Saturday, September 15, 2012

Playing in the Bakery...

For the past few weeks, I must admit that I have not been terribly productive or feeling very creative, either in the sewing room or in the mood to write anything blog worthy of posting. I recently got over a pretty awful case of pneumonia, and have since been struggling to get my energy, and creative muse back so I get back to going full steam in the sewing room!

Instead of playing on the internet, or curling up in bed with movies, I decided to try to get a few things done while I'm feeling down. So I've been playing in my "bakery" again, making different kinds of sweet treat jewelries including more jello jewelry we talked about earlier, and I have been playing with clay as I have always wanted to learn how to make those faux desserts, cookies, miniature sweets, etc!

People are always saying I should take more progress photos, but how is one supposed to do that if your hands are messy?
While I've always been good with my hands in the areas of sewing, or crafting tiny things, I don't think I was ever very talented when it came to creating clay things. I was always so wistfully wishing that I could be better especially when other students could create such elaborate art work out of clay! But I've always adored those sweet little fake cookies, and macaroons, and since it didn't require me to move from bed I wanted to try it!

I had read on some tutorials a long time ago about being able to mix regular artist pastel shavings into Sculpey clay to create different colors and textures. So I started with a white clay, scraped off some shavings with an X-acto, and began kneading the pastels and clay together---mixing in a little water here and there since the pastels dry out the clay. After I had gotten a sort of cookie dough color, I went about cutting out the heart shapes with my blade.
At first I was like, "Eeeek, this looks really terrible" because it was just the beginnings of a really crude clay cut out and didn't have any shading or texture! >.< I sliced off some more pastel shavings: light brown, dark brown, caramel, and peachy pink. With a little round paint brush, I began swirling an assortment of the colors, dusting it on the edges and finishing the sides. Once I applied the lighter color, I would mix in the darker and so on. It still looked super crude, so I whipped out an old tooth brush and went to town on the surface of the cookies, which not only gave it a really cute texture but also continued to blend the pastel colors together! I used a lighter pressure and then added more to make the cookies look more baked and textured, like they had just come out of the oven.
Next, I had always wanted to try those itty bitty macaroons that are so popular in the decoden world! So after coloring the clay like I had done with the cookies, I rolled it into a nice little ball and with a teaspoon, I pressed it into the clay dough to get the basic ice cream scoop shape. With my fingers, I carefully peeled off the edges so it would be more raw and get that fancy edge they have on real macaroons. With flat edge, I squished the clay a bit and then with a tooth pick and toothbrush, went ahead to create that bubbly air texture.
I don't think they turned out too terrible! At least, not for a first attempt. I would like to learn more techniques to get better! I even bought one of those Sculpey Mold Making kits, so I can try to make my own little molds to produce more pieces. : 3
More jello jewelry necklaces!
And of course, as always, I've been playing with my whip cream, cabochons, and dessert sauces! 

Well, while I'm gathering back my energies... Why don't you give me some topics you'd like to read about? A tutorial? A guide? Anything! ^-^ <3

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pop Princess Royalty

As you know, from time to time I like to introduce our newest princesses of the royal court to all the fair citizens of the Candy Kingdom! I like to feature them in their finest Pop Princess threads and accessories, and show them off the world. (Which is why you should send me your photos, silly girls!)

Let's welcome the newest royalty, and give them the round of applause they deserve!

My darling model from Otakon, Princess Sarah, looking exquisite in the yellow chiffon bow dress!
Princess Kasa in the darling pink corduroy bow romper, looking SO cute!
If you'd like to see detail shots or more photos of either of these garments, you can find them below:
Click Here for More Cute!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Guide to Being a Princess... on a Budget!

I know... right about now, we're all crying and kicking on the floor, rolling around wailing, "Why isn't my closet as amazing as this one? Why, Rococo gods, why must you torture me?!" Until of course, we sate ourselves with a delicious ice cream snack, and sniffle while browsing through the EGL Comm Sales in search of our dream items.

