Fabric scraps and the art of omiyage

Vacation is a time to relax and break out of habits, but that doesn’t mean its time to put down my needle and thread. I find it extremely soothing to have a hand sewing project that I can enjoy while sipping on my morning coffee. Its a bit challenging in the winter months when there isn’t enough daylight but as soon as spring comes along I notice I pick right back up on this morning ritual of mine. We were in Barcelona this year as the clocks sprung us forward officially into spring and I was sure to plan ahead and pack supplies into my already busting-at-the-seams case.

But there is more to this story, so perhaps I should explain that I very much believe in the tradition of omiyage. The Japanese custom of gift-giving resonates with me deeply. The idea of presenting a small gift when traveling to or from friends and loved ones is an important part of etiquette and there is a lot to learn from the highly complex tradition in Japan. The ideal omiyage is something transient, perishable, and thus food goods rein supreme at the top of the charts. This way you are not burdening someone with something unnecessary that they need to take care of or commit space to in their home. Now the thing is, Japan has a support structure for this, but when it comes to the US nothing really stands out as an ideal, iconic small gift. Maybe I am missing something obvious. What really represents New York and isn’t a bad tourist trinket? I just don’t feel we have an equivalent to the dainty, well packaged, perfect box of treats that other countries have.

plush bunny faces made using leftover fabric and lace scraps

As cooking or baking is simply out of the question for me the next logical answer to the gift-giving conundrum is craft. Admittedly this breaks the rule of being perishable, but it allows the gift to be sincere and from the heart. (And I will not be offended if anyone discards their gift, it is theirs to do with as they please.) Equally important in this approach is that the item share something of both the giver and the recipient. And that brings us back to a freshly brewed cup of coffee, breathtaking sunrises from a rooftop flat in Barcelona, and a mish-mash collection of fabric scraps, lace, beads and satin flowers.

Literally in the last moments before our flight the idea came to be to make plush bunny badges. The item needed to be sewn by hand while away, so I squeezed in a few quick stitches to shape the face and the ears before dashing to the airport. What I particularly like about this project is that it uses up little pieces of lace and fabric that normally would be discarded. Waste is waste and now I feel justified with my basket of odds and ends I have held on to for so long. Given the frenetic pace at which the materials were packed its very fortunate that in the end they worked well to make cohesive pieces. All-in-all I am pleased with the outcome and hope that the recipients enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.

 

 

Spring Inspiration from Angelic Pretty

collage of various Angelic Pretty gingham dresses

Winter decided to give us its best shot in March this year and the effect of being cooped up is making me itch for warm spring days. As usual, I am preoccupied and anxiously awaiting the cherry blossoms as April approaches. A twist on the theme, my mind is conjuring up images of a gingham hanami experience. A mix of traditional summer picnic fare blended with chillier spring blossom viewing party accoutrements. This wouldn’t have anything to do with all those posts that Angelic Pretty Candy keeps filling my feed with. No not at all. (more…)

Table setting with brand tableware

I’ve been slowly amassing a decent collection of branded tableware, most of which is Angelic Pretty. The novelty items are so charming and a perfect addition to any lolita’s home. I dream of one day hosting an informal tea party from the comfort of my own abode, but for now our home is too small and lacks a dining room.

angelic pretty and emily temple cute plates and dishes

My grandmother used to collect fine china tea cups and saucers which is where I think I got the itch to start this collection. This is definitely not what I would use for my everyday dishes, rather something for special occasions and celebrations. Not really sure what the table will look like given these novelties are all over the place in terms of color, design and size. Then again, the idea of a eclectic mix-n-match table appeals to me. (more…)

Lifestyle Lolita – a casual approach

lifestyle lolita challenge for 2017

As far as goals go for 2017, I am trying very hard to make this the year where I can say I am more of a lifestyle lolita. Given how much I invest in the fashion I want it to be something I am comfortable with even without the safety of a meet. From what I’ve read online there are a lot of definitions of what it means to be “lifestyle”. My interpretation leans more towards a loose definition. Meaning, I don’t plan on wearing full out, tip-to-toe, coordinates everyday. Rather that my wardrobe will have a flavor of lolita mixed throughout. And with anything, I believe you have to be true to yourself, which in my case means a very relaxed and comfortable stye. So if your definition of lifestyle lolita requires the perfect cupcake petticoat in every coordinate than that is where we will differ in opinion. For example, the term “otome kei” is a Western creation. When you inquire of the Japanese they refer to it as Casual Lolita. This is the group I think I best fall into. (more…)

Vintage Kimono Fabric Yo-Yo Skirt

cute way to recycle vintage kimono fabric scraps

This pleated skirt was a thrift find that I couldn’t resist. The color is such a dreamy coral and accented with an unexpected wood grain pattern. It gave off a feeling of pastel mori girl the minute I saw it. The trouble? While very long it was 2 sizes too small at the waist. That didn’t put me off as the price, color and charming pleats were all too good. At the time I was very inspired by Grimoire and dolly kei style with its east-meets-west approach to reinventing vintage western clothing.  This skirt was made in Japan so I though maybe a west-meets-east concept would be fun by reversing the style using eastern pieces in dolly way. The challenge was not how to make the skirt fit a larger size but how to decorate it without losing the beautiful pleats. Then the idea came to me… a floating apron… made from kimono scraps. (more…)

