
Pants - fairly regular looking slacks except that they appear to be a bit wider at the bottom where they tuck into the boots.
Butt cape - this is what everyone else calls the thing that wraps around the waist and goes all the way down to the shins. Open on the front and the back has a long slit running from the bottom up to about 1/3 of the way down from the top.
Boots - there's some debate on what type of boots they wear. All the source images I found showed the boots as being totally smooth meaning there are no laces.
White gloves - not much to say here. Find white cotton gloves that fit, nothing fancy.
I have a link to the PDF file of the pattern I drafted so make sure to check out that file. Just scroll down a bit to find it.
- Royal Blue Bottomweight Canvas from Jo-Ann Fabrics
- Shadow colored extra wide double fold bias tape (Wright's) - I used 3 packages
- gray cotton/poly fabric from Wal-Mart - half a yard is plenty
- heavy and medium weight interfacing
- Gold cord from Jo-Ann
- Various buttons
- 6 star buttons for the epaulet
- 4 gold circular buttons, two for the epaulet and two for the front rectangular flap
- 2 large flat grey/silver buttons for the waist
- 2 small grey/silver buttons for the front of the butt cape, sits in the square
- White gloves from Walgreens
- Black boots from the thrift store
- ribbon from Walmart
- need green, white, yellow, red
- plastic from a yogurt container
- aluminum can
- safety pins for the backs of the pins
- hot glue gun with hot glue sticks
- *wig for those who do not have hair similar to whichever character you're cosplaying as
Total cost: ~$70
I went with the bottomweight canvas because it's got some weight to it. Military uniforms tend to be nice and crisp so you need to get interfacing for a few areas which I'll talk more about later.
One of the things you may be wondering at this point is "how much fabric do I need?" I bought 8 yards of the royal blue fabric but I ended up using just over 5 yards of it. I'm about 5' 5" so for most people 6 yards should be enough. A word of caution though - always err on the side of buying more since you don't want to be working on this the night before a convention only to find you ran out of fabric and the fabric store is closed. Also, if you want to save money sign up for Jo-Ann's e-mail list since they frequently have print out coupons. You should never buy anything there without at least a 40% off coupon.
I used bias tape for all the trim on the uniform but I had a hard time matching the gray of the bias tape with fabric that I needed for the belt part of the butt cape. I've seen some people make all the bias tape themselves which would make it a lot easier when trying to match all the trim color. I don't have the tools for making my own bias tape so that's why I had to find separate fabric for the other areas where I needed wider lengths of fabric.
At this point I want to discuss the colors for the uniform. I'm basing the costume on the art from the manga which FMA Brotherhood follows so you can use either one for sources. The color of the uniform is generally considered a royal blue and the trim is gray, not silver. Boots are black, gloves are white. You're free to pick a different shade of blue but it's always good to take a picture of the fabric before buying since you want the cosplay to photograph well in addition to looking awesome in person.
Drafting the patterns
I have a math minor but anyone who's done any amount of sewing will know that having a math degree is a totally moot point and does not make you a better seamster/seamstress. It does help to be able to visualize things in your head if you're planning on drafting the pattern. There is another method called draping in which you literally drape fabric over a dressform or dummy that's about the same shape as you and then make your patterns that way. As an engineer it's more intuitive for me to plan everything out before proceeding so drafting is the method I used. No matter which method you use, it's generally a good idea to use muslin to make a prototype since it's pretty cheap. I skipped this step so I guess it's not totally necessary.
Here's a link to the FMA Uniform Pattern I drew up in Illustrator.
I didn't include pants because they're not that difficult and it's easier for you to find a pair of your own pants to base it on. Please note that all of the measurements I provided are for myself. I'm 5' 5" and weigh 135 lbs. so those measurements will obviously not work for everyone. It should serve as a very good starting point for anyone that's planning on making this. I haven't included any seam allowances in that file.
I found a really good site for drafting sleeves (apparently this link is now dead but I'm sure this information shouldn't be too difficult to find).
Always prewash your fabric. This prevents things from getting warped if it shrinks during washing. One thing most people say is to not let it dry in the dryer. I tossed it in there for a bit but took it out when it was still damp and let it air dry.
This is what 8 yards of fabric rolled out looks like.
I taped a bunch of pieces of paper together to draw up the pattern.
I drew out all the patterns on paper first and then after I had everything measured out I transferred them to the fabric using chalk. I used a few different methods for areas that were not just straight lines. The most complicated method was used on the sleeve caps which involved measuring out different distances and then drawing a series of arcs. The collar area was drawn using a traced outline of a collar from one of my shirts. The curve for the sleeve opening was free handed (not a recommended method).
