Gallery – Cetagandan Garb

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WINNER!  Both the Best Overall Workmanship award and the Best of Show at the FenCon VI Masquerade.

In the book, Cetaganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold, the Empress died.  Eight worlds mourned her passing, and sent attendees to his funeral.

The Cetagandan Haut Lady wears a classic style of funeral garb.  Like the Haut before her, she offers gifts to the dead Emperor.  Normally, you would only see a bubble, for the Haut are never seen in public.  However, for just a moment, we are allowed a glimpse of a very private ceremony.

White is the color of mourning.

I created the design, based entirely on the book, and did all the beading and hand sewing on it.  The basic assembly was done by Ralph (a nice gentleman who periodically does work for me when I have extra sewing that needs to be done) and the knot work on the belt and the hands was done by my husband.

The book Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold was my inspiration for this.  In the book, there is no specific description of specific funeral garb.  Rather the garb of the Haut is described as being multilayered, white (for the funeral) and flowing.  There is a picture on the book, but while it shows a woman in white, it does not show the layering that is described, so I ignored it.

On Layering:  This is Texas.  In Texas, the heat can be deadly, so I decided to use a limited amount of layering, and use more fabric to simulate the same look.  Hence, the underdress, which would normally be two or three of them, is only one, but is a full circle so that it gives the look of two.  The robe has double sleeves and a very generous body, since it would normally be two robes.  The over coat is sleeveless to show the sleeves underneath, but would normally probably be two or three layers, each with shorter and shorter sleeve to show the underlying workmanship.

Since the Cetagandan society seems to be based on a conglomeration of Asian customs, I used the Japanese Kimono as my basis inspiration, then altered it with a Chinese approach to the sleeves and underdress, and an Indian approach to the overcoat.  The hairpieces were loosely inspired from Chinese culture (although there are also elements that are reminiscent of Japanese kanzashi), and the knot on the rope belt is a nod to Chinese and Celtic knot work.

Since the Ghem of Cetaganda (to whom this Haut would probably be married to), paint their faces, I chose to elaborate the makeup so that she has a slight nod to the face painting.  The Haut women do not paint their faces as a rule, but from a stylistic point of view, it seemed appropriate.

Finally, in the book, the Haut woman would never be seen.  Instead she would travel on a floating chair, and would be surrounded by an opaque force bubble.  Due to the scarcity of floating chairs and force bubbles, you are able to see her in all her glory.


Full Circle under-dress

  • Polyester lace
  • Poly/Cotton textured sheer
  • Poly/Cotton thread

“One size” kimono style robe

  • Cotton “broadcloth” body (about 4 yards of material) with silver sparkles
  • Poly/Cotton textured sheer under-sleeves
  • Polyester lace over-sleeves
  • Cotton bias tape edging
  • “Pearl” beads on sleeves

Sleeveless ‘Coat’

  • White Poly/Cotton brocade
  • Cotton bias tape
  • Poly/Cotton thread
  • “Pearl” beads

Belt – Nylon rope


  • Wire combs
  • “Pearl” Bead chain
  • Polyester Ribbon
  • Small paper and polyester flowers
  • Dyed Mother of Pearl drops

Full Circle under-dress

  • Underdress uses a tie system so that it can have the length adjusted
  • Reverse seams (French style) to eliminate visible fraying
  • Rolled hems to eliminate visible fraying
  • Dual layer of lace on hem of dress

“One size” kimono style robe

  • Double sleeves on the robe
  • Extra long obi-style belt
  • Weight of bias tape controls flow of sleeves
  • Rolled hems to eliminate visible fraying
  • Reverse seams (French style) to eliminate visible fraying
  • Pleating in shoulders allows a large amount of fabric to be better controlled
  • Gathered sleeves to adjust sleeve length
  • Pearls secured every ½ inch or so

Sleeveless ‘Coat’

  • Sleeveless to show under robe
  • Longer in back than front for graceful line
  • ¼ circle skirt
  • Reverse seams (French style) to eliminate visible fraying
  • Rolled hems to eliminate visible fraying

Rope Belt

  • Ends “Whipped” to reduce fraying


  • Multiple combs to allow flexibility of arrangement
  • Tiny flowers on opposite side of hair allow for balance in arrangement

Bigger pictures here: