Dragonstone Landing Part 2

This is the second part of my blog about recreating Daenerys’ Dragonstone Landing dress from Season 7 of Game of Thrones. Click here to read Part 1.

Where we left off, I had just reached the part of this build that I was most looking forward to: the embroidery. There are two major sections of embroidery one this costume: the shoulders of the dress, and the shoulders of the cape. Both form vague, stylized dragon-shapes that wrap from front to back, and there are a lot of elements that evoke dragon skin, scales, wings, or tails.

My first step was to get the basic shape I would need for the dress embroidery piece. The major embroidery isn’t done directly on the garment, but embroidered on organza in a hoop, then appliquéd on with a bit more embroidery done around the edges to mask the join.

I used a piece of scrap linen to trace out were the embroidery needed to go. The dragon head sits on the bodice front, while the rest of the design falls on the sleeve-capes. The line of pins below marks where an area of smocking will sit below the embroidery.

This gave me a pattern that I could transfer onto the charcoal grey silk organza that forms the base of the embroidery.

I used a silver sharpie to sketch in a rough idea of where the major design elements needed to go, and started layering the bottom portion with crumpled and pleated fabrics. Almost none of this shows in the final design, it’s just there to add some texture behind the sequined dragon wings that will come later.

I added another element of texture to this portion with a bit of wool roving, and a few rows of black, grey, and silver backstitching.

After deciding that the grey lockstitch would look very dull against the plain organza, I added a layer of linen and wool over that portion as well before doing the lockstitch.

The large chunk of lockstitch got broken up with sinuous lines of long stitches in light and dark grey wool.

A dragon head rests on the front of each shoulder, outlined in couched silver cord and filled with a web of the same.

I gradually layered more of the grey yarns, the silver cord, and sequins. The sequins are the same ones that were used in the show. They were purchased from Top Fabrics of Soho.

Layers of sequins fill the top portion, where they will stick up along the shoulder of the gown like the spikes on a dragon’s neck and back.

The raw edges at the bottom edge are ok, because they will get covered by a lay of chainmail-like Italian Mesh Ribbon. Mine came from Specialty Beads on Etsy. They seemed to have the best selection I could find on the internet. Italian mesh is used as embellishment on quite a few Game of Thrones costumes.

Believe it or not, this is only the base stage of these embroidered shoulders! The next step is a 3-d element. Each side has three pieces evocative of dragon wings that flare out along the upper arm. I made these from buckram covered first in a layer of the grey organza, then a layer of Italian mesh, and finally with rows of sequins. I did not actually attach the wing pieces at this point, because I wanted to be able to see them placed on the curve of the sleeve before I sewed them in place.

It’s funny going through the pictures again, when I can’t remember why I did things in a certain order. Clearly, at this point, I started working on the cape, but I’m not sure why I didn’t attach the embroideries first! Anyway, that’s what I did!

I had to do a lot of fiddling with layout in order to get the undersleeves and the cape cut out from the fabric I had left, but I managed it!

In order to get the desired fullness in the cape, while keeping it flat along the back of the shoulders, there are two pleats at the back of each shoulder. I think that the original costume only had one (though it’s hard to tell in the one blurry back view available), but I liked the fullness I got from two, and the way it evoked an 18th century robe à la Française.

Like the dress edges, the pleats were topstitched in place with metallic thread.

The structure of the shoulders comes from Pellon Flex-Foam interfacing. I had to play around quite a bit before I got a scale of shoulders that I was happy with–the original pattern I draped turned out comically large once it was made in foam!

The cape is constructed over them the same way as the dress–corduroy outer and linen lining prick-stitched together at the edges with metallic thread.

The large embroideries on the shoulders of the dress and cape are not the only pieces that need to be made! There are also smaller embroidered scales–one at the closure of the cape, and one on each sleeve.

I sketched a little pattern on a scrap of buckram, and used that to test the size and shape, then transferred the pattern to some more organza. The shapes are outlined with couched silver cord, filled in with herringbone stitch in cotton floss and augmented with silver bugle beads and red seed beads.

I braided together several lengths of grey crochet cotton to make the ties that hold the back of the dress. This is one of those little steps I had been putting off for no particular reason, but at this point I wanted the dress to be supporting itself a little more accurately on the dress form.

Before attaching the dress embroideries, I added some red accents to them. This was done between the dress’s first wearing in season 6 and its second appearance in season 7.

Here, the embroideries have been attached, with a section of smocking pinned below. It looks like a bit of a mess around the edges here, but you’ll soon see how that gets blended in!

The edges of the smocking are masked and blended in with lockstitch in black silk and metallic thread.

The dragon wings are placed along the center of the embellishment. I stitched them on only at the corners, so that they maintain their dimension.

