adjective:old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].

the concept

LOTR design

the fabric

dress fabric
dress: periwinkle dupioni
sleeve fabric
sleeve: silver dupioni
trim: purple, silver and black jacquard ribbon

the pattern

Dress and upper sleeve: Simplicity 4940
Lower sleeve: McCall's 4491

the deadline

October 8, 2005: GBACG's Lord of the Rings Feast

the result

Ireth Melwasúl

what's on the dvd player?


useful links

Alley Cat Scratch: Lord of the Rings costume

Valinor: Arwen's Closet

WigJig Jewelry Making University

inspirational images

Arwen's Rivendell Farewell Dress: A Hobbit's Tale, Lovely Liv Tyler

Arwen's Requiem Dress: A Hobbit's Tale, Alley Cat Scratch

Arwen's Mourning Dress: Alley Cat Scratch

Arwen's Cranberry Gown: Arwen's Closet

Arwen's Blood Red Gown: Fantasy Planet


Gary Russell, The Art of the Fellowship of the Ring, The Art of the Two Towers, and The Art of the Return of the King.

Jean Hunnisett, Period Costume for Stage & Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, Medieval-1500 (Players Press, 1996).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Wow! Not only did I survive, but the event was FABulous (if I do say so myself).

The dress: I was going for speed, so did most things on the machine (inc. the hem, which made me shudder but I did it anyway) -- but I knew the sleeves would be really visible, so I hemmed them by hand. Most everything was pretty straightforward, not too much to tell.

I did end up dyeing my hair to match the wig, and it actually came out a perfect match, but of course didn't do my roots well enough (duh!) so my visible hair didn't quite match (grumble grumble). I rolled my own hair into the front, then made two small braids to keep my own hair in (I couldn't get any clips to work, and I didn't want to use hair bands). It actually worked out well, because I had an obvious piece to keep in front of my ears to help mask the join. Luckily my husband has some experience with makeup, so he did my ears, and they turned out quite well (I did his, and it didn't go quite so well).

The dangly bits on the circlet only lasted long enough for the first few pictures before they started catching on the wrong links and making me very irritated, so they came off even before we left.

Ireth MelwasúlIreth MelwasúlIreth Melwasúl

The event itself was a HA-UGE amount of work, but it really went fabulously. We decorated the hall (a redwood hall surrounded by trees) to the nines (and even managed to be ready early!), the food was great (dessert included an amazing bread pudding in a bourbon sauce - yum!), and the entertainment really seemed to go over well -- we had songs, readings, a harpist, plus dances in the style of elves, hobbits, and humans of Gondor and Rohan. (Yes, there were an army of people working on this). It really was magical.

It was much harder to take photos during the event because we only lit the hall by candlelight.

Ireth MelwasúlIreth MelwasúlIreth Melwasúl

Even though it was SO MUCH WORK, it was simply glorious and I can't help but starting thinking of what project should be next...

But in the meantime, here's more photos -- Lord of the Rings Feast.

posted by démodé 7:26 PM

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Confession time: I'm, um, all done. But I've been frantic over planning the event for this, so haven't managed to A) take pictures, B) upload the pictures I have, and therefore C) to update this here project. So let's just pretend I'm NOT done, shall we? Then you can get the full blow by blow account. It'll be our secret.

I sucked it up, bought a new (yes, invisible) zipper, ripped out the old one and mostly successfully put in the new one. Bastards.

Then it was on to sleeves. I was originally going to use the sleeves that came with the dress, until Bridget showed up with the snappy McCall's 4491. I had to steal her sleeve pattern, as it is a more petal-y shape (which I just liked, no other reason!) plus it has the seam going diagonally on the INSIDE of the arm (oooooooooooooooo, brilliance!).

Here you are, pre-hemming, trimming, or attaching:


The dupioni seems to be working out well. Yes, the dress (and sleeves) are stiffer than the elvish dress in the film, but they're not TOO bad and the stiffness makes them hold their shape well.

