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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Crafting Creatively: Things I've Made: Kendalls's Wafrican-Loli Dress and Underdress

The grace of Japan, the beauty of Africa, and the cuteness of lolita all in one outfit.
So there I was on the IG like ya do. Checking my feed full of friends, yarn, dolls, more yarn, more dolls, random stuffs, cosplay, nerd shit, and the lifestyles of the cool and Hamilton.1 As I was scrolling and waiting for my morning meds to kick in, I saw that Requiem Art Designs had released a new pattern. That wasn't unusual--she releases patterns practically weekly, on a schedule that I could only hope to wish to maintain even if I could get my brain together. I started following her on Etsy and Instagram because I wanted to start looking into buying patterns for my BJD. I've personally yet to make the leap to sewing for anything slimmer than my Iplehouse Benny Nikki, and even then I've been nervous, but hey, support your local art faves and crafty peeps. Most of what she's released has been for Barbie, Monster High/Ever After High--what she's labeled the Petite Slimline--and various sizes of BJD. I kinda want to get into making some customs of the dolls now that they're plentiful at second hand shops and I have several drawers of the teens.2

That week was an alternate week--something off her usual release schedule. And she had released---wait for it--a WellieWishers pattern. Okay, the top image gave it away, but that day I got flappy hands.  And one that wasn't historical based, frilly frou-frou aprons and ruffles and bows like a doily and a ruffle foot had gone off the rails and both eaten the doll halfway and met in the middle, generidress (but now with bow!), or something that a person whose aesthetics for a seven year old's dressing fashion had stopped somewhere around 1958 had made? Sign me, as they say, the fuck up.

Her first Wellies-sized pattern, the Wa-Loli Dress For 14 inch Kid Dolls, came out in August. She's calling the size 14" Kid Dolls, so this covers Wellies, Heart4Hearts Girls like Rahel, Mosi, and Shola3 and those Glitter Girls I saw at Target for a blip before they went to get retooled and haven't shown back up yet near me. That covers quite a few dolls of the style.

But it got better. She wanted to promote the new size she was trying--because she didn't want the size to fail and her to commit designing for a a size people weren't interested in. So she offered a new promotion. If you buy the first pattern, make a version of it, and message her on Etsy with an image of the completed test of the pattern, then she would add you to a list to get her next 14" Kid pattern absolutely free! And if you make the second one before the third's release, then you got the third free. And so on and so on and as it goes. If you get the pattern, can make it in a month, and then keep it up, then you would stay on the list to keep getting free patterns as long as she made patterns.

Conditions apply, read the fine print. You have to buy the first pattern--the one she had just released, the Wa-Loli Dress. No getting in on pattern #2. And you have to make it and show her you made it before the next one comes out--in about a month. And the moment you don't make the next month's, you're off the list and you don't get back on. Well, it was a month at the release, now it's less than a week. So if you can buy this and make it by the 21st of September and show Requiem, she'll send you the next one free. Yeah, I should have blogged about this sooner. You should have been following me on IG because I told everyone there on day one. Bllpth. Also if the size didn't sell at least 15 in a year, the pattern would be considered a failure size and she'd stop making patterns. Well, it sold more than that in the first week. I'd like to hope I added to the buying with some IG and posting on AGC.

I did as I was offered, bought the pattern, and went out to get some fabric to make a doll dress the next weekend. I had initially decided that, since Ashlyn and Zeblyn are my two half-Japanese Wellie twins, I was going to make a dress for each of them--or at least one for Ashlyn. But in Joann Fabrics, I came across kente cloth and the plans instantly changed to making a set for Kendall. The gods are capricious, knew I was being too ambitious, and wanted to remind me that Kendall was first one to arrive and like Addy, deserves the best. The pattern includes pieces and steps for a dress, underdress, and faux obi-style sash with optional center and bow.

