Angelphie
 


Costume :Alice Kingsleigh
Variant :Blue Embroidered Dress
Source :Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Progress :Complete
Worn At :Amecon 2010


Costume Photos

Alice

Alice

Spiiiin

Alice

Alice

Alice

Alice

Shrinking

Alice

Undies!

References

Alice

 


Costume Information

General
Cost : For the sake of my sanity; I didn't keep track of this.
Time Taken : Too long - about 30 hours on the embroidery alone, and muuuuch longer overall.

Description
When I first saw this dress, I didn't pay too much attention to the detail, and thought it might be a nice alternative to other Alice designs. Then when I looked at photos of the dress from when it was exhibited, I realised I would probably die from all the embroidery. But I still loved the dress, and ended up buying fabric for it, so that was me making it! I didn’t even like the film that much, but the costumes are undoubtedly awesome.

I can’t thank Verdaera enough for her interesting and amazingly helpful costume journal: http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/ Somewhat inspired by that, I tracked my own progress in more detail in the journal here.

The main fabrics I used for my dress are silk organza layered over silk twill from rainbowsilks.co.uk, both which I dyed myself with Jacquard’s acid dye.

For the skirt, I have the organza on top, and silk twill directly underneath, but I found the twill to be a bit too flimsy, so backed it with some spare cheap synthetic dupioni I had, so that’s a third layer. To give the skirt some extra floof, there’s also a gathered 8m length of tulle sewn to the inside of the lower skirt tier. The organza remains separate from the other layers, except at the waist and a little way down the centre back seam where there’s a placket for the closure.

The lower skirt tiers are rectangles 425cm wide (being about the length of embroidery I ended up with), they were gathered to around half that and sewn to the upper tiers, which are three times my waist measurement for box pleating into the waistband.

Both organza panels were cut to have selvedges at the seam where they join in the middle of the skirt. I also used the twill’s selvedge for its hem. Every other edge is overlocked, and the organza finished with a rolled hem. My overlocker was also very helpful for the gathering this costume involved and I really wouldn't have wanted to deal with the organza without it.

As for the embroidery, I decided to have 8 repeats of the embroidery design. I used Verdaera’s template http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/1295.html and traced all the designs on to a roll of Ultra Solvy water-soluble stabiliser, then embroidered for a few weeks. I did it all on my sewing machine using a thick topstitch thread. It wasn’t too difficult or that time-consuming working by machine; just tedious. I made myself do at least a couple of designs each free evening, and that made sure I got through it all.

The gloves are made from point d’esprit lace, they have a seam on the thumb side and three decorative buttons on the other. I used self-cover buttons covered in white fabric with the black bits drawn on. The lace stretches enough to allow me to pull the gloves on and off so I didn't have to incorporate any fastenings. The blue lines were drawn on with care, a steel ruler, and a Letraset permanent marker.

For the bodice, I used Butterick 6195 which I’ve used a few times previously. I went through many, many mock-ups to shift the princess seams and extend it up to my shoulders, as well as to get my head around how to incorporate the sheer overlay and line it.

The final bodice is silk twill, which I interfaced/underlined by fusing it to polycotton with Bondaweb. The lining is white coutil for support. There's an organza overlay, which extends higher than the opaque layer at the front at back. I also placed soft tulle underneath the organza at the neckline, to give the impression of a lace underlay. I made piping from the silk twill, which is inserted into the princess seams and along the bottom edge. There’s also scallop trim along the top edge of the opaque section at the front and back.

The centre front fastens with hook and eye tape, since the buttons are only decorative on the real dress, and they seem quite fragile, so not best suited to being a real closure. The buttons are the screen accurate ones Huscho Buttons sell, although I was able to get them through Textile Garden in the UK. I also supplemented the bodice closure with snaps sewn to the placket at the centre front, and I have hooks into the lining which attach to the skirt waistband to help prevent it from shifting and showing at the back because the bodice is so short.

I dyed button loop trim for around the neckline and threaded white elastic cord through it. The same scallopy buttonhole trim continues a little way down the front, and everything above the end of the hook and eye closures fastens with tiny clear snaps. I picked a vaguely similar lace which I liked, it just needed a bit of cutting to shape and holes snipped to allow me to thread the black ribbon through it.

The sleeves are organza with the same lace I used for my gloves partially layered underneath. There are 3 tucks, and cartridge pleating at the top.

Since I’d need a petticoat anyway, I thought I might as well make it striped for accuracy…although it’s really hard to tell exactly how the petticoat is constructed, I did my best to figure it out. Only suitable stripy fabric I could get was chiffon, so I used that and backed it with sateen. Way to make things difficult for myself. It’s a circle skirt cut in quarters, then an 8m double-sided length gathered into a ruffle at the hem. Doubling up the ruffle means there are some stripes visible on the inside, so basically any of the petticoat that’s ever likely to be seen will be striped! It’s flipped up and hemmed on the outside since I like how that looks, and there’s horsehair braid to fluff it out. I also had to stick a small hoopskirt underneath for more volume - I used my Esther one since I already had it.

Bloomers and socks were just quick easy projects, they’re both only briefly visible in the film, but once I know something’s there, I always start wondering if I should make it. The bloomers are made from white polycotton with blue dots. There are 6 rows of roll-hemmed ruffles on each leg, because I think that’s all that ever shows in the film, but for all I know, the bloomers are meant to be ruffled the whole way up - at least mine should give that impression.

I also made the socks (or in my case, they’re only legwarmers since only the tops need to show). I used a pen to draw lines on stretch fabric, like for my gloves. I think the bloomers are about the right length, meeting the socks when I’m standing, and leaving a bit of a gap when I sit down.I used Oak Tree Farms Veil wedding boots. Their only inaccuracy is that they’re a bit short, but that’ll generally be hidden by the skirt, so doesn’t matter. I really like that they have the right heel. I used Dylon’s leather dye to carefully colour the toe area. For the trim around the laces, I glued on strips cut from leatherette with pinking shears. To secure the trim properly, I later sewed it in place, using pliers to pull the needle through the show leather.

My first wig was New Look’s Mary G1000(n) wig in 24B. It was heavily trimmed, and I also removed several wefts, and layered it a lot to reduce the volume. I then bought New Look’s Naomi wig in 24, which has ringlets rather than just waves. On separating them out a bit, I think the style is a lot better.

I have the Hot Topic replica necklace, which luckily was available on their European website.

Thinking of the Grand Cosplay Ball, I decided to make a matching handbag I could use for that evening and at conventions too. It’s the same blue silk with interfacing and a gathered organza overlay at the front reminiscent of the skirt. The flap is somewhat like the bodice - it has piping, comes to a point, and has a smaller version of the same buttons down the middle. The lining is the same striped chiffon layered over opaque white as I used for the petticoat.

Comments

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Looking forward to seeing this. I'm sure you'll do such an awesome job of it hun.

by Sephirayne on Tuesday, 23 March, 2010 - 09:05
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I recently got the film. Can't wait to see this dress. ^_^

by Mangamad on Saturday, 12 June, 2010 - 10:40
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Love your progress so far.

