Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eowyn Victory Dress Part 1: Fabrics

I've started working on Eowyn, and before I get too far along, I want to start posting about the build.  So, let's start at the very beginning ... fabrics.

I looked everywhere online and in stores to find something similar to the fabric used in the Victory Dress.  I'm pretty sure it's a dyed Indian fabric, as that seems to be what most of the dresses in LOTR were made from.  The costume is made out of two parts: a dress and waist-length jacket.  There are three different fabrics used, as there is a frontpiece to the jacket (I'm not sure what it would be called).

The Dress:  

As you can see from the picture below, it has a really nice texture to it.  I couldn't find anything in a uniform color (so that it would dye evenly).  Also, all of the embroidery on these types of fabrics (that I could see in the store, at least), was metallic, which just won't dye.

I did find this Bridal Inspirations white satin fabric at JoAnn Fabrics, then dyed it.  

I agonized over the color - I really did.  There are a few production stills of this dress, and it looks to be a different color in almost every single shot.  In some photos, it looks like a light grayish-blue (the same color as the accompanying robe that I made). 

In some photos, it looks like a much richer blue.  And in some photos (like the close-up of the sleeve), it has a much greener tint.  Part of me really wanted to do the much richer blue, but I decided to go with the light blue.  Using the Rit Color Formula Guide and several experiments, I finally settled on blue-green #208.  Unfortunately, the fabric didn't hold the color as well as I wanted, so I dyed it a few times.  I couldn't tell you what my ratio ended up being.  Luckily, I dyed all of the fabric all at the same time to make sure that the color would be even.  But still, my modern, digital-readout washing machine is NOT made for dyeing - it refuses to simply soak or agitate, it INSISTS on going through every cycle in order, and if you try to stop it and start the agitate cycle again, it first empties all of the gorram water.  There really is something to be said for my grandma's old machine with the dial.  Sigh.

I'm quite pleased with the final product, especially as this is my first time dyeing fabric on this scale.  I did end up with about two yards of the ten that didn't dye quite as deeply as the rest, and I'm not sure why (but I blame the machine).  Because there were a few dark spots from where the dye sank in too much and some of the fabric was unusable, I had to use those two yards to make the back part of a sleeve.  It's a little too white, but unless someone is looking really hard, I don't think they'll notice it.  Also, because the fabric is super duper shiny and almost completely negates the blue (it makes it look too silvery), I decided to use the wrong sides as the right side.

The Jacket:

This is another fabric that is just absolutely gorgeous.  It has gold embroidery, and I had a really hard time deciding what fabric to use.  After a LOT of deliberation and searching of online fabric stores, I settled on the very first swatch I had purchased: a Gold Metallic Paisley Brocade, also from JoAnn Fabrics.

The sleeves for the jacket are LOOONG, so I thought I'd better buy a bunch of fabric.  When I went back to the store to buy more, though, they were out!  When I checked online, it said that the fabric was out of stock, and the store in Naperville, about a half hour's drive from here, was the only one with any stock left.

As I was on my way to Naperville, I got a call from my husband that he had hurt his foot on his run, so I had to go pick him up (he claimed he could make it the three miles home, but I wasn't going to let him walk three miles on a foot with an unknown injury!)  By the time I'd dropped him off at home, I only had 45 minutes until closing.  I booked it over there and got my fabric (an entire bolt!) about 15 minutes before the store closed.  There were a ton of women buying loads of fabric.  (Who decides at 9:45pm that you need to buy one yard of 12 different fabrics?  Apparently half a dozen people.  Insanity.)  Anyway, after getting my fabric, I was standing in the l-o-n-g line at the checkout holding the bolt, and the women in front of me started tittering to each other.  Finally, one turned around and said to me in a haughty voice, "You know, you need to have that cut!"  A few others agreed with her: "Yes, you have to take that to the cutting counter!"  "You can't have that cut at the register!"  I gazed at them all, lifted an eyebrow, then coolly held up my yellow cutting ticket and said, "full bolt".  It was one of my cooler moments.  They all stumbled over themselves to apologize and one of them made a ridiculous remark about how people at Wal-Mart usually don't know that they have to go to the cutting counter.  The busy-bodies stood there quite uncomfortably until it was their turn at the register.  Take that, Napervile!

I haven't dyed this fabric yet, because when I did the test on the swatch, it was REALLY dark.  I'll have to start very light with this one and then gradually dye it.  (Oh, yeah, and the stupid fabric is back in stock - I didn't have to rush over to Naperville that evening.  But, you never know.  I've had more bad luck with fabrics going away and never coming back in the middle of projects.) 

The Frontpiece:

I originally purchased another brocade for the detailing of the jacket bodice, but I decided tonight that it had too much red in it.  I will now simply use the gold metallic brocade, and to just not dye it, or, if I do, to dye it a very light yellow (only because I think that the white may be WAY too glaring).

So, that's it for now.  I already have the main part of the dress finished (I don't want to put the sleeves on until I get the lining because I want to sew the lining to the sleeves at the bottom).  I just got my lining swatches, so I'll be purchasing the lining from Fabric.com tonight.  I've drafted the jacket bodice and frontpiece, and now I'm actually about to go work on the jacket sleeves, which are turning out to be a bigger pain than I thought they would.  So, stay tuned!  I'll be working on this costume pretty extensively this week, so I'll be (hopefully) updating the blog often.