Thursday, September 15, 2016

Brief Pattern Reviews: McCall's and Butterick

McCall's, Butterick and Vogue had a Labor Day pattern sale and I took the opportunity to order several patterns for $1.99.  They've arrived and I thought I'd right up a bit about them.

We'll start with the Butterick ones. The two I ordered are both historical patterns.

B6400 "Misses Bones, Back-Pleat Jackets" is a Making History pattern for a Victorian Bodice with variations.  It's basically the same bodice with different rear bottom details and different trim.  View A and View B are actually exactly he same except for the braid/lace trim and the giant bow on the back.   View C is my favorite with the military look of the ribbon trim.   So this may not be the most exciting pattern ever, but it's a good staple to have for Victorian costuming.

Next is B6397, a Making History pattern for 4 different historical hat styles.  You know, this pattern makes me wish the Making History patterns came with ANY historical notes about the patterns, just so I could be sure exactly what time periods they are shooting for.  But anyway, we have a 1940's style pillbox, an early 20th cen broad brimmed hat, a bustle-era Victorian hat and a beret/tam thing that I think is vaguely Regency, but is pictured with Victorian clothes and yeah I don't really know.   So I'm just going to totally ignore that style because it's basically a round bag with a brim and yeah.

The three other hats are constructed with buckram covered in fabric and the instructions seem pretty good.  Not as thorough and good as, say, Lynn McMaster's hat patterns, but if you are vaguely familiar with hat construction or can watch some YouTube videos you should be fine.

The entire reason I bought this pattern is for the Victorian hat, which is a lovely historical style you rarely see people wear these days. It's a style meant to be worn with an updo and features a small crown and lots of decoration at the back.  The instructions for this one are pretty detailed, including how to gather the tulle/veiling and attach it, which I find super helpful as I'm not very good at hat embellishment.

Next we'll most onto some of McCall's costume patterns.  I picked up the recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies inspired pattern M7493.  I absolutely adore the coat and I'm wondering how well it would work with a steampunk outfit.  Short jackets are something that ISN'T very period Victorian, but IS very steampunk, so Regency-era spencers are something I think translate well.

I also like the Regency gown under the coat, since it is very simple and I tend to like simplicity in my Regency styles.  It probably doesn't have as much fabric in the skirt as a real historical pattern would, but this is really meant to be more costume than recreation and I appreciate it being slightly more frugal.  This will give you the look, especially with the long coat.

I need an excuse to make this whole outfit, really.  Why aren't there Regency events around here?  As far as the pattern it looks fine, the instructions are standard pattern instructions, nothing seems overly complicated.

Next up is a McCall's pattern from YaYa Han for Men's pants and vest, M7399.  When I first saw this pattern, I was not too impressed.  It looked like a pretty boring, standard pattern of men's Victorian wear.  The pants don't have anything exciting going on, and the single-breasted vest is pretty plain.  It is a little different than the more common lapel-style vest, so that's something, but overall the pattern didn't scream NEED TO OWN to me.  Until I noticed the line drawing that shows this pattern actually includes three completely different vests: single, double-breasted, and a lapel-version of single breasted.  The double-breasted version is SUPER steampunk and of a style that I don't think exists as a pattern from a major company yet.  (Harlots and Angels has a similar vest pattern on Etsy.)

I don't know where this style of vest first came into steampunk, but it seems like it's been copied by a lot of clothing makers and artists.  Which is cool, cause it's awesome.  So I think this pattern is worth while for the vests.  As for the pants?  They appear to be a bog-standard pair of modern trousers, with zipper fly and everything, so I don't see what it's necessary.  Yes, you could get away with using this pattern for steampunk wear, but there's nothing inherently steampunk about them and they aren't very Victorian.

I also picked up the Yaya Han corseted bodysuit M7398.  I haven't made a bunnysuit style bodysuit before, so I thought it'd be interesting to see this pattern.  Overall the pictures of the finished suits look pretty nice and I like that it has different pattern pieces for different cup sizes, up to size D.  The
curve in the waist is VERY mild, though, so this is really made for people with athletic figures and not sizable hips.  It's definitely not meant to really be a reducing corset.  There is a version with a zipper closure in the back and one with lacing closure that is meant to be laced completely closed.

