Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Adventure Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 3: The Queen's Bodice

An Alice in Wonderland needs a Red Queen. As I mentioned before, my oldest decided that she preferred the costume worn by Helena Bonham Carter in the recent Tim Burton version of the classic tale, rather than the standard animated Disney version. I don't blame her - the Tim Burton costume is far more interesting. It is, however, quite an undertaking but since I'm not one to shrink from a challenge, I went with it.

First, we decided on a pattern for a jumping-off point. Simplicity actually makes a pattern for the Red Queen and Alice, based on the movie costumes but I didn't like it and neither did Miss Maeve. It doesn't really do a good job of copying what you see in the film. So I decided to go with McCall's 5954, view E. It has the same type of sleeve as the original, and though it doesn't have a separate corset bodice, I can give it the illusion of one.

The skirt isn't the same as the original, but I'm loathe to have her dragging a full-length overskirt around. I made a sketch to indicate the changes. I'm no fashion illustrator, but you get the idea.

As you can see, there are some small differences from the original. First, I decided to add some hearts in order to make it more recognizable as the Queen of Hearts. My daughter, apparently, doesn't like the idea of being called the Red Queen, since that's a reference to the other Alice book, Through the Looking Glass. The movie happens to be an amalgam of the two, but that's another blog post altogether. Anyway, I figured that not everyone had seen the movie or might remember the costume, so we added a heart at the center of the bodice front, and then hearts along the bottom of the skirt. The original costume has a velvet bodice, with a gold silk center panel. I had some leftover black velvet from another project in my vast fabric stash, so I used that and made the center portion from gold damask upholstery fabric.

The gold is darker than the original costume, but it's as close as I could get without spending a fortune. I couldn't tell from photos online what kind of fabric the over-sleeves were made from, so I went with black taffeta from my stash. The under-sleeve of the original is a black net with an underlining of a light gold fabric. I substituted a bonded lace fabric for this, and it works pretty well.

Of course, the sleeves themselves are decorated with fred ribbons, both on the puffed over-sleeve and on the longer under-sleeve. The originals have some kind of black embellishment on them and I couldn't tell if it was sequins, beads or something entirely different. I decided to use a combination of black sequins and black ribbon roses, and the effect is pretty similar to the original:

I did all this bead and sequin work by hand. It's taken me a while to do it, since I have to do each one individually, but I've been doing this embellishment while waiting for the small ones at gymnastics lessons, and even did some while Miss Maeve was at an Irish dance competition and wasn't dancing. Of course I stopped sewing to watch her dance. Eventually there will be beading on the top portion and all kids of wonderfulness - I hope. I'm kind of running out of time! But I have all morning and afternoon to finish this, plus time at gymnastics tonight, which should be enough, as long as I can get the White Rabbit done today. That one is going together pretty quickly, thankfully.

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