 Let's face it, whoever owns this closet out there... is probably the most awesome girl ever.  I commend you! Seriously, it must have taken a lot of years, saving, and patience to fill an entire closet (a really cute one at that!!) full of brand dresses, accessories, shoes, and other darling items. I am always impressed (and yes, a little jelly...) when Lolita make wardrobe posts like this because it just blows my mind. It's a lot of dedication!

Hatsune Miku, "World is Mine"
 I know what you're thinking! "But Annika, it can't be done!" Well, that's just simply not true. Ladies, fasten those tiaras on tight, grab a cute strawberry pencil, and let's get started. ^-^

  I simply can't afford brand, does that not make me a lolita princess? Will other lolis make fun of/look down on me for it? What else can I do?

This one always makes me laugh. There is always this strange... bizarre assumption from outsiders that Lolita are like a pack of brand hungry villains lurking in dark alleys just waiting to trounce upon and otherwise maim new, different, or otherwise cute n' curious girls and boys.

Lolita is an alternative fashion. For the most part, everyone is extremely accepting of everyone else and if you're looking for critiques on you're outfits or what not, then expect constructive criticism, not a trial by fire. If you don't get it quite right, we're not going to make you walk on hot coals or anything! Gracious me.

In the beginning, yes, I think that Lolita used to be extremely elitist. There was a right way, and a wrong way. Black and white. People used to be incredibly rude to newcomers, even a bit snobbish. And yes, there are still a few people out there in the world you will encounter that act like this. Ignore them. But don't think every Loli girl you meet up with is staring you down, or squinting their eyes judging you. Most of these girls are pretty awesome! The community itself has really grown, become more versatile and open, and just better for it.

As for being a "real" lolita princess.... pssh, being a Lolita is about having the heart and guts to wear something so ridiculously frilly that you can fit through the door of your house let alone sit in a car without being a driving hazard. It is about what makes you, you. It's not what it is, but how you wear and how it makes you feel. K? :3

So what else can you do to become a loli princess? Read on!

☆☆Handmade: Become a Seamstress!

It's a lot of fun when you can make you're own things! <3
I know what you're thinking! *o* "But Annika-channn, sewing is too hard! What if I mess up? Or I make something frumpy and I become a pariah of lolita society?!" This is obviously an exaggeration, of course, well maybe. Sewing your own lolita designs is genuinely a daunting experience for a new comer, I know, I've been there. I had to actually attend university to major in fashion design before I even deemed myself a little bit of credit here and there that my designs are well crafted from start to finish, and have come a long way. 

It takes a lot of gumption to create something from scratch, put all your heart into it, and send it out into the world to be viewed, critiqued, and otherwise commented on by the rest of the world. And sometimes the things we make are not always good, even huge couture designers have sent lines out into the public's eye that I'm sure they thought was a disaster or not their best work. So don't let the thought of you making a mistake, or not getting something right stop you.

At the Otakon Lolita Fashion Show, one of the questions someone asked was: How do I start my own line? What are your tips or suggestions for a beginner of someone sewing their own clothes?

Here is the honest truth: You're not going to get everything right. You are going to make mistakes. Lose time, lose patience, and sometimes lose money. There are times where you will get frustrated, and other times be elated. Just have patience---with yourself and your work. The biggest mistake you can make is rush and cut corners. You will always here me say: "Take your time. Do things properly and professionally from start to finish."

If you are going to invest yourself in making a work of art, do it right. That means first: learn to sew, take classes, and get the basic downs. Secondly, learn how to work with patterns, even just premade ones from the store---learn to read them, follow instructions, etc. You can easily alter a premade pattern to fit the proper standards of lolita fashion, at least the basic parts. Thirdly, once you have the basics down then turn the professional side of things---learn how the professionals finish seams, sew hems, and complete an outfit with different stitching techniques/finishes.

