28 March 2016

Making a Dress - Lolita hakama skirt


One thing I don't wear often enough is a hakama with my kimono.  Kitsuke is easier and you don't have to worry about short kimono and flashing your juban.  Also it is brilliant for wet weather as I found out 3 years ago when I decided to walk back home in pouring rain.

However the hakama is not what it seems.  There is a lot of fabric in that garment because of the pleats and the length makes it awkward in certain situations.

Therefore my mind though why not make a lolita version?  I have been toying with the idea of venturing into wa-lolita but most of the skirts that you can buy will not stretch to my size once I tucked the kimono.


As with all my lolita pieces they much be work friendly so it has to be made from something washable and dark coloured.

Luckily I went a bit overboard with the the purchase of black bi-stretch fabric so that is what I will use.


First thing first one must study the hakama.

Lets look at the pleats as to me that defines its.

Here are the front pleats.

And here are the back pleats.

The most obvious difference between the two is the number of pleats, the front has 6 (one of the pleat is hidden under the centre one) and the back has 4.

The only way to show how the pleats work is with a diagram.

As you can see it is a bit complicated but how am I going to incorporate those pleats?  Well what is life if it was not for the challenges.

My starting point was this pattern minus the ruffles and the high waist part.

Then I inserted the pleats using a lot of masking tape.  Luckily I was decorating at the beginning of the year so a roll was at hand but I much buy some more.


First thing first I needed to re-thread my new toy!  My overlocker.

Now that is done, time to cut it out.

A straight line stitch on the inner pleat to hold it in place.

Side pleat pinned and ready to be stitched into place

And the ironed creased.  A lot of steam and a wet cloth was used to create this.

Oooo a closeup of the back pleat.  I had to stitch the back pleat together to check them in place.  Otherwise they would flap about and I could have made a mistake.

Time to join the back 3 panels.

And this is where my overlocker came in handy.  It finished off the edges so nicely,  I love my new overlocker, look how pretty the edges are.

Okay that is the back half of the skirt all done on to the front with more pleats.

Unfortunately no photos of the intermediate steps for the front panel as I was concentrating hard to make sure I ironed and stitched the right pleats.  

Here you can see what it looks like at the back and the stitch that is holding the pleats in place.

Don't worry, the yellow thread is to hold the pleats in place while I am making the skirt.  Seriously they really got in the way.

Okay the back and front are done,time to join them at the side.

The side seams didn't quite line up as nicely as I hoped.

The other side is a little better but still improvements for next time.

However not bad for a first time and I know where on the pattern to make it work.

Now the straps.  May have made a bit of a mistake in that the front straps are ridiculously long.  as in 4.5 metres in total.  Yeah next time make them shorter but at least they will go wrong my waist easily!

Yep you guessed it I forgot to take photos.  I only attached them just before dinner and I wanted them on so that afterwards I could take photos of what the skirt looks like on Miffy 2.

It is going according to plan, just the lace at the bottom and we are done.


And here it is!  I have to say it has turned out very well indeed.

An a-line lolita shirt with hakama pleats.  

I did find one advantage of long straps and its that I can tie a double bow which is super cute.

The lace at the bottom gives the skirt a nice edge I think.  Without it I think it would have looked too plain for lolita.

The pleats are holding well!

They are staying closed when they are not moved.

It is not very poffy the petticoat but I'm quite like it as suits me better for my day to day wear.

And here are the pleats opened.  Crisp and clean creases.

Here you can just about see the hidden middle pleat.

Now I have a work event on the 6th so I might wear it them.

13 March 2016

Making a Dress - Red Skull Lace Kimono

When it comes to kimono making I just concentrate on the fabric since the construction is the same for all of them.

Therefore when I saw this fabric for sale on a FB fabric selling group, you bet I was going to make a kimono out of it.

However the fabric is very fluid so I will need to take my time making this one.

So first thing first cutting the pieces.

Who would have thought this would be a challenge.  So many adjustments and then readjustments just to make sure everything is straight.  However I managed it and to help with identification I rolled each piece separately.

