How To: Make a Ruffle Pillow Tote Bag – Part 1

sewing pattern to make your own ruffle tote bag

Spring is magical. In addition to loving all the new fashion trends, I remembered how much I love coming home after work each night and it still being light out. Its amazing how motivating sunlight is. Decided to put all that extra energy to good use and have been trying to sew for 1 hour at least 3 nights a week. Have a few projects to catch everyone up on. The first is my DIY version of a pillow tote bag.

After exploring so many options from Japan in my recent ruffle bag mood board, I knew I wanted to play up the pillow aspect. What this meant was designing the pattern landscape versus portrait, if that makes sense. The way a big fluffy pillow would be at the head of a bed. Himitsu by Syrup’s bag influenced me the most. But for this version I edited out the top ruffle and rounded here and there to get the pillow look.

sewing instructions to make the ruffle edge

If you were wondering why I chose to make the ruffle out of 3 pieces of fabric, it was all about making life easy. By sewing the side, bottom and then side ruffle pieces together the seams give you a nice sharp line.  You can use that line to match up with the corners of the tote bag.  This is a little trick to make sure when the fabric is gathered you wont end up with too much fabric bunched to one side or the other.

Oh, is that the time! Gotta dash for work. Look for the rest of the steps in my next post.

Mad Hat’n

The week many of us having been waiting for has at last arrived. My nails are polished – first time doing gel nail art! Coordinates are finally decided upon. Alas my choco bear concept just wasn’t working so I went back to my original plan of Promenade de Paris.

misako nyc visit lolita coordinates

Vintage Blouses

The time has come to make the break from Bodyline blouses. They got me through for a while but I really can’t stand the quality of the lace. S0 after scouring eBay and Etsy for hours my favorites and watch list are filled with many frilly vintage potentials. Yesterday the first purchase, a vintage 70’s blouse, arrived. Its more peach than pink and has such an adorable pleated collar that ties with a ribbon. Admittedly, it’s a bit punchy with the pink of the Angelic Pretty dress, however that contrast seems to be working well. For the tea party, Anthropologie came through a few years ago with a rose and lace adorned cream blouse which is sweet and elegant.

Petite Chapeau

Next challenge was hair accessories to complete the coordinates. Inspired by and in keeping with the Alice theme I played the role of the Mad Hatter the past week. Over the summer my love affair with hats began; I bought an entire coordinate from Alice and the Pirates all just to match the Tricolour Toy hat.

angelic pretty promenade de paris eiffel tower hat and broach

First up was a mini top hat in pink to match the Paris print. I have been collecting the pieces for this project over several months. During early autumn I found the Eiffel Tower cabochons. But it was only recently that I purchased the hat and the large brown swiss dot ribbon. The material of the hat is rather fantastic. It holds its shape but is easy to sew through. Since this hat is to coordinate with Angelic Pretty I didn’t mind going a little more OTT.

baby the stars shine bright alice's dollhouse matcing lace hat and rose necklace

As for the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright inspired hat things didn’t go as planned. The original concept was to use dollhouse pieces to match the clock room in the print. No matter how I positioned them it still looked like a hot mess. So in the end simplicity and refinement was the path to follow. Some lace and ribbon and one embellishment. I am elated with the colors and the outcome. I think the hat really resonates well with the dress.

I still haven’t given up entirely on the dollhouse pieces. Something tells me that they could work if used with a bonnet. All the local girls are raving about bonnets right now which could be a sign. However there’s no time before the event to whip up a bonnet so for now the mini hat will do nicely.

pink sweet lolita mini hats hair facinators

I do hope to get back to more sewing soon. I certainly adore making accessories but I really have an itch to make more substantial pieces. Time will tell. 2014 has been off to a frenetic pace already that I should count myself lucky I had time to make hats (^_-)☆

Project: Deer Antler Twin Tail Hair Bows

lolita antler themed headdress diy project

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright’s fawn fur cape has been patiently waiting in the wardrobe for its day to come.  For some reason the just-right coordinate to pair it with has been elusive.  Not anymore.  At Walmart, of all places, I had an epiphany.  They had a collection of Christmas Ornaments that caught the corner of my eye I was racing through the store to pick up things for the new house.  Upon closer inspection, a rustic set of miniature antlers tied together with some raffia cord screamed out – buy me now! And at $1.97 why not.