Here you can see that the back corner is blended in with rows of long stitches in silver cord, additional sequins, and grey lockstitch.

Finally, the tops of the sequins around the shoulders are strung together and wrapped with more silk thread.

Here is the finished dress embroidery.

I made the sleeves as separate pieces that were attached to the finished dress, because they were only added to this costume for the second wearing on the show. They are quite a simple straight sleeve, but with an added seam at the front of the arm, which is embellished with feather stitch, which spread out to become a triangle of fly and feather stitch at the wrist.

The base of each of these embellished seams gets one of the embroidered scales I made earlier, which is incorporated into the design with grey herringbone stitch and a line of alternating silver bugle and red seed beads.

Instead of being left raw, the sleeves are finished at the top, and whipstitched into the armscye.

At this point the dress is finished! Now, back to the cape.

I marked out the embroidery design on the cape with pins, then sketched it out on organza once again and put it in the hoop.

This one starts with some of the Italian mesh ribbon along the shoulder.

Like on the dress, there is a dragon head sitting at the front of each shoulder, done in silver cord and metal thread.

The base of this design is made from braided and twisted wool yarn, picked out with silver cord, which defines areas of the design that will be filled with other textures, and fans out at the back to become three dragon tails.

I used a kind of modified fly stitch in grey crochet cotton to create the shapes of scales along the ends of the dragon tails, then filled them in with wool yarn and created a spine to connect parts of the tail with yarn and silver cord.

I accented the bottom two tails with red–heavier on the bottom and lighter on the middle tail.

The ‘body’ of the stylized dragon is filled in with lockstitch. I did this portion in grey silk thread.

Layers of sequins form a ridge from the back of the dragon’s head all the way down its back. The sequins divide into two lines and break up the large lockstitch section, and they also form a fringe along some of the braids.

The base of the sequins are stitched over with thread and silver cord, and surrounded by a sea of red beads like smoldering embers. I used a combination of size 9/0 and 11/0 3-cut seed beads in two different shades of red. The 3-cut beads have a gem-like appearance compared to standard round seed beads.

Following the advice on Michele Carragher’s (the GoT embroiderer) website, I painted the backs of the embroideries with glue to help hold the stitches fast. I did this on the dress embroideries as well, but must not have taken photos at that point. I used watered down fabric glue.

Before attaching the cape embroideries, I built up a little area of fly stitch for them to sit in, and attached an embroidered scale over the cape closure.

Here are the cape embroideries pinned in place:

I clipped and turned the edges of the organza under as I stitched the pieces in place.

The backs of the pieces are left as-is, but the front gets a bit of additional blending in the form of beads. There is also a row of red yarn and beads that masks the shoulder edge.

And that’s the cape and dress finished! But, there was still more to do…

I made the wig as part of my job at Custom Wig Company.

I made the boots by dying down a pair of my own boots, and making covers to go over the tops and make them taller. The covers are made of faux suede backed with heavy interfacing to give them structure.

I made two of Dany’s pieces of jewelry as well: her iron ring, and her three-headed dragon hair-stick. Sculpting does not normally form a part of my costuming, so this was an adventure! They are made out of Sculpey, and pained with acrylic paint. I know there are lots of other, probably better options, but I was in a hurry and wanted to work with things I was familiar with and could acquire easily. This was the part of this costume I was most nervous about, and I’m actually really happy with how they turned out!

I pictured the iron ring next to my actual wrought-iron dress clasp because I was pleased with how similar the color I painted turned out! The clasp was made by a blacksmith I know–I thought about making it, but I was not confident of being able to make something strong enough to bear the amount of weight it needs to. It’s not perfectly screen accurate, but for something he threw together after I ran up to him at a re-enactment with nothing but a sketch, I’m really happy with it. It makes me feel pretty bad-ass.

I did watch a tutorial about making this piece on YouTube, and then I used some of the things they did, and went in my own direction for some parts.

And there we have it! I only have some behind-the-scenes images from a photoshoot so far, but keep an eye out for the finished photos coming soon! I will put them in a separate post and link them here.

Meredith as Margaery: Complete

Finally, I’m back to tell you that the journey we started in this post was completed *just* in time for Lexington Comic and Toy Con a few weekends ago. Meredith and I were working on it until all hours the week leading up to the Con, and we succeeded!

The original gown, designed for Game of Thrones by Michele Clapton.

When we last left off, the pattern was made (by both draping and drafting), and the mockup fitted, but there was, as yet, no gown! We quickly remedied that. To save time, I put together the bodice and bodice lining, Hannah W. put together the skirt and skirt lining, then we put them together on a big Saturday sewing day.