If you're looking for patterns that are pre made, but just in the lolita styles then I really suggest you get your hands on some used or new copies of Gothic & Lolita Bible. In almost every magazine (not in their earlier ones) they include a whole set of fold out paper patterns from different big brands. I can't tell you how many dresses, aprons, bonnets, skirts, and other patterns I have from my GLB that I found useful as a beginner! They can be a little difficult to navigate so I recommend learning a little about American patterns first and then try a hand at those.

Don't you want to sew so you can have a tape measure as absurdly cute as these? You know you do.
I know it can be easy to get flustered and feel rushed by time/patience/what have you, but believe me it's not worth it. You know that saying, "God is in the details?" Well, for me I believe that applies to fashion. The things that makes clothing not just something to wear, but a work of art, a beautiful piece worthy of brands or the runway is this: the details. The smallest, most minuet things like a top stitch, french seams, or hand stitching can bring an outfit into the realm of beauty.

If you'd like, dear readers, I can talk more about hand sewing and patterns later if there is something you would like me to teach you. : 3

☆☆ Support Lolita Indie Brands

Don't you want something that's special, one of a kind, and made to order? The great thing about ordering from an indie brand is that you can get all those things! A lot of the times, indie brands will only produce one, or a very very limited amount of designs which means that only one or a handful girls will actually be wearing them. You get something that's handmade, with beautiful quality, heart, and soul put into a singular product or design that you just can't get with big brands. There is no better feeling than buying a one of kind prototype or runway piece and knowing you are the only girl in the world wearing it, and all other princesses are totally jelly!

The other wonderful thing about indie brands (besides the price and quality of course) is the option of getting something custom made for you. Indie brands are better equipped to take what you thought were "awkward measurements" and create a dress, skirt, or anything to fit your body shape, silhouette, and style that will not only accentuate the figure you already have but compliment the parts of you you may be shy about.

So if you're looking to have something one of a kind, handmade to fit you, and fall in between the "Oh, I'm the tiny size of Annika where I'm drowning in fabric and everything is too big" or the "Uh, I actually am a real girl, with real curves and look awesome doing it but everything in brand lolita is too small"...then indie brands are the way to go! ^-^

I am pretty sure that I could go on and on and ON about some of the indie brands that I admire the most, or have seen pop up on my tumblr and wiggle my feet thinking, "Oh that's so cute!"  Here are just a few: 

I Do Declare
Realistic Sweet
Lady Sloth
☆☆ Budget Brands: The Best Bang for Your Buck, while still looking cute!

There are actually A LOT of great brands out there, even if they are deemed "off brand" they are still usually very, very cute and the quality doesn't appear to be shabby or anything like that. If you're looking for some inspiration, or just a place to go window shopping, I highly recommend this tumblr: FYeahOffbrand it is just a visual encyclopedia of all things off brand lolita related that covers all the different styles, accessories, and what not! And the great thing is, a lot of these are still adorable but also affordable! Again, here are just a few budget brands I've seen, heard recommended, etc:


Anna House
Fan Plus Friend
There now you have a few things to look at! Trust me, there are a million and half off brands out there that probably you and I don't know about. And if you're ever looking into getting something from one of these brands and aren't sure about the cost, quality of materials, whatever, then I check out the EGL forums. A lot of people have done a lot of reviews about all sorts of off brands and products. So go ahead, take a peek!

What if I really, really am dying from a broken heart for lack of brand? What can I do? 

☆☆Start a Lolita Fund: Saving/Budgeting 

I have had this little "lolita princess" savings jar when I first started college, and though I graduated and there is still not a lot in it, the principal is still the same. (Plus, all the money I save now is technically invisible dollars in what I deem now as the new lolita piggy bank... called Paypal. If only it had a cuter name.) SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!

