Wednesday, January 6, 2016

First Haul of the Year

A great way to start off the new year is starting it with receiving new things in the mail! Luckily I had quite a lot come in over the holiday weekend, but sadly, I did not have as much time on my hands to get around to opening everything and give it a good once over until now.
Unboxing haul

Here's a shot of everything together out of the packaging. It's a total of four packages hailing from Japan, Singapore, Canada and the United States. I kind of get the feeling my post man is always dumbfounded as to why I'm getting so many international packages. But at the same time my better half gets a lot of packages from a tailor in Italy and aclothier in London on a fairly common basis so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad as I'm not the only one int he house doing it. 

Voodooodolly crowns

Voodooodolly crowns

My first package was a trio of dragon crowns from VoodoooDolly. I had a couple of chances to get crowns from her before but I was absolutely enchanted with this particular style since I saw it as a raffle prize at Nightfall earlier this spring. She hasn't had this style for sale in a while and it was well worth the wait in my opinion. I can't wait to integrate them into my next outfit.

Voodooodolly crowns

Voodooodolly crowns

They are all metal and a bit on the bendy side but are a celebrated addition to my wardrobe since my tastes have been steadily moving towards more ouji and hime looks. As always her packages come with a wax sealed note which you only get with shipments, a great little goodie if you collect memorabilia.

Juliette justine la fleur princesse

My second package consisted of a singular dress, Juliette Justine's La Fleur Princesse in mint. A fellow lolita in Singapore was so gracious to sell it to me, aiding in my obsession of colorful chiffons from my favorite brand. The material is very reminiscent of Coppelia and Robe de la Danse.

Juliette justine la princess

Continuing on my streak of good luck, I placed one of my favorite blouses (it's also from Juliette Justine ) to see how the shade matched and it's almost identical! I'm pretty sure it's the same material but it's really satisfying for me when I find matching tones in similiar items as I'm a very matchy-matchy kind of person.

Juliette justine la fleur princesse

After giving the dress a look over for any tears or stains, I found I couldn't find the tag at all. I turned it inside out and became a bit frantic as the usual placements for the tag were nowhere to be found. It was rather odd as I finally found the tag near the bottom of the lining doubled over. I think this is the first time I've encountered a tag placement here from this brand. Has anyone else have this experience from JetJ?

Cage skirt divinity doll

My third package was from Divinity Doll, a Canadian seamstress and jewelry maker. I had commissioned this piece from her a month or so back and was really excited to see the finished product. I won't be going into too much detail about this piece as I'm going to do a separate write up for cage/hoop skirts later this month, but I'm terribly excited to work with this new alternative to petticoats.

AATP Thaddeus vest

AATP Thaddeus vest

AATP Thaddeus vest

My final and package was a Thaddeus Vest from Alice and the Pirates. I've been slowly collecting more and more boy style pieces and found this might become a staple piece in my wardrobe due to it versatility for both male and female coordinates. Upon inspection I've found the construction of this jacket is quite.. Interesting; and flawed would only be the beginning of my description for this piece. It's still quite wearable though, and I am rather fond of the jacquard fabric. For those of you that also have outerwear pieces from AATP, its the same as the Admiral Jacket and Captain Hollow.

Thanks for ducking in and checking out this first years unboxing. I hope you're as lucky in your finds this year as I have been and may the odds on auctions be ever in your favor!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Traveling Lolita : West Coast PMX 2015 and OTTea Party

I guess this is better late than never! Last fall I attended for the second year in a row, Pacific Media Expo.This year the convention was moved from Los Angeles to Pasadena California. Coincidentally there was a stand alone tea party going on the following weekend, The OTTea Party which was in San Francisco. It aligned perfectly and in such a way I was able to swing both. I hope you enjoy my coverage and experience of both of these events as much as I did and hope to do them again in following years!

I flew in to Los Angeles a bit early to spend time with friends and we all carpooled to Pasadena Friday morning. It was a bit unnerving since I had specifically got approval by the hotel for an early check in ( some of my roommates were staff while others were VIP and had time constraints ) and yet we didn't have access to our rooms until almost that evening. This year I went as a regular attendee and while it was only regular access this year, I felt it was still well worth the trip of going. So aside from not being able to get properly dressed for the majority of the first day ( which was not the conventions fault, but the hotels ) it was pretty good.

