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

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!

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.

Project Update: Yukata Fabric + Off to a Good Start

When one thinks of colors that represent Japan, of course the iconic red and white of the Rising Sun come to mind.  But look a little deeper and indigo and white take center stage.  You see it so often reflected in fabric and ceramics across the centuries.  In fact there is an entire book dedicated to it.

indigo yukata fabrics

Probably a bit old fashioned of me, but when I think of yukata instantly blue and white comes to mind.  And not just the colors but the technique.  I am fascinated by the stencil dying method which results in a rich print.  There is no front and back to the fabric like modern printing methods.  Now if I remember correctly white with an indigo design was ideal for day as it looked cool and refreshing while indigo with a white print was worn at night.  Something about the dye being a natural insect repellent.  So I guess the more of it the better in the evening.  Since the summer festival will spill from day to night I am going to go with both. ☆彡

For the yukata blouse I choose a print with carnations and a stream.  It has a large design with lots of open space.  I want the blouse to really stand out compared to the cupcake lolita skirt so the big print and high contrast should work nicely.  Then for the skirt and bloomers the reverse, an indigo print on a white base.  Since most yukata do not incorporate 2 fabrics, I dug deep into my collection to find something complimentary.  The best match was a bolt that also features carnations but in a medium size print that repeats frequently filling the entire space.

indigo fabric ready for sewing

Thank goodness I have a big floor!  Because I needed all the space I could get when cutting the fabric.  Kimono and Yukata fabric comes in bolts typically 14 inches wide but up to 13 yards long.  So using the fabric in a non-traditional way means I will be piecing together many seams to create additional width.  Hopefully it will all come together and not look like a patchwork mess.  Given the volume of the lolita silhouette this project did require pretty much the entire amount of fabric from both bolts.

yukata half way sewn

My goal was to finish the blouse this past weekend, but I didn’t. O_O  That’s OK.  I would rather take my time and do a good job than rush-rush through it.  If folks at work play nice this week I can sneak out right at 5pm and finish up in a couple of days.  If not, then I will pick up next weekend.  All I have left to do is add the lace to the sleeves, attach them to the blouse body and then whip up a couple of detachable bows (this is a lolita coordinate after all.)  So far I am absolutely thrilled with how it is coming together.  I think it is going to be stunning.


Summer Festival: Kitsune Mask Barrette (Part 1)

kitsune mask diy mood board

Yesterday I squeezed in enough time to get started on one piece of my summer festival coordinate.  The DIY Plan: create a kitsune o’men (fox mask – 狐のお面) barrette.  I want to incorporate as many traditional elements as possible but give each one a twist.  The key is to keep it from going too costume/cosplay.  I am aiming for that fine line where wa + kawaii meet.  The first step was to find the right image to use as my inspiration.

shrink plastic sand-paper surface preperation

This painting really caught my attention.  I like the angle of the mask as it reflects how many people pull up their festival mask and wear it on the side of their head.  I only want to make one barrette.  So that angle I think is a nice way to mimic real life, but in this case a minature version.

I am a child of the 70’s, so the first material to come to mind when figuring out how to diy this was Shrinky Dinks!  Still a favorite after all these years.  I used the type that goes opaque once shrunk.  You start by slightly roughing up the surface, just a little bit, to help the colored pencil stick more easily.  I used an old nail file (because I couldn’t find where I put our fine sandpaper in the cellar.)

shrinky dink kitsune mask colored pencils

Step 2 is to apply your design.  I like to work with Prismacolor colored pencils as they produce a nice thick color and you can play with blending.  Extend your coloring a little bit beyond where you will cut the shape so that the color fills the full piece.

cut the shrink plastic with exacto knife

Next, carefully cut out your piece from the plastic sheet.  Your basic Exacto knife works best in my experience.  Go slowly and if there is an area you are worried about cut it larger at first and then slowly trim it down to the size or shape you want.  Very sharp scissors work well too but are difficult for sharp corners and indentations.

shrinky dink ready to bake

Next prepare your baking equipment.  I use my toaster oven.  I like that it is higher up so I can be comfortable watching as the plastic does its magic. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your shrinking plastic.  My toaster over works best at 350 for just under 1 minute on this size piece.  I cover a small backing sheet in tin foil.  Try to not get too many wrinkles.  Big ones can be indented on the back of the shrinky dink. I also wrap a flat spatula in tin foil to press down on the plastic as soon as it is done.  This gives it a good flat finish.

