Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Game of Thrones King's Landing/Handmaiden Dress

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One of my favorite style dresses from Game of Thrones is the drapey, robe a la francaise/piemontaise type dresses popular in King's Landing--worn by women in town, handmaidens, Shae, and more. It's the perfect dress for the last day of Costume College (or any other convention) when you want to wear something, but be a little more relaxed!

Construction information for this dress, including a diagram, can be found here. The dress is very simple though--it's just a tube of washed silk taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics with drawstrings at the center back and center front, fastened at the center back with ribbons, and worn with a belt. Some construction can be seen on Instagram.

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Full length views of the dress--it looks much more structured than it really is! The belt is made of Worbla and chainmail. Unfortunately, I used the wrong type of rings and it pretty much burst apart when I took a deep breath.

I made a new, simpler hairpiece than my first hairpiece. It's two braids twisted together with the ends tucked under with a narrow braid wrapped around it. I sewed a hairnet over it to keep everything in place, and sewed wig clips to the bottom. The back is just a very long narrow braid twisted into a bun.


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The back drape falls in folds to fairly deep in the skirt--about knee level. This makes the dress extremely flowy. The back pleats are narrower than the front pleats, which gives a very elegant line.

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Though it's not obvious in still pictures that the dress is almost five yards around, it's obvious when the dress moves. Especially if it there's any wind. I think my dress is a little fuller than the dresses on the show, but I'm fine with that!

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The gap in the back between the pleats and the dress makes a drapey dress more fitted. Most of the dresses have a decorative center front panel, which also gives shape to the dress. Mine is hand embroidered because I couldn't find a contrast panel that I liked.


Game of Thrones Dress from Katherine on Vimeo.


And a short video of the dress in motion by Taylor of Dames a la Mode. And evidence of what my belt looked like before the chainmail fell apart. My earrings are also by her.

Making A Game of Thrones King's Landing/Handmaiden Dress

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Since first seeing them, I loved the gowns that Cersei's handmaidens, women in King's Landing, and later Shae wore. Looking at them, I realized that they were really quite simple--a giant tube with drawstrings at center front and back and belted at the waist. Mine is made from about five yards of silk taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics which I washed to change the drape of. My belt is made of Worbla based on this tutorial by Jak Cosplay. I learned the hard way that you should read the description carefully on your chainmail rings and make sure they're not for jewelry.

After figuring out my dress, I did a search to see how others had done them. I found a sketch that someone who had come to the same conclusion had done, but haven't been able to find it again. I also found a post on the Game of Thrones Costuming Facebook group with a similar technique.

More pictures of the dress can be found here

Being me, I hand embroidered the front panel, used fingerloop braiding for the ties (using the videos seen here. I used 5 loop flat for the drawstring and 5 loop square for the tie. I finished the ends with gold rings from Fire Mountain Gems by sewing them to the ends and wrapping the join with thread), and hand sewed the seams. However, this can be a very quick project! You can see some progress pictures using the hashtag got_handmaiden_k on Instagram.

But onto the dress! First, a video of putting it on. I also have pictures at the bottom of the post, but the video shows it more clearly. And obviously I don't wear a camisole or underskirt when I'm wearing it, but it was necessary to do something for pictures!


GoT Handmaiden Dress from Katherine on Vimeo.


GoT Handmaiden Construction 1

Here's the pattern for the dress. It really is just a giant tube--this pattern shows half of it. It's of course sized for me, but since it's fitted with drawstrings, very adjustable. I used three panels of 55 inch silk and a contrast panel in front. The width of the contrast panel was decided by the width of the design. You could also use your fabric sideways and have fewer seams, but I was using shot silk and liked the color better used the usual way.

My dress has a circumference of 4.78 yards, or 4.38 meters. It could be a little less full, but not by much. I tried it with two panels of fabric but it wasn't nearly enough and I had to order more.

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Here's the dress laid out flat. If you go to the full size picture in Flickr, you can read the cards around the dress.There are also close ups below

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To determine the size of the drawstring channel at the center front, I held the dress up to me and bunched it until I liked it. The channel is 36 inches or 90 cm long.

To sew it, I first sewed the channel (a strip of silk on the straight of grain) right side to right side. Then I hemmed the top of the dress on either side. Then I folded the channel down and sewed it into place. I topstitched the top edge to help keep it flat.

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I did the same thing for the back, but left out the topstitching. The back channel is 10 inches or 25 cm long.