In order to get the kind of weighty drape that this dress needs, we did both the dress and the lining out of cotton sateen, which makes it very heavy. Here are Hannah W. and Meredith holding everything steady while I sew the lining to the fabric.

Despite the weight, we did get it all put together that afternoon:


In addition to putting the dress together, we also got the hem and the armhole edges pinned in place and ready for stitching that day.


I did the stitching in the evening:


Meredith and I had hoped to get a lot of the embellishment done the next Saturday, but we were hampered by having miscalculated how much cord/vines we would need. The vines are made of silver vinyl cord, which we dry-brushed with black acrylic paint to give them a bit of tarnish.


Meredith also got a pile of roses made and put onto the train. We dyed a few handfuls of the roses in diluted black ink to get the color variation.



On our next big work day, we started to give the fabric a bit of it’s fuzzy texture with wire brushes. We were able to make it a bit fuzzier, but had to move on to other, more noticeable things if it was going to be wearable in time!


Meredith went back to train embellishment, and I put on the rest of the cord before moving on to the clumps of roses and leaves on the front waist.

Here’s the front of the original gown.

I started with the roses, which are different from the ones on the train because they need to lay flat and be seen from the front, rather than from the side. The roses on the train are made by coiling up strips of fabric to form a spiral. To make the ones for the front, I had to fold the strip as I went to create a more complex rose shape.


I used some velvety millinery leaves, cut down to the right size and shape to make the rest of the piece.



The cords at the bottom haven’t been dry-brushed with the black yet. You can see what a difference it makes.

In the meantime, we discovered that all those flowers make the train so stiff that it can stand up on its own.

With the bulk of the flowers on the train, Meredith was able to turn her attention to the cascade of vines and smaller roses that flows down the back of the skirt.


And I began preparing the dozens of little felt leaves that, along with thorns and more small flowers, will adorn the bodice.

Here are the first few bits of vine with their leaves and thorns. I ended up removing one thorn from each and re-spacing them since they seemed very squished together. Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery, is a few inches taller than Meredith, and I decided it was more important to preserve the proportions than the have the exact number of thorns.

Making progress!

Here is the bodice front with its full complement of felt leaves, millinery leaves, small thorns, large thorns, fabric roses and teeny felt flowers with bead centers. It wasn’t until the next night that I thinned out the thorns.

We called it quits for the night at this point, and started again the next day. My first task that day was to make the large flower that hangs where all the dangling vines in front converge. It is made of a combination of felt, beads, and scraps of the millinery leaves that had been cut apart.



With it in place, I could embellish the rest of the hanging vines around it. Their decoration includes large thorns, felt leaves and small silver, gold, and green glass beads.


The train just needs some felt leaves and vines running through it.

After all the practice, I made short work of adding small thorns, large thorns, beads, and more leaves to the back of the dress.


Painting the embellishment was the final big step. We did this for two reasons: some things, like the large thorns and the millinery leaves, needed to get toned to match the color palette of the rest of the dress. Others, like the felt leaves, we painted to have more detail and depth.



We did get it done just in time! I actually didn’t even have a chance to take the final photos until after Lexington Comic and Toy Con, so I apologize if there are a few wrinkles!


All told, I think we did four really big days on the embellishment, watched six Harry Potter movies, Tangled, Hogfather, How to Train Your Dragon, Waitress, and The Princess Bride. The dress, true to the spirit of Game of Thrones, has both blood and red wine stains hiding under all the flowers.

I’ll be back next week with new historical pretties!


Edit: Here are the stunning photos taken at our Game of Thrones shoot with Ben Marcum Photography. He is the most amazing. Wig by Custom Wig Company.


Mother of Dragons

The project I was hoping to have done a month ago is finished! Daenerys’ Qartheen dress is officially ready for the runway.

Last week, I described the process of making the belt and shoulder pieces out of brass sheets. You can read all about that here.

This is the original dress from the show.

This dress is an interesting one to recreate. The shape is very simple, but the simplicity is a bit deceptive. This is not so much about dressmaking as about pure fabric manipulation. There is no structure to the dress, it all falls straight down from the shoulders and is gathered in by the belt. People recreating the costume get a special treat with this one because there is a shot of the dress before Dany gets into it, and you can see the structure (or lack thereof) of it off of a body. The trick is getting enough volume of fabric, and then controlling in a way that doesn’t turn it into a giant messy poof.

Before I get to that though: the fabric. The dress is sheer, but it is actually quite stiff, which is really apparent when Dany is walking. The dress doesn’t flow around her, it swings and is stiff enough that it appears almost heavy despite how transparent it is. In order to get both the crispness and the sheer, I got 12 yards of undyed silk organza from Dharma Trading Co. My boss, Heather, ended up dying it for me, since she has more experience dying, and it’s a tricky color and fiber. The color is especially hard, since it looks quite different in different lightings on the show. So is the color we ended up with; sometimes I look at the finished color and think it’s too aqua, and then I see it in a different light and think it’s perfect. You can see the variation in all the photos later in the blog. It’s very strange.

