White Queen

5/6/11 – And the White Queen is DONE.

It really wound up being quite fun to make, and equally fun to wear.  For some reason (likely due to sleep deprivation) I kept thinking I needed to look “imperious” and “regal” and wound up looking closer to “pissed off.”  Ah well.

The bodice was from McCall’s 4710, a bridal pattern which is now out of print.  I used the strapless pattern which I shortened on the sides, turned into a point in front, and made the neckline lower and more of a sweetheart neckline.  I lined it with polycotton and used cable ties for boning.  I grommeted the back.  I took the silver gear snowflakes and stitched them across the top of the bodice edge, and put some in a kind of “V” shape along the bottom center front.  I used some of the sparkly painted petals tucked in amongst the gears, and then found a package of seriously shiny silver star buttons that I stitched in between each gear.

I did use the jacket pattern from Simplicity 2172, but shortened the hem, and used an upper sleeve pattern that I already had in my collection.  For the front part of the sleeve I drafted a circular piece and stitched it onto the upper sleeve.  I trimmed the whole thing in some organza trim I found at Joann Fabrics.  I then tacked up the front of the sleeves with another of the silver star buttons. 

I was surprised at how well the jacket really fit.  It was remarkably true to size, and the front shaping was very nice.  I sewed shiny snowflakes onto the placket, and tons of snaps underneath to close it in front.

I already had a bustle made from the TV 101 pattern (LOVE that company!) so it was a good starting point.  I looked over their catalog for ideas and decided to do something similar to the 1869 Grand Parlor Skirt.  I drafted a gore pattern and made 5 gores, with the back two pieces cut longer so as to resemble a train, and wider to go over the bustle.  I serged the hem on the bottom and just turned it up.

And then I got stuck.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted ruffles, etc., and when I realized I still had a TON of silver snowflake fabric left over, I made a duplicate of the first skirt out of the snowflake fabric and sewed it to the other skirt at the waistline.  Instead of turning up the hem I rolled all of the edges of the snowflake skirt.  I also made it slightly longer by about an inch.  For the apron portion in front, I took a rectangular piece of the satin and finished it on 3 sides with pleated trim that I made out of silver ribbon and sheer organza ribbon to mimic the trim on the coat.  Then I held it up to my waistline and tried to figure out where I wanted the first set of pleats to be.  I marked that on the rectangle and then stitched a piece of twill tape at the unfinished edge of the rectangle.  I then marked on the fabric (and the twill tape) pencil marks at every three inches till I was 5 inches from the bottom.  I folded the fabric at the first set of pencil lines and pinned it at the top of the rectangle under the twill tape.  Then I went to the third set of pencil lines, folded that, and pinned it at the second set of pencil lines.  I continued alternating folds until I ran out of them. 

I did this on both sides, and then pinned down the twill tape on top of the folds.  Then I just stitched straight down the twill tape till I hit the last pleat.  It wound up looking really nice.  I was a little shocked it had been so easy!  Because the leftover fabric on the side was too full, I repeated the same process along the two outside edges of the rectangle.  Then I went to pin the apron to the unfinished base skirt.  I had decided to make the skirt all in one because I didn’t want to deal with multiple skirts, and because I doubted I would ever wear them separated.

However, the drape didn’t lie correctly, so I pleated the top of the rectangle a little at each of the twill tape seams along the top of the rectangle.  It wound up hanging very nicely when I was done.

 When I have a little time I am going to sew the gear snowflakes onto the apron before I wear it again.

I then sewed a waistband onto the top of the 3 layer skirt, gathering the back seams in a bit to make it all fit. 

I had been inspired by the 1880’s Detachable Butterfly Train from TV and decided to take my huge piece of leftover snowflake fabric and do something similar.  I cut it into kind of a tongue shape and rolled the edges.  Then I pleated the top with a series of stacked box pleats, and stitched snaps on them to hold it in place about 5 inches below the waistline of the skirt.  I chose snaps for this section because I figured if people stepped on it that it would be better for it to just snap off than to rip. 

I stitched a length of chiffon ribbon to the back of the pleats, and then gathered the upper section of the train onto the chiffon ribbon, and did the same with the lower section.  I stitched them both into place on the ribbon and then tied a length of chiffon around each join into a bow.  Each join also got a snap set. 