The instructions are very detailed and give advice about using steal boning (both flat and spiral) and how to cut and order boning.  The boning is attached to the lining layer by placing channels made of bias binding over the seams on the inside.  The top layer is free-floating for a smooth look, which is appropriate for this style.

I like the instructions for the elastic around the leg openings and the hook and eye closure between the legs.  Over all, the construction is ok for a costume piece that won't see a lot of use.  It's not likely to take a lot of strain or heavy wear, but that's most likely not what most people looking for a bunny suit will want.  If it were me making it, I'd make sure to make the lining of a strong twill or coutil and use something a little better than store-bought bias for my bone channels.  Otherwise, you could follow the pattern instructions.

Again, I'd say this isn't a pattern that is going to work for every body type and is mostly intended for women who fit in a narrow range of sizes and fairly straight or gently curved figures.  But this is a challenging style garment to make for more extreme curves, so that's not really surprising.

Finally I also picked up the M7373 Coat by Yaya Han.  This was really popular when I posted a picture of it before.  I do love the gored version shown on the front of the pattern.  I wish the longer version also had contrast gores but it is pretty voluminous on its own.  There's not that much to say about this pattern, as it's a fairly standard garment.  It's lined, has pockets, and doesn't seem to have cut any construction corners.  I'm glad it has two sleeve options if you don't like the poofy shorter sleeves you can substitute the straight, long sleeves.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Costuming updates

So WAY back in January, I posted about my plan for my next costume make for myself: the Soulless Manga Floating Dress.

At the time my personal financial situation was just starting to stabilize and I thought it wouldn't be much of a problem to find the money for the couple kinds of fabric I needed to make that outfit. And then personal disaster struck and suddenly things like keeping my utilities on and food in the house became pressing concerns.  Obviously, making a dress was pretty much last on my list of priorities.

But I did come up with an alternative source of fabric for this outfit.  I have a big roll of pale pink silk that I got super cheap in an estate sale.  Since I have no desire to make anything in pale pink, and no customer has appear requesting a giant pink princess dress, I decided I would try to dye this fabric to a dark teal to make the bodice and hat for this costume.

So here's what the fabric looked like to start with.   I was fairly sure this was silk dupioni based on the crisp hand, shine, etc.  I did a burn test and it was ashy.  So I went looking for dye for silk and learned that RIT dye is generally recommended.  Not all dyes will work on silk, but RIT does, apparently.  So I bought some teal RIT powder dye and dyed up several yards at once in my washing machine.  I have a front-loading washer, which isn't ideal for dyeing, but I read a couple articles on how to make it work.  I've tried dyeing large amounts of fabric on the stove before with really poor results, so I thought this would be best.

When I moved the fabric from the washer to the dryer I was pleased with how dark it was, but it appeared more green than I really wanted.  After it dried, it looked MUCH lighter and this was the result. Not the most even dye job, and both too light and more green than I really wanted.

Looking closely at the fabric I noticed it looked like some of the fibers had not taken the dye, so I decided maybe the fabric I had wasn't 100% silk after all, maybe it was a silk/poly blend.  I've seen 80/20 and 70/30 blends that were difficult to distinguish from pure silk, after all.  I did another burn test and still wasn't sure about the results.  So I looked into dyes that work on polyester.  I've dyed poly before, so I knew it required high heat.  The problem is that the color options for poly dyes if really limited.  There are basically two poly home dyes: iDye Poly and RIT DyeMore.  Neither has a teal color.  It's blue or green.  So I decided to try dyeing this same batch of fiber with blue poly dye.  I was hoping that just the poly threads would take the blue and it would combine with the greener shade and give me something like what I was after.

And, although dyeing 5 yards of fabric in a stock pot turned out to be easier than the last time I tried, the results were not what I was hoping.  The fabric took the dye beautifully.   And I wound up with some lovely blue fabric.  Not at all teal.  So...I have really no idea what this means for my fiber content.  Was it not at all silk?  Did the silk take the poly dye even though the dye packet indicated it wouldn't?  Was it the heat that helped it take the dye or actually the different dye formulation.  Would my original dye have worked better on the stove rather than in the front-loading washer?  Yeah, I'm still pondering these mysteries and what to do about them.  You may also notice that the fabric has lost it's shine.  That's not strange for silk, which loses it's shine in temps over 185 degrees F.

