Tried my hand at some chroma key. It was fun!
Oh, and also I talk about my awesome tights that more people need to know about.
Tried my hand at some chroma key. It was fun!
Oh, and also I talk about my awesome tights that more people need to know about.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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 discovered the home manicure. I’m not talking about a file and polish. I kind of fell in love with professional manicures a couple years ago before my trip to Japan transpired. I was a nail biter, you see. Life long, since I was three years old. In my adulthood, I had somewhat staved off my habit, but still found myself nibbling at snags and such. My nails have always been quite brittle because of the nail biting. Even when they were finally allowed to grow long and (slightly) stronger, they still tore and broke easily.
So I got fed up with short, not so feminine nails. Found a local nail salon. Got acrylics. Not crazy long ones, but with extensions cut to a “sporty” length, they were longer than I could ever grow them naturally. And they were strong! I was so happy, I kept going in for fill-ins every few weeks for the next couple months. Taking them off was not so easy, of course. I thought two months was enough time to have pretty nails, and taking them off to let the nails breathe would be another couple months.
The soak-off at the nail salon was the longest hour of my life… Especially with the inane talk shows they had playing on the TV at the time. Well, this is how we learn.
After a break, I had them done again, on and off for the next year or so. Spending $25 – $30 every time. I felt I had watched the process enough times that I could teach myself how to do it at home.
YouTube is also an incredible resource for learning.
I had heard of “Gel Nails” before, but no salon in my area (that is the small town of Taos, NM) offers gel nails. They do the old fashion acrylic powder with various colored tips to choose from. Most people settle for the tip color variation rather than get the full deco nail treatment that has been popular in Asia for the last decade or so now.
AND – something that kind of bothered me – in my preparation before ever embarking on having my nails done with acrylics, I read everywhere that there’s a procedure to follow as far as preparing the nail, pushing back cuticles, making sure the nail is cleaned with solution, etc. My local nail salons did not do these things, probably for the sake of expediency. Though I read these were important steps to take to be sure the health of the nail underneath was not compromised, and to keep the acrylic layer from lifting too soon.
Luckily, I never experienced adverse effects from having the acrylics applied haphazardly. I also doused my nails in tea tree oil, and vitamin E just in case. Amazingly, my cuticles had never looked better than when I have my falsies on.
Anyway, it’s huge in Asia, and if you go to a place like Tokyo, you’ll also notice it’s expensive. Just the base treatment (without all the nail art) will run you $50 bucks to start. They charge per nail, and for each element you choose to add to your design (they have an a la carte kind of thing).
Don’t get me wrong. “You get what you pay for…” certainly applies if you get your nails done professionally in Japan. You’ll get a great result. For quite a bit of money. Many women have them there. I can’t tell you the countless amount of ladies I saw on the Tokyo subway with awesome nails, covered in gems and metal studs, perfectly rounded and polished.
And the magazines on the subject are numerous! Here’s just one called NAIRUAATO (Nail Art)… which I think is a special issue of Nail Venus, the main magazine I’ve seen for nails in Japan (they seriously have tons though). Nail salons from all over Japan will submit their top nail tech’s latest designs, and you can browse them like a catalogue. As well as some tutorials for the DIY crowd, and advertisements for nail schools.
Not wanting to spend that kind of money, in Tokyo or elsewhere, I decided to go the DIY route and investigated tutorials online, as well as supplies and kits. For $50 dollars, I could get a basic UV Gel Nail kit on eBay (or Aliexpress) with free shipping. It even comes with a UV lamp, and several colors of gel, as well as the clear, pink, and white basics. Brushes, solutions, nail buffers, files, et al. As you see here:
Even rhinestones, uv gel top coat, clippers for artificial nails, stickers for builder gel… The brand name that I could read is called “Fina” (the cursive F at the beginning is sometimes misread as Sina or Lina). It comes from China, but that doesn’t detract from the quality – for a home DIY experiment, anyway. This is really affordable.
You can be as creative as you want, and do your nails so often that if you’ve ever had them done professionally, you’ll know this will pay for itself after just two or three times. If you’re the artistic type and want to start learning to do your own nails professionally at home, this is a great way to begin. And this is just the starter kit!
The amount of different elements you can purchase, inexpensively, to add to your nail art journey is boundless it seems. You can use your own nail polishes, water transfer decals, stickers, nail stamping kits, charms (they sell special tiny ones for nail art specifically).
