Monday, January 6, 2020

Details of a 1968 Hobbit Dress

Happy New Year, my loves! I know I am a bit relieved that the holiday season is over and a fresh,  new year has started. I hope that you all are likewise rejuvenated at the prospect of a new beginning and that you all can take time this year to enjoy moments of beauty, to love others fully, and love yourself just as you are, right here, right now.

I love the tall, quiet peace of these pine woods.

I've been rereading the works of JRR Tolkien, as I sometimes do, and have also been working my way through watching the Peter Jackson movie adaptions again (extended version only! 😁) It's been slow going since I often fall asleep at night before getting very far in my book and usually the kids prefer to watch something different on tv. But! Slow progress is still progress. After Christmas I felt the desire to work on a small, not-important sewing project. I have a basket in my sewing room with several WIP's and pulled out a hobbit shift I had made over two years ago. In fact, I think that that hobbit shift was one of the first sewing projects I ever made in my new sewing room. With visions of Shire-folk in my head I felt a bit excited about putting together the rest of the outfit.

In-progress, after sewing on the front panel. I had to refine the fit through the sides
since the pattern came out a lot larger than the size printed on the cover!

When I made my first Hobbit outfit, over seven years ago (!) I studied the movie costumes really closely and tried to replicate the movie version as best as I could. While I was really happy with my finished hobbit outfit, it was definitely a recognizeable costume and although I did wear it a few times for different events, it didn't do much but collect dust before I finally sold it off after losing baby weight.

Grey lace on dark blue wool.
This time, I felt I really wanted something that was not a costume. I don't go to many events and besides Halloween, there really isn't any occasion for me to wear a movie-version Hobbit costume. While I used to wear historic or costumey clothes on an everyday basis I definitely don't do that anymore.

Fitting with side bust darts was challenging. . .princess
seams are definitely easier!

I went through my pattern collection and found a pattern for a dress I got at Goodwill two summers ago. I had never made it up, but it was the right size and the basic design of a fitted, slightly high waisted bodice with a moderately full skirt would work really well for a Hobbit-inspired dress. The more I thought about it, the more everything fell easily into place. I would make a 1968 Hobbit Dress, that could be worn as a costume or for modern wear. (Ok, when I say modern, I don't mean what's fashionable in 2020 - I gravitate towards styles from the 60s, 70s and 80s so a 1968 pattern definitely fits into my modern wardrobe).

Will use again. :D

I made up the sleeveless version of the dress in the last few days before the New Year. It's a darted-to-fit bodice with darts at the back waist, front waist and side bust. This is different from the cut of the movie bodices, which seem to be mostly fitted with princess seams. The only modification I made to the pattern was to lengthen the waist by 1.5", to accommodate an embroidered panel I have saved for just this purpose for several years. I made the bodice in dark blue superfine wool and applied the interfaced embroidered panel to the center front. To cover the raw edges of the panel, I hand stitched on blue strips of linen cut from one of Benjamin's old shirts. The bodice was bag lined with plain cotton and the armhole edges, front neckline and front panel was trimmed with hand stitched cotton lace trim. I had a little of the lace left over after this was done so I stitched it to the back bodice since the back was quite plain.

Adding the trim. . .

Finished bodice before the waistband was sewn on!

A remnant of mustard yellow calico in my stash was perfect for the skirt, which is cut from rectangular panels and pleated at the side waists. The back opens with a placket. The length of the skirt is bit shorter than  my previous hobbit costume, since it seems that during the period my pattern was published, skirts came in 3 lengths - above knee, just below knee, or full length. For this skirt, I went with just below the knee. The excess fabric (about 7"!) is turned up in a very wide hem and hand stitched to finish.

Finished dress inside view.

For the second skirt layer, I made a full length petticoat. Originally I planned to make this of green check cotton but the material that had been sitting in my stash for years was too thin, too old and too fragile to work very well. Halfway into the construction of it I decided I didn't want to put work into something that would not last very long so I put it aside. I took out a blue chambray tablecloth I got at a garage sale last year and it was just enough for a full length peasant skirt, which will work well under the jumper-dress for a Hobbit look or can be worn on its own for modern wear. It's a nice, basic skirt. I used every bit of the tablecloth for the skirt and didn't have any extra for a hem so I faced the hem with lightweight cotton canvas, to give the flounce a bit of body.

Underskirt hem.

The shift, of course, was already done but I did replace the neckline drawstring with narrow elastic, just because elastic is so much easier! Of course, this dress can be worn with any kind of peasant-style blouse and I have a few in my current wardrobe that will work just as well as this one.

Quasi-18th-century-ish shifty thing.

The apron is a very basic waist apron. I had a large quantity of this minty green check cotton at one point but could only find a small piece of it, so I used all of that small piece for the apron and ties. I had *just* enough of the trim to go around the apron. I thought the trim worked quite well with the embroidered panel on the dress, although it is perhaps a bit matchy-matchy, but I think it definitely gives a 1960s-does-Hobbit vibe. The trim is pieced in six places but darn it, it works and I don't think the joins are noticeable enough to make much of a difference. This is one thing I probably will not wear unless I am actually dressing as a Hobbit. I don't wear aprons much in modern life so this is one thing that is costume specific.

Hobbits like bright colors! :D

Last of all I took a cape I made several years ago and redid it to go with both this outfit and any other outfit that calls for a cape. The original cape was based on a half circle and never quite fit the wearers neck, no matter who wore it. I cut a bigger neckline, shaped the shoulders with darts, and cut a collar from the old ties and neckband. To close the cape I added a large hook and eye and a loop and buttons, for decoration. The buttons are wood and they don't match, but I think that adds to a bit of rustic, Hobbit-y charm, right? 😁

My goal was to get the outfit completed before January 3rd, which was Tolkiens birthday. I did get it done, though I was stitching hooks onto the dress that night as I watched The Two Towers.

As soon as the weather is nice enough for outside pictures, I will post some of the completed outfit- in the meantime, I will definitely enjoy wearing all these pieces (except the apron, ha) in different combinations as I go about my everyday life.

Have a blessed January!


1 comment:

Thank you for your lovely thoughts!