my vintage alice
by the skin of my teeth, i made it. no collar though, M said she didn’t want one and frankly i didn’t have time (i was still sewing 30 minutes before the party ).
i haven’t been as happy with a finished project for a long time, i think this picture best shows why:
pretty close, no? tenniel’s alice has stripy stockings in through the looking glass, although not in wonderland. the hair was entirely accidental, she slept with her plaits in.
amongst the things i’ve learned is that i love unprinted patterns. i found the pattern (butterick 9883) so easy to lay out, cut and mark. the seam allowances were indeed included and the seam lines were marked on the pattern. i can’t quite fathom the switch to printed patterns tbh, although i guess the convenience of multi-sizing outweighs the multiple other conveniences of the unprinted pattern.
i’ve also learned that when you’re fitting a bodice (perhaps in particular with a large, heavy skirt, i found this with v1044 too) it’s wise to fit it closer than you think you should. i spent a very long time fitting this bodice as although the pattern chest measurement was supposedly right for M there was massively too much ease across the chest/shoulders, and she’s just a different shape to the pattern so i tweaked a lot. but once the dress went together the bodice mysteriously grew yet more ease which i’d have been happier to remove, but lets call it growing room
on which subject i’m super pleased with the growth tucks, i wasn’t sure if they’d be overkill with the dotted swiss but i think they look a treat (as does M) and they give additional stiffness to help hold the skirt out. there was spare length in the bodice too, which i’ve rather optimistically kept in case we want to lengthen the bodice in future. considering this would involve removing the zip and all the petticoat fastenings i’m not sure i can see it happening, but you never know.
the petticoat was a lot of work but most definitely worth it. i roughly followed the instructions on the anticraft for making a tiered petticoat, although i gathered the top tier onto the waistband to give some body at the hips, and added (6m of ) broderie anglais trim. i’m very glad indeed that i decided to go for cotton for comfort rather than net, which would have been more appropriate to the vintage theme i suppose. wrestling with that length of fabric was bad enough, without adding net to the equation. M hates waistbands that sit around her actual waist, so i used some of her la rigoletta snaps to fasten it along the inner waistline of the dress. (predictably she came back from the party petticoat drooping where the snaps had come undone )
the other important thing i learned: check then check again what’s going on underneath. with the volume of skirtage going on it’s a miracle i didn’t sew over it more often than i did (which was lots), i ripped more than i’ve ever ripped before. it wasn’t quite so easy to fix when i pinked through the skirt when i was trimming the seam allowances along the zip very, very luckily it wasn’t the bodice, which would have been a proper disaster, whereas this sat within one of the folds, so i just sewed it together, barely noticeable.
all in all a very happy project, and M was gratifyingly thrilled/twirly too
edited to add a couple more things i learned about ric rac, that if i don’t write down i will have unlearned pretty soon!
1) when sewing ric rac into a seam, bend it down past the seamline at the end. don’t just cut it because it will fray horribly
2) clear nail varnish is a pretty good substitute for fray-stop when you need to remedy fraying ric rac in a hurry
3) it takes longer than you think to hand sew ric rac – an hour and a half for the (2.5m) hem of the dress.
4) the mystery presser foot i’ve been using ever since i lost my straight stitch foot appears to be some kind of an applique foot. it has a raised channel down the centre that perfectly accommodated the width of the ric rac. no way was i setting out to hand sew the stuff onto the pinny at 10 o’clock on the night before the party so i thought i’d wing it on the machine. lo and behold the sewing gods were smiling on me and i found i could feed the ric rac in as i sewed, without even pinning it on. i just guided the fabric edge along the seam guide on the machine bed and let the applique foot take care of the ric rac. great stuff
5) it may be that the 1/4″ foot i bought and returned because it didn’t fit the machine might fit the machine if i’d had the foot attachment properly screwed in