Angelic Pretty Toy Fantasy Yukata Obi

angelic pretty toy fantasy and baby the stars shine bright good friend of kumya-chan

I’ve been lucky to get my hands on a couple of brand yukatas in the past few years. I admit they don’t get as much wear as I would like them too, but they are still some of my most prized possessions in my wardrobe. My love for lolita fashion is rivaled only by my love of traditional kimono. Sadly, wa lolita is usually poorly done and covered in the most awful lace; taking ita to a new level. I take this as a personal challenge to try and turn things around. While I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I am making it a goal to put more wa into my looks this year.

One of my most popular posts of all time is a yukata blouse that I made using a rub off pattern. I never did figure out how to make a PDF pattern for it (sorry interweb friends) but it was an inspiration for this project and see what other ways I could mix both styles. Countless searches for a pre-tied or vintage obi that would match with the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright My Mate Kumya-chan yukata all ended in disappointment. Pre-tied yukata obis looked flat in their solid colors and inexpensive polyester. On the other hand, traditional obi patterns all clashed with the sweetness of the pink print. When these things happen I get stubborn, very stubborn. Time to take matters into my own hands.

DIY Sweet Lolita Obi

toy fantasy skirt border print is used to make the base of the kimono obi

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Decora, neon and monsters… oh my

There are 2 ways to experience the Monster Cafe in Harajuku. During lunchtime on a weekday we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The night crowd, based on other posts I have seen, is another story altogether. On previous trips we focused on more traditional Japanese food adventures. But this last trip we squeezed in a couple themed restaurants. While the food itself is nothing to write home about, the experience is. Sebastian doesn’t let you down when it comes to being fully immersed in his colorful world when you set foot in the Monster Cafe. You are truly transported to another realm of existence.

the carousel dance party at monster cafe in harajuku

We dined in a booth between the Bar area and the Mel-Tea Room. Its hard to pick a favorite space as they are all so colorful and unique. I liked that I had a dripping ice cream cone above me and could see the lip wall in the background. We don’t eat meat, only seafood, so ordered the few choices the menu had. Some shrimp, french fries and the sushi roll. Like I said, nothing fantastic but simple food. Everything was served with color palettes of dips which was adorable

monster cafe lunch with view of mell-tea room

Looking back, I was originally drawn to decora before I fell head-over-heels into lolita. That would be thanks to Fruits magazine and an online search for alternative uses for traditional kimono that somehow spiraled into alternative Japanese street fashion. I am grateful for the detour. My sewing was so blah back then, there was no spark, no muse. Now, I am not about to start jumping genres on you, but I do like to mix things up and play with elements of different street styles. So here is my homage to Monster Cafe and Sebastian Masuda. (more…)

Sweet lolita with sprinkles on top

Back in February, the very last day of our stay in Tokyo coincided with the Baked Sweets Parade release by Angelic Pretty. I remember being so disappointed finding out the JSK didn’t have full shirring. Shame on you AP, shame on you. The La Foret AP had been closed during our trip for renovations so I stopped in on that last day to see what the new space looked like. Adorable of course. What to my surprise did I find? That they had a special set with full shirring! Ayyyee!

la foret for the angelic pretty baked sweets parade release

I totally want to make one of those candy pops by the way. But that is not what this post is about today. I do have plenty of sugar in store for you though. How about a sprinkles cutsew? Hu hu hu. (more…)

Lolitable pastel fur coat for winter

faux fur coat accented with ivory lace

I have no restraint… that is when it comes to lace. I purchased this adorable faux fur coat from Loft to wear with lolita coordinates. It is a shorter length that is petticoat friendly. Got it home and before I even cut the tags off I was already digging through my lace trims to see if I could give it a little extra punch. Not only can I not resist adding lace but I have a bit of a thing for tassels. They take the coat in a dolly kei direction without going overboard. (⁎❝᷀ົ ˙̫ ❝᷀ົ⁎)

P.S. ·͙⁺˚*•̩̩͙•̩̩͙⁺‧͙⁺˚*•̩̩͙ ・・દ૨૨ʏ મ૨ıτ・・༶ •̩̩͙⁺‧͙⁺˚*•̩̩͙•̩̩͙⁺‧͙ 

Nothing to wear… whip up a coordinate

otome kei and sweet lolita whip cream designs

Life is not without irony. I am addicted to prints and accessories that include fluffy little whips of cream. In the real world however I am no fan. I like my hot cocoa naked please. But a heavy dollop is more than welcome on any coordinate. Q-pot is top of the charts when it comes to all things whip and, if I could manage, I would gobble up every single piece from the cherry sundae collection. That isn’t in the cards, but I scored something equally darling. I got my hands on a few yards of official Emily Temple cute whip and cherry fabric!!! (more…)

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