Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Finds: Summer Steampunk Shoes

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase anything after clicking the links, I will receive a small commission.

I've talked about this before, but being a Texan, I have a hard time being comfortable in steampunk dress all year round.  I need summer versions of my outfits for times when it's just unbearably hot.  A big part of my comfort is shoes.  I just can't wear knee-high vinyl boots when it's 100 degrees.  So I am always looking for good summer steampunk shoes.  I found a bunch at Modcloth, but these are also just ideas of what styles to look for.

Here we have the ultimate steampunk gladiator sandal.  I love the look of BootsButNot.  The shiny buckles take them into actually steampunk territory for me.  I saw a similar style at Target a few days ago, though they didn't look this nice.  So this is a style that is apparently "in" at the moment.

One of the other things I look for in steampunk accessories is metallic color.  This is apparently another trend at the moment, so that's great for us.  I love sandals that include something around the ankle, and these are a lovely shiny gold with intricate patterning.

Shoes just rarely get cuter than this.  The Malt Shop Sweetheart shoe is available as pictured in Dusty Rose or very stylish Black and White.  These really are like the summer version of some two-tone steampunk boots I've seen.

There's just something about shoes with wraps around the ankle that make them more old-fashioned.  These more formal shoes have a dance feel to them and would work with all kinds of outfits, including fancier steampunk ones.

Speaking of ankle-wrapping, how about these flats?  They have a ballet feeling, but with a metallic sheen and delicate elegance.

Again, there's something about two-tone cuteness.  The lower heel on these makes them a little more casual while maintaining a little bit of formal.  These are a little bit Lolita to me.

The more straps and buckles something has, the more steampunk it is.  That's just science.  :)  Here's another good flat option for those like myself in danger of injury when we wear heels.

There are more shoes I could post that would work that I found just looking around Modcloth.  Mostly metallic sandals and flats in different shades.  But I think you get the idea that steampunk doesn't have to mean boots.  Hope this gave you some ideas of what to look for!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cosplay by McCall's New Patterns: Belle Rogue and Belle Noir

McCall's is continuing to release very interesting patterns in their new cosplay line.  Today's two new patterns are designed by Ichigo Black and are influenced by Japanese goth, lolita, and steampunk styles.  I have to personally admit I don't know enough about Japanese fashion trends to know if these patterns fit any specific style.  I know they aren't really lolita, but I can see the influence.

So anyway, here they are.

Belle Noir is interesting.  It includes a blouse, two layer skirt, bustle overskirt, detached sleeves and a fascinator.   So I guess the big question for readers of this blog is: "Is this steampunk?"   And I'm pretty comfortable saying yes.  As you can see from the side-view below it's got a Victorian silhouette to the skirt/bustle.  So it feels like a modern take on Steampunk.  It's not your traditional steampunk outfit, but I feel like we can desperately use some different interpretations of the style.

And this would look totally different in colors other than black, as well.  It's difficult to make out all the layers and details with it all in black.  (My old goth soul hates me for saying that.)

So yeah, I like it.

And here is the second pattern: Belle Rogue.  (Ok, part of me is wondering if that was supposed to be Belle Rouge to go with Belle Noir.  But whatever.)

So this pattern includes "Corset, skirt and accessories."  The corset top is one piece, then the tulle skirt with overskirt is one piece, with a detachable train.  And it includes hair bow and wrist cuffs.

So I LOVE the skirt.  The look of the layered and striped tulle with pulled up overskirt is fantastic.  The train is nice, but doesn't do much for me personally.  This does have a gothic bridal look to it, though, so it would work for that.

I am not very impressed by the look of the corset.  It is "lined and boned" but looks to fit very loosely (probably because of too much ease in the pattern sizing) and doesn't really have much in terms of shape.  I think if you want to recreate this look, you'd probably be better served using a different corset pattern (like Laced from this same line) and making it in alternating red and black fabric.

But the skirt is fantastic.  So once again, these patterns are only available from the site.  You can see my other reviews of this pattern line here.   And in the next day or so I'll be posting a detailed review of one of the new corset patterns, with my test fittings.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Finds: Gifts for Mom or Yourself

This post is sponsored by Modcloth and contains affiliate links.

I haven't been doing my Friday Finds posts for a while.  It started to feel like work and like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for things to share with y'all.  But I've got some good stuff shared up now so I'll be posting some of these for a while.

Gift-giving is always tricky.  Especially when I'm looking for my mom.  My mom is the kind of person who has most everything she wants or needs.  She doesn't collect things.  She doesn't have a lot of hobbies.  So what do you give someone like that?