By luck, some cream velvet fabric just happened to be in the recently unpacked monster pile of fabric occupying the sewing studio. Mix in some lace and pearls and maybe just maybe this could work, I thought to myself.  So from Mood Board to My DIY – its time to try out the antler trend.

step 1 make your fabric pattern and stitch the pieces together

To keep things harmonious, I decided to match the shape and style of the bow from the cape.   It took a moment to realize how the bow’s specific shape was made.  The bottom layer is a trapezoid while the top section is a simple rectangle.  This small addition of fabric gives the tail of the ribbon a curved look when finished.  Opted to add in one extra layer of lace however for good measure.

step 2 trim corners flip and close

To be honest my perfectionist roots are showing on this step.  I wanted to maximize the volume of the lace, which is very thin, so instead of just gathering and basting it to the fabric before sewing the edges I choose a more scenic route.  The lace is sandwiched into the fabric but only at the corners.  This gives them a professional and clean finish when the fabric is flipped to the right side.  I then hand gathered and stitched it to the bows edge working from the corner to the middle.  The center will be covered so the raw edge of the lace will not be visible.  Yes this took more time than necessary but it make me happy in the end.

step 3 gather and secure the bow

The velvet fabric is a bit thick, so for stability I tied the two main pieces together before wrapping the small strap around the middle.  This also made it easier to get the shape of the folds just so.  Normally I fold the fabric, stitch along the edge and flip the center strip. Instead, to reduce the bulk, on this DIY project I simply tucked under the edges and gave them a running stitch to keep them nice and neat.  The serged edge made a nice measurement for how far to fold under each side.

step 4 place and attach antler

Originally the little jingle bells were attached to the wire in the middle of each antler.  I snipped the wire with clippers and removed the bells.  Then, using jewelers pliers, I twisted each half of the wire into loops.  The loops are just big enough to sew through and secure the antler in place.  The biggest challenge is that they are both the same antler – kinda like having two left feet.  So when positioning them I had to determine what angles gave each a balanced look.

repeat all steps for second hair bow


step 5 attach pearls and bells

Its usually at this stage in a project when I can hardly contain myself.  Adding the icing to the cake is what always makes it pop.  In this case the icing is a few strands of pearls, the re-purposed jingle bells, and some small rosebuds.  The BTSSB cape’s ribbon had gold chain, but I only had silver in my bead collection.

step 6 add clip and roses

Usually I am lazy and hot glue the clip on.  However, the weight of the antler made me second guess stability.  So I choose to sew the clip on.  Even if over time the string should happen to break (which I doubt) it can be re-sewn, but glue on top of glue is just messy.  Speaking of glue, a few dabs were placed strategically here and there to the antler to further stabilize the piece.  The wire sewn earlier carries the weight while the glue ensures the antler doesn’t jiggle around.  A few more dabs of hot glue were used to place three rose buds and hide the wire.  This is the only pop of color on the otherwise neutral base.

lolita deer and roses hair bowsAnd here is the result!!  I can’t wait to try them out!  Will be meeting some friends later today at the Cloisters and I hope they like them as much as I do.  We shale see.

deer inpired winter lolita coordinate



Candy Shoppe Ice Cream Badge

velvet and lace ice cream lolita otome badge patch

Didn’t have enough time to start my pastel sweater remake yet.  Instead choose to make an accessory this weekend.  Sewing and crafting is my go to stress reliever and work has been very intense the past month.  Always is this time of year.  So I choose to focus on something smaller that I could accomplish with limited time.  And this velvet and lace ice cream badge is the result.

The ice cream patch was a gamble.  The subject matter was perfect but wasn’t sure if I could really transform a throwback to the 70’s into an uber kawaii badge.  The company that makes the patch is not my cup of tea – too hippie and rocker for my esthetic.  Nothing against those genres, just not my style. But I figured I would take a chance on the vanilla cone for the Candy Shoppe Girl collection.

sweet lolita ice cream badge

The next concern was the color palette.  I rarely ever wear browns and tans.  Sure an off-white blouse here and there, but black and pink are my everyday staples.  So opted for mauve pinks and purples with a cream lace.  I think the overall combination looks complimentary.