It might take a little practice, and you may need to set aside enough time in the day to do so, but once you get going, it’s a really fun art project that saves you money and makes your nails look great.
I learned that you don’t need all the professional solutions they sell (like the nail shine liquid or nail prep solution). You can just use rubbing alcohol for both prepping the nail (to dry it for better adhesion of the gel) and for wiping off the excess gel after a UV cure.
Also a helpful thing NOT included in this set (I bought mine separately) is an electric nail drill. Now, the pro salons have a Dremmel set up. But you can buy electric drills that are less robust AND Affordable (I’m talking $12-$30). The one I purchased was the Vogue electric nail drill, and it comes with a bunch of sanding drums, as well as special bits for other things.
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.
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!
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!
Please feel free to send me questions, comments, or commission inquiries! I’m alive this year!
Well, I suppose things never go the way we initially intend them to go. So far, this year has been so much of a roller coaster that it’s been hard to get my act together. Many changes happened and kept disrupting the delicate balance that is my life right now. Still trying to figure myself out and decide on solid goals. I feel I’m still young enough to be able to be indecisive.
Aside from a lot of personal stuff that I won’t talk about here, my precious cat Merlin ended up getting killed by either a neighbor’s dog or coyote. We have coyotes where I live, in the high deserts of Northern New Mexico. I was so completely devastated, I went into a depression for two solid weeks. He was the best little cat anyone could ask for. Willful, strong, quick, and oh so loving. We had a special relationship. I loved when he climbed onto my shoulder so I could chauffer him around. He was an ear nibbler. He would wake me up with ear kisses. I’m just so sad that I won’t get that back. Stupid cat, I love him so much.
In lieu of that, I knew he wouldn’t want me to waste the space in my home. He was a very happy little cat. The best thing I could do to honor his memory is to save a new little kitten and give them a happy, loving home. I ended up getting two of them. Brother and sister, I’ve named them Zephyr and Luna. Yesterday was their first day home!
So, with new kittens to care for, I’m cheering up a little bit. This whole year has been weird so far, and I can’t figure out why it had to be. Apparently, among all my friends, there’s been quite a bit of upheaval in our lives. Some less than others. In any case, I’m trying to get back on track here. Motivation is in short supply when there’s so much bad news to read in the headlines.
I was thinking earlier this year to attend ACE as I did last year. I had a table and sold jewelry and a few other sundries that I like; stationery, watch necklaces, tattoo tights, et al. But with the sudden death of my cat and now new kittens to raise, I need to stay home with them instead. The convention will be next weekend, and I might still go down for a day while my husband watches the kittens. I just can’t commit to the whole weekend.
You may have noticed the tab on this page entitled “Shop” takes you to my new(ish) Storenvy shop. I’m trying Storenvy instead of Etsy for a couple reasons. One is you can custom design the store front. Two, the listings are free. The overall layout of a store is much more personal. AND I can sell other things that I didn’t personally hand-make. Like liquid liner, or other cosmetics in cute containers. Asian style eyelashes. And tights. I LOVE tights. Especially good white ones that you somehow can’t find in adult sizes. Or Tattoo tights. Those are fun.
But I also have things like jewelry, resin pieces and other things. I made some awesome lip balm flavors as well. And eventually I’ll be listing my clothes. Making clothes takes a while when I’m all by my onesy though, so the little items and third party items are up there first.
Here are some items I just got in:
Beauty Angel Mineral BB Cream from Korea. Comes in three shades, 1 – 3, although it tends to blend very well in general with any Caucasian skintones. I’m still on the lookout for darker tones for those with darker complexions. As these come from Asia, however, I haven’t had any luck yet. I know that Western companies are now carrying what they call “BB Cream”, offering it in more tones than just the three. So far, those products just make me break out.
I’ve used many BB Creams from Asia, though, and have never looked back. These particular creams are really light on the skin, feeling like powder when it dries, and it has a floral scent as well. These are my new favorites.
Liquid Liners. Maybe its because I live in a small town, but a good liquid eyeliner seems really hard to find at places like Walgreens, Walmart, and especially the grocery store. And when I DO find it at those places, it’s subpar. Again, that’s probably just me. But I figured I’d look for some quality liquid liner from Asia. Behold, I have. And they come in cute packaging. Also, mascara in cute bottles.
Watch necklaces. I love these things so much, I think I’ve started collecting them. There are so many different styles, and when I see one I like, I can’t seem to help myself. Plus, they go fantastically with the Classic Lolita look. Or any Lolita look. Here’s some new ones I got in.
