Friday, May 8, 2015

The Road to RuffleCon Part II

Well, folks, it looks like I'm going to have a busy and (hopefully) productive next 146 days. What's in one hundred and forty six days, you ask? RuffleCon. And why am I going to be so busy? Yes, that's right! You guessed it! Atelier Sucré has been officially accepted as a designer for RuffleCon 2015's Fashion Show.

Over the next five months, I will be creating 4 to 5 distinct looks for the show. As mentioned in my previous post, my theme will be an 18th Century take on Lolita fashion, and I will be responsible for at least 3 dresses, 3 bonnets or headpieces, probably one ouji coordinate, and a bunch of other accessories/garments. I hope to begin production of these garments immediately, assuming that I have no serious problems in procuring the remainder of the materials that I need. Currently, I do not have the rose silk nor the special scalloped pinking blade that I require for my Mme. de Pompadour dress, and I will also need to find coordinating ribbons and trim to match whatever I find. I also need to get my <insert many curse words here> serger up and running, and get a mat for my rotary cutter. This will be a very big endeavour on my part, so I want to make sure that I'm fully prepared to take it on.

As I work on things I will try to keep you updated with photos of my progress! Thanks for reading!

NYC Adventures

Last week, I found myself perusing the stores of NYC's Garment District with my friend Jessi. We were on a mission looking for silk and trims. Jessi is trying to start making floral headdresses, and was seeking out pretty laces; while I was on a quasi-insane quest to find silks for a line of clothing for a fashion show that I hadn't been formally accepted to yet. In particular, I was looking for either dupuioni, shantung, or taffeta in rose, mustard, navy, and white/ivory stripe. While I found a lovely mustard shantung, and a very nice two toned navy taffeta; rose eluded me (and my budget). I found out from Jessi that the fabric stores prefer cash when you're trying to negotiate with them, so that somewhat limited my purchasing power because I was a little financially unprepared, but in the end, I wound up with some great deals! The best probably came from Hamed Fabrics, where I got 6 yards of a beautiful semi-sheer ivory striped silk for only $10/yd!

Semi sheer striped silk  |  Mustard shantung and navy taffeta

A lot of the shops had fabrics much glitzier (and in some cases, gaudier) than I needed, and looking through the piles was a little like finding a needle in a haystack. There was so much to see that sometimes, I missed things completely, only to have Jessi point it out to my oblivious self. I disappeared into some stacks of fabric more than once to come out empty-handed, but in the end, I came up with some stuff that I'm really happy with. Jessi is an absolute doll, and did most of the haggling for me since I'm really awful at it, so I owe most of my bargain success to her. She also has the patience of a saint, between waiting for me to emerge from the giant fabric piles, and having to deal with some occasionally sleazy sales guys.

My sewing-related haul

As usual, we made the Lolita pilgrimage to BTSSB/Tokyo Rebel, Kinokuniya, and Laduree. I picked up a lovely Innocent World umbrella at Tokyo Rebel, as well as something special at BTSSB. ;) I also got two of my favorite Japanese sewing books, Otome no Sewing vols. 6 & 7, at Kinokuniya, and a small box of macarons at Laduree. 

My non-sewing haul (stock photos)

My new parasol is great, and I'm very happy with it. It's nice and compact, and doubles as an umbrella in rainy weather. The macarons, as expected, were delicious! My box consisted of one chocolate, a sea salt caramel, a pistachio, a rose-lychee, a Marie Antoinette tea, a cherry blossom, an orange blossom, and a raspberry! I also got a beautiful little Plaisir Sucre pastry for my husband. He shared some with me when I got back, and it was divine! 

Fooooooood (well, sorta.)

My next update contains some big news, so keep reading, and thanks for stopping by! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Road to RuffleCon

So, if you haven't figured out by now, I'm not much of a blogger. I have trouble remembering to write down my thoughts in a format longer than a Facebook post, but I'd like to try something new for the year ahead. This year, I and my indie brand, Atelier Sucré, have applied to be a designer at the RuffleCon fashion show. If you aren't familiar with RuffleCon, it's the northeast's largest alternative fashion convention, with a heavy focus on Lolita, other J-fahions, Steampunk, and Western Goth.

To qualify for the show, designers must showcase at least 4 looks. I would like to make a line of 18th Century inspired dresses and accessories. If I am accepted to the show, I'll be making 1 Rococo-inspired robe a la anglaise JSK, one chemise a la reine OP, one JSK a la polonaise, a polonaise corset skirt, a bolero, a pierrot jacket, and a redingote jacket between now and October. I may also do a ouji coordinate of breeches and a vest to match one of these. There will also be two bonnets, a canotier, a tricorn, and a bergere for headwear. At least two of these coords are going to be made with silk, and all will be fairly ambitious sewing projects. As I work on my projects, I'd like to document my progress with them here. Since I have approximately 6 months (not including my vacations) to work on these (in addition to looking for full-time work and doing commissions), I've got a mildly ambitious timeline planned.