Also went for very rich materials to raise the status of the patch.  Swarovski crystals, glass tear drop beads, pearls and velvet give the piece a more refined and rich look.  The back is finished in a cream fleece and includes a basic broach clasp.

As for challenges, the most difficult task was sewing through the thickness of the patch embroidery and glue.  I managed it but had to use a little rubber needle grip to tug through each stitch.

burrr - ces't froid ice cream

Candy Shoppe Black & Pink T-Shirt

otome kei style cutsew top pink and black

Building on my Candy Shoppe Girl challenge, last weekend I finished a cutsew top.  This t-shirt pulls many of the same ideas and shares fabric from its sister dress from the previous weekend.  Where it differs mostly is that it feels slightly more grown up than the dress.  The addition of a dot tulle overlay mimics the yoke from the dress.  But the difference in fabric combination creates a new energy.

tulle overlay on cotton jersey blouse

Instead of a matching lace collar, I used the black jersey to make the peter pan collar.  However, the lace collar last time was the jumping off point for selecting a similar black lace to finish the edges of the tulle overlay.  One of my biggest complaints with standard issues t-shirts is I the sleeves are always very short.  I choose to cut these just an inch or two above the elbow.  It provides good coverage and comfort on a warm day.  My target for this collection is autumn/spring.  So its nice to have items that can be layered as well as some short and some long sleeve pieces.

cutsew blouse side lace detail

nippori tokyo ribbon iron on patch applique

The back is simple.  But I couldn’t resist.  Just had to add a little something.  I can’t remember exactly where, but in one of the Shibuya shopping complexes I stumbled on a Daiso-like discount store.  They had a small craft section that had really cute iron on patches.  I picked up a few of these pink dot ribbons in a couple different sizes.  I think it works as a subtle nod to the white ribbon fabric from the dress.

placement of the tulle fabric overlay

The tulle is super soft and super squirmy.  I serged the edge to give me a little something to run a gathering stitch through.  I then used a ruler to line up the edge on the fabric and pinned it generously all around the bodice.  The photo shows my progress before pinning the neckline and underarms.  I absolutely love the finished effect.  And I have waited a very long time to try this technique.

What pleases me most about this top is it is all me.  I know this wont sound that big of a deal, but I drafted the pattern.  Sure it is a very basic t-shirt shape, I know, not that complicated.  But as I have no formal sewing training, it is a big deal to me that I could wing this one without a commercial pattern.  Pretty proud right now.

angelic pretty strawberry ice cream dish

Since I paired the top with my Angelic Pretty Milky-chan skirt, it felt only fitting to bring some of Milky’s friends into the photo shoot.  The ceramic rabbit canister and origami fox came from Target.  The mini-Milky I found at Kinokuniya.  And then there is the holy grail of Lolita, my most prized possession.  When I was in Tokyo last spring, Angelic Pretty’s Fresh Picked Strawberries had just been released.  In the Marui One shop I was fortunate enough to get the novelty fair glass ice cream bowl with my purchase. (≧∇≦)

Candy Shoppe Cutsew Onepiece Dress

The past 3 weeks I was swallowed up in an unexpected blur of busy busy work, I put my foot down last weekend and devoted 2 solid days to fun.  “Candy Shoppe Girl” is the result.  I have wanted to take on a big fashion challenge for a while to really push myself.  So I have set a goal to produce 2 weeks worth of full coordinates.  Some items might be alterations and others, like this dress, originals. I want the pieces to be easily transitional for both autumn and spring.  Warm but not too heavy.  Cute and delicate but also relaxed and comfortable.

Candy Shop Girl Jersey Dress in Pink, White and Black

Coordinate 1:  Onepiece Cutsew

Materials: 100% pink jersey from Joann’s, black jersey from NYC garment district, black lace collar from Nippori in Tokyo, buttons and re-purposed jersey from a children’s dress.