-Tab

by KhaosKreator on Saturday, 26 June, 2010 - 22:48
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Really enjoying your progress, it's interesting to see your thinking process through the costume :)

by Amy-Lou on Saturday, 3 July, 2010 - 10:50
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The wig and boots are perfect! looking amazing so far :P

by gaming_goddess on Saturday, 3 July, 2010 - 20:44
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Looking amazing x

by kittenaid on Sunday, 4 July, 2010 - 13:27
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I cannot get over the amount of detail and time you're putting into this! This costume will be a work of art!
Plus I LOVE you so much for always putting up journal entries, they make a fascinating read plus totally gonna make some Bloomers for myself! XD

by Uni on Saturday, 10 July, 2010 - 19:44
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This is just stunning - already! The detail is beautiful! I hope I get to see this at ame! ^^

by MoonLily on Saturday, 10 July, 2010 - 19:58
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Oh my goodness! Your shoes are beautiful! I love them!

This is really looking wonderful. I really look forward to seeing it completed. :]

by BlusterSquall on Saturday, 10 July, 2010 - 20:04
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Very nice progress. You are such a good dress maker!
..and the petticoat looks so good it could be outerwear imo. ^_^

by Ranma1-2 on Saturday, 10 July, 2010 - 23:10
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This looks so great! Are you going to enter it into Eurocosplay? I think with the embroidery and the sheer detail you've got a great chance of winning.

-Tab

by KhaosKreator on Sunday, 11 July, 2010 - 10:54
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Thank you so much everyone, I’m glad people like seeing journal entries - I enjoy reading other people’s, and I’ve learnt a lot from hearing about others’ progress on costumes, so I like to track my own progress in the hope it’s interesting!

Uni - bloomers are so easy and fun to make, you could wear them as pyjamas!

Ranma1-2 - Thank you, I really like the petticoat too! It’s a shame it does end up covered up.

Tab - Thanks so much, but I wasn’t planning on entering Eurocosplay with anything, it doesn’t especially interest me - I don’t usually go for the performance side of things! I also think the rules exclude costumes from live-action stuff.

by Angelphie on Sunday, 11 July, 2010 - 14:18
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This is looking amazing so far! Good luck with the rest! I'm sure you'll look gorgeous!

by TheStarlightFairy on Sunday, 11 July, 2010 - 17:05
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This will be lovely! I adore your pretty dresses!

by kiichan on Monday, 12 July, 2010 - 14:36
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omg i love this =D!! ITS AMAZING =D .. you are the perfect Alice good luck with the rest of the costume :)

by Holli on Thursday, 15 July, 2010 - 12:59
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Love the progress so far, I really like how you're really going for all the little details. I'm really enjoying reading the journals aswell!
So excited to see this finished! :D

by Charlie-Bear on Monday, 19 July, 2010 - 11:48
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Looks amazing. I think this will probably my favourite costume of yours so far. The embroidery is stunning! I can't believe you can fit it on your stairs XD I am going to demand a miiiiiiiillion pictures. Just to warn you.

by Ashe on Sunday, 25 July, 2010 - 00:02
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Thankies! This costume has also taught me that the banisters are almost exactly 7.5m long...that being the length of silk twill I dyed and had to rescue from the washing line when it started raining!

by Angelphie on Sunday, 25 July, 2010 - 09:56
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This costume is turning out gorgous! your attention to detail on the embroidery is fantastic. I'm defintely going to have a closer look at it at amecone!

by Cosplex on Sunday, 25 July, 2010 - 14:47
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You're mental! That's all I have to say!

(But really looking forward to seeing this at Ame)

by Delusional on Sunday, 25 July, 2010 - 22:08
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I love the stairs photo! Creative use of house I say!

-Tab

by KhaosKreator on Sunday, 25 July, 2010 - 23:02
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Heee~ Looking forward to seeing this in a few weeks! Every time you pop a new photo i'm just in awe! : D

by Uni on Monday, 26 July, 2010 - 10:53
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Wow this is stunning so far! Can't wait to see the finished outcome~

by Chibi on Thursday, 29 July, 2010 - 03:17
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Oh my @_@ Gorgeous work as usual, Angie! I can't wait to see this in person ^^

by Yuka on Thursday, 29 July, 2010 - 15:13
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i so wish i was going to ame! This looks amazing 8D i admire all that embroidery!! I would have no idea where to even start! Dx

by Enchanting_ELK on Thursday, 29 July, 2010 - 22:44
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Congrats on finishing it =) I am curious if you've kept note of how many hours you've worked on it though!

by Leonie Heartilly on Sunday, 8 August, 2010 - 14:54
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I didn't really track the hours, probably a good thing since along with the amount I spent on it, I don't really want to know! I know the embroidery took about 30 hours, and I'd say it must have been at least that again for the rest of the costume.

by Angelphie on Sunday, 8 August, 2010 - 15:21
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This costume... is amazing... So much detail, it looks exactly like the real thing! I really can't wait to see it all put together, congrats on finishing it! :)

by CrystalNeko on Sunday, 8 August, 2010 - 15:35
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Beautifully done, every detail is absolutely perfect, Well done ^_^

by ElegantAura on Sunday, 8 August, 2010 - 16:47
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The amount of work you've done for this is phenomenal. I wish I could be at Ame to see it in person. Hoping for lots of photos later. :)

by Pez on Tuesday, 10 August, 2010 - 09:24
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Everything about this costume was truly stunning, you have an amazing eye for detail and unbelievable patience and skills, really glad I got to see it up close. I want your boots too ;p

by agi on Tuesday, 17 August, 2010 - 17:14
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Perfect! Even better in person too, you did a wonderful job :D

by Amy-Lou on Wednesday, 18 August, 2010 - 14:16
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Wow. Everything about this costume is just perfect. I'm really glad I got to see it in person. ^_^

by Ayame on Wednesday, 18 August, 2010 - 19:59
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Bloody hell! Looks spot on so far! Well done!

by callmemilo on Thursday, 19 August, 2010 - 11:46
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This looked even more amazing up close in person! You are seriously amazing! :3

by Uni on Friday, 20 August, 2010 - 18:19
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Just uploading your photos at the mo', mum. It's taking ages cause my dad's pooter is slow. DID I EVER MENTION IT LOOKS AMAZING. Srs love for this costume forEVA

by Ashe on Friday, 20 August, 2010 - 18:30

You look fantastic! those photos at Keele Hall are really fitting.

by Heero Masaki on Friday, 20 August, 2010 - 18:54
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Wow, it's perfect! :O
Hope I get to see it irl sometime :)

by Valentine_x on Saturday, 21 August, 2010 - 18:42
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Looks incredible - those are some great photos! ^_^

by perfectly_purple on Saturday, 21 August, 2010 - 19:07
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Freakin fantastic! Photoshoot really flaunts the suit, and the location rounds it off nicely. We do neeeed to get some pics together when i finish up my Mad Hatter, lol

by callmemilo on Sunday, 22 August, 2010 - 22:04
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You look fantastic, this really suits you!

