As I mentioned in my last post, was hard pressed what to wear to a fairy tale inspired event for the opening of Into the Woods. This encouraged me to finally try out a pattern from the Otome no Sew books. The Red Riding Hood cape from book 5 seemed the most logical place to dive in. Well and for good measure threw in a bag and matching coord for Kumya-chan while I was at it. I’ve been itching to use the patterns and honestly am not sure why it has taken me this long.
Like other Japanese pattern books you have to be sure to add seam allowance. That was easy enough. Bonus, the Otome books patterns include 3 sizes – Japanese small, medium and large. I am a Japanese 2L which meant grading the pattern up for my project. The cape was perfect choice to start with since its not form fitting. I got a feel for their instructions and pattern quality with little risk.
Putting aside the fact that the pattern is in Japanese I would give the book a 3.5 or 4 stars. I think the books are good but not great. If you are a beginner sewer I think you would be frustrated not just with the instructions but the many shortcuts the patterns take. While I am self-taught I have enough tricks up my sleeve to know when to deviate from what the book was saying in order to get a better end result. What I admire most about Lolita fashion is the quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. The pattern I choose did not include a lining for the cape only for the hood. This is an example of what I mean by shortcuts. Couldn’t have that so added a full lining for good measure.
The pattern was meant to have a ribbon closure, but for this project I left it off. Instead I got a little lazy and reused the ribbon from my Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Sweet Fawn Cape. Its a beautiful cream velvet that matches with the laces I used perfectly. And why make another ribbon that would have pretty much been identical?
The main fabric was a fun find from one of my fabric stores on the planet – Discount Fabric Warehouse on the Big Island of Hawaii. Every time we vacation there I ship back boxes (that is plural folks) of crazy inexpensive fabrics. You never ever know what you will find. The strategy there is to buy it if you think it is cute even if you don’t have a project in mind yet. This jem sat in my stash for about a year. Its a high quality, thin, cotton corduroy in punchy red, pink and blue. Has just a taste of the Eastern European feel I was hoping for in this look. Again I wanted to give a nod to the homeland of so many fairy tales I loved growing up. But I didn’t want it to scream folk art or for that matter be a super obvious Red Riding Hood either.
Into The Woods
Above is how I styled my look for the Into The Woods meet. Pulling on the blue in the cape I matched it with a pair of navy tights featuring birds and an open bird cage. Gave both Kumya-chan and myself matching silver bird cage necklaces on simple navy ribbons. And added monster flowers to my braids – in a woodland lolita take on Princess Leia.
Didn’t get many good shots from the meet so literally headed into the woods the next day
to show it styled in a more toned down way.
Feeling pretty good about this project and inspired to try my hand at some more of the patterns now. There is that sailor dress that I have the perfect fabric for…
Credits: Cute little clip art found here
With such little time to plan the Alice Tea Party I was pressed for entertainment ideas. I’ve only been to a few of the local meets but have been to enough social engagements to know what can happen. Often small cliques tend to form among those who have known each other for a long time. On public meets where not everyone knows each other some participants can feel left out. Well, there is also how the tables are arranged which can distance participants from others. So I planned a small ice breaker.
Nothing really fancy. Picked up cute Alice in Wonderland playing cards and pulled out all the face cards and the hearts. That was roughly the right number for the party. Then after everyone had their fill of tea, scones and sandwiches I stood and requested attention. Asked if everyone would take turns to stand, give their first name (if they were willing,) and to discuss the point of their coordinate. I am so happy everyone was good sports. Had several good laughs and oohs and aahhs. Especially two cuties who twinned for the party but said they came as Tweedledee and Tweedledum sweet lolita style!! It really helped to put faces to names and to get to know a little about each person without getting too personal.
After each guest spoke about their coordinate they got to pick a card. Using another deck of cards, a winner was selected for a very small raffle. I literally pulled this White Rabbit out of the Mad Hatter’s Hat the night before. It must have been around 7 or 8 pm when I began and finished close to 12:30 am.
