diy

Chocolate & Biscuits: Sweets Deco Spotlight

I love deco, but I’m usually more of a crystal-and-pearl girl than the cabochon-and-cream bulky style of sweets deco. It seems like everyone is whipping out their caulk gun and sticking some plastic cookies onto their phone cases these days. But Silverleica‘s Etsy shop completely changed how I think about sweets deco! How about deco that really looks like pastries, cookies and French toast?

I’m feeling very inspired by Angelic Pretty’s new gingerbread house print, Sweet Cream House – and this would be the perfect sweets style to decorate your purse, cellphone, or coordinate – matching jewelry! These necklaces and cellphone charms look like real gingersnaps and chocolate syrup. All of the crystals are Swarovski-Crystallized as well – glass, not plastic! – for great sparkle.

How cool is that Blackberry case on the lower right? The entire case is actually a sweet – it looks a bit like a sandwich – and she added chocolate sauce to give it the look of a giant eclair.

Most of her work is done on commission, but she’s selling some cases and jewelry (doesn’t it remind you of sweets deco couture Japanese brand Q-Pot?) for really reasonable prices in her shop. If you want a few cute pieces and don’t want to break the bank, here are my four favorite under $20!

Macaron & Lace Cellphone Charm: $11 | Crown Cookie Necklace: $11 | Antique Chocolate Bar Rings: $9.50 | Merci Chocolat Eiffel Tower Necklace: $10

Welcome to my Smash Book!

I’ve been keeping this little book (journal? scrapbook? collection of stickers?!) for nearly a year now, and since I just completed another set of pages I thought it was high time to show you all. I’ve never been a traditional scrapbooker (all those layouts, $10 stickers and negative space make my skin itch) but I’ve always kept art journals, which were usually writing and a lot of drawing or watercolors. When I started attending more lolita events and networking, I quickly amassed a huge collection of papery odds and ends – pamphlets, brand tags, business cards, flyers, postcards – all sorts of things. For a while I let them languish in a drawer or clutter up my ribbon board. But after last year’s Otakon I had so much that I took matters into my own hands and started gluing. This is the result!


 

(Hoping to start making videos again… we’ll see! Music is the instrumental version of Rarity’s song “Art of the Dress” from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!)

“Smash” journaling or scrapbooking, also called “low-pressure scrapbooking” (they’ve piqued my interest there) is letting loose the restrictions of Martha Stewart style scrapbooks and just collaging free-form. I use a simple spiral-bound art journal with sturdy pages, a glue stick, and a paper cutter or X-acto knife as my main tools. When I go to New York I hunt up Japanese stickers, memo pads (great for the smaller scale I’ve gone with) or decorative tape. (If you can’t make it to a big city, check Etsy for Japanese crafting goodies!) In some cases I’ll delve into my mom’s traditional scrapbooking supplies like punches (to create cute paper lace) or scrapbook paper. On the quirky level, the one thing I hope I never lose is my vintage label maker – I love it for adding my own text, especially now that I’ve found pastel tape!

One of the things I am excited to do with my smash book is to start including Instagram! I saw a scrapbook magazine mention that Instagram is an easy way to process photos, and when I found out you can get your Instagrams made into stickers… A match made in heaven! It’s like making your own purikura, or sticker cameras – remember when the iZone was popular? Check out Prinstagram or Instagoodies to get your Instagram photos printed! I’m waiting to get back from San Francisco to get mine… I’m sure this trip will have some beautiful photos!

Instax Mini is another item on my smash book wishlist – an adorable Japanese camera that makes tiny Polaroids. You can put them into these super sweet miniature albums, but they’d also be great additions to smash books. (And yes, the cameras come in an array of pastel colors.)

image via mochithings.com

 Keeping a smash book is an easy way to relax with no-pressure crafting, and in my case, many a happy hour can be spent sticking unicorns on things. It’s also been a great way to mark events in my lolita history, like events, vacations, gigs or big cons – or even just purchase, like my first Innocent World lucky pack. Clean out your collection of lolita tidbits – get out your glue stick and brand tags and get to smashing!

Does anybody else keep a lolita scrapbook or paper collection? Leave a comment!

Fairy Denim DIY

I have been so inspired by denim in fashion lately, most specifically fairy-kei fashion and other corners of Japanese street fashion. I bought an 80s cropped vintage jacket on Etsy a few weeks ago and dyed it from barely-there-pink to a rosy tone that exactly matches the lining of my Angelic Pretty hoodie (which I know as I wore them together for that 80s’ mall rat look, with a pop palette.) Although I’m not finished decorating mine yet, I couldn’t help but turn my favorite ideas into a DIY-inspiration collage of the other things I want to try with denim.

