DIY: Making the Loki VARIANT TVA jacket
Since Loki came out a few weeks ago, my partner and I instantly wanted the ‘VARIANT’ jacket that Mobius hands to Loki at the beginning of episode 2:
It’s not surprising that Tom Hiddleston can pull off that most finicky of fashion statements - the popped collar. Whether it’s a waistcoat, a perfectly tailored suit, or a tasteful skinny tie, Loki has a way of looking good in all of them. Who knew dress scarves were a thing? And why don’t more men wear them? The God of Mischief may not be the strongest Avenger (or even an Avenger at all), but he sure seems like the most dapper one:
I was an enormous fan of the X-Files growing up, and have always had a soft spot for what you might call the vaguely ’80s / 90’s FBI bureaucracy’ aesthetic. Those of you in Toronto may have even noticed that the TVA library bears a funny resemblance to the Toronto Reference Library which was built in 1977:
So yes, Loki’s crisp new field jacket was right up our alley. Onto the make!
- 1 field jacket (more details below). Note that shirt transfers have trouble sticking to <30% cotton blend!
- If using a Cricut or other vinyl cutter: Orange HTV (heat transfer vinyl)
- If using a normal t-shirt iron on: Iron-on transfer paper for dark fabric
- Stuff you probably have already: iron, inkjet printer if needed
- Photoshop / Illustrator. This is by no means required - you can use whatever software you wish, even Word or Google docs. My image editing instructions will be for Photoshop and Illustrator, however.
(BTW, there are no affiliate links in this post - I think they compromise the integrity of how-to blogs. If you find this post helpful and want to say thanks, you can pick up a ready-to-iron vinyl on Etsy, or the digital files on Gumroad!)
What colour is this jacket?!
I had trouble figuring out what color the jacket was, given the show is bathed in a lovely retro sepia tint. Is it light beige? Dark beige? Brown? Grey? Khaki? You can find myriad examples of all shades from Etsy makers and costume shops.
My partner and I decided it was something like a brown/grey khaki green. This is a loose opinion, loosely held. Anything kind of government-y/bureaucratic-looking will do. Onwards.
Base jacket details
For detailing, we can notice that it has:
- No breast pockets
- Snap buttons on the lapels (which need to be stiff for that fantastic popping action)
- Two slanted double-welt pockets
- And looks like it’s made of a waxed / water-resistant material, similar to what you might see on a hunting jacket.
Is it a blazer? Is it a field jacket?!
Update: the folks on this thread at RPF have done a fantastic job figuring out that the one used at the Disneyland Avengers Campus seems to be the discontinued Filson Lightweight Supply Jacket, which you can obtain on eBay for a cool ~$300. It looks like they removed the drawstring, which may be practical but not very attractive:
Kudos to the Marvel costume makers for putting together a great jacket which looks deceptively banal, because it is not! I searched for hours and it’s actually a very hard combination of features to find in a single garment. The lapels and double welt pockets are very blazer-like, but the other features are more commonly found in an outdoor hunting jacket.
After scouring Aliexpress, Shein, H&M, Uniqlo, Old Navy, The Bay, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and Walmart, I finally landed on these reasonably priced facsimiles for me and my partner:
Do note that these are not 100% screen-accurate - these do an 80-20 job in terms of being close enough and not crazy expensive. In particular, the men’s jacket has elastic cuffs and feels more like a light raincoat. The women’s jacket is…honestly just very cute:
This is the most important thing to get right! I can never understand why someone would go to the trouble of creating a costume version of this and then use something like Arial or Times New Roman. The fun is in the details!
I used fontsquirrel.com/matcherator with a screengrab, which suggested Franklin Gothic FS Compressed or Franklin Original Condensed Extra.
Any version of Franklin in compressed or condensed form will probably do. I went with ITC Franklin Gothic LT Pro Demi Compressed, because it’s included with Photoshop. The top of the A is a touch narrow, but otherwise I think it looks pretty bang on:
If you have a Cricut, you will cut these letters out of HTV. If not, you could print onto a plain sheet of paper, cut the letters out as a stencil, and then trace onto the HTV and cut by hand.
Alternatively you could simply use a normal inkjet t-shirt iron on.
And no…it’s not the Marvel font!
