Rivendell Elf-inspired Dresses for Ren Fest


Well-Known Member
Exactly what is says on the tin. 3 dresses, inspired by Tolkien's elves as interpreted on the screen by Peter Jackson and WETA, specifically the elves of Rivendell, that will be worn at this year's Texas Renaissance Festival. I'm having to take a massive break from Link and those props because the house isn't clean and it's too flipping hot to access the attic to do something about it, so I'm falling back on plan B and doing my OCs. We went through a lot of design iterations for these, with all the concept art drawn by my friend Decipio.

First up: Decipio's dress. Most of the work on this one was done by my mom, as she's attempting to teach me how to sew. I did the shoulder stitching, a lot of pattern cutting, and hand-sewed the hem. Decipio also helped with pattern cutting and pinning the dress to herself, and then it was back to Dallas for her (she's making chainmail belts for herself and my mom though.) The original design looked like this:

which got redesigned to this:

After hitting Joann's for fabric, the second color was scrapped and the first color was switched to an accent. The body of the dress became grey velvet, and the interior, collar and embroidery became pale blue.

We started with a basic Simplicity elf costume pattern and modified it from there to make it fit and figure out the neckline. To make the shoulders stand out, we found a stitch that would create a kind of stippled effect, and repeated that stitch across the entire shoulder panel. This was my first time using the machine, and so a few of the lines at the beginning are a bit wavy.

The shoulder attached to the sleeve and the seam was embroidered with a floral pattern. Another pattern was embroidered along the edge of the sleeve itself, and a leafy pattern was embroidered in grey along the edge of the blue lining.

I didn't get anymore progress pics, but here's what the final dress looks like on the hanger:

It'll look better when hanging on my friend. It's not loose, but it's not tight either, and the velvet is stretchy so it has no zipper or lacing. It's simple, but I think the embroidery makes it look a lot fancier up close. Next up is my dress, featuring more of my handiwork and gussets for archery! Oh, have a derpy cat.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Thanks Nadine! I was too wee when the first trio of films came out to do these costumes, so now that the Hobbit is in full swing, I finally have an excuse to do these. (Well, actually, I'm still too short for an elf, seeing as I'm around the same height as Kili and Fili, but who cares not me)


Sr Member
Pfft! I'm too short to be an elf as well, but who gives a flip!

I'm finally doing Gimli next year! Which is weirding my bf out as he does Legolas....BUT THE POINTY EARED ELVISH PRINCELING SHALL HAVE TO DEAL!

I'm just glad the Hobbit is getting people back into Tolkien again. The Tolkien fanbase is some of the most welcoming, lovely people out there. Post more progress! Love it!


Well-Known Member
I won't get a chance to work on it til this weekend, but here's the concept drawings and fabric for my dress. Decipio did the first drawing, my mom did the second and I just did the third. I'm pretty bad at drawing girls but I tried, haha.

Decipio's drawing:
Just a basic dress. Sleeves are split so I can draw a bow with ease and show off at the longbows. The green color in the corner is what I told her I wanted after she'd already decided I'd wear purple (she was going off the colors of my room, which is generally my favorite but I think green's more elven). We decided to do a hip quiver because it would look more feminine, and this drawing was from before the images of Tauriel were released, so I feel like we nailed that one. After we actually made her dress, my mom got some ideas for making mine a little bit more to my style.

Mom's drawing:
2013-09-18 16.14.23.jpg
She did a similar design to Decipio's, but did just a piece of trim around the collar, and the sleeves are split and tacked open. The vest is a leather vest based on a hunting vest we saw at ren fest that I really loved, but I wasn't thinking "elf" when I was trying it on, so that was ditched pretty quickly. The inner sleeve is attached at the armpit gusset and nowhere else, so it can move easily.

My drawing:
2013-09-19 12.jpg
With vest and bracers:
2013-09-19 13.jpg
After we debated a bit about the vest, mom and I took to the googles and pulled up every picture of Tauriel we could find, since I thought she had a vest, and sure enough, she did. So the new leather vest is based on Tauriel's outer green dress from some of the outdoors sequences, with the pointed front and the big roomy hood. The sleeves are now based on the sleeves from the concept art of Arwen's battle dress from back when she was going to be in Helm's Deep, except less ruffly, which ought to make it even easier to move in. I can wear it with or without the leather gear, for either formal situations or a fancier hunt or something, which is just kind of the character I wanted.

The fabric:
2013-09-07 23.21.46.jpg
Better picture:
2013-09-07 23.23.24.jpg
The green is some kind of silk, but it looks very rough, and that's the majority of the dress. The purple is a microsuede. You can also see the bracer I use for my left arm, haha. I need to make a circlet for my head or something.

Muslin pattern:
2013-09-15 16.08.48.jpg
This is what we did last weekend after getting the fabric and design done. We have the main portion of the dress patterned out and will be doing the sleeves next. I got to help out a lot more on this one and I'm pretty confident I can do my own pattern next time.

Edit: haha, it may be weirding your husband out, but that's what slash fic is for, right? D: Ew, I don't even want to think about that. Forget I said it.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Petal sleeve muslin is taking a bit more work than I thought, since getting it to fall open properly takes a rather precise shape that we haven't found yet. Also, we got the fabric for Mom's red dress, which doesn't have a sketch as of yet, but she also has matching red boots now. In the mean time, I have the final pictures from the grey dress.

jessi dress blurred.png

jessi dress blurred 2.png

And some detail shots:

More later this weekend, I hope.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Alright, finally, the other two are done. We went to the Texas Renaissance Festival and got second place (Decipio was trapped in Michigan and unable to join). I will have a full write-up with pictures tomorrow for the other two dresses, but in the mean time here's a shot from during the contest (ignore the judge in the foreground):
Edit: is there any way to move a thread? When I started this there was no area for "original" costumes as opposed to replicas and now this thread is very out of place.
Last edited:


Sr Member
I love it! Very beautiful.

