Friday, December 5, 2014

Alice Liddell's Winter Coat - A Victorian Christmas

Alice Liddell's Winter Coat With Muff
Normally I am quite inspired to write a journal posting after completing an outfit, but I've had the flu, for a week, and am still not feeling quite myself.  However, I am hoping as I begin, the words will flow.

Oh, how I wish you could see this doll in person.  16" of precious and precocious charm.  And, with her dressed in such elegance, Alice Liddell becomes all the more endearing as a little Victorian Miss, growing up in a proper English society with her friend, Charles Dodgson, who encourages her curiosity and teaches her the magic of imagination.

The Last Paper Doll Outfit
This, the last of the true paper doll outfits from the book The Other Alice, is her Winter Coat With Muff.  This outfit, like Botanical Garden and the Greek key Autumn Stroll, had been in the planning for over a year.  I knew I would want to make it for the holidays this year, but having done so almost completes the costuming I intended for her.  There are other dresses she wears in the book, and there is a set of pajamas, under garments and accessories (like a parasol), but the Winter Coat With Muff, is the pièce de résistance.  And, so perfect in red velveteen for the holidays.

Here She Is!
I actually began this costume from the boots up.  (photos further down)  One of the reasons I hesitated in even making it, was the bowler hat.  I do not have the kinds of hat molds needed for this type of work, and it frustrated me.  To my rescue came Jenny Norden.  She collects the BJD dolls and knew of an artist that made bowler hats and ordered me one.  I am still grateful beyond words for her thoughtful generosity.  Knowing the hat was coming, I began with a pair of gray and black striped stockings.  Then the boots.  This was an entirely new pattern since the boots needed to be as close to the illustration as possible.

The Under Dress
They are constructed of two side pieces, a toe box piece, then the fur trim.  The question for me was how to create them with a closure.  These didn't appear to be side button boots, and I wasn't sure how they would "pull on", so I created elastic loops to pull over bead buttons in the back.  This seamed as reasonable an idea as any and it does not obstruct the image of how they appear.  I was quite proud of myself for coming up with this.  The elastic was colored black with a fabric marker. 

A side view with fur detailing.
The next stage was to create the patterns for the coat and skirt.  While this is called her Winter Coat, I saw it as two pieces.  At least this was fitting for dressing a doll and achieving the look I wanted.  I used a wide sweeping semi-circle skirt pattern on the fold for both the "dress" and the peplum of the coat.  The hem length of the skirt is 27" and the peplum slightly less.  Which means, a lot of fur trim had to be hand sewn on!

I used the same high-quality white silk dupioni for the bodice of the skirt, as well as the lining of the velveteen in both jacket and skirt.  I line everything.  It makes for a much smoother and prettier finish.  It has come to my attention that when I sew with these fussy fabrics, I think little on "the pills" and "frays" like I used to.  Just plow head and sew.  If you fuss over these annoyances, it will undermine the process.  Silk is going to fray.  Velveteen is going to pill.  There's nothing you can do about it, so you just push through it. 

Stocking with front of winter boots.
This pattern I made, the coat and skirt, has a particularly clean line, and lovely one.  I wish I'd taken a photo of how this looked before adding the fur trim.  It would make a lovely riding habit, and I was so tempted to omit the fur on principle.  But, that wasn't the outfit intended.  Out of character, I know I will make this again in an evergreen velveteen with a brown fur collar (only), so the pattern of the outfit shows.  Why not?  Englishwomen were equestrians, too, so why not take Alice for a pony ride.  I think she'd enjoy it.  Maybe I'll do this for spring.

How the boots close in the back.
Yards and yards of fur trim had to be cut and hand sewn on.  It took me three days, alone, to sew the fur to this outfit.  The width of the fur on the jacket is about 1/8" less than that on the hem of the skirt.  Both the top edge of the fur trim must be sewn to the garment, then you go back and sew the bottom edge.  Its a lot of work, but I did do this, if you recall, with Lettie Lane's skating costume last winter (see below).  This was such a pretty costume, that its worth another look.  I hope you'll agree.  Why not?  Its Christmas!

The Back
While working on the fur trim, I also made her a muff.  This, too, is lined in the white silk.  Wouldn't it be fun to wear something like this to a Dicken's Faire?  San Francisco used to hold a Dicken's Faire and I went twice.  I surely do miss the fun, the step-back-in-time, and the costuming of the sellers/actors that put on these extravaganzas.

Front Details
Then finally the bowler hat arrived.  I trimmed it with red silk ribbon and a feather.  Not too much work there.  The interesting thing about this hat was in setting it on her head for photographs.  I kept thinking, "Alice will get hat-hair".  Unlike the toque from the golden autumn outfit, this one sits down on her head.  I like it.  Its a smart little look for this dainty child.

Let's Make A Snow Angel
And, that's about it for Alice Liddell's Winter Coat and Muff.  This was not a difficult outfit to make, just terribly time consuming with all the hand work, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.  I love her little boots and I won't shy away from trying more interesting boot styles in the future.  I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Below are a few very special Victorian Christmas images to share with you for the holidays.  There was no reference to winter activities in the book The Other Alice, or illustrations of her wearing this in the story.  So please enjoy the holiday season.  Stay safe and well, and celebrate every single day in the magic of Christmas.

Miss E. Mouse

Recalling Lettie Lane's Skating Costume (2013)

Such a gentle scene.

With gold accents!

The Merriment of Christmas

The Robin

Svetlana Angel

"Now YOU have a Happy Christmas" said Alice.


  1. Such a beautiful little Lady! And so much of hard work in this suit! You're done!

  2. So beautiful - and I love Lettie Lane's skating outfit also. Please fill me in on this sweet doll and an autumn outfit for her? I did not seem to see any other post for this beautiful girl. Who made her? Where did you find the paperdolls? I love how you did the boots, very clever. Your creations are always a delight.

  3. Thank you Trisha Kat (angel)!

    Nancy, here's something fun for you to do. Go to the left hand menu and click on May. Alice Liddell's story begins on May 2. Her next posting is May 24, then read September 14. This will catch you up. Enjoy!

    1. Thank you. This will make great reading.

  4. Miss Mouse, What a beautiful outfit with your complete attention to every detail....I adore it! You certainly found the perfect red color for Christmas, and trimmed with the beautiful white fur, it's truly fit for a Christmas scene! Excellent job on these form fitting boots....BRAVO!! Merry Christmas