Rey’s head wrap is an iconic piece of her scavenger costume. According to the producers of The Force Awakens, Rey was deliberately first shown on screen wearing this piece to hide her identity and invoke a sense of mystery and uncertainty about her character! Read on to learn how to make your own amazing head wrap, for your Rey scavenger costume, in a few easy steps!
I started by purchasing this hand-woven natural fabric from Dharma Trading. This is a lightweight natural cotton fabric, that appears to be very similar to the screen used fabric for Rey’s head wrap. To create my headwrap I used approximately 4 yards of fabric, but I would suggest purchasing 5 to 6 yards, based on your body size, and to allow for errors.
Alternatively, Joann Fabric stores carry a Heavy Gauze Natural Fabric in their Yaya Han Cosplay fabrics line, which is very similar to the Dharma fabric I used.
The natural fabric needs to be washed first, as it will shrink significantly and after washing the weave will tighten to create an amazing texture. I washed my fabric in cold water on gentle cycle and laid it flat to dry.
Rey’s head wrap used in The Force Awakens was the shape of a long sleeve shirt. To create my headwrap I used the full width of the fabric, (about 39 inches after shrinkage from washing), as the height of my “shirt”, so the selvage of the fabric became the top for the head opening. I cut a piece of the fabric approximately 54 inches wide. This was the measurement across my shoulders between my upper arms (17″) plus an additional 10 inches, then multiplied by 2. So 17″ shoulder width plus 10″ extra, for 27″, times 2 for a total of 54″.
The width needed will vary depending on the size of your shoulders and arms as well as your upper body shape. When folded over, this piece creates the body of the long sleeve shirt. Since I didn’t want my headwrap to be too bulky around the head and neck area, I removed the fabric on each side of the upper half of my “shirt”, in a curved shape.
Next, I made 2 “sleeves” for my shirt by cutting 2 pieces of fabric 12″ inches wide, and the 39″ width of the fabric. I stitched down the length of each sleeve and pulled them inside out. I used taupe colored thread to match the final color I would be dying my head wrap. I also added some small strips on the end of the sleeves to tie them in place when wrapped around my head. Then I assembled my “shirt” by sewing the sleeves on at the top sides and sewing down the sides of the shirt. When sewing across the top, I left about 10 inches unstitched in the center, to create the head opening of the shirt, which becomes the face opening of the headwrap.
I found that adding a piece of elastic to the lower edge of the opening makes it easier to keep the flap in position when underneath my goggles. I cut a piece of 1/4″ elastic from an old bed sheet, laid it on the flap edge, folded the edge over the elastic, and stitched it in place as I pulled the elastic tight. Elastic can be purchased at Wal-Mart, or any fabric store, if you don’t have any on hand.
Once the assembly of my head wrap “shirt” was complete, it needed to be dyed. I created a dye bath of 5 quarts water, 1/4 ounce of Rit Taupe Dye, and 1/8 ounce of Rit Pearl Gray Dye, put my headwrap in for 3 minutes, then rinsed it and let it dry. You will need to adjust the dye formula, based on your specific costume colors, but the head wrap should be approximately the same color as the wrap dress.
With my head wrap dyed to the correct color, the bottom needed to be shaped and the frayed edge still needed to be added. Rey’s headwrap falls around her mid chest area, with some extra that lays below the shoulders. I tried on my head wrap, put on my scavenger backpack, and with a helper, slowly trimmed the bottom with scissors, until I was happy with the overall shape.
To wear the headwrap, you put it over your head like a shirt, but instead of putting your head through the opening, you just align it on your face, so you can see though the opening. You pull and twist one arm into a thick rope and wrap it around the back of your head and across your forehead, continuing to twist as you wrap. Then repeat the process with the other arm, wrapping first toward the back of your head, then crossing over the first arm at your forehead, and tucking or tying off the end of the arms around themself.
I ended up trimming off about 12 inches of fabric from the bottom, but this will vary depending on your size. If your backpack is not complete yet, remember that the backpack straps will bunch up the shoulder area of the headwrap, so leave a little extra length to allow for that. To create the fraying, I pulled the threads all along the trimmed edge. It’s important to do this after the fabric has been dyed, to prevent the material from unravelling during the dyeing process.
Since Rey’s headwrap is dirty from scavenging on Jakku, I mixed some acrylic paint in greys, brown and sand colors, added a little fabric medium and applied it by blotting the fabric with a paper towel. I also dry brushed paint around the frayed edge and face opening of my headwrap.
Compared to some of the other parts of the Rey costume, the headwrap was relatively easy to create. You don’t need expert sewing skills, just access to a sewing machine. And it really takes the Rey costume to the next level. I was initially concerned that the headwrap would be too hot and uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. However, the fabric used was very lightweight and breathable so it was manageable, even in the Florida heat.
I’ve really enjoyed cosplaying as Rey and am especially grateful for the opportunity to wear the Rey costume at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando this year, but I’m also excited to be working on some new costumes. So check back soon to see what we have in store!
Tools and Materials:
5 yards handwoven cotton natural fabric
Rit Pearl Gray and Taupe liquid dyes
10″ piece of 1/4″ elastic
Brown, beige and gray acrylic paints
Small paint brush