by Leadmill on Monday, 23 August, 2010 - 21:48
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aw wow! *D* that is absolutely stunning!! I love it >w< i want your dress for myself! Aha xD
I love the photos, it's a brilliant location for the outfit 8D well done!!

by Enchanting_ELK on Thursday, 26 August, 2010 - 16:57
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PERFECTION!.. This dress is like a work or Art!.. its soo beautiful..You should make movie costumes =D!

by Holli on Friday, 3 September, 2010 - 21:52
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Beautiful Costume :)

by Strawberry_Sprite on Saturday, 4 September, 2010 - 12:36
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So beautiful and incredibly accurate! ^_^

by TheEmoEmu on Monday, 18 October, 2010 - 19:39
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I like the new ringlet wig you're trying for the ball. If you can get it to lift at the front too it's going to be great.

by Amy-Lou on Tuesday, 19 October, 2010 - 09:08
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You look stunning in this.
I love the photos and the locations too. <33 soo lucky to have a beautiful location!

by SachikoYumi on Saturday, 4 December, 2010 - 12:18
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You loo totally Beautifull! You are such a talented dress maker, and such a stickler for getting every detail ^_^ I really admire how much you put into your costumes, it really shows in the end results.
And I love that pic with you on the huuuuge chair at the cosplay ball. ^^

by Ranma1-2 on Saturday, 4 December, 2010 - 12:45

Love your dresses! And the location is exactly from the movie!

by Domain names on Saturday, 4 December, 2010 - 12:45

by Domain on Sunday, 12 December, 2010 - 16:46
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This is stunning. Lovely to see in person. The embroidery is amazing. Loved the detail The photos are epic and spot on.

by Sephirayne on Thursday, 23 December, 2010 - 21:34
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Ha, I was just thinking about this costume yesterday as a movie costume done epically well. Really glad to see it on the showcase--beautiful work!

by Storme on Sunday, 15 May, 2011 - 08:47
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Beautiful work, you make a perfect Alice! :D

by Eloraborealis on Sunday, 15 May, 2011 - 10:53
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Huge congratulations on the showcase! The amount of detail on this dress is just amazing! Truly a wonderful cosplay ^^

by Pandora-Chi on Sunday, 15 May, 2011 - 11:34
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Such a beautiful cosplay, well deserving of a showcase. Congarts hun and well done x

by Sephirayne on Sunday, 15 May, 2011 - 12:21
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Absolutely loved this, but then it does have many features I find great!

Quality!

by theKillingDoll on Sunday, 15 May, 2011 - 16:21
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Absolutely beautiful!

by Newdles on Sunday, 15 May, 2011 - 18:41
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This is such a lovely dress!

by Luna Ciele on Sunday, 13 November, 2011 - 20:18
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Just saw this in the showcase. Amazing photos!

by Orihime on Saturday, 19 November, 2011 - 11:30
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Just been perusing the showcases, this is absolutely beautiful. I adore the costume itself, so much work but SO worth it. You make a beautiful Alice.

by Tofu on Sunday, 18 March, 2012 - 12:19
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The hard work definitely paid off as it looks friggin awesome!

by MiniPlum on Thursday, 24 May, 2012 - 11:07
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was nice to meet you at Amecon ^^ flawless Alice cosplay!

by Fishyfins on Tuesday, 14 August, 2012 - 21:06
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I saw this briefly again at Amecon, all the detail and extra work you've put into it is perfect, it really suits you.

by Alias Cosplay on Saturday, 25 August, 2012 - 17:51
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so great
and the location is really beautiful
I have the feeling like in the movie

by Josephine on Thursday, 17 January, 2013 - 15:31
 

Journal

Some more improvements (Posted 9th August 2012)

It took me 2 years, but I finally got round to remaking that bodice. I wanted to improve the fit, the positioning of the princess seams and also avoid wrinkly awful interfacing this time. I had just enough spare fabric, so remade it for NemaCon 2012 and made a few final adjustments in time for AmeCon 2012.

My method of construction was the same, but I took my time and made several mock-ups to ensure the fit and seam position were correct. Instead of interfacing, I chose Bondaweb. I used it to fuse the silk twill to white polycotton pieces which were actually from my final mock-up. This worked out nicely for making the twill easier to work with, whilst stiffening it a bit, and I haven’t had any wrinkle issues with it. Using the mock-up also guaranteed I had accurate pieces! I also used coutil for the lining this time rather than drill, which helps add a bit more support to the bodice.

I had to make new piping and I’m not delighted with the results since I’m not sure I cut the silk exactly on the bias so that may be contributing to it not lying entirely smoothly. I also found that the weave of the piping cord I was using initially showered through the silk, so I ended up pulling it out and painstakingly threading through a different, smoother rattail cord.

I found more accurate trim for the top of the opaque section, used a finer netting for the underlay, and used some new lace trim at the neckline which was carefully snipped out from lace fabric I bought in London ages ago. Aside from that, I was able to recycle most of the trim, elastic, buttons etc. from the first bodice attempt or buy more of the same that I’d used previously where necessary.

I also used the same sleeves again, all I did was replace the bottom section to make them a bit fuller and longer – it was easy to inset a seam where the lowermost tuck hides it.

Inevitably, making a garment for the second time is easier and tends to turn out better and I had a lot more time to make the bodice this time round, so overall it’s a lot better, and I really can’t face trying to perfect it any further, especially when I only have some minor quibbles now.

I made a few other tweaks to the costume too – I finally sewed the black zigzag trim on to the boots since it wasn’t staying in place with the glues I tried. I stitched it gradually over a weekend using pliers to pull the needle through the boot leather, but still wrecked my hands in the process. Still, that trim is not going to budge now.

I also shortened the necklace a bit more to work with the new bodice neckline.

Only remaining thing I might eventually do is make a new hoopskirt more suited to this specific skirt, since I currently use the one originally made for my Esther costume and had to take in the hoop and tweak it a bit. Doesn’t particularly matter, but it’d be nice to have a better one.

Some Improvements (Posted 24th November 2010)

For London Expo and also the Grand Cosplay Ball coming up this weekend I made a few more improvements along with the new wig and a bag.

I decided my skirt wasn’t full enough, even with tulle and a petticoat. But the idea of adding another petticoat was just a bit ridiculous - I had enough trouble fitting everything in my suitcase for AmeCon! So I’ve resorted to a hoopskirt for greater floof when I want it. It’s just the short, small hoopskirt I made for my Esther costume, with the hoop taken in quite a bit. No chance of it showing with the petticoat on top, and I don’t think it badly affects the movement of the skirt.

I knew the bodice needed some help. I want to remake it to move the princess seams at the front, and improve on wrinkle issues, and just generally be able to approach such a challenging garment (at least for me…stupid organza overlay) in a more confident way…but I can’t face that yet. What I have done is lowered it under the arms, which prevents the bunching which was occurring. No idea how I ended up with the side pieces too high in the first place, but that’s it corrected now. Changing the armhole also shifted the sleeves, and that’s stretched them out more and stopped them from drooping. Finally, I removed some of the wrinkles which had formed in the interfacing by ironing it, but there’s only so much I can do here. I’ve not had much success with removing the interfacing and re-fusing it. Not sure why it wrinkled in the first place, but I won’t be using it again!