There is currently no place for original work, so this is not out of place IMO, we just don't have many people making and/or posting such work. :)

I'm hoping some day to see one of the pull down options be a forum for fantasy costumes, but I'm not sure there is enough exclusive interest.


Well-Known Member
Thanks Guri! Yeah, seeing as this is the Replica Prop Forum, it makes sense that there's not much "original" around here. Maybe next year I'll be able to start something that fits better, since I've practiced on my own designs first.

Anyways, following from where I left off on my green dress, we finally figured out the right way to make petal sleeves, thanks to Alley Cat Scratch's LotR Costumes page, after deciding that the battle dress's sleeves were not actually what I wanted on my dress in terms of the silhouette. It features an approximate pattern for the chase dress sleeves, which when doubled up forms a slightly different bottom petal shape than what was featured in the film.

This still didn't help with the gusset though, which took another three muslin patterns to get shaped right. In the end, it was as simple as making the armpit portion of the sleeve a bit longer, and it worked perfectly for drawing my bow.

At this point, we cut the pieces for the dress, did some final fitting, and tried to decide on the embroidery. I wanted it to go with my bracer, so we found some nice scroll patterns that were slightly more delicate looking than the bracer's pattern, adjusted them to be slightly curved, and edged the inner/outer sleeve and neckline in one pattern and did a different pattern large on the shoulder. I did all of the embroidery on one of the sleeves after mom showed me how to on the first one. Thank goodness for computers. Here's some pictures of the final embroidery:

2013-11-10 19.59.31.jpg 2013-11-24 18.42.15.jpg

2013-11-15 09.59.44.jpg 2013-11-15 09.59.51.jpg

2013-11-30 08.40.18.jpg 2013-11-30 08.40.32.jpg

We also had to adjust the lacing panels on the back. The pattern had them near-vertical, but I have a few more curves than the girl on the patter cover, so we angled them out to fit properly.

2013-11-15 10.01.29.jpg 2013-11-22 20.24.54.jpg

Additionally, I don't have any progress pictures of this bit, but we couldn't get the inner sleeve to attach to the upper sleeve and petal, so we made it longer and put elastic around the top, and I just wore it under the dress. This solution really didn't work that well, since it kept slipping down, but it looked okay enough for the day.

From there it was assembly and accessories. We ditched the vest and quiver because I didn't get my leather in until two days before the fair, but I had enough sample leather (and extra pieces from a huge burnt orange cowhide I picked up at a gun show) to make a cellphone pouch. I learned a ridiculous amount about sewing leather and proper assembly order making this stupid pouch, and also shanked myself with the needle a few times. Mom waited until after I had made my awful pouch to show me that she bought leather needles for the Viking she's giving me, so her pouch ended up looking much better than mine. All the same, I kind of like the ugly pouch. It's cute and it matches my bracer. I also learned proper dyeing techniques for refinishing leather, and was able to strip the sealant off the burnt orange with vinegar before doing three coats of dark mahogony. I made a very quick belt, which fastened with deer lace, but after the costume contest I ditched that belt and bought a slightly thinner one with a nicely tooled border from one of my favorite shops at the fair. I would've loved to make my own proper belt, but I'll settle for making my own angled buckle instead. I also needed to make a new sheath for my skinning knife for reasons unrelated to costuming and realized it looked pretty awesome with the dress, so I wore that.

2013-11-29 22.30.49.jpg 2013-11-29 22.29.20.jpg

2013-11-29 22.30.59.jpg

The logo on the knife sheath is a (poor) replica of the Elk Ridge logo on the knife itself. Yay tooling!

2013-11-24 00.19.00.jpg 2013-11-24 00.55.58.jpg

So here's some final pictures of the whole costume, with Hylian ears (I'm just going to reuse those instead of getting LotR ears for now because I'm too lazy to pay another $35 for the right ones) and a very inappropriate-for-LotR leather crown that I wanted to wear since I bought it on a whim last year. The knight in the last picture was Sir Michael, who got third place. Medieval Loki was there and lost, and I got booed for not being him, which was fun.

2013-11-30 11.05.49.jpg

IMG_20131130_112409264.jpg IMG_20131130_112422388.jpg IMG_20131130_125333989.jpg media_1385847119002-1542810082.jpg media_13856831944251141289884.jpg

Next and last, mom's dress.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
For mom's, we basically combined parts of the chase dress, the battle dress, and whatever embroidery she felt like doing, plus some buttons and various gubbins she bought. I let her do whatever she felt like because at this point we were so far away from the starting point of "Rivendell elves" that I just wanted to get the costumes done. I have absolutely no progress pics of this dress so enjoy these finished photographs.

IMG_20131130_112505292.jpg IMG_20131130_112515881.jpg

That pouch isn't the one I made, she didn't like it after all and bought this one. Also the skirt/liners are all cut from some (probably faux) dupioni silk curtains we got from Walmart for around $15. 3 yards for the price of one at Joann's. Woo!

Edit: we did use some base patterns for hers, combining the collar of the Simplicity dress with the unused underskirt from the pattern for my dress and a heavily modified coat pattern from Butterick (pattern B5966). Patterns are nice.
Last edited: