Sewing Panel

Best Materials For Lolita Garments

  • Fabrics – For beginners it is easiest to start with woven cottons. As your skill sets increase so will your desire to branch out into more challenging fabrics such as chiffons, velvets, knits, and other unusual fabrics. I never tell people you cannot make a lolita garment out of something (the exception being CHEAP poly satin) because invariably one of the bigger lolita brands has done it at some point in time or another (wool tweed, pvc vinyl, denim, etc). Mostly think… have I ever owned a piece of clothing that is made out of this fabric? If the answer is yes, there is a good chance you can make a lolita dress with it too.  I also recommend googling the type of fabric with a major brand name after it just to see what’s been done in the past. Just slow down, and make sure the fabric you want to try is within your skill set. You will likely fail a few times, but don’t give up. Sewing is a lot of trial & error and practice makes perfect.
  • Trims – There are 3 main types of trims you see in lolita garments: Ribbon, lace, and passementerie.
    • Ribbon – generally you see either satin or petersham ribbon most frequently on lolita garments. On occasion you may find some jacquards and organdy ribbons, but you generally will not see cheap grosgrain.
    • Lace – The main types of lace you see on lolita garments are venise (guipure), embroidered mesh, cluny, and eyelet. You very rarely see french chantilly, mostly due to how expensive it is. The types of lace you most want to avoid are raschel and stretch lace. Stretch lace is mostly only suited for lingerie, and raschel is generally cheap and scratchy to the touch.
    • Passementerie – Generally this refers to braid or gimp trims. The only one you generally wish to avoid in lolita is ric-rac, though I’ve seen it used successfully several times, it just must be used tastefully and judiciously in order to avoid being mistaken for a square dance costume.
  • Don’t forget your interfacings, linings, and structural bits and bobs like boning!!! Do not skip these if your pattern says you need them! They can really make a garment look professional.

Where to find Lolita Patterns

  • The big main commercial pattern companies: Simplicity, McCall, Butterick, Burda, KwikSew, etc. All have something to offer. Simplicity however has been recently cited as stealing the designs of some of the indie designers at the now defunct Ruffle Con, so please be considerate of the style number 8443 in particular. Below are some current pattern numbers that are what I’d consider “loliable” i.e. they are good basic shapes to build from. The main difference between western pattern companies and “lolita” patterns is that they are usually not 100% lolita right out of the envelope (with some exceptions). You usually have to add on ruffles, trims, change lengths, etc.
    • Simplicity Pattern Numbers- 8506, 8456, 8262, 8215, 8096, 1427, 2777,
    • New Look Pattern Numbers – 6390,6393, 6396, 6839
    • Burda Pattern Numbers – 6460, 6746
    • KwikSew Pattern Numbers – 4138
    • McCall Pattern Numbers – M7439, M7500, M6800, M7442, M7478
    • Butterick Pattern Numbers – B6167, B6488, B6400, B6530
  • Japanese lolita fashion magazines often include patterns, some even designed by the big lolita brands. The biggest challenges with these are the language barrier, and the fact that they only come in one size. Check out this amazing list of patterns available for the big lolita fashion magazines: