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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Locked down

So sorry for the lack of posts, I have had a rough time trying to get into blogger and it seems things are finally fixed. I will update very soon with new things!

Sorry again!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jo-Ann Fabrics and Cotton Lace Woes

It's probably clear by now that most of the time I'm building sweet lolita items, but I also cover EGL, Steam Punk, victorian gothic (generally men's attire) and cosplay. Yesterday I went to my beloved Jo-Ann Fabrics on a quest for some good, quality foam for the Neon Genesis Evangelion suit I am custom making my fiance. Since I am on a budget I had to lecture myself to not buy anything else.

But I failed terribly and ended up buying some lovely, fine grossgrain white ribbon and a nice black, white, and subtly smoky purple flower pattern cotton.

If only they had decent lace. One thing I have noticed about my favorite arts and crafts store is that they never have decent lace. Ever. It is always scratchy nylon or cheap polyester. They have rows and rows of the stuff, and it's such a shame. I saw a heart pattern that was beautiful, but the lace was terribly scratchy.

The quality of lace can easily make or break a lolita outfit, no matter how lovely that outfit is otherwise. The problem is that most craft stores have no clue at all. So where do we go to get our fine lace? As for me, I go to ebay. It's a risky business I don't recommend unless you've already got specific sellers you use who's stuff you know is good. I generally order from a nice older woman who handcrafts all her lace, and it is the softest, most beautiful lace I've ever purchased. But you don't need to go to ebay for it. Check out some local bridal shops and you might find yourself surprised that they often sell gorgeous, quality lace.

If you want to buy lace online, however, here are a few highly suggested shops: (only has a few good quality, so be careful) (gorgeous section of tulle lace) (chinese) (check out their cluney lace, very nice)

Links credited to:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cute Lolita Deco Charm Sets

Posting up a few more sets of deco charms. The largest of these is only about an inch tall. The small items are roughly the size of a pea. See the below post for information on these and how they're made!

They are very, very tiny, too.

Deco Charms

Someone recently asked me about deco and I was reminded of the bag of charms/deco I've made that's been laying around. So I thought I'd take a few pictures. This set is my 'Alice in Wonderland' set and includes variations of the white rabbit, Alice's blue bow, a mini mad hatter hat (complete with a tiny sash and card) and a carrot for the bunny because, you know, bunnies love carrots.

These are made with poly clay, and are really quite easy. If you're interested in making deco you can get some clay for fairly cheap at most arts and crafts stores (Joanne Fabrics is my all time favorite). It comes in different colors, but I prefer to get white and then just paint it as the natural color of the clay can be altered when baked. The particular charms I made are -very- small. The hat itself is only an inch tall.

Tip: If you want your deco/charms to have a polished and 'glossy' look without getting expensive, apply some clear nail polish over them. Let that coat sit, then once it's totally dry, apply another coat. It works very well and is a cheap alternative to gloss paints out there. :)

The 'I Love You This Much' Bunny

A plushie that informs you just how much she loves you. Never mind those teddy bears when you've got bunnies like this. She is made out of some left over cupcake material, with a mildly shirred yellow heart fringed around the edge to give that 'bursting' look. Her eyes and nose are sewn on and made of black thread with three little eyelashes on each. I prefer this method sometimes because it has a more 'old fashioned' appeal that just aids the adorableness, don't you think? She is stuffed with soft synthetic fiber and stands at about a 8" tall (though technically she doesn't stand-- she's too round for that and I had to prop her a bit for the top photo). I've always loved the childish sweetness of shouting, "I love you this much!" with arms thrown wide open, and I wanted to encompass that.
My apologies for the bad lighting since this was taken at night. I've been thinking of making a lightbox to fix this. They're very easy to create and great for photographing things at any time of the day with minimal effort-- perhaps I'll put up a tutorial on it later.

Should you be mesmerized by her cuteness, she is for sale.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Theme Mini Hat

A little project of mine. I decided to add my recently made strawberries (from the tutorial below) to this adorable little mini hat. I usually list these (and other various goodies) in my shop, if you're interested.

Mini hats, oh boy. They're getting quite popular. I remember years ago that it was only the goths and really old english women who wore them, but now they're all over the place. I'm one for cotton myself, but it seems straw ones are getting out there. What are your thoughts on straw mini hats? Ever made a mini hat? I personally prefer to use plastic canvas rather than felt or cardboard. It is cheap, durable, and very light weight. Cardboard warps over time and felt just seems so tacky to me. Hatting itself can be very addicting and fun to do. The amount of variation possible from just a bit of material is pretty astounding.

As always, comments, thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are welcome. If you make any mini hats I'd love to see some of your work!

Tutorial on How to Make a Cloth Strawberry

Here's a little tutorial on how to make a cloth strawberry. You can opt to make a flower instead by not stuffing the strawberry and using it as a 'petal'. Four to six petals sewn together make a very adorable flower. My flower has a cotton filled center so that it can be used as a pincushion. I do not suggest making a felt strawberry as felt tends to be a bit too thick. Something thin like cotton (in fact, I always make cotton strawberries) is much better.

On with the tutorial!

Step 1: Draw and cut out a circle from your fabric. Fold this in half and then cut along the crease so that you have two halves.

Step 2: Fold one of the halves in half, so that you have a quarter of a circle, with the face of the fabric on the inside. Sew along the straight edge, leaving the curved edge open.

Step 3: Turn it inside-out. The face of the fabric should be showing (mine is the same on both sides). Now run a small, relatively tight gathering stitch along the open edge, and do not tie it off as we will do this after stuffing. You will already see your strawberry taking shape!

Step 4: Stuff the strawberry with cotton. You can also use very finely cut up bits of fabric if you don't have any cotton. Just make sure it's well shredded. If you are making the flower, skip this step.

Step 5: Pull the gathering thread tight, this should seal up your strawberry. Stitch it securely so that it doesn't come open.

Optional step 6: Make some leaves to add to the bottom of your strawberry. If you are making the flower, just connect these petals (unstuffed strawberries) together and place something in the middle. I used a little stuffed ball of yellow cotton.

And you're done!

Be sure to leave comments, I'd love to see any ideas and finished projects involving this!

From Scraps to Scrap Box Gift Package - Perfect for Mother's Day

I don't know about you, but I save every little scrap I can, so long as there's more than just a few threads to it. While I've gotten some funny looks for it, I have always figured that you never know when you might need the oddest little bit. Well, this morning I was looking at my pile of scraps (or rather, a grocery bag full of them) and felt it needed to look a bit nicer.

Project time.

So I made a box, slathered it with fabric glue, and stuck little bits and pieces of scraps to it. Topped it off with two bows I hadn't found any use for and a bit of ribbon from an old gift wrap (also used for the handle), and viola! A scrap box made of scraps. :)
I will make a tutorial later of gift boxes, as this spurred me to make some more.
I actually used this for the 'package' for my mother's day gift since it's perfect size, and included a set of the teacup and cupcake pincushions. I lined the box with a red satin and wrapped the smaller items in red tissue paper. Both her giftbox and her pincushions will hopefully be useful to her newly growing craft room.

If you make one of these or a variation of it, I'd love to see, so please comment!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cupcake / Teacup Pincushion Tutorial

Thought I'd make a tutorial on how to make adorable cupcake pincushions. These are roughly 1.5 to 2 inches tall and about an inch across, or 4 inches in diameter. They are very easy, not at all time consuming, and take very little material. I made my own from scraps.
These little cupcakes make great gifts, especially passed out at Lolita meet-ups!

Step 1: Choose your material. You will need at least two; one for your cake and one for your cupcake wrapper. The one for your cake must be plush, or you will end up using a good amount of material. I am using some leftover brown velvet for my 'chocolate'. It is perfectly plush. You can probably get away with a thick cotton, but velvet, felt, or even wool would be better. Make sure it is something that can handle a whole lot of needles without being ruined. The second fabric (for the wrapper) must be something more thin, such as basic cotton, which is what I've used.
** You can also opt for a third color if you wish to make a swirly cupcake. I have used a mint-green cotton for this in my tutorial.

Step 2:  Cut a strip from your cake fabric (and a matching one from your swirl fabric if you're using it) measuring 2 inches tall by roughly a foot long. The length is determined by how thick your fabric is. You can determine this by rolling the fabric (or if using a swirl, roll them together) until it measures 4 inches in diameter (about 1 inch across) at the widest. Fold these in half and sew each along the bottom of the length so that you have a tube (or tubes).

Step 3: If using a swirl, place the swirl fabric on top of the cake fabric with the cake fabric sticking out just a little so that you can tuck it over the swirl fabric and then begin rolling. Then fold (in the picture below, please ignore that my swirl fabric was not quite the height as the cake- it was made from a scrap so I had to make it a bit smaller than normal) If not using the swirl, just start rolling the fabric. You want to be careful and not have the center collapse. As you roll, slowly pull the fabric down a bit.

Step 4: If using swirl fabric, cut a bit off the swirl piece so that it is slightly overlapped by the cake. Pin and sew the end so it's snug against the cupcake. I used a bit of fabric glue to add some extra sturdiness, but you don't have to.

Step 5: Cut off any extra material on the bottom of the cupcake so that it's nice and flat.

Step 6: Measure your wrapper fabric. It should be 4 inches tall by whatever the diamater of your cupcake is plus 1/2 inch. My cupcake was about 4 inches in diameter, so I measured my wrapper at 4 x 4.5 inches. The extra 1/2 inch is going to be a 1/4 inch seam allowance for each end.

Step 7: Fold the 4 inch length in half and sew the bottom to make a tube as you did with your cake.

Step 8: Now fold the tube in half and sew the pieces together along the 1/4 inch seam allowance. You should have a small tube matching the diameter of your cupcake. Turn it inside out.

Step 9:  With the sewn end at the bottom, slide the wrapper up over the bottom of the cupcake. It should be nice and snug. If it is not, tighten the tube up by sewing it a little more, so that you've made your seam allowance bigger.

Step 10: Now fold the bottom of the cupcake wrapper. It is pretty much how you fold the end of a gift-wrapped package, but I will try to demonstrate. Otherwise have a look at step 4 of this for an example. We are folding it this way because it makes the bottom pretty flat, so that the cupcake can sit upright without falling over. Once folded, pin in place and sew it really well.

Step 11: Decorate!

If you wish to add a handle, they can easily be turned into teacups!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How To Make A Cloth Rose

Here's a little tutorial on cloth roses. I used a pastel green patterned cotton, but you can use almost anything.

First, get your material. The length of it width-wise will have everything to do with how big and how puffy/gathered your rose is. I have used 21.5 inches for mine, since that's the length of the little square I have and I'm making this for a mini hat.

Next, fold it 1.5 inches on one end and 2.5 on the other. Make sure to pin this all along the length to keep a clean edge. If you want you can use fabric chalk to mark the line, but I usually just skip that step and cut along it. The folded fabric should have the underside showing (mine is patterned on both sides, so it doesn't matter) with the front face of the fabric on the inside of the fold.

So you should have a strip of fabric that is folded over, 21.5 inches long and 1.5 wide at one end and 2.5 wide at the other. Basically it tappers from 2.5 to 1.5 inches.

Next we're going to sew the edges All except for the 1.5" edge, leave that open so we can turn this inside out once it's sewn. You have a 1/4" seam allowance and I usually trim it a bit after sewing to make sure there aren't any chunks messing up the way the fabric lays, but that's up to you, and probably won't even be noticeable. I'm just picky. :)

So we should have this now:

Turn it inside-out so the face of your fabric is showing. It should look like this:

Now do a small gathering stitch for the 1.5" end. I usually do this by hand. 

Finally, time to do some serious gathering. I usually try and gather half the fabric, so I went from 21.5" to a 10.5" when finally gathered. For a tutorial on how to do a gather, look here. I only use a typical straight stitch for this, and do it by hand, but again, it's up to you. Do not sew more than one line of thread in. Only use one thread straight across, or the bottom will be too stiff and it will make your rose look weird. Make sure your gathering stitch is running about 1/5" or so away from the edge as you sew (the seam edge, not the folded edge-- that will be the top of the petals).

Fold the gathered 1.5" end and stitch the bottom a few times. After that it's just a matter of tucking and stitching. Roll the fabric and stitch, roll it and stitch. Keep doing so until you get to the end.

Then stitch the bottom a bunch of times so that it's nice and strong. Try to tuck and sew in any little bits into the center to keep it clean. 

And tada! You have a cloth rose!