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!
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.
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.