Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

Character Name: Katniss Everdeen
Series: The Hunger Games
Specifics: first parade outfit as described in the novel
Cost: $100
Time: 1 week
Started: May 2012
Completed: May 2012
Debuted: Anime North 2012


The description of the costume from the novel:
I am dressed in what will either be the most sensational or the deadliest costume in the opening ceremonies. I'm in a simple black unitard that covers me from ankle to neck. Shiny leather boots lace up to my knees. But it's the fluttering cape made of streams of orange, yellow, and red and the matching headpiece that define this costume. Cinna plans to light them on fire just before our chariot rolls into the streets. [...] My face is relatively free of makeup, just a bit of highlighting here and there. My hair has been brushed out and then braided down my back in my usual style.


Thanks to Elemental for the photos and for making the cape look like it was on fire. Also, a big thanks to Becky and Adrien for helping out with the night-time photoshoot.

Costume Information

I'm not sure where to begin explaining this one... maybe I should begin this explanation in early 2012 when there was a lot of hype about the upcoming Hunger Games film. I didn't know anything about The Hunger Games expect that it was based on a book and that Jennifer Lawrence (who I know from X-men First Class) was playing the main character.

Then I happened upon a piece of fanart on DA that caught my eye because the female character in it was a woman of colour and she looked a little bit like me. To my surprise, it turned out to be Hunger Games fanart and the character in question was Katniss. I knew she was cast in the film with a white actress, so this threw me. A quick search on DA at the time for "Katniss" brought up page after page of fanart of Katniss portrayed with darker skin. Intrigued, I ended up spending weeks learning about The Hunger Games books. I found out that Katniss was described in the book as having olive skin and long dark hair. I learned about the white-washing of the film casting. I looked up more fanart.

Do you know the last time I ran into a female protagonist described as having olive skin and dark hair? Never. I know this because I've been searching for such a protagonist my entire life. I really don't know how to describe it, but when characters in popular culture don't ever look anything like you, it can do something to your head. It can make you feel like you never belong. It can make you long for characters that look like you. It can make your heart ache.

So finding Katniss meant a lot to me. I cried in relief and joy because it meant that much.

To be honest, when I read the books, I didn't imagine Katniss looking that much like me, but she could look like me, and that's huge.

And I knew I wanted to cosplay her. Cosplaying can be a way to show how much a character means to you, and as a cosplayer, cosplaying Katniss is a way I can show my appreciation for the character. Also, I wanted to cosplay her because of what she represents in the books: a spark, fire, hope, determination.

Before I read the books, I encountered a description of her parade costume in the first book and fell in love with it. Then I actually read the book and decided I really wanted to make it.

I ignored the film's interpretation of the costume and decided to create what I imagined in my head. I bought a black unitard and made a cape, a headpiece and some accessories.

The cape was made of strips of red, orange, and yellow organza. I spent two days carefully burning all the outside edges of the organza with a candle. This gave the strips of fabric a unique texture and made them look less like ribbons or streamers. Plus, because I burned the fabric, this costume was literally on fire. I feel that's fitting considering that Katniss is the girl on fire. ;)

The strips of fabric that comprise the cape are anchored into a black shoulder piece that snaps onto the unitard. The shoulder piece was made of multiple layers of polar fleece (for thickness) and black satin. I stitched some top-stitching into it with a machine, but much of the shoulder piece was sewn by hand.

The armbands and belt were made in a similar fashion and also snap into the unitard. I added them to the costume because I felt that the unitard and cape seemed to be lacking something on their own. I was originally going to make the accessories gold, but I didn't want to stray too far from the original description in the book so I went for black, which is more subtle against the black unitard.

I made the headpiece in a similar fashion to how I made the cape. I attached strips of carefully burned organza to a piece I made of satin and fleece. I sewed this to a black headband I wear along the back of my head.

The lace-up black boots are ones I already owned. Although it's technically "inaccurate", I wore a mockingjay pin with this outfit because I wanted to.

I really like my simplistic interpretation of this costume and it's super fun to wear. Only a few people recognise me when I wear it, but those who do get really excited. Plus, there's the fact that I get to cosplay Katniss, and that itself evokes within me a feeling so profound I'm not sure I can put it into words.

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