Lorrina Lidelll and Kira Imai were the guests this year and they were by far the most down to earth, polite people I had ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. Much like the first year of Rufflecon, it was a very intimate atmosphere and you could mingle freely with the guests all through out the convention. Kira Imai asked that we not post any photos of her, but I do own a Polaroid of her JoJo posing with me which is probably the next best thing to own Cats Tea Party to me.

The tea party was offsite this year and was at a tea house venue. It was a bit cramped and warm, but the food and service was extraordinary. The variety and decadence of all the teas  included with our sandwich and dessert fair were way past my expectations and resembled that of the years prior. Everyone got a gift bag with hair clips and other accessories from Lorrina Lidell and a few postcards signed by Kira Imai. It was during this time I got to meet some wonderful San Francisco jfashion enthusiasts, artist designers, and a wonderful gal from our table who ended up running around with me into the evening bonding over Hannibal.

For the most part, all Jfashion panels were on time and informative. The lolita 201 panel covered color theory, textures, and evolving into the lolita you want to be and more in depth interpretations of substyles. This, in all honesty was a breath of fresh air instead of watching folks drone on and on in the normal 101 panels that never seem to cover all their bases, or overload the poor newcomers with a lot of info and not a lot of hope.  And the swap meet was a fairly large success for all those involved. I do hope in the future there are a lot more jfashion panels or things do to as in the area after dark there was not much else and there were not night activities what so ever besides anime viewing rooms. 

I really wish I would have grabbed more photos from / during this con, but between the modeling ( I modeled for Haneuli in the photo above. 
The image above that is my coordinate from the tea party. )  and juggling of friends, I was too busy enjoying the convention to take more. While I feel this year probably had its lowest attendance yet due to the date conflicts with other surrounding conventions, I felt that this change was mandatory for the growth of their Jfashion department and for the con as a whole. I hope in future events the dates will be better, but I can not wait to see what guests this powerhouse team will produce in future years. For more information on PMX, I suggest following them on Facebook here or their fashion website here for the most up to date information regarding events, guests and plans for next year.

Photo by Ashley Marie

Shortly after PMX, I was jettisoning up from Los Angeles to northern California, San Fransisco. The event, OTTea Party was a stand alone event created by three young women. It was a limited seating event for 70 people at a cost of $70 per ticket. I had first heard about the event from a friend, but the event had already been sold out. But due to the overwhelming response some additional spots were added and I was able to procure a ticket.    

The event was in the French Parlor of the Palace Hotel in the downtown area of San Francisco. We don't have anything nearly this pretty around the parts I live in, so it was truly a sight to behold to attend a non brand tea party in such a lavish location. Everything in the area glittered with golden overlay and crystals. I even had problems finding a spot where there was bad lighting, the location was just so phenomenal. As we entered and checked in we were given a raffle ticket and a special goodie bag with trinkets from the tea party as well as a postcard with the banner illustration from the OTTea Party, a wonderful keepsake illustrated by the talented Ha-Anh Dinh.

Inspired by adventures, fairy tales, and romance, My Dear Charming premiered at the event and it was possible to purchase their first design at there. This line was inspired by the O-T-Tea theme, and I'm not terribly sure if these exact tights are still in production, but it was still really neat to see a new indie brand debut here.

The food was absolutely on par with the atmosphere and did not disappoint. We were told there were only to be 5 sandwiches a piece per person, but I feel that after the 4th set ( each table got three plates at a time ) of plate sandwiches laid at our table, that there were way more than that available, which is not a complaint by me. I do not believe the tea was as good as the PMX parties was, but that was held specifically at a tea house so you really can't beat that.

And of course... the coordinates. How could you not document the coordinates?! Everyone was dressed to impress and there were so many great themed outfits that I felt so inspired from everyone I met and talked to. It was also a fantastic touch by the event committee to provide professional portrait photos as a courtesy by, VK Photography and Niocle Keane.

Another great addition i wanted to touch on was that after the tea party a 21+ after party was announced; at Louie's, a bar just a few blocks down. There you could unwind in regular clothes and still catch up with people you may not have had time to during the tea. This was something I had really been interested in and got to bond with new faces and talk trash about my our fandoms, life, and about the next big event coming up, Rufflecon. It was the first time I had ever met a lot of these women so it was great to see everyone on both sides of a coin, in lolita and out. 

