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Dragon scale armor pattern and math

July 30, 2011

I posted on Facebook today lamenting the lack of calculators online for figuring out how much fabric one needed to replicate dragon scales. I was informed that if it’s not on the Internet, it’s my duty to put it there. So here I post.

What’s worse is that I’ve already done this. I’m just not very good at taking notes about my costuming efforts, and it was three years ago. (Four? I lose track.) My Elizabeth Swann costume used quite a bit of it on the shoulders and thigh flap bits that I’m sure have some authentic pirate-fighting name I’ve since forgotten.

That meant step 1 was to pull out that belt with the thigh flap bits and figure out how this went before. Step 2 was to make a new pattern.

I think dragon scales should have rounded points, but the husband man thinks that the straight points are fine. I’m leaning towards straight for simplicity. One cut of angles makes two rows of scales. With rounded points, I’d have to cut twice.

The bonus benefit of pulling out that old belt was that husband man noticed the edging pieces made from a lightweight faux snakeskin and said, “Too bad you don’t have more of that.” But I do! I thought I did, anyway. We went digging through boxes in the storage space at our house, and no luck. I did find another costume I made with some of it, though, so maybe I used it all up. I checked (where I originally bought it), but they don’t seem to have it anymore. I found the above fabric on and ordered a couple of yards. It was about the same price as buying boring, untextured marine vinyl, but I think it’ll look much more dragon-y.

On to the math. I’m not going to make a calculator, but I’ll give you the formula. Using the scales pattern below, it takes about 4″ of fabric to make enough scales to cover 1.5″ of length.

My pattern pieces for the torso are 20″, 11″, and 11″ wide, which means that 60″ wide snakeskin fabric is more than enough width. The longest piece is 18″. I divided 18″ by 1.5″ (which would be half the number of rows of scales I need) and multiplied by 4 (for the 4″ needed to make 1.5″). Result: 48″. I bought two yards just to be sure. I’ll let you know how if it turns out right. I sure hope it does.

Download the pattern for both curved and straight scales:


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