Sunday, June 11, 2017

New Steampunk Cosplay Patterns

Cosplay by McCall's has several new patterns that are a little interesting.

Foot Fetish: Gilded is a collection of "bootcovers" or spat-type accessories.  There are three versions: the cover style with straps and pleated trim, a pair with ruched fabric front and corset lacing in back, and some filigree low-top covers that go around the ankle.  They're all written to be made in synthetic leather with fabric trim and jewelry findings.

The instructions are pretty good at showing how to attach the pieces together, install eyelets and buckles, use blanket stitch to decorate and secure layers.

The main question about this pattern is whether it's really necessary.  The only one of the three designs I really like is the low-top cut-out one. I would probably leave the ruffle off it, though.  All of these are one-size-fits-all because they only cover the front of the boot/shoe and just have straps or lacing in the back.

And since I can't imagine many people wanting to exactly recreate these styles, if you're going to be adapting these to suit your outfit, it would be pretty easy to make your own basic front shape and decorate it as you wish.  So I can't see many people really would feel the need to buy this pattern.  Am I wrong? Is this pattern more useful than it seems?

Hand-Eye Coordination is a pattern for four different glove styles and three different eye patches and finger armor claws.  The "leather" portions are faux leather fused to cloth with fusible web.

The instructions in this pattern are actually pretty good at showing how to attach the various pieces using rivets, blanket stitch edging, and jewelry findings.  There is a paragraph encouraging using found objects to embellish the eyepatch in an individual style.

I do like some of the gloves, like the fabric gloves with laced bracer covering the wrists.  The claws aren't my style and I wonder how well they would hold up since they are just held together with interfacing.

But if you prefer you could use these patterns with actual leather, stitching or riveting it together mostly in the same way.

So whether this pattern appeals to you is mostly a matter of style, I think.  It also works as a plain glove pattern, so that could have uses in other types of costuming.

Becoming Emelie is a lolita style pattern for a bonnet, circular purse, and cape with tufted shoulders.  I love the bonnet, and I don't know that there's another commercial pattern for this style of hat. The pattern uses thick sew-in interfacing and the wire from a wire hanger to stiffen the hat.  That would probably work pretty well.  I especially love the gathered lining.

The purse zips closed and has a chain strap.  It uses batting for padding.  I'm not sure how sturdy the finished bag would be, but it is cute.

The cape is a really nice shape, short in the front and longer and full in the back.  It is fully lined and has lace edging.  The shoulders are tufted and beaded.  Personally I'm not wild about the shoulders, but you could leave that off the cape easily.

Finally the pattern includes a pattern and instructions for making fabric roses to decorate the bonnet and purse.  I love these kind of details and they look fun to make with scraps.

So I think this is another excellent lolita pattern from this brand, and one you probably definitely want if you make lolita outfits.  The cape would be great for steampunk, and with some different embellishments the bonnet and bag could as well.

Red Reign is a pattern by Ichigo Black that includes a corset, bolero, hoop and skirt.  This is one I didn't get a review copy of, so I can't say how the instructions are.  Which is too bad given it's a corset.  I did like the previous patterns by Ichigo Black, though.

I like the style, especially the jacket, skirt and hoops.  The corset is almost a bustier since it's so short and straight.  I would probably just use a different corset pattern that's curvier and extends further onto the hips.  (I like the corsets in this same pattern line as one option.)

Finally there is Eventide, which includes two different jackets with puffed shawl collars.

Without checking this strikes me as a design that looks like it's from Once Upon a Time.  Except for the collar, the cover version is just a nice feminine version of a frock coat and would work well for any pirate-themed outfit.  It could also work for a variety of different cosplays.

The shorter version is a little plainer, more of a bodice with the only really noticeable elements being the collar and the giant sleeves.  In both versions, I really hate the puffed collar.  I would automatically replace it with something more normal looking.

So I think the first version of this coat has a lot of possibilities for cosplay, steampunk, pirate, or goth wear.  (Minus the collar.  Sorry, I hate it.)

(In the interest of full disclosure I was provided review copies of these patterns at no cost.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Summer Steampunk Patterns from Simplicity and Cosplay by McCall's

Simplicity has two new steampunk patterns in their new collection.

Simplicity 8408 is a pattern for a man's shirt and two vests.    The shirt has two collar options: a band collar or wing style collar.  Other than that, it's a fairly plain shirt.

There are two styles of vests, as pictured on the front.  There's the long single-breasted one and the shorter double breasted vest.

Honestly I love everything about this pattern.  There really aren't enough men's steampunk patterns, although vest patterns are exactly rare.  But I like both vest looks and the shirt is a great addition to make this more than just another vest pattern.  The details on the vests with multiple pockets and nice collars all look nice.

Simplicity 8409 includes a bolero jacket and skirt, both with two variations.  