One option is to really search out the quirky and unusual items that someone would like, but doesn't know exist.  Modcloth is a great place to find these kinds of things.  Here are a few items I found that I feel would make great gifts that also have a steampunk vibe.

The Open Air Enjoyment Picnic Basket is a lovely, old-fashioned way to tote everything you need for a fantastic picnic.  With spring in full swing, and summer coming, this can get a lot of use.  I also can see this being the perfect thing to take with you to any outdoor steampunk gathering and still be in period style.

Modcloth has quite a few kitchen accessories that would fit into a steampunk themed room fantastically.  This copper-toned Roll the Spice Caddy is one of them.

Ok, I don't get tired of cool octopus items.  And I ADORE this Pacific Pairing Pillow.  The colors are fantastic.  Only a few left in stock, though, so hurry!

Finally, I found the Most Steampunk Item EVER.  Guys.  Guys. We need this.  We ALL need this attached to our belts.  It's a collapsable shot glass with an octopus on it.  The next time a steampunk offers you something from a flask (cause you know we do that), you will have your own hygenic shot glass right there!  Seriously, I need this so badly.   The Wherever You Arm shot glass!

So your mom may or may not be into steampunk and octopuses.  But if you need a Mother's Day gift, seriously try browsing though Modcloth's Home and Gifts section, because I found something perfect for my mom for less than $20.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cosplay by McCall's Pattern Review: Flight

You've probably seen my previous posts on the new Cosplay by McCall's pattern line.  If not, they are here and here.  I'm grateful to have the chance to review these patterns and share my observations with my readers.

Today will be a bit more of an in-depth look at one of the patterns: Flight.  You'll remember this as the one with the large angel wings on the rugged, attractive, tattooed man.  This pattern actually has two "Views": View A is a simple faux leather harness and View B are the large angel wings.

First let's talk a little about the wings.  This isn't your typical sewing pattern, and you can see where this cosplay line diverges from more typical costume patterns by its willingness to really jump into building rather than just sewing.  I've photographed the materials list to show you what I mean.

Materials List
This isn't just stitching.  There's wood, screws, brackets, wire, rubber bands, drills and drill bits involved.  The base of the harness, strapped to the back, is wood covered by faux leather.  The wire wing frames are attached to the base with various hinges and brackets to allow them to fold in and out.  Then all the feathers are cut from laminate flooring underlayment foam.  For more realistic feathers there are instructions for adding a vein to each feather with hot glue and cutting and shaping them with a heat gun.

The instructions for all of this look pretty good, but it's difficult to say how difficult or realistic this all is until someone really tries it, and I certainly haven't.  This is a big build and I don't even have any need for a giant pair of white angel wings.  In fact, that's one of my questions about this pattern: how many people have a need for giant white angel wings?  Ok, I can think of some characters that would use this style of wings, but not THAT many.  Maybe feathered wings would be useful for other looks if you make them other colors like black or red but there's no mention of whether this foam underlayment stuff is available in anything but white, or whether it's possible to paint or dye it.

Building the wing frame base, from the instructions.
Now, if you are looking to make big wings of some other type, maybe this pattern is still useful for instructions on building the frame base and harness.  But again, I'm not sure if the instructions are even very good.  I'm used to looking at full-color photo tutorials and videos for building this kind of stuff, and while the line drawings are pretty nice, it feels a little like reading instructions for IKEA furniture (which I happen to love, but YMMV.)  I think it wouldn't take much to get confused because I'm not fully clear on some of these steps just from reading it through.

So let's move on to the item from this pattern I actually DID go ahead and make.  It's the View that isn't actually pictured on the website or the pattern envelope, except in line drawing.  The plain harness or "belt" as the pattern calls it.  This is a pretty common item for steampunk cosplay as well as other styles such as apocalyptic fashion.  Usually they are made of thicker leather hide, but this pattern calls for faux leather and felt backing.  I had a piece of faux suede on hand large enough for the pieces, so I decided to test it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New Cosplay by McCall's Patterns: CORSETS!

So since I now have the hook-up with McCall's I got warning that as of today there are two new patterns in the Cosplay by McCall's line, and they are both corset patterns.

Needless to say, this was exciting news.  I'm always interested in new corset patterns, since I know there are still gaps in the market for really good modern corset patterns.

And when I got the promo images, I was pretty darn impressed.

The patterns are called Laced for the overbust and Shapeshifter for the underbust.  And the photos are really attractive and look like they have very nice shapes.  

