Constructing Varric

I made the Varric Tethras cosplay on a whim, in 2011. Dragon Age 2 art had been slowly trickling out as the year revved up and I remember being smitten with the new dwarf storyteller purely based on Aimo fanart. (If you don’t know Aimo, you should take a moment and visit her site.)

I remember stepping into SAS Fabrics in Phoenix and grabbing a bolt of moleskin off the shelf. “This would be perfect for Varric,” I said to no one in particular. I grabbed a set of green moleskin next. “Yeah. I’m going to cosplay Varric.”

I grabbed some black crushed velvet fabric and some course-weave red fabric and that was that. The color block sold me on throwing a dwarf together.

The Shirt:

I took some quick measurements and made a tee-tunic out of the red, being very careful to size the chest too small so that the neckline would expose the chesthair I don’t have.

Varric’s undershirt has quite a bit of embroidery on it. I tried to avoid putting much effort into replicating the shirt by buying a bulky trim to attach to the outfit. I got about half way through sewing it to the tunic before I decided it was too gaudy. I wound up seam-ripping all of the trim off and opting for an embroidery technique called couching.

I bought a crapload of gold piping and sketched some general shapes directly onto the tunic with chalk, then got to work tacking the gold piping onto the tunic with some matching thread. I winged it, ya’ll. I used one reference photo, some chalk, and a weekend in Las Vegas to embroider Varric’s tunic for a con.

The Jacket:

Satisfied with the shirt, I started on the jacket. Personally, I found the jacket the most intimidating piece of the costume: moleskin is not forgiving and I’d never successfully made a jacket before.

I used a Simplicity 2508 Misses Jackets pattern I bought for Vash the Stampede. The Vash mock-up went together pretty swimmingly and I didn’t have any arguments with the sleeves, so I went ahead and cut it out of the moleskin. It came together within a couple of hours.

To finish up the jacket, I took some of the scraps from the pants and cut out a second set of lapels to sew into the jacket. I wanted the cuffs on the sleeves to look extra gigantic, so I cut out rectangles and attached them to the end of the sleeves. The idea was that I’d roll them back onto the sleeve instead of tacking them down — it seems to have done the trick!

The belt loops on the jacket are simple rectangles of the same moleskin fabric, folded in half and hand sewn to the outside of the jacket. (Look, when I said I winged it, I meant I winged it.)

The Belt:

The belt itself is made of some brown corduroy cloth I had leftover from another project. I wanted something light weight that wasn’t going to weigh down or stain the jacket. I cut a strip of the corduroy and sewed it into a belt. Bam! Instant belt.

The belt buckle, on the other hand, is one of life’s greatest mysteries. I could not find a belt buckle large enough for this cosplay. I thought of everything — purse handles, backpack loops, embroidery hoops, foam, casting a buckle out of resin — and finally caved by tearing a dwarfy looking buckle off of a belt from the thrift store.

*Protip: now that I’ve seen other people’s versions of Varric, I would recommend using a picture frame for Varric’s belt buckle. They come in wood, plastic, metal, and in every size and shape. Just pop the glass out of that puppy and hot glue it to your belt. DONE. GIANT DWARFY BELT BUCKLE.

The Other Belt:

The green belt is literally a length of green fabric that I twisted around my waist and tied in a big knot. Done.

The Pants:

I’m going to admit I don’t know where the pants came from. I had the fabric on my chair, when I left for work and when I got home, there was a pair of pants. I’m going to chalk this one up to the sewing fairies. (My sister made them using her favorite pajama pants pattern.)

The Boots:

I had a pair of generic Uggs in my closet. Nothing special. No excuses.

I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to the shoes because I wanted other details like the embroidery or the pinstripe pants to pop. The shoes were flat, squishy, and hideously ignorable.

The Quiver:


I made Varric’s quiver out of a postage tube and the lid from a peanut butter jar. I have no excuses. It’s what I had. On the plus side: it’s a solid cardboard postage tube, so it would probably hold a cell phone, wallet, and car keys. But I’m also flying by the seat of my pants and don’t trust a peanut butter lid to keep my phone, wallet, and car keys safe. Your mileage may vary.

The Jewelry:

The necklace was a strand of wood beads that I spray painted gold. I strung it together with some beading wire so that it would have a curved shape to it instead of hanging. If I remember correctly, the circular pendant in the middle was a piece of brass I hacked off of a purse from the thrift store. You can now, of course, buy the entire necklace from the BioWare store.

Varric has some gold hoop earrings. My ears aren’t pierced, so I tried messing with magnets for these. I started with a set of magnets from some magnetic jewelry I had lying around and the pull wasn’t strong enough to keep the hoops on my ears. I wound up gluing some rare-earth magnets to the earrings and man — those had some pull! I wound up messing my ear lobes up pretty good in the attempt. (The magnets were so strong that they bruised my ears!)

To be honest, the earrings get lost against my skin/hair in every photo, so I’ve opted to leaving this part out of the outfit.

Ah, Leather:

Lastly, Varric has a leather holster across his shoulders. I cut out some strips of leather and riveted them around some brass rings I pilfered from a thrift store purse for this. As it turns out, this holster is pretty darn important to the outfit if you’re going to make a Bianca.

And Bianca:

As for Bianca — that’s another blog post. 🙂