Alice Dress

comments: 230

We saw the movie Alice in Wonderland a few months ago. I thought Alice's dresses in this were so wonderful. She changes clothes several times throughout the movie, but this version of the classic blue-and-white was my favorite:

Alice_in_wonderland-anne_hathaway-505x600

That blue is such a great color. The fabric looks like silk organza, or organdy — that crispy-yet-light sort of texture that has something in common with phyllo pastry. You imagine layers, and layers, and layers — each one rather transparent, together adding up to that wonderful matte opaqueness that translates into a feeling of a particular weight, somehow: I love the feeling of wearing layers like that. I've only done it a very few times (my wedding dress was a froth of layers), but for some weird reason, that sensation of wearing all of those layers stands in my memory as one of my favorite sensory experiences, along with holding my hands under just the right temperature of water, or the smell of lilacs, or kissing a corgi puppy on her cheek. I guess it sounds weird, but frequently I think about clothes purely in terms of their weight.

I started thinking about the Alice dress. It's reputation preceeds it. Is there a more recognizable dress — or interpreted — dress?

PeterNewell1890
Alice in Wonderland, Peter Newell, 1890

MarjorieTorrey
Alice in Wonderland, Marjorie Torrey, 1955 

Rack13
Alice and the Pack of Cards, Arthur Rackham, 1907. (I did my college senior thesis on Arthur Rackham and have always loved his work, and his calico Alice.)

Alice-in-wonderland
Alice in Wonderland, George Dunlop Leslie, 1879. (This is just so gorgeous in so many different ways I couldn't even think of anything to say or think about it.)

So I just got to work. Here is my Alice Dress.

Alice1

PATTERN: Overdress: Open Crescent Set from Christening Sets to Crochet by Kay Meadors. Underdress: McCalls 6552 (vintage), view B (without collar or buttons)
SIZE: 4
YARN: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Quilla
FABRIC: Cotton lawn from Mill End Store; buttons and ribbon from The Button Emporium

It's made from a crocheted dress pattern that was written for bedspread weight cotton thread and a 1.65mm hook to fit a newborn. I did it in sock-weight yarn with a 2.5mm needle, leaving the sleeves off, but otherwise doing the pattern exactly as written. When I finished, I measured it out to be a standard size 4, chest-circumference- and armhole-depth-wise. Just goes to show how important gauge is, I guess! 

McCalls6552

I rummaged through my collection of vintage children's sewing patterns (someday must do a post just about these — they are all so beautiful) to see what I had in a size 4, and found this little dress to use for the underdress. I wanted something very simple in a very lightweight fabric to go underneath. This cotton lawn was like sewing a butterfly wing. It was so fine and floppy, like the perfect summer nightgown weight. Even lighter than that. A bit hard to sew. But, oh does it feel wonderful. The gores in the skirt give the whole thing this wonderful fullness, too (though you really can't see them in the photo). I really adore the shape of this little dress.

Alice4

It has oyster shell buttons going all the way down the back, but I guess I forgot to take a photo just of all of those. Here is the back of the ensemble together, though:

Alice5

It also has a murky-dark greenish-gray silk embroidery ribbon woven through the eyelet rows. With black tights and shoes, of course.

Alice3

I tucked the sleeves in so you could see how full the sides really are. I ran out of yarn at the very end, and didn't make the picot edging I planned to make. In fact, I ran out of yarn once in the middle and had to order another skein, which stalled me out for a while, and I wasn't sure I was going to finish. (There are 760 yards of yarn in this dress!!!) But once I got going again, I kept at it. This is possibly one of the fanciest things I have ever crocheted. And oh, so fun to do an interpretation of something so classic like this. In the end, the whole thing just made me happy. Especially since we share our name, I hope Miss Alice herself would be pleased with this (but knowing her, she probably wouldn't :-). I do love that girl.

*On an unrelated note, does anyone have any recommendations for a TV series (that has several seasons already) that would be kind of like Alias? I am really in the mood for a DVD marathon like that but can't think of something similar. . . .

230 comments

The clothes you are making are SO wonderful! Any news on the baby girl who will be wearing all these wonderful, darling things? I've been making American Girl doll clothes for my granddaughter and often think of you for inspiration when I just get too frustrated with all the tiny seams!

Oh man! This is so beyond wonderful. I love this very very much.

Lisa L. says: May 21, 2010 at 01:25 PM

Your work is stunning...one very beautifully dressed little girl will be leaving at your home. Lisa L.

That is awesome. Does it come in adult size? lol.

Wow. These dresses just keep getting better and better.

Amazing interpretation. just beautiful.

you go girl.

Alice S says: May 21, 2010 at 01:35 PM

I squeal everytime I look at your dresses. Since I'm an Alice, I'm especially fond of this. You interpreted Alice's dress beautifully.

RaeJean says: May 21, 2010 at 01:41 PM

the most wonderful Alice dress I have laid eyes on...you are magical!

You are going to have the most beautifully dressed little girl. I am also starting to see a ook of patterns for little girl dresses !

I think Alice is the sweetest name for a little girl. :) I love all the dresses you've made so far.

Oh the chubby bunny! Seriously though, that's a gorgeous interpretation of the Alice in Wonderland dress. Your little girl will be in heaven! :)

That dress is sweet, and so is the way you lay your words and thoughts out in those same lovely layers. I read until the weight of the words hits me and I feel exactly what you meant. I love your interpretation of that precious dress.

jennifer says: May 21, 2010 at 01:59 PM

T-H-A-T(!)...is beautiful!!!!!!!

Thanks for posting the Leslie painting! I hadn't seen that before and I love it too, especially the rag doll on the couch. And his daughter was named Alice too!
Your version of Alice's dress is adorable.

Beautiful crochet - such lovely work! I can almost feel that blue fabric between my fingers. Alice has always been my go-to favorite heroine. When I was younger I read the books every year on my birthday.

Oh!!!! This is so wonderful! The dress is exquisite & the Alice pictures are beautiful!

Oh my gosh! I would love to see your closet full of these beautiful dresses you've been creating for your "little one"... What a lovely sight it must be. Your work is amazing. She's going to be a VERY lucky little girl!

Ooooh...I love your take on Alice! I haven't seen the movie, but the photos of her in the off the shoulder ruffled number in the previews really took my breath away and immediately made me start thinking of how to replicate...

You're so very right about the FEEL of layers...one of those sumptuous lovely things!

just amazing

I just can't believe this; I can't find an adjective fantabulous enough.

Oh my goodness, it really is one of the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen! I love the simple style of the underdress too, so sweet and wonderful!

Every one, an heirloom.

That .. is.... WONDERFUL! Oh to be a child again and to have such a spectacular wardrobe!

When I saw your Alice dress, I let out a big soft Oooohhh... Really, I did. What a beautiful treasure you have made!!

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About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.