I've taught leatherworking and costuming for a little over two years so the fact that I didn't have a high end leather costume built was pretty embarrassing. I had been planning to do a Skyrim Nightingale costume for over a year but due to some equipment issues and general life, it was pushed off. But in 2016 I finally got in gear and started.
I designed all the armor pieces in Adobe Illustrator. And funny enough, this is what I'm most proud of. I actually ended up cutting all the pieces directly from my digital files without any validation beforehand (not recommended...I'm lazy).
Cutting out the Design
I used a laser cutter to cut out all of my patterns on the leather. This speeds up the process SOOOO much. Laser cutters are the best!
Tooling, Dying and Conditioning
It may seem like a small thing, but every piece had a hand tooled bezel added to the edge. Small detail...LOTS of work. This is what took the most time. After tooling, everything was dyed black. Then I worked on conditioning the leather with Neatsfoot Oil so that it would be more flexible and soft.
Once all the pieces were finished, I started putting everything together using rivets, grommets, sewing, and snaps.
Metal Emblems and Details
For the Nightingale emblem I knew I wanted to use high quality materials to match the rest of the costume. I could do an aluminum cast or CNC aluminum but...did I mention I'm lazy? Instead I found this amazing Composite Stainless Steel PLA 3D printer filament. With this, I could 3D print the emblems then stand and buff them where they look like stainless steel. Cheap, Easy, Looks Pro...Win, Win, Win.
The cape is made of deerskin. I actually purchased two pre-dyed pieces, a large and small piece and simply cut them a bit so that the cape and hood would fit together then sewed them together using an industrial sewing machine. The weathered and ripped look is how they came naturally. I loved the look and decided to keep it.
Now for what everyone asks me. "How did you make the sword!" Well for this, I phoned a engineering friend who helped me out a bit. First the 3D was model was downloaded from the game. With that the negative was cut into MDF then plaster cast. The cast was coated in wood glue to fill in any gaps and make it smooth then we used a vacuum form machine to create two plastic molds of the sword. The two molds were put together, resin was mixed, dyed, and poured and success! A single cast sword. The gold designs were hand painted on.