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

You know what's going to happen? You are going to be the mother of a little tomboy who will only want to wear t-shirts and torn blue jeans with scuffed tennis shoes. You know how we girls are? We always seem to want to do the opposite of what our mothers want. You creations are so lovely. I hope your little one will be all sugar and spice.

Can you please post a picture of the closet where you are hanging all these adorable dresses? It must be the most amazing little girl fashion collection! You are creating your own little "baby trousseu" for her arrival. So sweet!

Have you watched Buffy or Xena? Neither is really like Alias, but they are both fun, action-y, and have strong female leads.

This is GORGEOUS! I love it. and it's great that you're making bigger clothes, too. My baby girl is growing so fast! It seems like most of her little outfits get one or two wearings and she's suddenly outgrown them. *sigh* you'll blink and she'll be wearing that 4.

I miss Alias, too! and I'm going to steal all of the above suggestions. and add one more - now, don't judge. I am not typically a sci fi fan, but LOVED Battlestar Galactica (the new one) once I got past the 2 hour intro movie thingy. so put that in your "maybe" pile.

I absolutely LOVE this! Great job!

Katherine says: May 21, 2010 at 04:25 PM

As far as the dress goes. It's beautiful. I'm sure she'll love it. Though have you of what you'll do if she's a tomboy? :)

And as far as tv shows... hmm... maybe Chuck? It has that spy feel to it. Or 24? It has all the drama of saving the world. Another one that has the same dark feel to it might be Dark Angel or Jericho.

I just love your work! I did an entire christening gown by the same author only the book dated in the early 90's. It had the same pattern as this one and included a gorgeous pineapple gown I completed for my daughter out of the bedspread thread. If you want to view the gown go to www.livingupstairs.blogspot.com

Looking at your blog is the first thing I do when I get on the internet thank you.

The BBC Series Spooks (in America it's called MI5) is brilliant if you are looking for a new show to watch.

Just Beautiful!!!!

ellen kelley says: May 21, 2010 at 04:52 PM

I am speechless.

Dear Alicia,
1) Maybe Dorothy's dress, from Wizard of Oz, might be a comparable example? Pretty iconic, and, hmmmm....it occurs to me...awfully derivative! Alice's simple blue replaced with blue gingham checks, and are we actually looking at the same get-up? Huh. Did not see that coming!

2) I adore the dress you made. Seriously adore. Want to wear one. Would probably need 10,000 yards of the yarn, but it would be worth it.

3) My husband really enjoyed the 24 series (with Keifer Sutherland) when he got them from Netflix and watched them all in a row...24 hours worth, actually.

Michelle says: May 21, 2010 at 05:12 PM

Series...Two words, but the first season is sort of "spicey".

"BIG LOVE"! (we love it in this house)

Delilah says: May 21, 2010 at 05:25 PM

I love Alice and her dresses. My great-grandmother was also an Alice.

Series that I would recommend -

Medium
Chuck
The Pretender
True Blood
Dead Like Me
Lost
Veronica Mars

Of all the interpretations of Alice's dress that you've shown us, yours is ,far-and-away, my favorite!!! Do you have any idea how talented you are? I'm just imagining your baby with black curls wearing this and posing for pictures in the garden with C.M..

What a lovely lovely dress. Makes me wish my little girl was still small enough to wear one like it.
I haven't ever watched Alias. I guess I need to add that to my list.
My last few dvd marathons have been Dr Who (that's always on rotation in my house), Firefly, Bones (kinda gross at times, but the relationship between the lead guy and girl make up for the gross), and my stand by Gilmore Girls. Oh I think I watched some of Veronica Mars recently.
I've never seen Alias so I'm not sure how those match up.

Hi Alicia, I don't comment often on your blog but I have been enjoying your series on little girls dresses. I just love this one. I made something very similar and in just this shade of blue for my daughter when she was around 2 or 3, she's almost 13 now. happy memories.

how about the bbc series "MI-5" (sometimes called "Spooks")? i loved it. it's about england's version of the cia. i found it at our library and i think there are 5 seasons at least.

or how about "24" or the old-school usa channel version of "la femme nikita"??

p.s. love the dress

Many thanks for the delightful gallery of Alice images/dresses. Most enjoyable.

Elizabeth says: May 21, 2010 at 05:57 PM

Soooo perfect, Alicia. You have outdone yourself.

michele (maryland) says: May 21, 2010 at 06:32 PM

Speachless.

michele (maryland) says: May 21, 2010 at 06:34 PM

I can not even spell, speechless, I am so amazed.

Oh I'm so glad someone else mentioned MI-5 (aka Spooks). My local PBS just finished season 6 and started showing season 7. I'm obsessed with it completely. Every episode, I'm on the edge of my seat AND it takes place in London and I know how you love London!

Also it stars Rupert Penry-Jones (in most seasons, not all of them) and I think he's just about the dreamiest thing on earth. He was recently in the newer adaptation of Austen's Persuasion as Captain Wentworth. So yeah, you must see it. :)

So wonderful! So much love is going into these amazing dresses, you are going to have one adored and lucky little girl for sure. This is just beautiful.

I love the George Dunlop Leslie painting as well, have never seen that one - can't you just feel the journey her imagination is taking?

Wow! Very impressive. Very beautiful.

I've been watching all your dresses go by and your talent is amazing. Your little girl is going to be the best dressed ever! Gorgeous, gorgeous work.

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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.