Note that if you're a person who needs a pattern to give a total walkthrough from layout to closure, full color step by step images of every seam and how to sew it, and everything on every pattern marked so you get your hands held, then you're going to need to work around that for Requiem's patterns. Requiem's patterns have the patterns to proper scale, some basic data on the pattern pieces so you know what goes on the folds and all that, and then all the steps in text of how many pieces to cut out (and if you need long rectangles, their dimensions) and how they go together. No pics walking you through every seam, press, and step. They get to the heart of a pattern and expect you to know what you're doing. This to me is kind of refreshing. The pattern tells me what to do, gives me some details, and then expects me to know what I'm up to and how a thing goes together. I like that, especially with how long I've been sewing now. I don't need to be told how to gather, press, run a straight seam--just tell me how the thing runs together and let me do it. The guidance is slim and if you can't tell a seam ripper from a zipper foot, you might be in trouble. Time to jump that hurdle!

Go under the cut for deets on Wafrica, Lolita dress, wa-loli, and how I made one damn cute outfit for Kendall. Also guess who found the aspect ratios on her phone? Yeah, buddy.

First things first.4 Let's do some education about what "Wafrican-Loli" means.
Wafrica.
Wafrica--wa being the prefix for Japanese things and Africa being the largest continent on this whole planetsphere after Eurasia--is a kimono fashion collection designed by Serge Mouangue, an interior designer and industrial designer/artist. Wafrica blends the aesthetics of Japanese kimono--primarily komon--and garment styles with Western African patterns and motifs, highlighting the beauty of both intertwined. Somewhere in my house I have an African print kimono style outfit that I made; I should get it out and give it a good press and love.

But isn't Wafrica cultural appropriation? First of all, some of you are asking this to trying to catch me in a trap like every asshole who claims because I speak English, use the internet, and wear jeans I'm appropriating from white people like my ancestors weren't imported, so stop it. Go eat vegan pet food.5 Secondly, it's not appropriation, it's appreciation. Appreciation is when I invite you over, make you a nice meal, and if you ask nicely I offer you the recipe so you can make it at home and ask if you want me to teach you how to make the sauces. Appropriation is when you break into my house after hearing I was making dinner, smell what I'm cooking, grab the whole pot without asking including the jam that was for me alone, tear it apart to make it how you want it, and open a restaurant claiming that you're the ones who discovered Korean barbeque in this town before the Koreans. Don't make me explain it to you again, fucknugget.

Moving on.

Wa-Loli.
Loli is short for Lolita, a style of dress that originated in Japan (and has gone worldwide) based on the aesthetics of Victorian and Edwardian girls dress , the Rococo period, and the image of cuteness or kawaii. That's a short overview, given that people write whole blogs on lolita style--but that explains it enough for now. Styles vary with the three most well known being Elegant Gothic, Sweet, and Classic. Wa-loli--using that wa prefix again--is a lolita fashion style integrating traditional elements of Japanese clothing and/or prints. Research shows that it's one of the hardest styles to pull off because the deal is not to look like a costume or a cosplayer, maintaining the cute and ruffled feel of lolita while respectfully adding Japanese elements. It's a fine balance to wear, and it only takes a little bit to misstep and look awful.

So wa + African + loli = Wafrican-Loli. Tada! You can do word math. On to the review of the outfit.

*~*~* 

The whole dress again.
Dress: I made the main dress of kente-cloth-print quilter's cotton. Kente cloth--also west African, primarily Ghanan--really took off in the 90s during the height of pro-black 90s style and African American return to self and consciousness. While it's stepped back a bit, kente can still be really good looking when done right. It was used for that awful African Dance Outfit of Today I don't own. Should I make Addy something nice and accurate to her Yoruban heritage, I'm likely to use kente cloth in part. The colors have meanings, but I'll be honest. It's pretty, I've liked the stuff when well done since I was a youth, and I'll buy African-style cloth just cause it be nice and all.

Right over left, certain death.
Left over right, outta sight.
The collar is a simple rectangle attached to the bodice around. Once you have the bodice put together, put on the collar--it's a little longer than the actual lay, so you don't have to match it up perfect and can trim the excess once it's on.

The closure is like kimono. This means you put the doll's proper left over the proper right. Don't do it the other way. If you do it the other way that is how they wrap the dead and that means your doll is a ghost. Don't fuck it up.

To the back.
The back bodice is two pieces put together instead of a single piece. Adds a seam, but authentic kimono have that back seam. Styling!

Sleeve.
 The sleeves are in the style of--I want to say almost like yukata, since they're not super long and come down to Kendall's hips when her arm is straight out. They aren't open in the back for simplicity--you just go from the hem and under and around the bodice to close the underarm seam--and so make a little pocket in the curve.