While I had the lining opened up, I added a few snaps to attach to the skirt waistband at the back and make sure it doesn’t show. I also put a few snaps in the lining and placket at the centre front to supplement the hooks and eyes, which are guaranteed to sometimes undo themselves depending how I move.
Photos are from Madmazda86 at London Expo, showing fuller skirt, new wig and somewhat improved bodice.

Handbag (Posted 18th October 2010)

I sewed the front and back pieces together, and did the same for the lining. Then I sewed the piping to the edges of the flap and attached the remainder along the top front edge of the main bag. There was a vague reason for this other than for just using up the piping.

Before lining the flap, I set in half of the magnetic snap to the lining and sewed the buttons on to the outer piece. I then sewed the flap together and attached it to the back of the bag. At that stage I could check exactly where the other half of the clasp needed to go on the front of the bag, and set it in. Behind both halves of the clasp I used extra sew-in interfacing for additional support. The strap was topstitched, and sewn to either side, then the bag it was ready to be lined.

I placed the outer bag inside the lining, right sides together, and sewed round the top edges, securing the lining to the flap edge and the front of the bag. I left a gap at the front to turn it. With it turned the right way out, I closed up the gap by folding the top edge of the lining under and stitching in the ditch right next to the piping. The piping easily hides the stitching from the outside, which was part of my reasoning for using it there. Quick, simple way to line the bag. I have no idea how handbag linings might be done properly, but my approach worked!

Handbag (Posted 18th October 2010)

I don’t normally make matching bags to go with costumes since I’ll aim to have any bag out of sight in photos, and I don’t really care about the appearance of a bag when I’m just wandering around at an event. On the other hand, having a bag to suit the costume can look good, and it’s handy if it can blend in and be unobtrusive. The deciding factor here was that I’d be wearing Alice at the Grand Cosplay Ball, and a small handbag which I could wear all night would be really convenient. I drew inspiration from Verdaera, once again, and came up with a design reminiscent of the skirt and bodice of the dress.

Copying the basic construction and approximate size of an existing bag I owned, I came up with the attached pieces made from leftover fabric from the costume. It’s a really simple bag with just front and back pieces, but it still holds enough stuff!

In the photo, the pieces at the bottom are the lining. They’re the striped chiffon used for my petticoat, backed with white cotton drill to make it opaque, and also sew-in interfacing. The piece on the right is flipped to the reverse.

Middle row left has the front piece, which is interfaced silk twill with gathered organza on top, just like the skirt. On the right, the back piece is the same minus the organza.

Top row is the flap which forms the closure for the bag, again made from silk twill. A magnetic clasp (also pictured) secures it.

To the left I have a few buttons to be used for decoration on the flap - these were the first ones I bought for my bodice which turned out to be too small.

Along the top is some piping -I only used this for trimming the flap and along the top edge of the bag because I didn’t have much cord left. I think I prefer the side seam without piping anyway, the organza gives it a nice blurred outline.

On the right is the strap for the bag - it’s long enough to wear over one shoulder or cross-body.

Wig 2 (Posted 4th October 2010)

After separating the ringlets into thinner strands I got this!

Wig 2 (Posted 4th October 2010)

After wearing the costume at AmeCon, there were a few things I wanted to improve on before wearing it again.

This time, I tried New Look’s Naomi wig, in my usual blonde colour choice of 24. I think Alice’s hair is somewhere in between ringlets and waviness, and since I wasn’t happy with a wavy wig (which also ended up sooo thick even with tearing our a load of wefts), then it was time to try spirals instead. I just separated out the ringlets a bit, and I think the results are much better than my last wig!

Here’s how the wig looks in a stock photo and the wig I received pictured on the right - very tight thick ringlets.

Bodice (Posted 8th August 2010)

I first made a mock-up of one sleeve to get the correct size - it’s a rectangle, and I used Verdaera’s measurements http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/15568.html as a bit of a guide.

For the real sleeves, I used the selvedge of the organza for the bottom edges, folding it up to encase some blue elastic. The tucks were sewn in then ironed downwards - that took me about an hour, even with the help of a cardboard jig. I hate organza . The lace I used for my gloves forms the underlay, and the two layers are sewn together.

I’d never tried cartridge pleats before, but they weren‘t difficult. I layered more lace underneath to pad out the pleats, marked out my stitches, and to help ensure they were even, I used a tip I’d read, and threaded up two needles, and used both to sew two identical rows at once.

Having set in the sleeves, I could finish the armscye seams, sew the lace to them, sew in the remaining lining pieces, and close up the lining.

I left the end of the placket under the “eye” side of the closure open, that let me turn the lining, then the placket edge was topstitched closed.

COSTUME FINISHED! Apart from much-needed ironing. Better photos at AmeCon ^_^

Sleeve Reference (Posted 5th August 2010)

The sleeves are organza with point d’esprit partially layered underneath. There are 3 tucks, and cartridge pleating at the top.

Bodice (Posted 2nd August 2010)

I adjusted the neckline a bit; I think this is an improvement. Here's a clearer shot of the trims and stuff as well.

Just sleeves and finishing up the lining to go! I've finished a sleeve mock-up, so can start on the real ones.

Bodice (Posted 1st August 2010)

Before I could sew all the bodice pieces together, I needed piping to insert into the princess seams. I used bias strips cut from the silk twill; this was my first time making and using piping. The centre back and centre front pieces were joined at the shoulder seams using French seams, then the piping was sewn right along the edge. After that, the side pieces could be added too.

As well as the princess seams, the bottom edge is also piped. The front fastens with hook and eye tape, since the buttons are only decorative on the real dress, and they seem quite fragile, so not best suited to being a real closure. The buttons are the screen accurate ones Huscho Buttons sell, although I was able to get them through Textile Garden in the UK.

The organza/tulle neckline is finished with a rolled hem. I’ll similarly be tidying up the armscye edges once the sleeves are set in. I dyed button loop trim for around the neckline (I did this when I was doing dye tests on my silk twill) and threaded white elastic cord through it. The same buttonhole trim continues a little way down the front, and everything above the end of the hook and eye closures fastens with tiny clear snaps.

I did experiment with cutting out my own lace from leatherette and felt, but with the amount I’d need to make and all those fiddly little holes to snip out, there was no way I could manage it. Since the lace will be gathered anyway, even if I did make an exact match, it would just end up obscured. So I starting hunting for similar lace trims, or ones I could adapt. I ended up finding one I liked which is vaguely similar. I had to cut out the holes to thread the ribbon through the flowers, but otherwise left it as it was. The lace is sewn around the neckline, and will also be added to the armscye seam allowance.

This is as much as I can do before making and setting in the sleeves. Once they’re in, I’ll be able to finish the lining. In the photo, unfinished edges are just tucked under. (Looking at the photos, I think the organza neckline needs to be a bit lower, so I’ll adjust it when I find the patience to redo it!)