It didn’t seem quite full enough at the top, so I took the largest remaining remnant of snowflake fabric and made a large wide bow.  I attached it just above the pleated train with more snaps.  The bottom of my jacket sat nicely on top and made the whole thing look like it was supposed to be that way.

The shoes were painted with Jacquard white pearl paint from Joann, and then given a second coat of the glitter paint I had used on my flower petals.  They are a bit uneven, but sparkly and fun.  The necklace was a length of the pre-pleated chiffon trim that MamaRox sewed on pearls and Jolie crystal jewels in an homage to the movie necklace.  It tied in back with more thin chiffon ribbon. 

The crown was so fun.  Princess put silver Rub and Buff on it, and then glued on pearl cabuchons, silver gears, clear rhinestones, and a huge brooch on the front that I had gotten from I think Target!  Then Swarovski Girl got ahold of it and wire wrapped the bottom so I had something to attach it to my hair, and wrapped wires covered in pearls around the joins and the bottom.  It was incredibly fun to wear and I got a lot of compliments on it.  Before I wear it again I want to put small pearls around the large pearl cabs.  Sadly, this is the best photo of the crown:

The wig was pretty comfortable, although it kept catching in the gear snowflakes and the flower petals.  I tried doing the full-on make-up, but my roomie Artemisia and I decided that it was WAY too pale, so I only used some pale powder on my already pale natural skin.  Arte drew in my eyebrows and touched up my lipstick, and I did everything else.  Creepy dark eyes were compliments of lack of sleep and deep eye bags.

The Lovely Cheap Chick lent me a BEAUTIFUL vintage rhinestone handbag to hold my things.  I wanted to keep it but she wouldn’t let me.  Sigh.

At the Masquerade I was surprised to see an entry of the Mad Hatter and the White Queen!  Her rendition was really excellent, and I was really happy I hadn’t copied the dress exactly.  I would have looked like her puffy older sister.  We both had used the same fabric from Joann for our skirts and she told me she loved my version, which was very nice. 

All in all I was very happy with the result, and very happy with my choice to take it in more of a Steampunk homage than an actual recreation.  TOL (The Other Laura) looked very cute in her Anti-Alice costume, Swimmer made a great Rabbit, and Arte’s Steampunk Mad Hatter was better than the pictures.  We were like a strange advertisement for Truly Victorian in our modified outfits. 

I am looking forward to wearing it again at Convergence here in MN, and maybe to Teslacon in Madison.  Also?  I should probably get around to watching the movie…


I had a little epiphany the other night at 2am.  I couldn’t sleep and of course I started thinking about my Organza Failure and it suddenly occurred to me that I am not Anne Hathaway.  (Pretty obvious, right?) I am not a size 2 and I am not contractually obligated to wear this gown. 

This suddenly opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. 

Because the whole idea behind this costume was to STEAMPUNK the White Queen costume, I thought that maybe I should make this a bit more Victorian.  And add some sleeves so my large upper arms don’t look like I am wearing satin covered floaties on them. 

And then I read this article, where my previous hypothesis that the Red Queen was done to look rather Elizabethan was confirmed.  Then I read this line:  “Atwood describes the frothy, Victorian-inspired number she whipped up for the actress as “Stepford fairy princess.”’

Victorian?  I don’t think so.  I am hoping that it is just the writer’s mistake here, because I can honestly say that I don’t see the Victorian influence here.  Baroque? Yes.  18th century French? Yes.  Victorian?  Not so much.  And on Wikipedia (The Font of All Knowledge) they claim that the dress and persona are inspired by Mary, Queen of Scots.  Again I am not really feeling that here.

So I am going to do my own twist on Victorian, using all the items I purchased to make the movie dress.  The lovely Danger Kitty also found me some of this fabric at Joann Fabrics:

One 50% off coupon later, and it has been ordered and should be on it’s way in a matter of days.  The remaining embossing powder and other items will be returned.  And somehow I will remove all the glitter from the sewing room. 

I am going to use the fabric to make the fabulous coat from this pattern:

(Image from www.simplicity.com.)