Pale-wash denim skirts or jackets are ideal for dying pastels. Any of these projects above could easily start by dying some out-of-date light wash denim with the same tye-dye you kits you can get at a craft store. I used a kit in pink, and then diluted the heck out of it to get the shade I wanted. By testing drops of it on an unseen inside of a lapel, I could gauge the darkness of the dye. When I finally washed the whole thing in a basin of water-diluted dye, I made sure to try the sleeves first – if it came out the wrong color, you can easily cut off the sleeves and boom, you still have a vest to play with. And make sure you follow the package instructions to set the color – you don’t want it rubbing off or bleeding onto your other clothes!

After you dye your denim item, you can have fun decorating it however you want with any kind of kitsch. Mine is still plain, but I am thinking about pink pyramid studs for some texture on the shoulders, with possibly lace on the pockets and replacing the brown buttons with something star-shaped or sparkly. (The big surprise of the jacket I’m still working on, but I think it’ll be a hit!) In the meantime, I’m wearing my jacket with cute pins I’ve collected like in the photo on the lower right. I have a few Angelic Pretty pins, and today my first vintage pin came in the mail!

(Yes, I’m lazy lately and I’m using Instagram to edit and post my photos…)

This is a vintage My Little Pony pin featuring the ‘queen of Dream Castle’, Majesty. I actually only paid $4 for it!

I’m looking all over for cute badges and pins, whether they be 80s and vintage or even just kitschy things like ‘FRODO LIVES’ to decorate my jacket. (Try searching on eBay, you can find a lot of strange one-offs from promotions or made by people with button machines.) A lolita kilt pin would also be a cute edition, or maybe to sew on some lengths of pink chain in loops. I’m even considering fake zippers at an angle for a motorcycle jacket look like the one in the upper left corner. Now there’s a jacket that went crazy with decorating! (…I even have that unicorn patch, so…)

Nile Perch and Swimmer both make cute buttons that would be sweet on a jacket.

The skirts in the lower left look like fabric paint, so you could paint on any kind of designs and then accent it with studs, glitter, or even embroidery stitches. The shooting star rainbows remind me of a cutie mark from my favorite My Little Pony Streaky, so I think it could be a cute idea to copy your favorite pony’s cutie mark onto a skirt as a homage!

If you wanted something simpler, I also really like the pink silky bow on the back of the denim vest. It feels like hime-lolita or himegyaru teamed up with punk for a collaboration. I think it would look great as an accent to a spring or summer Jesus Diamante or delicate floral or solid-colored Angelic Pretty dress. Studs are also very easy to place – you don’t usually need a tool to apply them.

I think any of these items would be a cool weekend or afternoon project, and it could add some originality to any cute-themed outfit, like lolita, hime, fairy-kei, or even just pastel day-to-day wear. I tried my jacket on with my summer ‘beach’ dress – a long strapless one made with vintage 1970s rose-patterned sheets – and it’ll be perfect for an easy day in the summer or spring as a light layer.

For the Love of Phoneography

Although I have tried many kinds of cameras in the past few years, especially as a blogger, I’ve finally discovered my true photography love. I feel pretty sheepish to admit that my favorite way to take photos is actually with my iPhone’s camera! Yeah, I’ve got a stack of discarded and disappointed point-and-shoots, and my mom and I share an almost-DSLR, but at the end of the day the majority of my photos are on my phone. Why? Not only is it convenient, but now they don’t all have to be meticulously loaded into editing programs for darkness and off color. I can now take cool photos from everywhere, the very definition of ‘mobile blogging’. It takes roughly one minute for me to snap a photo, edit it, and upload it to the web via Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook. Talk about optimizing your content production!

Apparently a lot of people are in the same boat, and have even coined to the buzz-word ‘phoneography’, which is the art of taking and editing photos right on your mobile phone. Above is a collection of my favorite recent phoneography-photos – Misu, my friends, my Innocent World Pullip Tiphona, and my new Bodyline lavender dress.

While I’m still figuring out phoneography for myself, I do have a set of tried-and-true iPhone apps that I go to for editing my photos. These are my top picks!