It was an event I felt very privileged and fortunate to attend and with the announcement of their new Fb page, OTT Comittee, I believe there might be another tea party in 2016. In the opening description the founders mentioned that the goal of our event is to provide a gorgeous setting worthy of truly dressing up for, and I feel they accomplished just that. I look forward to this years installment with baited breath. I think this and Moss Marchen's teaparty might be the biggest non brand events of 2016! Thank you for reading about these events and I hope they inspire you to start and attend more outlandish events of your own. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thoughts of a Millinery Collector : Atelier Angel and I Do Declare

Welcome to another installment in my millinery series! In this entry I really wanted to showcase more indie made items that go above and beyond in the handmade category. Both these women, are in my opinion, sensational and acclaimed in their sewing skills. But  as well as being accomplished in these fields they have been known to dabble in the millinery department and are quite astounding in that craft as well. So while I wanted to present some of their millinery works, I additionally want to touch on their main focus of their talent, sewing. I took great pleasure in being able to interview D.C. local, Atelier Angel, and Ney York native, I Do Delcare, so please enjoy! 

First headpiece is from I Do Declare, one of her handmade lace hats. I commissioned this piece after Rufflecon 2014 as I had instantly fallen in love with her pieces. I originally had no idea that she actually handmade the wide brim felt hats, but when I received my finished product in the mail I was so surprised. I had never imagined this was what she was doing and I was awestruck and immediately a devoted IDD fan.

The hat itself is a soft sturdy felt and looks pretty normal from the top. There is also a simple grosgrain ribbon attached and a bit of a curve on the top to tell the hat has been shaped. But when lifted, the hat has an almost halo-esque appearance due to the hand stitched lace on the underside.

You can see how the hat is hand cut for its length and the brim folded over and sewn in the top photo. There is also a hand sewn sweatband and haircomb to help keep it on your head in photos below. The hat is a great depth and perches well as a regular hat or tilted to showcase the halo look.

Her attention to detail and the craftsmanship in her hats are outstanding, but I feel that these are just a teaser to the amount of work she does with her clothes. 
This is easily one of my favorite hats that I own because I adore the wide brim and sleeper feel vibe it gives until you look up. I really hope to get another soon in a more muted halo one day. 
Hey Kelsey! Thanks for taking the time to do this Q and A. How long have you been into millinery and sewing?
I started sewing when I was around twelve. I had my mom teach me so that I could make my own Halloween costumes! I didn't like the ones that came in those plastic bags and was determined to do better.

What inspires you when you think about creating a piece, sewing, or otherwise?
I always draw from history. I'll be going through a book or visiting a museum and thing "ah that's a sleeve I have to try out" or "I've got to pleat something that way" nine times out of ten I'll build a piece around something like that. The rest just falls into place.

So do you sell at conventions, and are there other items or areas you are focusing on now?I do sell at some conventions. I always try to get into Otakon and Rufflecon, but I'm moving more toward doing custom pieces and working on having a piece or two produced in a factory. 

Tell us about your lolita sewing patterns, is there anything you have coming up that you'd like to share?

I've been working with a pattern maker in Cleveland to have my patterns made factory ready. My own patterns are ones I've made myself so I know their quirks, but you can't send that off to a factory! I'm waiting on the first factory made sample of Enchanted Blade print to come back to me before starting the pre-order 

When drafting a piece together, whether it be millinery or dress making is there anything you watch or read to help with the creative process?
I always love to have some sort of background noise when I work on things. Old BBC documentaries are my staple but for the last collection I worked on I ended up listening to a bunch of old Bob Vila episodes! Quite a change from historians telling me about the Northern 
Photo by Yanise

Are there certain materials that you like working with more than others when working on projects?
I adore heavy fabrics, velvets and brocades are my favorite! I also love working with silk taffeta and dupioni. I always want my pieces to have a really special feeling and there is something about the weight of a wool or a high quality brocade gown that has that. I also really like doing small hand sewn details. Things that can't be replicated by a machine especially. And having a lining in a surprising fabric is something I like too. Like a bit of lace trim on the inside of the dress that only the wearer sees; d
etails like that make things feel special to me.

Photo by Xin Photography
Here is I Do Declare's facebook, and for latest updates be sure to also check their instagram and  etsy.

My second showcase is for the infamous halo bonnet by Atelier Angel. This bonnet was actually a piece she had made for herself and you can follow the process of its creation cataloged in her tumblr here, here, here, and here. As an avid follower of her sewing projects, her dabbling into bonnet making was really quite inspirational and wonderful to keep up as she progressed with its construction. It was a very rare opportunity to procure this one of a kind item and such a stellar piece of lolita millinery and to record date by far the crown jewel of my collection.

