Monday, February 13, 2012

Eowyn's Shieldmaiden Dress

Character: Eowyn
Costume: Shieldmaiden Dress
From: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Made: 2002

This beautiful dress first appeared in promotional images for The Two Towers and was almost immediately dubbed the "Shieldmaiden" outfit. Unfortunately, it didn't make an appearance in TTT, but we finally got to see it in Return of the King! Ngila Dickson, the costume designer for the LOTR trilogy, has said that this outfit is meant to convey a "sense of [Eowyn] fighting in her underwear." I think it does a good job of that, and it's very pretty besides!

I didn't make this dress for myself-- I made it for my best friend, Amy, whose favorite LOTR character is Eowyn. After making my Arwen chase dress, I was eager to get my friends to start dressing up as well. Amy liked the idea, so we looked at all of Eowyn's outfits, and she chose this one. This was my second full recreation, and in some ways it was harder than the chase dress, because at the time there were only a few good images of the dress and no tutorial to help me.

Someday I'd love to make this one for myself! I've still got a fair bit of the cream silk left, and it's such a beautiful dress...

Going to see The Two Towers at our college, spring 2003

Oh my gosh, did I ever not know what I was doing when I made this!

The two pieces of this costume were constructed several months apart. The vest was started and completed in the four hours before we left for the theater on TTT opening night. Since we couldn't get the chemise done (poor planning on my part!), we added long rectangular pieces of fabric to the sleeves of the chemise from my Ren Faire outfit, and she wore the vest over that. I finished the real chemise that spring, and she wore the whole outfit when TTT was shown on our campus in April. Once again, the resources at Alleycatscratch were invaluable in researching and constructing this costume.


I made the vest out of upholstery fabric from a local store. It's a thick woven fabric, not really quilted, but it had the diamond pattern. The pattern I used was a very old, out of print pattern that my school's costume shop didn't want anymore. In the real costume, there are actually two pieces, a vest and then a corset over it, but no one knew that when we made the vest, so it's just one piece. The vest fastens with a back zipper, which isn't accurate, but it's perfectly functional. The vest is unlined because the fabric was already so thick.


The chemise is made of absolutely gorgeous cream silk fabric that was on the remnant table at a local store. At the time, we thought the pattern on the fabric wasn't accurate-- but when high-res photos of the real one became available, it turned out to be a much closer match than we'd expected! Since the silk was partially sheer, I bought solid silk in the same color and made a simple drawstring skirt to go under the chemise. The basis for the chemise was the instructions from Dawn's Costume Guide; I altered the neckline and the sleeves to make them look more like Eowyn's. I shaped the square neckline into a curve and bound it with bias tape, and I shortened the sleeves and attached long rectangular pieces of fabric to the bottom of the sleeves, which I then gathered vertically.

Those sleeves! Oh, the sleeves were such a pain in the neck. I couldn't figure out how to get them to puff nicely at the shoulders, and then I couldn't figure out how to keep the cording from falling down in droopy loops. I ended up making the upper sleeve in two layers, with the top layer longer than the bottom layer so that the top layer "puffed" a little. Actually, since the silk is quite thin, it droops more than it puffs, but it's still a nice effect. As for the cord, I ended up tacking it down every few inches around the sleeve, but I'm still not quite satisfied.

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