Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gwen

I have a love/frustration relationship with BBC's Merlin. I've never been diehard fan of Arthurian legend in general, (mostly because the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot love triangle always set my teeth on edge, though my friend Tirzah assures me that this element was brought in very late to the general body of Arthurian myths by the French and she seems to think the whole thing is worthy of dismissal if one so chooses).

Traditional aversion notwithstanding, I simply could not resist watching Merlin when it first began to air, intrigued by the show's unique approach to the legends, its charming young cast, its warm humor, and it's classic Good vs. Evil storytelling. I quickly became a fan.

My disgruntlement with the show has mostly been an excessive use of ex deus machina and the sacrifice of characterization to serve the plot. One character in particular makes the jump from Good to Evil with such abruptness that.... well, it sets my writer's teeth on edge.

In any case, that particular character is not Gwen, who is my favorite of the show, and the subject of today's post.

Merlin's Guinevere begins not as a queen, nor a princess, but a humble blacksmith's daughter and palace maid. Her costumes through the first four series reflect her rising influence in Prince (and then King) Arthur's heart, and as Arthur, his knights, and his people grow to love her and make her their queen.

Season 1 "Gwen"

Queen Guinevere, End of Season 4

Isn't she radiant?

Although the show has done many storytelling things that have angered me, one thing that's always made me happy was the progression of Gwen and Arthur's romance. To my delight, they've even resolved the love triangle in Season 4 in such a way that gives me hope the whole Lancelot thing is already over and my favorite royal couple can start their marriage unencumbered by looming legendary triangles.

Gwen has many, many costumes to choose from, gowns, tunics, cloaks, and even "fighting" outfits. I won't show them all here, except the one I would probably choose to make. It's her signatures Season 4 gown, shown off below gorgeously in a series of Season 4 promotional photos.

I know, like I needed another purple gown with embroidery, right?

This photo shows the bottom of the dress. (Source archaeologist_d)

Pattern: McCall's M4490 The same pattern can be used for the over and under gowns, with adjustments for length and sleeves, obviously. I'm curious how difficult a fabric hunt the eyelet would be.

Fabric: Lavender suiting or Duponi silk (overgown), cream-colored eyelet for the undergown.

We already know I'm not daunted by embroidery, but this might be a good potential project for helping my friend learn how to program her custom embroidery machine.

In honor of Merlin (and Arthur and Gwen) I'm posting a bonus below. Two "fanvids" that I made last year, one as an trailer or introduction to the series, featuring only Season 1 footage, and a "shippy" vid for the royal couple up through Mid Season 2.


  1. Ah, the video that made me watch Merlin. I both thank you and hold a slight grudge. ;)

    MOAR PURPLE! I love it.

    (My goal is, in case you hadn't guessed, instead of MAKING a run at the alphabet blog challenge, to leave a series of progressively unrelated comments on yours.)

    1. I both thank you and hold a slight grudge.

      I do not blame you!

  2. Hello, Fellow Challenger. I'm #408 from Rockin' Chair Reflections. Come visit when you can. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was startled by the abrupt changes in Merlin. And, I really enjoyed the way the romance between Gwen and Arthur progressed. This would be a great project for you. Go ahead and get some embroidery under your belt (or, rather, on top of your belt!)

    1. I've done some hand embroidery with my Rapunzel costume, but so far doing it by machine has been a daunting prospect!

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your challenge. :-)

  3. Awesome dress! The show looks like a lot of fun - I will have to check it out.

    A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

    1. It's a decent show. A good mix of risk/reward, I think, for a viewer.

  4. The dresses are fab! I also enjoyed your fanvids! I'll have to check out the series.
    a to z challenge

  5. Indeed, Gwen is amazing. I wish I had her wardrobe! I need to get back into watching Merlin.

    Dif-tor heh smusma

    - T'Laina (

    1. I sort of keep arms-length tabs on Merlin and watch what I think sounds really good.


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