How to make costumes for The Lord of the Rings characters, including Frodo the hobbit, Galadriel the elf queen, Arwen the elf warrior, Eowyn of Rohan, and a Nazgul or Ringwraith. Weapon and accessory ideas too.
I remember first reading The Lord of the Rings when I was 12. It was an intense read at that age, but such good fantasy. Classic good versus evil, epic battles, impossibles quests, monsters, magic, elves, and characters I will never forget. So, of course, when the movies came out, I loved those too.
This past year, we decided our kids were old enough to watch The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Everyone loved it, and we decided it would be a fun family Halloween costume. We rewatched the movies, took notes on the costumes, paused at just the right moment to see all the important details, and watch the DVD extras about making the costumes and the weapons. Then we went to work.
My toddler was Frodo, and you can see all the details about how to make a kid’s hobbit costume in this post. My husband decided to dress as a Nazgul (the ancient kings who became Ringwraiths under Sauron, the lord of evil). I have to tell you, it was a toss-up between a Nazgul and Aragorn, but the Nazgul had cooler weapons. You can read about his Nazgul costume here, and his Nazgul sword here, and his awesome Nazgul gauntlets here. They each needed their own posts.
The Women of The Lord of the Rings
While my two daughters and I love the characters and story of The Lord of the Rings, there aren’t a lot of women portrayed in the movies (even less in the books). Luckily, there happen to be three major female characters in The Lord of the Rings movies, so we dressed up as Galadriel, Arwen, and Eowyn. My daughters wanted to be elves (who doesn’t), and I love Eowyn, the shieldmaiden of Rohan.
There are patterns from Simplicity and Butterick that resemble the costumes of many of the characters in The Lord of the Rings movies, so we started with those. Then we modified and added details to make each costume more authentic and elaborate.
Simplicity 4940 is made to look like Eowyn’s green dress. I made the dress from crushed green velvet fabric. It just needed a few extra details: a more elaborate neckline, lined sleeves, and an underskirt peeking through in the front. I really wanted to add a beautiful gold belt too, but I could never find something that looked right.
I found a gold trim that I added to the collar and around the neckline. I sewed it on by hand. The neckline is three rows of the trim to make it look like the beautiful, thick, embroidered neckline from the movie. I also added the trim to the sleeves.
I found a green brocade fabric to use as the sleeve lining and for the underskirt. To line the sleeves, I cut the pattern for the lower sleeve in both the dress (velvet) fabric and the lining fabric. Before sewing them onto the upper sleeve, I sewed both together at the bottom. Then turned it right side out and ironed a two-inch edge in the lining fabric, so it would show on the outside of the sleeve.
I sewed the lower sleeve (both fabrics) to the upper sleeve. Then hand-sewed a gather in the velvet fabric of the lower sleeve. That used up the excess fabric on that part of the sleeve. Finally, I stitched through both the lining and the velvet fabric where they came together to keep that ironed edge permanent.
It would have been nice to make an entire underskirt, but my lining fabric was really expensive, so I just made the part that peeks through. After making the entire dress according to the pattern, I cut out the bottom part of the center front pattern piece in the lining fabric. I cut out the same piece in the velvet fabric too. Then I took out the seam on the right side of the dress between the center piece and the right center piece, just on the skirt part. I sewed the lining pieces onto the right center piece where the seam was removed, and onto the left center piece in the seam allowance. That left the front center of the dress loose and hanging down on the right side. I sewed the second velvet fabric center piece onto the back of it, to make it look fuller, and then pinned it to the left side of the dress, making the fabric swag some.
Years ago, I made a cloak out of some beautiful cotton velvet. The cloak didn’t turn out quite right, but I loved the fabric, so I saved it. Since Arwen’s costume is mostly her cloak, the cotton velvet was perfect. We started with Butterick 5962 and strategically cut pieces from the old cloak. We had to get a little creative with the sleeves.
Ideally, the sleeves would have been made the same way I made the sleeves for the Eowyn costume, but we didn’t have enough fabric. So we cut two ovals to be the lower sleeves instead. And since there was no fabric left to line them, my daughter used embroidery floss to sew the hem on the oval lower sleeves before we put them on the cloak.
The pattern we used had a notched collar, but Arwen’s jacket doesn’t. To fix that, I just added the corner back onto the upper collar pattern pieces. This made the upper collar attach completely to the lower collar, so no notch.
We added a brocade skirt and found the boots at a thrift store. (And then those boots became my daughter’s favorite shoes.)
We found these beautiful elf ear jewelry (there are similar ones on Amazon.com)elf ear jewelry (there are similar ones on Amazon.com). I love how they elegantly make her ears look like an elf without needed latex or prosthetic pieces.
You can read about how we made her sword out of wood here. (coming soon)
My nine-year-old daughter is learning to sew and made her Galadriel costume herself. We used Simplicity 5520. I’d used it before to make her vampire princess costume, so I knew it was a good pattern and not too hard.
She followed the pattern exactly, but hand-sewed small beads onto the front of the dress. (She’s also learning how to embroider.)
Since Galadriel is an elf too, we bought the same ear jewelry as we did for Arwen, but in a different style.
I made a cloak with a hood for her out of white lace. We used glue gun glue to make her elven crown. Click here to read how we made the crown.
We had so much fun making our Lord of the Rings family costumes. Yes, they took a lot of time to make, but we made them pretty detailed. I have seen some cosplayers with even more authentic and intense costumes. These costumes could also be made much simpler, just following the basic patterns, and still look like the characters. How much time you want to spend is up to you. Just have fun and be creative.