I'll admit on first looking at this, I wasn't very impressed.  It's a confusing look, especially the blue and red version.   But on studying the pattern a little closer, it's not that complicated.  The bolero jacket is nice, with some interesting details.  It's different from other steampunk boleros in other patterns at least.  (But I'd suggest wearing a shirt or corset or something under it. I don't think the bare skin look really works.)

And the long fringe on the one bolero style?  Well, it probably could work ok with the right outfit.  It'd be good for belly dancing.  But mostly I'm not in love with it.

The skirt comes in two lengths.  I naturally like the longer skirt much better, but that's really personal preference.  Although I'm not sure a really short skirt really screams "steampunk" but I'll try not to judge.  The corset-style belt is built into the skirt.  Obviously it's not actually a corset, just decorative, but I like it.  The skirt itself is made up of handkerchief style pieces, which is a neat look that would look very different in different fabrics.   The skirt would really be good for a casual steampunk look.

So although I wasn't super excited about this pattern on first glance, I'd say it's really kinda neat.  I don't like the way it's styled in the photos that well, with the bare midriff and clashing colors.  But I think it could look cool and be a good steampunk wardrobe addition.

I'll include a mention of Simplicity 8411 which is a version of the red dress from Outlander, obviously.  It's 18th century rather than 19th, but I figure some of y'all may be interested.  It's a pattern from American Duchess, which explains why it looks pretty nice.  The design isn't historically accurate, and I hated that bust in the show, but this is not a bad looking pattern.

In addition to the boned bodice (the pattern calls for cable ties!) and skirt, the pattern includes panniers, which could be very useful.  Maybe I just like panniers.

There are also a couple new Cosplay by McCall's patterns.  The first is Hat Madder which includes this skeleton mad hatter hat, bow tie, collar, and cuffs, and this flower/unicorn horm headpiece.

This pattern is freaking weird.  Just need to get that out there.  The mad hatter hat doesn't look very good in my opinion, mostly because the brim appears to have nothing to stiffen it, so it's just floppy all over the place.  It doesn't give the impression of a top hat so much as a trash can on top of a tortilla.  Like, I think this design could be neat, but it looks like someone tried it out and made a prototype and just said "meh, close enough."

The rest of the pattern is ok, and I like the weirdness of the unicorn horn thing, but I'm not sure any of it is really vital enough to require a $14 pattern.

Secondly there is Abigail by Anachronism in Action.  When I first looked at this pattern I said, well, it looks nice, but I have no idea what it's supposed to be.

The pattern is for a lined and boned vest/bodice, skirt, and petticoat.  From looking at the pattern it seems to be well-constructed.   But I remained confused as to exactly what period this outfit was supposed to represent, and neither the pattern envelope or the website really gave me much of a clue.

I had to go to Anachronism in Action's FB page to actually figure it out.  First she calls this a Renaissance-inspired outfit.  And then she also has an album of the outfit made up in a few different looks.  The album calls this a 16th century style.

So, great, mystery solved.  I can't really comment on the historical accuracy of this, since I don't know a great deal about 16th century costume.  But seeing some of the different renaissance festival stylings of this outfit makes me like it quite a bit more.  It could be a good option if you want a Renaissance outfit that doesn't look like everyone else's.

And I would say that if you're the kind of person who blends Renaissance and steampunk, this could be a good set to have in your closet.  I can picture either the skirt or the vest working with a steampunk outfit.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New Cosplay by McCalls patterns for steampunks

So I have been out of touch on this blog and in general.  I haven't even sewed anything in over two months.  While I'm trying to figure out what to do with this blog as I try to reorder my life, I'm still a pattern addict.  And I got the two Cosplay by McCall's patterns in the mail a couple days ago.  Both of them are aimed pretty clearly at a steampunk market.

First let's talk about Thirst.  This is a gothic/Romantic styled men's pattern.  The pattern includes the shirt and two different styles of vest.  The shirt is nice, but the billowing sleeves with ruffles at the wrist aren't very Victorian.  It's really more Regency, but since I'm not really up on early 19th century men's styles, I'm not sure if it's accurate at all.  It's would work fine as goth fashion, and no one would kick you out of a steampunk con, but I thought I should mention it's not Victorian-accurate.  I do really like the collar style, though, and I might, if I ever get up the courage to try a men's shirt again, use the collar at least.

Now the vests.  The vest on the cover is...ok?  Maybe?  It looks really short and I don't really like the seam at the waist that makes it look strangely 18th century, while not being right for that either.  It could evoke some period vests that were pretty short, because men's trousers came up above the waist at the time.  But since very few modern men are willing to wear period-accurate trousers, it just shows the shirt, as you can see in the photo.

