Lady Macbeth (Ellen Terry's Beetle gown) - Macbeth

In Progress


This is an idea that's been sitting at the back of my head for quite a long time, but I've just never felt the events I went to were quite right for it. Decided I don't really care about that any more!

Ellen Terry was a Victorian actress, and her Lady Macbeth was very famous. The costume was designed by Alice Comyns Carr, with input from Ellen herself. It's a crocheted overdress decorated with iridescent beetle wings, designed to look like chainmail with scales whilst still being an elegant medieval gown. It fits the brittle character of Lady Macbeth beautifully, and has been described as one of the most iconic and celebrated theatre costumes of the time.

I've always loved the design and I have finally decided to attempt to recreate it. I'll have to visit Smallhythe Place, where the painstakingly restored original is on display, to take lots of photographs!

I'm currently waiting to find out if it's eligible for certain competitions. If so, I'll be learning to crochet...

Sephirayne posted on 2 October, 2013 - 16:30
The design is stunning and I look forward to your progress on it.

Monkey posted on 7 November, 2013 - 14:05
You know how excited I am about seeing this. It is going to be glorious. I cannot wait!

InfiniteJester posted on 18 December, 2013 - 16:06
This would be amazing to see!

Metamorphica Cosplay posted on 19 December, 2013 - 13:14
Oh Such a wonderful choice of costume!

Metamorphica Cosplay posted on 22 December, 2013 - 00:42
I know you are probably wanting to do this as accurately as possible. But when i saw those beetle wings i thought,those could be made from fake nails and a nail polish ive seen that perfectly matches that colour shift they have! A possibility if you run out of them ..or money and say only need a few more.

Mighty Odango posted on 23 December, 2013 - 09:33
Thanks! Yeah, when they arrived I did think they would make really cool false nails, so the reverse would work too. I have ordered (& received) more than they used on the original dress so hopefully won't need to fake it, but if I do I'll bear it in mind :)

Wool & foil thread
Fabric (10m green cotton, 2m burgundy velvet, 0.5m crinkle silk)
Sundries (gold ribbon, green embroidery floss, thread)
Beetle wings (1200)

Total cost: £0.00

10th February 2014

Most *(£$ing expensive costume evar

The foil thread is the bane of my life. The crochet is eating through it waaaaay too quickly, I've spent over £100 on the stuff already. I haven't even ordered the wig or the casting supplies for the belt yet. So much money ;____________________;

18th December 2013

Crochet progress update

So, I crocheted the skirt, and when it was done, it was clear that it was completely wrong. Hours of work down the drain, though thankfully not a waste of materials - I can either attempt to use it for one of the sleeves, or unravel the whole shebang and reuse the yarn. Restarted the skirt using much smaller mesh (5 stitches per loop instead of 10) and adding in extra volume. Looks much more promising so far. I am pretty unhappy about how quickly I'm getting through the foil thread though. Already gone through 10 rolls and there's so much more to do. I wasn't expecting one type of yarn to cost more than 1200 beetle wings! Speaking of beetle wings... bit of a saga. I never received the first batch I ordered from eBay, and I'm still waiting for my offered refund, which I could really do with as £63 would be pretty handy around Christmas. I went to a seller on Etsy instead, and received the wings 2 weeks later. Much better! Photo does not do them any kind of justice, they are incredibly beautiful and shimmery.

21st November 2013


Was happily crocheting away at the skirt last night when I noticed something wasn't quite right. It had formed a twist in the loop. I was too far in to really want to unravel it all or start again, so I had to carefully cut, untwist and re-knot the chains. Really hoping the knots hold...

18th November 2013

It begins!

Having mastered single crochet stitch, made a snood, learned an awful lot from making a snood, tested chain mesh stitch, and mastered chain mesh stitch, I'm starting on the real deal (scary stuff...) I decided to begin with the chain mesh stitch on the skirt, as I still need to do some patterning work on the dress bodice before I can work out what shape the bodice crochet will need to be. Since I couldn't find foiled yarn in the right colour, I'm combining yarn and decorative foil thread to get the bling in there. I am STILL waiting for my beetle wings. I am paranoid that work has sent them back, or that HMRC have destroyed them. Since they're the most expensive aspect I really hope they turn up ;_______;

7th November 2013


I wrote up an estimated timeline for getting this done. It's going to take around 6 months... started patterning last night and will begin crocheting once my practice crochet snood is finished.

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