If you work, sell your creations, or otherwise have an allowance of some kind make it habit to set a little bit aside each time you earn something. Most of my savings for example, go either into my real bank account or get reinvested in my new designs because when I sell something I know most of that money I've already spent, and is not actually mine to spend. And then of course, there's the dreaded responsibilities we all have of various bills, expenditures, or student loans... so take care of those first obviously! : O But do make a budget, put aside a little at a time and before you know it that savings will be just enough to buy your dream item!

☆☆ Buy Second Hand: The Hunt

Let's face it, there are going to be dream dresses out there that when they come out you, a: simply can't afford (case and point: AP's Cat Tea Party ; _ ;) or b: lolita fought tooth and nail over that "it" item to snag the very last one and it is sold out forever! So after you're done weeping a little and lamenting the loss of what was sure to be your true love, dab those tears with your pink hankie, narrow those eyes, and make a pact or promise to yourself. That is your dream dress, and search high and low to the very last corners of the earth (or just the far reaches of the internet) YOU WILL HAVE IT!

I have, and will continue to, search for those epic white whales missing from my wardrobe sometimes for years. You genuinely have to be that patient. Some items are rare, and they may or may not ever show up again. But you have to persist. Search daily, or weekly, on the EGL Comm Sales, keep those eyes peeled in the nooks and crannies of Mbok and Yahoo Japan Auctions! It's out there somewhere, have heart! Put up "WTB" (want to buy) posts in the forums, etc.

And the great thing about second hand, as that with everything in life... the more time goes on, the value or price of these items usually decrease. So sometimes you can get it cheaper than when it came out. And if not, a lot of loli girls are a-okay with payment plans!

☆☆ Know What You Want: Be Selective, Start a Dream List

Here's the hard part, at least from what I hear from some of my other frilly friends: being faithful to your dream list. It can be hard when you see something for sale that is a big brand item and it's going for pennies on the dollar, you know, super cheap. And your heart may quicken, and eyes may covet that pretty print, but do not commit that scandalous love affair! Don't do it!

Stick to the items on your list. The biggest complaint I hear from girls selling off their wardrobe is they didn't do this, and it resulted in them having a completely mix matched wardrobe or just a bunch of stuff they didn't really want. Don't be impulsive just because something is cheap, or the clamor of the new "it" print is so loud. Be true to your princess heart.

Annika, you're a stick figure. Some of us actually have curves, what about us girls? What if we want to be super cute too, AND can afford it but don't fit? Will we just pine after brand forever or buy replica because they don't make plus size? 

You know, the more and more I think about this issue in the lolita community the more mad it makes me! Why DON'T big brands make plus sizes for their curvier customers? Why make them squeeze into a one size fits all label or simply deny them the pleasure of being a princess? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I just can't wrap my mind around it honestly. It makes me wonder if it is simply because it would be too expensive for big brands production wise (which would be a polite cop out if you ask me) or if it is merely a cultural issue.

If I had my way, all girls of all shapes and sizes would be lovey dovey cute princesses in their favorite dream items ALL the time! It's just silly, and utterly frustrating as to why this is not the case. 

I've subscribed to a tumblr here for plus size lolita, and I think it is an amazing resource of knowledge and inspiration called Gorgeous Plus Lolita. If you are looking for brand, they have a link to all sorts of big brands/brand dresses that list out the max measurements and styles of dresses that can be worn by curvy girls. And they also have a whole other page dedicated to pretty plus size off brand sites as well.

This girl, right here, my plus size loli idol! SO BEAUTIFUL.
 And to answer your question, you may soon very well have your own brand. I'd like to tell you that there may (hint hint) or may not be a plus size line coming out for Pop Princess this Fall/Winter season, and there may (cough cough) or may not be some pattern production and samples happening..... : > It could or could not be called, Pop Princess + .  ; )

**Ah, well, another long guide for you! : o What else would like to learn more, know about? Drop me a line. I'd love to do more things that you'd like to read about or things I can help with, or even teach you on the creative side of things! <3
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...