One important thing to keep in mind is that when you transfer your pattern, draw in seam allowances that are the same all the way around to ensure the final thing comes out nice and neat. I believe standard seam allowance is 5/8 in. You can also make V-shaped cuts to help with lining up two pieces that need to be joined. Much of this information can be found in other sources so I won't go into too much detail here.
The pants seemed pretty easy so I started with the pants. I turned a pair of my khakis inside out and studied it very carefully. I used the khakis as my model for making the pattern. What I basically did is tape a bunch of pieces of paper together, lay the pair of khakis on top and traced as close I could for the front and back of the leg. You need one pattern for the front and one for the back of the leg. Since the two legs should be made the same, you can use the pattern for both legs. That means in total you will need two fronts and two backs totaling four pieces of fabric when cut out.
A couple of things to point out for the pants: there is a high waistband on the pants and the bottom is flared out to make it seem fuller when being tucked into the boots. I don't believe that there is any sort of clasp or button for the top of the waistband in the reference images so that's how I made it.
The fabric is folded in half at this point so I can trace once to cut out two pieces. I pinned the two layers together so they wouldn't shift when I cut them out. Make sure to use sharp scissors (one of the most important tools when doing textile work).
Of course you should do all the sewing on the inside and then flip it inside out.
I didn't really take many pictures of the sewing process of the pants since it's pretty straight forward. Just sew along a straight line. I think the most tricky part was the zipper since I've never done it before. I don't have much advice other than to do some research (there's probably some good videos out there).
Here in this image of the front of the pants you can see that I flared out the pants toward the bottom for where it would tuck into the boots.
Just a view from the back.
Trying to show that I put a pocket in the back right so I can keep my wallet there.
I used a pair of boxers for the pockets. The material for boxers is very similar to what's actually used to line the pockets of the khakis I had. I just studied the khakis thoroughly to come up with a way to make the pockets.
This is probably the easiest part of the uniform since it's just two trapezoids stitched together with another rectangle of fabric on top. Draft the butt cape such that it's longer in the bottom compared to the top. This is called an "A-line" and is supposed to be more flattering for the figure.
The fabric is still folded in half and I used the same method where I pinned the two layers together along where I need to cut to make sure the fabric doesn't shift around too much when cutting it.
The trapezoids cut out.
This is what it looks like sitting next to each other. I don't really have another image because there's not that much to show. I sewed the two panels for each half together such that I had a left and right half that was each 2 layers of fabric thick. I then added bias tape all the way around (except for at the top and a bit down the middle where the two halves would come together anyways). After that I just stitched the two halves together.
The original fabric I was going to use for the belt part was a satin fabric that was silver but I ended up going with some other gray cotton fabric since it's easier to work with.
This is the cotton fabric that I ended up using. The color looks a bit weird in this picture but it's gray.
I didn't have access to my sewing machine for the belt part so I had to do it by hand. It's really easy if you have a machine. I added some medium weight interfacing so the belt would stay flatter. The belt should start at one side of the waist, go all the way around and overlap across most of the front. The placement of the two buttons in the front should be lined up as much as possible with the edge of the butt cape in the front where it goes down. There is also a thicker line of trim that goes down the front and ends with a square that also has a button. There is a triangle in the back with the base of the triangle on top and the tip touching where the butt cape begins to split. You can see the triangle in this image of the butt cape from the back.
By far the toughest part of the entire project. It's shaped like a box so it doesn't need to be that tight towards the bottom. It only goes down to just past the belly button and should not go down to the hips. The left panel folds over the right. The left panel goes diagonally across the front with a rectangle that folds down in the front. Roy Mustang wears a white dress shirt underneath.
The sleeves being drafted. The left side shows the base lines that I used to draw the curves that would be the final pattern on the right.
The two patterns on the top are for the back of the jacket.
This shows the front left panel chalked onto the fabric. I had to draw the collar and sleeve area over a few times.
It's hard to see but I have the pattern traced onto the interfacing here. This is the medium weight interfacing which I used on the entire front of the jacket. No interfacing on the back.
Interfacing cut out. I used fusible interfacing which means that you can iron it on. I interfaced the layer of fabric that would be closest to the body when worn. This means that in order from closest to the body would be: fabric, interfacing, gap, fabric. This way it will look more natural when worn. If you have interfacing directly on the layer that's seen on the outside it will appear very stiff and unnatural.