1. Xiamen (???)

I don’t know the real name of this app, but it is definitely my favorite photo editor! (Search your app store for ‘xiamen’ and it will come up.) The app is entirely in Chinese but is pretty intuitive to use. This app can crop, rotate, flip, blur, sharpen, saturate, everything! It has the largest number of filters, including about a dozen lomo ones, and many vintage, sepia, or bokeh styles for adding hearts, glitter or stars. There is also a feature where you can choose multiple photo to make a photostrip style or small collage. The look it gives the photos is a fresh, sweet look like an Asian magazine. Good for food photos and item photos especially! After a few weeks, I have to say this is definitely my most-used photo editing app. I’m especially fond of the frames that give rounded corners or a Polaroid effect. (Most of the above are edited with Xiamen.) This blog shows screenshots of the app in depth. 
2. Pixlr-o-matic
This photo editor works just like pixlr.com’s vintage effects, in miniature and mobile. I often use Pixlr when I don’t have my image editing software but still want to have images edited in my post, like if I’m using my netbook. Mostly this app consists of vintage and lomography-style filters, but there are a few frames as well.
3. Instagram
Instagram is the app renouned for hipsters and is very popular right now (even my mom was reading her blog roll and asking me if I had heard of this ‘Insta-thing…’ – last week she asked me who this Adele person was winning all the Grammys.) Instagram is great for editing your photos easily and quickly, which I suspect is why it’s so popular. Pick a filter and maybe a frame and you’re done! For me I find that there’s just not enough options for photo editing like I get with Xiamen.
4. Pudding Camera (푸딩 카메라 By KTH)
I was wondering if I’d have a hard time finding this one, as it’s Korean, but you can search Pudding Camera and it will come up. This is a unique photo app – it’s not for post processing, but actually taps into your iPhone’s camera capabilities to alter its flash brightness and length. You chose from various camera models (some for motion, even some specialities like ‘fish eye lens style’ and panorama, and color filters before taking your photo. I especially like the panorama shot for skyscapes and outdoors, though it’s not as good as panorama functions on real cameras of course.
Want to know more about phoneography? Check out the sites below!

Valentine’s Love: Sweethearts

[left to right, top to bottom: Milkfed, Drop Dead clothing (photo from daughterofhungryghosts); Twinkie-chan; Starlightdecodream; unknown; Angelic Pretty; unknown]

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day and the coordinate I have planned for a Valentine’s tea party with my friends, I’ve been working on a few DIY accessories! Now is the perfect time to get cute things from your craft store, like foam hearts, heart confetti, or conversation-heart anything. (I love conversation hearts! I mean, they taste like chalky old Tums, but they are pastel and say things and last forever, so they make great craft supplies.) Now is also a great time to check dollar stores for tacky Valentine’s items you can DIY and muck around with.

I found these very realistic clay beads from the Etsy shop ‘Treasures in Clay’ and used them to make interchangeable stud earrings with just a little glue and blank earring backs.

If you don’t mind temporary items, you can follow these instructions to make real candy heart rings and hair clips! If you’re feeling more ambitious, someone also had the great idea to make candy heart pillbox hats for Valentine’s!

My next mission is to copy these conversation heart nails I spotted from fabfatale.com! The words are stamped on with Konad stampers, and use an Essie ‘make-any-color-matte’ polish to give them the same finish as the real candy. Check out the post here, it’s really a great detailed tutorial. But even if you can’t get your hands on the image plates they use, pastel nails reminiscent of the candies would be just as sweet alone or with heart-shaped glitter nail polish.

My other DIY projects are more fairy-kei or fairy-lolita themed – I usually say fairy-loli, but someone on Tumblr said fairy-lita the other day which is just as cute a phrase!

I’d seen a few street snaps where girls had DIY’d sleep masks. They reminded me like fairy-kei or dolly-kei versions of the original lolita rectangular headdress. You can also see a dolly-kei or natural-kei example of a decorative sleep mask at Moss Garden - hers is actually a form made of cardboard!

I found the masks at Michael’s for a dollar apiece, and then covered it with vintage lavender unicorn sheets (that I have other projects planned for as well!). I chose the part of the fabric with the rainbow and clouds, and then added a pre-ruffled bit of ribbon around the edge and a few bows left over from other projects. Technically I suppose it could be a working eye mask or sleep mask as well, like for the plane, but it makes me look like some kind of kawaii kidnapping victim when I wear it, so doubtful that I’ll be donning it at the airport any time soon!