Next step is add the hardware to convert it into a barrette… but I ran out of time.  So we will pick up with that next time in part 2.

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)

Project Kickoff: Summer Festival Yukata

japanese summer yukata essentials

Getting ready for my next big DIY adventure.  This project is going to require more of my sewing skills than my hot glue prowess.  I am ready to take a big gamble and create a summer yukata, but Wa Loli style.

The Wa, or traditional Japanese, style of Lolita fashion is hard to pull off.  It can go very wrong very fast.  So not only will I have to test my sewing aptitude but also ensure my taste level is in check.  A careful eye and attention to editing will be key to success.

The plan is to finish the yukata in time for the Mitsuwa Summer Festival.  I don’t have a pattern so I have invested more than some might into this project.  I bought a Bodyline coordinate that I will use to create a pattern from.  I wanted to get a pair of rocking horse shoes and another blouse anyway, so was worth the shipping fee, even if 60 bones for the dress might be a loss.  What could prove to be a challenge is timing.  Bodyline can take a long time to arrive.  I put my order in on the 1st of July and I believe the festival is on the 17th of August.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I need at least 2 weekends to complete the actual yukata.

pre-tied obi diy decoration project

Normally I like to have all the materials on hand before starting, but deadlines being deadlines will need to roll while waiting for the postman.  In addition to the yukata “pattern”, a pair of geta from Japan should arrive soon.  Most of the other fabrics and trims are ready to go.  A bolt of  traditional indigo yukata fabric has been waiting in a drawer for years so will be happy to finally be put to good use.  A few laces are also lying about that will coordinate well.  And picked up a pre-tied yukata obi last year that is screaming for some deco!  What was I saying about hot glue earlier?  Well I guess this project isn’t immune. (^_-)

 Wa Loli Inspiration

There are so many different sources of inspiration that come to mind. I’d like to pay tribute to each individually instead of collaging a mood board.  These range from an artist who sadly disappeared from the web, a little hime and gyaru, and good old fashioned festival fair like uchiwa fans and kitsune masks.

little apricot wa cute lolita chisami

lolita artist apricot8585

etsy keelyvh Keelys Cute Kimono

kawaii japanese festival masks illustrations

metamorphose kimono print wa loli

hime gyaru yukata coordinates

dream of lolita wa coordinate

Credits:  (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (Tsuchiya Chisami “apricot8585” illustrations)   (Keely’s Cute Kimono dolls)   (Anime illustration)   (Festival Mask illustration)   (Metamorphose kimono print series)   (Hime Yukata Sets)   (Gyaru scan)   (Dream of Lolita coordinate)


Project Complete: Sweet Lolita Summer Cherry Handbag

country lolita wicker purse cherry pouch

sweet lolita pouch and key ring

It is so satisfying to finish a project.  And this DIY vintage wicker handbag transformation is complete!  The finishing touch was the addition of a sweet lolita makeup pouch.  Blending form and function, the pouch is more substantial than a typical makeup bag – by about 2 inches.  It also features a small clip so that keys don’t slide around or get lost when you open and close your purse.  Alternatively little charms could be attached to it to add a personal touch.

materials to make a makeup pouch

I didn’t follow a pattern for this bag but I did flip a Lancôme freebie inside out to examine their general construction.  I doubled a piece of the cherry fabric and ironed in some fusible interfacing to half of the fabric.  The side with the interfacing became the outside and with the extra stiffness I was able to embellish it with lace to match the main handbag.  I then attached a swivel clip to some pink ribbon for the key chain.  Last was the addition of a big pink ribbon.

inserting a zipper into the lolita makeup bag

I wanted to use a white zipper, but my sewing stash failed me.  Seeing the finished product, I think it worked out best to have the contrasting red zipper instead.  After inserting the zipper I serged the two sides and then a quick stitch across the bottom corners gave the pouch its final shape.

