Costumes: Kaylin’s LARP Dress–LotR Rivendell Elf Style
~ by Kaylin
Thus far, I have my pattern chosen, as well as the buttons for the dress I’ll be making. I have a few ideas in mind on modifications, because I don’t want an exact replica of the dress (gorgeous as it is, it is just not practical for fighting and running around, as well as dealing with trees and branches). To date, my dress will be loosely based off the “Rivendell Farewell ” dress. I like the idea of the rolled collar and sash, as well as the fabric used, but I don’t like the length. I will attempt to shorten the dress up to at least knee length or a few inches below that.
From research done at places like Alley Cat Scratch LotR Costume Page, I’ve been able to find out that this dress was more than likely done in Purple Metalic Brocade for the over dress, and a purple silk for the under-dress. I’ve done a semi-replica before with a little hand held sewer (the bane of my existance) with some brilliant Teal fabric with a slight paisly pattern on it. The fabric was gorgeous, but WAY too bright in my opinion (looking back at pictures of myself..*shudders*).
This time, I’ve got my eye set on a blue taffeta with a black burn out pattern of leaves and such. Not nearly as much of an eye sore. I also plan to make a mock-up first, because the pattern I bought, (Simplicity 9891) has been known to run a little on the large size. I figure some cheap broadcloth will suit nicely, and I can use it as an under chemiese afterwards.
I had a dress (my first incarnation on the road to becoming an elven shaman) that was made by a friend of mine about two years ago, made from this gorgeous ice blue silk-y like material, but I had cut off the sleeves and the bodice part of the dress for something else. Now I wish I hadn’t. That dress would have made a perfect chemiese of under dress for what I’m doing now. The only thing I can hope is that there’s enough material on the dress part that I can make something out of it with the patterns I have, but somehow, I doubt it.
That being said, I went and purchased myself some deep blue thread, buttons, dressmarker’s shears (Universal Scissors are nice, but tend not to leave a clean edge on fabric) and some fusable non-woven interfacing. I’ve used Iron-On interfacing before, but then I realised with my fabric choice, I might not be able to use the interfacing because of what it’ll do to the fabric. The heat might melt or burn the fabric, so I might not be able to use it or I might have to use a super-low heat setting. Now to find my iron…
After looking at the patterns available on the package, I was left with another dilema. The sash is nice, but the back of Dress B has got a nice bow type thing on the back, but no collar. I figure the dress patterns are the same, so I can attach the Yoke collar from View C to View B. I also had to make the dress with a front closure for the buttons I used, as the patterned fabric in the Rivendell Farewell dress is technically an over-dress.
The styles of the dress are pretty much the same. Both have the zipper in the back, as well as the princess seams. The only difference is the Gimp Trim as well as the corset style front and the back sash on View B, and the Rolled Collar on View C. For a while there, I had thought about using View A because of the fuller dress. Because of the way the back seam is sewn (it actually has a seam right down the middle…which would be where I would have the front opening) I had though about just using the back patterns as the front, and the front patterns at the back. But this style of dress has princess seams, which makes things a little more difficult.
I got a deep blue taffeta with a burn out leaf and vine pattern for the over-dress. And I got a ice blue crepe for the under dress. I bought 6 yards of each, just to be sure I had enough fabric. I also got 6 and a half yards of broadcloth for mock-ups. I didn’t have enough for at least two mock-ups, as my only real concern is the body shape and modifications to that. If I need to adjust the sleeves (which I did!), I certainly will have enough to make one sleeve, just so I can be sure the fit is correct.
After I got my pattern for the dress portion cut out and taped in places where it should be taped, as well as adjustments and modifications made, I pinned the pattern to the broadcloth. I hate the Yoke bit, so to the back of piece 3 (3A), I taped it together with piece 15 (Back yoke) so I’ll get one smooth peice (minus the collar of course). As well, I made adjustments to pieces 1 and 14. 14 is the collar/yoke piece, and 1 is the center front dress (which normally I would have cut one of, now I’m cutting two instead). I decided to go with hem length in View B, it comes to just above the ankles from what I can tell, which suits me just fine.
Well, once my mock-up was as finished as I could get with only the body pieces done anyway, I found the only mistakes I had made on it was I had sewn one of the front panels incorrectly, but I was able to correct that with a toe-nail clipper nail cleaner, my scissors and a lot of patience. I don’t currently have the sleeves attached, as those will require some tinkering still, but other than that, wearing what I would normally wear for Havok!, the dress fits like a dream! I am so happy about that, as I thought it might be a bit small. (According to the size chart on the back, I was too big for what was listed, if that makes any sense.)