Inside view of the back of the jacket.
Inside view of the front of the jacket.
Inside view of the front of the jacket with the left panel folded down.
Outside view of the back of the jacket.
Outside view of the front of the jacket.
I didn't show the pieces being sewn together since it's just straight lines.
I think this was the cuff although now I'm not totally sure why it was cut on the bias.
I was in a rush so there's a lot of step by step pictures missing. I attached the sleeves after much frustration. One of the tricks that someone used online was to sew on the inside of the sleeve cap with the entire sleeve through. It's hard to describe so just look up some videos. Sleeves are quite tricky so just go slow and keep checking where you are. The collar was really straight forward to attach. I used heavy interfacing on both the collar and the cuffs. Everything had bias tape added to the edge (it's easier to add them to the collar and cuffs before attaching to the jacket). You should also sew the epaulet into the seam between the jacket and the sleeve when you're sewing the sleeve on since it's easier than trying to sew it on later. If you're going to be a Colonel make sure you have 3 stars and a round button at the end. I saw a few people that had incorrect rank information.
Speaking of rank information, Roy Mustang has two collar pins on the right collar and a bar of ribbons that sits on his left breast. His right side has the cord that wraps around his shoulder (going under the epaulet) and connects to another length of cord by a T connector sitting under his arm. This connects to a piece of metal that loops into a ring on his right chest.
I made all the collar pins myself out of an aluminum can using this tutorial I found on "Drink Can Tinwork." The tutorial shows a small decorative box being made but it was a perfect method for making the collar pins. I actually saw the tutorial just days before the convention.
A regular soft drink can. I grabbed this from the recycling bin at school so it was totally free.
Cut the top and bottom off.
After cutting down the side you now have a flat piece of aluminum.
I found a good image of the design on the pin and drew it out on a piece of paper. I then lay the paper directly over the aluminum and traced down really hard. Make sure you have something underneath so you don't ruin the table (I used a piece of cardboard from a cereal box). If you trace hard enough you can remove the paper and just trace over the design a few more times. Since the entire image is raised, I had to "shade in" everything by using a crosshatching technique where I scribbled in straight lines across the entire design one way, then switched directions and repeated. I did this from a total of 3-4 directions.
The bar pin has a circle with what looks pretty close to a Star of David inside. The right side of the pin is a rectangle that has 9 vertical lines inside.
If you scribe really hard the sheet of aluminum will bend right there, making it easy to just snap it straight across. You can see the hand drawn image that I mentioned earlier.
The finished collar pins. I attached them using hot glue to a safety pin so I could attach them to the collar. The small rectangular pin actually popped off pretty quickly at one point when I accidentally hit it moving my shoulder. I found that one way to attach it is to leave some aluminum that you can fold behind so it forms a channel. This way you can hot glue a flat piece of plastic to the safety pin that will slide into the channel. You can push the top and bottom aluminum tab in the back down so it'll clamp onto the rectangular piece holding the safety pin in. There's a lot of ways you can attach it so just find a method that works for you.
I made the rank bar using ribbon and plastic from a yogurt container. I cut out a piece of plastic and bent it by hand until it would stay relatively flat. I then hot glued sections of ribbon to it. I hot glued one end of the ribbon to the back, wrapped it around the front and then hot glued it again in the back.
All of the ribbon was the same width, 3/8" wide. I used grosgrain ribbon since it's similar to actual military ribbon material. There are four colors - green, white, red, and yellow. Each row is 8 ribbon widths wide.
Top row: 2G, 1W, 2R, 1Y, 2W
Bottom row: 2Y, 2W, 2G, 2R
The back shows that I attached the two rows together using three plastic pieces hot glued to it. This way there is still some flexibility to the entire piece but it holds together pretty well.
A safety pin was also hot glued to the back to allow for attachment to the jacket.
Closeup of the collar pins.
Closeup of the rank badge.
Try to find some that go about halfway up your shin. Don't get military boots since those are usually lace up. I found a pair of black boots for $10 at the local thrift store.
Use white cotton gloves. There are some gloves out there that are fancy and have ribbed ares running on the back of the hand. Don't get those since Roy Mustang's gloves are flat and smooth on the back. The Alchemy symbol on the back of the glove is the Alchemy circle that was passed down to him by his mentor, Riza's father. There's a lot of images out there of what the circle on his glove looks like.
A picture of me testing everything out.
If you have any questions on anything feel free to ask. That way I can add more information to this if necessary. I might also be able to provide more images if anyone needs a more detailed view of something.