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Ariel - Oregon, USA

Arwen's Coronation Gown and Aragorn's Surcoat


Making Arwen's Green Coronation Gown  

This gown took me about 4 months to make and quite a lot longer than that to gather all the correct materials. At first I was going to dye my own velvet, but at a local fabric store I found a rich stretch velvet in the perfect color...I took a piece of it home and it matched the color to the LOTR card with a swatch of the actual fabric used. I also like using a stretchy velvet more because it moves with your body better and is lighter to get around in. The velvet type is the only place I deviated from the original.

I made the pattern entirely myself. It was a challenge to figure out how everything should be put together, very much like working a puzzle, I had to make several goes of it to get everything right.

The upper sleeves took the longest time. I overlaid the velvet with a lace I pieced together to make the perfect copy of the design and overbeaded everything, one bead at a time! I used pearly bugle beads and seed pearls, not cheap, but so worth it! I also added a few iridescent mini-sequins into the pattern for a little extra dimension. 

For the under layer neckpiece, I realized the same lacy fabric as the upper sleeves was more beading! Then the top layer, I used a silvery/white wedding brocade to make the thin band that holds it up and hand-stitched the whole thing together. Then I hand embroidered some pale green thread over that to give it the right look. I used a thin silver braid trim on the bases of the upper sleeves and filled in the space with silver beadwork to create a false trim and the same silver braid also trimmed the necklines on the top and bottom layers. Then more pearly bugle beads on either side of the silver trim...all done by back was really aching by then!

The big wide bell sleeves took some doing, but went together fairly easy once I figured out their pattern.

The last step was to dye some silk (I used a thin Habotai silk from  and their ivory fiber-reactive dye) for the undersleeves. I chose ivory instead of the 'soft lemon' color quoted from the original. The ivory was easier to control so I would get a soft yellowish color, not a bright crazy yellow. The silk crinkled up perfectly during the dye process and gave the aged, gorgeous appearance of the harder to find silk mousseline.

I was not even going to begin trying my hand at metalwork with that crown, so I found an amazing person on ebay selling this one.

I am really pleased with my was a long hard piece of work, but all worthwhile in the end. My husband and I attended a Tolkien event not long after and won 1st place, so we were thrilled!

Aragorn's Red Velvet Surcoat

For this costume, I made the shirt underneath of a very nice textured rayon fabric. I created the pattern for it myself with my husband's measurements. The surcoat is gorgeous, I used a beautiful rich rayon velvet, a spool of this gold trim, some antiqued gold buttons (which matched the original very nicely!) and some gold embroidery thread. The surcoat style is very easy to make, but the mandarin collars are always tricky for me. However, I got this one done without too much stress by laying the surcoat (minus collar) on the floor and using tissue paper underneath to draw the right shape. After it was all together, I stitched the gold trim around the collar and down the front sides by hand. I loved doing the gold embroidery on the collar, it looks so wonderful and regal!

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This page was last updated 11/21/09