Saturday, November 13, 2021

Making the Mad Hatter (And Alice!)

 Sometime earlier this year my husband and I watched Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass together - the live action movies with fantastic costumes. I know these movies have been out a long time, but I'd never seen them before. For that matter, I don't think I've ever seen the animated Alice in Wonderland movie all the way through either. I'm not a big movie watcher. All that said. . .

I fell in love with the costumes. I enjoyed the story too, but the costumes were really great! As soon as we finished the first movie I asked my husband what he thought of dressing up as the Mad Hatter and Alice for Halloween. I mentioned I liked the costumes and overall aesthetic of the movie, right??

"Yeah, that's fine"

Perfect! Our Halloween costumes were decided on, now I just needed to make them!

My goal wasn't to exactly re-create the movie costumes, just to make costumes inspired by the movie. For my outfit I decided I would wear my blue silk wedding petticoat and make a historical bodice of some sort to go with it. To top off the outfit I'd add a white apron as a nod to the animated movie. 

 My costume would be pretty straight forward, no crazy accessories there. My husband's costume was where all the fun would be! 

The starting point of his costume was, of course, his purple top hat. I made the hat a little more "Mad" by adding a rainbow scarf, a buckle, some hat pins, and feathers.

Rather than ordering an itchy, uncomfortable orange wig, I thought I might try making the Mad Hatter hair myself and attaching it to the hat some how. After a brainstorming session with my husband, I decided to attempt making the hair out of curling ribbon. 

I bought large spools of both orange and red curling ribbon. After a bit of experimentation, I cut a bunch of 2'-3' lengths of ribbon.

I then curled all these pieces of ribbon. . .

And pinned them onto a piece of wide satin ribbon, cut to be the approximant length of about 3/4ths of my husband's head circumference. 

I centered the curling ribbon on the satin ribbon so half the curl overhung either edge of the satin.

Piece of ribbon after piece of ribbon was curled and pinned until the wide satin ribbon was completely covered by curls.

I mixed together both the red and the orange ribbon to give the "hair" a bit more depth and texture.

Once all the ribbon was pinned, I took it to the sewing machine and sewed everything in place along both edges of the satin ribbon.

I then folded the satin ribbon in half and sewed it that way.

I had Mad Hatter hair!!

I positioned the "hair" inside the hat.

And loosely whip-stitched it in place to the hat lining.

With that the top part of my husband's costume was done!

Now onto the coat! And tie. And pants. And thread-sash-thing (bandoleer?). And pants. And socks. This costume was going to be great!!

In the movie Hatter wears at least two different coats - a brown one and a brilliant teal one. Oh that teal one was pretty! With that jacket in mind, I kept my eyes open for a suitable fabric for several months. I didn't come across anything I really loved, so I decided to use a green jacquard from my stash and attempt to dye it teal.

Apparently the fabric was a poly-cotton blend rather than all cotton, because it didn't take the dye as well as expected. The fabric came out still green, but with a bit of a teal cast to it. Not exactly what I wanted, but it would do.

Fabric dyed, it was time to pick a pattern! I went through my stash and discovered two things.
First - None of the men's "historical" coat patterns I owned were my husband's size.
Second - Most of the patterns required at least twice, if not 3 times, the amount of fabric I had. 
It was time to go pattern shopping! I needed something with approximately the right shape, that could be squeezed out of just over 2 yards of 60" wide fabric, and that came in my husband's size.

I went into Joann's when Simplicity Patterns were on sale, and I came out with this. Simplicity 9252, a "Hamilton" costume pattern labeled "Historical". There were some McCall's historical patterns I liked more, but McCall's wasn't on sale that weekend, Simplicity was. Thus, I would be making this pattern work!

I left off the contrasting "lapel" and pocket flaps and drafted my own lapel and front facing to better match the Hatter's coats in the movie.

I kept the sleeve cuffs and added lace ruffles to the ends of the sleeves.

I thought with this being a "unisex" pattern the sleeves might be too short for my tall husband, so I added an extra inch of length when cutting them out.

This wasn't necessary. The sleeves wound up being too long. Oh well. I tried.

The entire coat is lined in purple rayon from my stash, and was sewn with the help of our two kitties, Pepper and Rabbit, who we got about 2 weeks before Halloween.

They really do make life fun!

Under the coat, my husband wore a plain white dress shirt from his closet and the waistcoat I made him for his birthday. 

So, the only thing I needed to make him to finish off the top half of the costume was a fun bowtie! It looked like the Hatter's tie in the movie had donuts on it. Well, I didn't have any donut fabric in my stash, but I did have ice cream fabric! Just as good, right?

The tie is just one long strip of fabric, folded and sewn right sides together, then turned right side out, pressed, and tied under the collar. Super quick and simple!

Moving on, there were just a couple more things my husband needed to complete the outfit. Pants, socks, and a thread bandoleer. The socks were easy, I bout a pack of colorful socks from Wal-mart for him to mix and match for the costume. The pants were almost equally easy.

The "Hamilton" costume pattern very conveniently included a pattern for elastic-waist "breeches" (very historical!). I used these pattern pieces, added a couple extra inches of length, and left over the elastic at the knees. They only took about an hour to make, if even that long. 

 I used a purple and green striped cotton batik for the pants. I picked it up at a $1 per pound fabric sale at a local sewing room, and was very tempted to save it for a dress for myself. It's pretty! However, it was too perfect for this costume not use, so beautiful batik elastic waist pants my husband got.

The final piece of the costume was that thread bandoleer. Now I have a very healthy thread stash, so this was no problem, no problem at all!

That said, I didn't actually use any thread from my main thread stash for this project. A family friend of my husband's very kindly gave me a rainbow multi-pack of thread for my birthday this year.

All the different shades of thread were very pretty, however, there was no way I was going to be using this "made in china" thread on my sewing machine. The package said "good for machine sewing" then included warnings like "sew slowly so your thread doesn't break" and "clean out lint often". Thread with warnings is not thread I want on my sewing machine, as kind as the gift was.

Thus, I decided the thread would be perfect for the bandoleer and arranged it in a rainbow pattern I found pleasing.

I then threaded it onto some narrow ribbon from my stash

I tied the ends together, and the thread bandoleer was done! 

The project took one evening to complete, and was the perfect finishing touch to the Mad Hatter costume!

My husband dressed up for work on the Friday before Halloween, and apparently got lots of compliments on his costume! 

He tells me his coworkers were very impressed when he informed them his wife made it!

On Halloween we both dressed up to go over to a friend's house and help hand out candy to neighborhood kids.

My friend graciously took pictures of my costume for me that evening, but this blog post is long enough already, so I'll save those pictures and the details of my outfit for a future post!

1 comment:

  1. I love your creativity. This costume looks like it was fun to make.