Alice Tea Party Raffle Prize
My concept was to stay on theme with a White Rabbit but in a non-traditional form with a classic lolita or even mori girl appearance. You might recognize that most of the laces and flowers are extras from this summer’s Rabbit Garden Party Apron and Purse. I knew I wanted the piece to have a lot of little details but also still feel simple. To achieve that simplicity the entire color palette reads as a solid using a cream base. Not knowing who would win the raffle and what their personal style would be, the design was meant to be true to my design aesthetic but also neutral to go with several lolita genres.
Not sure if it would be classified as a headdress, rosette or even a canotier to be honest. What you can’t see from the detail photos is that the back has both an alligator hair clip and a pin clasp. So it can be worn as a hair accessory or as a badge.
Received good feedback from the group that the ice breaker was very fun and that they enjoyed it. And Alexandra’s expression when she won and opened the bag was a huge treat. Relieved and elated she likes it. So I think I’ll continue this tradition if/when I organize another meet in the future.
Everything about the Alice Adventure in NYC magically fell right into place. From finding out about the ballet, to planning the event, and on top of it making an Alice themed one piece dress. I had been eying this fabric on Etsy for a while. That pesky, “don’t buy more fabric until you use what you have.” was running thru my head and I choose to ignore it.
The original vision for the dress was something very simple, more like the dresses from Jane Marple. When I had the fabric in hand however and was selecting a color to use for the collar this red won me over. Things spiraled from there when I saw how the black laces popped. Those colors cemented in the new idea to mix in elements all based on playing cards. The red and the black trims along with several trump suit charms and patches worked nicely. As a sub-theme the roses used throughout also reflect the Queen’s rose garden.
What I did stay true to was making my first lolita OP. I have given up hope altogether on Baby and AP ever making an OP to fit me. Its a love hate love relationship I admit. Several times during the tea party I was extremely conscience of how freaking comfortable my dress is. It actually fits me!! It even has a little extra room in case I overdo it on the scones and macarons. This is the bliss of making your own. So I love the brands because the entire fashion wouldn’t be here without their commitment; I hate and yet understand why they make everything one-size-fits-some; and love that because of bad sizing I finally found my sewing muse after so many years. And the ++ is that I don’t have to wear a blouse. Just slip it on and zip it up – ready to go. Well not really, but close.
Once I decided to use playing card colors as the embellishments I also needed to make sure and not either overdo them and it look cosplay or end up with it looking too goth. Nothing wrong with gothic, but my aim was to keep it sweet but with a vintage feel overall.
I was at a point during the making of the dress where I thought I was “done” and then I happened to pull out the little red roses to try around the collar. Turns out they were even better as another accent on the grosgrain ribbons. The roses also helped to carry the collar color throughout the dress. I only had a fat quarter of the red and it was barely enough to make the mock collar and the bows on the sleeves. If there was more I would have made a full collar and probably a bunch of other things, but that was part of the fun – make it work!
Even though the charms on the dress and headdress are silver I knew right away what accessories I wanted to wear with it. Last winter my friend gave me the cutest gold Alice and the White Rabbit earnings. I removed the original finding and made them into clip-ons (long story about pierced ears and allergies). They match well with a ring I found in Grand Central of all places that is square and has each of the card suits. I finished it off with Angelic Pretty’s card suit bracelet.
The Finished Look
I absolutely adore this picture that was taken at the party. You must check out Xiaoyu’s blog on tumblr. She has mad photography skills, talented at making her own handmade items, and is such a beautiful and warm person: victorianme.tumblr.com
All that travel in July must have made a mark on me. I was tidying up my studio the other night and bumped into this Cath Kidston patch I bought a couple years ago. The cute little illustration of the London Eye clicked inside my brain as being a good match for Angelic Pretty’s Magical Etoile which I just got from San Fran. And so I started scavenging thru all my trims, beads and buttons leading to this England travel themed rosette. Its a nice personal momento to remember the trips by.
The best bit is that this was finished in just one night. It sorta all fell together nice and easy. On the back I added both an alligator clip and a pin back so that it can be work several different ways. There is a small strip of cream tassels also sewn to the back that peek out of the bottom but don’t distract from the main players – the patch, the England crown button, and the silver tea pot charm. A few clear seed beads give the patch some depth and act as the carriages on the ferris wheel.
