First of all, we had to sort of slam this on the mannequin because everyone is in deep on S2.
But, when I look at the dress, I just see a zillion crazy problems. Not with the dress itself, but with the making of the dress. This was done waaaaaaay back when. We had slammed together all of Claire’s costumes in two weeks, which was utter madness, and then we were shooting. Since Cait was in every single scene of season 1, making this dress was our first go round with trying to get fittings with her.
When you make a dress, first you make a toile, a dress out of muslin (calico/UK). That is to fit on the actor and work out any kinks, make any changes. It’s a rough draft. Then you make it out of the actual fabric, and you need two fittings, one to make sure it is all going well, now that you are in fabric, and then a final fit, just to double check everything. And then you need the time in between fitting to do the actual work.
So, it takes 2-3 weeks, with the fittings interspersed.
It is impossible to get Cait for a fitting. Impossible. It requires a million phone calls, negotiated schedules, missed fittings, “maybe we can do it at lunch fittings”. It is like being a negotiator for the U.N. And poor Cait, exhausted from running around in Scottish winter, wearing a “shift”, the last thing she needs it to be standing for an hour while a dress is being pinned onto her.
But it has to be done. Finally, after much hand wringing and threats it happens.
Then there was the fabric. You have to order the fabric, it is just not waiting in a store. You pick ten fabrics, call the mill, and see what they have in stock. That takes a while, because they aren’t on film business schedules. And the embroidered fabric. I had bought a meter in London. I liked it, but wasn’t totally sure about it, and I didn’t know what tartan I would end up with. But when the tartan finally came in, it was a pretty good match with the embroidery. But when we called the fabric store, they were all out.
Then the true panic began. We needed a MINIMUM of two meters, really more than that, because you always get a little extra just in case.And we needed a second dress for the photo double. We decided that we would do a digital print of the embroidered piece, to use on the double, and somehow magically stitch extra strips to make a sort of border to extend the fabric. It was ridiculous, but we were out of time and out of options. Very early in the game, everything on fire, daily crisis management, madly trying to make ALL the costumes for everyone at the Gathering. To make it more enjoyable, there was a ton of focus on the dress, because it was the first time everyone was dressed up. Television shows LOVE a party (or a wedding)
So there was just a wee bit of pressure.
At the final hour, the store called up and said that they had found 6 meters in India. FANTASTIC, who cares that it costs as much to ship it overnight as the actual fabric (which already was insanely expensive).So in it came at the last minute and we made that dress FAST.
Anyway, it all worked out in the end. I love the combination of plaid and flowered embroidery. You can find that kind of mix, often in 18th century peasant costumes, but I took the leap that they might have had that in Scotland. I think it works.
I like the dress, but it was definitely a product of circumstance. Made by master craftsmen, but hampered by the growing pains of the show.
It is interesting to see the journey from this dress to the green plaid dress, to the wedding dress and beyond.
We have come so far and become so much better as we learn the show.