Hi! I'm The Redsmith, I'm a maker.
A few days ago, my wife, my son and I were lucky enough to get tickets for the premiere of the movie How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. We love the franchise and the movie was wonderful. It's the perfect ending for the trilogy. I highly recommend you to go and watch it.
As I was watching the movie, I started to wonder if I would be able to make Hiccup's helmet for my kid, and as soon as I got back home, I started working on this helmet. It took me a long time to figure out a design that would work from my memories and the few pictures I found online, but I think I got it pretty close to what you'll see in the movie.
I used 2.4mm/6oz vegetable tanned leather for all the parts of the helmet, except the little spikes on the side, for which I used 2.2mm/5oz veg. tan. leather. There are many ways to make a helmet out of leather. Personally, I chose to wet the leather and to shape it on a mannequin head which is almost the size of my kid's head. The most difficult part was to carve the leather in order to make it look like dragons scales, but I think I managed to make fake dragon scales pretty well :)
The helmet is too small for me a slightly too big for my kid, which is a good thing, he'll be able to play with it for a long time as he grows up. It was a lot of work, but my kid loves it, so it was totally worth the time I spent on it.
This helmet is a unique piece, only made for my son. I don't have a pattern as I was prototyping it as I built it.
But here is how I built it.
I made a full tutorial video that you can watch here :
Step 1: Get Ready
For this build you will need:
- A mannequin foam head
- Some plastic cooking wrap
- Some duct tape
- 2.4mm/6oz vegetable tanned leather
- 2.2/5oz vegetable tanned leather
- Black & red leather dye
- Leather neatsfoot oil
- Leather lacquer
- Waxed cotton thread
- Sewing needles
- Sewing pins
- A stitching pony
- A sewing meter
- An x-acto knife
- A size 4 diamond hole punch
- A round leather punch
- Two black rivets + rivet punch
- A wooden mallet
- A ballpoint stylus
- Some leather tracing paper
- A edge beveler
- A groover
- A stitching awl
- A nail file
- A swivel knife
- A beveler stamp
- A background stamp
- A clean sponge
- Some warm water
These are the tools I used for the build but some of them can be replaced by the tools you have at home.
Now, let's get to it.
Step 2: It's All in the Head
One of the critical part of the build is good preparation.
The foam mannequin head will help your draw the design and also for the wet forming of the sides of the helmet.
I drew the horizontal and vertical lines on the mannequin head with a black sharpie, making sure the line were deep enough to be felt by the finder under a coat of cooking wrap and duct tape.
Then I wrapped the head with cooking wrap to get the desired head size and with duct tape to be able to draw on it with a sharpie. This process is optional but it's always good to be able to reuse the mannequin head that was so hard to find.
Then, I took my black sharpie and drew the horizontal line of the helmet which should be just above your eyebrows. The vertical line in the middle of the face is just a guide to be sure the design is symmetrical.
Step 3: Measure and Trace
Now it's time to cut some leather.
I used 2.4mm/6oz vegetable tanned leather for the main parts of the helmet, and 2.2mm/5oz vegetable tanned leather for the spikes.
I traced carefully all the shapes onto the leather with my awl, making sure not going to deep into the leather and not scratching it, but making the lines visible enough to cut all the parts properly.
This part is very important to keep all the measurements right and have a great final product, so take your time and go slow.
Step 4: Cut, Cut, Cut!
Once the design of all the parts has been transferred onto the leather, I roughly cut all the parts.
I used my japanese straight knife but you can do the same with an x-acto knife or a utility knife. Just go slow and make sure to keep the blade vertical to the table to get a nice clean 90° angle.
I finished by cutting two semicircles that will become the sides of the helmet. The cut doesn't need to be extremely precise as these parts will be wet formed and recut later.
Step 5: Soaking and Tracing
Hiccup's helmet from How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has a very specific design and one of its features is these round shapes on the side of the head. These are the only red parts of the helmet, everything else will be dyed black.
In ordered to trace this design into the leather and then shape these parts, I soaked the two semicircles in warm water, let them dry for a few minutes and then traced the semicircles with some tracing paper and a ballpoint stylus.
