Blue Garden Dress
Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)
Last Updated: 09-26-2012
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: http://cosplayisland.co.uk/costume/view/19383
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.
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