1st Place

Granny Weatherwax Goes to the Opera



Wendy Shook


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

photos by J. Kemp, zhuzhing by K. Shook-Kemp

Outline the story …

Project Inspired by "Maskerade" by Terry Pratchett. The Lancre witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg have travelled to Ahnk-Morpork to check up on young Agnes, who has gone to the city to pursue a career on the opera stage. In true operatic fashion, mayhem is imminent, including a phantom. To access opera high society, a disguise is needed...

“My friend here wants a new dress,” said the dumpier of the two. ‘One of the nobby ones with a train and a padded bum.’
“In black,” said the thin one.
“And we wants all the trimmings,” said the dumpy one. “Little handbag onna string, pair of glasses onna stick, the whole thing.”
Madame Dawning [said] “This is rather a select dress shop.”
“That’s why we’re here. We don’t want rubbish. My name’s Nanny Ogg and this here is … Lady Esmerelda Weatherwax.”
The dress was black. At least, in theory it was black. It was black in the same way that a starling’s wing is black. It was black silk, with jet beads and sequins. It was black on holiday.
“It looks about my size. We’ll take it […] And now we’ll go back into the shop and have a poke around for the other stuff,” said Lady Esmerelda. “I fancy ostrich feathers myself […].”
“Why don’t we get some great big diamonds while we’re about it?” said Nanny Ogg sharply.
“Good idea.”

Outline the construction…

I generally imagine Diskworld fashion to be Victorian-esque, and an early 1880s evening gown could be convincingly described as a “nobby” dress with a “padded bum and a train”.

One goal was to use my stash as much as possible, and shop my trims box. Along the way I learned to bead, and improved some construction skills (read: setting sleeves).

The underskirt was scaled from Complete Guide to Ladies Garment Cutting, 1883 (Grimble, 2004a, pp. 150–151). The hem is supported with horsehair, then faced to the knee with lawn and bound at the lower edge.

The bodice and overskirt are based on an evening gown in an 1882 Harpers Bazaar (Grimble, 2004b, pp. 86–89) merged with a previously drafted bodice sloper. The bodice is of moiré silk-cotton faille (the only fabric purchase), embellished with 2mm glass beads, 4mm sequins, and de-stash lace. It is flatlined, boned, and contour padded.

The overskirt’s pleated flounces, gauged panel, and draped train are of silk taffeta, mounted directly onto the underskirt. The train is supported with net. Pleating, gauging, and puffs are hand worked and mounted.

The balayeuse is drafted from the underskirt pattern, made from cotton remnants, and trimmed with de-stash lace.

The silhouette is achieved by using my existing corset, bustle pad, and petticoats.

Grimble, F. (Ed.), 2004a. Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 1. Lavolta Press, San Francisco, CA.
Grimble, F. (Ed.), 2004b. Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 2. Lavolta Press, San Francisco, CA.




  1. Avatar Kayla Burrow on March 11, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Ooooh, very Witch On A Mission

    • Avatar Wendy on March 13, 2021 at 10:35 pm

      She’s determined to get it Sorted Out 🙂

  2. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 11, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    I love the textures you create with the blacks, its very gorgeous

    • Avatar Wendy on March 13, 2021 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you! I was worried about photographing black on black, that the textures wouldn’t read well enough, so I am glad to know you think they do!

  3. Avatar Leora Wambach on March 11, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Okay, this dress and I are having a June wedding.

  4. Avatar Faith Daya on March 11, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Remarkable, tailoring and the attention to detail is amazing!

  5. Avatar Bev on March 11, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    Superbly well fitted & created to show off the intricacies of this beautiful black ensemble. The hair, hat, bag & stick makes it complete & mesmerising.

    • Avatar Wendy on March 14, 2021 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you! This is possibly my most intricate project to date, and the results (and comments) are delightfully motivating!

  6. Avatar Theodore Allegrini on March 11, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    This is beyond Impressive. Absolutely perfectly constructed.

    • Avatar Wendy on March 14, 2021 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you so much, you are too kind!

