Alice (Disney Parks Costume Version)- Alice in Wonderland
Time to Make: 50 hours+
Timeline of Construction: December 2020 - April 2021
What can be said about picking a costume to work on in 2020? It almost feels like the story of trying to get this costume off the ground is more complicated than actually making the costume. Thankfully, with a little patience and perseverance, this costume did finally happen, but it was a journey to get there.
What inspired me to want to Cosplay as Alice from Disney's rendition of the Alice in Wonderland story, was wearing Wendy to the Toronto Fan Expo Holiday Market in December 2019. I had such a fun time wearing that costume that Amber had made for me, that I wanted to Cosplay another easy to recognize and comfy costumed character from a Disney property. Alice kind of jumped out at me since she's such an iconic character and her dress is really quite cute. Blue is a flattering colour on me and I figured the design would be pretty easy to find a pattern for. I spent a bit of time over the next couple of months thinking about the character and the various versions of her. I kept coming back to photos and videos of the face character version of Alice. A face character is the official costumed performer that roams around and meets fans in Disney Parks. The costume translation from the original cartoon is tweaked for the face character. She wears a lighter blue dress, her apron shape is different and the costume incorporates lace. I really liked the look of that version and wanted to make a costume based on the face character design. I was in the process of making my Sakura Battle costume from Card Captor Sakura, but I figured after Anime North, for summer cons, Alice would be a great costume to whip up. Little did I know that the pandemic would become a blockade to normal life for the rest of the year and would make costume material shopping a nightmare, cancel all plans for events, as well as stomp on creative energy for the remainder of 2020.
Once the pandemic officially started at the end of March, I started working from home. Right at the beginning of the crisis, I thought maybe the state of things would only last for a couple of months and I had just finished my Sakura costume a couple of weeks earlier. I was lamenting that with all this time around the house I didn't have a costume to work on, so I started looking up pattern options for Alice and other cute sewing patterns and decided to order some. I purchased McCall's pattern M4948. It's a fairytale costume pattern set that includes an Alice dress. I didn't have any fabric for the costume, of course, but Pan had been taking occasional trips to the local Fabricland store to buy material for making masks and she offered to look and see if they had fabric I could use for this costume. She contacted me on a trip in June and sent me photos of potential fabric options. I ended up settling on some satina fabric. It was super kind of her to pick up the fabric for me and get me some matching notions!
Now armed with fabric and a sewing pattern, one would think I would jump right into working on my costume, but things around the house were quite busy that summer. My father wanted to have our basement renovated so we had to do a big clean up and then live with extra furniture crammed into my sewing area for the couple of months it took to get the renovation done. That coupled with video gaming and general apathy regarding sewing as the pandemic was dragging on, kept me from seriously wanting to work on the costume throughout most of the rest of 2020. I have a tradition of working on costumes around the Christmas holidays, so I decided to stick with that schedule and set some goals for getting the ball rolling so I didn't really start the costume until practically 2021.
Over the Christmas holidays, I finally did get working on it by starting a mock of the design. I used some spare fabric to make the entire dress. I wanted to make sure the fit would be alright and that the skirt would be full enough to match with my hoop skirt. After studying face character photos, I knew the design incorporated a petticoat, but I'm quite short and I could not find a petticoat short enough to be about knee length on me. I decided to order a hoop skirt instead because I figured the fullness would look quite cute. I managed to get the hoop skirt before I started working on the mock so I could tell if the pattern left me with enough gathers in the skirt to look flattering on the hoop skirt frame. Making the mock was quite useful. I discovered that I needed to swap out the sleeves as the sleeves with the McCall's pattern were much too oversized and long on my frame and I was able to design patterns for the collar and apron as the pattern I bought did not include a functional apron. The included apron pattern was just meant to be a top and bottom that are sewn directly to the front of the dress and didn't continue around the back. I redesigned it to be more functional and match the straps of the face character design.
