Alice in Wonderland

Did you know that this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of this all-time classic book by Lewis Carroll?  My mum grew up with Alice, I grew up with Alice and my daughter grew up with Alice.  Liberty have a wonderful range of fabrics to celebrate this landmark and this prompted me to design my own little tribute to such a much loved story.  


Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Dodgson (1832 - 1898), a mathematician and long time resident of Christ Church Oxford.   He was a lecturer at the college at the time he met Alice Liddell and her sisters, who were the daughters of the Dean of the college.    The room where he worked, overlooked the Dean's garden and it is here that the story of Alice has it's origins.  This private walled garden is removed from the hustle and bustle of the rest college by a stone wall and in this wall is a low wooden gate, which was always kept locked.


Little Alice was fascinated and intrigued by this and what might lie beyond and is a central theme in the story.   A large horse chestnut tree also stands in this garden and appears as the perch of the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland and in fact Alice is everywhere in this Oxford College.   I know this place a little.  My husband was a student at the college and there were occasions when it was possible to get a glimpse of this famous garden at a summer ball or on one glorious summers eve, an open air theatrical production of 'Alice'.


My daughter loved the magical world of Alice and in fact loves her still and it is impressive in this modern transient world, that something so charming should endure.   I thought about an Alice quilt... but actually, my little zippered bags have all the key ingredients and are heaps quicker to put together. I also thought at first to use the Liberty fabrics, but actually having decided on my design, I was not sure that I wanted to use such precious resources because the focus of the little bags would be embroidered cameos and perhaps the prints would be lost.   Instead I used some pretty fat quarters by Amanda Murphy that have the right sort of colour mix and intricate design that would sit well with the project.

Searching for the line drawings for the embroideries was easy.  Google images is always the pitstop for these and the original iconic illustrations for the books by John Tenniel were there waiting for me.   I downloaded them, messed about on my photocopier until I had them the right size for 5 " piece of fabric and then traced them onto my linen by means of my lightbox (which is the best thing ever!).


I have blogged about how to do these little cameos before and you can find a tutorial on the blog under the 'How to' heading on the sidebar, so I won't go into details now.  They take a little practice and patience, but are well worth the effort.  Add a few hand sewn touches and I always find my stash of dolls buttons are perfect for these little projects.  You could always hand sew these or even just draw them in with a sharpie pen and heat set them to look like the original drawings.

You can attach your cameos to any zippered bag pattern.  My version has come about from experimenting with a few different shapes and sizes of patchwork as you can see from all these, which I made as gifts for my friends, when we left Sweden. 

Photo 2-5

I love these little bags.  I am going to be teaching some classes in how to make them at The Quilt Cabin at Hebden Bridge, and you can find out about them on the website   If you are interested to come along....I'd love to see you.  


Meanwhile.... better some celebrating going on here.  This week I heard that I have passed my City & Guilds Level 3 in Embroidery.  I shall be blogging about this whole 'on-line' distance learning experience next week along with some photos of the work I have done.  Hope you'll stop by.....

Love Ruby x