Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Trials and Tribulations of a Budding Lolita Seamstress

Last month was quite intense for me. I spent weeks sewing and crafting constantly in preparation for debuting my collection of lolita items for a local handmade independent boutique.

During this time I learnt an awful lot, particularly about working to my own set schedule, and simply motivating myself. It's hard to do things when you have no motivation, but that in itself isn't something you can wait for. Even when you can't be bothered to do something, but you know you need to do it, you have to get up and go for it. At least, that's the mindset that worked for me-- not dwelling on it too much and not psyching myself out, but taking my sewing machine out, preparing my fabrics and threads, and getting on with it.

I did have these little Momoko-esque moments at times, feeling the occasional panic about whether or not making lolita items dulls the magic of lolita because during my production process, I finally stumbled upon an item I found truly tedious: aprons.

I love aprons in lolita. It's not so much something I like in coordinates especially, but I suppose the idea of it, and the practical nature of it has always really drawn me in. After buying a small Bodyline maid cosplay apron from a friend, I felt inspired to make a larger, more lolita friendly one. I liked the end result, and figured I'd make some more. I must be honest and admit I hated every second of it. I've never known something so seemingly straightforward could end up being so unbelievably dull. That in itself scared me. I normally find sewing a calming, therapeutic process, but when your topstitching goes wrong for the billionth time, and your waist-ties refuse to cooperate, you can't help but have a bit of a mental crisis. I suppose I berated myself for finding something so challenging, which is obviously not what we should do to ourselves. 

The life of the lolita seamstress isn't as cutesy and picturesque as I might have hoped. I normally sew in t-shirts and comfy house trousers, fringe brushed back, ready for action. I spend time awkwardly trying to promote my shop and facebook page, while being hyper-aware people don't like being advertised to. I spend a lot of time fretting about sales, page views, my fabric stash, my severe lack of space, my serious need for a dressform etc. 

I suppose it can impact on your enjoyment of the fashion. I planned on making the jumperskirt of my coordinate for an event in September, but it's been at the bottom of my priority list, with only the pattern drawn, and the design sketched out. I've neglected to go and choose my fabric, lace, ribbon, or even to do a mockup. 

Still, I know it's important to make sure that lolita itself doesn't become a chore for me. If I weren't so passionate about all this, there's no way I would still be doing it. I don't think people realise just how taxing starting a brand is. Mine is still in its infancy and yet it does consume a huge portion of my time and my life, and I'm not even making and selling the big items like dresses yet, or being inundated with orders for that matter. I feel a bit anxious at the task looming of making my dress. I have the fear that my plan won't match the final result. It's a big deal because I will be a walking advertisement of my skills, and to get feedback from others see whether I can dresses that people would genuinely want to buy. I want to enjoy the process though, and focus on the end result of another pretty dress to add to my wardrobe I get the added bonus of being proud of because I made it.

I don't want to fall into the trap of something I love becoming something I despise because I turned it into work rather than leaving it as a personal hobby. For now at least, I'm OK with giving all of this a shot. It does bring me joy to know there's now a space where one can go in store to purchase lolita items (even if only a small and sweet selection) in my local area. I know realistically my business will probably never provide me with enough income to be my main career, and that ultimately, that might be for the best, in terms of retaining my enjoyment of lolita and sewing itself. I'm fine with that.

Nevertheless, to be directly contributing to the lolita community at large by being a creative force is an important thing to me, and I think that so long as this fashion continues to add beauty to my life, then this is what I want to do.


  1. I find sewing really tedious and stressful sometimes too. The result of your hard work is really worth it though, the apron looks really pretty!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one!
      Thank you so much! I'm glad you like it :)
      Thanks for your comment <3

  2. Keep on going with your resolutions. Going through hard times like this is what makes us realise if we are passionate for something or not. Nevertheless, I share your fear of turning Lolita into a chore. I haven't tried handmade but I am scared that the presure of involving into too many activities and communities could make me start feeling Lolita as a burdain and make me lose my enthusiasm for the fashion itself.

