Thursday, August 2, 2018

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.

GoT Handmaiden Construction 2

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!


  1. Aha! Thanks for the video, it made it all make sense! I've been staring at the dress wondering how you got the skirt to attach to the back like that! It totally works and it's so pretty.

    1. Thanks! I'm definitely not crazy about doing videos, but I thought this one really needed one. It's so deceptively simple!

  2. Thanks so much for this awesome documentation! It really helped me in making my own Kings Landing Dress! Gonna wear it next weekend at ComicCon Germany :)

  3. Thank you! It's been driving me mad that I couldn't figure out how this dress would be made. This is perfect. :)