I’ll also mention the necklace since it’s pictured here. I initially had a lot of problems getting hold of one. Hot Topic sells a replica, but it originally seemed that I’d only be able to get it through their US website, and be charged a small fortune for postage. Some appeared on eBay, but still weren’t very affordable. No one in the UK sells a replica except Swarovski, and their necklace cost a small fortune and wasn’t even as accurate!

I could just not wear one, since she doesn’t initially have it and it’s not in the promo pics, but I discovered that Hot Topic actually has a European website with limited merchandise, which luckily included the necklace. I just had to remove a couple of inches of the chain to shorten it to the right length.

Bodice (Posted 31st July 2010)

First, I made a couple of mock-ups in spare fabric. I used the bodice of Butterick 6195 which I’ve used a few times previously and had adjusted to fit me already. The princess seams were shifted and it was extended it up to the shoulders. I spent some time tweaking it to fit and marking out where the opaque layer should end etc.

When I was confident about it all, I took apart my mock-up and used it as the pattern for the final thing. I’m using cotton drill for the lining, with tulle as an underlay at the neckline, and silk twill for the outer pieces with organza layered over them.

I first marked out the pattern pieces on fusible interfacing, cut them out generously, ironed them to the twill, and used the lines on the interfacing to cut the actual size pieces. Helpful for getting the pieces precise, and also preventing fraying, plus I could draw my actual stitching lines on to the interfacing too.

My original plan to use liquid solvy to help cut the organza was scrapped when I suspected that the solution had made the organza shrink. To test it, I cut out a square, drew around it, washed out the solvy, then placed it back over the square I’d drawn, and it certainly was much larger without the solvy. That might not be an issue if I could guarantee that my bodice would never get wet so as to dissolve any of the solvy, but I didn’t think it was worth the risk! So it was back to the time-consuming cutting of awkward organza.

The side front and side back pieces have identical organza overlays, basted around the seam allowance. There’s a side front piece pictured, second from the right.

The centre back and centre front pieces are a bit different because the organza and tulle extend beyond the twill. The twill pieces have the lining sewn along the top edge, with tulle and scalloped trim sandwiched between the layers (I found blue lace for the trim here). You can see the different layers in the photo: the centre back piece on the far right doesn’t have its organza overlay, and the centre front piece flipped to the lining side shows up the blue scalloped trim more clearly. There’s also a completed centre front piece on the left which has its organza attached.

Chemise References (Posted 30th July 2010)

After seeing this (annoyingly tiny) sketch of the chemise with Alice at various scales (at least you do actually see the chemise properly in the film when she’s at 9 feet and 2 feet), I think that the tulle and lace seen at the neckline might be part of the chemise worn underneath the dress. The bits of lace visible under the sleeves would be the chemise straps. Alternatively, the lace could be some other separate undershirt, but I like the chemise theory.

I don’t plan on making a chemise though, because none of it is intended to show other than the lace, and that can easily be incorporated into the bodice instead. If I did actually make a chemise or undershirt, I think it would be too much of a nuisance to ensure the lace at the neckline lined up correctly, and make sure that none of the opaque chemise fabric shifts and shows at the sheer part of the bodice.

It’s helpful to have studied the chemise business though, even just for a better understanding of where all her blue outfits came from!

Lace References (Posted 29th July 2010)

I won’t be making a chemise, but since it relates to my theory about the lace at the neckline of this dress, it’s worth mentioning.

I noticed that there is netting visible underneath the organza of the bodice in high res photos. Also, the lace at the neckline doesn’t seem to be sewn to the organza of the bodice, as it sometimes shifts away from it. I’m guessing that the lace and the tulle are a separate layer, (or maybe the lace isn’t trim, but the edge of lace fabric) with the blue organza on top, held mostly in place with elastic around the neck opening. In some images, the blue part of the bodice can be seen gaping away from the lace underneath, and the lace certainly can move out of alignment with the neckline.

Bodice References (Posted 28th July 2010)

The bodice has an opaque layer, with an organza overlay extending slightly higher. There’s piping in the princess seams and along the bottom edge; scallop trim along the top edge of the opaque section; hook and eye closures down the front plus decorative buttons; lace, ribbon, scallop trim and elastic at the neckline with snaps to close the front.

Skirt (Posted 25th July 2010)

I’ve gathered the embroidered panel along its top edge, and sewn it to the rest of the skirt. Finished!

I fluffed out the tulle a bit more for this photo. So pleased with the embroidery! I’ve been swishing around in this skirt exceptionally happily ^_^

Also, the solvy-coated organza came out well, so should make dealing with the bodice pieces a lot less painful.

Embroidery (Posted 24th July 2010)

I finally finished all the ridiculous length of embroidery! 8 repeats of the design, over 4m long, so not easy to photograph. I’ve roll-hemmed it to the right length, washed out the solvy stabiliser, and it’s currently hanging out to dry. Hopefully it won’t need any more rinses.

I ended up with a lot of solvy residue dissolved in the water I was using to wash it out, so I kept some of the water, dissolved more solvy in it to make a concentrated gloop, and used it on the organza I’ll be cutting my bodice pieces from. The “liquid solvy” should stiffen it and make it a easier to work with. The organza I tried it on is also outside drying, so I won’t know if my solvy experiment has worked for a while, but fingers crossed! Anything to make organza more friendly to cut out neatly.

Skirt (Posted 24th July 2010)

The skirt with the tulle, and worn over the petticoat. Not an obvious difference in this photo, but it is fuller, and the tulle can be fluffed up or squished down depending on the effect I want. Definitely needs ironed here!

Skirt (Posted 24th July 2010)

I then decided I wanted a bit more floof to the skirt. I gathered a doubled-up length of tulle, which started out 8m wide. It’s sewn to the middle seam allowance of the skirt - this is what the inside of my skirt looks like now, for an idea of how it’s put together. That's the dupioni layer showing.

Skirt (Posted 24th July 2010)

My two layers are silk twill with silk organza on top. However, I found the silk twill to be a little flimsy, and wanted to add more substance to the skirt. I therefore used some synthetic dupioni I had to back the skirt pieces, giving me three layers in the end.

The lower skirt tier is 425cm wide (being about the length of embroidery I’ll have on the organza layer), it’s then gathered to half that and sewn to the upper tier, which is about three times my waist measurement at 210cm wide. I didn’t sew quite to the ends of that middle seam, so I could later sew up the centre back seams of each tier separately, then finished attaching them to one another. Bit neater that way.

Both organza panels have been cut to have selvedges at the seam where they join in the middle of the skirt. I also used the twill’s selvedge for its hem. Every other edge is overlocked, and the organza finished with a rolled hem. My overlocker has been very helpful for all the gathering this costume has involved, although the organza overlay will be gathered by hand.

The top edge of the upper organza panel is basted to the top edge of the twill, then it was all pleated while it was still flat. I used box pleats to gather it to the waist - this is where cutting the panel at 3x my waist measurement was helpful!

Following the pleating, I could sew the separate organza and opaque layers down their centre back seams, making them into loops. The organza and twill layers are both separate, except at the waist and a little way down the centre back seam where they overlap with a placket for the closure. The waistband is interfaced and fastens with a snap at the back.

