Wildwood Dancing’s Jena



Haley M Williams


Outline the story …

"Wildwood Dancing" by Juliet Marillier is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and takes place within 16th-Century Transylvania (modern-day Romania), centered around, Jena, the daughter of a Notable Tradesmen. Jena is a practical and sensible young woman, with brown hair 'which refused to do what [she] wanted it to, and eyes of a color somewhere between mud and leaf' drawn to the mystical Wildwood and its inhabitants from a young age. Besides the beautiful cover art by Kinuko Y. Craft, I’m inspired by Romanian folk detail, silhouette, and textiles; she and her sisters are able to make a 'new dancing gown anytime a cargo contained a little more of a certain fabric than the buyer had requested.' I wanted to capture the essence of Jena and her deep connection to the Wildwood by creating her green dancing gown that is described within the first few chapters.

Outline the construction…

The Tudor Tailor was a good starting point in understanding the layers of a 16th Century ensemble, materials, and construction techniques. I wanted to stay away from an English/French silhouette to keep it in its own world of being in Translyvania and the fantastical Wildwood, so instead of having a neckline going straight across the bustline I patterned the neckline shape from the Romanian Pieptar (waistcoat) that curves around and under the bust. I drafted a Pair of Bodies from Patterns of Fashion 5’s 1603 Elizabeth Veron Effigy Bodies to establish a foundation to pattern the Dress over and keep the silhouette within the 16th Century. The Twill brocade and binding fabric were found in a remanent bin, boned with synthetic whalebone and a few steel bones from, handsewn eyelets and whipstitched together at the seams. The dress was drafted from The Tudor Tailor's Henrician kirtle with an elongated train with the beautiful 'Poisonwood' silk taffeta from Silk Baron. I was disappointed that I was unable to add the blackwork chemise to the ensemble, but hand embroidery takes time and no interruptions! I was thankful that I had a blouse from Anthropologie that was similar to the decorative, full-sleeved chemise that I initially wanted to create. I created a bronze pendant belt with filigree details with pendants and jump rings from BeadSuperstore and a floral crown with white flowers and Catkin buds from my local craft store.




  1. Avatar Gabrielle Amey on March 12, 2021 at 2:54 am

    This is lovely!

  2. Avatar Johanna on March 12, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    This is fantastic ! The fabric is lovely and I absolutely love the neckline !

  3. Avatar Amanda on March 13, 2021 at 1:29 am

    The dress is such a pretty color, and looks so lovely!

  4. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 13, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Such a beautiful gown, perfectly capturing the character!

  5. Avatar Stanislava Pilkova on March 13, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Love the dress, the colour, the pleats, the lacing rings…

  6. Avatar JAYE SUDAR on March 14, 2021 at 3:41 am

    Beautiful work.

  7. Avatar Carol Hughey on March 15, 2021 at 5:21 am

    I love the colors. The back pleats lay beautifully

  8. Avatar Katie Hernandez on March 17, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    Is it ok to say I’m jealous? I love the color of the silk taffeta. It pairs well not only with the paleness of the white blouse but compliments the tones of the brocade and binding used on the pair of bodies (yes I know we can’t see that when you’re wearing it but still). I think the ensemble is well balanced in color, to the story and in proportion/fit to the wearer. Beautiful!

  9. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 18, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    Lovely job!

  10. Avatar Laurie on March 20, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Pretty! Lovely colour and style choices! I like that neckline! Well done!

  11. Avatar Suzanne Egan on March 23, 2021 at 4:08 am

    As someone who has looked at lots of portraits and recreations in this era I love the effort you went to for it to not be French/English and the twists you added for it to be Romanian. Nicely worked and gorgeous fabric and colour choices. Well done!

  12. Avatar Giorgio Ronchi on March 27, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    The silk taffeta green is beautiful and the dress is fairytale material.

  13. Avatar Nina Martin on March 30, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    This is so beautiful! (And I am now adding that book to my reading list!)

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