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.