The color isn’t all. Once it was dyed, I stamped the gold pattern into it using the base of my palm and a little wire spiral I made. The pattern is pretty loose: there are some sort of wavy stripes in places, and in other places the gold is all over. To try to replicate how the pattern falls on the dress, painted the fabric with stripes down the center and with more abstract gold at the edges. As I went, I stamped a few spirals here and there. I already had an idea of how the dress was going to go together, and I thought that would give me the best pattern placement.

Since I was stamping it all as one piece, I needed somewhere for all that fabric to go as it dried, my solution was a laundry drying rack on top of my table:


Now comes the volume, and how to control it. Every piece of the dress started out as rectangle the width of the fabric, there were no shaped pieces at all. Each piece was doubled up so that there were two layers of fabric. The front is made of two of these pieces, one hanging from each shoulder, so I started by pinning the shoulder pieces to my dress form and arranging the fabric in pleats so that it was the same length as the bar at the bottom of the shoulder.

I pleated this very carefully instead of gathering it because the original dress has a very clear permanent pleat in the fabric all the way down: this is what controls the large volume of fabric without making it look like a tutu. The pleats at the shoulder had to be stacked on top of one another in order to fit all that volume into about four inches. After that, it was just a matter of following the pleats down, pinning as I went, and arranging them over the shape of the dressform. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but it was time-consuming. The result, however, was worth it. You can really see in the process photos the difference between pleating the fabric and leaving it loose.

The front panels each make up about a third of the dress, so they extend a bit past where a side seam would normally fall.

Once the pleats were all pinned down, I did something that almost made me throw up in terror: I steamed silk. Because the gold already gives the fabric a mottled look, I decided that any watermarks probably wouldn’t show up too much. I got lucky in that it also didn’t de-lustre the silk, so it still has that lovely silken shimmer.

This is my wonderful Rowenta iron that I got for Christmas, and I’M NEVER GOING BACK! It is absolutely worth the money.

I oh-so-carefully removed the top of the piece from the dress form and whip-stitched the top of it together.

I was then able to give it a really good press and steam on the ironing board. I didn’t want those pleats going ANYWHERE.

I whip stitched the front together along the selvedges, keeping the two layers separate. Having two independent layers that don’t hang right together will help make the dress slightly less sheer.

At this point I also sewed the fronts securely to the shoulder pieces, though apparently I didn’t get any pictures of that.

The back panel is one piece (two layers).

The dress also has a cape-like piece that hangs from the back of the shoulder pieces. It didn’t need quite as much volume as the front, so I made each side out of a single width of fabric folded in half lengthwise.

Sewing the halved fabric together at the top before turning and pressing it.

The cape was done in the same way as the front except that it was easier because there was half the amount of fabric and no boobs to contend with.

Here it is freshly out of pins and unhemmed. The cape piece is sewn together down the top layer, but loose ion the inside so that it can spread out at the bottom.

I hemmed it using the roll-hem feature on my serger. I’ll tell you what, I don’t need a serger that often, but when I do it is invaluable. There were eight widths of the fabric that needed to be hemmed in total, and I think it only took me about half an hour.


Since I already had the belt done, the only thing left was to make the bead strings that hang from it. Most of the beads I either had lying around or bought from Joann, but I ordered the cicadas from DIYbeads4u on Etsy. They got here yesterday and I was able to finish everything up. I chained the beads together using eyepins that I bought at Joann. I made the hooks out of the eyepins as well because waste not, want not.

Here are those cicadas I mentioned.

Brandon cut these shapes out of particleboard for me, and I painted them.

They get nice little tassels of beads hanging from them so that they really fly around and sparkle when you move.

And that was it. I just got pictures on the dressform for now, because I want to save the whole thing until I can get some good pictures on me (and because I’m still waiting for the stick-on bra and Spanx shorts to arrive). The dress looks at least three different colors in just these photos, and I took all of them in the same place with the same light.

IMG_1528IMG_1529IMG_1530IMG_1531IMG_1532IMG_1533IMG_1534 It will be appearing in public for the first time at Lexington Comic and Toy Con in a couple of weeks! If you want to see photos from the event, like Fabric & Fiction on Facebook, or follow me on Instagram @fabricnfiction!


Update: Here are a few amazing photographs by Ben Marcum. There is nothing more fun that doing a shoot with him! If you’re in Louisville and need new headshots, or a stunning portrait that makes you feel better about yourself than you ever had before, he’s the man to go to!