Monday, August 24, 2015

More Fall Steampunky Sewing Patterns!

As promised, here are some more new patterns that I thought might be useful for steampunk.

First off, there's this GORGEOUS coat from McCall's.  Not only would this be perfect for a steampunk outfit, it's amazing for every day.  If I lived somewhere where I needed a coat every day, I'd be all over this.

This is a vintage McCall's pattern which is obviously not your typical steampunk period, but I think could be made to work well with some small adjustments.  (Changing the shawl collar and adding double-breasted buttons, for example.)  Plus the cape is detachable.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Steampunk Simplicity Fall Sewing Patterns

You have to expect some new costume patterns for Halloween season, right?

First up, Simplicity has a new Men's pattern out.  AND I LOVE IT.

Simplicity 1039 - It's both a steampunk outfit AND a pretty awesome Jack Skellington.  I love the steampunk version of the coat; so many great details.  Plus people are always asking about tailcoat patterns and here you go!  

My husband is totally going to be bugging me to make him one.  :)

And then there's Simplicity 1040.  This is one of those times I have to ask the peanut gallery: "Is there a cultural reference I'm missing?"  What's with the hugely oversized steampunk cowls?  Is this an anime or video game thing I'm missing?  Cause as a general fashion statement it's not doing anything for me.

And finally Simplicity 1033: Misses Day of the Dead Costumes.  I didn't realize DOTD was now steampunk.  The individual pieces are almost 100% steampunk from the puffed sleeve blouse to the high-low skirts and hoop cage.  I'm not wild about the corset really, but whatever.  I think this could actually be a pretty versatile pattern to have.

Simplicity have not forgotten that Steampunk dogs need costumes, too!  I find it fairly hilarious that this is actually the SECOND steampunk dog costume pattern.    I have to say I like the McCall pattern better than this one.

I have a couple neat new McCall's patterns for you, too, and Butterick has yet to release their Fall catalog, so I'm saving those for a second post.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Finished Corsets

Well I've been pretty quiet.  I had a couple of posts planned about recent projects I did, like making my new steampunk belt.  But all the pictures I had for those posts were lost when the flash card in my camera broke.  Oops.

I've been busy making corsets, though.  Two that I've finished were for commissions and now that the clients have seen them, I can share photos of them.

The first one is a one layer underwear corset in nude spot broche coutil.

The second is another underwear corset in grey spot broche coutil.  This one is super strong, with two layers of spot broche and 3/8" boning.  This is the third corset I've made for this client.

And finally, since it's been 106 degrees here, I'm happy I have made myself a mesh underbust.  It's super comfy.

I'm teaching another Beginning Corset Making workshop in a couple weeks, located south of Dallas.  Check out the info here and get your ticket ASAP if you are interested!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Whoop, Whoop, New Steampunk Pattern Alarm!

It's almost July, so apparently it's time for Early Fall sewing patterns.

McCall's has just released it's new patterns, including several new costume patterns.

Yaya Han has partnered with McCall's to bring out cosplay patterns.  The first two are a bodysuit and this Neo-Victorian style outfit.

Now, ok, this is gorgeous, and I think the pattern has some interesting and potentially useful pieces.  But THAT'S A LOT OF PEACOCK FEATHERS.  And the pattern calls for them.  It's designed to include the feathers.  There's nothing to the bustle without the feathers.  And I'm skeptical about how many people are willing to spend the money for that many peacock feathers and also spend the time hand-stitching them all in place.  Oh, wait, the pattern calls for "industrial adhesive."  So they're glued.  Enjoy your trail of feathers.

My usual skepticism about Big 3 corset patterns applies as well.  The corset in the pictures doesn't seem to have much in the way of boning, and I know Yaya Han wears real corsets UNDER her cosplays so don't assume this is doing any shaping.

McCall's has also released a new men's Victorian-ish pattern.

I'm not ENTIRELY sure what they're going for with this one, with the super short coat and rather unattractive trousers.  It's a big matador-ish, and not really historically accurate.  The vest is nice, though, and I'm sure some men could pull this look off nicely.  

