vrijdag 3 november 2017

Tips for handmade lolita fashion

Since a while I wanted to write about handmade lolita fashion. There are plenty of people who are creative in the fashion community. I myself have sewn lolita dresses almost as long as I've been wearing it (3,5 years now). When I started out, it was really useful to read tutorials and tips. By then lots of it was on LiveJournal or other blogs. Now we also have patterns we can use, so maybe it's a bit easier.
If you'd like to try it, please go for it, learn to sew and go create your own garments, it's so much fun!

The start: Learn to sew
If you can't work already with the sewing machine, that would be first thing to learn. Don't start with a dress, but see first how a sewing machine works on smaller parts of fabric. I started out (years ago) with for example a pillowcase (since it's just a square). If you find that too boring, a head-bow can be nice start as well (it's actually just two rectangles on top of each other, but okay getting the lace in or having it the right size might ask for some practice).

After that, you are probably ready to make more complicated things. I always found it nice to look in (normal clothing) sewing magazines, they usually have patterns in several levels of difficulty so you know what to start out with and have a clear explanation. You can learn very useful tricks and skills from this! Of course you could also start with making lolita pieces by then.

Learn more: Read/Watch Tutorials
There are lots of things already written and shown out there, so I'm not going to repeat all that.
A nice page to start from would be at Fyeahlolita, which has a long list of links to useful pages. Otherwise there are also people who make video's on Youtube (although not all of them are great).
The next step would be to try it out yourself multiple times. Practice makes perfect!

Lolita sewing magazines
In the old (Japanese) Gothic Lolita magazines they used to add some patterns, but for some years there is even a special magazine for lolita clothing patterns called Otome no Sewing. They are very affordable and can be bought via CDJapan for example. You can't read Japanese? Well that is not really a huge problem. They have step-by-step explanation with pictures, so if you know just a little bit about sewing already, you probably understand what they're doing. Great, right?

Different sizes
There are also lolita's that probably start with sewing because they can't fit in the usual sizes. The patterns in Otome no Sewing go up to size L (however, I'm not sure if this is exactly a western size L). For those who need a larger size, it might be good to learn a bit about how plus-size clothing is made (because proportions matter, it's not that every part of the pattern gets bigger). Or you could buy a mannequin that goes up to your size. It's certainly not impossible to learn, for this also counts that it wouldn't hurt to start trying to sew normal fashion first so you see how it works for your size.

Is handmade lolita fashion accepted?
What is accepted or not depends of course who and why you ask and who it would matter to, but yes in general it is accepted. There is however a sort of standard in Lolita Fashion, whether it is handmade or not. Sometimes handmade can go wrong as much as a lacemonster can go wrong. So therefore it is necessary to look for a good choice of fabric, lace and pattern that suits the style.
For example last year an American company published a lolita pattern but it's actually not all that great if you look at the details. For example, for the JSK on the right, the wide fake corset-lacing on the front is more or less an exaggerated anime-like version of lolita (it can be done right, but because of the color this just looks cheap). The blouse-sleeves on the left are obviously a bit bigger than usual and although I could see a refined version of this JSK from a brand with a better fabric choice, all the different elements are bit too much for this model in my opinion. But if you'd tweak it a little, let some things out, it could possibly work.

What material to use
For fabrics, it can be tricky, but when you study existing pieces you can learn a lot. There are generally three sorts of fabric-prints that lolita fashion uses. Plain fabric, fabric with a border print (on the bottom of the dress) and fabric with an all-over print.
Plain fabric is the easiest one to find, but it does of course matter what material it is from and how it falls. Cheap cotton will look just like it says, but this could be compensated with if it is a more intricate model with more refined details. However, it can be a good choice for starters because it is cheaper and easier to buy.
Plain fabric, all-over print and a border print.
For fabric prints, it really depends how busy it gets and how big the elements in it are. If you have a busy print with very small elements, this is usually a bit too busy for lolita. If it is more spread out and you would make a not-too-detailed model with it with lace in between or something, it could work. Border prints can be hard to find, they are (outside of Japan) sometimes found in more hobby/deco-categories but those aren't necessarily the right choice for lolita fashion.
The same goes for lace, most brands work with fine embroidered lace, not the scratchy cheap type.
But for everything counts: there are exceptions. In fact there are plenty of brand-pieces that have very busy prints or have the simplest designs with plain fabric. It also all depends on how it is used and would look in the end.

Where to find it
For suitable fabrics I think the best resource is Etsy. You can search for "lolita fabric" there and find plenty of useful fabric. Another website is Modes4u, they sell Japanese fabric too. Another option is designing fabric yourself and ordering it via Spoonflower for example. But that deserves another whole article.
For lace there are plenty of options, but some nice and cute lace can be found for example on Etsy and AliExpress if you search for "mesh lace" or "embroidery lace" + the element you are looking for.
Just remember that not everything you find would be suitable for lolita fashion, although there is so much cute stuff available!
Some border-print and all-over print fabric from Beautifulwork and lace from Lacetrimwholesalers, both on Etsy.

So, it is not all that complicated as it might seem, you just have to start somewhere and go from there.
If you have any questions I'd like to help of course, although things like actual patterns and such would take a bit too much of my time at the moment. What also could help is to join lolita sewing groups on Facebook, there are plenty of us who are willing to help out a creative fellow in need!

2 opmerkingen:

  1. That was a very useful article, especially the suggestions on where and how to find good quality materials. If you ever wanted to expand on how to spot good quality fabric or lace online vs the tell-tale signs of a poor quality one, that would be an incredibly useful resource too! Last time I looked into it, the only information I could find related more to spotting good quality in person, but that's not always possible, so knowing what to look out for (e.g. fabric names or how it looks on the photo etc.) would help a lot. I keep meaning to learn how to sew, for various reasons, and for various reasons again keep putting it away. My handmade Lolita stuff so far is limited to small accessories, like jewellery, which I really enjoy doing, but sometimes you want to do more and challenge yourself a little. I'll get there, eventually. :P

    1. Aw, great to know that you found it useful! I'll note down your tip about writing a seperate article on good fabric & lace, although yes it is hard to see that online sometimes, the photos aren't always 100% true to the article.

      Well, making accessories is very nice to, I think lots of people do that! It isn't too hard to learn to sew a dress, I think maybe in accessories there are far more details to be attached and such than in some dresses. But yeah, you can always make some plans, buy some fabric and try it out if you have time ^_^ it's really nice to do if you like crafting, and you end up with something to wear as well!