Hopefully, I will be posting more often now. I have so many projects on my plate, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. But I’m taking it a step at a time. Please check out my storenvy, and if you have any suggestions, feel free to share them. ^.^
So I recently discovered a lovely little place called Lace Market. It’s like ebay (*gasp* should I even give it credence with that kind of comparison??). But it IS a comprehensive website that showcases previously owned Lolita items that you purchase, very similar to the aforementioned auction site.
It IS an auction site, so the item will of course be given to the highest bidder. I quite like the layout, and it seems like the new place to go to in lieu of using the Livejournal Comm sales. I’ll confess I haven’t used Lace Market yet, but I do intend to very soon. I just wanted to share my initial enthusiasm for this new Lolita fashion marketplace.
And don’t forget, kids, support indie designers and sellers! Be responsible when saving up for brand! And do your research in properly taking care of your expensive pieces. Cherish them as collector’s items so that they may last for years to come, and be acceptable for the next lucky owner of your pretty things.
When selling your items to others, please take a few simple steps for the garment to be in an acceptable condition.
1) Try to iron your garment as best as you can, according to the instructions for the particular fiber content the piece may be made of.
2) Be honest and declare any stains or defects when describing the product. Honesty about such things may help to sell the product better, as well as help your reputation in being a responsible and honest seller. And if there are issues like tears or holes, there are handy Lolitas they may be able to accept the product to purchase and fix it as well. So be honest and don’t be discouraged about tears or stains.
3) Also, for stains (especially for that terrible underarm area), I have found that the OxiClean Max Force pre-treater gel stick works wonders. Any OxiClean product works really well for stains when treating the spot directly. Oxiclean is also great for odors. My husband smokes cigars, and I have strict rules about not bringing it into my studio (if you knew who my husband is, then you’d understand it’s impossible to get him to stop – heh). If you don’t want to use chemical laundry detergent to remove odors, you can also use vodka! Ha!
4) Be honest about having pets. I have two cats. I have rules about them not climbing over everything, but they are cats. And so being honest about being a household with cats (or dogs) is important. People can have serious allergies, and this should be respected. Luckily, I have a friend who is allergic to cats who I used to test my things on after I’ve thoroughly washed and deodorized them (again, with the oxiclean). So far, so good.
5) And I see this one a lot – price your items reasonably. I mean, really. I don’t know how people think they can get away with asking ~$150 for a Bodyline anything.
6) If I ever sell to you, and you have a problem with anything about my product that I sold you, I promise I will try my very best to be as understanding and flexible about the issue. I also expect you, the buyer, to do the same. So basically, this rule is to be civilized adults, which should stand for living life in general. But I suppose it doesn’t hurt to repeat in a while.
So I think we should support this new thing. I would be curious about what comments you have on this website, your thoughts on your experience if you’ve purchased from there, maybe ideas on how we can improve it. Please share your thoughts.
There’s been this red fabric on my table for ages now. A friend of mine requested a red, tube-like dress, and so we found some fabric we liked (and we really like it) at Joann Fabrics (way overpriced, but whatevs). I never learned how to draft for stretch fabrics, so after my failed attempt at doing so, I found a pattern relatively close to what she wanted. I copied the right size, folded the flared skirt in a bit at the hem ‘cause that shit was funky, and voila!
A strapless, stretch knit cocktail dress. It even stays up really nicely with a bit of elastic around the bust. It looks better on a person, just sayin’.
Next was a white blouse that was a last minute challenge that I accepted. Usually, blouses took me a while to finish, as I would hem and haw frequently about the details. This time, I had a deadline, and it was a little over a week that it needed to be finished and sent out.
I finished it in three days, finished the details on the fourth, and packaged it up on the fifth for sending. This was excellent practice for speedy sewing techniques. Got some nice tips from the book that another friend of mine let me borrow indefinitely (and I love her to death for all the books she lets me borrow).
Best tip I ever learned was to press the pintucks before cutting out the yoke. Now it just seems silly that I didn’t know to do that before. ^^;
Pretty happy with that yoke, I would say . . .
