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Patterns for LOTR Costumes

For those itching to create a LotR costume, but not confident or experienced enough to drape one without any help from a paper pattern, here are some ideas that can be used as "jumping off" points. While most of these are available from the "Big 3" pattern companies, sometimes one needs to delve into the realm of Living History Re-enactors to find a pattern that's closer. In most cases alterations will need to be made to every pattern, whether it's changing the neckline, changing the sleeve shape or changing a front-lacing bodice to a back-lacing bodice. But at least you have something to start off with.

Keep your purpose in mind: are you trying to make an outfit that is recognizably "in the style" of a Lotr costume, or are you obsessively concerned with matching the pattern on Merry's quilted vest? There's room for both. Pattern suggestions are made by race and character suitability, for greater detail look on the Character Pages for more hints and close-ups of specific outfits. If you know of a pattern that might work for a particular costume, and it' s not listed here, it's probably only that we haven't seen it! This list is certainly not inclusive and we am in no way connected with any company listed.

Also, we've got a list of the patterns, indexed by the shapes of the patterns.

Here we are presenting costume patterns  and our comments on how they work. 

Hobbit Patterns
Elf Patterns
Human Patterns
Other Patterns
Kids Patterns
Cloak Patterns
Pattern Shape Index


Reviews and examples of costume patterns from the big 3 and more:

Various Patterns from Dawn including shirts, tunics, bodices, and breaches

A company that has all the big 3 patterns on line as well as the pattern backs...

  • can be used to search for all current patterns from the a half dozen of the main pattern companies

Simplicity has updated it web site, searching is now just done off it's front page.

  • alternately, you can visit their site though category.  Elven is in prom often.

Historic pattern references

  • - includes cloak patterns

A number of the costumes are based on Cotehardies and Houppelandes.

We've found some fabric swatches to help you make your costumes!

Please contribute.

Much thanks to Jen, Lisa and Cat for all of their pattern suggestions and information!  Section Editor: Judy

General notes on quickly modifying patterns:

A lot of the costume patterns from the "Big 3" are the same patterns recycled with different artwork and slight changes on the accessories/sleeves.  If you lay a lot of them down together matched at the shoulder seams, you will see how a  how a lot of the arm holes match up. The neck treatment varies as do the sleeves.

Bodies are the same for the unfitted tunics. They don't redraft. They grab pieces and recombine.  A pattern that doesn't sell well may only seen one printings. They'll tweak something about it to correspond to today's tastes and send it out again. There really id very little difference between what they market for a wizard or a nativity player, but they certainly will package with different art work.  Different wizards even require different accessories or sleeve lengths.  Fairy tale dresses often are only separated by where the waist line is.   And if the waist line is the same, pieces may again be recycled.  Their passion play/nativity patterns for generic elf and tunic. You get lots of pieces and some accessory suggestions, including open robes, etc. One, even has extra notes for Roman soldiers (i.e. armor). 

If you've got a pattern that fits in the body, remember these aren't historical patterns and the arm hole doesn't really matter... unless you're doing a coat, you can mix and match a light sleeve pretty well.  A theatre trick:  Take a sleeve pattern you know works with the garment, line up the pattern on the grain line of the new fabric. Cut the sleeve cap area out... mark how the underarm section starts... get the length... and modify what's in the middle... wider, shorter whatever. If it's a short sleeve pattern, grab a shirt that fits and get the measurement from it for the length... use the underarm measurement along the seam. But muslin first.

With a muslin, there's nothing wrong w/ the technique at all.  Though actually I do suggest a muslin anytime you haven't made the pattern up already.


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This page was last updated 11/23/09