Alice Apron commission!

So I have this apron that I made, using the pattern found in the Gothic Lolita Bible #9 (for sale in my Etsy store) and I received a request for a custom commission. My client loved the design, but hoped for a longer skirt and a floral motif in the lace. Her party isn’t until the summer, so there was no hurry to finish. But she paid right away, so I thought to work on it right away and finish as soon as possible.

It’s kind of a funny design, and so I thought also to take pictures of my work to do a sort-of tutorial for it. Perhaps I will digitize the pattern to make it available, too.

Alice Apron GLB21-1Alice Apron GLB21-3Alice Apron GLB21-2

Finished product first!

So my client asked for a floral motif in lace instead of the treble symbol I usually use, and because the lace I found was a natural or off-white color, we matched it with some natural/beige cotton fabric I had. This ended up being a perfect decision because her dress will also have a natural/beige accent. I am very happy with the result. The skirt I made just a few inches longer. The original design has a 14” skirt, and so I made it 21” to cover the hem of a typical Lolita dress length. Voila!

Belle Floral Apron - Commission-2Belle Floral Apron - Commission-4Belle Floral Apron - Commission-1Belle Floral Apron - Commission-3

I have lots of lace choices, and so I showed her pictures of various lace that are about 10 – 15cm wide, and she chose this one. It happened to be the only natural/beige color of lace in the selection, which turned out to be perfect for her needs! I quite liked it myself, so I was happy to work with it.

Cyber Monday Sale on Etsy!

Right now, I’m offering 20% off my Etsy shop for all my blog readers. Just type in the coupon code cybermonday20 during checkout. Many items have free shipping included, too, so be sure to look for that.

Offer is good until Dec. 1!

The (false) Value of Clothes

I find myself in constant frustration regarding the prices of handmade garments. Mostly, I’m frustrated by the general lack of understanding of their value. It’s no secret that we have cheap clothes now and that it’s ruining the market for custom or handmade one-offs. So I’d like to address this.

Consider that the minimum wage in the US is $7.25. That’s federal. It’s different, too, depending on where you live. I’m in New Mexico, so that’s $7.50/hour. So, I don’t have an army of workers making 100+ units of a single dress. This is mass production, and the combination of output as well as foreign labor wages, makes mass produced clothing less expensive.

I’m just one girl, and I can only do so much. But when I make a dress, I do everything from the tracing or drafting of my pattern, cutting, construction, details, and finishing. I even package my garments when they’re shipped to my customer. At my fastest, I could make a simple men’s western shirt in about 5 hours. Add in time for cutting, and it’s more like 6 hours. If I’m paying myself minimum wage, that’s $45 for just my time. Materials for that shirt, which is about 2.5 yards of regular fabric at $4/yd and another 1 yard of contrast at $9, plus tax (and sometimes shipping) . . . materials alone then would be anywhere from $22 – $28. For one shirt.

I’d like to then sell that shirt for $65-75 dollars. That’s still if I’m paying myself NM minimum wage, I copy, cut, and sew as fast as I can, and buy the bare minimum of materials. Do you see where this is going?

you sew right make it for $50

Clothing manufacturing has been outsourced and exploited for decades now, and it’s driven the price of clothing down to where home sewing can’t compete. The only way we can compete is by marketing our garments as special, unique, and custom. It should have value as a unique item that doesn’t have thousands of copies being worn on other people’s bodies.

The sad thing is that Etsy has been infiltrated by sellers that are more than likely dishonest about their “handmade” label to the garment they sell.

 

 

Some examples

Rockabilly Dress

Shop: LadyMayraClothing

This dress is selling for 49.90. I’m sorry, but that’s just not right.

It’s also labeled as “Gothic” and “Lolita” in the same line as “Rockabilly” which has nothing to do with Lolita or NeoVictorian fashion.

Also, it’s being sold from Bangkok, Thailand. I’m really not sure how they can conceivably sell this dress for under $50, if it’s apparently handmade by one person. I don’t believe this for a second. OR maybe their cost of living is much lower than ours. The picture looks commercial, though, and the quality looks mass produced. They claim to have more than 10. All of their dresses look mass produced, and are priced generally the same.

This is falsely listed as “handmade” in the way that we’re familiar with it. And it has hundreds of favorites.

Blouse from China

Dress from chinaA chiffon blouse like this for $40??

Oh, look, it’s from China. This skirt for $40 too?

The lace and the ruffles take time to ruffle and apply. The chiffon needs to have a finished edge, which also takes time. Look at the pintucks, for goodness sake. $40?

This same Etsy shop is selling another chiffon blouse, with pintucks and lace, for $30! This is just unfair, and the only thing I can do is point it out and hope people agree with me about the true cost of clothing. Especially special niche fashions like Lolita.

So is it suddenly okay for TaoBao Lolita sellers to sell on Etsy, a website that is meant to be a hub to buy unique and truly handmade items?

Oh, also, for a limited time, if you read my blog, you can get 20% off at my store! Just type in the code cybermonday20 when you check out on Etsy. This offer is only good until December 1, so hurry! And thanks for reading!

I made headdresses! And updated things!