We Heart of the Week (10.8.11)

Welcome back to We Heart of the Week! Sporadic as it is, I still love writing up this feature! This week falls in love with DIY pompom bunnies, shopping finds, and the art of typography. Enjoy!

Audrey Kitching talks about how she keeps her pink hair, well, pink, on her blog. (above; made into a graphic by me)

For the tech-savy, ever considered making your own font? Just Creative Designs gives you the basics.

Very eye-opening – this video sums up some big world problems in World Suppression from the True Freedom Movement. Usually I refrain from getting political, but this video really opened my mind!

Check out this adorable store which retails Liz Lisa brand and other sweet princess-kei styles overseas! I love this angora sweater set in mint or pink!

Read the rest of this entry »

Cute Decor & DIY

At my most recent jaunt to Kinokuniya (I’m an addict… They have my wallet in a choke hold) and along with a few scrapbook supplies and a fresh copy of the Gothic and Lolita Bible, I also found a cute mook on Japanese bedrooms and adorable interior decorating (Cutie Interior Book, I believe it says). I thought I’d share a few scans and some of the cute DIY projects found inside!

Even better, for those of you strapped for cash, kawaii decorating doesn’t usually involve buying new furniture, like bed frames or bureaus. In one of my favorite bedrooms, they show the before and after. Nothing new was purchased, just decorated and adorned with a theme of pink, silk flowers, and antique lace.

Here’s a few ideas I gleaned from the pages…

A gerbera daisy with a clock mechanism set into its heart makes a unique numberless wall clock.

Simple shelve edges can be prettied up with a strip of lace, decorative stationary tape, or ruffled fabric. If you want to cover the shelves interiors, add small curtains of cute fabric. Etsy has a supply of Japanese fabric, often in one-yard remnants, that would be perfect for hiding shelves.

If you can’t find the perfect princess-y comforter, stop by a Sanrio or San-x store for a fleece throw to decorate the end of your bed. Thin ones can even be tacked to the wall like large posters.

Anything that’s not adorable or fitting with your theme can be camoflouged – tissue box covers aren’t just for your grandma! Make a hard cover from cardboard and printed paper, for example. Another options is to cover your lightswitch cover, or add a fabric runner across the top of your television or desktop.

Lots of lolitas and kawaii lovers in general tend to accumulate little items and collectibles. Keychains and jewelry can be display on a frame with a fabric background. Single wall-mounted shelves are great for displaying dolls, figures, or other collectibles. Other cute ways to display your collectible are in or on vintage collectibles, like vintage dollhouses.

Lots of Japanese rooms are apartments and don’t allow paint, so they’ve used other ways to accent the walls. Tack fabric or vintage sheets to the walls (for a Spank! or sweet look), or use contact paper that can be peeled away.

Use costume jewelry or pretty remnants of fabric (perhaps unused waist ties?) to tie back your curtains. One example in the magazine even showed a cellphone charm as an accent.

Every pretty room seems to feature a makeshift canopy. The secret? Chiffon or tulle fabric, either as curtains or simply picked up at your craft store, can be strategically tacked to the ceiling to create a sweet drapery over a bed or vanity. Use ribbons or flowers as tie-backs, or run strings of beaded curtains or shimmery ribbons as accents.

I hope you found some cute inspiration for restyling your bedroom! If you want to find your own copy of this mook, take a look at your local Japanese bookstore!

Sugary Carnival Twins

At this rate we’re going to have a doll blog! Only a few photos this time, a little extra post!

My favorite Pullip store was having a sale, so although they were sold out of the doll I want next, I did manage to snag one of the lolita doll outfits I’d been wanting for a while.

Here’s Miss Skye decked out in Sugary Carnival black colorway! See the tiny marshmallow APs? The set only comes with dress, bow, and pony bag… no blouse or socks. I bought it for another doll I’m hoping to order soon (secret!) who comes with her own blouse, socks and shoes, so no worries. In the meantime Skye is a little ahem, indecent, with all that bare skin.

This was also my first time experimenting with a foamboard false wall. I chose some pink striped ‘wallpaper’ and carved a space for a dollhouse window frame which I’ll most likely paint white and add some curtains to.