Since the dress has a Paris theme and the rosette a London theme I am tempted to make another rosette so that the coordinate can really take on a travel adventurer spirit. I have a Tokyo patch and a Hawaii patch but not sure yet if either has the right colors to work. We shale see. A small trunk style purse would be super cute too with stickers from around the world as a nice matching accessory. Will have to look into that…
I am waiting for some star buttons to arrive by mail and need to pick up a little more ribbon to finish my Twinkle Constellation blouse, so hopefully will get that all wrapped up here in due time as well. I still have a couple very ambitious projects on my plate that I want to dive into and finish up this summer.
When summer rolls around you want simple pieces in your wardrobe that you can just pull on and go. Easy breezy dresses with simple accessories are great to beat the heat. While taking inventory in my closet I realized cute and comfortable dresses were lacking. Sure there are lots of dresses, but not the type that you can slip into and pop off.
The first brand that comes to mind for relaxed cute is Milk. I was aiming for a one piece dress that would fit nicely in their summer line up. A statement element like the bold cherries with a bib collar for a focal point. This is sure to become my new favorite dress.
After moving to the new house I made a pledge to not buy more fabric until I made a dent in what I already have. Now, how was I to refuse this cotton jersey covered in big juicy cherries when it showed up on my Etsy dash? The fabric is white and lightweight so I lined the entire piece in a equally light gray jersey so as to avoid needing a camisole and slip.
Would have added more pintucks, however I was recycling a free t-shirt I got from a work event. It was a great quality cotton but not something I would ever wear out. So I cut off the bottom portion of the shirt to make the bib. Maybe could have squeezed in two more tucks but not positive. The cotton rose lace I have been holding onto waiting for the perfect project. Turns out this was it – he he.
It took my better half a fair amount of time to understand that even though something has sat in my trims and fabric stash for awhile its not time to throw things out yet. I had several of these iron on school uniform like badges in my trims box for a very long time and was debating if he was right, would I ever use them? Then an explosion of school style pieces started showing up in the late winter and early spring J-fashion magazines. Inspiration struck.
This little badge was whipped up in a matter of hours before my flight to Japan back in March. My friend Asumi and I always exchange cute little gifts when we see each other. I really love our tradition because it is so much fun trying to figure out what to give her next. Sometimes I find cute store bought trinkets, but every now and then I like to throw in something handmade.
To take the school patch in a whole new direction, silk kimono fabric in a traditional print along with tiny lace, velvet ribbon, pearls and a satin rose bud all came together. I think it is a very unexpected and playful combination. And the bridge between the Western alphabet with the Eastern fabric is a nice reflection of our friendship – the two coming together and having fun.
Might make a couple more of these with different styles of fabric. Not sure yet. Do love items that can be completed quickly between more ambitious projects. Keeps me motivated to have that sense of accomplishment as a push to tackle the big stuff.
The past couple weeks have been fun, started back to Japanese lessons and then there were the fashion shows. On the flip side that means my sewing has slowed down. Still have a few things to post but need to get back in gear as I have set a lofty goal with my summer project line up. Before my mini break, I completed the second of several items in the Garden Party coordinate project.
Once I finished the Rabbit Apron my attention shifted to a remake of a vintage wicker hand bag. This is turning to be an annual summer event as last year you might recall I remade another wicker purse to go with a Baby, the Stars Shine Bright cherry dress.
Did I start this post saying I completed this bag? Well that is not exactly true. I still need to do something to the interior of the purse. Right now it is gingham which is absolutely charming but is not in keeping with the color palette and styling of the rest of the outfit. Fussing over the details is important to make a good project be great. Which is why during all of this I also add a couple of bows to the apron to make the lacing feel more finished.
Materials for lace wrist cuffs have been cut and I just need to finish them but have been distracted by a couple other items so hope to wrap those up soon. So all-in-all off to a good start on my list of to-dos but can’t slack off anytime soon. Thank you summer for the motivating sunshine and energy! よし、がんばれます。
I don’t know what happened, but I have been possessed with gluing artificial flowers onto anything and everything lately. Actually I do know what happened. Misako’s visit to NY and latest trends in Gothic Lolita fashion made their mark on me. In particular a departure from over-the-top sweet to a mix of more classic styling but with the introduction of more pastels into what was previously dominated by jewel tones. That and the many many floral hair accessories that are everywhere now even in other fashion style trends.