I am planning to do a mockup of the chemise a la reine by middle April. I have a polyester youryu fabric selected for this that should drape nicely (though a little differently than the silk), and I'm excited to make a copy for myself.


By the beginning of May, I'd like to have the majority of my fabric for this project sourced and purchased. Most of what I use will either be pure silk or cotton sateen. I am planning an expedition to the Garment District in New York City with East Coast Pocket Princess' Jessi for an epic fabric hunt sometime at the end of April, and whatever I cannot find there will be purchased locally or online.


My first project will be a Mme. de Pompadour inspired Rococo JSK and bolero in rose pink silk with lace engageants, an echelle of ribbons, and scalloped ruffle trim. I'd like this project done by mid June. This will likely take the longest due to the amount of detail work and all the yards of ruffles that I'll have to make. 

My second project will be a fully shirred one piece done in the style of a chemise a la reine. This project will be done entirely in striped white silk and will be paired with a hard-brimmed bonnet. I may create a veil to go with this dress as well, as I ultimately see it being used as a wedding dress. This dress should be the simplest of all of them, and I'd like it to be done by early July at the latest.

My third project will be a JSK a la polonaise (a type of bustle-back dress), with a flounced skirt and perhaps a matching pierrot jacket, like the one in the picture below. I'm not yet sure of the color yet, but it will either be a dusty purple, or French blue. This should be done by mid August.

My last project will be a 1790's inspired corset skirt in yellow silk with a redingote, which is a type of jacket that was used for riding. I think I'd really like a tricorn hat with this.  I'd like this project done before I go on vacation in early September.

Any additional time between the end of my vacation and RuffleCon will be dedicated to accessories and remaining millinery work.

I hope you'll stay tuned as I update my blog with WIP shots and other details of my progress.

♡ Kristen

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Three Prints that I Would Love to See

This week's Lolita Blog Carnival topic is "3 Prints I'd Love to See"! While I'm not officially a member yet, I'd like to follow along for a few weeks to get me back into the habit of posting regularly. The prompts that they give tend to be really excellent, and I like the challenge of making a good reply. :)


Print 1: Toile/China Hedgehogs
Yes, crazy person that I am, I want hedgehogs. I think hedgehogs are just the cutest little things, and I think that a print along the lines of Innocent World's Delft Lotta would be the perfect way to make prickly hedgies a little more Lolita. I really like the way that IW does animal illustrations, so I'd want it to be more in their general illustration style. I think a border print featuring a twee little hedgehog with a ribbon around its neck sitting on a patch of grass with little flowers and a pastoral scene in the background would be super cute. Some days I really wish my illustration skills were more up to par just so that I could make it come to life!

Print 2: Bread
I'm not the Bread-chan Anon from BTB, but I would like to see a good bread print out there. Juliette et Justine's most recent attempt at a bread print is not to my liking, especially because well, I find it a little disturbing to have the image of a small boy with the words "yeast foam" right over my crotch. ;) In my version of a bread print, we have a border with a lovely wicker basket filled with baguettes, and croissants and rolls on the ground around it. The rest of the fabric would be striped, and I really like a cream x chocolate color scheme for this.

Print 3: All-over Raspberry Print
What, you really expected me not to post a berry print idea? :P I honestly think that raspberries and blackberries are under-used in Lolita fashion. There are very few prints out there featuring raspberries or blackberries, and most of them are by indie brands. It would really tickle my fancy for a major brand like BABY or Innocent World to release a pretty print with raspberries, vines, flowers, and bows. BABY released the Strawberry and Cherry Print (at right) in 2010, and I'd really like to see raspberries treated in a similar fashion. I know that raspberries aren't as iconic or welcoming as cherries and strawberries, but they are still visually very interesting , and I think that they are deserving of a lot more use than they currently get.

Mini Update!

I haven't had the time to update this blog in several months, and even though I've had plenty of great ideas swirling around in my head, I haven't had the energy or the time to make a solid post. My health has been in decline since the spring, with lots of new, subtle, and unpleasant symptoms bogging me down. I was really depressed for a while, and my anxiety and OCD were driving me crazy (hahah). I also began to notice that I was tired all the time, and that I was beginning to have a lot of problems with memory, concentration, and speech. As it turns out, those new symptoms were actually really scary side effects from a medication that I'd been on for the past 2 years. My medication created such a disturbance in my sleep patterns, that over the long term, I was actually beginning to experience various forms of cognitive impairment. (<_<);; I've fired the doctor who put me on that crap, found a new one, and am actively working to get transitioned off of that medication. It has been a rough road, as anyone who has experienced Antidepressant/SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome can attest, but I'm starting to feel optimistic about the coming weeks. I am out of work right now, and taking some much-needed time for myself, so expect a lot of updates in the coming weeks.

