Making a cicle skirt

25.11.07 - 14:12
This skirt has a lot of flare. As its name suggests it can be spread out to form a full circle.
This can sometimes be too much flare for the lolita 'shape'. Some people think that it's not really suitable for lolita at all, so maybe try the rectangle skirt if you want less flare or if you are looking for a more traditional lolita style.

First things first, you will need:
Fabric - best to start with something light and inexpensive like a polycotton.
A zip - probably around 6 or 7 inches long.
A tape measure.
A compass - you might want to make one with ribbon or string.

You need a couple of measurements -
1. around your waist - comfortably.
2. the length of your skirt - from your waist to just above the knee.

Then a little maths - Add about 1 inch (3cm) to your waist measurement then divide by 3.14 (thats pi if you are interested), then divide by 2. Write down this number.

for example: say your waist was 100cm
100+3=103 103/3.14=32.8 32.8/2= 16.4

Take your fabric fold it in half width ways then length ways. From the corner that is all folded use your compass (or a piece of string with a pin in one end and your chalk at the other) to mark out a quarter of a circle - the radius of which is the number you got from your waist measurement.

It won't work if you just divide your waist measurement by four!

Then add your magic number to the length you want your skirt to be. For example: 16.4+50=66.4.

Starting in the top corner again, mark another quarter circle - this is the bottom of your skirt.
Carefully cut long these lines - through all the layers of fabric. You will also need to cut along the width ways fold line creating two semi-circular pieces.

If you don't create these seams - you won't be able to get into your skirt!

Next you need to sew these pieces back together including a zip on one side and hem all around the bottom to finish off the raw edges. The skirt will also need a waistband - you can make this by sewing a wide piece of ribbon over the top edge or cutting a straight piece of fabric and folding it over.

When you try on your skirt you may find that the hem is a little uneven. This can be for several reasons -
1. some parts of us stick out more than others - meaning the more fabric is used.
2. fabric can stretch when its grain is diagonal (on the bias).
You might need someone else to mark the hem line for you whilst you model the skirt.
3. circle skirts are a bit funny like that and you really need to have a tiny hem to go round the curves.



A basic skirt

23.11.07 - 12:55

One of the staples of the Lolita wardrobe is an above-the-knee length skirt with petticoats.

The first image is from Mary Magdalene and the second is from Moi Meme Moitie (Mana's brand). I think both of these are gorgeous.
You can make a simple skirt using a circle skirt pattern, or easily create one with your own measurements. It takes a little bit of maths but its not too hard.
You do need to remember that because its such a full skirt it will need quite a lot of fabric and trimmings. The skirt pictured has a 5 metre hemline - which means it needs 5 metres of lace to go round the bottom.



Patterns 3

20.11.07 - 12:44
You could of course draft your own patterns from scratch. Some colleges have courses on this sort of thing. I haven't found one that I could get to yet. I do have a very useful book that has basic blocks in it. Its called Metric Pattern Cutting.

I am still learning about this kind of technique, its the way professional fashion designers work. More on this in the future hopefully.



Lolita blouse pattern

19.11.07 - 16:24

This shirt pattern is an example of a really good starting point. Its a commercial pattern from New Look (number 5368).

It has some really nice lolita-esque elements like the puffy sleeves and ruffles. Here is a excellent reason for checking the diagrams - it also has a lovely lace-up back! I decided to make this in a basic black cotton with pre-gathered lace for the ruffles.

I think the back is nicer than the front. Minimal modifications were required: The front panels needed to be extended so that the shirt buttons right up to the top. I used some lace to add some frills but I think in hindsight some gathered fabric would have looked better.
All in this was a good start and cost very little, the plain black polycotton was less than £2 a meter.



Patterns 2

17.11.07 - 19:12
The second way to get patterns is to buy a commercial pattern with a similar shape and alter it.
There is a list of suggestions from the top pattern brands at AvantGauche.

