The Alice Coat: research

Back in 2008, the first images released from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” were from the closing scene with Mia Wasikowska in an incredible blue coat, of which pictures can be found on Maggie’s costuming research site. People instantly recognized it as a Colleen Atwood design. I recognized it as a coat that I would like to wear.

Say what you will about the movie (I personally really like Alice’s “real world” vignettes and Mia Wosikowska but usually skip the Wonderland sequences, especially the Mad Hatter scenes), the costumes are fantastic. All of Alice’s costumes, from her Victorian tea party dress to her Hatter-couture slip, are beautiful. Except I would make them and wouldn’t wear them anywhere because I would be a sad sight in a blond wig. But the coat, the coat I would wear a lot.

Reasons I love this coat:
~The long length with a full skirt
~It has a structured Victorian shape and a defined shape
~Its high collar and embellishments on the front are reminiscent of Regency British naval uniforms and my favorite romantic (ie. “girl porn”) movies (“Persuasion” with Ciaran Hinds and “The Young Victoria”)
~The color, although I think blue looks better on Mia and it would on me. I might make it in blue first and then perhaps grey later.

Finding pictures of the coat wasn’t too bad except for 2 things: A) What does the back of the coat look like? B) How did they do the embellishments in the front. I was stymied about them until the last fortnight, when I came upon photos that are a big help.

The first finding was the embellishment embroider in the front. The scrolls appear raised, which I initially thought was from cording tacked on the front. I found lovely photos from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion by Mark Salisbury at my local library. This art book is actually a great resource if you’d like to create any of the costumes from the movie. I discovered the scrollwork was simply embroidered on in dark thread, helping the illusion of topology. Trapunto may have also been employed, of which you can find a lovely example of on “Living with Jane”‘s Snowshill jacket. I also discovered that the fabric used was also much thinner than the thick wool melton I assumed they used. Oops, I already bought fabric, though the Shetland wool I bought is much thinner than melton.

As for the back on the coat, I had insomnia yesterday and luckily found this picture when I was idly searching the internet. For me, the important things I learned from this photo were that there are 2 back pieces that extend from the torso to the hem and that they create 4 pleats of fabric on the back. Yikes, I’m going to have to make a muslin and play with drape a lot. o_0

This is probably the most ambitious project I’m going to tackle thus far in my sewing repertoire. My Eowyn shieldmaiden dress wasn’t so bad since many tutorials for construction were uploaded by various members of the costuming community. Only one person has made this coat and posted construction photos thus far, but there are things that I would do differently. …and I’ll just post a lot more photos, in case someone would like a reference, though I highly suggest visiting Maggie’s “Costumer’s Guide” site!

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