FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Wild Card Prize - working within the limits of chronic illness to produce beautiful embroidery.
Outline the story …
I've always loved Alice in Wonderland, being very much a daydreamer myself as a kid. The call to go 'down the rabbit hole' of course made my mind stick on Alice. My mom had her own "Through the Looking Glass" book from the 60s, which she got as a child, and looking through that made me want to make the costume. I combined that with my recent interest in historical costuming and started looking up what people were wearing at the time Alice was written, and when the story was set. It's mentioned in "Through the Looking Glass" that both stories take place in 1871, a year after the second book was published and 6 years after the first. My skills and time are pretty limited; I'd never sewn a garment before and most of my needlework skill was in embroidery, so I decided on the apron as that seemed to be the easiest part of the outfit. I looked up embroidery patterns from 1865-1870 and designed the embroidery using those as inspiration and style guidance, as well as paintings from the time of rabbits and flowers. I wanted to draw inspiration from the era the book was written in as well as the original illustrations to guide the style of the apron. I ended up making my own pattern because I couldn't find one quite like the style I wanted.
Outline the construction…
I used about 3 yards of white cotton muslin, found some lace for the top of the bib, and chiffon ruffles for the skirt and shoulder-straps. The chiffon was unfortunately the only kind of pre-made ruffles I could find that would arrive in time, and I didn't have the time myself to make them from scratch. I sewed the pieces together with my old Kenmore sewing machine, but the embroidery was done entirely by hand with satin stitch and chain stitch with DMC white cotton six-strand embroidery thread. I used a lot of primary resources from archive.org, like Harper's Magazine and fashion plates I could find for around the time. I ran into a few issues; I hadn't taken into account the shoulder strap width when I measured for the bib section, so it's a bit wide for my model. I had smaller issues, mostly mistakes on what order to sew things together. I had a lot of trouble figuring out the waistband, and some of my stitches strayed off too. My biggest challenge was my health; I'm chronically ill and have chronic pain. I can only work in small bouts on good days. My health started declining again in mid-December and I haven't recovered yet, and it really frustrated me to not be able to work as much as I wanted. My health was the reason why I was nervous about entering the competition, so being able to overcome that enough to meet the deadline was thrilling.