Simplicity also has several new "of interest" patterns, ones I've already posted about on my FB page.  They have apparently finally figured out that cosplayers are a big market and are making patterns aimed for that demographic.  Several of them are steampunky, too.

First is the "Super Villainess" pattern.  This may be my favorite as I like the look of the corset and there are some cute pieces included in the pattern regardless of whether you recreate any of these looks exactly.  

I found it totally fascinating that the pattern creator said she had no say in the sizing or instructions of the pattern.  So that explains why the instructions are so often useless.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Con Report: A-kon 26

I spent last weekend in Dallas attending A-kon 26!  This was a bit of a last minute decision, because I was offered the opportunity to vend at the Friday night Steampunk Ball, so it made going financially possible for me.

Steampunk Social
I was totally excited because this is a con I've wanted to attend again.  The last time I went to A-kon was five years ago, when it was my very first con and very first event as a steampunk!  So this was my five year "Steampunkiversary"!  I love anime cons and prefer them to comic cons, actually.  I feel like they are lots more fan-centric rather than celebrity oriented.  The cosplay tends to be better and in general the vibe is more positive and inclusive.

I didn't get to spend a huge amount of time attending the con itself for reasons having to do with travel, other commitments, and my back condition.  I didn't go to the con Friday before the Ball because I knew I'd have to set-up and tear down our booth and function for the evening, so I rested in anticipation.  We went as attendees Saturday for a few hours, and that was it.  Sunday was spent meeting with a corset client and driving home, plus I was tired by then.

Me at the ball
But let's talk about the Steampunk Ball.  It was held Friday night in one of the hotel's (many!) ballrooms.  It was actually a lovely space, a circular room with a stage and dance floor at one end.  The Steampunk Social started at 7PM and there was free snacks and coffee and tea!  The Durian Grey steampunk troupe presented some Victorian parlour games and there was tea-dueling as well.  I was busy vending during this time so I didn't get to participate or even watch much of these activities.  I think it would have been fun if the tea-dueling was a bigger deal, maybe with multiple tables dueling to involve more of the attendees.

As far as the vendors, I know most of them were recruited last-minute as I was,  There were a couple empty tables which could have been filled to give more variety.  I was the only one selling steampunk apparel and we did very well for only a few hours, so it was totally successful for me.  I bought some awesome buttons from one of my friends' booths and we also got our picture taken by the photographer, Albertex Photography.  I was really glad to see a photo booth at the event.  Too many events lack a reasonable way to get decent pictures.  If there are photographers, they charge a large price for prints.  This time it was only $15 for a 5x7 print with photoshopped background or $5 for an automatic photobooth collage.

The turnout for the event was pretty good: not crowded, but full.  Most were in some kind of steampunk dress but there were a lot of newbies that hadn't been to a steampunk event before and us regulars didn't recognize, which is always great.  And of course some people in anime cosplay and street clothes as well.
My husband showing off the new vest-coat
 I made him and his new hat band.

There were two bands for the actual Ball portion of the evening: This Way to the Egress and Psyche Corporation.  I believe This Way to the Egress played the Ball the year before as well.  Much as we love our Texas steampunk musicians, I heard several people glad there was "something different" for entertainment as too often the line-up at steampunk events is very similar.

This Way to the Egress went on at 9PM and were fantastic.  They won over the crowd and had people dancing all over the place for their whole set.  Their music is a huge mash of styles, with a lot of swing, vaudeville, and a huge number of instruments.  The closest influence I could name is Gogol Bordello, but with a lot more swing. Check them out here.

Psyche Corporation went on later, close to 11PM.  Their sound was a big change from Egress, a lot more down-beat. (Check them out here.) The lead singer has a good voice, but the songs were dreamy and sparse, which may not have been ideal for so late at night after a day of con.  I don't think I was the only one who found myself feeling really tired.  In general they are similar in style to Unwoman, with the soaring voice and cello, but I have to say based on what I've seen Unwoman does it with a lot more energy and success.

