I was inspired to make this dress after completing my Rennaissance outfit in August 2003. My goal: To finish this dress in time to go see  ROTK at midnight in costume. Well, I did make my goal after a costuming experience that taught me many new things.

The Corset:
  The first piece I tried was the corset. I found a chocolate brown courderoy at G Street Fabrics and used a pre-made corset pattern from Patterns for Theatrical Costumes by Katherine Strand Holkeboer, which I had picked up at the MET while in New York City (during the blackout, no less). Needless to say, the corset did not fit. After a couple of weeks' work, I had a corset for a 19 inch waist with ripped too-small hand sewn eyelets (my metal ones ripped out) and messy quilting. I was discouraged but not ready to give up.

For my second attempt at the corset I used
Katherine's Corset Drafting Instructions. This pattern fit me perfectly, thank goodness. I ordered a faux washable suede from www.warehousefabricsInc.com for my second attempt at the corset after seeing a picture of the dress in sunlight, showing that the corset was lighter in colour than it had originally appeared. I machine stiched the 1" diamond quilting into my corset pieces and lined it with cotton twill left over from the prelim. I used cased featherweight boning, which I am neverusing again because it bends very easily out of shape. I also handsewed my eyelights, having had the unfortunate experience of the metal ones popping out.I ordered my trim from Calontir Trims and handsewed it on. I laced the vest with a piece of dark brown bolo cord from G Street Fabrics. The finished corset fits me perfectly and the fact that it meets in the back just makes it easier for me to breathe.

The Vest:
For the vest I used Simplicity 9888, which I had purchased a couple years before and made the top once as well as two versions of the skirt. I chose not to line the vest, because this dress had already emptied my wallet and I prefered to make due without. I altered the neckline of the pattern to match the SM vest neckline, though mine does go a tad bit too low. I put an invisible zipper into the center back and handsewed the trim (also from Calontir Trims) onto the neckline. To create the cap sleeves, I handsewed three pieces of trim together ans then machine stiched them onto the vest. The vest fits fine except, the shoulders have a tendency to fall off.

The Chemise:
I saved the chemise for last and besides proving to be the most difficult piece, it took me all the special features and disk 2 of TTT extended dvd and all of Sleepy Hollow to complete. For the pattern, I based it upon Holkeboer's Mid 12th century Bliaut pattern. I did draft my own sleeve pattern, though. I ordered the  Paisley Silk Jacquard from the Silk Connection. In the construction, I discovered that I had order at least 2 yards less than the amount of fabric that I needed. Thus I conserved fabric and cut out the gathers at the neckline in the original.pattern. I had to take what I could get in the sleeves, for which I used a one piece pattern. One sleeve is much longer than the other, but I adapted the slits to get them to the same length once gathered. I adapted the neckline of the pattern to match the dress and used a machine pintuck foot to sew the 5 pintucks. The final touch was the gold trim and sleeve cord from G Street Fabrics.

Thus with my dress finished, I slept in french braids to give an Eowyn wave to my hair for the midnight showing. I wore black jazz shoes with the dress, and even though Eowyn does not wear any jewelry with this dress I wore my finnish beast earrings from GaelSong. To keep myself warm, I made a make - shift cloak out of a red chenille blanked and a celtic brooch. In making this costume three websites proved essential in every moment of creation:
LOTR Costume Research Home
Katherine's Study Page
Maggie's Study Page

Things I learned to do for this costume:
   Sew Silk
   Handsew Eyelets
   Pattern Drafting

Though I am fairly satisfied with this costume, it is one that I would wish to re-make some day. Especially with all the neckline fit issues I had
                          - Maura Plaid
Started: August 2003
Completed: December 2003
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