Wild Card Prize - The layers and textures of this dress are so clever and beautiful

Miss Havisham



Samantha Hobart

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

Miss Havisham is a fictional character from Charles Dickens’s classic novel ‘Great Expectations’- first published in 1861. During the story of the novel, Miss Havisham remains bitter and reclusive since her fiancé left her at the alter decades before the story takes place. Since that day, it seems her whole life comes to a stop- all the clocks stop, the table setting for the wedding is still in place, and she remains in her decaying wedding gown all these years later.

This costume represents this decaying image that is Miss Havisham. To start the design process, I imagined how the costume might have looked on her wedding day when she was young and beautiful and full of hope. The costume needed to appear that it had been lived in for decades- the fabric manipulation of the tulle over fabric (achieved by boiling fabric wrapped around buttons), represents decay and mold, growing up the gown whilst she is still in it.

The tulle-wrapped beads with puff binder over the top, again signifies this idea of mold growing right over the top of the fabric. The broken up tulle is designed to giove the impression that over time, she is disintegrating into nothingness as she is slowly forgotten about by the world.

The firm structure of the Robe à la Française, achieved by authentic 18th century panniers, represents the harshness that she sees humanity to be.

Outline the construction…

As this is one of the first costumes I made, I found it difficult just reading and understanding the Robe à la Française pattern which I bought off the internet. Having previously made only very small costumes, one of the main, unexpected challenges was cutting out such huge pattern pieces in fabric neatly. The sheer weight of the fabric meant that it pulled down whilst I pinned the pleats of the skirt in place.

Due to a limited budget, I opted to use polyester fabrics rather than the historically accurate silks that would have been used. I felt this was a more economical method as the tulle would be covering most of the polyester dupion so the plastic shine was not noticeable. I then printed my own fleur-de-lis pattern on the bottom of the gown to mimic the silk damasks used at the time. Although this feature is lost in many of the photos, I think I still adds something to the overall gown.

I am pleased with the level of detail I achieved which symbolises the character. In this costume for Miss Havisham, I decided to use a technique I have not known any other to use, which is creating a textural effect by boiling tulle which has been wrapped in buttons. This created a beautiful, fungus-type look, perfect for Miss Havisham. I also embroidered beads into tulle to add a similar textural effect. I also hand-embroidered moths which trail down the skirt.




  1. Avatar Julia on March 11, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    This is absolutely stunning! The detail is so exquisite. Well done!

    • Avatar Samantha on March 11, 2021 at 10:46 pm

      Thank you all so much for your comments. I remember I worked out that this costume took around 200 hours to make (which I did in between studying for my A Level Exams) due to all the details covering the costume. I think it was all worth it in the end ! I always love including symbolism in my art and costumes to tell a story and add a bit of my own personality.

  2. Avatar Ella on March 11, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    I really like the end result, but even more so the symbolism and description of the costume.
    Good work tackling a new and riskier project 😉

  3. Avatar Leora Wambach on March 11, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    This is ASTONISHING!! I would have guessed this at Advanced or even Experienced. I’m in absolute awe!

  4. Avatar Lindsey on March 13, 2021 at 1:15 am

    I am blown away by your entry!!!!! All the details and time put into this just.. speechless.

  5. Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    So gorgeous! Miss Havisham is a such a wonderful character and I love your interpretation…such lovely details.

  6. Sophia Khan Sophia Khan on March 14, 2021 at 1:35 am

    Wow wow wow! that surface treatment is amazing!

  7. Avatar Carol Hughey on March 15, 2021 at 4:48 am

    A wonderful depiction of miss haversham. The distressing of her gown with the “mold” is so creative! Well done.

  8. Avatar marianne laimer on March 15, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    This is amazing and truly a fine work of art. Boiling the tulle into a fungus like shape is a fantastic technical detail. WOW well sewn and best of luck for this fantastic entry.

  9. Avatar Xenofon on March 18, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    This is truly stunning. The details, the shape, the texture are absolutely great! Congratulations!

  10. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 28, 2021 at 4:29 am

    This is stunningly beautiful! I am in awe of all this detailing. wow! Thank you!

  11. Caroline Woollin Caroline Woollin on March 28, 2021 at 9:13 am

    The amount of work and inventiveness here is remarkable. I had the idea of a Miss Faversham entry when I was pondering entering, but you have done such a brilliant job I am now glad I didn’t enter. Wonderful!

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