Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sulky Thread: A Sewing Nightmare

Recently I decided to turn some fancy fabric I had laying around into a dress, so I had to go get supplies and a pattern to use since I didn't have any fancy dress patterns lying around. Other than a few surprises about the dress pattern that I chose mainly for how pretty it looked ("Wait, this thing needs boning!?") things were going well with the dress making. Until I actually tried sewing it all together. I had bought a pretty, shiny thread to match the fabric I had, but regretted the decision almost instantly. I'd barely sewn three inches on my machine before the bobbin thread broke. Confused, I pulled out the bobbin and checked to make sure the thread hadn't tangled itself up like it so loves to do for me. Nope, thread had just snapped, so I reloaded the bobbin and started again. Three inches later, the bobbin thread had broken again. Frustrated, I pulled the bobbin out again to try to figure out what was going on and why the thread was breaking. Nothing seemed to be wrong, so I reloaded the thread into the bobbin holder. The thread broke as I tried to pull it into place in the metal bobbin holder. I then got very frustrated as I realized the flaw wasn't with the machine, but the overpriced, silky thread I'd bought. I'd been hesitant enough to buy the thread in the first place as I'd forgotten to bring a sample of the fabric to color match with, but now this was making me regret getting the thread at all. In the end, I got frustrated and put the dress aside for a later time when I'd be less frustrated with the whole thing.

Overall, I've found the thread I got, Sulky thread, has been a huge letdown. I've ended up just hand sewing the whole thing since I wanted to finish the dress and don't want to have wasted my time entirely. So let this be a warning to you: Don't buy Sulky thread unless your machine has a plastic bobbin. Which, to my knowledge, is not a real thing. It'll just be easier if you buy a cotton thread instead of wasting your time and money on the shiny Sulky threads.

Good luck with all of your sewing endeavors!

Check me out on Twitter: @animlolicouture

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Peticoat Debate: My Views

So, as many Lolitas know, there has been an argument raging on the internet over whether Lolita is still Lolita without a petticoat. Obviously there are many different perspectives on this as the Lolita style can be defined many different ways. Here are my personal opinions on what defines Lolita and whether a petticoat is necessary or not.

I've done fairly extensive research on what the Lolita style is as my Senior project was based around the style and also due to personal curiosity. From my research I've seen that the Lolita style is based on Rococo and Victorian styles and that is also a fairly loose fashion. There are many different substyles that break the "rules" of what is thought of as traditional Lolita. While many people insist that having a petticoat to achieve the cupcake shaped skirt is what makes Lolita Lolita, I instead state that it is optional. This is because of what Lolita is: a style based on Victorian and Rococo styles. I admit, poofy skirts were popular in those styles. However, Lolita is very marginally based on these styles. Many of the original Lolita ensembles were petticoat-less. And there are several substyles, including Casual and Punk Lolita, that rarely use or avoid petticoats. Some Lolitas might say these aren't true Lolita styles because they lack the proper shape. I say they are perfectly legitimate Lolita as they have elements of Rococo and Victorian fashion. Very watered down in the case of Punk Lolita, but still there. I've found that many of the "rules" of Lolita are really just suggestions that have been misinterpreted as being rules. It is for this reason that many Lolitas have a very strict image of what Lolita is. Lolita is just like any other style: It changes over time. Does the Punk style (Tthe one Punk Lolita draws from) still look the same today as it did a decade ago? Not entirely. There are still elements, but accessories have changed, the style has become more mainstream, and not everybody really knows what Punk is. Anyways, back to Lolita. I admit that many dresses and jumpers look much cuter with petticoats. However, some dresses look better with no petticoat at all. Not to mention if one wears petticoats all the time it can get quite cumbersome.

Ultimately, I feel the decision on whether or not to wear a petticoat is up to the wearer. If you insist Lolita has to be worn with a petticoat, fine. Just please don't attack the Lolitas that prefer not to wear petticoats all the time. We all love the same style and should be spreading our love of the style, not tearing potential wearers down with all the "rules" of Lolita. So everyone, let's all take a deep breath, relax, and wear Lolita as we choose. がんばってください!Go for it!

Check me out on Twitter: @animlolicouture

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cosplay: Homemade VS Store bought

For some new cosplayers, the thought of making a costume can seem rather intimidating, especially when one's sewing skills aren't the best. Some of us worry about whether we can finish the costume in time or if we even have a clue about how to start. There's also the fear of spending so much time on something you absolutely love just to have people tell you it's terrible looking. For reasons like this, some cosplayers opt for store bought costumes as they are simpler than making your own and only require money to get. However, many of them are expensive and made with shiny materials, such as sateen or satin, or other materials that do not fit the costume. Some cosplays are also made out of cotton, which isn't a problem by itself, however, the cotton fabric can cause the costume to lack the feel of the costume in the anime, manga, or comic. For example, if you tried to make Catwoman's skin tight bodysuit out of cotton, it wouldn't look the same as using a leather-like stretch fabric. Also, in some cheaper cosplays, details are missed or added that are not in the original character images. For example, the Project Touhou cosplays I recognize on Bodyline are inexpensive, but missing things such as small accessories, bows, and detailing. If you just want to cosplay a specific character and have fun, store bought cosplays can work just fine. However, if you're slightly OCD like me and want to have the details as close to the reference images as possible, homemade cosplay might be the choice for you.

