Eowyn's Refugee Outfit -- LOTR: The Two Towers

For more reference images see Costumer's Guide and AlleyCatScratch's pages on this costume


Let's start with the underdress. My fabric starts here, with a wall-street blue, Japanese cotton shirting fabric found on sale at Fabric.com years ago. I bought it specifically to make this costume. I debated over-dying it with some purple, but decided that I didn't want to risk going too dark or too purple. The color is just fine. What I'm lacking is texture and gold thread. Those I can add.

So, I started by broomsticking the fabric. I wet it with hot water, tied one end to my shower rod, and twisted it again and again until it started to twist onto itself, and then I twisted it some more.

Until I got something that looks like this:

That went into the leg of some old pantyhose and into the dryer with some old towels. NOTE: if you forget to tie off the end of the pantyhose, like I did, you have to start the whole process over again because the fabric will escape and dry flat. DO NOT FORGET TO TIE OFF THE END OF THE PANTYHOSE!

This thing sat around in the bathroom for three or four days, never quite drying. I untwisted and retwisted it and dried it three or four times until it finally stopped being damp.

So now I had this very nice, very not-wide fabric.

And thus begins the final, and craziest step: machine embroidering gold thread all over the damn stuff. My machine doesn't have the right stitch, but Mom was kind enough to lend me one of hers that does. I cut the fabric into squares close to the shape of my pattern pieces. I can't cut out the actual pieces yet because the embroidery is going to change the nature of the fabric and I'd just have to recut them.

So, I ran gold thread in a feather stitch all over the fabric. Two spools of gold thread and a few hours later, and I've finished enough fabric for a sleeve and a half.

And thus, my final fabric was born.

I stared and stared at the images of the orignal costume, and I believe the skirt is smooth and lacks embroidery. I believe the sides of the bodice are embroidered, but I don't think the entire bodice is. I embroidered only the tops and sides of the bodice and then threw the rest of the fabric in the dryer with some wet towels to get rid of the broomsticking. I did all of this before cutting out the pieces or sewing my first stitch.

This image has been messed with quite a bit, but I was trying to get it to show whether or not the sides are embroidered.

Below the Shieldmaiden bodice here, I think you can see the skirt fabric, and that it's smooth and unembroidered.

After staring at the embroidery, I'm pretty sure there's a definite repeating pattern to the embroidery. Of course, I didn't notice this until after I'd done mine, but that's how it goes sometimes.

For both the dress I started with McCall's 5499 as the base pattern. I cut it off a little below the waist and drafted my own skirt. The sleeves also had to be widened at the wrists so that I could roll them up. I know the original had sleeve ties based on this screencap, but I opted not to waste time on them since I'm planned to roll the sleeves up the whole time.

The collar is bias-bound, but I no longer think that's accurate. I took a bunch of gold threads and ran a quick stitch around the seam.

The original costume has matching braided cord around the upper sleeves. The cording comes and goes throughout the movie, appearing during her sparring match with Aragorn, but disappearing when the reach Helm's Deep, only to reappear in the caves. I'm fairly sure that I see some gold mixed into the cord. I had a hard time finding cording the right color for the sleeves, and the white stuff I could find wouldn't take dye the way I wanted it to. Finally, I trekked down to Michael's with a swatch in hand and came home with a huge skein of acrylic yarn that's surprisingly close in color. I did a four strand braid with some gold DMC embroidery floss mixed in.

The overdress is made from a medium-weight brown linen. I honestly don't remember which online fabric store I found it on. The pattern is completely self-drafted.

This is a lesson in double-checking a picture of your source costume as you go along. I remembered there were cap sleeves on the jumper. What I drafted and slapped onto my costume were the mini-wings you see on the right. I look like I'm playing the part of a steampunk airship in a 3rd grade play. Unwilling to undo all the work I'd done tacking the facings in, I just chopped off the old sleeves and hand-sewed some new, more accurate cap sleeves on. It's not the cleanest work ever, but I think they look so much better.

After looking all over town and all over the web, I finally found a small leather braid to use around the neckline in the jewelry section of Michael's.

The mud around the hemline is just acrylic paint and shoe polish that I sponged on.