  7. Avatar Lorraine Lysen on March 11, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    What a fantastic representation of the nobby dress! It really is “black on a holiday.” Nanny’s fortune would have been well spent on this one.

  8. Avatar Ashley Taylor Anderson on March 12, 2021 at 3:55 am

    OMGGGG Granny Weatherwax is my favorite. This is so good!

  9. Avatar Dai Sanders on March 12, 2021 at 11:14 am

    This is everything! <3 I'm sure your headology game is just as strong when wearing this.

    • Avatar Wendy on March 13, 2021 at 10:54 pm

      Thank you! The beading was an experiment that went better than I had hoped. I’ll definitely be using that skill again!

  10. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 12, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Such exquisite work! The beading is both subtle and and yet ornate. I am suitably impressed.

    • Avatar Wendy on March 13, 2021 at 11:03 pm

      Thank you! The beading was an experiment that went better than I had hoped. I’ll definitely be using that skill again!

  11. Avatar Karen on March 12, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    Absolutely magical !

  12. Avatar Lindsey on March 13, 2021 at 1:47 am

    SO pretty!

  13. Avatar Gillian Stapleton on March 13, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    That’s just beautiful work and extremely elegant.

  14. Avatar Beth B on March 13, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Breath-taking in all respects: the interpretation of the character, works(wo)manship, detail, embellishment, complexity, fit, accessories… Wow.

    • Avatar Wendy on March 25, 2021 at 5:52 pm

      Wow, thank you! Sometimes I think I spend too much time on planning the little fiddly bits, but I think this time it worked out 🙂

  15. Avatar Hilary Donaldson on March 13, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    Stunning beadwork and complicated bustle😄

  16. Avatar Mandy Pursley on March 14, 2021 at 2:44 am

    So many stunning details and an absolutely perfect fit!

  17. Avatar JAYE SUDAR on March 14, 2021 at 4:58 am

    You’ve done Granny Weatherwax proud! Gorgeous work, and the beading… Ahh…

  18. Avatar Briana on March 15, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    It’s amazing. I love it so much and now I need to make a black on black dress.

  19. Avatar Maia on March 17, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Black on a holiday! Madame, you have nailed it! Fits like a glove and looks as fabulous as possible. Great job!

  20. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 19, 2021 at 10:59 am

    This is fantastic, so beautifully constructed and elegant!

  21. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 19, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    I love your mix of materials and your beading is perfection! If I didn’t know better, I’d think you borrowed this from a museum (or from Luca)! Fantastic job!

    • Avatar Wendy on March 25, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      Thank you so much for your superlatively kind words!

  22. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 20, 2021 at 10:15 pm

    Oh the fit of this is impeccable! Must have taken a good chunk out of your fabric stash to make as well!

    • Avatar Wendy on March 25, 2021 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you! I still can’t believe I got so much skirt out of that piece of taffeta. Geometry is the thrifty sewist’s friend 😉

  23. Avatar Anna Östman on March 27, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    I fear that much of all this incredible work would be lost on “Lady Esmeralda”. I on the other hand am in love with the whole ensemble.

  24. Avatar Annick on March 30, 2021 at 7:19 am

    This is a nobby delight onna roll! I love it. So many wonderful details to explore and the fit is fantastic. Well done!

    • Avatar Wendy on April 2, 2021 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks you! And I’m happy to report that no throats were damaged in the making of this ensemble, just pinpricked thumbs 🙂

  25. Avatar Janine McDonald on April 21, 2021 at 2:25 am

    It’s just so ornate in the best possible way, Wendy. I cannot believe that you created it (though I should!) It is so beautiful and perfect. Are you sure you are not from the 1880’s? You surely channeled the character, witch Granny Weatherwax. I would have loved to have worn a dress like this. The contrasting white trims and the bead work are exemplary. It’s just incredible. You are so talented. And you look quite the part, I might add…you are indeed a chameleon. Lovely, exquisite work. How fun!!!

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