Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

More Ep.110…


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This episode is when we were really able to start DESIGNING.

Up until this point, we were just scrambling one step ahead of disaster, trying to make sure that everyone had clothes.

Things had settled into just enough regular mayhem, that we started focusing on designs, details, colors, tones, and how costumes work together in a scene. The coats for Claire and Geillis being a prime example of what you ultimately do as a costume designer. Our biggest struggle as designers is getting enough time. Everyone thinks we just rent it all, including the people we work for. So there is very little time to make the clothing needed. Every show the time to prep gets shorter and shorter. Everytime we as designers deliver impossible deadlines, we undercut ourselves, and all other designers, and set a new normal, we all have to work to. It is truly a Catch 22.

Anyway, this dress was one of the first costumes I got really excited about. We finally had a permanent and very talented cutter, our third in about two months. The result was very exciting.

(Sorry, there wasn’t time to petticoat the mannequin, so the dress doesn’t quite fall the way it should)





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31 thoughts on “More Ep.110…

  1. Avatarlvprosewriter

    Gorgeous. I work in a museum with a clothing collection (though not this period), so I REALLY love all the costume details–seeing them & hearing your stories.

  2. Purl99Purl99

    It just amazes me the amount of detail work that goes into period pieces. I realize that electric sewing machines can be used but I also realize there is quite a bit of handwork and hand stitching with these pieces too. They are beautiful and I am tickled that you are giving us such up close and personal details of these costumes because TV, even my 60 inch TV just doesn’t do it justice. Thanks!

    1. Avatarannalapping

      I love the attention to detail. The frayed edge of the fabric as a decorative fringe effect, the stitching on the bodice. Everything about this dress is perfect. Incredible work.

    2. AvatarLynnLouise

      Well said, I am just so intrigued by your vision and the detail in all your work. All of your work is magnificent. It really takes you to the 18th century. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Avatarwoolfarmgal

    I am so intrigued at your insight into this world of behind the scenes..the challenges. Wonderful stuff…I feel the adrenaline rush. I have been to fittings with my son who has worked as an extra on historical type productions such as JOHN ADAMS and currently, TURN. And I am amazed at the skill and speed such costumes are sized and fitted even for the background folks. Thanks for providing such rich details. I am fascinated with the whole process. Not sure why….it is just that textiles and fiber sing to me…it is why I raise sheep.

  4. Katie FriendKatie Friend

    I love how you can see the top stitching. The amount of work that goes into these, the volume you have to make, and the time frame that you make them in is amazing! Bravo!

  5. Avatarmisty5157

    Every time you post the story behind each costume I am in more awwh of what you and your team have created..the photos help further emphasis and demonstrate your talents. Love this behind the scenes look at your talents..

  6. pglynnpglynn

    Forgive my ignorance, but tell me more about the job of “cutter?” I’m sure there is more to it than I imagine. Also, would love to see costumes like this photographed AS you are dressing the mannequin, so we see all the parts! Such incredible work and learning so much!

    1. AvatarTerry Dresbach Post author

      The cutter translates my sketch into fabric. They draft patterns and then cut the fabric, supervise the construction. We work in tandem through the process.

      1. Avatarcm houghton

        Draping and Flat Pattern Drafting was one of my favorite classes in college. I didn’t stick with costuming after college, so I love reading about your process. It’s a wonderful learning process for me and other fans, to see all the work you do.

  7. AvatarKatya

    In spite of the time constraints you detailed, your team certainly did a wonderful job of capturing the patterning and silhouette of a mid-18th century dress. I can see this dress in particular shows some imperfect hand stitching that would have been typical before machines were invented; that is very nice to see, and lends an authenticity to the look of the series. Yes, I, too would love to see the individual components that comprise each costume. I look forward to your daily briefs about these costumes.

  8. auntiemameauntiemame

    I don’t understand how you do tiny pleating of what appears to be heavy material and still have a small waist. It would seem that the waist would be bulky, thick, uncomfortable. Anyway, all of the costumes are beautiful and appear very authentic. I can see that the second season of the Parisian court will be an exciting challenge.

  9. Avataremcagr

    This gown is absolutely gorgeous. Your attention to detail is spot on. I am in awe of your talent! I can only paint or draw landscapes. Favorite medium still is Oil on canvas.

  10. Avatar

    You are such an inspiration! I cam imagine being quite comfortable, temperature wise, in the freezing cold in a dress like this and yet it is such an elegant and beautiful design with such gorgeous embroydered fabric and fur trim! All the delicate pieces so perfectly matched together- a labor of love. I particularly enjoy the selvage edges of the fabric used as trim- it makes me smile-I’ve always wanted to do that!

  11. AvatarMolly

    Thank you for the close-ups! Amazing work…it just sings to my heart as an amateur sewist. But even more than the construction details is the impressive way you and your team are creating 18th Century Claire. This shows a low-fuss but very elegant dress that perfectly suits what we readers know of our Claire. Thank you again for the extremely hard work you and your team put into bringing Diana’s words to life for us out here. This morning on a cranky internet connection I’m trying to watch Ep. 111 and as the screen continually freezes it gives me a chance to ogle all the extras and the set dressing. Wow on top of wow.

  12. Avatarmeraynor

    Beautiful! Very interesting how the colors and pattern appear so differently on camera. Do you have to camera test the fabrics before you go ahead and make the costumes?

  13. AvatarLisaW

    Those pleats are amazing! Claire seems to have changed in a more mature way in this episode. I wonder was it to highlight the difference between her and Laighore (sp?).

  14. marthamartha

    I have to praise every and each one of the work you’re making!I know how difficult is to have a flawless result such as this, because I know that you can spot everything under the camera lights. Looking at those pleats, I was wondering how much time, did the seamstress need to finish this kind of dress and also in those times, when they didn’t yet have the machines, it must took them months to finish those dresses?!!

  15. AvatarJJSmith

    Terry, I just wanted to say that you have completely changed the way I view TV/Movie costuming forever. The costumes in Outlander are as much a character as the landscapes of Scotland. They are beyond exquisite and I hope you are acknowledged for them come awards season!

    Question for You: Claire wears some verra fine dresses, coats, and jewelry, such as the creation in this post. She is definitely not running around in homespun! Where and/or who do you imagine is the source for her wardrobe at Castle Leoch? I have my own theories but would love to hear yours. Thanks!

    1. AvatarTerry Dresbach Post author

      Mrs. Fitz runs the castle. If someone dies, or gets thrown in prison, or whatever, Mrs. Fitz keeps the cast offs. Seems logical that as the manager of the castle, she would have access to clothing. She gets Claire’s clothing at Leoch from wherever she got that first outfit. In the book, she has all sorts of gowns, I always assumed they were “second hand clothes”. She actually IS running around in homespun most of the time. She has 3-4 skirts, 2 dresses, a cloak, and a coat, as well as a few of stomachers, knit scarves, fichus and shawls. She gets a new fancy gown on her return to Leoch after marrying Jamie (Sandringham dinner)

  16. lesliesusannelesliesusanne

    This is one of the most beautiful dresses, I think, with heavy brocade and fur cuffs. Surely the fur would indicate a high status? Lady Letitia wears fur often, but I don’t see other ladies wearing it. Stunning detail!

  17. lesliesusannelesliesusanne

    I did think that the neck piece was a bit too tall, though. Was it to show status, or to diminish the length of the actresses neck? I couldn’t decide if I felt that she might be choked by it or if she was keeping warm against a cold wind….. The fur neck band is a gorgeous addition the the dress, though.

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