Step 6: Wet Forming
While the leather is still wet, we can wet form it on the mannequin head.
I used sewing pins to keep it in place, but if the leather it too thick, it can help to punch holes all around the parts with a leather awl before pinning them.
I put both pieces on the mannequin head making sure the semicircles were at the right place, and pinning the bottom edge first. Then I stretched the leather to the top of the head and pinning the top edge as I went.
Once it was all done, I let the leather dry overnight.
In the meantime, I started working on the other parts.
Step 7: More Parts
For the whole helmet, you'll need the following parts:
- two semicircles for the sides (the ones we already wet formed)
- two eye gards
- one nose guard
- one mouth guard
- one large top strip
- three narrow back strips
I cut all the parts with my x-acto knife, making sure I was on the line I traced during step 3 and keeping the blade vertical. The delicate part is to cut the holes for the eyes.
When you draw the eye guards, the under layer can be made a little bit smaller than the upper layer, it will give some depth to the design, but make sure the hole are at the right place and you will see properly with the helmet on.
Once you're all done, the mouth guard should cover the eye guard upper layer by at least one centimeter/half an inch.
Step 8: Smooth Edges
I used my groover to trace a line on the edge of the three narrow leather strips for the back of the helmet. This line will tell you where to punch holes for the final assembly sewing.
Then I used my beveler to bevel the edges of all the parts, it gives them a round and smoother touch.
Then I used a nail file to give all the edges a rougher look. We're making a viking helmet here, not a high quality wallet, so the edges need to be smooth to the touch but rough looking. The nail file is the perfect tool for that.
Step 9: Let's Make Dragon Scales
Now let's work on the mouth guard and the top part. It's time to make some dragon scales.
That's actually the most time consuming part of the build because we're going to carve the leather.
First step is to transfer the design onto the leather. I used leather tracing paper and draw the outlines of the mouth guard with a sharp pencil, the drew a lot of small dragon scales, making sure it actually looks like Hiccup's helmet mouth guard. You'll find a lot of pictures on the internet to check your design, just like I did.
Then, I wet the leather with warm water and a clean sponge, I let it dry for a few minutes, and when the leather was coming back to its initial colour, I started tracing the design onto it with my ballpoint stylus.
Don't hesitate to put more water onto the leather as it dries pretty quickly but don't work it when it's soaking wet, give it time to get back to its initial colour.
Step 10: Swivel Knife
Before tooling the leather, you'll need to cut your design with a swivel knife.
Once again, it's a delicate and time consuming step. If you're not confortable using a swivel knife, you can also use a scalpel or an x-acto knife. Just take your time, go slow and be careful not cutting to deep into the leather. Half way through the thickness of the leather is more than enough.
Once it's done, and before carving the leather, you can put a anti-stretch paper under the leather (white paper in the picture). If you don't have that kind of paper, you can put some duct tape, it works very well too.
Step 11: Tooling the Scales
Tooling leather is not very easy at first, so if it's your first time, I recommend you to train a little bit on a piece of scrap leather before working on the mouth guard or the top part.
I started by putting a bevel inside all the lines of the mouth guard with a beveler stamp. Then I did the same for all the dragon scales, putting a bevel on the outside line. (See pictures)
Once it was done, I used a background stamp to create depth and make the scales pop up. It also gives some grain and texture to the background and create a nice contrast with the scales.
Then, I let the mouth guard dry overnight, and worked on the top part of the helmet.
Step 12: Top Piece
I cut the large top strip and repeated all the step 9 to 11.
But I also used my grooved and put a line onto the leather 5mm from the edge and punched holes for stitching with my diamond hole punch. You can do it later but it's much easier to do it while the leather is still flat and dry.
Step 13: More Scales
I finished tooling the top piece, wetting the leather, carving the scales, wetting the leather again as it went dry, and repeating all the previous steps.
Be careful though: if you wet a section you've already tooled, the leather will get harder when it dries, and it will be harder to wet form it later on. I also usually wet all the part just to keep a uniform moisture across the whole piece all the time. I got better results this way.
Step 14: Let It Dry and Trace Again
It's time to cut the side parts to size.
