At long last I got the hobbit costume I started last year finished! The bodice and skirts had been finished for months, but then we moved, and after that I had other things that needed doing before baby arrived. Now though I’ve had the time to work on it, when the children have been sleeping. The other day I finished a shift I’d been working on now and then for a couple of months, and put the finishing touches to a straw bonnet. Everything is hand stitched, partly because Hobbits “did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge-bellows, a water-mill or a hand-loom” and partly because I am much the same – I usually prefer hand sewing to using the machine.
The shift is made from a thin twill cotton fabric that was in one of twelve banana boxes of fabric I received from a friend a while back. (After going through the contents I kept three or four boxes worth of fabric, and gave away the rest. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that amazing gift, as I can see it being used a lot.) I had to piece it here and there to get a shift from it, and it’s still a bit shorter than I’d have liked. It won’t show under the bodice and skirts though. It uses classic geometric construction (with rectangles for the body, sleeves and cuffs, gussets for under the arms, and gores at the sides), and has a drawstring neck.
The bodice is made from several scraps of linen and cotton fabrics in my stash. It’s trimmed with finger loop braids, boned with zip ties and have sewn eyelets for lazing up the back, where a modesty panel covers the gap.
The top skirt is made from what once were cotton curtains from the charity shop. It works the same way as 18th century petticoats, with the front waistband tying in the back, and the back one tying in front. The ties are made from cotton tapes I wove myself, just because I felt like weaving. The bottom skirt is one I made for modern use. It doesn’t show in the pictures, but it’s in olive green raw silk.
As hats and hat sizes are mentioned quite a few times by Hobbits in the books I decided I wanted one. If my hair turned out badly it would also hide the fact that my hair doesn’t like being curled. I could just arrange whatever hair did get curly to frame my face and hide the rest under the bonnet. (It worked very well.) The bonnet is made from an old straw hat, found at a charity shop. It had some severe rifts at one side, so after wetting and reshaping it, I folded and stitched down part of the brim to hide the rifts and make the hat a bit more bonnet shaped. I trimmed it with strips of cotton fabric – the heavy trimming in the back is obviously to hide the rather crude fold in the brim.
When everything was done I pinned my hair up in the hope of it turning out curly over night (sadly, it did not turn out too successfully, but the bonnet saved the day), so I could have a photo shoot of the finished outfit. As it threatened rain we stayed close to the house – in fact we only stepped out in our small garden. We grow potatoes there, which felt like as good a setting as any for a Hobbit.
As you might tell by the surrounding buildings, I portray a Bree Hobbit, with Men for neighbours. Hobbits would never build such tall houses 😉
The outfit has a lot of greens and yellows in it, as those are supposed to be colours favoured by Hobbits. I’m more of a blue, brown and wine red person myself, so I guess I just have to make more Hobbit outfits… I would like one that is more muted, so it could be worn in my modern life without looking too odd. One with a front opening bodice would be good, to make breast feeding easier. A fitted bodice would be nice to wear in my modern life, as it gives some shape and structure to my present post pregnancy fluff.