The pouch comfortably holds a brush, hand lotion, blush and a powder compact with some room to spare.  If your wondering where to keep Life’s Sweet Essential #4 – Money, well, my Vivian Westwood wallet tucks in nicely in front of the pockets on the other side of the purse.

DIY Result

I’ll conclude this DIY July project with a small photo shoot of the finished handbag and a few before and after shots to show its makeover.

sweet lolita cherry theme photo shoot

cherry sweet lolita summer coordinate

vintage wicker handbag before and afternew fabric lining for vintage handbag

summer lolita wicker handbag coordinate

Sweet Dreams!

Project Update: Sweet Lolita Handbag Organizer

nothing beats a well organized handbag

While the outside of this wicker handbag is charming and refined, the inside is an over the top explosion of cute.  I really outdid myself on making this purse organizer.  So thrilled about the final result.  My daily essentials are perfectly placed and easy to get to:

  • Mobile Phone
  • Lipstick
  • Mirror
  • Tissues
  • Business Card Case
  • Tic Tacs

No commercial lolita brand would spend this much time on the inside of a purse.  Far to expensive to manufacture.  But wow what a difference it makes.  The vintage purse is still a modest size compared to styles popular these days in mainstream fashion.  But once the bag is well organized that size difference isn’t a big deal.  And this is just one side of the bag.  There is more to come.  But first lets break down how the organizer was made.

vintage purse organizer insert

The finished piece looks like this.  A simple flat organizer that can be slipped into the purse.  I did decide to attach it to the lining in the purse for stability, but that is personal preference versus a necessity.  Below is an overview of the steps to make your own organizer.

template for handbag organizer

measuring the organizer pockets

sewing a perfect organizer pocket

stich flip press and close opeing

My biggest advice is to go slowly and be sure to think ahead to the next few steps.  With patience and diligence I would rank this an intermediate sewing project.  To make it more basic, I would drop the lace trim and the rounded corners.

It was dark when I finished the other side of the purse.  After brunch I’ll get around to taking some photos to share with you the other half of what has turned out to be an exquisitely organized handbag.

Project Update: Wicker Handbag Lining Replacement

replacing the fabric lining in wicker handbag

Almost there!  Was able to squeeze in just enough time yesterday after work to sew and glue in the lining.  This is just a foundation for more to come.    I want to make a zipper pouch for one side of the bag and an organizer for the other.  Took me a while to plot it all out inside my head and I think I now have a good plan of attack.

how to sew 3d box corners

detail sewing 3d cube corner

There are plenty of tutorials online for making 3-d cube corners, so I won’t ramble on about it today.  The key is to make sure you start and stop your stitches at a specific position which will become the pointy corner of the box shape.  This is where 3 pieces of fabric all meet. If your stitch runs the full length of your fabric, you will not be able to turn it right side out and get the shape you need.

The typical recommendation is 1/4 inch from the  edge of your fabric.  For the project I left more seam allowance, probably 5/8″, due to the fact that I would be adjusting measurements by hand to accommodate the slight curvature of this purse.  Having the extra fabric allowed me to let it in or out as I progressed.

adjusting the height of the lining

As I said, I left a ton of allowance in the fabric pieces to adjust as I went.  Once the base was sewn and looking good, the next step was to adjust the height.  I inserted the lining into the purse and folded over the edges following the frame of the handbag.  Painters tape worked best to hold the fabric in place, and taught, so that the measurement was as precise as possible.  There was plenty of stitch ripping and readjusting until the corners matched the purse properly and the height was right.  Tossed in some pins at that point then gave it a really good pressing with the iron.  Trimmed away all the excess fabric, ran a final stitch around the edge and set to work gluing it into the bag.

I reused the tape from before to dry fit the lining before gluing.  After all that hard work the last thing I wanted was a wonky finish.  All-in-all I give myself an 8 out of 10 for this piece of the project.  I set myself a deadline of this weekend to finish and the result is more than satisfactory as is.  Given more time I would have used quilt batting for all sides of the lining and not just the bottom layer.  But I am a happy camper just the same.

Stay Tuned:  The final reveal will happen later this weekend when I finish the organizers.  Now where did that lace go…

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