Here’s the skirt (worn over the petticoat), complete apart from the lower embroidered organza tier. You can see a bit of the contrast between the organza overlay and the twill on its own.

Skirt References (Posted 23rd July 2010)

With my silk twill finally dyed, I could start constructing my skirt. The skirt seems to be a simple rectangle, with only a centre back seam, and it is pleated into a waistband. I’ve yet to spot a seam on the skirt, so assuming there’s only one, lost in the folds at the back, is probably reasonable, and nice and easy for me to do.

There are two identically constructed layers , a sheer layer over an opaque one. Both layers are constructed in two tiers, the lower gathered to the upper (at least I think the opaque layer is the same as the sheer, I‘m going that route anyway). The sheer layer uses the selvedges at the middle seam.

Dyeing the Silk Twill (Posted 22nd July 2010)

I did a lot of swatch tests (and I mean a lot), and came up with an idea of the dyes needed. I dyed the twill in the same way as my organza in the washing machine, using a the blue dye I’d used before, mixed with some grey. Here’s a photo of all the various swatches I dyed along the way!

My first dye attempt was too pale, unfortunately, but that's better than going too dark at least. I decided to dye it again using more blue dye. The final results are still fairly pale, but I’m happy with the colour. The dress seems to be very pale and greyish in person, judging by exhibition photos, but a much more vibrant blue on screen. Given the range of possibilities, I eventually just went with something I liked the look of.

Opaque Dress Fabric References (Posted 21st July 2010)

The dress is organza on top of an opaque layer. It was important to get the colour of the base opaque layer right in combination with the organza to go on top, so I’ve spent a while working on dyeing it. I&amp;#039;m using silk twill from Rainbow Silks since it was on offer for £4.50 a metre when I was ordering grey acid dye!

Petticoat (Posted 10th July 2010)

I’ve finally finished up the petticoat with a waistband, which makes it about the right length. If necessary, I can easily adjust it a little to suit the final length of the dress. So here’s a proper photo of the completed skirt! And a less ridiculous view of the bloomers.

Bloomers and Socks (Posted 10th July 2010)

The bloomers were made from two different white polycottons with blue dots. I could only get a metre remnant of fabric with the most suitable size dots, so used larger-spotted fabric for the rest. The legs have the bigger spots, the ruffles the smaller. I don’t really care about accuracy for this part, and the ruffles are the most likely part to be seen anyway.

I copied a pair pyjama bottoms for the basic shape. There are 6 rows of roll-hemmed ruffles on each leg, because I think that’s all that ever shows in the film, but for all I know, the bloomers are meant to be ruffled the whole way up - at least mine should give that impression.

I also made the socks (or in my case, they’re only legwarmers since only the tops need to show). I used a pen to draw lines on stretch fabric, like for my gloves. This was surprisingly awkward, I had a lot of problems with the ink bleeding. It does seem like the lines on Alice’s socks seem to be a bit broken and uneven though!

I think the bloomers are about the right length, meeting the socks when I’m standing, and leaving a bit of a gap when I sit down. They look fantastically ridiculous worn on their own :P

Bloomers and Socks References (Posted 10th July 2010)

As well as the petticoat, I made bloomers and socks. They’re both only briefly visible, but once I know something’s there, start wondering if I should make it! There will be some poses when they’ll be seen when I wear the costume, and they were cheap, easy and quick to make, which is why I bothered.

Embroidery (Posted 10th July 2010)

I'm halfway through the skirt embroidery now, it's about 2m 20cm in length at the moment, so the final thing's still on track for ending up around 4.5m long.

Gloves (Posted 10th July 2010)

After no luck finding suitable buttons, I’ve resorted to self-cover ones. I used tiny 11mm ones, covered them in white fabric, and drew on the black areas in permanent marker. I think the buttons are about the right size, but I have a slightly larger set of cover buttons, and I may end up using them instead depending on how they match up to the size of my bodice buttons. Anyway, gloves are complete!

Glove (Posted 4th July 2010)

I originally bought dotted mesh fabric for these before finding better point d’esprit lace on Ebay. I still used the mesh for drafting a pattern for the gloves though. Luckily the lace stretches enough to pull them on and off so I didn't have to incorporate any fastenings. The blue lines were drawn on with care, a steel ruler, and a Letraset marker (they’re permanent and come in all sorts of shades). The only thing I’m a little unhappy with is the pattern of dots on the lace - it’s not a consistent repeat pattern, so it was impossible to cut it and have the dots going in neat lines, but the dots will hardly be seen, so their precise arrangement doesn’t matter much.

I haven’t quite decided what to do for the buttons yet. I’m hoping I can find the screen accurate ones, or get hold of the Hot Topic gloves which aren’t accurate, but miraculously have accurate buttons! If I can’t find suitable buttons, I’ll probably get some small white ones and paint the black parts on, or use tiny self-cover buttons, because white fabric would take paint/black ink better.

Gloves References (Posted 4th July 2010)

Striped lace fingerless gloves, seams on the thumb side, three decorative buttons on the other side. No real problems, other than trying to find the right buttons!

Embroidery (Posted 3rd July 2010)

So one quarter is complete. I’ve been trying to make sure I do a couple of designs a night. If I keep that up, even allowing for the inevitable several days where I won’t get anything done, I’ll easily have it all complete in time for Ame - provided I don’t develop some repetitive strain injury from turning the sewing machine hand wheel! Free motion embroidery is not for me, especially not when trying to be precise. I tried out a few things, but it seems I do best if I just sew as usual. Because of the fiddly designs, I can’t use the foot pedal much, so I’ve been hand-cranking my way round all the designs. The flowery ones are currently taking about 30 minutes, all the other ones go a lot faster, so typically I’m spending maybe 45 minutes each evening on it at the moment, and I might manage to speed up a little more in time.

The flower designs are like Professor Layton puzzles; you can get round them completely without lifting your pen/needle! I got my routes around the designs planned out when I was first tracing them on to the solvy, and it’s mostly been easy to stick to that when embroidering - I’ve only taken a wrong turning a couple of times so far and had to stop/start in the middle.

Embroidery (Posted 3rd July 2010)

This is the second repeat of the embroidery. First one was understandably not so neat, so I decided to wait until I completed the second repeat before taking a photo so I could show something slightly better! It’s all shiny because the Solvy’s still there, I’ll be washing all of it out at the end…which is going to be quite a task.

Embroidery References (Posted 3rd July 2010)

Not the best pictures ever, (because I was lazy and took a photo of the visual companion book rather than scanning it) but these are the main ones which show the extent of the skirt hem, and seem to indicate that there are 7-8 repeats of the embroidery design.

Boots (Posted 3rd July 2010)

After applying the dye and some shoe polish! It was fairly simple to do, but I had to be careful at the base of the laces where I wasn’t following the line of the seams on the boot. I marked out the area I wanted to leave white using permanent marker first, then used a finer brush for the dye around the tricky edges. Inevitably, I still got some dye where it wasn’t meant to go, so I used some white spirit to get the worst off, then white shoe paint to conceal my mistakes :P

The leatherette trim was glued on carefully with superglue.

