Saturday, 5 September 2015

I Made a New Lolita Skirt!

Recently I've been blogging a lot of beauty, mainly reviews, and mainly products I've already used up. I haven't bought any non-essential beauty products for ages since saving up for Japan, which is great for my wallet but not great for blog topics! I also haven't been going to many events recently, other than ones to trade at, which again, isn't great when it comes to thinking of what to blog about.

Because I've been a little bored inbetween meets, I started sewing again, and sewed a few items to use up my fabric stash. I mainly sold these because they weren't my style but after I gained confidence with sewing again, I turned to some fabric I've had for years, kept for my personal use and decided to finally make something with it!

Ta-da! I have been playing around with this design in my head for a while, and because it didn't need a lot of supplies, especially specific ones that need to be ordered online, I finally went and made myself a skirt! I never buy Lolita skirts because when you're paying that money, 99% of the time you might as well spring a little extra for the JSK or OP. I have remedied that by deciding to make some skirts to use up my fabric stash and extend my wardrobe without spending lots of money before I go to Japan!

The fabric was bought from Abakhan in Manchester a few years back, and I got it very cheap because of a pricing error. It was marked down to 50% of the original price (maybe something about £5?) and the store clerk wrote '50%' on the price tag as well as the discount price, so the cashier ended up charging me 25% of the original price! I didn't notice until I checked my receipt, so I got the fabric for something ridiculously good like £2.50 a metre, especially since it was cotton.

The last time I made myself a Lolita skirt was a few years back, and it was pretty crappy. This was back when the general consensus for handmade Lolita skirts was 'Use twice your waist measurement'. However I found out that a skirt made with twice your waist circumference produces mediocre results that can barely hold a petticoat under it, so I was a bit disheartened. I have always had it in my head to use three times my waist measurement now.

In previous sewing projects I have measured and marked the basic measurements and eyeballed the rest. This produced wonky results more often than not so with this project I swore to myself that I would proceed with caution, and measure and mark everything correctly, including marking seam allowance lines. It took a bit longer but was very much worth it.

I checked eBay for silver braid first but they didn't have any styles I was visualising in my head, and the prices were going up and up and whilst in town, I happened to check some local fabric stores and one of them had just what I was looking for! Usually my local fabric stores don't have a great selection of trims so this was a pleasant surprise.

The braid in question.

I ordered some black cotton from eBay, because it is cheaper than in my local fabric stores, but when it arrived, the cotton was very thick and bulky, almost like canvas or burlap! I went ahead and started making the ruffle with it anyway, but when it came to ruffling it, I discovered two things: 1) My ruffler foot had broke and refused to ruffle on the 6 or 12 setting. 2) The cotton was way too bulky to be gathered/ruffled anyway. I tried fixing my ruffler foot but something had happened to the gear and I had to order a new one...

When it arrived, the new ruffler foot was very stiff and made the needle get caught whenever I tried to lower it down into the feed dog. I powered through the stiffness and ended up snapping a needle. I tried to Google a solution and almost gave up but found that an Amazon reviewer had the same problem, and loosened the screws in the ruffler foot slightly and it fixed it. I did this and thankfully it worked! I would have been very pissed off if I had two ruffler foots that wouldn't work... I finally managed to ruffle the second black cotton strip but my sewing mojo had waned a little. I had spent so long measuring, cutting and marking the first black cotton so that it was very straight and neat, sewing it together, turning it right side out and ironing it to produce a 5 metre strip to ruffle only to be faced with the fact the cotton was too thick, and my ruffler foot had broken as well, but I forced myself to pick the project up again. I had to repeat the same procedure with the new cotton but thankfully it was suitable for the ruffle and I was able to carry on with the project!

The fabric pattern

When I started sewing with the main fabric, I thought it was plain cotton. However, as I started to iron it, I realised the silver roses were a bit waxy/painted feeling, almost like batik fabric. It was fine when I went to overlock the edges and sew with a straight stitch, but when I went to sew the silver braid onto the ruffle (sewn onto the skirt), the thread started snapping randomly, I presume because the silver part were harder/gummier to get through and too bulky. I persevered though.

When I went to gather the waist part, my ruffler foot wouldn't ruffle it evenly because of the waxy silver parts, and I ended up trying to hand gather parts of it to match my waist measurement whilst trying to make it look as evenly gathered as possible.

Somehow I managed to make the gathering look pleated?! I have wanted to make a pleated Lolita skirt for some time but have been put off because it's more time consuming, so I'm pleasantly surprised with this happy accident.


Attaching the waistband was a pain too because of the large amounts of gathering and hand sewing producing lots of thread. It was a little bulky to sew the waistband onto the skirt, so the top thread kept snapping again due to the silver parts. Again, I persevered but I may have moaned in frustration at my sewing machine lots of times...however, because I knew I was almost finished, I was determined not to give up.

I managed to finish the skirt today and I'm actually very proud of it. When I usually make clothes, I always find something I did wrong with it, or something has messed up and given it that 'homemade' amateur feel, and it puts me off wearing it. However, with this skirt, all the seams are finished, the ruffle and braid all line up, nothing is misaligned or puckered unexpectedly and the waistband is not bulky. The invisible zip at the side is sewn in pretty well, and the top of the zip aligns with the top of the waistband.

This is the outfit I had in mind when I started making the skirt! I would really love a little black hat with silver roses at a jaunty angle to wear with it but I also realised my black and silver rose crown from Taobao would look perfect with it too. As I was ironing the waistband I realised the skirt would look cute with a high waistband so I might make a detachable one!

Every time I finish a sewing project, I think back to the process and mentally make note of any 'lessons' I've learned from it. From this project, I've learned that if my sewing machine sounds grumpy, I should probably check it out rather than trying to power through it and end up snapping a needle or thread. Measuring and marking everything thoroughly really pays off, as well as pressing seams and generally ironing before, during and after sewing even though it's a pain. I worked on this skirt on and off for a couple of days, excluding the time I was waiting for new cotton and a ruffler foot. It was such a bitch to make, much more so than I expected but it was so worth it in the end.

I hope you enjoyed a change from beauty reviews! My next project is a red tartan Lolita skirt for myself, with black lace and hints of old-school-ness. Do you have any sewing projects you're undertaking at the moment? Sorry this blog post got a little long, I get excited when I talk about sewing and it's good to document your experiences.


  1. It's really beautiful! I love the print so much.
    Would like to see on you <3

    1. Thank you so much! I'll be making a post with the skirt worn very soon! :)