 My plan from here is to test a small piece of fabric with some regular RIT dye I have on the stove to see if it takes better than it did in the washer.  If not, then I'll probably try mixing blue and green poly dye to try to achieve the appropriate color.

Meanwhile I've had some other costume projects pop up.  There's a Harry Potter Yule Ball being held in December in Houston and appropriate costumes are required.  So I've started working on a Steampunk Hogwarts robe costume.  It's going to be put together out of all fabric I already own and pieces that I'll be able to use for multiple events/looks.  I hope it'll all work together.

The first piece I'm working on is a black taffeta skirt from the Truly Victorian 261 Pattern.  I'm doing the view with the bustle pouf at the back.  This is a truly versatile pattern I've made before, without the pouf.

The skirt is mostly assembled, but I decided I wanted to add a zipper closure to avoid showing off my underwear since I plan to wear the skirt alone.  And I don't care whether or not a zipper is period accurate.  So until I can get to a store and buy a zipper, I'm waiting to finish the waistband and do the final bustling and hemming.

For the top I'm planning on making the jacket from this Simplicity Pattern (long-sleeved version.)  I'm still slightly debating but I'm leaning towards using a wool suiting with subtle pinstripe.  It's not Harry Potter traditional, but something about that fabric wants to be that jacket and it seems scholarly to me so I hope it works with a taffeta skirt.  I'll probably add a hooded short cape with Slytherin colors and accessorize as much as possible.

And I've just learned about a New Year's Eve Labyrinth Ball in Austin.  Labyrinth is my all-time favorite movie so naturally I've started daydreaming about an outfit for that.  I don't actually know if I'll be able to attend, and it's not super likely I will since my husband works in the restaurant industry now.  BUT I just may have an outfit already planned and fabric picked out for that.  And I'll probably try to make that whether or not I actually go to this event.

So, that's what's up in my costuming life.  Too many ideas, not enough time and money, but what else is new.  And of course I have at least one commission and things to make to sell at an event or two this fall. I'm currently working on a prototype for a new line of corsets I want to sell.  I wish I could sew all the hours of the day, but my back is currently reminding me that that's not an option, ow.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Finds: Casual Steampunk from ModCloth

It's been a while since I did a collection of steampunky items from Modcloth.  I'm an affiliate with them, so I get a commission on any sales.  But I also think it's cool to look for modern fashion that would work for daily wear OR a steampunk outfit.

Modcloth is having a 50% off sale on a lot of items for labor day.  Check out the sale here, even if you don't get any of these items.

First of all...guys, guys.  Look.  It's boot season again, and there's no shortage of knee-high leather boots with buckles that would work great for steampunk.  But LOOK at the corset style lacing up the back of these.  I'm totally in lust.  In fact, I'm very tempted to buy these for myself... On Vocation Time Boot in Wine

While capes may not always seem like the most practical choice, in fact they're super warm and a great addition in winter.  It's like having a wearable blanket to snuggle with.  The fact that this one is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes is a bonus.   Pardon my French Quarter Cape

I love the all-purpose nature of this tote bag.  Purse, briefcase, convention bag, whatever.  And would fit in perfectly with a variety of steampunk personas OR modern styles.  Camp Director Tote 

Not QUITE period, but only because of the inside zipper.  But otherwise these are the perfect boots to go with a wide variety of Victorian or Steampunk outfits.  Only a few sizes left, though (which is probably good for me cause they're out of my size.) From The Same Same Cloth Boot

Who doesn't love a good military style jacket?  This has nice details in the buttons and gathered sleeve caps, but it's not too extreme for the office.  I Glam Hardly Believe It Jacket

More boots!  Chunky heels and lots of laces, but with the convenience of a zipper (I HATE lacing up tall boots).  The price is also really affordable. And how could I leave this off the list with a name like Picking Up Steampunk Boot