Time to begin sewing the back seam.  I don't really need to do this but I did it because it makes the kimono look correct.  However rather then cutting the main body piece in two as it is normally, I just cut up to the middle and then sew the 1cm back seam.  Less risk of cutting wonky.

It dawned on me as I was cutting the lace that there was not a lot of fabric to create the marks.  What am I going to do?  Well the solution is sewing in bright neon yellow thread at the points.  So time consuming but it is a lot better then trying to draw a chalk or water soluble ink line.

I have to admit I have not put all the marks needed but we will let that slide.  Yep winging it as I go along.

Still it is nice working with this lace.

I got very absorb making this kimono so not a lot inbetween photos but here is the finished product.

Now to marvel at the work.

6 March 2016

Back to relaxing kanzashi - Black and Red Kiku.

Have I ever mention that I like making kiku kanzashi?

If not, then I will say it now.  I love making kiku kanzashi!  Yep they are just fun to make.

Yes they do take forever to make due to the sheer number of petals that each one has but I think the results just speak for themselves.

So what was the design in my head?  Well a black and red maiko style kanzashi.

Similar to one of these but in black and red.

So the first thing to do is get some fabric.

For some reason I wanted to revisit habutai silk because it is easier to make kiku kanzashi with rice glue as you can fold all the petals at once and then slowly assemble them.

However getting black and red habutai is not cheap so off I went to buy some silk and a home dyeing kit.

Then there is the starching and cutting all the 1 inch squares of fabric.

Before finally making the rice glue and prepping the bases.

Here is the first 3 kiku petals folded.

And then the next 5 lots.

In total these 8 kiku used 512 petals!  That is a lot of petals even by my standards but look at them.  I love them already.

Now to create some interesting falls and additional bit and voila we have a funky maiko set!

Closeup of the falls.

The finished kiku.

and here you can see the extra bits for the bridge.

In total this kanzash used wait for it 601 petals!  This has by far been the most petal intensive kanzashi I made but I live it.  I am very pleased with the falls as they turned out just how I wanted them.  I was scared they would not fall properly but it worked.

Now I will enjoy them for a little while before deciding what do to with it.

New Year and Making a Dress - Black and white Striped kimono!

Time has flown and as always the end of 2015 has been busy.

I had visited my kimono friends in Birmingham for the day.  I literally flew in and then out of Birmingham in one day.  I think I might not do that again.

Then at work we had our Christmas party which was a lot of fun.  Good food and good company all rounded off if a quiz and then a pub visit.

After that I had a few days of peace before flying back home to see family for Christmas.  Yes ate too much but I loved it.

But just before I left, I finally got back to sewing and I am going to make the most wanted kimono in my collection.

The black and white striped kimono!

I have seen one of these kimono a long time ago and I fell in love with the look but to buy one from Japan was just out of my wallet reach so the only solution was to make one.  Hmmmm that was not as easy as I thought.  Firstly finding fabric with stripes that were more then a couple of centimetres was tricky and secondly I wanted cotton fabric with a nice drape.

Okay with those conditions in mind, I went hunting and last year I succeed in finding the perfect fabric.

Now I had the fabric, it is time to make the kimono (6 months later).

As normal, I followed the method in my kimono book and made a hitoe (unlined) kimono.  It will be more versatile in my mind and I want to experiment in layering.

I did make a miscalculation in the amount of fabric that I brought.  I was told the fabric was 150cm and therefore brought 4 metres only.  BIG MISTAKES!  It turns out I only had 140cm to work with which ruined my original plans.  Especially the long 18cm by 200cm collar piece but I managed to work around it and got all the pieces I need.

At the back of my mind I wanted to practice my handsewing using the Japanese way of hold the needle but I had only just got over a cold and I was not up for the challenge so I did all the long seams on the sewing machine and then blind-hemmed all the seams by hand.

Strangely this kimono sewing went very smoothly.

Day one - Sewed the back and horizontal seam and sleeves.

Day two - Sewed the side seams and blind hemmed them down.
Day three - Attached okumi panels and again blind hemmed them.
Day four - Collar sewed down,

Day five - Sewed both sleeves.

Bearing in mind I only really work 7 hours per a day on sewing however it is done.

Now I have a black and white striped kimono all of my own :)