Thursday, March 14, 2013

DIY Month: Square Dance Patterns are Your Friends

I know, I know. Stop wincing, lolitas. Hear me out.

Square dance... everything... gets a bad rep in the lolita community. Even while many western lolitas are happily wearing Malco Modes petticoats, you still hear many shouts of "Wrong shape!" and "Ugly fabrics!" and, my favorite, "Too many ruffles!" And it's true that many square dance petticoats flare out too much at the bottom to be good with lolita. Some of the dresses are hilariously bad, even modified. And, in the spirit of honesty, here are a couple of my favorite "What the hell is that even..." dress patterns.

Confession time: I have this dress pattern. It came in a lot of patterns I got on E-Bay, and the illustration is even more hilariously bad in person. I don't intend to ever USE it. But I do intend to keep it because it's funny. I can't help but giggle when I see that sassy lady in a very ugly dress.

This one is less hilarious in design (it's really just a basic dress with a strange tiered skirt and really awkward lace trim), but the illustration makes me giggle. Seriously, can you imagine anyone wearing a skirt like that?

But, despite the hilariously bad images that some of them have, it's still surprisingly easy to find loli-appropriate patterns that were originally designed for square dance. I've got a growing collection of Authentic Patterns (a company which no longer exists but that still has many a pattern floating around the internet), and most of them have very loli-able designs.

There are plenty of reasons to love square dance patterns, but here are my top 5:
  1. They're fairly cheap. Granted, some patterns will go for twenty dollars or more on E-Bay, but there are also sites that sell these darlings for ten bucks a pop. Especially if you get a basic, versatile pattern, that ten dollars will go a long way.
  2. They come in plus sizes. Yes, plus sized lolitas, this is an answer to the issues we've all had with fitting into Japanese dresses or modifying the GLB patterns. Authentic Patterns had sizing for up to a 44 inch bust and a 35 inch waist, which is better than can be said of some pattern companies today.
  3. They are amazingly easy to modify. Most square dance patterns have a skirt which attaches to the bodice by a seam at the waist. Want a different shape to the skirt? Just swap it out.
  4. Some of them are simple enough that changing the fabric will thoroughly change the look of the dress. As a bonus, some of them are even designed with border prints in mind. That means, once you have a design you like, you can use it over and over without worrying about it being a one-note pattern.
  5. You aren't bound by the current trends of Lolita. Not a fan of border prints? You don't have to use them. Longing for a damask print dress? Go for it. Want a color that's not common in Lolita? Not a problem. You can make the dress suit whatever crazy vision you've got in your head.
It's still kind of hard to visualize the dresses, though, when square dance dresses are usually hit-or-miss jumbles of calico and ruffles.

So, here are a few of my favorite Loliable square dance patterns:

Ignore the rickrack and possibly swap out the skirt and this is seriously the most darling basic OP pattern I've ever seen. You can't tell me it's not good for lolita.  This is essentially the same pattern that the Milky Planet OP was done with, as well as many dresses with ribbon ties.

My personal interest in this pattern relates to the Noble Check OP. I've never been a huge fan of the back of the OP, but the front is darling. This would make a perfectly respectable dress modeled after it and saves me from lusting after a dress which has a 35-and-a-half inch bust measurement that will never fit over my 42 inch bust.

Plus size lolitas looking for a sailor dress? Square dance patterns. With very little modification, the dress above could be an absolutely great sailor lolita dress.

I told you they made border print dresses! Again, this one's a very simple number and would translate well to a number of different looks. I, personally, see it in a nice light chiffon for summer.

You see what I mean? Really, square dance patterns are a great resource for the DIY lolita. Don't be scared off. You might just find something wonderful.

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