Fabric: mystery cotton
Pattern: self drafted
Notions: thread, elastic
Time to complete: frustratingly too long
First worn: for work Halloween party
Wear again? If I can figure out how to fix it, maybe
Total Cost: $30+, figuring time and materials
My coworkers told me that I would be Alice for our Halloween party at work, while they went as the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat. I was ok with the idea as I already had the shoes and a hairband that would work. I just needed to make the bloomers, dress, and apron. And a petticoat to give the dress that classic bell shape.
I was able to sew up the bloomers in an afternoon. They were super easy to make. The apron will have a post of its own. The dress gave me a bit of a headache.
I could not find a sewing pattern that combined all of the elements that make up Alice’s dress. I tried to draft my own pattern, but that ended in catastrophic failure. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but I really am not happy with the results. Since it is for work, I was trying to make sure that the bodice was tasteful and fit well. The sewing patterns that I could find, included a deep neckline, or lots and lots of button holes. I still am learning how to make button holes with my sewing machine, so any pattern that calls for them is an instant “no.” I’m also still learning how to modify patterns to create a uniquely different garment, so any pattern that I have to change the neckline from plunging to work appropriate, is also an instant “no” at this stage.
I had a pattern that I thought might work, but the sleeves were wrong. I had another pattern that had the correct sleeves, but it was an untested pattern that seemed really weird. It required me to cut insanely large pieces of fabric, and then to sew elastic in parts to make it fit. I tried combining the two patterns together. It seemed to work at first, but when I sewed it together, I found that the back of the bodice was at least two inches too short. Running low on both fabric and time, I tried to make as simple of a bodice as possible, and add sleeves to it. When I put it on the dress form, it seemed to work all right. When I tried it on me, the sleeves were all wrong. I tried multiple ways of attaching the sleeves. Each time ended with the same failure. Eventually, I gave up as, at that point, I still needed a peter pan collar and a petticoat.
After I gave up on the dress as being, “good enough,” I turned my attention to making a petticoat. I have had this Simplicity pattern for ages, and I dream of one day making an outrageous, over the top outfit with ribbons, and lace, and bows everywhere. I figured I could make the petticoat for my Alice costume, and that would get me started in the right direction.
I read the instructions. Then I read them again. Then I reread the instructions. Then I looked for tutorials online, as well as pattern reviews. The main topic involving this pattern seems to revolve around whether or not it is a pattern for a lolita outfit. (In case you are wondering, for those serious about lolita, this is not a lolita pattern, but it can be if you modify it. For those who are not serious about lolita, it is a lolita pattern. )
After many times reading through the sewing instructions for the petticoat, I thought that I had it figured out. There is an upper ruffle, an under ruffle, and a tiered skirt. All three layers are gathered and sewn together, then sewn to the next layer. Then they are sewn to what will become an elastic waistband. If you look up how to sew a tiered skirt on YouTube, you will get the idea of what this pattern is trying to convey. What is at once so great and horrifying about sewing this petticoat skirt, is the amount of fabric required for each tier. To make a long story short, I could not get my sewing machine or my serger to machine gather the fabric, and the hand gathering was not working well as my thread kept breaking. I eventually ended up purchasing a petticoat from the costume store because I could no longer stand to try sewing the same basting seam another time, just to not be able to get the fabric to cooperate. I hope to return to it someday. When I have forgotten how frustrating it is, or when I have ample time to work on it.
The next post will be a much shorter one about the apron. Happy sewing!