How cool is THAT?  I am going to do different sleeves (that cap looks a little odd).  I am thinking maybe more of a bell sleeve.  Maybe with some fur.  Hmm.  I am going to make the back longer and bustle it a bit.  The front is going to close with silver frogs. 

I really like the design of this gown from my Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898 book:

(It is spelled “bazar” on the book.)

I want to be able to have elements of the Hathaway dress in mine, and I like the “apron” affect here.  I am going to do the corset and faux apron out of the silver satin fabric, and put the lovely embroidered gear snowflakes on them that DJRenee made for me.  All ruffles will be out of the satin fabric layered with the organza that I have been abusing.  I am going to cut the organza in a jagged edge, and let it fray, much like the trim on the original dress has been done, except on a bigger scale.

In between the rows of organza ruffles I would like to have some sort of ribbon detail.  Something along the lines of this photo, from Godey’s Lady’s Book:

That might be a little ambitious for the next several weeks, but we’ll see what gets done.

I am going to use the flower petals that I painted with the glittery paint (that didn’t work so well on the organza skirt) on the trim, I think. 

The pearl trim should work well on the corset too.

I am going to do some sort of Victorian-esque style hairdo with the wig I purchased:

Apparently the wig in the movie was made from real grey and white human hair, which you don’t typically find in that long of a length.  This wig is sort of an ash blond/grey with a touch of white in it.  It was happily passed around last night during Wed. Nite WP and I think it looked best on DJRenee.  It succeeded in making me look pale and my usually non-existent eyebrows (which are very blond in comparison to my red hair) actually coordinated.  I am going to do similar make-up to the movie (especially to the non-existent blond eyebrows), which should be fun.

I am trying to work on the crown, but it is very heavy on my head.  I might need to see about having a smaller version made if my buddy Steve can do so.

And I have TWO of them.  Kind of fun.

Finally I have my shoes which need to be painted, since I put all my money into the wig and had to make do with these from the thrift store:

After being so frustrated with the organza and the overall direction the project was going, I am starting to be excited again.  This will hopefully be a bit more flattering on me (i.e. no floaties) and in the spirit of the movie costume, but a bit more Steampunky. 



I have never had a project make me feel like such an idiot before.  I even tried to take pictures of the epic failures I have created and the organza photographs as this big white blur.  Sigh.

So first the glitter glue didn’t work.  Ok, step back, regroup, try again.  My buddy MamaRox showed me how to stamp on the organza and then cover it in embossing powder and heat it till the embossing powder takes on a lovely shimmery glow.  Her two large gear stamps were lovely.  Mine looked like crap.  I melted the organza EVERY TIME, even though I varied my distance with the heat gun.  I couldn’t get the ink to stamp evenly on the fabric, and the embossing powder stuck everywhere to the organza.  Not to mention that I now have glittery embossing powder all over my sewing space. 

I am beginning to feel hugely incompetent.

So I thought, screw this!  I will just buy some sheer fabric with snowflakes on it.  Except this fabric does not exist.  It might have existed in December, but there is NOTHING now.  I have tried every fabric store I know of online, as well as eBay, Etsy, etc. 

I have even gone back to considering embossing foil snowflakes on the fabric.  At this point I have invested in the hair, I have boots I am working on, not to mention lots of the bits needed for the bodice, and a handmade crown.  I really can’t back down now.

I could consider stamping again with some other sort of ink (but no powder), but I am beginning to think that my stamp also sucks. 

I think perhaps I should eat a cake ball and watch some mindless TV and see if I can come up with a solution.  After I clean the glitter off the dog.


I am covered in white glitter paint.  The painting of the skirt is I think an epic failure.  The paint doesn’t seem to be showing up, and is really a massive PITA.  It did work nicely for the flower petals on the bodice, though.

The bodice is mocked up, beads have been found, and I will be deploying my glue gun tomorrow.  I also need to paint my shoes.

I also purchased an ungodly expensive wig which may become an 18th century updo after this is all over.  Make-up shopping happens next weekend.

Pictures are coming tomorrow with my newly found camera cord.  WOOT!


More detailed update coming Wed. morning, along with pix of the CROWN!  It is so cool.  I got 2 of them from my buddy Steve so that I can mess about with the first one and figure out how I want it to look before making the final finishing touches.  My little bag of actual watch gears has made it here from South Asia and they are really cute. 