Pattern:  Vogue V8411 {which I have used before for my rose print dress}

About a year ago I bought a little girls jersey dress at my local Marshalls.  It was an adorable black and white dress with little pops of pink.  The reason I bought it was the skirt was printed with the cutest ribbons and it was gathered which meant there was a substantial amount of fabric.  I have not yet found the magical land where I can buy yards of cute jersey so I have resorted to re-purposing children’s clothing to make grownup cuties.

vogue pattern v8411 neckline alteration

Patterns are great as guidelines, but I just can’t resist fiddling with them.  As the fabrics for the dress are very sugary sweet, thought it best to soften the lines and make the neckline a bit more modest. By tracing the original pattern piece all that was needed was to rough in a rounded curve for the new neckline.  I also had to add a little extra to the back as well to match the new position.  Really simple change but has a big impact on the final result.  I drew it freehand but you could match a favorite t-shirt as reference or use a french curve.

The Result

candy cutsew one piece dress front

candy cutsew one piece front lace detail

candy cutsew one piece dress back

candy cutsew one piece back ribbon detail

candy cutsew one piece dress side

candy cutsew one piece hem lace-detail

I am particularly fond of the ribbon on the back.  It was a gamble letting the ribbon tails run nearly the full length of the dress.  Tickled pink with how it turned out.  They flow nicely when the dress is worn.  I stitched around the edges of the ribbon but stopped short of where they fold under.  This way the shape is fixed but it still has some volume.

How To Style It

angelic pretty ribbon ribbon necklace parasol otk socks

For this dress I think Angelic Pretty accessories in black will coordinate best.  Specifically the Dot Cute Ribbon Ribbon necklace and bracelet, ladder ribbon parasol, and ribbon ribbon over the knee socks.  The socks have just enough pink in them to pick up on the punchy pink fabric of the dress (hard to see in the photo but the front of the socks has a ladder of ribbons.)  The parasol brings in the stripes.  Well and the necklace mimics nicely the bows on the white fabric.  And to finish it all off, why not a pair of Rocking Horse Shoes?

zappos shellys london tauchman rocking horse shoes

I found these in the last place I expected.  Today I stumbled upon these RHS on Zappos of all places!  They are called Tauchman by Shellys London.

Project Update: Yukata Finishing Touches

Busy, busy, busy bee!  Finished another semester of Japanese; flew back out to St. Louis on a business trip; and have been sewing, sewing, sewing.  For as early as I started my yukata project, I am still cutting it way too close to the deadline.

almost ready for this years natsu matsuri

The design has been altered dramatically from the original vision.  I can no longer call the coordinate lolita in style.  However I am really pleased with the result.  The skirt was the catalyst for the design departure.  While the idea sounded great using two different fabrics (for the blouse and for the skirt) in reality it looked very disjointed.  Worse yet, the pattern on the white fabric had the not-so-flattering optical effect of making the wearer (yours truly) look twice her size.  Not what a girl wants.

Somehow I managed to whip up a new skirt out of the blouse fabric remnants.  My better half is raving about the second-take skirt.  He loves it.  (#^.^#)  But you will have to wait till this weekend to see it!!

Hanhaba Obi (半幅帯)

Little miss ambitious, now happy with the new skirt, decided that the pre-tied obi wasn’t sophisticated enough to match all the hard work that was poured into the yukata.  Yep, as if I wasn’t already crunched on time, last Sunday decided to make my own half width obi to go with my festival coordinate.

adding gold trim to hanhaba obi

I have a couple of hanhaba obi’s in my kimono collection.  One was in pretty bad shape but had the most adorable print.  The intention had been to reuse the good parts of the fabric for a project, but turns out it was the obi lining first in line to be upcycled.

hanhaba obi lining and cover

Learned a ton on this DIY project.  Let the creative process take me to a different direction and what I think was a better result in the end. But can’t get too excited yet, still a few more stitches to go!

