Tokíra tan uniform - Costume Guide

More reference screencaps of the tan uniform can be found in the photo album. Lostncybr also has some good reference pictures in his album

If you look at the Tokíra uniforms closely, you will see that no two are the same. This does give you a good bit of flexibility in creating a canon costume. The Tokíra seem to use natural fabrics. Cottons, linens, leathers. The uniform has several layers to it. Many of the pieces do not have any real earth equivalent, so forgive the awkward names.

I had never worked with leather before I made this costume. I found it extremely easy to use. It is also much cooler than using faux leather. Mine was made from one large hide of split veg tan leather, 22 sq ft, was enough for me to make all the leather parts of the costume. It was medium weight, or 3-5oz. Any real leather hide is somewhat uneven in thickness. Leather does not need to be finished, and the edges can be left raw. Not only does this save lots of time (no hemming!) but thatís exactly how the Tokíra wear theirs. A very practical race in that regard.

You can find a lot of leather and leather working materials here.

Tandy Leather


Or you can save money by shopping ebay. If you are going with veg tan leather, you can get it here.

Dangerous Threads Ebay Store


Screen used costume!

After my costume was finished, I had the opportunity to see a screen used Tok'ra costume. The leather material they used was not veg tan. It was not tan leather. It was the 'wrong' side of a piece of smooth leather. This also gave it a much more flexible feel than the veg tan, which is thicker than garment leather. If you have never seen the underside of leather, it isn't smooth. It has a grain to it, kind of like suede in that there are 'grains' sticking up, but much coarser and not nearly as even. The actual smooth side of the leather on the underside, was grey, though that probably doesn't make that much difference as long as it's not something bright that will show up. The one thing you want to be aware of here, is that a lot of leather, when dyed, the dye goes all the way through and the 'wrong' side will be the same grey/brown/pick-your-color of the 'right' side. There are some however, that the color looks almost like a coating on the 'right' side, and the 'wrong' side is the natural dark tan. That is what you are looking for.

Here a couple pictures of the screen used costume. You can see the 'strips' that are on the shoulder and side of the costume much better here as well. And we got to see the tanned tripe up close and personal, though we still don't know how to duplicate that feat. See the tutorial for creating faux tripe for an alternative. Please note that the rest of this costume guide describes my costume that was made of veg tan leather, not one made out of the reversed leather that the screen used costume was made out of. My costume was made long before I got to see this screen used version in person. Hopefully one day I'll be able to re-do mine out of the reversed leather.

 %; %



Shirt:


They all wear long sleeved shirts with a Ďmock turtleneckí type of collar that fastens in the back. Some of the collars come up higher than others. They seem to come in various shades of grey and tan, with various fabrics. I made my shirt myself, though you probably could buy a fairly close shirt if you look.

I used Simplicity 4830-view A as the base pattern for the shirt. Keep in mind that this is a jacket pattern, and is designed to go over a couple of layers of clothing, so you will want to make a smaller size than you would normally wear. There are a couple other alterations. I took out the center seam that goes around the middle and used a 12" zipper at the top instead of having the zipper come up the whole way. Leave the pockets in, or modify them, but it is always good to have pockets in your costume. But be aware that putting anything large in the pockets will be very noticable.

Simplicity 4830



Pants:

Some of the Tokíra wear pants under their leather skirt, and some do not. Those who do not appear to have shorts of some form under the skirt. Like the shirts, the pants come in various shades of grey and tan, with various fabrics. This is another piece you can probably buy instead of make if you want to avoid sewing. Don't rely on the pants for your pockets. Remember that the skirt part will make accessing them extremely difficult.



Leg and arm wrappings


The tan uniforms seem to be worn with leg wrappings, whether or not the person is wearing pants underneath. They seem to come up to just below the knee. Some are leather. Some are fabric, generally very bunched up fabric by the time the lacings are in place. The lacings are leather, roughly half an inch wide. The have to be tied fairly tight in order to stay up, and they still come untied sometimes. I tried cutting strips from the veg tan leather, but it kept breaking under the strain of being tied so tight. This is the one area I went with fake leather. For those who want the exact details, I used this ultrasuede tape, 10mm, rust color. I eventually re-did mine so the leg wrappings are held up with velcro, and the ties are just glued into place. A bit more work, and nOt quite as accurate, but they don't have to be constantly re-tied. Ultrasuede tape The arm wrappings are similar, though they appear to be optional. Some of the Tokíra wear them and some do not. Most are about four to six inches long, coming less than half way up arm to the elbow. Though on the back of the hand the are longer, covering part of the back of the hand and forming a loop around the pointer finger.