 One of the best things about homemade cosplay is that you have complete control over your cosplay. The only things limiting you are your skills, time, and budget. You can modify the costume to make it more wearable if you choose, or shift the hemline up a few inches to suit your style. Not only that, but you can make your own creations based off of your imagination. Not everyone can say that they not only made their costume, but designed it as well. You can also chose the fabrics and materials you use. Don't like the fact that they used a satin for the top in a Miku cosplay you're looking at? Make your own! Many patterns can be modified or have a part used instead of the whole to achieve the look you want. Several of my homemade cosplays used parts from various patterns I had lying around mixed in with modified patterns I made myself. Nothing's more satisfying in cosplay crafting than butchering up a muslin pattern and having the finished piece look amazing!

I admit, I'm not the best seamstress and have no clue how to make items like weapons, armor, or shoes for cosplay. However, when I make cosplays, I try my best to keep it as close to the original character as possible. For this reason I choose to make my costumes instead of buy them. However, due to my lack of skills in pattern making and sewing, I'm limited in what I can make. This doesn't stop me though as I learn more with each cosplay or dress I make. Many times have I asked my mom, who used to make her own clothes, how to do something while I'm making a cosplay. Sometimes though, I end up relying on my best judgment while creating a costume. Things don't always turn out the way I want them to, but I always learn something new or think of a different way to do something.

Good luck in your cosplay endeavors, whether store bought or homemade!

Check me out on Twitter: @animlolicouture

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Prints in Lolita: Why I Avoid them

Hello everybody! I'd like to discuss my take on prints that tend to be everywhere in Lolita nowadays. Please try not to be offended as this is my personal take on prints. If you love prints, that's fine! We all have different tastes in clothing and how we perceive things. So let's begin!

The main thing that puts me off of prints is that many of them are overdone. They have large pictures of cakes, teddies, and rainbows covering a significant portion of the dress. A good example would be this Conversation Balloons dress. The items in the pattern are large, covering a large portion of the bottom of the skirt. Smaller pieces from the border are scattered along the stripes on the rest of the dress. I personally feel that the larger prints like this stand out too much and add a bit too much of a childish element to the dress, especially when the print is of toys. Many times I feel that the dress is overwhelmed by the large images in the border, especially if they are very different colors from the dress like in the Balloon dress. These prints can look cute in certain colors, but I personally feel that they wouldn't look as good being worn outside of the catalogs. When I was first getting in to Lolita, I used a site that allowed you to design a dress and order it to play around and make "dream" dresses. Many times I chose prints that had a print that blended fairly well with the main color, like this Soft Cream dress. However these dresses were never anything I'd actually buy, just something I thought would look cute at the time I made them. Looking back on the dresses I designed, I still think they're cute, but have no interest in actually buying and wearing them at this point in time. I still appreciate these prints, but find them to be rather loud and cluttered.

However, not all prints are bad in my sights. There's plenty of prints I could see myself wearing that are simple, or small prints. Some examples would be gingham or a print with a small pattern of flowers or fruit on it. I actually own a skirt with a small pattern of flowers on it that I made and enjoy wearing. When I do wear it though, I tend to keep all of the other pieces of my outfit solid colors so that the skirt stands out and the outfit doesn't look cluttered. I've contemplated making a matching blouse with the remaining curtain, but I couldn't see myself wearing it with the matching skirt or even a plain one. Another take on prints I like is a simple line art printed in a contrasting color on a otherwise fairly plain dress. An example is this Moi Meme Moitie JSK which has an elegant print on a simple black JSK. I love Moi Meme Moitie's method of doing prints as they are simple and elegant. One of my original loves when I was new to Lolita was a dress similar to the JSK above with a white print on a black jumper. Even now I still love still love the simplicity and elegance of Mana's designs.

So you may be wondering, what do I wear instead of prints? My answer to that is: solid colors with lace accents. There are many cute dresses out there that use white lace to contrast against a solid colored dress. I have several dresses like this and plan to make another for myself before too long with one of my thrift store finds.

What's your take on prints? Like, love, hate? Let me know in the comments below! Try not to flame or troll please!

Follow me on twitter to support me and get updates! @animlolicouture