Uruk-hai Clothing                9/15/04

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       The more detailed photos I see, the more I think I'm over-simplifying the clothing!  There is an awful lot of "clutter" which makes accuracy almost impossible, but this is my guesswork so far.   All of the clothing is in shades of brown, dark gray, and black.  So is the armor.  So is their skin.
       The clothing starts with a thin leather loincloth, sort of like briefs with flaps in front and back that hang to the knees or a little farther.  The flaps have ragged or uneven bottom edges, and the front one is visible under all the other garments and armor (seems to be longer than the back one, too).   Mine is scrap cotton (I might replace that with leather) with leather flaps.  There is a drawstring which ties under the front flap. 

       Over the loincloth is a leather shirt, brown or black, about crotch-length, sleeveless or short-sleeved and rather ragged at the armholes and hem.  I thought it was fabric at first, so mine is cotton at the moment.
       Over that is a dark leather jerkin with four wide flaps or hanging panels that reach to the knees.  It is sleeveless, and laces shut at the neck, but details are very difficult to see under the armor.  At the center back a piece is riveted on to serve as a wide loop for a waist belt.  The rest of the waist area is very muddled and unclear--it looks like  there is not really a seam as I have done.  Instead the back forms a flap on each side:  these have rounded ends and a belt loop each, and overlap the front.  At right are the parts of mine before assembly; I had to piece the bit on at the shoulder to make everything fit onto the leather (4-ounce black suede).  I glued the parts together with leather glue and then sewed with a stitching awl and waxed linen thread.  (Some advice is on my Roman page of Leatherworking Hints.)

       The DVD costume section isn't much help, here, since it is nearly impossible to distinguish the shirt from the jerkin.  It might be that there IS no complete jerkin, just flaps hanging from the belt or belly piece!  But the flaps shown on the DVD are not the neat rectangular panels shown clearly in the movie, so it may be an earlier version of the costume.

       The drawing in the Weapons and Warfare book also implies that there is no jerkin, with the flaps hanging from the belt.  But the photo right next to it clearly shows  that the belt is worn over the body garment to which the flaps are sewn.
       Here's a shot of the back, without the yoke but with the crossing straps from the armor and over-vest (all described below).  The belt loop has six rivets.  On either side are the buckles that apparently connect to straps from the yoke.  The rear flaps are stitched with a whip stitch to the point where they diverge, clearly visible when Lurtz is kicking Aragorn's backside.  ("A little tougher than FIVE NAZGUL, eh, Longshanks?") (Ahem...)  Also see the Aragorn section at http://uk.geocities.com/aragorn_elessendil/welcome.htm for some darkish views of Uruk backs.

       Over the armor, most of the Uruk-hai in "Fellowship of the Ring" wear a rectangular collar or yoke.  This is the most frustrating piece because it hides so much detail.  It is also unreasonably complicated!  It has a complete edging sewn on all around, and running along the center of each shoulder flap is a stitched-on welt or strip.  The front opening is laced like a shoe, and behind the lacing is a wide strip or placket which runs all the way around the neckhole, like a wide edging.  At the back can be seen two pairs of rivets, probably attachment points for two narrow straps which hang down from underneath the yoke and reach to a pair of buckles which are fixed somewhere near the waist of the jerkin.  Another possibility is that the top ends of these straps might be connected to the "over-vest" (see below) and not to the yoke.  But it looks more like they connect to the yoke, since they appear to slacken and move as the yoke flaps.  They would have to be snug if they were holding the "over-vest" in place.

       The yoke and a detail shot.  The leather is thin enough that I was able to do all the sewing on my wife's antique treddle sewing machine!  The welt is a 3/4"-wide strip of leather, first stitched down flush along the outer edge of a long slit in the yoke, then folded and inserted through the slit and stitched along the inner edge. Here's a diagram!   The welt is longer than the slit, so it has to be cut partway across before being folded.  Each end is then trimmed, folded, glued, and left to dangle.

       (Again, the DVD is not very helpful for the yoke, since it shows it being worn UNDER the armor and crossed straps, which is not how it was worn in the movie!)

     Footwear consists of sandals, with a strap across the front of the foot, and maybe one around the ankle which is attached to a vertical heel piece.  There is a strip up the middle (two layers thick) which  continues over the toes to the front of the shoe, and it might be one piece with the strap across the front.  There are rivets between the intersections.  And of course some of the shoes seem to be of a different configuration, but the greaves obscure some detail.   The soles are flat and plain, with no raised heel and no hobnails on the bottoms.

       My finished shoes, stuffed with socks for a better view.  The strip up the front is two layers riveted together, with the cross-piece running between them.  The two sides of the diagonal strap over the instep also overlap between those layers, and are secured with a thong.  The parts of the upper (4-oz suede) are stitched between the two sole layers (8-9-oz top-grain vegetable-tanned leather).  The vertical piece up the back is folded over and riveted to form a loop for the thong that runs around the ankle. 

       Buckles in progress.  After making paper patterns, I carved out a wood mold with my Dremel tool, and cast the buckles with 50/50 lead/tin--just melt the stuff in a can on a hotplate (OUTDOORS!!), pour a puddle on the mold and gently clap another block on top to squeeze out the excess.   Two finished ones are shown with their tongues in place (wire or cotter pin), the rest need to have "flashing" removed (with snips, knife, and files).  If they prove to be too thin and weak, I can simply deepen the mold and recast them.  I am also making a mold for a medium-sized buckle--I'm not sure how many sizes were actually used on the movie costumes, or just how big they were. 

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