Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Embroidery Techniques: The Stem Stitch

The pictures in this particular post belong to me.

One thing that can be associated with Lolitas is embroidery. It was, after all, quite popular in Victorian times. Embroidery is sometimes even considered a "trademark" of a lifestyle Loli. Many people don't know how to do this, however, and would like to learn how. So, I've decided to post instructions, which are my own, for the beginning embroiderer.

The first stitch I learned, and the first stitch I'm going to teach you, is called the stem stitch. It's simple, and gives a nice outline, I think. Also, there's a reason it's called the "stem" stitch: it's great for embroidering plants, especially when it comes to stems and leaves.

On to the stitch!

First things first, you will find with embroidery thread that there are multiple strands of thread in the thread, making it thicker. I believe the standard is 6 strands per thread, but you're only going to need 3. To get the strands, take the thread and look for mini-threads in it. (This may be harder for people who can't see as well.) Take three, and slowly pull the strands and the rest of the thread away from each other. Cut your thread before you do this.

Second, you'll need to thread your needle.

After that, make a knot at the end of your thread (the longer end). There are several ways to do this, but I suppose the easiest is to simply tie a simple knot (an overhand knot).

Now, to the part where we actually embroider.

First, pull the needle from the back of the fabric to the front.

Next, push part of the needle into the fabric‒but not all of it.

Push the needle so that it's backtracked about halfway back to the starting point. Slide the whole needle through so that you have a stitch with the needle sticking up in the middle. (Sorry that I don't have a picture of that.)

Pull the needle up, and repeat!

Here's what the stitch looks like with huge stitches:

And with smaller, more normal-sized stitches (close-up):

So, that's the stem stitch! With it, you can make beautiful outlines, especially with plants. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Poetry: "First Days of Spring" and "Spring!"

Here is some spring poetry that I found on the Internet, which I found quite lovely, for anybody here who lives in the Southern Hemisphere (in other words, for anybody for whom spring has just come). I have already posted selections for fall in the post directly below this one.

This first poem is by a famous Japanese poet named Ryōkan.

 First Days of Spring
by Ryōkan

First days of sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green.
Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village.
The children, surprised to see me,
Joyfully crowd about, bringing
my begging trip to an end by the temple gate.
I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
Hang my sack from the branch of a tree.
Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while the children sing;
Then it's my turn.
Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten
the time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking,
"What is the reason for such foolishness?"
No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.
Look around! There is nothing besides this.

This second one is by Emily Matthews.
Each Spring is a brand new beginning
with so much to see and to do.
With new opportunities waiting
to make all our wishes come true.
It's such a good time to plan changes,
to make the fresh start we might need.
To try something different and daring,
to reach for the stars and succeed.

Each Spring is a brand new beginning,
a precious new chance sent our way.
To follow our dreams and fulfill them
with joy in our hearts every day.

Poetry: "Autumn Colours" and "Autumn"

These are a couple of poems about autumn that I found off of the Internet.
One of them has a rather neutral perspective on autumn, and is haiku...

Autumn Colours
by Rebecca Lovatt

Leaves falling slowly
From green to red and yellow
In the autumn wi

...and the other is rather pessimistic about it, and is from the Victorian era.

by Thomas Hood

The Autumn skies are flushed with gold,
 And fair and bright the rivers run;
 These are but streams of winter cold,
 And painted mists that quench the sun.

 In secret boughs no sweet birds sing,
 In secret boughs no bird can shroud;
 These are but leaves that take to wing,
 And wintry winds that pipe so loud.

 'Tis not trees' shade, but cloudy glooms
 That on the cheerless valleys fall,
 The flowers are in their grassy tombs,
 And tears of dew are on them all.

I'm also searching for spring-themed poems, for those of you who are in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Dolly in the store Grimoire, in Japan

Dolly-Kei is a new style that's just emerging in Japan. It seems to be a cross between Lolita and Mori fashions, taking Lolita's doll idea and running with it, while also drawing from Mori's forest-girl, fairy tale look. However, it has a twist: instead of drawing from western European styles, it draws from eastern European styles. Dolly also goes for the Middle Ages look, as opposed to the Victorian styles which are the base for Lolita.

Although Dolly-Kei is a pretty new style (only a couple of years old, compared to Lolita, which is decades old), I was able to compose a list of Dolly clothing "rules" (but remember, the rules aren't set in stone yet):

1. Vintage, vintage, vintage! As far as I've seen, Dolly is all about vintage. Even Dolly-themed stores, like Grimoire, have said themselves that they get most, if not all, of their products from vintage stores and flea markets in the West.

2. When the going gets tough, go handmade.

3. Antique floral and paisley are the way to go.

4. Many Lolita items, especially Classic, can be Dolliable. (Did I just coin a new word?)

5. Furs are fine and lovely. (Bonus points if it's faux fur.)

6. Shoes: No sneakers, but both vintage and Mary Janes seem to be fine.

7. Tights, stockings, knee-highs, or shin-highs. Any color, as long as it looks good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October: Month of the Pink

October is the month when things either
a) start to cool down,
b) start to warm up,
depending on where you are on Earth. In some places, Halloween is just around the corner; in others, Christmas is on the way. (Well, holidays like Christmas are on the way in the north, too, but there's Halloween first.) Instead of talking about those, however, I'd like to bring up something that's going on all month, all over the world: Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some people may back away/run and hide this month for fear of being bombarded with requests from various charities, but perhaps it's time to break out the pink skirts, jumper skirts, and (in the northern hemisphere) coats. A pink ribbon or bow would finish the look, I think.

Here's a Polyvore set I created for it:

But "going pink" doesn't have to mean getting out every single pink item you have and wearing them all at the same time. Maybe a skirt, or even just a tiny pink badge, would do the trick nicely. It can be bright, dusty, any kind of pink. See if you can wear something pink every day this month, or, if you don't have so many pink things, every few days. I'm not asking anybody to donate or walk (although that would be great!), but see if you can show support for our sisters by wearing pink.
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