The gear-lace is all done and the interfacing has been removed.  I have a bodice mock-up done and boning purchased (plastic 1/4 in. cable ties FTW!).  The stamp for the skirt is done (and I took pictures of the process I used) and stamping the skirt is happening tomorrow before I head out on an adventure with the Teens. 

I decided against purchasing boots, and instead found a pair of brown lace-up boots that I am going to paint/dye white. 

More on Wed.!


It occurred to me that I hadn’t really explained what I was doing with my White Queen costume.  I mentioned gears and gear-lace and gear-sequins, and yet none of that would realistically fit in with this costume, if you were recreating it as it appears.

I am not recreating it as it appears.  My goal is that if you stood about 10 feet away you would think, “Hey!  That is a pretty good copy of the White Queen costume!” but as you get closer you would think, “Um, is that a gear on her skirt?”

I was inspired to Steampunk this for a number of reasons.  One of my best friends, The Swimmer, is making a white rabbit costume (non-Steampunked).  Since there are a number of us going to Costume Con we thought dressing in themes would be fun.  Artemesia already has her fabulous Steampunk Mad Hatter costume.  The Other Laura has a Steampunk Wonderland costume in the works (but which is going to be a surprise, so I am not spilling it here).  I decided to work on one of the Queens, and thought the White Queen would be fun as I have seen several other Red Queens done.  The best being (in my opinion) Lis Kester’s version

So I started thinking about how I could Steampunk the costume.  I started first with the idea of the foil snowflakes on her skirt.  Instead of snowflakes they would be gears, and instead of foil, I am using fabric paint with a little irridescent quality to it.  The front apron-like piece has little silver sequins in the shape of stars on it.  Swap those out for sequins that are shaped like gears.

Then there is the bodice with a kind of faux stomacher.  The netted overlay has some leaf like shapes on it.  Swap those out for gear shapes.  The lace is a lovely metallic silvery/gray color.  I remembered on Urban Threads that they had embroidered Lace Snowflake patterns, and my buddy DJRenee was kind enough to stitch out 4 sets for me, in plain gray and metallic gray. 

Gear lace?  Check.  The tulle sleeves and the rest of the bodice have tiny little rhinestones all over it.  Instead of rhinestones I have actual tiny little gears and also more gear sequins. 

The crown is being made of metal and will be Rub-n-Buffed and tiny little gears will be affixed to it as well. 

I found the pearled trim on Etsy and it is really very similar to the trim in the movie. 

The wig is going to be this one, styled to resemble the movie one.

And I think I am going with these for her boots.  It is hard to tell what she is wearing on her feet, but as per photos from the Alice Companion Book it looks to be some sort of white boots. 

As to the dress itself, I was originally thinking it was sort of a riff off of an 18th century design.  However the stomacher is definitely attached to the bodice.  Then I watched this clip from the movie and it made something click in my memory.  I went back and read about the Nell Gwyn Gown that Kendra at Demode had made, and the baroque gown that Lauren at American Duchess had made, and it appeared to me that the gown was more Baroque in styling. 

This would make sense (in my fantasy parallel universe) if you also look at the Red Queen’s costume, which to me looks very Elizabethan.  If you follow fashion after Elizabeth you run smack into Baroque, long before 18th century French.  So history wise it would fit.  In my parallel universe.

Just go with it.

So I am going to make my White Queen costume as a Baroque gown.  The bodice will be separate from the skirt.  The bodice will be boned, meaning no corset will be required, and it will have tabs.  The skirt will go on OVER the tabs, but UNDER the front point.  I will wear it with a roped petticoat (if it needs it) and likely a bumroll, depending on how well my natural bumroll will do.  (Being naturally padded and all…)

Date of completion:  April 25th.  I need it done in time to ship it to the hotel with the other costumes. 

I am very excited about this, although my husband is slightly creeped out by the idea of my wearing the white wig and make-up.

8 thoughts on “White Queen

  1. Laura says:

    Found your link online as I’m searching like crazy for snowflake fabric for my daughters bday dress. How did you find it, everywhere is sold out. I need -2 yards and am going to go crazy. I love your work, the dresses look amazing.

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