    I have never been a fan of sewing. But I can relate with you in my experience with bakery wich is something I really love and would like to do professionaly one day. With bakery one day you make something that could be offered to the gods and the next day you burn the cake so bad not even the dog will eat it. I can't tell you how many times I had to throw away a whole batch of dough or frosting because I had f***** up the recipe, but I love baking so much I can't bring myself to stop trying even though I am generally a quitter. Right now my nemesis is the piping bag (it ALWAYS falls apart in my hands as I am piping), but I won't give up. I will master decoration no matter what. *flames come out of eyes* My point is: if you love doing something, difficulty and failure just motivates you to surpass your own limits. For me, it only makes me want it more. Good luck with all your projects. I love your spirit and the fact that you are actually working for your dreams. I'm sure your dress is gonna be amazing. And how do I know it? Because you seem determined to have it that way. Determination and love, that is what makes it happen. ♥

    1. Mhm, that pretty much sums up my issue. I don't want lolita to lose its fun, hobby aspect, so I'm trying to make sure that I'm never putting too much pressure on myself. I can see how that might be a fear if you find yourself trying to get involved in communities etc too often, as there can definitely be a sense of obligation to go to events, and "keep up" with what's going on in the lolita world. It's occasionally good to take a step back and switch off from it all.

      Ahh, it's so great that you're into baking! Very lolita appropriate XD It's something I've never been particularly skilled at, no matter how closely I follow the recipes! I think it's one of those crafts that takes a lot of intuitive thinking and instinct, combined with using the set instructions. But like you said, perseverance is key, so you just have to keep working at it until you finally bake the most perfect cake. I'm sure you will be able to get a hang of the piping bag one day! I think the biggest hurdle with a lot of crafts is doing a technique correctly for the first time. And when you've finally done it once, you can definitely do it again! Keep at it and I have every confidence you will work your way into a professional role one day :)

      Thank you so much for your sweet comments! They gave me a massive boost and I feel pumped to get this dress done! I really appreciate your inspiring words, especially at times such as these. Let's both do our best to achieve our goals, and I know we can get to where we want to be <3

  3. THANK YOU so much for writing this! I too have struggled with sewing, personally for many, many years and I've often thrown in the towel out of sheer frustration. It can be disheartening to look around, trying to find other sewists and feeling like the odd man out because everyone else seems to adore the entire sewing process and you have to wonder if this really is the hobby for you or if you're just kidding yourself.

    But reading this post, seeing your beautiful creations (as much as you hate that apron take comfort in knowing it turned out ADORABLE) and realizing that you too still fall victim to the same negative feelings I've experienced many times is, in a strange way, comforting. You're pushing forward anyway, chasing that dream, and giving hope to others who also may not be perfect or struggling to follow their dreams that it IS possible and to keep going even when it's difficult.

    Great post and your booth and items look adorable!!

    1. It can be such an infuriating pursuit, can't it? I'm rather a perfectionist about things (typical Virgo) and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things right the first time, even though that's a completely unrealistic mindset to have! I really do enjoy sewing overall, but the best times are definitely when I'm putting together something I've already mastered. When it comes to learning new, more ambitious techniques, then the amount of mistakes I make can be very stressful. I really need to chill out and accept that there is always so much to learn, and messing up is just a part of that process :)

      I've found that taking regular breaks and not being so set on pushing myself to work through my annoyance is helpful. Sometimes, leaving your machine for half an hour, maybe having a snack and a drink before coming back to your project with a calmer mindset, really clears the air and stops you from associating sewing with negative feelings.

      I'm glad you like the apron! So much frustration went into it XD The most recent apron I made took me several different occasions on separate days to complete. I want to be able to make them in a mere few hours one day, but for now, spreading out the sewing time like that seems to keep me from completely losing it!

      I'm pleased that you found some reassurance through this post. I do try to remain honest and, well, "human" about my experiences! It can be hard not to feel inadequate when it seems everyone else is elegantly overcoming all these huge challenges, having a great time, with no hiccups along the way. But I bet even the more seasoned sewists have bad days, or even took many years of failed attempts and the wonkiest stitches before getting to where they are today.

      If it's something you love, you push through it, and just have to focus on the end result, which always feels worth it in the end. To have someone as sweet as yourself come here and say such positive things, and compliment my work is just one of the things that keeps me going. Thanks for your wonderful comment as always, and I look forward to hearing from you again soon (and of course following your wedding plans over at your blog!) ❤