And then there's the other vest style.  Which is just the same vest, but without the bottom half.   This is so incredibly bizarre and unattractive I posted the picture up to my friends to see if anyone had any explanation for it.  Maybe it was referencing some TV show I hadn't seen?  Maybe an anime?  Who freaking knows.  Everyone else was as put off by it as I was.

I mean, I guess it's an equal opportunity crop top?  Even on this model it doesn't really look good and he has to have the ideal figure.  On most men it would just be downright terrible.  Highlight the beer belly, gents!  One of the nice things about vests is that they are flattering on a range of male body types.  But, yeah, not this one.

Seriously, I feel like I need a gay man over here to explain fully everything wrong with this vest.  I can't do it justice.

Anyway, the actual pattern envelope and instructions don't give any clues about the intentions of the designer.  I really...can't understand where they're coming from with this one.

Luckily I like the other new pattern better.  Wayfaress is a pattern for three styles of bloomer-styled pants and an overskirt.
Let's start with the skirt.  It's strange.  Not a full skirt, but about 3/4 of a skirt, with no means of attaching it except to use a purchased belt.  So it's kinda like a cape with belt loops.  While I think using a belt to hold the overskirt on is a neat idea, I wish there was an alternate method of attachment.   Ties or buttons or something.  Because not every outfit lends itself to a belt.  And it requires a fairly skinny belt, based on the size of the loops.  I'm not sure a standard renaissance faire leather belt would work.  Also you need a belt without a bunch of stuff on it, like my steampunk belt.  I couldn't use my belt because it's both too wide and has too many things attached to it that aren't easily removable.

Having said that, the shape of the skirt is pretty nice, and it has a really lovely trim design sewn onto it.  The instructions are pretty good about giving tips for topstitching and attaching the trim.  Frankly if I wanted to achieve this look I'd probably go looking in my closet or a thrift store for a similarly shaped skirt and attach the trim and hike up the front of the skirt.

Moving on to the pants.  There are three styles, all basically the shape shape with different embellishments.  The plainest is the ones pictured on the envelope front.  These just feature some piping and topstitching but are otherwise plain.  They don't really do anything for me, but I guess they are the most masculine.

I do really like the styling of the other two views.  View B has decorative corset-style lacing on the side panels, buttons and chains on the front and some ruffles at the leg openings.  The lacing is run through cord loops stitched into the seams, which is a nice look, but which wouldn't show at all if worn with an overskirt.

View C is my favorite and has stitched on contrast stripes and large ruffles at the legs. The stripes as pictured are raw-edged and intentionally frayed, which is actually a pretty steampunk detail.  Though the pattern notes you could use ribbon or a non-fraying fabric for these if you don't like the frayed look.

My one concern with all of these pants is that they are fairly close-fitting, moreso than bloomers really are.  They look good on the models, but I'm a little concerned that they might not work great for those of us who have larger hips and rears.  Especially in a woven fabric, I'd be afraid of having a seam blow out when sitting or crouching.  Now I haven't actually tried the pattern, but they do seem pretty slim in the hips/stomach in the photos.  Just something to keep in mind.  Also the fact that the closure is a zipper means there's not a lot of room for error in fit as opposed to normal bloomers that have a drawstring or elastic waist.  These are definitely "meant to be seen" and not underwear, but the comes with some trade-offs in comfort.

So what's my opinion overall of this pattern?  If you fall in love with one or more of the pants style, then it's worth having.  The overskirt is more of a pattern bonus than really enough to cause someone to buy the pattern on it's own.  And I'm not sure any part of the pattern is really versatile for more than one look.

So that's it for this wave of Cosplay by McCall's.  If anyone figures out what the hell is going on with those vests, let me know, ok?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Simplicity Spring Patterns

Simplicity has released their new Spring pattern catelog.  And as usual there's enough for me to discuss.

First off there's this pattern for 4 different styles of hats, all of which could work for steampunk. There's a very standard top hat, a Mad Hatter style top hat, a tricorn and a large brimmed hat.  Reading the pattern info, it seems the pattern calls for wire and standard fusible interfacing.  So I assume it's the wire giving these hats shape since there no buckram holding them stiff.  Looking at the photos closely, you can see they they may look a bit soft in places.  The top of the top hat looks a bit saggy, for example.  So this may be a good cheap source of a hat pattern, but you may not be completely satisfied with the finished result if you're comparing it to a store bought hat.

Then there's this slightly odd pattern for a lace skirt and blouse in two styles.  It's kind of hippie-goth in style, but I'm including it because the blouse as pictured here would work pretty well for steampunk.

Next is this more cosplay-oriented pattern for a "Fantasy Ranger."  While it definitely comes off more fantasy and video game character-esque than steampunk in the picture, some of the pieces could be used for steampunk fairly effectively.  There's a (fairly straight) corset, and a pretty nice neck corset.  Plus there's instructions to make the arm/should armor piece.  So I do like it and think some of y'all might be interested.