I finished up the mock version of the costume by the end of January 2021 and started working on the final version in February. I decided to use the back side of the blue satina fabric as it's a shiny fabric and I really wanted my dress to have a matte look. Putting the blue dress together was fairly straightforward since I had previously made the mock. I substituted the sleeve pattern with one that I had previously used for my Madoka Kaname costume. The sleeve pattern was from McCall's pattern M7101, which is meant to be a sort of Sailor Scout/Lolita dress mashup. The sleeve is not quite as oversized and works better on my petite frame. I also learned about understitching on collars while working on this. I didn't realize you could just sew down the seam allowance to keep the seam from rolling up. It makes the edges look crisp and flat. The only major annoyance I ran into was getting the gathering stitches to stay in my skirt. They kept breaking before I could finish pulling them tightly and I kept having to make new mini gathering stitches to fill the gaps. Eventually I persevered through it and was able to sew the gathered skirt to the blouse. The blouse is actually lined as well and I rarely make lined tops so hand stitching the lining down around the skirt and at the zipper was a bit annoying, but it did come together and it was nice to cover the raw edges as this fabric could unravel quite a bit. I had to use some bias tape to cover up the seams in the sleeves as well, to keep the edges from fraying. The last point of frustration was trying to pin and set the hem line for the dress. It's kind of tricky to do when factoring in the hoop skirt as I wanted to make a rolled hem and not all my skirt panels were exactly the same length. It took quite a bit of trial and error on the dress form to make sure it seemed even and I hand sewed the edge to try to hide the seam a bit. I had to go back a couple more times in a couple of spots to re-sew the hem before I finally finished the dress. It was a bit tricky to ensure the hoop skirt didn't poke out of the bottom of the dress in any area.
By the beginning of March, the blue dress parts of the costume were done. The next major concern was making the collar and apron. As I made the sleeves of the dress, I added white cuffs to each sleeve to match the face character design. The face character dress also has lace along the upper part of each cuff so I had to carefully pin it in before attaching each cuff and then I hand sewed the lace in place. Making the white collar for the neckline was a bit tricky. I had previously drawn out a pattern using my dress form, but making sure the curve was just right when making the final version was quite a challenge. The collar also had to have lace on the edging so I sewed the collar using my sewing machine and then, after ironing the outer edges, I cut the stitches so I could just pin in the lace between the ironed down edges and I hoped I could easily hand stitch it together. The lace was actually from a bolt of lace I had purchased back in 2019 from Amazon to use on my skirt for Homura. I decided to use gathered white fabric instead of lace for that costume so the bolt was practically untouched. It doesn't quite match the pattern and size of the official Park costume's lace, but I figured it was close enough to just match the overall design aesthetic. The raw edges of the collar did like to pop open, but I was able to slowly hand stitch the lace in place and I did my best to hide my stitches as I went. I ended up sewing the collar over top of the neckline instead of meeting the neckline edge so I did sew it incorrectly just because the collar was wrinkling a bit too much when I did properly pin and sew one side of the collar to the neckline. The lace edge on the part of the collar that curved, also liked to roll up a bit, so I had to put in a few stitches to hold the collar down on the front of the dress. It might have fought me and forced me to sew it a bit unconventionally, but at least I did finally attach the white collar to the dress.
Next up I made the apron. Thankfully my drafted pattern worked really well. The main problem was figuring out the best way to interface it as the white cotton fabric I had would wrinkle pretty easily. I realized I only had a very lightweight interfacing and a very heavy weight one so I had to do some searching online to buy some interfacing that was going to add the right kind of stability I needed. I ended up ordering some medium weight fusible interfacing from Walmart's online shop. It set me back a week or so as I had to wait for the shipment. It seemed great at first. Perfect stability, but it would disintegrate really easily and didn't stick that well. If you work the material too much after adding the interfacing, it kind of dissolves into fluff so that was frustrating, but it still worked. The trickiest part of the apron was figuring out attaching more lace. The entire apron has a lace edging. At first I thought maybe I could turn the raw edges of the apron and sew the lace between the layers by hand to minimize my stitch visibility, but I didn't like the look of it. Instead, I sewed the lace to one side of the apron using my machine and turned it inwards in the middle when sewing the two sides of the apron together so it popped outwards when I turned the whole piece right side out. It did look a little off in spacing in a few spots and I had to hand sew each corner edge of the lace at the bottom front of the apron, but that worked overall really well. Finally, the belt was a bit tricky. I decided to sew it directly to the main part of the apron so it wouldn't shift when I would do it up. I wanted to make sure it covered the waist seam. I decided to use velcro to close the belt instead of making it tie up. I wanted to make a sailor style bow and tying the ends of the belt just wouldn't have quite the same consistent effect. The velcro gives me a bit of leeway in terms of waist sizing and turned out well enough.