Cutting a straight line on the curved part is not easy. One way to do it is to use a sewing meter, pin it on the mannequin head and use its edge to draw a line. And that's what I did.
I draw the horizontal line of the helmet with my leather awl all around the mannequin head.
Then I used a duct tape pattern I made for this helmet to draw the upper line of these parts. Making sure the right and left parts are symmetrical is the most important here.
Don't unpin the parts just yes. If you make a mistake, you can still fix it while the two parts are on the mannequin.
Step 15: Second Cut
I used my x-acto knife to cut along the lines I just traced.
Be sure to go deep enough to cut through the leather, but don't go too deep either, otherwise you'll cut your mannequin head and you might want to reuse it for future projects.
Once the parts were cut, I unpinned excess leather and check the symmetry with my sewing meter (that's what the two lines on the mannequin we drew earlier were for).
Don't unpin the sides just yet. We still need them on the mannequin head for the next step.
Step 16: Wet Form Again
I soaked the top part in warm water and pin it to the head, making sure the alignment was perfect.
You want to form the leather to get a round helmet, so you'll probably have to pin, unpin and re-pin this part several times. Just make sure you don't put more holes in the visible part of the sides, and that the center line of the top part stays in the center of the head. It is very important for the three fins we will put in the helmet later on. Don't hesitate to wet the leather if you need to.
I stretched the leather with my hands, making sure I didn't scratched it or push too hard on the carving.
Once the top part was correctly placed and shaped, I put some more water on it to unify the moisture and let it dry overnight.
Step 17: It's Awl in the Head
After the top part was completely dry, I used my leather awl to punch holes into the side parts, using the holes I punch earlier into the top part.
Then I used my x-acto knife to cut three openings for the fins, one just above the forehead and two in the back of the helmet.
I also punch holes on the side of the opening for the final assembly sewing.
Step 18: Cut Traight
I used the straight line I drew during step 14 to trim the excess leather of the top part and the two sides.
I used my x-acto knife and once again, made sure to cut thought the leather but not too deep into the mannequin head. Then I took off all the pins and the three main parts of the helmet were ready for dying.
Step 19: Live and Let Dye
It was then time for one of the most important step of the build: the dye.
One of the main feature is this helmet is the distinctive colours. I used an alcohol based red leather dye for the front part of the sides and dye all the rest deep black, grain side and flesh side of the leather. Be sure to wear rubber glove for this step. You can use a small paint brush to apply the dye or small Dauber brushes.
Then I let it dry for two hours.
Step 20: Work the Guards
While the dye of the other parts was drying, I worked on the eye guards.
I wet the leather and put a groove 5mm from all the edges.
Step 21: Fins
Then I made three fins. Two are on the back of the helmet and one on top.
I cut two triangular shaped pieces of leather, used leather white glue to glue them together and let the glue dry for one hour.
Make sure to not glue the last centimeter of the base of the triangle as you'll have to open it later.
Step 22: Stitching
Once the glue was dry, I soak the fins into warm water, put a stiching line 5mm from the edges and punches the holes using my diamond hole punch. Then I sewed all three sides of the fins using my small stitching pony.
The colours of the thread doesn't really matter at this point as the parts will be dyed black later.
Step 23: Wet Forming (Again)
I soak the fins into warm water and use the tools I had in hand to open the last centimeter you didn't glue earlier and create a lip. This lip will be used to assemble the fins to the helmet later on.
I used a hammer to give the base of the fins a curved shape, following the general curve of the helmet.
Step 24: Let Dry and Dye Again
You have now all the parts needed to build Hiccup's helmet. Before you dye them all black, just make sure they are all completely dry. I usually wait one day/night before dying my leather, because it can look dry on the outside but still be wet deep inside, and the colours wouldn't appear even everywhere.
Using deep black alcohol based leather dye, I dyed the two eye guards, the mouth guard, nose guard and the three strips of leather needed for the back of the helmet. Then, I let them dry for at least two hours.
Step 25: Glue, Holes and Stitching
I glued the nose guard to the eye guards making sure it was well centered, punched some holes following the lines of the nose with my diamond hole punch, and then I sewed the two parts together with waxed black coton thread.