Ruffles.
I went with the sleeve variant that has ruffles on the sleeves, aiming for the narrow style. And here I will gush about ruffles because Requiem understands that on this scale or smaller, no one wants to have to hem ruffles and then gather them. Instead you make it twice as wide as it'll be, fold it over wrong sides together, and gather the open side. No hems to turn, no fiddly pressing, just fold and press and go. Thank you. This doesn't always work but when it do, it do. All the ruffles and the collar do this.

Skirt.
The skirt is a basic one piece rectangle. It's gathered to the waist of the bodice except for the first inch and a half on the right side, because that's under the wrap side anyways and just adds unneeded bulk on a spot that's being layered over.

Ruffly~!
The skirt has a straight ruffle on the bottom. A variation on the skirt--included inside--offers a curved front with a ruffle all the way up to the waist. I'll probably do that on the next ones I make for Ashlyn and/or Zeblyn. I just went straight for this one.7

No closures.
There are no closures on the dress or the underdress. The whole thing is held together with the sash.
 
Obi-dobi.
Obi Sash: The obi sash is dual layered--it's a main of burgundy cotton and the center of yellow cotton. I went with colors that complemented the main kente cloth, rather than matching perfectly or being too green or black. It makes the look joyful and childlike, and the yellow evokes Kendall's meet set.

There's a seam on the back of the main sash, but the center is glue-hemmed and then glued onto the main sash. I...hadn't used fabric glue before. I tended to think that glue makes things stiff and doesn't last when you launder a garment. But when you start going this small and this narrow, you kinda want to...not sew hems. And so I swallowed my pride like so much calamari, glued the edges and folded them over, and gave it a little press with the iron. And it wasn't stiff at all! Thanks, I learned a thing.

Bow on the butt.
The obi has a yellow bow on the back, which his a also glue-hemmed instead of seamed but hten gathered at the center with some basic hand sewing before it's sewn onto the obi.  The bow could go anywhere--even on the front if you're that kinda baller--but I like my bows in the back. You could also try some traditional cords or what have you to really evoke the wa in the wa-loli. I know how to tie an obi on a kimono but in the wa-loli style the closure of the obi is a little less foldy tucky and more of a overlap and grip. Look, I'm willing to minimize the dress folding.

Sash out.
The sash is just waist sized to close the whole set.I put the bow over the closure. This one doesn't have to be left over right. Just the fronts.

Snap.
I'd already walked away from my machine so I just sewed on a snap. Clear, because I misplaced all my metal snaps. And if you're wondering, the fabric glue didn't gum up anything. I then pinked the end so I didn't have to hem in.

Under the dress.8
Underdress: Rather than adding white trims to the main dress, there's a full underdress of white cotton. It helps that skirt poof out, it does. It's put together like the outer main dress, but with a longer collar and skirt ruffle so they stick out under the main dress. This could serve as a standard dress by itself, though if you're going for loli put a shirt on under the main dress. No bare arms in loli.

No dead dolls.
It's like the main dress. Right over left, symbol of death. Left over right, outta sight.

Sleeve. Or lack thereof.
There's no sleeves at all; instead, the bodice is hemmed over at the armscye. I went with a zigzag stitch.

Ruffles and front.
Just like the main dress, the skirt is gathered to the bodice except for an inch and a half. The bottom ruffle is longer than the main dress, but done the same style.

Bonus: tulle petticoat!
This is the one spot I didn't follow the directions. I added three layers of stiff tulle netting into the skirt before gathering as an attached petticoat. Tulle was super on sale, so I bought three yards9 of fine and thick, and cut three extra skirts of the thick to put under the skirt.

Gathered, no gathered.
You can see the non-gathered side on the front a little better on the underdress since there's no pattern to distract the eye.

Finishing touches on top...
Finishing Bits: It's just not loli without the hair decs. I put two burgundy grosgrain ribbons around Kendall's puffs.

...and bottom.
As for shoes, I wasn't going to put her in her wellies, as those wouldn't work. Neither would the many plastic shoes the Wellies rock. So I ordered her some socks and Mary Janes. They look like tights but no, just hip high socks. Burgundy metallic patent leather doesn't go with everything, but they go with this, so my buddy Canty did a good in talking me into these.