Saturday Style: Rain, Roses & Robins

rain drops and roses otome kei coordinate

Funny day yesterday.  The weather couldn’t make up its mind if it should be sunny or rainy.  So it did both.  I had a healthy morning of errands to run so wanted something comfortable to muck about in.  I made this otome kei style dress a little more than a year ago.  It was perfect for the occasion.  Soft and easy going.  Long sleeves but not too hot for a chilly summer morning.  Bright colors on a gray base, not unlike the sun fighting against the gray rain clouds.

rain drop and roses photoshop brushes

deviantART Photoshop Brushes:  Sagakure Roses + Neveryph-Stock Rain Drops

I’m still looking for a good way to mimic purikura in Photoshop.  Which means spending a lot of time researching brushes.  I downloaded these two which coordinated well with my Saturday Style.  I like how the two used together made it look like it is raining roses.

costume jewlery robin ring pink gold

Found this adorable robin ring in the St. Louis airport of all places.  It reminds me so much of the costume jewelry that Avon sold in the 1970’s.  If Avon made it, the robin’s red breast probably would swing open to reveal a lip gloss.  Man I miss their cute stuff.

saturday style lolita rain umbrella

The pink frilly umbrella is a recent acquisition.  Part of a group buy from Taobao.  The material is a bit thin but the size of the canopy is wonderful.  Wishing I had ordered a white one too now.

rainy day cute coordinate

I think this made-by-me dress looks so much better once coordinated.  On the dress form it is cute but doesn’t really come to life.  Very happy I can show it to you in a more playful state.

otome kei roses cutsew onepiece pink

The hem is my favorite part.  Just a little touch of lace.  Not too much which keeps it slightly more grown up when paired with  the right items.  Angelic Pretty’s Royal Chocolate purse for example makes the coordinate more refined.  If I had gone with say a pink canvas tote it would have been younger and more casual looking. {Yes I tried 2 pink totes and a pouchette before settling on Royal Chocolate.}

bodyline pink tea party shoes

To finish off the look I mixed in a pair of pink over the knee socks from Target {yep Target} and a pair of pink tea party shoes from Bodyline.  So there you have it; roses and robins and rain drops.

Project Update: Lolita Yukata Blouse Complete

ヤッタ!Just finished sewing my summer festival yukata blouse.  I couldn’t be happier.  The blouse fits perfectly and drapes exactly how I hoped it would.

wa lolita yukata blouse front

The biggest challenge I faced with this project was the width of the traditional fabric.  I think I did well hiding the seams in the body of the yukata, but the addition is obvious in the sleeves.  Looks OK though – phew.  Seeing the finished garment, wish the fabric matched better on the upper portion of the back.  It was tricky to cut the pieces with the end result in mind.  Next time I will know better.  And I definitely see a next time.

lolita kimono back and side

My next challenge was volume of lace.  Ran out of the lace used on the hem and had to use an alternative for the cuffs of the sleeves.  It bugs me that it doesn’t match but the trim shop is too far away.  If by some chance I can make it down to the fashion district I’ll switch it out, but for now mix-and-match lace it is.

yukata kimono sleeve sode

Next Mission:  Complete the skirt, bloomers, hair bows and deco the obi!  No problem.


Project Update: Yukata Ribbons

detachable yukata kimono bowsTraditional yukata fabric is like sewing through butter.  Seriously, it is really great quality which makes it such a pleasure to work with. Busting at the seams with excitement on this project.  Monday night I attached one of the sleeves to the bodice.  I’ll wait to post photos of the finished blouse.  Last night I made one of two detachable bows.

Making bows and ribbons is a form of meditation for me.  It is a total stress reliever.  They are super easy to make and there are infinite possibilities for how to dress them up.  Lace, ribbon, beads, mix-n-match fabric…

yukata ribbon wa lolita coordinate

Years ago a shopping bag had this blue and white ribbon for handles.  The ribbon is a very good quality grosgrain and I just knew that I could upcycle it someday.  It matches beautifully with the indigo dye of the yukata fabric.

The bow is made up of 4 pieces of fabric.  I sewed 2 rectangles together and then the other 2 together.  By leaving a small opening at the bottom they can be turned right side out.  After a good pressing with the iron, I next attached a very thin cluny lace to just one of the rectangles.  I really want this yukata coordinate to have an understated cuteness instead of a heavy over-the-top feel.  A little bit of lace goes a long way.

detachable ribbon pin back yukata fabric

I then folded the middle of the bow until I liked the final shape.  Wrapping the shopping bag ribbon around the middle and adding a few quick stitches by hand holds the whole piece together.  Final step was to add a pin back so that the bow can be taken on and off of the yukata.  This will make it easy to press the blouse after laundering.  Plus, you can move the bows around.  I am not sure if I want to place them on the bottom or the top of the sleeves.  We will have to wait and see.

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