'He was tall, and fair of face, and masterful, his eyes piercingly bright and his hair raven-dark;
in the pursuit of all his purposes eager and steadfast. Few ever changed his courses by counsel,
none by force.
He became of all the Noldor, then or after, the most subtle in mind and the most skilled in hand.'
'Fëanor was the mightiest in skill of word and of hand [...], his spirit burned as a flame.'
'Seldom were the hands and mind of Fëanor at rest.'
-JRR Tolkien, The Silmarillion. Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Harper Collins Publishers, London 1999. Pp 60, 64 and 65.
Not much to say - he has always been my favorite character from Tolkien's universe. Ever since I first read the Silmarillion with 14, I imagined what Fëanor would probably look like. 14 years later, I still can't draw or paint the image that I have of him, but - I can bring him to life in another way, I think :-)
What would an elf like Fëanor wear?
For me, he's got a strong connection with fire - not only because of his name(s) and his temper. Somehow I've always imagined him to wear bright, strong colors: red, orange, yellow, black. Just as I've always connected blue to his wife Nerdanel. I've had the 'project Fëanor' in the back of my mind for a long time already, but it wasn't until I stumbled across this fabric at Equilter.com that I seriously started thinking about an actual design.
My first thoughts involved something like Legolas wears in the movies, a combination of tunic and pants, and I started on my own design using a design concept for Legolas as a base.
However, I finally ordered a swatch of the fabric from Equilter, and unfortunately it turned out as being of no use for a project like this, although it *is* a beautiful fabric. It's just a little too stiff for a tunic, and the print is a bit too modern-looking. I'm still thinking whether to use it maybe as a lining for the cloak or something, 'cause I just can't get it out of my head :lol:
Anyway, some months later, I stumbled across this shop by accident and discovered an absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g Dupioni silk called 'Fiery Swallowtail' -
It's even more stunning in reality. I tried to take pictures of the fabric, but it's nearly impossible. The color changes with every angle, depending how the light falls on it...one moment it's orange, the next bright yellow, the next almost a deep red. It's really like flames or fire, and I knew in an instant: This was THE fabric for Fëanor!
So I ordered 4 yards, and I also looked for a pattern to use, having come to the final decision in the meantime that the costume should consist of a tunic/jacket, pants and a cloak. I found this pattern -
Butterick 4688 Back View - Click to Enlarge
- and it looked like a good start. Of course, it's for a woman and my project is a man's costume, but considering that I have a rather curvy figure and a pattern for a man's jacket wouldn't work for me, I bought this one. I did alter it a bit - basically I made a crossover between style B and D, using the sleeves of View B/C, although I made them a bit wider and longer, and -important- I added a lining. Normally, these jackets are unlined (and I now know why). I had some leftover silk dyed 'Physalis', intended as a lining for Elrond's Council Velvet, but it never came to that :lol: So I used this as a lining 'cause it matched the color of the Dupioni so well.
The jacket was very easy to sew - but first, I had to add the embroidery. What embroidery?
Well I decided early on that Fëanor's garments might be simple in style, but they certainly aren't simple in decoration. I wanted some rich, heavy embroidery in gold, and it was clear from the start that I would then overbead the embroidery with Swarovski crystals in 'Fireopal', which are just as amazing as the silk fabric...
WOW! Look at the COLOR! And again, you can't really capture them on photo - you've got to SEE them, when the light shines on them and they sparkle in all colors from yellow to red. I had found some of them when a local craft store closed down and sold everything cheap. I bought 3 or 4 cans, just because I liked them, and thought Maybe I'm going to make some sort of fire-headdress from them. Then after a while, it occured to me Wait a moment, wouldn't they be PERFECT for Fëanor?
So, in a way, it's the fault of these crystals that I started making this costume at all, ha ha!
However, for the embroidery, I wanted a design that involves the star of Fëanor as depicted by Tolkien himself -
I combined this with an element of 'elven' design from the movies, to form a kind of border or trim, and the final design came out like this -
Of course it repeats itself again after the star, just in the other direction, so that it's a permament repeating motif. I was pretty sure I wanted this around the sleeves and along the hemline. I also contemplated whether to have it embroidered along down the front, but I decided this would be too much. Instead, the same motif will be repeated on the collar, but this time in black thread.