Step 26: More Glue, More Holes, More Stitching
I then glued the upper layer of the eye guard (the one with the nose guard on it) to the under layer, and repeated the same operations: glue the two parts together, punch all the holes and stitch them together.
Step 27: Two Becomes One
I used my stitching pony for all my sewing but if you don't have one, you can still use your knees for this step.
Before owning a stitching pony, that's how I held my parts for sewing and it worked very well. It's not the most confortable position but it works.
Once you're done with the stitching, you should have a beautiful eye guard with a dragon scale nose guard as shown in the pictures.
Step 28: In the Back of My Head
I glued the three back strips of leather together, making sure they overlap (that's what the groove we put into the leather during step 8 was for).
Then I repeated all the operation I mentioned previously: again, glue, holes and stitching.
Be sure once again to use strong waxed coton thread. This part will be bent to match the curve of the helmet and the thread need to be strong.
When I was done, I burnt the wax of the thread with a lighter. I cleaned the thread and melt the was to seal the holes.
Step 29: One, Two, Three Fins
I put the three fins inside the helmet and once they were positioned correctly, I stitched them to the helmet using the lips I created earlier. Once again, be sure to use a strong waxed coton thread.
Step 30: Side by Side
Then I stitched both sides to the helmet and trimmed the excess leather to get a perfect straight line all around the head.
I applied a little bit more leather dye to the parts I just trimmed to get a perfect even colour.
Step 31: Making Spikes
I cut ten triangular shape pieces of 2.2mm/5oz vegetable tanned leather to make the spikes: four small, four medium size and two bigger ones.
I used a metal cone to wet form then as spikes but you can just use your finger for this step.
Once they were completely dry, I dyed them black and punch holes in order to stitch them to the helmet.
Step 32: Almost Done
I used my leather awl and my diamond hole punch to punch holes for the spikes and all around the head for the back strips. Just make sure to start the holes around the head where the red part of the side ends.
The spikes must be sewed on the top part of the helmet, with a regular spacing, a small pike first, a medium spike second, long spike in third, a medium one fourth and a small on last, on both sides.
Step 33: Last Stitching
Repeat all the usual stitching steps to assemble the back strips of leather to the helmet.
It will become the protection for the back of the head.
Step 34: Put Oil on It
Your helmet is almost done. Just a few steps left.
I applied leather neatsfoot oil on all helmet, eye guard and mouth guard using wool.
Don't forget this step, it's very important. It will unify the colour and also nourish the leather, make it softer and more resistant to time. Let it dry for at least two hours.
Step 35: Last Step
The last step is to put the last two pieces on with a black rivet.
I punched two holes into the helmet, one on each side of the first back strip, two on each end of the eye guard and two on each side of the mouth guard. Before punching holes in the guards, just be sure to align these parts properly.
Be careful when you choose the rivet you'll use. Don't forget you'll have to go through four layers of 2.4mm/6oz vegetable tanned leather, so choose a rivet long enough for the task.
The rivet needs to be closed but allow the mouth guard and eye guard to move freely in order to put it in the upper position.
Step 36: Finish It
Just before the final assembly, I applied two coats of leather lacquer. It seals the leather and gives it a very nice shine. Not every projects needs this kind of finish, but as this is a helmet, meant to be worn and possibly exposed to elements, I thought it would be a good idea to protect it as much as I could.
Then I put the mouth guard, the eye guard and the helmet together using two 10mm long black rivets.
I used a rivet punch and if the first one was easy to punch, the second one is a little bit harder to close. I recommend to use the corner of your workbench or desk and punch the rivets from above.
Step 37: And You're Done!
And congratulations! You're done. You have now an awesome leather helmet from the movie How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
You can use this tutorial to create your own helmet and customize it the way you want, shape, color, size, let your creativity speak! I hope you liked it and if so please vote for the contest and like this tutorial, share it and watch the videos.
Here is the full tutorial video :
I tried to make this Instructable as clear and easy as possible.
If you have any questions or requests for clarification, don't hesitate to comment. I hope you liked it and if so please vote for the contest and like this tutorial, share it and watch the videos.
See you soon for my next Instructable!
This is an entry in the
Epilog X Contest