wrist wrappings
here you can see the finger loop
this one is little more than a bracelet
leather leg wrappings
fabric leg wrappings



And the newer version:


For the wrist wraps I used some leftover pieces of the faux tripe, glued onto leather. I tried to tie them into place, but they would not stay, so I resorted to the velcro method again. Oh well.

 

Shoes:

It is always difficult to get a good look at shoes on the TV screen, where everything focuses on the face. The one good glipse we get of them is in Tokíra part 1, and they actually look like normal rubber sole shoes with leather uppers that you can find at many shoe stores. Some appear to be wearing sandals. Fining a pair of tan leather shoes at a decent price is suprisingly difficult. Here are a few that work great with the costume. They're a bit pricey, but they're the best I could find. For socks I just tea dyed a pair of plain white socks to make them the right color.

Women's Easy Spirit. Very comfortable, choose Sand Nubuck color
Too tall but less much less expensive. Pant legs and leg wrappings can hide a lot
Men's tan suede boot
Men's tan suede shoe

Also a good shoe shot


Leather skirt

The leather is cut fairly uneven. I made mine out of two pieces of leather, rougly trapezoid in shape. I used a simple leather punch, like you can get for adding additional holes to leather belts, to put holes down the diagonal sides, and laced them up with leather lacings from the fabric store. Many of the Tokíra have skirts much more uneven than mine, and some appear to have extra pieces in the front and sometimes in the back, which give it a bit more texture. I may alter mine at some point.





Front/back piece:

The edges on these are completely uneven. The only seams are in the shoulders. Some of them connect at the sides, some of them don't. Those that do, the sides are usually in loose strips. But not always. The back is made of the same leather as the skirt. The front is the infamous tripe. Some of the Tokíra have the tripe going to one shoulder, some to both. Some have it stop at the waist, and some wear it longer so it covers part of the leather skirt. Some wear it in two pieces, one at the top of the chest near the neck, and one covering part of the leather skirt. Some have the normal tan leather in the front and back, with the tripe covering part of the tan leather in the front.

The closest material I have found for sale through normal channels is elephant print cow hide. I tried taking real tripe to a local tanner, and the tripe fell apart in the tanning chemicals. I contacted a person who uses the more natural Native American method of brain tanning, but she said it was beyond her abilities. If anyone sucessfully manages to tan tripe, please let me know. In the meantime, here is an alternative way of making faux tripe out of latex. It looks really close to the real thing, and you don't have to wear any actual tripe.

faux tripe tutorial

You can find elephant print cowhide at the Leather Outlet

vertical strips on the side
Here the tripe is in two pieces. This could be an easy way of doing it if you are working with smaller pieces.
horizontal strips on the side
back view
Here you can see both the tan leather and the tripe in the front
basketweave pattern in the back


And this is how the front and back are connected, at the shoulders. This is the elephant print leather in this picture, instead of the faux tripe.



Belt

As with everything, the belts vary. Some seem to be two colors, a narrower leather belt on top of a wider fabric one. Some of them have an X pattern on the leather section. Some are solid fabric with a braided leather border on top and bottom. Some are grey with three dark brown leather stripes. They fasten in the back, not the front. The first time around I used the leftover fabric from the pants, and more of the veg tan leather, with the underside showing this time so it was darker. I got a normal metal buckle from the fabric store. That didn't last, primarily because of the buckle. Version 2.0 was a solid brown belt which I drilled holes in and made the X pattern on the front. Yes, I used an actual drill. It is much easier than using a leather punch when you are dealing with leather of that thickness.