After much suspense, we have finally added new products to our web store! And be sure to stay tuned, because we’ll be adding a lot more stuff. Most of it is handmade by me, and some is sourced to be a good inclusion in one’s beginning Lolita wardrobe (make up, eyelashes, etc.)…

Clothing

Most of my sizes are default small or medium. The mannequin shown in all pictures is a 26.5″ waist and 34″ Bust, which according to this chart, is a small. However, things like skirts, jumpskirts, and even dresses (one pieces) have shirring in the back to allow for multi-size wear. The tea party dress, in particular, could fit up to 38″ bust and 32″ waist. It is loosely fit on the mannequin I have and has full shirring in the back – which is why it’s classified as a M/L.

Custom sizes are always available upon inquiry. Please be sure to take your measurements correctly with a tailor’s tape measure (the soft ones, not a carpenter’s tape measure :P ).

Black and Gold Filigree SkirtTea Party JSK-1 Pintuck Blouse 1 - Short Sleeve-1 Ice Cream Parlour Skirt-1-2 Creamy Bloomers-6

Headdresses

In the first picture, I used a pattern from Otome no Sewing Book 5. I call it a rigid headdress because it has an ultra firm inferfacing. The second is a typical round headdress but the lace all around it was crocheted by hand (by me!) as well as hand made ribbon roses with pearl accents. The third is a flower crown type headband. I enjoyed wearing it on Sunday of the Santa Fe Comic Con. :)

Pink Lace - Rigid Headdress-3 Crochet Lace Round Headdress-2 Pink and Purple Rose Half Crown-2

Otome no Sewing Book 5 – Rigid Headdress

Rigid Headdress 3_smOkay, so it’s always possible something got lost in translation. A lot of the time, I don’t translate every word in the instructions given in these books. Most of the construction methods for the clothes are basic (to me) and I can figure out how things are put together without painstakingly translating everything that’s said. I also draft lining pieces and make my clothes fully lined, which is not included in any of these books. For the blouses, I add things like plackets instead of just leaving the seam a little open, therefore making my work a touch more professional.

I made this “rigid headdress” according to some of the instructions. I had to cut out a piece of Ultra Firm interfacing (Pellon, our trusty interfacing friend) 9cm x 24cm. However, now that I look at the directions, I think this was slightly wrong, as it was indicating how large to cut the overlayed fabric to the “bonne foundation” ( ボンネ土台 ) piece. The ボンネ土台 or “bonne foundation” (bonne = bonnet) is listed as a “commercially available” item and to buy 1 unit. So it’s a ready-made thing that, if you were living in Japan, you could probably buy at any of their major craft stores (Tomato!! <3 ). Unfortunately for me, these things are impossible to find here in the states. I can barely find it if I put in the Japanese text into google, even! Lots of pictures, but this tells me nothing about what they would be called in English, or where I can buy the “bonne foundation” thingy anyway.

I guess if you were into millinery and hat making, you’d use buckram with millinery wire (part of the instructions indicate bending the headdress to the curve of one’s head). You’d make your own shape similar to what’s pictured – I noticed a tapering at both ends in the pictures of the finished product and wondered why it looked different to the pattern piece indication that’s perfectly oval. After making this tapered oval shape out of heavyweight buckram, you’d line the edges with wire and cover it crinoline bias tape. Then make the exact same shape out of quilt batting. Make the shape indicated in the book (9cm x 24cm) and cover your piece, basting around the edges, and pulling the thread to gather it on the underside of the head piece.

I’m sure all this is much easier if you could just buy the base “bonne” thing, but you could make it yourself. Or you could do what I did and just use Ultra Firm II by Pellon.

Some places in the U.S. like Hobby Lobby carry Clover brand products, and I went ahead and bought four different sizes and types of “flower making plates”. A little time consuming, but it does make pretty flowers! My headdress, however, was made with traditional ribbon roses using 2″ double face satin ribbon. No template needed for that. :)

Here are the instructions for the headdress and flower making.

Rigid Headdress 1Rigid Headdress 2

Otome no Sewing Book 2

Cover (744x1024)I feel that perhaps an analysis of one of these mooks is long in coming. With the new free online OCR, I can finally translate these books a little better. Japanese character recognition has been very elusive up until now.

This is a sewing pattern book/magazine (mook) that is published by Boutique SHA (They have a blog in English!). This is the same publishing house that released the earlier versions of these books called Gosu Rori, but have since cleaned up their format to make a nice layout that’s much less busy than originally presented.

Read more…>

Albuquerque Comic Con 2015 @ ABQ Convention Center

Updates pending! As soon as I get our photos together from the con!

In the meantime, I want to say thank you to everyone who supported my business this weekend. You have no idea how much it means to me when someone buys my work. I sold an Alice apron, my sunflower JSK, and my Sailor OP! I’m just amazed at the overwhelming positive response. It’s really encouraging and makes me want to try more.

I can’t believe I don’t have a proper picture of the sunflower dress. I decided NOT to add the yellow ribbon bows to the final piece, and you can’t see the bottom hem with the yellow dyed cotton lace. I’ll have to make another one, I suppose!

Craft Carol 244 Sailor Lolita OP 008Sailor Lolita OP 007Sailor Lolita OP 005Sailor Lolita OP 004Sailor Lolita OP 003

 

Above is my prototype for the apron. It’s an Innocent World design, with a few minor tweaks, from GLB no. 9. Below is my booth at Comic Con this year, looking a little sparse on the last day! Thanks again, everyone! Storenvy will be updated soon!

My booth at ACC 2014

Please feel free to send me questions, comments, or commission inquiries! I’m alive this year!