Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Making of my Big Sister cosplay (Bioshock 2) - part 1

Hello everyone,
Last weekend was Ropecon, the biggest role playing convention in Finland. Last year I went dressed up as Margaery Tyrell. This year I had a rather ambitious idea of making a Big Sister costume.

You know, Big Sister from Bioshock 2?

This gal here.

(Next time, I should probably get these kinds of ideas a bit earlier, and not like three weeks before the convention? Yeah, just a note to myself.)

There are several distinct pieces that make the Big Sister costume. There's the helmet, the chest plate + shoulder plates, an oxygen tank and an adjoined basket for a Little Sister; and the arm piece(s), like a harpoon style weapon or a sharp needle-like stinger. I left out the leg braces because of time and material restraints, but those are another piece in this elaborate costume. And that was just the props - then there's also the dirty white bodysuit under the brown leather leg pieces and corset-like top, some brown shorts, boots and gloves etc.


(Click on images for a bigger version.)

At first it felt overwhelming to embark on this cosplay mission and I wasn't sure where to begin, so I simply made a pair of ivory leggings and a long-sleeve t-shirt for the undergarments. It's actually supposed to be a full bodysuit, but the shorts hide the fact that the undersuit is two separate pieces and as someone who's spent some time in cosplay costumes before, I knew that a two-piece undergarment was going to be a lifesaver right at that point when I needed to go to the bathroom.

So two pieces it was.

I tossed these two pieces together rather quickly with my serger, as they were not going to be that visible so they did not need to be exactly pretty. I bought the fabric from a local fabric store for like 10 euros.

I also bought a brown pair of pants and a men's fake leather coat from a secondhand shop for 11 euros. The small bags on the pants in the photo below are buckles from a craft store, they were pretty expensive (around 20 euros altogether) but I couldn't find any other place that stocked the amounts I needed of the same style buckle, and the time restraints didn't allow ordering them online (hence, next time I'll have to start brainstorming my cosplay earlier!)

I cut the pants into shorts and hemmed them, and set the pant legs aside for later use.

I sliced up the fake leather coat. I used the bottom front hem for the front pieces of my waist corset. I cut long strips and folded them in half to use as the straps. I sewed buckles on the straps on the other side and pieced the whole thing together.

I tested on what I had so far...

...and realized that none of this would be any good if I didn't have the prop armor and the helmet.

So I set out to make these next.

I started with the helmet - I covered a beach ball in paper mache (3 layers, allowing each layer to dry before starting the next) and two layers of plaster gauze. I copied this method from this helpful YouTube video.

I used two packages of plaster gauze (29 euros altogether). So as you can see, the costs pile up quickly with this kind of project. Luckily I could afford it at this time, but it's not every day I can (or want to!) toss this kind of money towards crafting.

Next, I cut out the holes where the red light shines through: one big window at the front, one "medium" sized at the side and two small ones rather low near the bottom, spaced evenly below the main window.

I made the edges of the two bigger windows from craft foam. Altogether this project swallowed up something like 25 pieces of A4 sized craft foam sheets (one sheet cost 90 cents, so ~22 euros).

I made the covers for the smaller windows from craft foam (for the medium window) and some emptied-up serger thread cones (for the two small ones - I simply cut the wider parts at the bottoms of the serger thread cones and used those!). I used googly eyes as rivets (because they're cheap and function well as rivets when painted over :D). The googly eyes cost about 2 euros for the entire project. (Also, I used a hot glue gun for most of this project, and while the gun itself was a cheap investment, it was the hot glue sticks that I seemingly needed an endless supply of - and like most craft materials in Finland, they're fairly expensive...)

I purchased some red see-through office dividers for the "window glass" (you can see some of it in the above photo). This, and the idea to use googly eyes and much more I found in this other helpful YouTube video.

The magnifying glass type of piece in the lower right corner of the picture was made of some old jar lids and a bottom of a see-through plastic jar, all covered in craft foam.

Next, I glued this piece onto the helmet, and cut up strips of craft foam that ran from that point to the main window. I glued some secondhand plastic hose (2 euros) around the main window and the craft foam ridges and the "magnifying glass piece" (I'm coming up with imaginative names because I don't know what they actually are).

I also cut the main window frame from craft foam and marked places for googly eyes.

I didn't attach this or the other window frames yet, because they would be brass/copper color and the helmet would be more like dull silver.

Next, I decided where I wanted the raised plates to be on the helmet, and glued craft foam on it. I just did what looked good, there wasn't any real plan for this stage and the Sister helmets are slightly different from one another anyway. Where I didn't put craft foam, I smoothed the surface with some putty filler (acrylic kind, because it was cheap, like 2 euros...). I used the putty filler because I didn't want the surface to look like strips of gauze, which it did thanks to the plaster gauze. I then glued some purple jump rope (4 euros) around the edges of the craft foam plates. Lastly I glued a strip off of a sleeping pad around the neck hole as a "ring" to which the chest plate piece attaches later on.


With the jump rope and neck "ring" in place the helmet base was done. Time for paint!

I covered the window on the top of the helmet with masking tape to keep it paint-free, and I spray painted the entire head silver.



I think this is a good point to end this post. In the next part I'll talk about making the rest of the pieces, adding lights and sound effects, and weathering all the pieces to make them look less shiny and more worn. Click here for part 2!

Satu / Sew Scoundrel


  1. Ive been looking for a tutorial to use to make my fiancees (hes a tiny man so he can pull off the big daddy so hes going as a big sister) cosplay for quite a few months so i really appreciate this one. Hes a procrastinator and weve got a few weeks before the con. Im done with my little sister cosplay and now im working on his. Ill try to get back to you with pictures of us at the convention :)

    1. Good luck with your project, and I would love to see photos of the results! :)

  2. Thank you so much for putting up this tutorial, I have been looking for a good one for a while now. I will be making the helm and chest piece for an Eleanor Lamb cosplay

    1. Hi, I'm glad you find my tutorial helpful and good luck with your project!

  3. Hey! realmente muchas gracias por compartir tu proceso,me ayudara mucho,ahora tengo una idea de como hacerlo!!! <3