The embroidery was kindly done by my friend Verena as I don't own an embroidery machine myself. I gave her all the pieces that I had cut, nothing sewn yet, just secured the borders with my overlock as the Dupioni is quite fragile and will fray easily. When I got the pieces back with the embroidery on, I added the Fireopal Crystals, using both 6mm and 4mm bicone.
Then, I sewed the pieces together; cut the lining, sewed *that* together and added the lining to the jacket as one single piece. Then I did the sleeves after the same principle and set them into the tunic.
At that point, I found out why these jackets are planned as 'unlined': The silk lining behaved in a way that was totally odd. Of course, when cutting silk, it never gets straight and nice, you always have these 'gnawed off' edges. However, this time, the lining seemed to be too long, so I shortened it. My problem was, I wasn't able to stand for a longer time because of a recent operation on my foot, so I couldn't do this while standing - means, while having the jacket hanging from a hanger or on the dressform, or laid out flat on a table, but I had to do this while sitting, and on a table that was too small. BIG mistake. It looked all fine, but when I went on to hem the tunic, taking up a 3/4 rolled hem, and tried it on the first time, it turned out that the lining was too short and it was pulling up the Dupioni in a way that left ugly creases and looked like I had been sitting on the jacket for three days or so
Some hours (!) went then into the careful erasing of this problem - I don't know how often I pinned the hem up and fixed it with some stitches, just to find out that it was wrinkling in another spot now - argh! I managed however, and it looks good now.
I noticed the same problem with the sleeves, but I won't change that, once because I'm too lazy and second, because no one will notice anyway, as the hands are almost always in motion. Some careful steaming also might erase the worst of it, I hope.
So, here are finally some in-progress pics of the tunic -
Isn't the color just incredible?
And here's the embroidery and beading (as I already said, the fabric doesn't photograph too well in close-up. I can't wait to do outdoor pictures in the sun with that, I'm sure it must look stunning!)
Now, I am currently sewing on the front closures (snaps) and waiting for the collar to come back from the embroidery house :lol: so I can attach that, and then the tunic's about finished.
The next step will then be a pair of black silk satin Aladdin-style pants, like my Elrond pants just not *quite* as wide, and the cloak....
Originally I wanted the cloak to reach about knee-level and made out of black silk velvet, lined in black silk satin, and I already cut a cloak from some black silk velvet that I had here. Somehow though it just doesn't drape right, I don't know if it's 'bad' velvet that I've got or what...
Also, the length looked silly, it all looked a bit like a Dracula-cape from an old Hammer Horror film. So I abandoned the silk velvet cape for a mantle, in shape like the one Éowyn wears with her Coronation Gown, or Faramir, or Aragorn with his Coronation Armor, or also the Starry Mantle....
That kind of mantle that fastens on the shoulders, as I think that looks more regal and more fitting for a grand elven lord than a lousy cape ;-)
I've ordered some cotton velvet (which just arrived today *lol*) because it's heavier than silk, although silk velvet has been the signature fabric for the elves in the movies, but - so what?
I will line the mantle in black Dupioni silk (also from Silkbaron), though I first thought about doing the whole mantle out of Dupioni....but then, I'm not sure if it will be just as flimsy as the silk velvet cape; and nothing would look more silly than an elf lord with a piece of fabric trailing behind him...
However, before the lining, the mantle will receive embroidery too. I haven't yet decided for a motif, I'll probably create one again as I don't want to repeat the motif from the tunic. It'll of course include the star again and maybe also Fëanor's heraldic emblem-
Either I'll have that in big on the center back, surrounded by scrollwork, or I'll work it into the trim pattern somehow. Maybe I'll have the star embroidered in different sizes all across the back of the cloak, I'm really not sure yet. What I'm sure of though is that the cloak will be clustered with 'Fireopal' crystals just as the Starry Mantle of Éowyn :-)
Not all the way up to the top, but I think half way up or so, with the beads thinning out...
The mantle will then be fastened to the tunic with two clasps that bear the heraldic symbol and that I want to cast out of resin or something....
The last steps would then be black suede boots with 'Elven wraps' and a gold circlet - and anyone craft me some Silmarils?
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