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:

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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 

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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.)

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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:

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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

Michelle says: May 21, 2010 at 02:42 PM

If you loved Alias, you should check out Chuck. It's fun, has a lot of sweet relationships going on, but you still get that caper feel.

I am loving all of your lovely dresses but this one took my breath away. My grandmother used to make such things for me as a child and regrettably I did not learn the craft from her. But you are an inspiration!

Absolutely amazing. I love it.

I think we might need a picture of your wedding dress (with you in it)!

Your sweet daughter will definitely be the best dressed little girl in Portland. My, what an impressive wardrobe you are creating. I can see how it must be helping with the wait...the very long wait for your most important date!

Sorry can't think of a DVD series for you. Whenever I want a marathon, I just watch BBC Pride and Prejudice again! That Colin!

The lovely posters we have of the coloured version of John Tenniel's drawings for Alice, show her in a yellow dress with blue bands around the skirt. I wonder when it became an 'Alice Blue gown'? Beautiful dress you've made, Alicia.

Thank you for sharing your little girl dress making extravaganza. Each dress is as if out of a fairy tale. I can't believe the dresses just keep coming! You are beyond creative, you are blossoming in your creativity!

As someone who majored in English in college I love a literary theme ... I truly love how you have brought together such a delightful collection of art depicting the Alice dress.

Your daughter will have such a wealth of memories from her childhood wardrobe. It is wonderfully inspiring to see you create such stunningly lovely clothing for her. Enjoy this time of preparation and productivity!

Oh Alicia! You really blew me away with this one! Both pieces could stand on their own. And I thought the red one was magnificent.

Are you working on a Christening outfit or are you saving that for later?

Let me count the ways...
1- the ribbon
2- the sweet color combination
3- the under-dress style
4- the buttons
5- the dream...
so, so beautiful!

Your little girl will never have to wear the same dress twice. That might be a shame since they are all so adorable. When I visualize Alice's dress it is always blue with the white apron. Love your interpretation.

I LOVE it. I've been dreaming of that color combination (pale grey blue, grey green and cream) for ages and just finished a little lace scarflet in that blue and grey. Now you need to make yourself something in that gorgeous golden mustard color from the Leslie painting to wear when you lounge around reading to your daughter!

Your Alice dress took my breath away...truly. And the illustration on the pattern is ridiculously adorable. :)

emily c says: May 21, 2010 at 03:10 PM

my goodness, i am away from the laptop for two nights and you reveal a whole closet of new clothes! they are all beautiful. as far as dvd series go, these are a bit old, but i love the relationships - over time - between our heroines and heroes - dark angel and la femme nikita (the tv show!! i love the original french film of la femme nikita but I detest the american remake of the film. sorry.) love, emily c xo

An Alice dress? Is there anything cooler? I'm not entirely sure.

Beautiful dress, but the reason I'm commenting . . . DVD marathon! If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend the British import MI-5 (aka Spooks) to get a twisty spy thriller fix. I think there are 6 seasons, but they're much shorter than seasons of American TV.

What beautiful work you do. I love your Alice dress. I have crocheted for many years and you have used pattern stitches in a most lovely way. I always enjoy your posts on the blog. Oregon is a very nice place to live. My brother lived in Portland for many years and I always enjoyed visiting. Take care.

Love it, love it, love it!!!

Karen Seitz says: May 21, 2010 at 03:21 PM

I can look over my left shoulder at my collection of Arthur Rackham illustrated books as I type this. They're inexpensive reprints, but I bought them for the illustrations -- love them!

I wish I had a dvd series recommendation for you! It's rainy here in Ohio again, and a series marathon with my poochie snuggled next to me sounds very enticing right now.

yes, yes it's lovely-- but i'm waiting for a series rec, too!

I don't comment often but I just love this. Also, I just read Thornyhold (Mary Stewart) and that little cottage was reminding me of you the whole way through the book. :)

I agree about the Leslie painting... I feel like I'm still that little girl, and I want to be that mother. It almost makes me feel a bit emotional somehow, just lovely! And I LOVE your Alice dress (actually I love ALL the beautiful clothing you make), it really took my breath away! What a lucky lucky lucky little girl to have such wonderful parents-to-be!

I agree. I loved all the transformations of Alice's dresses in the movie. Each one prettier than the last. I have some more illustrations of Alice in Wonderland that I'll send to you as well. It all has a very Carl Larsson look to it. Your interpretation of her dress is adorable.
For a good series I can recommend The Wire and Loved The Shield. They are the series that keep on giving if you like these gritty programs...

the dress is great but I'm waiting for someone to answer the Alias question. I loved that show and if there is something similar I want to see it.

Thanks for sharing all these inspiring clothes!

Becky Wagner says: May 21, 2010 at 03:45 PM

Wow! Your daughter is going to have the most beautiful wardrobe ever!

Oh, beautiful dress!!

I know what you mean by layers. When I was in 8th grade, my mother made me a dress that was to die for. It was a sleeveless jumper with a VERY full skirt. The bodice was Kelly Green, the skirt was white, and it had an overskirt that was a light mottled green sheer that tied with a sash in the back. It made me feel like a princess when I wore it.....sigh. I was just thinking about that dress the other day. It brings back sweet memories.....8-)

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About Alicia Paulson

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.