Even today, in this age of computer animation and technology, handweavers play a significant role in the motion picture industry.
Handweavers are able to make small production runs and produce fabrics that have unique structure, colour and design.
Many of the unique costumes featured in the movie “Lord of the Rings” were made of handwoven fabrics.
Wardrobe Supervisor, Carolyn Fenton describes the detailed process of making the costumes for LOTR. One of the issues faced by the costuming department was the issue of scale. Making Hobbits appear to be only 3 feet tall, next to a 7 foot
Designs are sketched, with details of necklines, sleeves, etc.
Fabric and dye samples are made. Mockups are made and adjusted for
sizing. Several copies of each garment has to be made, both for the
actors and also the doubles that are used in the production of the movie.
The design team was comprised of jewelers, hat and boot makers, pattern makers,
sewing technicians, dyers and weavers.
The fabric for the Elven cloaks was woven in New Zealand by Cheryl Eldridge of Stansborough Fibres. The yarn used for the Elven cloaks was a 2 ply blend of Gotland sheep and alpaca, spun
at approx. 35 wpi. The fabric was woven and processed at a mill in Wellington, NZ. The fleece is a natural grey colour, though it appears to have green tones in parts of the movie. This is a result of
post-production colour adjustments.
This website has some excellent close-up pictures of some of the costumes – taken at the
The Toronto exhibit has a good close-up picture of Saruman’s costume. And other costumes as well.
The costume designers and wardrobe managers took the utmost care
in designing each costume to make them look and feel real. From
Gandalf’s wizard hat to the pastoral nature of the Hobbit cloaks, all the
clothing was influenced by centuries of European culture.