Starting 2018 off sewing

In the past five weeks I have been questioning a lot about myself, my life and the path that I’ve been on. One thing that has led to is the conviction that I need to get back into sewing. I’ve missed it dearly and honestly, it’s what I’m best at. I will write a whole post about it at some point. But for now, here are pretty things.

I made these two reconstructed dresses over the past week.
The first is reconstructed from a skirt and a top which I never wore, with other scraps added to it. I love how it turned out so much! It’s so cute and comfy. A perfect dress for a casual lolita look, but could also be dressed up with a blouse and petticoat and everything.

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Despite all the layers it’s really light, which I love.

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I got the middle strip of lace from a second-hand market last week. Antique lace is the loveliest.

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This old, ill-fitting Queen of Darkness skirt and an ill-fitting thrifted top formed the base of the dress:

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I took this skirt apart almost completely, while I kept the top basically intact, save for the closure. (Yes, the skirt was beautiful, but I’m a punk crafter and have no remorse.)

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This second dress I reconstructed from a vintage dress I’ve had sitting in my closet for years. I got it from the Brick Lane market in London, back in 2012. It was a shapeless maxi dress with embroidery and long sleeves. Not the type of dress I would have usually considered, but the dye-job on this was absolutely gorgeous.

Because of the dye-job I sought to make it work. I already altered it a bit back then: shortened the sleeves and took in the waist with elastic. It didn’t help much. So it sat in my closet. I only took it out again last week, and now I’ve finally managed to salvage it.

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It’s super flattering, comfortable and has pockets! I can see myself wearing this a lot in the summer, and on my next trip to the tropics.

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The little things I added are all old things from my scrap heap. The stringy thing for the bow I made myself, back when I was in fashion school (2010?) and had to research different textile techniques. This method was a sort of knitting; it’s called “punniken” in Dutch, I have no idea what it is in English. At long last, it’s gotten a purpose.

This is what the dress was before:

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Thanks for looking!

handmade lolita-esque bolero & a circle skirt

i’m pretty impressed by how much i’ve managed to sew lately. what with all the things working against my favour. here are a bolero & a skirt that i finished this weekend:

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like many things, this bolero took longer than expected. it was the ruffles. oh, ruffles. these ruffles are killing me. why do they have to look so cute?

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when i started, they didn’t look so bad. the bottom ruffles went pretty smoothly. but then the top! i had to redo them twice. first they were much too packed & it looked clownish. then the front barely had any ruffles left.

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i also added the second layer of lace at the last moment, when i had already finished up the rest of the collar. so i had to ruffle that lace separately & sew that ruffled lace over the ruffled fabric, under the more narrow lace. however, it was worth going back to do that extra work; it ended up looking fabulous. i’ve become a lot more critical with my work over the past year or two. it does lead to better results.

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i was planning to do a fuller ruffle at the end of the sleeves, but i stuck to this smallish bell shape. i thought it would be cuter. maybe i’ll add some (removable) bows to them. if they’re removable i can switch up white and black ones. the bow at the front is also removable for that same reason.

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i love this skirt so much. it’s high-waisted, super comfortable & has big pockets in the side-seams. it’s pretty basic, but basic can be very nice. i’ve needed a skirt like this in my closet for ages.

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it’s made of such nice materials. the lace especially was an amazing find.

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on a sidenote, i took out my old leopard print fabric backdrop which i used all the time back when i had my etsy shop. oh, nostalgia. i would love to have a shop again. it’s actually pretty doable at this sewing rate. difficult, but doable. maybe towards the end of the year…

the egl dress from hell, finished

i posted a preview of this on AUGUST 23RD, when i had already been working on this for a very long time, & just last week i finished it. & when i had finished it, i realised that i had forgotten my good camera at my other house & i couldn’t take any pictures & there are so many frustrations with this dress. but it’s done! i think. the hemline could be cleaned up a bit, but i can’t face those ruffles again just now. so many ruffles… & layers… & weight…

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looks good though, doesn’t it? overall. it has some small flaws, but did i mention the ruffles? & weight?

for a long time i only felt frustrated when i looked at this dress on my dressform. even when i tried it on & looked at it in the mirror. just last night i properly wore it, with a blouse & everything, & i felt like a princess. for the first time all those hours & hours & hours seemed vaguely worth it.

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i drew up a new pattern, from scratch for this dress, & i think my pattern drawing skills could still use a lot of improving. it turned out much too big; it was supposed to be fitted at the top. however, i ended up quite liking the extra room. it makes this dress super comfortable & gives it something of a yohji yamamoto vibe. like if he would design for angelic pretty.
aside from the miscalculated sizing, the back also looks a bit off, because the pattern was drawn with sleeves in mind. for dresses with sleeves you need a little more room at the back. i changed my mind about the sleeves at the last minute. i had already pinned them on, short, extremely puffy sleeves, & then decided that it looked better without. with how big the sleeves were it would also be near impossible to wear shrugs or small jackets over it. sleeveless this dress is a lot more versatile. plus, those huge puffy sleeves did not flatter my broad shoulders at all.

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those pattern flaws are a lot less noticeable on me than on my dressform though. i would have taken pictures of me wearing it, but when i remembered to take my good camera with me, i forgot my tripod, & the lighting here in my primary home is too bad to take pictures. another time.

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this dress is fully lined & the skirt is built up of two layers. both of the layers of the skirt are divided into two parts. the top gathered part of the skirt is 3 meters wide, the bottom ruffles come to 6! a lot of the bottom ruffles are also patched together, because otherwise i wouldn’t have enough fabric. initially i bought 5 meters of the main fabric of about 1.80m wide. i thought then i would have maybe a 1 1/2m left for another project, but i ended up using it all. even buying some extra! & then there was the lining. a lot of fabric is in this dress. it makes it very poofy without a petticoat, which is what i was going for. a lot of lolita dresses look kind of sad without a petticoat & i didn’t want that.

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i probably could have used a little less fabric though. i wanted to try a bias-cut for the skirt. with wide skirts it can look a lot better when fabric is cut on the bias, but that is not the most economical way of cutting. now that the experiment is done i’m also not sure how much of a difference it made, what with all the ruffles. ruffles. ruffles everywhere. i should try a design like this cut regularly & compare it… in a couple of months when i can handle a ruffle again.

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like with my favourite lolita brand, the front bow & waist ties are removable. i also put two huge pockets in the skirt. skirts are always better with pockets.

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i also made a matching headbow:

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maybe i’ll make this dress design available as a custom order, when i’ve cleaned it up a bit. see how i can make this more efficiently & thus lower the price. as it is now it would have to be around €275-€300. feel free to comment if you’re interested.

thank you for looking!

sneak preview of a dress i’m working on

it’s a terrible picture, but i really wanted to show something of this dress that i’ve been working on. i’ve been working on it, on & off, for a couple of weeks now.

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it’s a very lolita inspired sleeveless dress. at first it was really fun to work on this, but later it became more & more frustrating. so many ruffles & layers & weight. i also made a few mistakes and changes to the design, which made it much more work than it should be. i think it will be worth it though. it’s already looking rather fabulous. i just need to fix the bottom ruffles, & the back of the top, & improve the bow clip, & buy & add more lace…

soon.