Thursday, July 19, 2012

What is a seamstress worth?

This is not in response to anything- I just figured that some of you may want to know what goes into all this sewing stuff, so you understand what I do better as well as the pricing for most of the stuff I make.

The basic price guide for most seamstresses for how much to charge someone is materials cost plus $X an hour multiplied by how many hours it will take.

M + ($10 x 6) = ?

Most seamstresses charge between $10 - $25 an hour depending on their skill level and location. They shouldn't pay themselves less then minimum wage, just like you wouldn't take a job that paid you almost nothing.

Fabric prices are a broad range- simple cotton can be cheap- but custom printed fabric can be $27 a yard and beautiful silk or custom order fabric can be $70- $100 a yard (think bridal fabric). Now for the dresses I make- I generally need 3 yards. So before I even calculate the labor cost- I already have $50 usually in fabric cost, without the cost of lace, thread, elastic, buttons etc. I have spent over $50 on lace and buttons for commissions before!

Now- I am going to say that from start to finish dresses can take somewhere around 10 hours to make (sometimes less, sometimes more). But that's a good average.

According to the formula- a middle of the road lolita dress would cost, in math terms,

$75 (materials)+ ($10 x 10) = $175

That is the minimum pay for a seamstress- most experienced seamstresses I know charge $20 an hour.

$75 + ($20 x 10) = $275

So in all reality, I should be charging the same price as most brands for the dresses I put out, and this would be the same formula regardless of style- same formula for costumes, for regular dresses, for whatever.

It used to be much easier and cheaper to make your own clothes- long ago when clothes were more expensive. As time has gone by- and machines have made the production of clothes cheaper and easier- it is no longer cheaper to hand make your clothes. It is considerably more expensive. It can be cheaper sometimes, but usually it's not.

I charge considerably less than I really should and I get lectured for it a lot by other seamstresses. In lolita, not many will pay that much for a custom dress because brand is so much more expensive. But in all actuality, it's brand that is over priced for machine made items. You're paying for the label, not necessarily the quality. Lolita does often retain value, so there is that- but I hate generalizations made on lolita seamstresses that we over charge because lolita is expensive, when in reality, all hand made custom clothing is expensive.

I just thought I would throw this out there for those of you who had no clue how seamstresses come up with prices. Putting a whole lot of work into something and then realizing you only paid yourself $3 an hour- is a terrible and often really frustrating and upsetting mistake. It's not one you should make, or force others to make on your behalf. People should be paid what they are worth.

Edit- it's also important to keep track of all this stuff for taxes, with a small business you pay taxes to state and sometimes (in my case anyway) your city every month (or the months where you sell at conventions)- and if you keep all your receipts and keep track of your uses you can write all that stuff off on your taxes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Phoenix Comicon 2012

I went down to Phoenix Comicon for the 6th year in a row, but sadly this might be my last. Phoenix Comicon has changed a lot in the last couple years and seem to be pushing anime out of programming- which pushes a lot of my customers out of the con. This year many chose to got to Fanime instead and I really felt their absence.

This was a really busy month for me and I worked very hard to get enough stock to sell there- and we really didn't do that well- we about broke even with the hotel and table cost- whereas last year we made quite a profit. But even so I made some great new friends and met some of my beloved old ones. Here is a simple rundown of my weekend.

Thursday- We came really early to unload and set up the table and I was really surprised by how many people came by the table Thursday. People who intentionally came by just to see me or to buy something. It was awesome and it totally started the con off right for me :) Thanks so much for that!!

Friday- I had the lovely Alexis and Roman watch the table for me intermittently this weekend and I can't thank them enough for it! However, everything I tried to do today either fell through or sucked. Panelist didn't show up for panels because programming double booked groups for multiple panels at the same time. The audio for the AMV contest was messed up and there were barely any submissions due to PCC not having a forum to be able to get messages out. I also wanted to see ANY Star Trek TNG guest but they had them in a panel room that was constantly full and they didn't let more people than the room could fit. It was a disappointing day and made me feel....depressed. There was a "free" firework show from the ballpark though- that was kind of cool. I wore my Mirikawa from High School of the Dead- since they were having a party that night- I only found these people who were actually dressed as the characters and not just wearing the school uniform. I also ended up being too tired to go to the actual party.


Saturday was pretty cool because I got to meet and fangirl all over Danielle Corsetto from Girls with Slingshots. She drew me a sketch of Jaime. I also wore my Star Trek Lolita and got lots of photos with other Trekkies who thought I was steampunk for some unknown reason (but they were lovely anyway).