*~*~*

Best part of making it: I love that almost every long rectangle piece on this set--the collar and the ruffles--that normally make me scream with tiny hemming did not require me to hem anything. Just fold, sew in, or gather,and go! It looks so much nicer especially on this scale, and I didn't have to make narrow hems or double hems or any of that. Reading directions on most patterns has me feeling like a kid on their first project who's being treated like she doesn't know her way around a needle when they tell me to press a seam before doing the next one, but this pattern did the opposite--it assumed my brains were useful and I could make sense of the directions without being told every little thing every way and having to be told to use a straight stitch to sew the back together.

Worst part of making it: For the first time in a while, I struggle to find a bad part of a pattern. Printing it out and cutting it? Nah, that's standard, put on some TV and cut out paper. The lack of directions? That was one of the best. Checking the patterns to make some marks? I do that most of the time If there was a worst part, it was me getting over my issues with using fabric glue, and I'm now past that. We're all past that.

Does it look good on the doll?: Oh yeah. I'm really glad I went with Kendall the first round of what I hope can be a whole span of Wellie sewing. I like lolita styles--not for me I'm not the kind of person to enjoy wearing it but I love the aesthetics--and learning about wa-loli was a delight. And I got to teach y'all about Wafrica so double awesome.

Would I use the pattern again? I plan to after I keep up with my giveaway. My Wellies gang might end up with a whole gaggle of themed loli dresses by the time this is all over.

Final Thoughts: The pattern is awesome, the outfit came out perfection, and I'm so looking to my next pattern by her! And  um, now I have motivation to blog new Wellie clothes once a month, at least.

Wellies: Now with piercings!
P.S. I left something out of my last blog post. WellieWishes can now get their ears pierced by AG. They have their own unique earrings--the Bright Blooms Earring Set--that use the same post size as 18" AG earrings, so you can do it yourself if you're able. Or get it done by AG. And they can thus wear AG earrings. Line up Wellies. Neth's gonna put holes in your heads. And that only leaves Bitty Baby without earrings but lol Bitty Baby.

--Neth

1 I follow not only a lot of the OBC that's on IG, but some of the Broadway folk and everyone on Philip Tour that has an IG. This means lots and lots of looks backstage and seeing everyone being a goof. I love actors so much.
2 Yes I know the line is dead and dying. Doesn't mean I can't make tiny doll clothes.
3 I I'm likely going to update and repost my Mosi and Shola Review that I posted years ago on Toy Box Philosopher. It was my words, after all.
4 I'm'a say all the words inside my head, I'm fired up and tired of the way that things have been, ooh ooh~
5 Today in shit that pissed Neth the Entire Fuck Off: So there I was on IG, like you do at six a.m. And there was an ad suggesting people have their dogs go vegan for meatless Mondays. Not only is that one of the whitest fucking things I have seen in the last 24 hours, but dogs and cats should not be vegan. If you want a vegan pet buy a rabbit. Cause bitch, I don't even have a cat or dog but you can bet your bottom dollar by all the gods I worship that if you tried to push me to make my dog go vegan his next meal would be your ass.
6 Not the book by Nabokov about how fucked up men will justify sexual abuse.
7 Just because I'm queer doesn't mean I can't ruffle straight.
8 My white balance on the phone camera was off. It happens.
9 Fun story. When I bought the tulle the cutting counter person accidentally typed in 33 instead of three on one of the sets of tulle. I wondered why the cost was high, checked out to not hold up the line, checked the receipt, and then had it fixed on the spot without being a public nuisance. It was an honest mistake and the checkout person that helped me fix it made the joke that people only buy that much tulle for a wedding.

2 comments:

  1. It’s beautiful work!

    The idea of sewing doll clothes is way beyond my skills, like calculus to that poor vegan dog or cat, but I really enjoy seeing your crafts.

    Cats are definitely carnivorous, so it would be cruel, borderline abuse, to force the cat to go vegan. Why do people keep trying to impose their internal models of the world on everyone else? Just leave me the eff alone.

    Here’s some love coming your way from the metropolitan NYC area.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love when you talk about ridiculous crap like Meatless Mondays for dogs and cats; uh I am a progressive Catholic and I do Meatless FRIDAYS every 40 days out of the year.

    ReplyDelete

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