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To determine where the waist ties should go, I pulled the fabric to the center back and pinned the dress at my waist. I sewed China silk ribbons about an inch in from the edge. These ribbons keep everything where it belongs so the belt doesn't have to do as much work. Ribbons don't need to be as exact as something like hooks and eyes, which works well since the neck might be tied differently or the gathers might be in a slightly different place each time you wear the dress.

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Because the neckline dips down and becomes the waist, hemming this dress was quite awkward! I used the same technique I described in this post only the hem was too steep to just fold it, so I had to cut as I went.

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To make the tube into a dress, thread the neckband through the front drawstring channel. Here it is flat and gathered.

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Then thread the neckband through the back. Once again, here it is flat and gathered.

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Then tie the ends of the neckband together. You could also use a longer neckband and tie it like you would a drawstring. I like the loops at the end because they make it easy to tie it the same length each time.

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And here's what it looks like! It's one of those dresses that really does need to be worn to get an idea of what it's like!

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Putting it on is better illustrated in the video, but pictures are useful as well! To start, put your head through the neckband.

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Put your arms through the holes at the sides and adjust the neck tie.

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Take the waist ties and tie them at center back. This is a little awkward with all the fabric in the way!

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Here's what it looks like tied, and with the back drape hanging in place.

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And add a belt (or not, they're worn beltless too...) and that's it!


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Princess Leia's Bespin Costume--If Star Wars Took Place Around 1800...

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For Costume College 2016, Jen Thompson had a fabulous idea--historical versions of Star Wars costumes. I wanted to participate, and was thinking of what to do, when on the way to the Jane Austen Evening (perfect!), the idea of Leia's bespin costume as Regency popped into my head. After all, if you look at it, it practically is 1790s with its overdress, and, well, overdress. Definitely workable, and daydreaming made the trip so much better.

My idea for this dress was to make a dress that would fit into the Regency period, yet be recognizable as Leia's costume as well. To do this, I made a typical c. 1800 round gown, with a sleeveless overdress based on period overdresses. Dresses with paisley borders--made from shawls or in imitation of shawls--were popular, and I decided to imitate that look by embroidering just the hem of the overdress instead of continuing it up the whole back of the dress. The back of the overdress is pleated--like many original dresses, and as a nod to the collar of the movie costume. I considered putting a collar on the back of the overdress, which was seen on originals, but I decided I liked the pleated look too much to cover it.


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In addition to wearing this to Costume College, I wore it to tea at the Huntington before the 2017 Jane Austen Evening. Once again, I was so lucky to have pictures taken by my friend, Llyra Lee. I couldn't have made the dress without help from my friend Maggie who made a beautiful version of the dress, and helped with my embroidery design.

Construction information for the dress can be found here, including some details from my visit to the Fashion Museum in Bath earlier in the year. My journal for the dress is here, and details most of my thoughts as I made it. The silk taffeta is from Fabric Mart, the voile from Farmhouse Fabrics, and the linen lining is from Burnley and Trowbridge.

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The pleated back of the dress is one width of fabric, neck to hem. It's pleated to fit the linen lining. The bun and braids is a hairpiece. To make it, I took two long pieces of braiding hair, braided the center, leaving the ends loose, looped the braids, attached them to each other, and made a bun from the loose hair. I then covered the bun with an invisible hairnet which I sewed over it to keep everything into place. From there, I just pinned it on.


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My shawl is made of three yards of voile from Dharma Trading. I used a Rebel Alliance stencil from CeeCeesSpecialties on Etsy for the pattern, which I painted with gold Lumiere Fabric paint and DecoArt SoSoft Fine Glitter. I traced the design on and then put it in an embroidery hoop to stabilize it as I painted it.


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The pendant I wore with the dress--a silhouette of Han and Leia--was made by CrystallineFairy on Etsy. The Rebel Alliance pin that can be seen in the pictures from the Huntington (I forgot to bring it to Costume College) is from the 1997 rerelease. I bought it on eBay.

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With the novel reading heroines of the Regency in mind, I decided I needed a book as a prop. I bought a small book from VersLibris on Etsy and added a title plate for Dagobah Abbey using double sided tape.

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The garters are based on a pair in the Victoria and Albert Museum. They say Je T'aime and Je Sais (I love you, I know). They're silk, interlined with cotton flannel, embroidered with Au Ver Au Soie embroidery thread, and trimmed with China silk ribbon from Silky Way.


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My reticule is based on early 19th century inked bags. I browsed through memorial art until I found a design that I could reasonably imitate with my drawing skills, and dedicated it to the memory of Alderaan.

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The embroidery is done with wool from my local embroidery store. It's all done in back stitch.

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And worn with two different groups--our Star Wars historical group at Costume College, and our Regency group at the Huntington--I think it fits in nicely with both!