The bonnet came with a triple ribbon bow with pearls as well spare parts if any of the other pats should get lost or go missing. Such a doll! The amount of pinning, blood, sweat and hand sewing doesn't really show in the close ups but it had to be an unimaginable amount. The detail work is incredible and you can even see the where its hand sewn across the bottom of the brim.

The bonnet is actually three different shades of gold and with the way its constructed; it gives it a lot of textured depth when worn, especially with the accompaniment of intricate trim covered with varied sized of pearls. The back of the bonnet is equally as refined and you can actually see the texture created.

So while I'm happy to own this wonderful piece, it is a bit of a challenge to wear sometimes! The reason is, I believe the original owners head was a little bit smaller than mine so when worn properly, the bonnet actually kind of bows a bit awkwardly. I have to wear it really forward, but I guess if no one else notices it doesn't really matter, haha. I'm very very happy that I own this piece and sort of wish she would make more bonnet/hat items; but given the amount of time this one took, I totally see why she plans on not doing it anytime soon or any sort of mass production of such. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a huge lolita inspiration as a friend and to own a piece of her work makes it all that much more a special sentimental piece for me.

How long have you been into millinery and sewing?
I've been sewing since 2000. Mostly cobbled together cosplay costumes with high school friends. But I didn't get serious about apparel sewing until I became interested in lolita fashion in 2003. Japanese brands didn't ship overseas and going through a shopping service was quite daunting and expensive at that time. I've always liked working with my hands, so I decided to teach myself how to sew for real. Admittedly it was a lot of trial and error at first, but overall a very rewarding skill. Some people still remember my Antique Beast rococo OP replica I made from 2005 when I meet people even now. I tried my hand at millinery for the first time 2 years ago when hard brimmed bonnets came in fashion. With a wired under-structure, the piece becomes even more sculptural in nature and that opens up a whole different door of possibilities. I just hate all the hand sewing that’s involved. 

What inspires you when you think about creating a piece, sewing or otherwise?
I  tend to get fixated on a specific element or technique that I want to figure out. For example, for my red and gold Elizabethan dress, I wanted to try my hand at drafting slashed sleeves as well as constructing a fully internally boned bodice. It’s not historically accurate at all since I picked and chose which elements I thought were fun to make. I think of sewing as problem solving and I’m actually more drawn to the pattern drafting aspect than the finishing touches. Once I’ve figured out the puzzle, I tend to lose interest. So most of my larger pieces are one-of-a-kind because I never have the same level of motivation in remaking something.  That said, there are times that I just fall in love with a fabric, and I have to design the garment around it, like my gold and black Dolce Gabbana inspired dress. 

So you don't sell at conventions anymore, but are there other items or areas you are focusing on now?
I couldn’t keep up with the grueling convention schedule and the travel that it entailed, so I’ve been selling through the Lolita Collective, which I highly recommend in their professionalism and service. I’ve been also trying to transition my shop to mainly providing computer drafted lolita sewing patterns with western sizing and in english. It’s been my dream for many years and I’ve finally launched last year. The first two patterns are available on etsy for immediate pdf download – one is for a wired headbow and the other a smaller otome sized headbow. I’ve been very encouraged by the positive feedback I’ve received so far.

You mentioned starting to do computer drafted lolita sewing patterns, is there anything you have coming up that you'd like to share?
 I’m currently working on a detachable nun collar pattern as well as a bolero pattern. The bolero pattern will be for more intermediate level sewers and it will be graded in 5 sizes to start. The goal is to eventually release at least two new patterns a year with increasing complexity.

When drafting a piece together, whether it be millinery or dress making is there anything you watch or read to help with the creative process?
If the piece is historically inspired, I do research on the construction of the garment from museum pieces and paintings from that time period. Luckily a lot of the collections are now online for viewing, but I’m severely jealous of people who can just pop in on a weekend to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Any period relevant movies also help to get me in the mood. Right now, I’m obsessed with the huge sleeves and nightgowns in Crimson Peak and the huge Edwardian hats in Mr. Selfridge.

Are there certain materials that you like working with more than others when working on projects?I tend to use a lot of pearls, silks, and dot tulle. My friend calls dot tulle, Angel’s tears, because I love the look but working with it makes me cry.

Atelier Angel's facebook can be found here. Her sewing Tumblr and portfolio, and Etsy are also great things to follow. Watch for updates about upcoming sewing tutorials like her upcoming nun collar and bolero digital patterns as well as other neat things!

I'd like to take this time to thank both of these lovely ladies for taking the time to let me ask them some questions and feature their personality and wares. I hope you enjoyed this spotlight and look forward to more from these wonderful folks!