Here are some of the topics I'll be discussing soon:

  • Lolita Sewing Project Updates - Burgundy Corset Skirt, Headbow, Matching Bolero
  • Making a Matching Headbow Out of Waist Ties
  • Bodyline's Best Bets - Pieces Sure to Satisfy Even the Most Picky People
I also hope to join the Lolita Blog Carnival, and over the next two weeks or so, I'd like to debut my own webshop for handmade Lolita accessories and jewelry! I've toyed around with different branding ideas and names in the past, but I think I finally have something that I'm happy with, and I'm really excited to get started. I will also be remodeling my crappy sewing room over the next month or two and turning it into a proper Lolita sewing room with white furniture, curtains, and decor. :) I'm going to post lots of pictures when I finish!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

5 Things Every Beginner Lolita Seamstress Should Own

Hi everyone, it's been a few weeks since I last posted, so I thought this would be a nice little writing exercise. First though, an update on my sewing escapades! My sewing machine has been home from the shop for a week or so now (it had a burr somewhere), and it's been getting plenty of use. I'm knee deep in the middle of a burgundy and black 3-tiered corset skirt with a Swiss dot tulle 6-tiered back bustle, and I've been getting started on different projects for the RI Lolita swap meet on the 30th. I hope to have 4-5 pairs of cotton and lace bloomers done for sale, as well as a special bolero and headband set that I plan on selling with my AP Fruity Cafe JSK. In short, I'm going to be very, very busy between now and the 30th!

On with the post!

5 Things Every Beginner Lolita Seamstress Should Own

I'm just gonna go ahead and preface this by saying that these are things that I find personally indispensable. Other seamstresses may get along fine without one or two of them, but in general I find that these are excellent things to own. 

1. A Tuned-up, Fully Functional Sewing Machine

 Having a functioning sewing machine may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how long a novice sewer can go with a poorly-running machine. I did, for almost a year, and let me tell you how I wish I'd just had my machine serviced to begin with! If you've just bought a brand-new, off-the-shelf machine, chances are good that it'll run just fine. Well, maybe (see my post on buying sewing machines). On the other hand, if you've inherited a sewing machine from a relative, or bought one second-hand from a rummage sale or Craigslist, do yourself a favor and take it to your local Sew & Vac place to have it tuned up. All sewing machines, like cars, need regular maintenance. If your sewing machine has been handled roughly, sat for a long time, used heavily prior over a long period of time, or is just plain old, it probably needs to be serviced. Sewing machines can develop a bevy of issues over time, all of which can seriously impact your ability to sew. Even under normal use, problems such as burrs and timing issues can occur. If your machine is giving you lots of problems, and you can hardly spend an hour without becoming frustrated over its behavior, then you should probably have it looked at. It's also worth mentioning that all sewing machine owners should try in earnest to familiarize themselves with their sewing machine manual, and should learn how to properly thread and operate their particular machine before embarking on any big project. If you bought a vintage or used machine that no longer has its original manual, don't panic; many sewing machine manuals can be found online for less than $15. 

2. A Sewing Machine with Zig-zag Stitch or Overlock Serger

This number can (and should) totally overlap with #1 on my list. The purpose of owning a sewing machine with zig-zag stitch capabilities is so that you can finish raw edges, and work with knit fabrics (like what cutsews are made of). If you look at almost any piece of brand clothing, you'll notice that the edges of the seams have been neatly cast over with thread. This is called an overlock stitch, and it prevents the fabric cased within from fraying. Finishing fabric edges in this manner not only gives your garment a neat, professional look, but also goes a long way to prevent your work from unravelling over time. To get a true overlock stich, you will generally need to purchase an overlock serger. Sergers are specialized sewing machines that function solely to finish raw edges and sew knit garments. Most sergers can cut as they sew, and will have spaces for 3 or 4 spools of thread, which are used simultaneously. Sergers are usually a little pricey, and unfortunately can't totally replace your regular sewing machine. Have no fear, though, because there is an alternative! Most sewing machines out there these days will have a zig-zag stitch, and some even have a functional overlock stich. Using a regular sewing machine, you can achieve a similar finished edge simply by setting your stitch length to a low setting, and your stitch width to the highest setting. If you are in the market to purchase a sewing machine, specifically a vintage model, make sure the machine you purchase has a zig-zag stich. A simple straight-stich machine won't have those capabilities, and you'll be stuck with a machine that can only do one thing: sew a straight stich. :P

