2 April 2013

Making a Dress - 50's inspired Lolita Dress

Lets kick off the "Making a Dress" series with this little number.  Oh dear not the most flattering photo but nevermind.


There are two inspiration for this dress.

The first one is that I have always loved 50's styles dresses because I love the full skirt.  What girl doesn't like to twirl around in a skirt that flares out.  And then there is the fitted bodice as well which shows the lovely waist.  Well I have an hourglass figure so for me this style just seems ideal.

Dig For Victory
However I am also a sucker for lolita dresses which is my second inspiration.  For those of you who are unsure of what I am talking about, lolita is a fashion style from Japan where people wear clothes that have been inspired by the Rococo and Victorian periods.  It is all about being elegant and having fun!  My dream brand is Mary Magdalene and Innocent World!

Mary Magdalene
Innocent World
So I wanted a dress that combines these two styles.  Something that has a vintage feel but with the playful and youthful look of a lolita dress.


Since I wanted to give the dress a vintage feel what better way then to use some vintage fabric.  Buying vintage fabric is very expensive and since this was going to be a everyday dress I didn't want fancy looking fabric but I want it to be sturdy.

Then it came to me, why not find an old and tired looking kimono?  Kimono are often made from high quality fabric so if I can find a wool kimono that would be perfect.  

Well one of my friends was giving away this kimono.

It had a weird stain on the collar (it was a dark red colour so I did not investigate further) and lots of tiny hole along the armholes so it is a perfect candidate.  

Design Process

There are plenty of patterns out there which would give me the dress that I want but I never do anything the easy way and I decided to draft my own pattern!  

Actually there was another reason for drafting my own pattern.  Kimono fabric are only 35-38 cm wide so cutting a bodice will require a bit of planning.  

So I started off with the bodice.

Something nice and simple I thought because this is my first handmade dress and I didn't want to over complicated things.

The back of the pattern.  

And here is the completed draft pattern.  The skirt is a simple gathered skirt because this is one way of creating the classic bell-shape skirt that you often see in lolita fashion.


I don't have a lot of pictures here because I forgot to take them but the first thing I did was wash the kimono which I had to be careful because I didn't want to accidentally destroy it.  Lucky it was stronger then I first thought but I still have to be careful not to make it fray even more.

Then once it was dried and ironed I began the cutting the piece!  This was the most scary part because there was no room for mistake so measure once, twice and three time before cutting.

Once over the scary part it was a case of sewing it all together and adding come bias binding to all the raw edges.


I even added a huge bow at the back to give it one more element of lolita which I love.


Hopefully for you seasoned seamstress you are not offended by my attempt.  Now where is summmer?

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