The sailor bow was kind of fun to make. I've made a lot of that style of bow at this point in my Cosplay career, but it has been a few years since I made a big Sailor Moon style one so it took two attempts. I made the middle angle too deep on my first try, so it looked more like a butterfly shape. On my second try, I made the angle less steep and not as deep. I used more of the medium weight interfacing to give it some structure and made the bow tails quite large to match the Park character design. The bow attaches using snaps. It was a bit tricky to get the snap positioning just right. I had to work around where the belt meets up and also, where the apron straps criss-cross and are snapped into place. I ended up using 4 snaps on the bow just because I wanted to make sure it didn't droop.
The final element of the costume was making Alice's little hairbow. I debated for a while about what method or style I wanted to make. For Snow White a decade ago, I had made her hair bow with ribbon that I would tie up in my wig. That did work well and I did have some decently thick black ribbon, but there were some instances where the ribbon would untie itself when I wore Snow White and I wouldn't notice, so it could be annoying. Instead, I decided I wanted to make a fabric bow and attach it to a headband. I bought a four pack of headbands from Amazon. They had a satin appearance. I wanted my bow to be made out of a material that would match the sheen so I thought I could find some old scraps from a costume like my RE3 Jill Valentine costume or my old Nana +Anima costume, but I couldn't find the fabrics or the materials were too shiny. Instead, I found some black crepe fabric scraps that must have been from some project of my mother's. It had a bit of shine to the material so I thought it would work nicely. I made a simple bow and sewed it together. I couldn't sew it to the headband since it had plastic in the middle. I tried gluing it with hot glue, but it just melted the material of the headband. Thankfully, I was able to salvage the bow. I found an old bottle of glue from Lewiscraft that could work on fabric and despite the fact Lewiscraft went out of the business well over a decade ago, the glue was still good and actually did glue my bow to my second headband. Thank goodness I bought more than one headband. XD
I tried to keep costs for this project fairly low as that was part of the charm of wanting to Cosplay as Alice. I ended up re-using my black mary jane shoes from my Card Captor Sakura school uniform costume. They're not the fanciest shoes, but they're comfortable and suit the style of Alice's shoes. I struggled a bit with picking a wig. I figured Alice's hair is so simple that I could get away with buying a cheap blonde wig from Aliexpress. I purchased one in the fall for under $20. The wig turned out to have a lot of static in it, was somewhat wavy and was very thin. The bangs were so short and thin that it looked very limp against my dress, which has so much volume in comparison. In May 2021 I decided to buy another wig when I realized Arda Canada had an overstock sale going on and they were selling an eowyn wig in lemon drop at a discounted rate. I figured the thick bangs would be great to match the full bang look of the character design and the wig was thick and straight and looked much nicer. Unfortunately, the Arda wig was a colour that turned out to not be very flattering on me so I didn't feel comfortable using it. Pan helped me out with fixing up my cheaper wig by styling the bangs in a side swept manner and spraying down the wig to reduce the static when we met up in August 2021. The bangs didn't have quite the right look that I had in mind when I wore the costume, though. In April 2022 I decided to buy wig number three for the costume as Arda was having another sale. This time I got a Nina silky in honey. I thought the colour would be nice since it's the sister shade to the classic wig I got for Princess Peach years ago. It turns out in silky it has more of a yellow tone (but not as bad as lemon drop) but I do love the styling of the Nina wig. The bangs can't emulate her side swept look, but it does have a cute Lolita vibe, which is sweet for the character. I bought some white tights to complete the look and I wore a pair of white bloomers I bought years ago from Closet Child (a second-hand shop in Japan) that I got when I was in Japan in 2008.
It took me roughly four months to finish the costume as I completed the final touches at the end of April 2021. It was nice to have a project to work on throughout the pandemic especially as we were battling the second and third waves. It gave me a creative escape away from the troubles of the day especially since I couldn't go anywhere and see anyone. I think it turned out really well and choices like working with a hoop skirt, gave the dress a very unique and cute look. The costume seemed like it would be deceptively simple, but drafting my own patterns for aspects like the apron, and adding the lace detail, created little complications and challenges, but I'm happy that I persevered and completed the project.
Events/Conventions this costume was worn to
Private photoshoot at Edwards Gardens (Saturday, September 4th, 2021) & YetiCon 2022 (Friday)
Pan & Stillvisions