Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Category Archives: Art and Design

The Materials


Gown and sleeve fabrics. We tried to avoid this fabric and weave our own, but once we saw it on a camera test under candlelight, we knew it was the right one. It just did the proper shimmer. Now we have a lot of beautiful silver wool, waiting for Season Two.

Here is the mica. We all took turns shaving mica during stressful times. It was a very zen activity, chop wood, carry water. Saved our sanity. We started with three chunks of mica about 4″ long by 3″ thick. We shaved them down to a large container of paper thin flakes.

The sleeves. We have this beautiful little smocking machine that operates with a hand crank. Makes beautiful, magical things.

Here is our sleeve. Ethereal. I love these sleeves!


This is one of our leaves on the embroidery frame. We made hundreds of leaves and acorns, all by hand. You can see the metal strands very clearly,  it is an amazing process. Extraordinary work!


And finally, a closeup on the stomacher, All the leaves, stems and acorns have been painted to look as though they have oxidized, giving them lovely tone and depth. The sticking on the silk reflects the stitching done on the sleeve. Just stunning work by my amazing crew.

You can also see what happened to the top of our bodice. there was another piece to the dress, a band of very translucent silver fabric, that bordered the top of the gown, bringing the neckline up a few inches and leaving her less bare. But when we were shooting, the taking off and on of the cloak, totally destroyed it. it was just too delicate to withstand the dragging of that heavy wool off and on. We stood on the side of the set dying a little, every time it went off and on, but they are never going to stop shooting so you can repair something like that. too time consuming. So, Claire reveals a bit more than we planned, but Jamie no doubt enjoyed it!

The Inspiration


This dress was displayed in “candlelight”. Incredible.

rose bertin 18th-century-court-gown-cloth-of-silver 5abf319bb7168953ae01821e3f188078


These paintings provided the inspiration for the neckline.

q 1761 Esther Denner (daughter of Balthasar Denner) Queen Charlotte, Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 1744 - 1818. Queen of George III About 1763 bodice 481px-Alexander_Roslin_021


This piece is a beautiful waistcoat Liz found on Ebay. Incredibly fine work. We think there are little bits of mirror in it, encircled with metal embroidery. And a bazillion little spangles ( the equivalent of today’s sequins, but metal not plastic).








More wonderful art


from Coleen Madden



Pick a song that suits your mood, or play the soundtrack!





So, tomorrow there is a wedding I believe you have all been invited to.
Thought it might be fun to tell stories of courtship and marriage.

I will start it off, by telling you a lovely story, or at least I think it is.

I met Ron on Carnivale. He was my boss. I thought he was kinda fabulous, but he was my boss.
Well, it was an absolutely horrible show to work on. Insanely beautiful and wildly creative, but so absolutely out of control that I went blind in one eye, one day from the stress. After a van of costumes suspiciously burned up, and I had a crew from hell that I was trying to manage, Ron and I had more and more meetings to try and do damage control.
I was smitten by this time, while trying to talk myself out of having a crush on my boss.

It was pretty late one evening, and we had been having a disaster control meeting in my office. We’d been talking about all the horrid details, and drinking scotch at the same time.

We were just about done, when he said, “I have something else I need to talk to you about”

I was flooded with terror. “Here it comes, this is where I get fired.”

Ron says. “you know when we are in meetings, and you are sitting over on the side and I am up in front?”

(WHAT the hell ????????? I am thinking.)

“Well”, he says, “Everytime you lean forward to say something, it is as if the lights get brighter in the room, and then when you lean back, they go dim again”

I will tell you the rest of the story after the wedding episode.

Once upon a time, on another planet, a million years ago…


…Gary and I made a lookbook to help Ron sell the show.  With images and sketches, we told the story of Outlander, chapter by chapter. One of the Chapters was The Wedding.

These are some of the images.

Chapter-The Wedding







And there was a sketch. Thought you might enjoy!

9 - Claire Wedding_edited-1




Amazing video from 1941


There appears to be a glitch with this video. I am looking into it, come back and take a look later. Thanks – T.



The latest from our friend Colleen over at http://girlfrog.tumblr.com







Wonderful Illustrations



I wanted to showcase the work of illustrator Colleen Madden. She has a lot of wonderful pieces at http://girlfrog.tumblr.com
I just love her work. Reminds me of children’s book illustrations of my childhood.


Padded White Cell


I want to live in a padded white cell. I am thinking of making white quilted wall hangings for the bedroom. There is no more room left in my brain for color or texture. Maybe a white quilted jacket with intricate lacings to wear while in the cell. Sounds heavenly.

So, I am on a search for that cell. I have  a two week window before the holidays shriek in and shred the lovely walls and throw tinsel and paper all over the place.  I am looking everywhere between here and California.

The hard part is that Ron leaves here the week before I do, and I cannot ask him to fly backwards.

Europe is littered with places that ft the bill.

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Season Two!


I am excited about Season Two, don’t get me wrong. It’s a costume designers dream to design 18th century Paris.
But it is HUGE. Seriously HUGE.
We are going to have to make about a thousand costumes for extras before we even start on Principal or Supporting Cast. In four months.
We will do it, and marshall all of our resources, hope that we can keep our crew, hope that we can pull off a miracle in a short amount of time, hope that nothing goes wrong.
Huge. Seriously.