The final thing was add some grip to the soles since they were ridiculously smooth. I nearly keeled over the first time I tried them on and took a step on a carpet! I sandpapered the soles and scuffed them outside a bit.

Boots (Posted 3rd July 2010)

I bought Dylon’s leather dye to carefully colour the toe area. The instructions for the dye only involve roughening the area to be dyed, but I chose to carefully sand the surface of the boots off to ensure the dye really stuck.

In this photo, the boot on the left is fairly untouched, the one on the right more obviously has the finish starting to come off.

For the trim around the laces, I’m using strips cut from leatherette with pinking shears. There’s a length of the trim draped over the left hand boot in the picture.

Boots Reference (Posted 3rd July 2010)

I wasn’t very happy with any of the boots I could find. Any good options were all too expensive, especially for shipping to the UK, if it was even possible to get a site which would post them there!

I was thinking about making covers and finding a way around it, but managed to get a suitable pair of boots for a more reasonable price on eBay! They’re the Oak Tree Farms Veil wedding boots, which are definitely worthwhile if you’re prepared to stalk eBay waiting for a bargain. Their only inaccuracy is that they’re a bit short, but that’ll be hidden by the skirt, so doesn’t matter. I really like that they have the right heel.

Wig (Posted 26th June 2010)

The curls could be larger, but it’ll certainly do the trick, and I can look out for any better options.

Wig (Posted 26th June 2010)

It needed a fair bit of trimming, which I’m always sorry to have to do to nice wigs! I also removed several wefts, and layered it a lot to reduce the volume. I didn’t take before pictures, but here’s the stock photo and a view of all the hair I removed…

Hair References (Posted 26th June 2010)

I discovered how difficult finding nice curly wigs was with my Eowyn costume. For Alice, I found New Look’s Mary G1000(n) wig on Amphigory, which I thought would work well, and it comes in a decent selection of colours (I’m a big fan of 24B for some reason) I didn’t want to have to order through Amphigory/Katie Bair, so I went off to find other sources. It’s obscure for a New Look wig, but does exist on several sites, and I was able to get hold of it at a good price.

Embroidery (Posted 26th June 2010)

Here’s the first three designs. This part will end up at the back of the skirt, so my initial iffier work will be conveniently out of the way. I’m sure I’ll improve (and get a lot faster) as I work my way along. The flowers are taking me a while, but everything else goes quite quickly. Infinitely faster than anything I could do by hand at least!

Embroidery (Posted 26th June 2010)

I spent a lot of time experimenting with various stitches and practising before attacking the real thing. I’m using a straight stitch, a wiggly stitch on the squirrel, and a weird zigzaggy stitch on top of a straight stitch for the scallopy lines. The scallopy bits definitely aren’t accurate, but I don’t know how to do the correct stitch, and even just a close imitation would still need to be done by hand and require more time than I want to spend. The zig-zag combination I came up with looks fairly similar, and allows me to complete all the embroidery by machine and manage the 4.5 metres of embroidery I want without going insane, so I think it’s the right choice for me!

I first did the entire bottom line of scallopy bits, which again secures all the solvy nicely. I’m now working my way along the rest of the designs.

Embroidery (Posted 26th June 2010)

To attach the solvy to the fabric, I lined it up on the organza and roll hemmed the bottom, which gave me the final hem for the skirt, as well as attaching the stabilizer (the selvedge forms the top of the panel) I might need to hem it a little shorter later, but this may well be the final hem - especially if I’m too paranoid to put it through my overlocker after embroidering it all! Photo shows it all attached.

Embroidery (Posted 26th June 2010)

With all the measurements decided, and a nice template for the design, I used a Sharpie to trace the designs on to some Solvy, a water-soluble stabiliser. It’s like a clear vinyl, so I just placed it over my template to trace on to it. I can then place the fabric underneath it, and follow the design accurately when sewing. When the embroidery is complete, the Solvy will wash out. Since it’s a stabiliser, it also ensures the organza doesn’t get eaten by the machine, and that it’ll cope with the embroidery stitches, which is probably the most helpful aspect of all.

I had a 5m roll of solvy, so I just kept going, and traced every last bit on to the continuous sheet. I thought that would be best to make sure everything lines up correctly, and it also let me attach the whole lot to the organza in one go.

Tracing the designs was fairly quick and easy to do, but really boring, so I just made myself do at least one repeat a night, and got it all marked out in a week. Here’s a pathetic shot of the length of Solvy I covered!

Embroidery References (Posted 26th June 2010)

I knew I wanted to embroider the skirt properly, I do enjoy detail projects occasionally. Besides, I’m not too sure how well paints or pens would work out on sheer fabric, and I don’t trust myself with drawing thin neat lines.

I did want to see what I could do by machine before resorting to doing everything by hand though. I bought some thick Gutermann topstitch thread, and had a trial run. I found I could get a nice effect using that, particularly when only used in the bobbin, with ordinary thread for the top, so that was the route I took.

I figured out the size the pieces of my skirt needed to be with a little experimentation in some spare fabric. It needs to be 36” long, meaning two panels 18” in length (each cut at 19” for hem/seam allowances).

I then checked the scale of the embroidered designs, based on measuring references and proportioning, and determined they should be about 4” high. I adjusted the scale accordingly to print off the design templates which Verdaera had drafted http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/1295.html - just one of the ways her progress journal has been an enormous help! The designs were taped together to make one repeat of the whole thing.

The width of the skirt panels was dependant upon the length of embroidery I could cope with! I think there are at least 7, if not 8 repeats of the design along the hem of the real dress. I measured the length of my template of one whole repeat, and it turns out that multiplied by 8, it comes to almost precisely 4.5m, so I went with that. My lower skirt panel is therefore 4.5m in length, and it’ll be gathered to half its length and sewn to the upper panel, which will be about 2.25m long. The upper panel can then be box pleated into the waistband.

Petticoat (Posted 22nd June 2010)

Fail mirror photo.

I’ll be able to confirm the final length of the petticoat when I’ve made my dress, so no waistband just yet. I hope the petticoat alone will be full enough, but I can always wear another layer, or I might sew an extra ruffle to the inside of my dress to supplement it.

Petticoat (Posted 22nd June 2010)

I then gathered the top using my overlocker and sewed the ruffle to the circle skirt. Because I like the flipped up hem side, and for all the petticoat will show, it’s fairly irrelevant which way round the ruffle is, I left the side I liked best facing outwards.

Petticoat (Posted 22nd June 2010)

Next was the ruffle for the hem of the skirt. I was able to make it 8m wide, but the length of the ruffle was limited by having to allow for doubling up the chiffon, hemming it, and the amount of fabric I had. If I reduced the size of the circle skirt to try and make more room to cut a longer ruffle, then the hem of the circle skirt would end up less full, so I experimented until I hit on measurements I thought would work best. The ruffle could ideally be longer, but it was the best I could manage in the circumstances. The length of the petticoat can be adjusted from the waist if necessary - I may need to have it sit at my hips to ensure it’s long enough. Photo is of the ruffle mostly gathered up. Even gathered it’s a lot!