I also needed to scallop the front two bottom edges, as well as hem the edges. The collar wasn’t nearly as much of a pain in the butt as I had thought it would be, but eventually, I figured out how it went together. The mock-up, of course, has no liner or interfacing, so the collar looked a little..well…droopy. For the finished product, the collar should stand a little straighter.
After I completed my mock-up, aside from the hemming of the dress, I managed to find a way to make sleeve caps, following directions of course from Alley Cat Scratch LotR Costume Page. I botched the first sleeve, tucking the wrong side of the fabric together and sewing them on the inside of the garment. I can’t do that with a sleeve cap, I have to place the right sides together and sew the arm hole from the inside. But the effect is well worth the trouble I think.
For the bell sleeves, I needed to tinker with them a bit more. I had shortened the sleeve length by about 2 inches, but I added that onto the bell sleeve part. The upper arm still comes down to about mid-forearm, and I certainly didn’t want that. I had to shorten it again by another two inches, maybe even as much as three. I also cut four pieces of the bell sleeve, instead of two so that I could have the inside look like the outside. This of course has made the fabric a slight bit stiffer, and it looks rather funny instead of draping like it should. I also widened the collar a bit, just so that it frames my face properly, as well as give me enough fabric at the front to hem the edge and allow me to fasten my buttons.
When I cut my good fabric, I added a bit more height and width to the collar, this time making it with the non-woven interfacing which I was able to iron on without any trouble. I also did a deep scalloped edge along the hem for the front two panel peices, allowing for movement and to show the under-dress a la Rivendell Farewell style. I did stitch another bit of fabric along the inside of the dress where the buttons are, just to add some extra strength there. In total, four buttons were used.
As for the sleeve pattern, I had to cut 5 inches from the bottom edge to get the seam to come in above my elbow. I might also straighten out the side edges a bit as well, to give my arms more room when they’re raised, flexed or pulled back slightly (the Simplicity pattern tapers). As for the flounce treatment, because I’d shortened the sleeve by 5 inches, I had to add that back on the flounce bit. There was also the trouble of it looking more like a circle than anything else. I had to make a decision to either cut the sleeves to make a drape a la Rivendell Farewell Style like I had wanted, or leave the bell shape and just hem the edges like in the Chase Scene dress. After much debate with myself, and looking over the design, I decided to go with the Chase Scene style because of the underside of the sleeve is where the seam is and there was no way I could fesably cut along the top line without exposing the seam beneath. I had thought to fix this by adding another layer of Taffeta and sewing it together with the sleeve, but decided against it because it would only stiffen the already stiff fabric and not drape properly.
The Underdress I made the same way as I made the regular dress, save for there is no zipper, no tie thing in the back, and no rolled collar. The sleeves are also tapered slightly and fall to about my wrist. It slips over my head fine and settles nicely into place.
The hair was actually made with toyokalon synthetic braid (four packages) of light brown, dark brown and black. I basically attached two rows of the hair to one of those wire headbands by a latch hook method and hot glue gunned it to stay in place. My real hair I braided in several places just to give the wire something to hold onto. Comfortable for about 8 hours before it bagan to hurt slightly. There are also four combs (two sets of two, one small, one large) just to add fullness and length. My own hair is slightly blended, though in the last picture, you can see where my hair ends and the synthetic hair begins. There are also three small herringbone braids in the back (can see clearly in the last photo) that took me FOREVER to do because I had trouble figuring out how to do it (even with instructions.)
The belt is actually a shell that’s been attached to a macramed rope like material, and I added the silver bear paw prints, as well as my character’s name in Sindarin Tengwar. The belt pouch was given to me by a friend last year for christmas, and the leather bound circle thing was made by a friend last summer. The bone is actually (In character) a Shaman’s Fetish. It’s basically a “Spiritual In-Box” so that my character can send and recieve messages from the spirit world.
The Boots I got from The Renaissance Store and are front lace-up moccassins. They are quite comfortable, lightweight, comform to my foot and lace all the way to my knee. The only drawback is that there is NO grip on the bottom.
Point to note: This also got me Best New Fantasy Costume during the costume contest for our Duke’s Tournament.