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!

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015

This was my first year attending the new Comic Con in Santa Fe. Brought to you by the same company as the Albuquerque Comic Con, which I have attended several times, and twice now as a vendor! It goes without saying that we sure had a good time at this one. Here’s a quick clip of what my table looked like!

I want to thank everyone who came by my girly little table and said nice things about my work, and especially to those who purchased items from me. I truly appreciate the support. Though I’m loath to confess a bit of my personal life, things have been exceedingly difficult this year, and I don’t think I would have been as successful as I have been without the help of some very good, kind, and compassionate friends. This explains why I haven’t updated this website since February. I was forced to move out from my home of seven years, and find my own way. Why this has happened is perhaps too sensitive to share. All I can say is that life happens, and everyone is on their own side.

Due to this, I found myself scrambling to make do over the summer and floundering a bit, as life is wont to do. This year has yielded some extraordinary opportunities, however, and if it hadn’t been for a little tragedy, I might have never found them.

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 070While I have been ensconced in Taos these last seven years, an opportunity to work in film in costumes – in Albuquerque – has proven itself to be very attractive. I got my first chance to try this new thing over August and September. I worked as a Costume PA (production assistant), which is how costumers enter into such a business to learn the ropes. The hours were very long, and tiresome, but amazingly I found the energy to run around for 12 hours or more, 5-6 days a week for four and a half weeks. And I enjoyed myself! The people are wonderful, caring, and creative, and I couldn’t ask for a better career. While I look toward becoming more regular in this field, I plan to attend a few conventions as a Lolita vendor and advocate of alternative fashion. ^.^

I still intend to produce unique pieces of clothing as a seamstress and indie designer as well. I have been more inspired lately than ever, and I really hope to tap into that energy to be more prolific in my work.

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 008

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Things I sell: Basic Lolita clothing (blouses, skirts, JSKs, loungewear) – jewelry – eye makeup products and eyelashes – hosiery – hair accessories. Find me @ Storenvy!

I love eyelashes, and Dolly Wink are my favorites, but they are pretty expensive. Two pairs for $18 – $20! So I found some unknown brand that I tried first, and found the quality to be very much the same to Dolly Wink’s fine fibers, with a fine lash band as well. And guess what – you get FIVE pairs of them! They feel just as light and last just as long. YEGZ eyelashes are sold for $10 from my booth. I also carry some Japanese styles as well, and while those are slightly more expensive, you still get 5 pairs of them for the price. Not bad, huh?

I have a special pack as well from my booth. Mascara and eyeliner, your choice of eyelashes, and BB Cream (1, 2, or 3 tone), altogether for $25.

MB Products 117 (1024x676)MB Products 079 (1024x683)

That eyeliner is a brand called Ling Mei. Again, I test everything before I sell it. I found this eyeliner to be long lasting, really bold and dark, lasts all day, is water resistant, and has beautiful packaging. I tell everyone that I’ve had the same one for two years and it’s still going! (and you can revive things like eyeliner and mascara with a little contact solution! Hey!) It’s also 2-in-1 with a gel pencil top, and liquid pot bottom:

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Best White Tights Ever!

I sell something I like to call the Best White Tights Ever! If you’re into Lolita, maybe you don’t like wearing knee-highs or thigh-highs like me. Maybe they’re really uncomfortable. Maybe they keep falling down. Maybe it’s winter where you live and it’s too cold for such things!

New White Tights 2014 January_smI sell really thick, white tights made for adult women. They’re ballet style tights, that have the feeling of slight compression and are 200 denier thickness. I find these perfect for winter and really hard to ruin with runs. You can wash them in the washing machine! And they can fit you if you’re tall, or perhaps a little larger figured.

Did I mention they feel amazing on my legs? So smoooooooth….

 

 

Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 027

Thank you again for coming by! And for attending this year’s convention in Santa Fe! Here are all the lovely pictures I took of some great costumes, young and youngish. :) Hopefully we’ll see some of you again at the next convention we’ll be attending, ConJikan! We’ll be hosting a Lolita 101 panel, and a tea party!

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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!

The latest with Carol ^^;

Little Nell Campbell took my picture! ^^;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.

I also have a Tumblr, where I occasionally share pictures, Lolita fashion photos or scans, et al. All of this is connected, as well, to my Twitter account.

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. ^.^

Sources for materials

  • Fabric.com
  • OnlineFabricStore.net
  • ShabbyFabrics.com
  • VogueFabricsStore.com
  • Zipperstop.com
  • Threadart.com
  • Lace and Trims found on ebay and aliexpress (I buy in bulk)

 

Project Ideas

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).

My Fabric Obsession

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:

Mode a la Belle 180Mode a la Belle 181Mode a la Belle 184Mode a la Belle 192Mode a la Belle 193Mode a la Belle 194Mode a la Belle 195Mode a la Belle 205Mode a la Belle 208Mode a la Belle 211Mode a la Belle 219Mode a la Belle 221Mode a la Belle 168Mode a la Belle 170Mode a la Belle 175

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!

Pick a Zipper, Any Zipper

Mode a la Belle 223In 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?

Maybe…

Original Themed Design

Mode a la Belle 225This 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.

GLB Sew Along

Mode a la Belle 224This 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!

Also I went to New Zealand . . .

Melbourne - Auckland 2013 068