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'Historically Accurate' Merida -C2E2

By Verdaera
***PLEASE NOTE: My work is not 'cosplay', it is costuming. Costuming is the art of creating costumes and designing a character look. 'Cosplay' is the activity of role playing while in costume, which not an activity I participate in, and is often confused for costuming.. Please only refer to my work as Costuming. Thank you for your understanding.***

I'm pretty delighted that I finally made myself a Disney Princess costume! Being me, I wanted to make it as historically accurate as possible. It's not entirely possible because, being fantasy, the illustrators take some design liberties and don't stick strictly to history. In this case, it's out of necessity. Merida's dress is fairly simple, based on a 13th century cotehardie. It's a 4 panel dress with skirt gores which laces up the back. On the back, I punched metal eyelets which I hand-covered in matching embroidery floss, which I dyed. Since this was to be covered by the hair, I wasn't too fussed about using the metal eyelets. I also made lucet cording for lacing.

The sleeves was where it was necessary to be out of period. They are based more on Italian Renaissance sleeves so she could easily draw back her bow (as demonstrated by her court dress later- traditional sleeves are too fitted for archery). These I decided to use more proper ties instead of going the fabric strip route to attach them, so I used metal rings and an awl to make all the eyelet holes on the sleeves, in a more traditional manner for the era. The sleeves, needing to be tight at the wrist, have three buttons for a closure. As she's royalty, I opted to use some metal celtic knot buttons which I've been hoarding from my SCA days.

Here's where I had to use some theater cheats, however. The chemise is linen. If you watch the movie, Merida sort of has phantom ruffling at the neckline, with no cording or casing. I ended up building the chemise like my Hobbit chemise, where I set the ruffles and stitched a tape over them, and I put a flat band on the shoulders to eliminate bulk. The chemise is sleeveless, because I want to be able to wash it. I learned with my Italian Renaissance dress that trying to put this type of sleeve over a chemise, pull out the poofs and ruffles, and getting them to stay where you want them is a pain, so I opted to build the chemise sleeves into the dress so it wasn't an issue. I then added ties with yarn I dyed, weaving them into a medieval cording. The dress itself is a felted wool which I dyed (as linen and wool would have been fibers used in Scotland at the time. I am also wearing leather ghillies. The belt and pouch in the photo aren't part of the finished costume (I just needed a place to store my phone!) I'll be making the bow, belt, and quiver later.

The wig was an adventure. My first wig, from China, arrived in a horrible day-glow orange, and not what was pictured. I ordered a new wig, which was no where near deep enough, it was more of a bright strawberry blonde like my natural color. I ended up dying the wig with RIT tangerine dye (and a touch of brown) and was very please that, since the original wig had several colors of hair in it, it didn't dye a solid color and I got a natural red. I had to reset all the curls and make the wig cap smaller.

All in all, I'm pretty please with how this came out. It suits my pale-ness and honors my Scottish heritage. I even had a few little girls come up to me at the convention this was taken at! Hopefully I will be able to get a photoshoot in the fall.

Photo by Zatayoshi Photography
Image details
Image size
4018x6020px 1.19 MB
Shutter Speed
1/200 second
Focal Length
34 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Mar 18, 2016, 4:47:19 PM
© 2016 - 2021 Verdaera
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MalteseLizzieMcGee's avatar
The dress hangs beautifully, and I love the gores. It's a deceptively simple costume and I think you've done a fantastic job.

I once tried making this dress using a kirtle pattern, but I had problems with the front being too tights; I suppose the front seam and gores helps with that :)
enteringmymind's avatar
You look AMAZING!!! You always do such Fantastic work!!!:)
Verdaera's avatar