The Ball ended fairly quickly as people left to either find beds or wilder parties, I assume.  We were out of there by midnight, though it was scheduled for DJ and dancing to continue until 2AM.
A gentleman with a serious prosthetic.

As far as other steampunk programming for the weekend, I have to confess I attended none of it.  There were the usual panels.  I intended to attend a couple of them on Saturday but I missed both: one due to traffic and parking problems and one because I decided I needed to visit the dealer's room instead once I learned it closed at 6PM.  Several of my friends were at the con promoting the in-progress steampunk film Aether, so you should check it out.

There was a Steampunk Afternoon Tea presented by Durian Grey.  It was actually a murder mystery tea with an additional cost of $35.  I was originally glad to see a tea on the schedule, but couldn't afford to attend.  In the evening was the Goblin Market, a unique role-playing experience presented by some of the steampunks.  It also had a cost for entry of $10.  I wanted to attend, but my back didn't make it till 8PM.

The con as a whole was typically A-kon: big, crowded, intense.  This was my first time at their current venue, and it's a big improvement on their old one.  The Hilton Anatole is a huge complex, so that while it's still crowded and overwhelming, you don't have to physically struggle through crowds.  There were lines everywhere for everything from getting into the dealer's room to getting food (thank god for all the food trucks, though).   I wish the temperature had been a bit cooler through the con, but it was 95 degrees out and it's a big place to air condition, so they can only do so much, I guess.  I still don't know how people in heavy costumes do it, though.  I dressed for comfort and coolness both
My friend, Moira McCrae showing her colors.
days and was still sweaty.

The Artist's Alley was awesome, with very nice stuff and lots of talent on display.  The Dealer's room was a bit of a disappointment, though.  I remember A-kon as having an AMAZING dealer's room, but this time it seemed most of the dealer's were selling the same things and almost all of it was anime or manga related.  While, yes, ok, it's an anime con, I still would have liked to see a broader selection of general geek stuff.  There was only one vendor selling games, for example, and not even much selection of t-shirts.  My only purchases were one "Welcome to Nightvale" sticker for myself and a Star Wars tee for my husband.  And pocky.  We bought a couple small things in Artist Alley for friends as well.

So that was my con, essentially.  This took me so many days to post because I'm having problems with Blogger and it wouldn't upload photos for me.  I'll have another post about some of my recent projects with more maker details.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Corset Review: Corset Story Black Label Waist Taming Corset

As I explained in my last post, I've never been a big fan of the largest corset retailer out there, Corset Story.   So I was a little surprised to be contacted by the company's CEO and asked to review their newest corsets.  But also intrigued.

I received two corsets, one of which I reviewed on Monday.  Today I'll be talking about the corset I received from the "Waist Taming" line. Their marketing materials say of these corsets: "Our patterns, measurements and fit are better than ever as we have undertaken robust market research and listened to our customer feedback so that our new elegant Waist Taming corsets can be worn by a wide variety of body shapes and sizes. We believe we have crafted our most comfortable waist training corset to date!"

The corset I chose was the Classic Overbust with Hip Gores. They also have one with "hip panels" which may have been a better choice in hindsight as the hips look larger, but I liked the look of this one the most.  The Waist Taming line is sold by waist measurement instead of dress size like other CS corsets.  I ordered the size recommended by their charts, which was 34".  I would probably normally order a 32" corset, but I have put a little weight on recently so I went by what my waist measurement currently suggested.  According to the website, ideally these provide 3-4" of waist reduction.

When my corset arrived, my first impressions were pretty favorable.  In comparison with the Instant Shape model I received with it (which I reviewed here) it is about twice as heavy and feels much sturdier. I was also immediately impressed to see it's made with an extra wide (1 inch on each side) busk, which is pretty rare to find.  I personally prefer the extra wide busks because they're more durable, so this is a definite step up.