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Having cherished for some time the idea of doing a White Lady dress, the chief problem was finding a suitable and cheap white fabric. Where was it? What could I use?
I looked at satin, polyester, velvet Ė even Ė God help me Ė fleece, but there was nothing even remotely in my price range. I was at my wits end. I was ready to chuck it all and cough up for white velvet, and then I saw the perfect fabric.
It wasnít in a discount fabric shop Ė it wasnít even reduced. It was cream wool crepe at £2 a meter. I snatched up the roll, carried it round the shop with me, occasionally checking that Iíd got the price right, and bought fifteen meters. I wish Iíd got the whole roll, now.
Iíd decided to make the dress as faithful to the movie as possible. So, it started with me fitting a three piece bodice in some polyester as a toile; one front piece and two back pieces, with all the fitting done at the side seams. It worked pretty well, and I found some iron-on celtic designs to use for embroidered trim around the neckline.
I got the iron, ironed over the design, and managed in one fell swoop to burn the fabric, the carpet, and the paper.
The next four weeks I spent embroidering the neckline with single stranded golden brown embroidery cotton. I had some trouble making the design go round the corners of the V shaped neck, but in the end I managed. The design, originally intended to go around the back as well, stops at the shoulder point on each side.
My sleeves are big beyond sense, and I love them. Theyíre closely fitted to the elbow with quite a steep sleeve head, then below the elbow have a meter long drop and a gorgeous long semicircle on the lower edge. I decided to line them in a rather pretty fabric that I culled from a duvet cover (£1 from the Social Security Charity Shop) and that Iíd been saving to make the shield-maiden outfit, which is cream cotton with a very soft cream print on it. From a distance, it looks like damask, which is just right.
I made the bodice up, flat-lined it in cream satin, and added the sleeves, then put the skirt in as a four piece umbrella skirt. I like the way it hangs Ė all soft folds. Thereís a slight train of about eight inches at the back, which puddles a little bit. Unfortunately I cut the skirt just a bit too short at the front, so the dress is ankle rather than full length, but at least I donít trip over it. I overcast the lower edge with a zig-zag stitch.
The back fastening is an invisible zip. Normally I try not to use zips, but it actually is invisible so I donít mind too much. Itís so fitted that I find it difficult to zip myself up and usually need a hand it get in.
The belt I cannibalised from three broken belts that I found reduced in a fashion store. It isnít backed on fabric- itís attatched at the back and each link is sewn to the waistline of the gown. While it isnít particularly faithful to Eowynís belt, itís got a gorgeous Saxon princess look to it that I think fits with the overall spirit of Rohan.
And that was it. I left off the sleeve ties, as I couldnít find any cord that I liked. Some day I might add them, but I donít feel that the dress needs them.
I had a lot of bother fitting the bodice, and I still feel a bit squashed every time I put it on, and it STILL pulls a bit under the arms, but on the whole Iím quite pleased with it. I suspect my chest size is just a bit too big to only shape at the side seams, but the unbroken line of the fabric at the front is just wonderful. The belt successfully hides the waist seam, and the weight of the gold links pulls the fabric down, pulling out any creases and making the bodice sit better.
If I was going to do it again, I think I would consider princess seaming it, and maybe bag lining rather than flat lining it. Also, Iíd like to try it with lacing up the back.
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