I recently picked up Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Some Day of Ranunculus, a print from last summer. It was modeled in last year’s AnimeNEXT fashion show but at the time didn’t wow me. This March, I found the Lycia JSK version in the Harajuku Closet Child and promptly brought it home. Like I said, what I am drawn to now is changing. Ironically the plan is to wear it to this year’s AnimeNEXT – today! But I needed a little something extra to complete my coordinate.
I was amazed at how quick this came together. One morning while enjoying my coffee I pulled all the pink and cream trims lying around and drafted the layout. Pulled a gold silk from my collection of kimono fabric scraps to make the yo-yo. Then on the weekend I hand-stitched a little cream lace and added the big pink bead. Had to be careful when stitching the pink lace to the base so as to keep the nice pleated shape. From that point it was all up to the glue gun.
We are up bright and early to hit the con today. Kimura U is going to be a guest model in the fashion show this year. Very exciting. So ta for now.
P.S. I’m still trying to figure our why a dress whose name includes ranunculus is covered in roses…
I think my sewing chops just hit a new level. Over the weekend I completed making a lolita apron. As mentioned on the previous mood board, finding the right solution for a very limited amount of this amazing fabric became a mission. Its somewhat terrifying to realize that I didn’t use a pattern. I mentally calculated the whole thing in my head and went for it. Luckily it worked out and I am pleased as punch.
The fabric I found on Etsy and the main lace came from a visit to Tomato in Nippori, Tokyo. The little daisies on the lace and cream color were a perfect match for the print. Surprisingly, the most difficult task was finding a ribbon the right shade of blue. I had to visit many stores until I settled on one I liked. Even now I wish it was a slightly darker shade.
Angelic Pretty’s Decoration Dream was a jumping off point for the sizing of the apron top. I’ve never liked how, well there is no polite way to say this, my boobs exceed the width of AP’s top. Decoration Dream just never sits right. So for my apron I adjusted to make it sit nice and flat and cover all the right spots. Another learning from AP was the straps are always slipping off my shoulders unless I criss-cross them in the back. So for my apron I added a nice little bar in the back to hold everything in place.
The past couple of days I enjoyed the euphoria that comes with completing a project. But if I am honest this is far from done. That 1 yard of fabric has morphed into a vision for a full coordinate. Already, I’ve cut lace to make matching wrist cuffs. I have metal eyelets/grommets coming in the mail to deco a pair of boots. Then there is a wicker handbag that just arrived and is ready for a hot glue party. Fabric for a matching dress has been yanked out of the stash. The only mystery is what to make for a hair accessory? Do we get into the spirit of the “year of the bonnet” or make an old school headdress?
In Part 1, we made the ruffle, attached it to the tote main pieces and added some trims to personalize. Then in Part 2, we used a few tricks to whip up strong clean straps. So all that is left is to insert the lining. But before we dive in you have to decide if you want to go the extra mile or not? Want to add pockets in your lining? If not, skip the next two steps and jump down below.
Most tote bag patterns I have found want you to dangle a pocket from the top of the bag. They insert the pocket as a flap between the seam of the tote body and the lining. On soft bags this drives me nuts because if you put your phone in the pocket than the top of the bag droops down due to the weight. That was when I came up with the idea above to instead put the pockets across the bottom of the bag. Its personal preference and both ways work just fine.
For Step B above, use the same plate from Part 2 of this tutorial. That way the lining and the main fabric will line up properly. Oh, and after Step D you can trim the fabric 1/4″ from the stitch line to match the rounding. This will reduce the bulk in the corners so you get a nice clean finish.
I took my pillow tote out for a run to Mitsuwa and immediately proceeded to stuff it full of cute stuff from Mars and the book store – and of course tons of candy from the grocery store. By the end I had 2 issues of Cutie magazine, a Jackie Bread The Bears’ School charm, some stickers, a couple onigiri, and matcha Kit Kat and Crunch bars to tote around. That was along with my wallet, make up pouch, keys, phone, and obligatory spring allergies stack of Kleenex. Fairly proud it held up to the task (♥ó㉨ò)ﾉ♡