I completed my Cersei coronation gown cosplay about six months ago now, so this is a pretty late postmortem. However, despite all of the time that’s passed, I do still feel proud of the work I did. This has been my most ambitious sewing project yet, and despite the final gown’s flaws, it’s functional and mostly screen accurate.
Here are the thoughts that have marinated in my head over the past six months:
Draping and mocking up Cersei’s dress pattern ended up being my favorite part of process. It was a nice mix of technical problem-solving and creative exploration. I could have stayed in that phase a while, tweaking and improving.
However, I did learn that even mocking up a design doesn’t mean the final pattern will translate flawlessly. Each fabric layer I used (three total) had a different texture and thickness. Some layers were slippery and difficult to line up with my pattern. Others were easy to cut but harder to sew. That meant that each layer wasn’t identical. If you ever do something like this project, cut slowly. Take your time. Rearrange your pins as many times as it takes to get the pattern to lay correctly.
I mentioned this a little in my post about making the dress, but fabric shopping for this project proved to be a challenge and a cost sink. I purchased one fabric I thought would work and cut it only to realize I didn’t like it. At that point, I couldn’t return it. I underestimated how much I needed for another fabric, which meant I had to buy more and pay for shipping twice.
Still another fabric frayed like crazy and was just a nightmare to work with. Give yourself time to shop. Look online, go to several stores. Bring swatches to compare and only then buy. And if the fabric available to you doesn’t look precisely the way it does on screen/print, don’t get hung up on it like I did. I get a little fixated on small details like this, and in this case, it wasn’t a good thing.
I’ve learned an important lesson about linings over the course of the last few sewing projects I’ve done. It should always be wider than the garment shell. I keep sewing the lining and the shell to have identical width, and the shell always ends up pulling the lining outward. I’ve looked at mass-produced jackets since then and, low and behold, the lining has extra fabric.
A little bunching inside the garment is OK. In fact, it helps the garment lay correctly instead of pulling outward. This lesson took me way too long to learn, but I will correct going forward.
The pauldrons were the most challenging part of this cosplay because I don’t have much experience with armor-making, but I’m happy with how they turned out in the end. I would have liked the filigree to puncture all the way through the pauldrons, but I couldn’t think of a good way to do that with material I know how to use. If I ever learn how to metalwork, perhaps that would become a possibility.
My lion heads were also flawed. My paint job was absolutely necessary to get the point across. Without it, the lion heads just look like wobbly blobs. In the future, I’d like to develop a more effective way to create details like that in Worbla.
Finally, the hooks! I attached decorative hooks to the inside of my pauldrons that allowed me to hang the chain. In theory, it was a good idea that was secure and allowed me to get in and out of my outfit easily. However, the hooks (like everything else) kept getting stuck on the perforated leather. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the crew had to help Lena Headey out of snags between takes on “Game of Thrones.”
I originally planned to wear a wig for this cosplay. In fact, I ordered two different wigs and could get neither of them to look the way I wanted to them to. In the end, I was out of time and just styled my hair as best as I could. The photos still look nice, but I may try a wig again before wearing this costume to another con.
The Con Experience
I wore this cosplay at C2E2. I got a lot of fantastic responses and met tons of other GoT cosplayers (who, might I add, killed it!). The con really made me aware of how inconvenient perforated leather is. I got stuck on corners, furniture, you name it, constantly. Additionally, I had to hold my dress up or against myself while walking the dealers’ hall to avoid getting stepped on. The thing doesn’t look that voluminous (at least, not compared to many ballgowns), but when weaving through crowds, it’s massive.
The last thing to note was weight. The dress alone has three layers of fabric, one of which is faux leather. Beneath that is an underskirt and petticoat. Basically, it was heavy. By the afternoon, my shoulders were aching and I had to sit and rest more often to remove some weight.
With than in mind, here’s a tip when cosplaying at day-long events: Consider how much weight you’re carrying and give yourself a plan B. If your costume is heavy and you know you’ll be on your feet all day, bring backup street clothes or light cosplays to change into when you’re worn out. Your shoulders and back will thank you!
One of my friends shot some good photos of me in my Cersei cosplay at C2E2, which populate this article (thanks!). My boyfriend also shot video footage of me. If I’m ever not crazy busy, I may finally get around to editing it and putting it on YouTube. Keep an eye on my social media if you’re interested in updates on that.
Special thanks to everyone who has patiently waited for me to post more content! I really appreciate you checking out my work despite my lack of consistency. I’m so happy these posts are interesting to some of you and can help others. If you ever have questions about how I did anything that I don’t address in my tutorials, feel free to reach out! I’m on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – look for Pen and Needle. I love talking to other cosplayers and helping out.