This is a super cute set of plastic bottles meant for airline carry-on travel.  And while they are cute for that, I'm thinking they're IDEAL as parts of a costume.  They look great for attaching to any belt, bracer, hat or whatever, plus they're plastic so you don't have to worry about breaking them.  Set the Wheels in Potion Set

This is definitely a piece that's going to look different depending on what you wear it with.  It could go from Lolita to Boho to Post-apocalyptic with the right accessories. Office-ticated Appeal Jacket 

Yes, more boots.  More CORSET LACED boots.  These are gorgeous, but also really pricey.  But hey, sometimes boots are worth it.  Genre Queen Boot

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fall Patterns - McCall's and Simplicity

 M7493 is a Regency era Costume with a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies feel to it.  While the actual dress is perfectly nice, the coat is the star.  I ADORE the long version of this coat.   The short version is also nice, though not nearly as badass.

While Regency has never been my favorite period for costuming, I've always loved Regency era Spencer coats.  And now I want to make this one.

Simplicity 8233 Cosplay Pattern is a little amusing to me because someone finally decided to make a pattern for Ciel's pink dress from Black Butler, which is one of the more popular anime cosplays of several years ago.  

I'm not sure if the black and white costume is also referencing something specific or not.  And, ok, you could make that pink dress in another color and it wouldn't automatically look like the Black Butler cosplay.  So, yeah, these are cute.

Simplicity has released two Alice in Wonderland cosplay patterns: this one and an Alice dress.  The Alice one is more specific, and in my opinion less potentially useful for costumes other than Alice.  This one I like, in particular the tops and think they could be used effectively in steampunk.

Overall the costumes are cute, but I'm not sure what I think about this "make costumes with short skirts for women" trend Simplicity seems to be going for.  The skirts are far too short to be Lolita, and this feels a little like having "sexy" versions of costumes for Halloween.

On the other hand, here's a men's cosplay pattern.  It's got a definite Assassin's Creed feel to it, especially the version with the hood.   But these pieces could also be used for a range of fantasy inspired costumes.

The red short jacket in particular would work nicely for steampunk.  The long blue coat would also work, maybe with a bit of tweaking as it looks slightly Renaissance.

Simplicity's fall collection also included several nice 40's and 50's vintage patterns and two bra patterns, which may be of interest.

Friday Finds: Oak Tree Farms Boots

Have you guys seen the new line of Victorian inspired footwear from Oak Tree Farms?

They're gorgeous.  I'm not being paid to promote them or anything, I just want to share the shoe porn. They have a collection of Victorian boots that range from very historically accurate to quite modern, but all of them would be ideal for steampunk.  The only downside is the price, which is not at all cheap.  But they really do look remarkably well made.

 Eleanor in teak

  Mirabelle in black

Ariana in Red

Amelia in Black Teak

Mostly I want someone out there with more money than I to go buy these because they are so pretty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Cosplay by McCall's Patterns: Renegade and Sentinel

Today Cosplay by McCall's has released two new patterns in their premium line.

I'm really excited about the first one, Renegade.

It's a plus size corset pattern from Anachronism in Action, with a laced halter top.   I remember the first time Kelly made a corset with this top, so I'm super excited she's released a pattern for what is one of her signature pieces.

 It's only available in plus sizes, due to apparent high demand for plus size corset patterns.  Smaller sized people are going to have to do some pattern modification for once if they want to use this one.

The back view is the really exciting part, as you can see how the belt and harness top connect.  This is a look that can work with a lot of potential styles from a sexy modern club look to a more steampunk antique feel.

Plus if you don't like the top, this is just a nice, fairly standard plus sized underbust pattern. There are two different plus sizes for this pattern, going up to a 32W size, which should really cover a ton of women.  It's great to see them expanding their size offerings.

The second pattern released is Sentinel, a more medieval fantasy styled costume.

It consists of a tunic, vest, separate hood, and bracers.  While this isn't obviously steampunk, I do really like the design.

The tunic is very attractive and could probably work for everyday clothing if you're adventurous.  And the vest has a nice shape that could be used in a steampunk outfit as well.  All together these pieces say fantasy, but as individual pieces I think they could work in a variety of looks.

What do you guys think?  Is this line of patterns doing a good job of appealing to you?