3.  A Dress Form

My dress form has been one of the most useful tools in my sewing stash, and I can't imagine doing projects without it. If you only ever sew skirts, then you may be able to get away without owing a dress form, but I've found that JSKs and OPs go much easier when I can pop them on my dress form. The advantage to owning a dress form is that you can place the garment directly on it to check it for fit and to check how it drapes instead of having to try it on every single time you want to change something. A dress form makes it easy to pinn stuff on to see how it looks, and can generally serve as an excellent reference point for how a garment should fit you. Many commercially available dress forms these days are adjustable, and will allow you to set the bust, waist, and hip measurements so that they match or are close to your own. When choosing a dress form, you want to make sure that it is the right size, and is close to your own measurements. Decorative, non-adjustable dress forms from places like Home Goods are great to display clothing on, but generally aren't too good for sewing purposes unless their measurements are the same as your own. If you're balking at the notion of spending $80-$200 on what's essentially a mannequin, don't fret because you can easily and cheaply make your own out of a large roll of duct tape and an old, oversized t-shirt. Yes, duct tape. You can make a duct tape dress form for under $20, in about an hour, with some help from a friend. Unless you change sizes drastically, your duct tape dress form will be an exact copy of your body measurements, and should suit all your sewing purposes. After you've made and stuffed your dress form, you can always lolify it by decoupaging pretty wrapping paper or fabric over the whole thing. P.S., don't do a duct tape dress form when you're bloated. I did mine once during "That Time," and it has a waistline measurement that's a full inch bigger than my usual size! D:

4. A Gathering Foot / Ruffler Attachment

I ~Love~ my ruffler. Well, maybe that's a little exaggeration, but I am especially fond of it. Why? Because it generally saves me a lot of time and frustration, and makes my work look a lot more professional. For about $15, you can go on Ebay and purchase a universal ruffler foot. Once you get it, it may take you a little time to learn how to use it, but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be so glad you bought it! Instead of spending hours trying to gather a skirt waist by hand, I can put it through my ruffler in a few minutes, and have a beautiful, even ruffle throughout. Ruffler foots also make small pleats as well as ruffles, and are infinitely useful in Lolita sewing. 

5. A Good pair of Sewing Shears

Leave that pair of 3M all-purpose scissors aside for cutting patterns. For fabric, you'll want something a little more suitable. Unless you have a very sharp pair of regular scissors, chances are good that you've probably experienced some difficulty cutting fabric. I used to get frustrated trying to cut even basic quilting cotton with the scissors that I had lying around the house. Those scissors were always too dull and tended to do my fabric more harm than good. I got used to trying to find a "sweet spot" with the scissors, because cutting at the wrong part of the blade would sometimes snag and ruin my fabric. When my mom saw my troubles and had me try out her sewing shears, I was instantly converted. Sewing shears are super sharp, and cut through fabric like a hot knife cuts through butter. Most sewing shears even have a bent handle, which facilitates cutting fabric on a flat surface. I can't imagine going back to regular scissors, and I recommend sewing shears to all of my sewing friends. A nice pair of shears will run you between $25 and $50, but I've found that they're really worth the investment. If your blades ever get dull, (which when used properly, they rarely do) you can often take them to local sewing stores to have them sharpened. One caveat to sewing shears: don't use them to cut paper. You might be tempted to use them to cut your patterns out, but don't. Paper, even fine tissue paper, really dulls blades, and can quickly ruin a good pair of shears.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Woo! New Layout!

I know pretty much no one reads this thing (yet), but for anyone who does *coughMadelinecough,* I decided to change the layout! I got really sick of the pixel art x Imai Kira art that I had before - it was just too busy, and didn't really reflect me or my personal aesthetics anymore - so, I took it down and made a new one. This new layout takes the background from my Tumblr, which I'm in love with, and a lovely new header image that I made myself with a collage of vintage clip art from the fabulous Graphics Fairy. I wanted the new header to reflect all of my different Lolita and Quaintrelle interests; basically tea, flowers, bows, fruit prints, bird watching, sewing, and vintage things. The color scheme is all pale blues, duty roses, olive greens, and golds... all colors that I enjoy, and colors that remind me of Versailles and Classic Lolita. I know my layout probably doesn't scream "LOLITA" the way other blogs do with a ton of pastels and kawaii motifs, but this blog is more than just a Lolita blog, and I really want it to represent me.
I have to give a lot of credit to Caro-chan and her blog, F Yeah Lolita!, because her old layout is really what gave me the idea to make a vintage clipart collage. Yeah, at one point, I kinda went "DUDE! I wanna make my website look like that!!," but in my own design, I was going a lot more for the general kitschy, vintagey look that incorporated vintage clip art elements, as opposed to a carbon copy of it (which would just be wrong). Our individual layouts have ended up being fairly different in terms of size, color scheme, content and arrangement, but I still owe her thanks for the inspiration.