I went to the masquerade that night and it was kind of horribly messed up and disorganized and I felt both bad and relieved that I didn't enter. I was part of a group that asked for clarification on the rules and asked for some changes in how they judged. No real clarification was given and we were told that they wanted to see a lot less of anime in the show- so a lot of us didn't enter due to that. It was kind of a mess, I really hope that it was a learning experience to be improved upon. The hosts were quite charming though, and I love the storm trooper dude who announces every year. He was the highlight this year I think, for me anyway.

Sunday- I was going to wear lolita this day but I was so tired. So regular clothes it was. I did go to see the Star Trek Panel with all the guests- but I had to go to the prior panel and a half to make sure I got in- which sucked. But I got to see them and discovered that Wil Wheaton is my favorite person from TNG- in real life not on the show- but he is always so awesome. All of the characters are so opposite of the real person- I mean, Wil Wheaton is the coolest person and Mirina Siritis is a huge bitch. Micheal Dorn is also really soft spoken. It was interesting. I also got a sketch from another artist who recognizes me every year and whom I really admire- Travis Hanson. I've read all his books and have lots of his prints- awesome guy!

And that was kind of it- The booth down the way from me- Miss. Alainius- was awesome and such a great person. We were BFF the first day. I also saw many of your smiling faces and I appreciate it. I really do enjoy sitting at the table and talking to you all. I think this will be the last year we are an exhibitor at PCC though- the tables are expensive and the hotel is expensive and before I used to staff PCC, but I will no longer do that so it seems kind of pointless to go to be a vendor when the earnings barely make up for the trip.I have lost my love for this con due to lots of behind the scenes reasons and it saddens me that I didn't feel happy leaving PCC- I wasn't impressed or have that con feeling that I usually have. I am debating if I should move to Fanime and try to get a table there instead. Maybe you guys can tell me what you think about that?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Project Runway

So remember how I was invited to apply to Project Runway by a casting person who found me on Etsy? Yea, well I actually never applied and I've been meaning to tell you guys why. I wanted to accompany it with a video, but it's looking like production of the video is taking longer than I thought and I wanted to tell you guys why I didn't actually go through with it. There were a lot of was that I have no idea about fashion outside of lolita and I shop at thrift stores most of the time and really don't give a shit (which I think might hurt me a little in a competition where they are used to people who know modern trends). Aside from that- there was the leaving my family and jobs for a month while filming and flying myself to L.A. for the final interviews (if I got in). But lastly, there was the application. I had a huge problem with it and this is why. After all the name, age, and interests questions there were about 7 pages of personal questions, about your past, about your relationships, about your parents, about your regrets and the kicker? at the bottom of the last page was a privacy disclaimer saying they could use this info however they see fit and put it wherever they wanted (hello internet).
I am a pretty private person, I don't always voice my opinions and I generally am pretty quiet- especially in public situations. But there was no way I was going to let complete strangers know all about my past, my life and how I felt about it all- because it's complicated- and only my close friends should know that stuff. Now, I could've lied. But I have this thing about liars- I kind of hate them, they are my biggest pet peeve. I actually grew up thinking people didn't lie (because I didn't- so others didn't right?) and that turned out to be the worst lesson ever. But the point is, my family couldn't withstand the exposure of that and I wouldn't approve of being put on display like that. So while I really appreciate the love and support you all displayed when I said I wanted to apply, I ended up not applying. I hope you can all understand my reasons, maybe if I didn't have a child and a husband it would be different, but I do and I have to consider them in everything I choose to do. My son will be starting a very challenging junior high honors school next year- and I don't want to be absent from helping him cope with the change. My family is my life, and they are more important than anything else. So as much as I think I might of had fun, I think in the long run it would have taken a negative toll on my family.
Please continue to support me as I am grateful to have such wonderful clients and fans.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Forever 21 Tights review

So I recently bought some tights off Forever 21 because they have these really cute styles that could go well with lolita, and they were only around $5 a pop.

I got them just a few days after ordering in a bright yellow package- inside was a cute wrapped bag.

Inside was another bag and a return slip with postage sticker, in case something was wrong (pretty cool).

Inside the bag were the 4 pairs of tights I ordered, all pretty.

The first pair was the bow tights in pink- although they are definitely more beige than anything else- and look more like panty hose than tights, but they have a control top and are very soft and stretchy. The styles on the site were all on white mannequin legs, so it was kind of hard to guess at the more skin like colors and the creams/whites.

The next ones were the lavender lace style tights, these are such a pretty light lavender color- prefect for what I wanted and they are sturdy but still really stretchy.

