A lolita dress that costs about $20 sure beats one that costs $200!
As a lolita on a budget, I love to make my own skirts and dresses. This is a tutorial I originally posted on my blog. I'm not sure exactly how long it took me to make this, the time is my guesstimation. Oh, and it also depends on what kind of fabric you use price wise. Mine was probably around 20$ FYI. My fabric was a cotton print, and my lace was cluny/crochet.
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First you have to set up your pattern. You can basically use this shape but in your own measurements.
The top line is 2/3 of your measurements across.
I got the top measurement from my bra, I measured how far apart the straps were so they wouldn't show.
Second, 2/3 of your bust measurement.
Third, 2/3 of your waist measurement.
The whole thing should be long enough to go from your shoulders to your natural waist.
Determining how far you want the very middle part to go down is all up to you and your measurements. I think mine goes around 2" down at the most, so it has the feminine look, but it doesn't show any cleavage.
The two outer pieces actually didn't have diagonal edges where they're sewn to the middle part
For the outer edge, you'll want to figure out how far you want the sleeve to go with a tape measure(just measure on you), you can always go to a comfortable blouse for reference, just remember that it's diagonal! Another thing I did to figure it out was I measured from top of my bra(backside) to my natural waist, and then measured from where I wanted the neckline(front, obviously) to be, again to my natural waistline.
Speaking of the other parts:
The back part of mine was obviously bigger than the other 1/3 of my measurements, which it has to be if it's elastic. Remember that you can make stretch down to half it's size with elastic.
For the sleeve, measure around your shoulder/armpit, and find what's comfortable for you, my sleeves were 6" wide, and around 20" long. You can always use elastic on the sleeve if it's too long for your shoulders.
For me the skirt was around 20" long, and 70-80"(in a 2yrd piece of fabric I cut in half longwise and then use one of the halves for the skirt.) wide, you can change that, but remember that we're going to gather the skirt later, and that it should be about knee length.
Elastic stretches about twice it's original length(If I haven't mentioned that already). I made all of them 2" apart vertically. For getting the elastic right, I would back stitch before I started to sew in the elastic, and then I would make sure to pull on both sides as evenly as I could so it wouldn't mess up the stitching. The elastic should go through the whole back piece, not just part of it.
This is a bit tricky. Even if you don't section it off like I did(which was totally unnecessary, but helped me a bit) you have to do two separate gathers(because of the elastic in the back). Seeing as I used two yards long wise, I did the front's gathering in the first yard, and the backs' on the second(because they should be even as to not have more poof in the front or the back). Also, it's not required, but it's helpful if you have a yardstick in front of the fabric you're gathering.
For gathering in general I use the largest stitch on my machine, backstitch first, but leave the end un-backstitched. With the yardstick in front, I pull the bottom's thread in so that it's gathered to whatever length I need it to be, then (regardless of placement) I tie the top and bottom threads. after that you can move the gather as you like for even-ness.