Zelda’s Tabard Sewing Guide

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Here’s a detailed look at what went into making Zelda’s tabard for my Twilight Princess costume. There are plenty of other ways to approach this project, but this is my take on the design! 

My pattern for this tabard is available in my shop! If you’re working on your own Zelda cosplay, check it out and save yourself some time. 

I decided to work with leather and silk, which are some of my favorite materials. The purple, gold, and green are all pigskin leather, while the blue is silk dupioni. My supplies come from Silk Baron and Hide House.

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Although I started with plain light blue silk (in the color “windswept”) I needed to apply a gradient leading into a darker blue. I did this with regular RIT dye, dipping continuously between a dye pot and clean water to create an ombre effect. I found that a low concentration of dye allowed me more control over how much pigment the fabric would absorb. I made several attempts before I ended up with the more subtle effect I was going for (far right in the above image). Trial and error is all a part of the process.

My tabard layers were assembled in this order:

  • a backing layer of white vinyl (to prevent any colors from rubbing off on the white dress below)

  • blue ombre silk background

  • green suede background (solid underneath the gold designs)

  • gold applique/binding

  • green suede binding

  • purple applique design

  • the brass Triforce

All of the fabric/leather layers were held in place with basting spray and/or a fabric glue stick, which are both designed to temporarily hold fabric in place while you stitch it. This prevents the applique from shifting around, and it’s especially useful for materials you can’t put pins through, like leather.

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The gold applique presented the biggest challenge. It is depicted as continuous – simultaneously a border and a complex inset design – with no seams from top to bottom. To accomplish this, I added a seam allowance around the border portion so that it could wrap around the body of the tabard like a binding. I treated the rest of the gold piece as a normal leather applique, top-stitching the edges. 

The pattern in my store contains two versions of the gold piece – both with and without the border seam allowance – to accommodate other methods or materials you might choose instead.

Unlike the gold, the green binding is separate from the green background piece. I cut the green binding flush against the gold where they meet. 

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Wonderclips (the little red clips) are another excellent tool for sewing leather. They are a great substitute for fabric pins because they do not make holes in the material and they create less distortion as you feed your fabric through a sewing machine.

The finishing touch on this tabard is a decorative Triforce shape. I decided to use brass for this instead of leather so that it would stand out from everything else. It’s also a warmer gold than the applique/border color, which is consistent with the reference image.

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My Triforce is made up of three triangular brass stampings I found on Etsy. I used a small jewelry hole punch to make holes at each corner, then riveted them through all layers of the tabard with tiny jewelry rivets. 

Finally, my finished tabard vs the design it is based on:

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Ultimately, this was my favorite piece to make out of the entire Zelda costume. Although topstitching everything neatly was rather tedious, I absolutely love the final look.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your cosplay sewing!