Interview With Fan-Made ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Costume Maker

Melanie Poston - Star Trek Discovery Costume

People Are Already Cosplaying ‘Star Trek Discovery’

Costume maker Melanie Poston recently began showing up on social media sites when she appeared at the Denver Comic Con in the Star Trek Discovery costume she made.  She even caught the eye of some Discovery cast, including Anthony Rapp who took to Twitter.  “Wow[!]  Cosplay already and my nerd cosplay-loving soul is exploding with pride and joy” he said.

Popularity of cosplay at science fiction conventions has been increasing.  With a new Star Trek on the horizon, we thought fans would like to hear from an enthusiast about the process she went through to create her uniform.

Interview With Melanie Poston Earlier This Week

Melanie Poston cosplaying as Starfleet captain in Star Trek Discovery
Melanie Poston cosplaying as Starfleet captain in Star Trek Discovery

We caught up with Poston early this week to ask her about her Discovery Starfleet costume.

NCC-1031: Will you share with us how much time it took to make your costume?

Melanie Poston: It took about 15 hours on and off over the course of around two weeks.

NCC-1031: You’ve even gone as far as detailing in the Starfleet chevron/insignia into the costume, just like the real costumes. How many were there in total? How did you make them and what are they made out of?

MP: There are about 130 chevrons, and I cut them out of gold foil iron-on paper by hand. (see a few answers below for more details)

A few of the chevrons that Poston cut
A few of the chevrons that Poston cut

NCC-1031: If you were to make another costume, would you do anything differently the second time around?

MP: Absolutely. For this costume, I was not aiming for screen accuracy; rather, I wanted to capture the overall form and emphasize the most recognizable and stylistically interesting elements of the uniform. If I were to do it again, I would want to make a screen accurate uniform. That would involve many, many more small chevrons (probably laser cut), as well as several other smaller details that I did not replicate accurately.

NCC-1031: What reference materials did you use as a basis?

Poston sketched her Star Trek Discovery Starfleet uniform costume before getting started
Poston sketched her Star Trek Discovery Starfleet uniform costume before getting started

MP: I watched the trailer about a hundred times and took as many screenshots of the uniform from as many different angles as possible. I think the worst part of making a costume from a series that isn’t actually out yet is the lack of reliable reference material, but it did give me the opportunity to do a little creative problem-solving that was pretty fun.

NCC-1031: Are you able to describe the process you went through for each component in as much or as little detail as you wish?

MP: To create the costume, I started with about six yards of navy ponte knit fabric from JoAnn‘s. Ponte is great because it’s durable, stable, and resists wrinkles pretty well – great for sticking in a suitcase on the way to a convention! It’s also not super expensive, especially when using a coupon, so I was able to buy extra so I could do a little trial and error without feeling like I might run out.

I used a pattern that I already had on hand (McCall’s M6901) for women’s slacks as the base for the pants. It’s a pretty simple pattern with excellent instructions for tailoring the fit to your body shape. I also made sure the waistband fell right on the smallest part of my waist, which helped me achieve the overall streamlined shape I was going for.

Melanie Poston - Star Trek Discovery Costume
Melanie Poston – Star Trek Discovery Costume
Poston drafted top by hand
Poston drafted top by hand
Gold Starfleet uniform
Gold Starfleet uniform

I drafted the top by hand with no pattern using a dress form that matches my measurements, so there was some trial and error involved. I actually took a lot of inspiration on the construction of the top from the marching band uniform I wore in college – long sleeves, structured collar, and a streamlined silhouette made the two pretty similar.

I made the gold chevron detailing on the sides with gold foil iron-on paper. I cut out the individual chevrons by hand, placed them in the appropriate locations, and ironed them on about eight at a time. I did this first with the pants, and then with the top, making sure that the edge of the side detailing lined up between the two garments when worn. I actually ironed on the chevrons before adding the sleeves and zipper to the top, just to make it a bit easier to lay flat. I sewed cuffs on the sleeves while they were separate from the rest of the garment.

Poston cut out 130 chevrons
Poston cut out 130 chevrons

After ironing on the chevrons, I started working on the gold stripes that run down the sides of both the top and the pants. I ended up finding a thick gold structured ribbon and embroidering medium thick blue lines down it to mimic the look of having six smaller gold stripes running parallel to each other. I then sewed the finished gold and blue striped ribbons to the garments, slightly overlapping the outer edges of the ironed-on chevrons.

Stripes and Chevrons
Stripes and Chevrons

Next, I embroidered the gold lines on the top of each shoulder and I finally attached the sleeves and installed a zipper all the way down the back of the top. I then used the same technique that I used for the side stripes to create the thinner gold stripes that wrap around the top of the sleeves. I took a thin strip of the remaining gold ribbon and sewed it down the front of the top at a slight diagonal.

I did not finish making the new badge for the uniform, so I ended up just using a simple gold Starfleet insignia pin that I already had on hand. Ultimately, it looked much better (and shinier) than the one I was trying to make, regardless of the inaccuracy. Finally, less than 24 hours before the convention, I realized that I had completely forgotten about the uniform boots, so I ran out to a thrift store and got very lucky to find a pair of boots that were just right!

NCC-1031: What would you estimate it costed you in materials?

MP: I would say I spent less than $100 for the entire costume thanks to some excellent coupons.

NCC-1031: Have you made other Star Trek costumes? If so, which ones?

MP: This is actually the first Star Trek costume I’ve made! I’ve been wanting to cosplay as Major Kira and/or Captain Janeway for a long time, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet. But the second I saw the new uniform in the Discovery trailer, it jumped straight to the top of my list.

NCC-1031: It doesn’t appear your costume is a Captain’s uniform (correct us if wrong). Any reason you didn’t make yourself into a Captain?

 

Melanie Poston - Star Trek Discovery Costume
Melanie Poston – Star Trek Discovery Costume

MP: As far as I could tell, the main difference between a Captain’s uniform and that of another crew member (besides the badges, of course) would be the small gold stripes on the shoulders, which I did include in this costume. However, I didn’t make them as thick as they should be, so they were not very noticeable. It also appears that Command uniforms use gold accents on top of the base blue, while Science and Operations use silver and bronze respectively.

On Who She’d Rather Enlist Under

NCC-1031: Would you rather enlist under Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michell Yeoh) or Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and why?

MP: Wow, this one is tough! It’s hard to say without having seen either character in action yet out side the brief trailer, but I will say that I am very intrigued by what I’ve heard about Commander Burnham so far because of her Vulcan education. I’ve long been fascinated with the Vulcans and their interactions with other species, and I imagine we’ll get to see a lot of that as her backstory unfolds. Ultimately, I am just so excited about all the characters we’ve glimpsed so far and I am thrilled that the protagonist and several other main characters are women of color!

Melanie Poston cosplaying as Starfleet captain in Star Trek Discovery
Melanie Poston cosplaying as Starfleet captain in Star Trek Discovery
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About Cassius Adams

Cassius Adams is the creator of ncc-1031.com and is a content contributor. He has been a Star Trek fan for nearly three decades. Cassius discovered his passion for the franchise early into TNG's run, and nourished that passion throughout DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and the movies. Cassius can be reached by emailing cass@ncc-1031.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @supercass

  • cass ada

    Amazing job on the costume, Melanie!