I basted striped fabric on either side of an 8m length of sateen - I wanted to have some stripes showing on the inside of the skirt, so sandwiched the sateen between two layers of chiffon. I also ensured I had enough for a hem to flip up and create the final change of direction in the stripes. While it was all still flat, I pressed the hem up, and stitched it down, including crinoline tape inside. I sewed right along that 8m length 6 times in total! (4 times to baste the top and bottom of each chiffon piece in place, once to attach the crinoline tape, and a final time to secure the hem)

Petticoat (Posted 22nd June 2010)

I spent a lot of time calculating the size of the pieces I needed and figuring out a cutting layout to squeeze it out of the fabric I had, allowing for backing the chiffon with the sateen, and doubling up some of the chiffon to make some stripes visible on the inside at the hem (that's about all of the inside which might show, and is a convenient compromise since most of my fabric won’t be double-sided)

I started with a circle skirt cut in quarters, which is about the limit of the number of seams I wanted to mess with matching stripes at! The stripes on my fabric run at 45 degrees, so it was convenient to cut in 4 pieces, and have the stripes running vertically down the quarters. Of course, when sewn into a circle and hanging from the waist, the stripes end up going off at different angles and chevron at the seams.

Chiffon being chiffon, I left it to hang before hemming the skirt. After hemming, it went on to stretch further still though, so I had to hitch it up at the waist too! Stupid chiffon. I think I have it all as even as possible now though.

Petticoat (Posted 12th June 2010)

Next thing to try and determine from the references was the direction of the stripes. Obviously with heaps of fabric gathered together, the direction will vary, so it always looks all over the place in views of the hem. From the photo of the large scale petticoat, it looks as though the stripes run vertically, then change to diagonal for a ruffle at the hem. There’s also another change of direction where the hem is folded up. Knowing what to look for, that all can be seen on the actual scale dress too.

Petticoat (Posted 12th June 2010)

I had trouble finding suitable striped fabric for the underskirt, with the black stripe thinner than the white, but I eventually found printed chiffon from Abakan.co.uk which was exactly right. I was lucky, I got the last of it - I ordered 4m to give me plenty for a circle skirt, and ended up receiving slightly more as it was the end of the bolt! The problem was, it was chiffon, and a sheer fabric wasn’t going to look right or have any hope of helping to flare out a dress. So I also ordered cotton sateen to use as a backing for it, because that came in the same 150cm width, and would be of a decent weight. In the photo, you can see the see-through problem of the chiffon on its own, and how it works with the sateen behind it. Shame it means my fabric’s only striped on one side, and it’s more hassle to deal with two layers at once, but the point is it’ll look suitably accurate and do the job of a petticoat.

In order to deal with the two layers of fabric at once, I first machine basted the two fabrics together along one selvedge to help me out. I then marked out the shapes I needed to cut on the sateen, and basted around the outlines. I could then cut out the shapes, and have the chiffon and sateen secured together while I worked.

Petticoat References (Posted 12th June 2010)

I’m still not certain exactly what all is meant to be underneath the dress, even after studying all the references I could get. There‘s definitely a black and white striped underskirt, but whether that’s the only layer of skirts underneath, I can‘t be entirely sure. It’s difficult to determine if the other fabric visible is just the opaque layer of the dress, or if there are more blue layers too. And even looking at the striped skirt is confusing with all the directions of the stripes, and stripes showing on both sides of the fabric. At least accuracy in undergarments isn’t a big deal, as much as I like to do what I can. So I decided I would make a stripy underskirt, because I know that’s definitely there, and it may be it’ll have enough volume on its own. If not, I could then make another to petticoat to supplement it.

Dyeing the Organza (Posted 22nd May 2010)

I used Jacquard’s acid dye in brilliant blue. I was really nervous about dyeing all that silk, so I did a few test swatches, and knew to start with that I wouldn’t need very much of the dye to get a pastel shade. I was cautious, and used as little as possible - I could always dye it darker if necessary. As it turned out, my first attempt on the organza was fine.

An awkward factor was that almost all the available silk dyes and instructions are intended for top-loading washing machines, which is not much help in this part of the world. Jacquard’s iDye is intended for all washing machines, but the sachet it comes in means trying to only use a small quantity of the dye wouldn’t be easy. For dyeing small things, I’m happy to use a large pot on the stove, but there’s no way to reliably manage that with metres of fabric. I researched all the instructions I could find on using dyes in front-loading machines, then made up some variation myself.

Best thing I did was found the instruction manual for our washing machine and figured out all the helpful things it would be able to do. I set it up to do a short prewash to get the fabric clean and wet, then it did the actual wash at the highest temperature (95 degrees), without spin, and without draining the water at the end (until I told it to manually before opening the door, obviously). That means the fabric got the longest possible time immersed in the dye, and avoiding the spin segments was meant to ensure it didn’t develop folds and wrinkles which might cause the dye to be uneven. The dye was dissolved in hot water, vinegar added, and the whole lot was poured into the soap dispenser at the appropriate time.

I’m happy with the results, which can be seen drying on the washing lines! The main thing was to ensure the colour is pale. It’ll be layered over an opaque fabric, and that can be used to make the colour more vibrant, or even adjust its shade, so I’ll be experimenting with the colour I need underneath. I’m leaving my options open for now until I can determine what colour my opaque fabric needs to be, if I’ll have to dye it and what type of fabric will be best.

Organza Reference (Posted 22nd May 2010)

The dress in the film has a silk organza overlay, presumably on top of silk satin or similar. You can get an idea of the layers in the attached image. I did consider my usual route of using the cheaper equivalent fabric, but I couldn’t find any synthetic organza or other sheers in the right shade, and synthetics can’t be dyed. Silk organza is also rather different from its imitation varieties, which tend to be much shinier, so it was never going to be ideal. I luckily ran across rainbowsilks.co.uk, which had silk organza reduced at the time. It was a little awkward in a weirdly narrow width, but I can work with that, and the silk could be dyed to the right shade of blue.

Introduction (Posted 22nd May 2010)

I enjoy the challenge of movie costumes, now I’m more confident in sewing and things. They involve identifying how a real garment was made, sometimes tracking down the actual things used, and trying to copy something made on a budget far above my own. Accuracy is a tricky thing. Not that all anime/video game costumes are automatically easier, but they present different challenges, and tend to permit more interpretation and artistic licence!

When I first saw this dress, I didn't pay too much attention to it, and thought it might be a nice alternative to other Alice designs. Then when I looked at photos of the dress from when it was exhibited, I realised I would probably die from all the embroidery. But I still loved the dress, and ended up buying fabric for it, so that was me making it! I didn’t even like the film that much, but the costumes are undoubtedly awesome.

As usual, I’m relying on other people’s experiences and research here, and will avoid starting anything I’m not sure about until I can scrutinise the dvd and feel confident I have all the references possible.

The Costumer's Guide is a fantastic resource:
http://costumersguide.com/aliceBlue.shtml

and I'm avidly following Verdaera's progress journal:
http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/