Now you can pretend with me that this is as far along as I am, and be very impressed when I manage to get my dress finished in time for the event, PLUS make a waistcoat for my knows-how-to-sucker-me wants-to-be-a-hobbit husband.

Oh, I'm excited because I was at the drug store last night and found a new semi-permanent hair dye by L'Oreal that comes in crayola red colors! So I can dye my hair (temporarily) and then work some of my own hair into the front of the wig (then show up for work the next week with Really Red hair, but we won't worry about that now. Scarf, anyone?).

posted by démodé 1:36 PM

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Anyone need a bridesmaid? (I know, I need some sleeves here to de-bridesmaid-ify this sucker, but still! I'm available, and I won't sleep with the groom!)

Ahem. Spent the afternoon/evening sewing and managed to get all of the main seams together (lots of ironing on those french seams!) and get the zipper in the back. Man, do I hate zippers. That's the problem with being an historical costumer -- you're great at really hard things like handmade eyelets, but suck at basic sewing things like zippers. I managed to actually get the thing in without having to rip it out or kill anyone, only to find I seem to have a bum zipper, so about half of the time I zip it up the teeth don't grab. Grrrr. I literally hate zippers so much, I may just leave it in and plan on re-zipping multiple times if necessary to get it closed -- it's not like I'll need to unzip it during the evening, right?

Why do you always look hideous after a long night of sewing? And yes, my butt is wrinkly.


Did a test run of wig and ears, which looks pretty good -- but I can already tell that the wig is going to kill me. It knots like nobody's business, and I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to bring it to the event in a wearable condition (I need to show up undressed so I can help with set up). (Btw, I'm really liking this hair color... time to dye my hair!) And yes, I have yet to sew in any wig clips so it's slipping back...

posted by démodé 11:32 PM

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don't fall over... she sews! And has photographs to prove it!

Life has just been SO crazy right now with working late nearly every week night, faire on the weekends, and in between trying to plan the GBACG LotR event. But given that there's only two weeks until said event, it might be nice if I had something to wear...

So with that in mind, Bridget came over on Sunday and we spent the whole day sewing -- I literally worked from 12pm until 9pm.

I've abandoned any idea I had of draping this myself, instead starting with the commercial pattern for the mockup and using huge (like 3-4") seam allowances, which then allows me to drape fit. I'm using Simplicity 4940, which worked out quite well once I adjusted for the totally different silhouette caused by wearing a corset underneath (including raising the neckline -- I don't think elves go in much for cleavage). The only thing we really tweaked beyond that was the angle of the side front seams, which were very parallel -- we found a V shape looked much nicer.

Here's the mockup, with huge seam allowances so it's hard to see what's going on:


Then I redrew the pattern pieces and cut out the entire sucker (except for sleeves; those'll get mocked up and cut out later). I'd really messed with the side front piece, so to make sure I hadn't screwed anything up I pinned together the pattern pieces, plus a mockup for the side front -- luckily all was well, plus now you can really see things starting to take shape:


Now I get to start the fun part -- sewing!

Oh, question -- my wig arrived and it looks quite good, but it's already getting really tangled (it's LONG and there's an awful lot of hair). Any suggestions on ways to keep it relatively untangled -- should I try some spray conditioner or...? Also, I've got the usual front wig hairline. I'm contemplating whether I could roll or braid some of my own hair into the front so I can have a natural hairline, but the wig is much redder than I am. Anyone know of any really temporary hair color I could use? We're talking close to crayola red here...

posted by démodé 2:00 PM

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sometimes, when you're just too tired to face the idea of pattern drafting (trace pattern, make mockup, fit, mark new seams, transfer to pattern, make another mockup, ad infinitum it feels like), it's nice to turn your attention to something with relative immediate gratification. Like jewelry making.

Of course, there's been a few fits and starts. Being a COMPLETELY new beader, I had a hard time getting all the right supplies (namely, head pins and wire), but on Friday I finally trekked into a local bead shop and got help.