The next ones are the beige flower embroidered fishnet like tights. They are pretty cool too.

Lastly there are the coral lace tights- just like the lavender- but they are a bit more orangy in real life than in the pictures- I thought they would be a bit more pink. But I can still use them for stuff.

All in all it was a good haul for the price- but I still have to try them on- but I thought that you would appreciate seeing them in person and seeing the true colors.

ConNi and Spring and Easter prints!

So here is a long over due shout out to ConNichiwa. We had a great time, spoke to many lovely people and said "Heya" to some old friends. We also made more money, like 5x as much, as last year. So, needless to say, we will be back next year! I had a guest book on my table for people to sign, this is going to become an every convention thing, but some of the comments and stories were awesome! There is one I had to share with you, so here it is:
"The stuff in this store is amazing! owo We bought 4 of the lucky packs, because we were dead obsessed. After opening two, we freaked out and started running back to get to the vendor hall. As I was running, N (name taken out) grabbed the hood of my jacket and I ALMOST DIED. I ran out of breath and I got here last. I got the yellow jelly ring after wrestling for it."

BEST. STORY. EVER. Accompanied by pictures. Those girls were awesome-big hugs to them.

In totally unrelated news...
I hear that Easter is coming up- not a holiday I celebrate but I do appreciate the loads of candy and cute pastels that Easter ushers in. So, I decided to post some cute Easter/Springtime dresses. Enjoy :)

Are there any special prints that remind you of Spring?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lolita Fashion is not "pedo bait"

Recently I came across this disturbingly insulting review of a anime convention and it's attendees. In said article the author describes one of the lolita's as a "pedophile's wet dream" and in the comments the words "pedo bait" are mentioned over and over. "Why else would you dress like that?" Now, I'd like us all to take a moment and really think about that statement, that grown up adults are dressing up to attract pedophiles...on purpose.

Done? Ok, hopefully common sense has told you that is a silly concept. If not, let's talk about what a pedophile is. Wikipedia states a pedophile as psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 or older) typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger, though onset of puberty may vary).
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) defines pedophilia as recurrent sexually arousing fantasies, impulsive desires, or behaviors involving sexual acts with a child and that occur over a period of at least six months. In most cases, the pedophile is at least sixteen years of age and at least five years older than the child. Those who suffer from pedophilia have a compulsion to abuse young children.

Nowhere does it say that pedophiles are attracted to the clothing that children stereotypically wear or are attracted to adults who might dress like children. Most people who dress in lolita look like adults, with curves, and I don't think could be confused with an 8 year old. And I really don't see children wearing clothes like this all, unless it happens to be Easter.

Now, that doesn't mean that men aren't attracted to the women dressed in the outfits. It doesn't mean that there aren't perverts who think it is the sexiest thing ever and who think of it as a fetish. In fact, I'm positive there are. Blaming this on the women who wear it though, is uncalled for and disgusting. Lolita's don't dress like that to attract men, if we did we would dress completely differently. We wouldn't cover up 85% of our bodies. We dress in lolita because we want to, and we love it. It has nothing to do with anybody else. We don't enjoy the negative attention and the rude comments we get while wearing it. That reviewer said he wanted to marry that lolita when she stopped dressing like that, so obviously he found her attractive, so is he a pedophile?
My point is, this is a stupid ignorant comment that just makes the user look like a closed minded moron. Pedophiles are not attracted to adults, no matter how they are dressed. I also feel like the person using the term "pedo bait" are taking the seriousness away from a disorder that hurts and destroys people's lives. It is not a term to throw around. So don't, and everyone will be happier.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vivid Beauty contacts review!

So I ordered some prescription color lenses from Vivid Beauty after a friend of mine suggested them. I have really bad vision- and an astigmatism on top of that, so I have trouble finding colored lenses for anything under $100. This site Vivid Beauty has a large selection of lenses and many in my prescription. The best part? They ALL cost around $20, regardless of the prescription. So my -6.5 prescription cost me only $18 shipped.

The seller is inside the USA so shipping only took a couple days and I got my lenses securely packaged with a contact lens case! Now, I ordered just the prescription lenses even though I have an astigmatism because I only planned on wearing them for a few hours at a time, and since allergies make my eyes sensitive anyway- I figured this would be perfect for photo shoots and such.

Their order form was simple and I sent it in then received an invoice request from Paypal ( you can pay other ways of payment). I ordered the blue Nudy series and while they don't completely cover my eye color (which is light brown) they still make by eyes blue and blend well with my eye color under it.

