Finished project: a medieval/elvish fantasy frock

I’ve been sewing like mad, and have even taken photos, but haven’t had the time to upload and edit them, so instead I’ll post about a finished project.

A long, long time ago, back when I was in university, just after I had been to NZ, I heard about a Lord of the Rings themed dance.

Having just been to Wellington, and see the premier of The Return of the King, and being madly in love with future Mr Dreamy, and very romantic, I was determined to go.

And being the bossy person that I am, I made my friends come along by making them costumes and then assuming that that meant they would be thrilled to come.

I have nice friends. They were.

This is one of the fantasy, pseudo-medieval frocks that I made for the dance.

The skirt is muslin gauze, the bodice is embroidered cotton sateen that I inherited from my Grandmother, and the shift is white silk.  The trimming was also inherited from Grandma.

The underskirt is attached to the dress, and (if I recall correctly) was just plain white cotton.

I made the dress as a surprise, and underestimated how small and delicate Grace Darling (she’s graceful and she’s darling, hence the nickname) is, so the dress is a bit big.

You can really see the size issues in the shoulders of the shift.  Aren’t the sleeves and the lettuce leaf edging delicious though?

All in all though, considering that I made this without measuring Grace Darling, and without any fittings, I’m pretty amazed at how good I did with sizing and the general fit.

I wasn’t brave enough to try making the dress without fitting lines, so I used princess seams.  If I’d been really clever, I would have found a way to incorporate the seams into the false front, but I wasn’t an experienced enough seamstress at the time.

I used every scrap of the blue muslin I had, which resulted in some interesting design issues, such as the slight double train of the skirt, which, in retrospect, I rather like.

I also used every scrap of the silk that was left on the bolt in the shift, which is a simple over-the-head blouse that ends at the hips.  This was the reason for the slim sleeves that open up into circles just above the elbow, rather than sleeves that were cut as full trumpets right from the shoulder (which is how the actual Elvish costumes in LotR were cut).

The overdress laces up the back, with the silk shift providing modesty.  I used metal eyelets for the lacing, and then carefully positioned the trim over them to hide the eyelets .

I told Miss Darling, normally full of smiles, to look ‘wistful’ for the photoshoot, which resulted in the far too many images of her regarding the camera in stone-faced martyr-mode.  At least I got one of her smiling!

I love this image.  It’s very Pre-Ralphealite in its tragic beauty, with the fair maiden peering longingly into the hall from which she is forever barred.

I am pleased to say that Grace Darling still has the dress in her closet, and has even occasionally (well, once) found a reason to wear it!


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