Some of the Tok'ra wear leather pouches on their belts. Adding this feature can give you a usefull place to keep your camera, wallet, etc. For an easy way to hide the belt buckle, create slits in the pouch for the belt, and have the belt fasten inside it. Alternately, you can attach the pouch on top of the buckle, so the buckle is hidden behind it.

belt with braided edges
belt with 'X' pattern

Shoulder belt

If you are carrying a zatínikíitel, shoulder belt helps hold it up so your belt doesnít hang crooked. I attached the ends of the belt to the zat holster itself, stringing it through the loop in my zat holster. Mine is too light in color, and I am planning on dying it at some point. A store bought belt can work, though I hand braided mine. Just make sure you get a large enough size to wear the belt over your shoulder instead of around your waist. Zatínikítels are worn on the right, and the shoulder belt goes over the left shoulder, though I suppose that would be reversed if you are left handed.

The brown belt in this two-pack would work great as a shoulder belt.
shoulder belt reference pic
 

Shoulder piece


Grey or tan. The border is a lighter color. Most of the shoulder covers are quilted in a square pattern. Some have diagonal lines, apparently overlapping. Some have a basketweave pattern. Most have either a smooth border, or what appears to be more of the tripe. The ones with a basket weave pattern seem to have the braided leather border. The shoulder cover is generally worn on the left shoulder, the same as the shoulder belt. Some Tokíra wear the belt over the shoulder piece, some wear it under. Jacob has to be different, and wears his shoulder piece on the right shoulder. You can get white pre-quilted material at the fabric store, and then tea dye it. Bias tape is an easy way to make the border.

smooth shoulder piece
basketweave shoulder piece
striped shoulder piece
quilted shoulder piece




Zatínikítel and holster

The Tokíra zat holster is a paddle with two loops and a tie to hold the zatínikítel in place. This is one place I departed from canon, so if you are looking for a completely canon costume, donít use zat holster as an example. I patterned mine more after the Tauíri zat holsters. Yet another place where I used the same veg tan leather. I actually have a piece of the thicker elephant print leather in between two layers of veg tan just to make it sturdier. I sewed the front Ďpouchí part on, but the other layers are glued. If you are looking for a good resin zat kit, email me or Private Message me through SG-Command. My screenname is simply 'Tok'ra'.

There are two schools of thought on the color of the zat, and the details have changed slightly over the different Stargate seasons. Sometimes it appears grey, sometimes a brownish-copper. Mine is grey, but if I ever re-do it I will make it brownish-copper. It seems to be the more common of the two, and after seeing my grey zat finished, I decided I like the other way better. Oh well, there's always next time. I have posted a pattern for a zat'nik'tel holster, designed to be made from leather.

Zat'nik'tel holster pattern

Tok'ra zat holsters
Empty Zat Holster
Zat'nik'tel



Some notes on tea dying:

The best tea to use for dying is Earl Grey. The more Orange Pekoe is in the tea you use, the more orange the dye will look, especially over time. The general rule is four teabags per gallon for a slightly yellowed 'antique' look. I used double that in order to get a darker color. It should go without saying, but take the tea bags out before putting the fabric in. If there are any stray tea leaves in the dye bath they will leave darker marks on the material. It takes 20-60 minutes for the fabric to be completely saturated. Stir frequently, constantly if possible. The longer you leave it in, the darker the color will be. Remember that the color will look lighter dry than it does wet. Once the color is correct, add vinegar-half a cup per gallon (if you can stand the smell) or alum, which can be found in the drug store, to the dye and let the article soak for another five minutes. This will set the dye and reduce fading.


Some notes on working with leather:

Use a thicker thread, not the general all-purpose thread. It helps to get a leather needle for your sewing machine. It gives you a more chiseled point. You can also get a special leather presser foot, but I found it wasn't necessary. I bought one and then never used it.

If your sewing machine just canít handle leather, you can hand sew it. Fortunately, there is very little actual leather sewing required in this costume. If youíre sewing by hand, save your fingers and get a stitching chisel like one of these Chisels . Punch the holes with a chisel and a hammer first. This will also make your stitches more even. One thing to remember when working with leather is that the more holes you put in it, the weaker it gets. Itís similar to perforating paper. If you absolutely have to re-do a seam, re-use the same holes.

Or you can just use a leather glue. Iím reluctant to trust soley to glue, though I regularly use it for reinforcement for seams. But it does make as very strong bond. Keep in mind that the glue gets stronger with age, so doing it the day before a con is not recommended. Let it sit for a while. Sand any smooth surfaces and use a heavy book while itís drying. Leather Glue can be found at Tandy Leather.Leather Glue