Sorry the color isn't quite true- but you get a good idea of before and after.
I wore these for about 3 hours yesterday and had no problems! I highly recommend you try them- since you have little to lose and so much to gain if it works out! Less than $20 is very little to spend on colored prescription contacts! I am so happy I can finally wear colored contacts for my cosplay and actually be able to see out of them. Now I don't recommend wearing regular lenses if you have astigmatism because it can be bad for your eyes, but if you have a prescription (or even none at all) this is a great place to find contacts!

Check them out at the link above :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Singer Serger unboxing

So thanks to a series of recent purchases I was able to invest in a better serger, and like a total dork- I decided to do a box opening. So here is the serger I got- it was on super sale for Presidents day and is a 4 thread so I can use it for stretchy fabrics (which my current serger can't handle). The main difference between this serger and the one I currently have is the differential feed (my current three thread doesn't have one). The differential feed helps you feed cloth through the machine so you can sew knits and also make ruffles.

Singer Profinish 745 model

Open it up and it's encased in styrofoam with the manual on top. It's about 50 pages long- but also has Spanish and French if you want to test your dual language skills.

So after taking off the top Styrofoam and I am really happy to see that it is already threaded and has mini spools of thread already in it!

Out of the box! It has suction cup feet.

The inside parts-

This serger (besides being capable of 6 different stitches and being compatible with my juki serger feet) also has a removable storage compartment that when removed, lets you serger arm holes and circles! YAY

The serger also came with an instructional DVD, extra needles, and the standard stuff like tweezers and a screwdriver.

So while this machine was less expensive than any of my other new equipment, I'm hoping the quality will still be good. I haven't messed with it yet, but I got free classes with it, so I can go and learn all the different stitches and what they can do from someone who has used it. I'm sure I will mess with it plenty before then though. Now to magic up some space to put it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Are all Men Pedophiles Poster petition

So, if you are a lolita, chances are you have seen a petition circulating around about a poster being used for a documentary about pedophilia and the assumptions made about it( you have probably seen it 100 times like I have). I am tired of it, especially because people aren't even bothering to look at the statement issued by the movie "There is a lot of conversy surrounding the film posters. The documentary does not offend Lolita. Wild assumptions about what pedophilia is or isn’t is why the documentary was made in the first place." Personally, I think the only person who has something to say is the model in the photo- and if they used her image without permission. Otherwise- this is no more detrimental to lolita than 4chan or Get Off EGL or Lolita Secrets. For one, the girl looks amazing, and not provocative at all (despite what the petitions say) and secondly, there have always been perverts associated with lolita. We all know this- it is a fetish with some people- as much as we don't mean it to be. There will always be men who find it attractive or think it's perverted or whatever for whatever reasons outside of our own understanding of the fashion. Lolita can look like you are purposefully dressing like a little girl- this movie is about the stereotypes and assumptions of pedophilia- seems like a good image representation to me. This movie doesn't seem to be about lolita or really mention it all- and it looks like a very well done and informative movie that I would actually want to see.
Is lolita supposed to be sexy- no. Do some people see it as sexy?- yes. No matter how much we rant about the fashion being modest and covered up, some people will still see it as sexy. I don't think that seeing the picture will make people think that lolitas are all about attracting pedophiles because WHO THE HELL WOULD WANT THAT? I think we should have asked to post an informative link to what lolita is instead of getting all angry and in their faces. We could have had a chance to share what lolita is with a whole bunch of people. Anyway- the whole thing makes me irritated and annoyed- and I feel like the info on the petition post is over dramatic.

And frankly, anyone who looks at lolita and says "OMG those girls are all about attracting pedophiles and are perverts and whores" is a complete and utter fucking moron and I don't want them anywhere near me in the lolita community. They can stay blissful in their giant bubble of ignorance and stay the hell away from me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


So lately I've been a little obsessed with plaids. I've been wanting to make some cute stuff with plaids for a while- but you have to treat them nicely when making a garment with them. If you want to sew plaids- this is a good reference.
There are a lot of important details with lining up plaids that help make the finished garment look that much more professional. Another great PDF reference file about plaids and how to use them is here.
So if you not sewing and you just like the look of plaid, I have a little something for you too, here are some pictures of plaid and lolita. A wonderful combination if I do say so myself.

Now, you might be wondering- aren't some of these tartans or gingham or something? And what is the difference between plaid and tartan and gingham anyway? Well, click on over here and you can read all about the difference between tartans and plaids- because there is a very important one- especially to the Scottish. As of gingham...

Gingham is a checkered pattern but it is actually woven into the cloth with different colored warn, it often has a texture that gives it away. It's medium weight. It usually looks like this...

