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?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Craftsy Class Review: Sew Better, Sew Faster: Advanced Industry Techniques

I've been interested in Janet Pray's "Sew Better, Sew Faster" classes on Craftsy for a while, as I am always looking for ways to make my sewing easier, more professional, and faster.  So I picked up this "Advanced Industry Techniques" class in a recent sale.  I chose this one, rather than her more basic class hoping I would have more to learn from an advanced class.

Well I have to say this is probably to best Craftsy class I've taken.  I've taken some really useful ones in the past on specific subjects (alterations, serging) but this one covered so much useful information on basic sewing techniques.

The teacher, Janet Pray, has a long history of working in the garment industry and teaching garment industry sewing.  I never realized how different techniques really were from the garment industry to home sewing, assuming it was mostly machinery and repetition that made industry sewers so fast.  But Janet explains that home sewing techniques have mostly been passed from generation to generation and originally came from hand-sewing techniques, while garment industry techniques are about what actually works best and is fastest.

Topics covered in the class are cutting, marking, sewing without pins, interfacing and pressing, zippers, waistbands, buttonholes, and seam finishes.  You can see these are all basic and frequent sewing tasks, and I think I learned at least one really useful thing on each topic, and usually many things.

Janet also covers topics such as tools and ergonomics.  I've already gone out and bought myself a board to make a custom extension for my sewing machine bed since it's vintage and doesn't sit down into my table.  I found myself taking notes throughout the class (which luckily Craftsy makes easy to do within their interface.)  That's something I've honestly never done for any other Craftsy course.  I find myself really eager to try out all the techniques from the class. I put off this review until I had a chance to try out what I learned from the class in practice.  I was able to do that when I made myself some board shorts recently.  I'll admit the idea of sewing without pins was daunting.  I found myself still using one or two pins in places to line things up.  But overall, I found her methods really worked!  I was able to stitch without pins, or using only very few.  I followed some of her advice on topstitching to achieve a more professional looking result.  I was able to cut multiple layers of stretch fabric at one time without it shifting AND without pins.

I think it's safe to say that this class has had the biggest effect on my sewing habits of any I've taken, and I highly recommend it.

Oh and just for the hell of it, here are the board shorts I made.  I used this pattern, which includes built-in swim bottoms.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Butterick Historical Patterns

B6397 has 4 different hat patterns.  This Victorian style, a pillbox hat, a broad brimmed hat, and what looks something like a beret.  (Only the Victorian and the pillbox style have photos.)  I adore this style of Victorian women's hat, perfect to wear with updos.  This will make a stylish and different option for a steampunk costume.

B6400 Boned, Back-Pleat Jackets - This looks like a fairly historically accurate Victorian bodice pattern, with a few subtle variations.  (Not sure why they call it a jacket instead of a bodice, other than they are trying to use modern terms to avoid confusion?)  There are three different cosmetic variations to the front and two styles of back pleats, all pretty attractive.  I like this military-style front the best.  I would like to see a made-up photo rather than just drawings, but this is probably a good pattern to have if you do Victorian costume.

B6398 - Misses Gloves in 6 Styles - 6 Styles of Historical women's gloves, short, medium, and long in length.  I have an older version of this pattern, so I think this is just a slight update from another Making History pattern.  I do like these half-lace gloves pictured.

B6399 - Misses Drop Waist Dress with Oversized Bow - I love this particular 1920s style, and it's definitely the one I would try to make for myself were I going to costume in that period.  This is a really pretty example, and a good addition to existing patterns.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

McCall's New Steamy Patterns - Early Fall

M7439 - Misses Gathered Skirts and Flared Skirts with Belt - This is a cute little pattern with several skirt variations.  There are versions with and without a tier, with a high-low hem, large patch pockets, and the shaped waistband with or without decorative buttons.  It's the waistband that makes this steamy and while not quite full enough for true Lolita still gives it a steampunk lolita feel.  
M7457 - Men's Embellished Jacket, Pull-On Pants, and Cravat.  So this seems to be the first pattern from a VJ Dunraven Productions pattern line.  If, like me, you're wondering who VJ Dunraven Productions is, they apparently shoot romance novel covers?  And now they make patterns?  I have to share that information with you, because I want to inspire the slightly bemused reaction in you that it caused in me.
This pattern is very costume-y.  That's an insult in historical clothing circles, fyi.  I'm not sure this is really accurate to any particular historical period, though it's vaguely Regency and vaguely early Victorian.  If you were to wear this to most historical costume events, I'm afraid it wouldn't be much of a success.  The construction of the costume is also very theatrical.  The pants are pull-on with an elastic waist and faux buttoned front.  The jacket velcros shut and all the buttons are merely decorative.  It's an effect that can be very effective in photos or stage, but tends to look fake in person.  
But this is a steampunk blog, and I'm not at all married to historical accuracy in either style or practicalities.  I personally would probably try to modify the top to have some kind of functional closure because velcro annoys me.  It seems to always LOOK fake and cheap when worn, though it's certainly practical for theatrical purposes.  But I think this could be used style-wise for a steampunk costume, certainly.  The pants definitely would be a useful addition to most steampunk gent's wardrobes.  (But if you have a fake drop front you can't use that flap for what my husband uses his for: holding a flask.  Protip right there.)

The cravat is a Regency style long cravat that is meant to be worn as pictured, wrapped once entirely around the throat and then tied on the second wrapping.  

M7456 - Misses' Seamed Jacket, Stirrup pants, and Cape - So this appears to be yet another Once Upon a Time costume pattern from McCall's, who has already done two patterns inspired by the costumes of the show.  I thought I'd just point it out, and the jacket could work for steampunk, but I don't think this is a must-have pattern or anything.  
Finally, the latest "wave" of Cosplay by McCall's patterns are out and only one of them has real steampunk interest: Spectral.  It's a version of a costume from the film Crimson Peak.

 I like it, but I'm not sure how much it translates to a useful generic steampunk costume.  It's a nice Victorian nightgown though.  And maybe the outer gown could be modded a bit, too.  If you like leg-o-mutton sleeves, this is for you.   :)