Impa Cosplay: Beginning the Armor


It’s been a couple months since I have worked on my Impa cosplay, but after finishing a dress and moving to a new apartment, I’ve finally had a chance to work again. I’m most nervous about crafting Impa’s armor, as I’ve never done anything like this before – my skills rest in sewing, not props. However, I don’t have time to put it off anymore. It’s just as well; time is a great motivator.

Anyhow, I started off as you should always begin with an unfamiliar project: research.

Researching Armor

One look at Impa’s outfit and it’s obvious it’s inspired by historic samurai armor. Thanks, Hollywood, for that bit of info. I looked up the components of samurai armor to break down each piece in her outfit. Many of the pieces aren’t entirely accurate, and others are.

The shin guards, for instance, are historically accurate. The pieces are called suneate, more specifically tsubo suneate. Each piece consists of three shin plates tied onto a piece of padded fabric. Many tsubo suneate, which are more modern than other variations, consist of knee protectors as well, as Impa’s does.


Impa’s forearm pieces are built the same as the suneate, only sized and shaped for the other body part. Her upper arm pieces are a little different. They are constructed like early suneate, with long strips of metal or wood fixed to fabric – I couldn’t find any other historical references to the arm armor.

As for the hip guards, called gessan, feature strings holding panels together.



I drew a quick sketch of Impa and draw larger images of each pieces I’ll work on. That way, I’ll know what I have to get done and have an idea how to do it. Drawing usually helps me internalize the construction of garments, even if looking at the piece reveals how it’s made. Something about using my hands solidifies the structure.



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