So, now that you have learned a little bit about plaids you can impress your friends or make a kilt or something. Hopefully some of this was useful, or at least fun to look at :)

Monday, January 23, 2012


So I have been thinking a lot and have made a decision. After I finish the commissions for this month I am not doing anymore until at least March. I have less and less time to work and I am devoting more and more of it to commissions and not to my own ideas. At this rate I won't be able to have half of what I want to do for ConNichiwa. So, I'm taking a holiday. This doesn't mean that I'm not going to be making things for sale- I still will. I just won't be doing special commissions (Namie is the only one exempt from this due to previous arrangements). My creativity is dying to come out, and it's killing me to keep putting it aside to work on something else. I need to let it come out and play for awhile. I hope you all understand.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Etsy Shopping Guide

I love Etsy, you love Etsy- we all love it. But you can definitely get stuck with a purchase that you didn't know was horrible until you get it. This could mean quality, size, shape, color. So I thought I would help everyone with lolita shopping (and general shopping) on Etsy. You can find some great stuff on the site, and some real fail. So here are my top 5 tips to help you navigate Etsy with confidence.

Lets talk about photos...
#1. When you find a seller and they have bad or blurry pictures, stay away from them. If the seller can't even find a camera to take in focus pictures of their wares, why are they trying to sell them in the first place? It seems shady, like the person is trying to hide the quality of their stuff behind bad focus. If you really want to find out more about what they are selling, send them a convo (conversation or basically message) and ask them to send you better pictures so you can get a better idea of quality.

#2. Beware of awesome pictures. I know, I just said stay away from bad pictures, but hear me out. Sometimes, bad quality can also be hidden behind awesome model pictures. I personally hate it when there are these amazing photo shopped pictures of someone wearing something, and I can't really even see how the quality is. Sure, the picture is cool, but what about the close up of the item in natural light. Just be aware that amazing pictures that look like they should be in a magazine (and no other pictures) could also be hiding something. I like when sellers have a combo of worn pictures and close up pictures of the item.

Let's talk about policies...

#3. Check the seller's info page and their policy page. You want to know about who you are buying from and where they are, how they ship, how they handle returns etc. If this page is blank, I wouldn't buy from them because they must not have any idea what their policies are if something were to happen to your purchase, and that is not cool. They may also require you to pay within a certain amount of time or they will re-list your item. You can also convo someone and ask them about a policy or for clarification, but if they hold themselves professionally, they should have a policy page all set up.

Let's talk about custom orders...

#4. So say you want a custom lolita dress (not a simple skirt) and when you order it you tell the seamstress that you are a size 12 or you wear a 32c bra and size 5 pants, and the seamstress is fine with that info, you may want to reconsider your order. This is why, making a custom garment requires a ton of measurements in order for it to fit you well and not bulge, bag, or gap on you. If a seamstress doesn't send you a measurement sheet to fill out, chances are she/he is not a very good one and is going to guess at your size. This is VERY important if you are really tall, short, busty, big bottomed, broad shouldered etc. Stretch fabrics are also measured differently than non-stretch (learned this the hard way). It's a sad feeling when you get something and it doesn't fit when you've been waiting weeks for it. That being said, if this happens you should be able to contact the person and get either a refund (send the item back) or send it back to them for repairs (usually with no extra charge since it was their mistake).

Let's talk about being courteous...

#5. Lastly as a shopper, you should be courteous. If you inquire about something and then change your mind, don't leave that person hanging, tell them. Don't buy stuff then not pay for it- that's just mean. Be polite when asking questions and keep in mind you could be creating a great relationship with someone that will DISCOUNT stuff for you in the future. I have built great relationships over Etsy with people I've never met but consider friends. If you don't plan on buying something right away but are curious, then say so. Don't make it sound as though you want to buy something when you don't. Sellers get their hopes up too, so play nice.

So I think that covers the basics of shopping on and will help you feel a little more confident when making purchases there. Good luck and happy shopping!
And I know my pictures have nothing to do with Etsy, but they are pretty.

Here is a short list of my fav Etsy stores-

CuteCandyClouds cute bear hats
CatNapCaps Fairy kei/sweet accessories
KittywoodDesigns sweet accessories
MissSapporo craft items
PrincessPearl clothing
Blashphemina more couture clothing
ElegyClothing clothing/blouses
TheQuaintrella Mori girl type stuff
TwoBackFlats Mini hats of good quality
Silversark clothing
AliceDoll brooches and collars

Now go forth and find your own favorites!

and of course...mine PoisonSugar