Alice’s Sister



Sarah Bent


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is a book that is embedded in Western culture so deeply that many people don't even know where the expressions they use come from. At the beginning of Alice's first adventure, she sits with her sister, who is reading a book, "without pictures or conversations". This sister is very much a blank slate - she is given no name, and the only thing we know about her is that she is very likely older than Alice. At the end of "Wonderland" she daydreams about her sister all grown up and keeping her innocent heart through adulthood.

Given that mild description and some blue silk, I went on to design a dress that follows the fashions of the 1860s, which is the decade Alice was published orginally. The blue silk inspired this simply due to the strong association with Walt Disney's Alice, who was dressed in a blue frock.

My Alice's Sister dress is an 1860's day dress supported by an elliptical hoop and trimmed in wine coloured braid and grey ribbon pleats. I created every piece of this outfit from the undergarments of chemise and drawers all the way to the outer garments - elliptical skirt, day bodice, and undersleeves. The fact that I had begun the undergarments before the announcement of the theme for this year helped me to choose a character and allowed me to put my all into creating an appropriate gown for the foundation garments.

Outline the construction…

The dress itself is created from two gridded patterns, and marks the first time I have ever used a pattern of this type and conquered the challenges they presented. The skirt is from the book "The Victorian Dressmaker" by Izabela Pitcher. The skirt as written had to be sized up 10" in the waist. The skirt also marks the first time I have done cartridge pleating (or gauging) as well as using a piece of ribbon to hold up the pocket. The skirt is trimmed with grey ribbon in a box pattern pleated pattern. The engageants are also from this book.

The bodice comes from "Patterns of Fashion 2" by Janet Arnold, as is actually the first dress in that book. I chose it because of the false front look, where the trim creates the illusion of a two piece bodice. The bodice had to be significantly sized up to fit me and led to many discoveries about my own unique body shape. For instance, fitting to the 'dowager's hump' on my back, or adjusting the measurement of the shoulders.

The bodice is trimmed in the same grey ribbon as the skirt as well wine-coloured braid. On the inside, there are 5 pieces of boning to support the bodice, which is flatlined in white cotton. Fitting the bodice was a significant challenge requiring 2 mockups and a complete start over at one point. The bodice closes with covered buttons which use more of the same fabric from the dress.




  1. Avatar Sarah Owen on March 11, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    Amazing. The ability to scale up and also to alter to fit is such a skill—I have yet to even try. Alice is so important to me; that you chose her sister is genius. I love the colour so much, and your details are fantastic. Love it, Sarah!

  2. Avatar Zeta Sullivan on March 12, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Sarah, you should be so proud, all I can say is. Your mother would be so proud as well.
    Fantastic work.

  3. Avatar Emily on March 15, 2021 at 10:18 am

    The ribbon trims yesss.

  4. Avatar Manon L'Hostis on March 15, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Beautiful gown! And so flattering on you♡

  5. Avatar Laurie on March 19, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you for those construction shots. Wonderful! Authentic work. Well done.

  6. Andrea Painter Andrea Painter on March 20, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    Very lovely work! You have paid such beautiful attention to detail in the decoration of this ensemble, and it results in such a beautiful outfit! I like hearing about conquering your difficulties in fitting your uniquely awesome body- hopefully those lessons transfer over to future bodies and makes the process quicker! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

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