Finally I just have to point out a weird thing where Simplicity has apparently taken the same pattern and listed it twice under different numbers.  Patterns 8364 and 8365 appear to include the exact same pieces of lace accessories and a fascinator, but 8364 is white for bridal and 8365 is styled retro.  I'm not very impressed with the patterns in either case, but it made me giggle to notice they were totally the same.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cosplay by McCall's: Prelude and Hitched

I have some actual content coming soon, but I had to let you guys know about a couple of new patterns from Cosplay by McCall.

Prelude is a pattern with three styles of bloomers: a short and long version of voluminous bloomers and a lovely pleated style.  All three have a real antique feel to them (although I can't say they're accurate, as they seem to all be closed-crotch.)  But these really look different to some other patterns that tend towards skimpier and less blousy, more modern looks.  

I really love my bloomers and the days I wear those for steampunk, because it is a more dressed-down casual, comfortable look.  So this pattern looks like a great one to use.   And this is the kind of pattern that I don't think exists, so I'm really happy to see it.

Hitched is the second new pattern, and it's just a hi-low skirt in three lengths.  There's a short version which seems a little pointless for steampunk, but also a medium (two back tiers) and long (three back tiers) version.   The medium and long versions have D-rings attached to the front for gathering the front up with ribbon.

I have to say that I do really like this skirt.  If I'm looking to criticize I would say there could be a bit more volume in it, and that having only the skirt makes the pattern fairly expensive.

But the D-rings are a really good idea I wish I'd had first.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cosplay By McCall's Patterns: Steampunk, Lolita, Accessories

Five new patterns have come out in the Cosplay by McCall line since I posted about it.  I have my hands on all of them now so I can give them a rundown.

Bow and Brine is a pattern for a pirate blouse. The blouse is ok, but it's really more fashion than costume.  Unlike a period garment, it buttons down the front and is fitted with bust darts.  It has three styles of sleeve and a variety of rather strange removable straps/neck things.  The pictured hat and belt aren't included in the pattern.  Overall, I don't see the point of this one.

Obi: Gado is a lovely full-length traditional kimono, an undershirt, and a short kimono with detached sleeves.  It also includes two styles of obi belt.  The obi are closed with hook and eyes and permanently styled.

Fatale is a set of accessories including the collar and foam crown from the front picture, a piece of fabric shoulder armor, and thigh-high leggings.   These pieces are fairly disappointing, and don't really feel like cosplay quality items  The crown is craft foam glued together.  The shoulder "armor" is a piece of thin faux leather gathered up and strapped on.  As far as their usefulness, they feel like something more for bedroom play or maybe burlesque than cosplay.

Stash is a pattern for a pair of  canvas belts and pouches in a military style. The pouches close with snaps and there is an option to attach them to a purchased belt.  The hip bag is attached to a belt with a bunch of D-rings attached to it.  I like the way the belts are closed with D-rings and metal clips instead of velcro or less secure methods.

These pouches aren't exactly steampunk, but they could definitely be used as part of a steampunk costume.  Especially if it was made in different fabrics or trimmed differently.

Rove is a bolero jacket pattern with several variations in styling.  I do really like this jacket, and it's nice for steampunk wear and wearing with corsets.  View F has some nice military tab detailing.  The only complaint about this pattern is that it's only a jacket and that may be a bit slim for an up-priced pattern, when there are other patterns out there with multiple skirts, a corset, and a bolero all included.

Manikin is a complete lolita pattern. It includes a blouse, a jumper skirt with shirred back, an apron with a corset-laced back, and a bow.  There area couple of other mainstream lolita-esque patterns out there, but this is the first time I've looked at a pattern and said "that's REAL lolita."  Now, I'm not an expert, but I've tried to educate myself about lolita fashion over the years and it's a style I really like, if not one I really wear.

But I'm super impressed with this pattern, and think you could make your own clothing that would be indistinguishable from purchased clothing from the well-known brands.  The pattern includes information and guidance about types of lace to use and how to choose and make trim for all the ruffles and layers.  So this is a pattern that's going to be invaluable to lolita fans, IMO.

Papillon is a really nice women's jacket with either tails or a pleated flounce at the back.  They are essentially the same jacket with different detailing, but it does give you two fairly different looks, from a menswear look to a fairly accurate Victorian women's bodice style.  The tails version is also a perfect pattern for the ever-popular character Sebastian from Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji).   The jackets are fully lined and the instructions give pretty good tips about fitting and using interfacing and choosing lining fabric.  So this is a pattern that I think will be good for a steampunk sewers library and I have seen demand for a good tailcoat pattern for women.

If anyone has more detailed questions about these patterns, please let me know, as I do have copies of them on hand and can check things if you're curious about something.