The only real thing to learn was how to make a bead wrap with eye loops. I originally looked at a lot of beading/jewelry-making techniques, but they seem to be written for dunces (ie "You have no sense of personal creativity! Here's how to exactly copy this random necklace design!") rather than just techniques, which is what I needed. Although it's weirdly presented, the Wig Jig jewelry making university actually had the technique info that I needed, so off I was.

I'm not trying to copy any specific jewelry from the movies -- I just liked the idea of wearing a circlet -- altho I did copy the hangy side bits from Arwen's coronation crown.

Otherwise, it's just the leaf findings I mentioned below, with bead wrapped eye loops and one hangy bead at the center front. I'll add the chain which will connect this sucker once I have my wig (and know how big my head will be).

Sorry for the crappy photos, this was a really hard thing to photograph. Plus I look demonic in most of them.


I'm thinking I'll make a semi-matching necklace (probably just the center leaf thingie with a hanging bead, then the bead-wrapped eye loop thingies. The word "thingie" is very useful).

posted by démodé 11:57 PM

Friday, August 26, 2005

Since I'm not actually doing much sewing, and even tho we're about 5 months late for my initial flurry of thoughts about this project, since it's next on the list I thought I'd start writing something -- it's been sadly content-less around here (faire, moving, work)!

I was weirdly able to resist LotR costumes during all three of the movies. Sure, I liked the movies, and yes the costumes were pretty, but I didn't need any of them. Fast forward til after most LotR events had come and gone, and I suddenly got The Need for an LotR gown.

First, it was Arwen's Rivendell farewell gown. Then it was Arwen's mourning dress. Then I got sidetracked by Eowyn's green gown.

So I started to do a bunch of research (read: look at lots of stills, read the fabulous Alley Cat Scratch website, look at what other costumers had done) and while I was still excited, I suddenly saw all of the amazing recreations people have made of these gowns. And I thought, "But I don't want to look like anyone else!" So I decided that I'd take the elements of these gowns (and others) that I liked, tweak them a bit -- hell, simplify them a bit -- and turn them into something vaguely unique. Altho Eowyn's look was tempting, I realized that I just had to be an elf. I mean, which girl doesn't want to be an elf? Plus I was liking all of the silver and lavender in Arwen's farewell gown, and the nifty circlets she wore, and the purdy circlets she wore on her hair. So I'm going to be Carwen (composite Arwen), Arwen's long lost sister.

Then, it came down to the search for supplies. I have to admit, the historical costume purist in me has NEVER let me use dupioni. For anything. I saw that some of the elf costumes were made in dupioni, and as that's the most affordable and available silk (which I can never use for historical) I decided to go for it -- esp. as this periwinkle dupioni just screamed "ELF!" to me:

dress fabric

I liked the contrasting sleeves, so decided that a silver dupioni sleeve would look pretty darn smashing -- and when I found the trim that incorporated both of these colors on ebay, I knew I was set.

The design simplification will mostly come into play in the fact that the dress will be one piece. I am wondering, however, whether I'll need any kind of simple petticoat underneath to make the skirt look nice? Remember we're covering MY hips here, not Liv Tyler's...

The major tweak that I'm going to be using will be doing as Jenny La Fleur did on her Eowyn gown -- I'm wearing this sucker over a corset! For one, I am no Liv Tyler. For another, I was at a ball months ago and saw a girl in an LotR gown that just looked FABULOUS. I rushed up to Talk Shop with her, and realized when I got up close that it wasn't so much that there was anything special about her dress (I think it may have been velvet with some simple trim), but it was the fact that she was curvy like me and was wearing a corset -- and damn, if she didn't look good.

The one other bit that I'm excited about is the jewelry. I spent a few days shopping for circlets on ebay before I realized that I could make one myself for less money, and have it actually coordinate well with my outfit. I found some perfect jewelry findings -- this will be the center piece, these will be spaced out along the sides -- at Fire Mountain Gems (altho finding the right size head pins for my beads has been annoying).

posted by démodé 11:13 AM

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