Daenerys Targaryen Costume

November 29, 2012 § 9 Comments

Daenerys Halloween costume teaser wth dragon

This Halloween Naomi wanted to go as Daenerys Targaryen from George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire via HBO’s Game of Thrones. The show’s meticulous costuming won costume designer Michele Clapton and her team an Emmy this year. (They even wove their own fabric.) You can see an L.A. Times costumes gallery with Clapton’s commentary here (contains spoilers) and a post with video by Chris Laverty of Clothes on Film here.

For her costume, Naomi chose one of Daenerys’ Qarth outfits, which the character wears in “Valar Morghulis,” the season 2 finale:

Ser Jorah and Daenerys in "Valar Morghulis," second season finale of HBO's Game of Thrones

Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones, Season 2. Photo: Paul Schiraldi via IMDb.

The costume was an experiment in pattern drafting for me. I made one element from scratch and adapted the others from a few vintage sewing patterns I had on hand. The outfit consists of a princess-seamed overdress worn with fitted leather armour and over a split skirt. The concept is that the character has paired armour with a man’s tunic from the port city of Qarth, worn over a skirt made of skins from her time among the nomadic Dothraki.

After sketching from online video images, I was able to find these costume photos in the new book about the show’s production, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones:

Costuming Dany

Costuming Dany. From Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones (Chronicle Books, 2012).

Update: this Qarth costume is included in the press photos for Game of Thrones: The Exhibition:

Daenerys Targaryen Qarth costume

Daenerys Targaryen Qarth costume. Image via Bell Media.

For the princess-seamed dress I used McCall’s C-3 with shoulder yokes adapted from Butterick 5059, and the high-collared armour is loosely based on McCall’s 1051.

McCall's C-3 and Butterick 5059

McCall’s C-3 by Luis Estévez (1959) and Butterick 5059 by Jean Muir (1969)

McCall's 1051 by Rudi Gernreich, 1960s mod dress pattern

McCall’s 1051 by Rudi Gernreich (1968). Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

For fabrics, we managed to hit King Textiles’ big moving sale just before they closed their old location. (The Richmond location’s being demolished to build a condo development called Fabrik.) We picked up some lavender satin for the overdress, the perfect, canvas-backed fake suede and a pale beige woven for the skirt, and some thin brown PVC for the armour, to be backed with a heavy underlining.

The Dothraki skirt was the most fun to figure out. I cut two hide-like pieces from the fake suede, leaving the edges raw and uneven; the bottom corners curve down to rounded points. For the bleached, folded-over hip yoke I did some primitive draping with tracing paper to get the correct curve on the body. After finding the right amount of overlap for the ‘hides’ I pinned them in place and stitched them to the yoke’s inside edge. The centre back closure is hidden under the overdress.

Online videos showed that Daenerys’ Qartheen overdress had shoulder yokes (they’re also visible in the Costuming Dany photos), so I combined my yoke pattern with a princess-seamed dress pattern, cutting away the sides at the hips and slightly flaring the long, central panel in front and back. The original overdress on the show is quite fitted, with topstitching that suggests that it’s boned, but we went for a more relaxed fit. The armholes are finished with bias underfacings; because the wrong side of the central panel shows, I mitered the corners and finished all the edges.

Daenerys costume sketch

Preliminary costume sketches

The leather armour posed the greatest challenge for me, since for some reason I decided to draft the sleeves without any kind of block. I used the collar and upper bodice from McCall’s 1051 and patched in the princess seams from the overdress, adding a cutout to line up with the overdress neckline. The bodice PVC was backed with canvas, and I used scraps of the fake suede to back the sleeves and collar, leaving the edges raw. The combined PVC/canvas layers were difficult to control in places. Initially I planned to topstitch to mimic the piecing detail of the original, but this PVC does not take topstitching. Instead we bound the bottom and cutout edges with strips of PVC, and I did a quick running stitch by hand on the sleeves to smooth the shoulder line.

Add a silver-blond cosplay wig and toy dragon, and the costume is complete.

We went down to the beach for a photo shoot with the talented Rachel O’Neill. Here’s a full-length shot of Naomi in her Daenerys costume:

Daenerys costume full length

The Mother of Dragons contemplates her destiny…

Daenerys beach

Here you can see the hand stitching detail on the armour:

Daenerys armour

And here are the two of us in costume:

Daenerys Targaryen and Quaithe Halloween cosplay

Next: my Halloween costume as Quaithe of Asshai.

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