Plackets are not part of the original pattern. Instead, they have you making a faux-placket with the inner seam of the sleeve, and that’s just not right. So I made real plackets. Nya nya. :P
1) Pinning the stand to the collar, 2) folding over the cuff at the hem of the sleeve, 3) some nice straight stitches on the top side of the sleeve cuff! *^.^*
This blouse is a size large, which is, according to the book:
I will be experimenting with grading this pattern to a larger size. Hopefully. Soon. Yes, soon…
One of my weakest points, I’m afraid, is setting goals for myself. I tend to not set goals because then I’m not as disappointed if I don’t keep them. This was my typical modus operandi as a teenager and younger person. But as we all know, it is time to grow the eff~ up and get work done. ^-^;;
Since my last update on this blog, Valentine’s Day, nearly an entire year has passed! I started a secondary blog with the intention of cataloguing my growing Gothic and Lolita Bible collection, and their respective patterns found inside. As an avid seamstress, the patterns are the prize, and I’ve even added several Gosu Rori and Otome no Sewing to the library. Unsure of how to proceed with THAT blog, I posted a few project articles there. As all this is still rather new to me, organizing has become somewhat of a jumble.
I would, however, like to continue this website as my main blog and project showcase. Very soon in the future, I intend to have this site as my store as well. The secondary blog will continue for archiving and cataloging my collection of patterns.
With more projects ahead or completed, I look to gain more of an audience to promote my work, and hopefully to earn respect within the very discerning crowd of Lolita fashion. But I don’t just want to broadcast everything one-sided. If I can garner enough interest, I’d like to have an open forum discussing possible dress designs, prints, themes, even favorite color combinations! I’ll make what I like and share it, but I hope to make things we all might enjoy to wear. ^.^
So I thought it might help to come up with a project model or two… or three, perhaps. Really just ideas at this point, but I’m trying to think of anything that might serve as an appropriate structure and goal to showcase my adventures in sewing. Unsure of what kind of deadline I should give myself, I’m sort of avoiding making any at this point. But I have tossed around ideas, like finishing a project in a week, or bi-weekly. Perhaps more time for something like an original themed design (I’ll explain in a minute).
Here it is. My dirty little secret. I’m a fabric hoarder. Well, maybe it’s not that surprising, especially if you’re familiar with the world of sewing. It’s a thing. “Ooh, look at that fabric! Don’t know what I’ll make out of it, but I need it,” and so on. I figure I have plenty to choose from, but I have to actively choose it. Most of the time, I look over all my fabric and say to myself, “Yes. Yes, this is good. I have these,” and then ponder the numerous things I could make out of it all.
Which isn’t how it should be done. Too many options make me feel at a loss of what I should do next. So my goal is to actually choose a fabric, and make something without thinking too hard about it.
So for this project, it’s “Choose a fabric, and design something!”. I kind of want to call it something creepy, like, The Culling . . . (>~_~)>
The following is only a small selection of my fabric collection:
I have some awesome chiffons, with sources for many more colors, super soft and sturdy peachskin in a hunter green, ivory georgette, and too many prints. We’ll see how much of it I can use!
In this category, I toyed with another inventive “start making stuff at random” idea. A little while ago, I ordered from the website Zipperstop.com (yes, occasionally, I’ll spend my time browsing zippers – whateva. I do what I want >.<).
There is a buy option to get 25 mixed colors of the kind of zipper of your choice. Any one kind of zipper in 25 different colors. So I shrugged and said, “Sure! Let see what I get!” I got some 22” standard coil invisible zippers . . . in ALL the colors! So what to do with all these zippers? Maybe I could pick one and make a dress to match it’s color?
This one is an ambitious one, I think. The idea here is to come up with a completely original design, drawing it out, choosing the colors and accessories around a specific theme. For example, one theme I’ve been pondering to do is Zodiac sign specific, i.e. Aquarius, Sagittarius, etc . . .
I’ve lost confidence in my drawing ability, but maybe if I give myself a little push, I could try to learn to do it again. This project idea would have a longer buffer time. Maybe this should be more like bi-annual. It’d be a lot of work, from paper to finished garment, but it’d be a good achievement, and great practice of my rusty skills.
This one’s the easiest one. It’s all laid out in the Gothic Lolita Bibles. This I could probably do every few days, maybe a weekly project. Choose a pattern from any GLB (I’ll even take suggestions!) and make it! There’s lots of good patterns in those. Some of them kind of lacking, others repetitive, but they’re easy and fun. I figured doing this might also help others through these patterns without needing to read the Japanese.
For example, I’ve been wanting to make this cute little fur hat from #42 for a while now, and I just acquired the softest white faux fur to make it out of. The fur was for a Santa Lolita design idea I had, but I may not get to that in time for Xmas this year afterall. So furry hat perhaps!
This could be fun!