Yes, I was curious myself - any chance this was simply the Marvel logo font? Close but no dice. The Marvel font is Benton Sans Compressed Black. See for yourself:
TVA crest logo
Next let’s look at a closeup of the TVA logo on the jacket, which is another detail that sometimes gets fudged in buyable costumed versions:
We’ll do a Google search for “time variance authority logo circle” - and our best bet is this image from some (hopefully authorized) Walmart merch:
We’ll load it up into Photoshop. Assuming the crest will be about 3 inches in diameter, and we want to print at 600dpi for quality, we’ll need the image to be about 1800 x 1800px.
Blowing up to this size we get some very blurry edges, so we’ll clean it up as follows:
- Select the black area with the Magic Wand
- Select > Modify > Expand the selection by about 4 pixels (ensure the letters and wheat details aren’t being cut too thin)
- Select > Modify > Smooth by 1 pixel;
- Right click and convert to a Work Path - looks pretty good:
- Fill that work path in with an orange of your choice.
- Note the only other detail we need to fix is that the letters on Loki’s jacket are negative space (as in, the fabric would show through there). We’ll color in the letters in brown and fill the outer circle with orange:
I’ll be cutting this on orange HTV using a Cricut, so I’ll leave the negative space transparent and export as an .svg. Interestingly, Cricut Design Space seems to have a bug in its .svg handling, and I’ve written a whole other post on that here.
To speed up the Cricut and smooth all the cuts into as few vector curves as possible, I opened this up in Illustrator and re-traced the paths using the pen tool. If you’re not good with Illustrator’s pen tool, you can absolutely skip this step - the cut will come out just fine. It’ll just take a bit longer because the Photoshop-generated path may contain micro-wobbles (which are all but invisible against the texture of your fabric anyway):
Cutting all these details by hand on a t-shirt transfer could be tricky. If you don’t have a vinyl cutter, I suggest filling in the “background space” with a brown-y green colour that looks similar to the jacket.
To find the right brown and orange to match the jacket and the HTV, you could print some swatches ahead of time on plain paper and compare them. If you do this on inkjet transfer paper, remember that it gets darker after ironing!
This was my first time using HTV on a Cricut, so I did a test run on an old pair of sweatpants to find the right settings. You don’t need any fancy weeding tools - a scalpel and a sharp pair of tweezers will do. I think it turned out pretty well!
These are the settings I used:
- Cricut: Double cut, lowest possible cut pressure (70), less than usual. This still cut a touch into the backing plastic, but not enough to break it. Note that some of the smaller bits (i.e the inside of the A’s) fell out. I manually cut small triangles of vinyl and used tweezers to put them back.
- I cut the HTV piece down to the size of the 4.5” x 6.5” standard grip mat and stuck it on. This worked well.
- Iron: No need for a fancy Cricut press - I used a normal household iron on the highest setting. No idea what temperature it was. I applied downward pressure for a much longer period than stated on the instructions, both with and without the teflon sheet, and waited a good ~10 min before peeling.
Jackets - assemble! 🚀
My women’s jacket from Old Navy arrived first, so that’s the first one I put together.
I recommend printing the words and the little TVA logo out on plain paper, cutting them out, and arranging them on your jacket with tape before you commit to actually cutting them on vinyl. This helps you get a sense of size and placement, and you can mark the appropriate position with chalk or a white pencil:
Doing the letters got a bit tricky because the max length of the orange vinyl that I bought was 30cm, and I wanted the entire “VARIANT” word about 35cm wide on this jacket. It will be even wider on my partner’s.
The solution was to split the cut up into two pieces using the Hide Contour option in Cricut Design Space. I’d just have to take care to line the letters up while ironing:
Here are some close ups of the texture of the vinyl after ironing. Note that in the process it’s easy for one of the small inside pieces of the A’s or R’s to fall out. Here, I had to patch in a small piece:
I think this worked out well as a cute women’s adaptation, even if it isn’t quite “canon” in terms of material or structure:
And I think the seal looks pretty bang-on!
To be continued…
I did want to go for 100% screen accuracy with the men’s jacket, and with the Filson being all but impossible to find, in an upcoming post I will talk about using a pattern to sew one from scratch. Stay tuned!
P.S. if you want to make this and don’t want to do the .ai or .psd work yourself, you can purchase a ready-to-iron vinyl, or get the digital files :)