But its best to just have a look through the books/website and find something you think would be a good base. Its also good to look at the information with the pattern. The line drawings of the item often give a better idea of the shape than the illustration/photo of the finished piece.
Have a look at my blouse project to see what I mean.



Patterns 1 - Gosu Rori ゴスロリ

16.11.07 - 12:23

The main problem with this kind of sewing is that there aren't really any patterns available.

There is a magazine called Gosu Rori
ゴスロリ which does include patterns, but it is in Japanese and although people say it is not to bad... I find it very difficult to follow. If you do want to try this, I suggest this website.
The section called 'Understanding the Patterns in Gosurori' is a very helpful pdf with translations of many of the key words.

I'm not entirely sure how the magazine works. It looks like people send in their drawings/ideas/designs and then someone at/for the magazine makes them into usable patterns.

There is one other problem I've experienced using these patterns. Quite often some of the pieces are not printed out and need to be drafted. I've never really had any dressmaking training and I find this difficult to do especially if the size needs changing too.



Sewing time

15.11.07 - 12:57
Looks like its time to start sewing. I am not interested in making 'knock offs' of branded goods. I want to make some Lolita inspired pieces that are individual, fit me and don't cost a fortune.

I like to sew. I have a sewing machine. I think these are the basic requirements to Gothic & Lolita sewing. Having access to a sewing machine is pretty mandatory - doing this kind of work by hand would take forever! I don't think you have to be a great seamstress to have a go either, as long as you take into account your skill level when planning your project. If you have never done any sewing before - its best to learn some basics rather than jumping in at the deep end.


Gothic Lolita wardrobe expansion

- 12:21
This is where it starts to get interesting (and also more to do with sewing). Once you have done some research and started collecting some pictures of the various themes/brands/looks.
You will probably find the book/magazine (mook) called Gothic & Lolita Bible, its not available very easily, but its also not impossible to obtain. It is in Japanese, but the main point is the images anyway. You can get them from ebay, or at conventions if you can't find them anywhere else.
Also Tokyopop are rumoured to be bringing out an english language version.

Some people have scanned pages and posted them on their sites - I think this is probably against copyright rules, but they are there if you want to have a look.

One of the main reasons I got into this kind of sewing is dresses like this one from Mary Madelene. You can buy these beautiful items but it might only available in Japan, at one store, in limited numbers, it might already have sold out two months ago, and it probably costs thousands of yen and only comes in one size - Japanese-teenage-girl.


Gothic Lolita Brands

- 12:02
As with most fashions, the sub-catergories of Gothic & Lolita have associated brands. I don't want to suggest that it's 'right' or 'wrong' to wear certain things; but I think it is worthwhile understanding the different aesthetics so you can decide which bits you want to use for your inspiration.

Some of the Lolita brands are more well known than others such as Baby the Stars Shine Bright and Angelic Pretty

Check out my 'Shopping' list or visit AvantGauche where there is an extended list of brands.


What is Gothic Lolita?

- 10:20
Very basically - weird youth subcultural fashions from Japan.

Several years ago I encountered some photographs of Tokyo street styles, I think this was probably in the photographer Shoichi Aoki’s book 'FRUiTS'. I can't remember if this is where I first saw Lolitas but it was around this time that I started doing a little research into these flamboyant fashions.
There are plenty of sites that go into the meanings and history of Japanese youth subcultures and fashions so I'll just give you a general idea in relation to this blog.
The term Gothic and Lolita covers quite a range of looks from super-goth to frilly girly lolita including some punk and other weirdness inbetween. Its been around for some years now and probably started up around the late seventies. Since then, like with most cool stuff, it has become more commercial and filtered through to the outside world in a variety of forms.

The Lolita clothing is usually loosely based on a child/doll idea, with large skirts and petticoats. There are also nods to Victoriana, and generally things that are pretty. Gothic Lolita is this mixed with a gothic flavour.

For more indepth descriptions try this one at the ever faithful Wikipedia and this one at Morbid Outlook.