And here are the two girls twinning… I don’t think Violet is that pleased, she’s definitely got a quit-copying-me kind of look! I’ll take more twin shots when I can find them an appropriate sofa…

I also just finished a little deco project – a new round pill case to carry in my purse. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s a very classy and princess-y look. I got a great deal on the supplies by ordering a ‘kit’ from Taobao – an assortment of pearls and crystals and a few cabochons in various sizes and shades or pink, white and cream. I also just used E6000 for the first time – these stones aren’t going anywhere! I’m never going back to Diamond Glaze. If you’re not using E6000 on your deco projects you are missing out! I really recommend it.

 

Cute Embroidery

One of my favorite crafting hobbies to do is embroidery, particularly cross-stitch and simple outline embroidery. For a simple project, I like to find patterns at my local craft store. On a recent trip, however, I felt pretty let down by the selection: my few choices were either American flags emblazoned with eagles, ‘Oriental’ ladies with tigers, or the kind of wolves usually screenprinted onto t-shirts. Not exactly the romantic and sweet fare I’d been picturing for a leisure activity! Even the unicorns managed to look a little trailer park for my tastes. What I really wanted was a few lolita-worthy but doable dose of cuteness.

That’s when I found this downloadable Japanese crafting magazine, titled simply ‘Cute Embroidery’. Here’s a sample of some of the patterns found inside:

This magazine contains several embroidery patterns, both line design and cross-stitch, including a cross-stitch initial alphabet. There are also a few easy projects to make with your finished embroidery, such as a cell phone case and coin purses, as well as the usual (but indispensable in summer!) handkerchief and herbal sachets. If you’re new to embroidery, fear not! This magazine includes step-by-step photography instructions to complete any of the stitches you’ll find in the designs, such as French knots, blanket stitch applique edging, and a padded satin stitch.

Stitch Idees (Vol. 11, samples shown above) is another Japanese embroidery magazine available for download. Less for the beginner and more challenging, this magazine provides an array of projects and patterns suitable for sweet lovers as well as classic lolitas or those more inclined to natural-kei or morigirl style. Lace cutwork collars, 3D satin-stitched pillboxes, and fairytale-like traditional cross-stitch patterns of red birds adorn the pages. Some of these projects may be hard to discern from the Japanese pages if you’re not familiar with advanced embroidery such as Hardanger, ribbonwork, or beadwork.

I’m thinking of embroidering a handkerchief with the pink ribbon an a fanciful V initial for an easy lazy summer day project! What sweet style item would you like to work on?

Download both embroidery magazines here at Tokyo Jam, along with oodles of other Japanese crafting magazines!

Brand Spotlight: Jane Marple

Being mostly familiar with this brand previously through secondhand sites and consignment sites, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the advertisement’s for Jane Marple’s 2011 Spring/Summer line. The usual concepts for lolita summer trends are present (indeed, trends that pop up throughout cute culture fashion, especially around summer time), but with an adorable kitschy twist that isn’t quite classic lolita, sweet lolita, or even mori-girl.

Jane Marple, like its other old-timer comrade Milk, is a brand that creates its own answer to the eternal ‘what-is-cute’ philosophical question. While some items, such as the sailor blouse below and accompanying straw hat, seem to ooze lolita flavor, other items such as the ruffled shorts, follow a beat all their own.

 

My personal favorite is this banner ad, which besides sporting sweet nautical sailor styles for daily wear, also features a fantastic British crown overgrown with wild cherries and strawberries. You can even find a stripy cutsew with the design, but I have half a mind to see if I could copy it onto a handkerchief for embroidering!

This simple Jane Marple cutsew cries out to be DIY’d! Its only feature besides being simple jersey is this grosgrain-studded neckline, but the price tops out at ¥10,290 ($129 USD)! All you need is a plain, soft tee and a matching length of grosgrain ribbon: tie a set of bows, seal edges with a lighter to prevent fraying, and hand-stitch to the collar. This item could be cute for casual lolita, mori girl, or simply ordinary cute style with heart-patterned shorts or under a simple jumperskirt. It has the added bonus of adding some Jane-Marple cute to your wardrobe, despite Jane Marple beingnotoriously difficult to get your hands on.

In a fit of inspirational and fashionable obsession, here’s a few more samplings of Jane Marple’s work:

Vintage wrapped candies make an appearance on stick pins, perfect for lapels and berets.

 

Beautiful cobwebby teapot-and-teacup shaped lace.

 

Jane Marple has only just opened their official online shop early this June (2011), but don’t forget that you’ll need a shopping service if you’d like to order from outside of Japan. And so far it seems like the catalogue is quite limited – you may still prefer a personal shopper.