And then I read the press release, to find out these patterns were developed by Kelly Cercone of Anachronism in Action.  Kelly is a well-known and respected corsetiere and cosplayer.  I've admired her work and interacted a bit with her online, and she has my respect.  I know she knows her corsets. So that makes me really anxious to get my hands on these patterns and test them out,  (I should be getting copies in a couple weeks!)

These really have the potential to become must-have patterns.  My only reservation is that I know for the Big 3 typically the designer who makes the pattern doesn't have any say over the instructions, which for corsets have been historically pretty dismal.  

The patterns are supposed to be up on the website as of today at noon, and you can only get them there.  

In related news, my review for the Flight pattern should be up soon.  I finished putting together the test harness from the pattern and just need to get some photos of it.

(Disclaimer: I'm not being paid to promote these in any way, other than being provided with copies of the patterns to review.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cosplay By McCall's Pattern Review: Trenched

This is part two of my review of the brand new "Cosplay by McCall's" pattern line.  Part one, which goes over general characteristics of the patterns and the Cloak X pattern is here.

Today I'm going to talk about M2014- Trenched.  Like all the patterns in this line it's only available from the website and isn't available in stores.  The list price is $17.95 and I don't know if there will ever be any discounts or sales on these patterns.

The pattern comes in one size which ranges from Small to XL: 34-48 inches chest measurement.  It's a unisex pattern so I have to assume there's very little shaping to the coat.

There are three styles of coat included with the pattern: the elaborate one pictured on the front and two more plain styles.  One is a simple long coat with front zipper and no detailing.  One is a shorter simple coat with front zipper and buckles across the zipper.

Because Cloak X was so clearly based on an existing costume from a popular fandom, I felt like the View C of this pattern (the cover photo) probably was as well.  But I had to reach out to my friends to identify the source.  It's a very close recreation of Vash the Stampede's coat from the anime Trigun.

That actually makes me a bit disappointed, because I really like the style of the coat and think it would work pretty well for steampunk costuming, but wouldn't want anyone to confuse me for a Trigun cosplayer.  I guess it would be less obvious if it weren't red and maybe if you leave off the buttoned-up collar.  But it's something to take into consideration before recreating that version of the coat exactly.

This pattern is labeled "Advanced" difficulty.  And that's probably pretty accurate.  The plain coat is pretty simple, though.  Using vinyl or faux leather, as the pattern recommends does up the difficulty, but the basic construction isn't that difficult.  View C is a LOT more involved, though, with lots of little pieces to cut out and assemble.  The front button placket is actually a faux covering that snaps closed over a zipper.  But you still have to sew all the little rounded tabs, notch them and flip them inside out, press them smoothly, and sew them to the placket.  Then handsew all the buttons in place, before attaching the front placket to the coat and hand-sewing snaps into place to hold it closed.  That's a lot of fiddly work.  But it does look pretty cool, so maybe it would be worth the effort.

As I mentioned last time, I haven't actually made this pattern, so my ability to review it is a bit limited.  I don't know how smoothly the pieces go together or how the finished object fits.  But the instructions do look pretty clear and detailed.

I'm not entirely sure how useful this pattern is in a general sense. I'm sure cosplayers who need some kind of long coat can modify this pattern to fit their needs, but then again aren't there other, cheaper patterns out there they could use as a base?  I do like the front-placket-covering-a-zipper construction of View C and you could pretty easily change the decoration of the placket with buckles or different tabs or even a painted or embroidered design or appliqued design.

As another fault, the sizing of the pattern is a bit limited.  According to the charts, I'd need to make an XL to accommodate my bust measurement which means anyone more plus sized than a 48" bust/chest is out of luck.   I also know if I made this pattern I'd want to make it more fitted in the waist which would require significant modding.
So ultimately, I don't know.  I'm left still fairly hesitant about the high price of the pattern.  It's great if you're looking for this particular look, and seems to be a well-made pattern.  But if you're going to be heavily modding it, it seems kinda unnecessary to start with such an expensive base.  I wish these patterns were more versatile, really.  If there was a fitted women's version and maybe a double-breasted or single breasted, buttons or zipper options, then maybe I could say this would be a necessary part of any cosplayer's pattern collection.  If you're going to make a specialty line, it seems like more thought to adaptation should be put into the patterns.  As it is, this is just another costume pattern, like many put out by the Big 3 except way more expensive and inconvenient.

I have one more pattern in this line to review, but it's going to take a little longer to get to it.  Not only because the wing pattern is way more complicated, but because I'm intending to actually put part of it together to evaluate it.  (Not the giant wings, mind you.  There's another version that is just a harness and I want to test it.)