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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A few new patterns of interest

So I was just getting prepped for Black Friday, as you do, and noted that Joann's sale starts tomorrow and they have Simplicity patterns on sale 5 for $5.  I brought in a large haul of Simplicity patterns in the last sale but I had to go look for new ones...

And there are some of note.

This is another design by Lori Ann Designs, and I pretty much love it.  There's a nice gothic lolita version and more pirate lolita (Is that a thing?  It should be a thing.) version.  Honestly, I have nothing to nitpick on these.

The jacket on either version could work great for steampunk, but honestly you could wear either of these to a steampunk event as-is and no one would kick you out.  (I mean, ok, they wouldn't anyway, but you know what I mean.) It's hard to figure out exactly what all the pieces of these are from the drawings, but it looks like there are two skirts and a bustle you could mix and match with.

I was recently digging through my pattern stash to look at the cape options I had and this is a nice one for a couple of lengths of short capes.  I was snuggled into my full-length wool cloak at my last event and said I wish cloaks would come back into acceptable fashion because it's basically a wearable blanket.  Maybe all the cape patterns I've seen recently is a sign that wearable blankets are back.

This one is from Butterick, and it's very obvious they are going for a Phryne Fisher look with this jacket and jodhpur set.  So that's 1920's, a little modern for traditional steampunk, but with the right accessories or a more Victorian bodice, it could work.  I like that these jodhpurs have contrast patches on the inside of the thighs and aren't as extreme in the hip pouf as some others.

(And by the way if you haven't watched the Australian series Miss Fisher's Mysteries, you MUST.)

I'll also note that Simplicity has released a slew of vintage patterns of styles from the 1930s-1970s, if any of those decades are your thing.

There are also several new patterns in the Cosplay by McCall's line, including a couple I really like, but that's going to be it's own post, probably next week after the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Finds: Hips and Curves Steampunk Wear

When I was out at Steampunk November one of my friends spotted a woman wearing a very nice lace-trimmed peasant blouse and said "I need a shirt like that!"  She asked where the woman got it, and she said "Oh, Hips and Curves!"  And then there was a conversation about how great their underwear was.

Luckily, I'm an affiliate for Hips and Curves, which means if you buy from them after following the links from my blog, I get a commission.  So I went to find this shirt, and was really surprised how much great steampunk clothing the site has.  It's been a while since I really looked at it.  Now some of their stuff is going to be costume quality, and I don't necessarily vouch for their corsets (I believe they are of the same quality as Corset Story, and you can read my opinion of those here.)

But they also have some pretty decent pieces to add to your steampunk wardrobe.

This is the item that started this.  Hips and Curves calls it a dress, but I'd wear it as a top, personally.  Maybe with leggings.  But it looks great under a corset.  And the fabric is very flowy and gauzy, which is nice for warm weather.  Sure, maybe this is more Ren Faire or fantasy than Victorian, but we all know the fashion of steampunk is broadly inclusive.

I have a pair of striped bloomers I made that I love, and have taken to wear frequently when I want to be comfortable and cool but still dress steampunk.  These white bloomers are similar and I would recommend them to women who want to forgo long skirts and get a little more comfy in their steampunk.

Black and white stripes are classic steampunk, and you can't go wrong with a tiered ruffled petticoat skirt either.   They also have a similar skirt in black.

The purple velvet Alice Revolver jacket is really lovely, with a corseted back and frilly tails at the back.  They also have a similar look in black brocade with the Bowie Brocade Jacket.

This Cotton Tiered Petticoat is nice for it's simplicity.  You could wear it for everyday wear, alone with steampunk clothing, or as a base under other costume pieces.

That's really only a taste.  There are a lot of petticoats, accessories, and potentially cool pieces in the costume section.  It would be a good place to get some base pieces for a steampunk look, particularly if you have trouble finding things in plus size, or live somewhere that you don't have access to a festival to buy from vendors.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Steampunk November Festival 2016

Of course they have a TARDIS.
Regular readers of this blog know I really love Steampunk November.  So much that it's the only steampunk event I've attended this year.  (It's been a rough few years personally.)

If you're not familiar with the event, let me briefly explain it.  It's basically a Renaissance Faire, but for steampunk.  It's held on some rural property just south of Dallas in Mansfield, TX.  It's currently a three day festival of live music, dance and variety performances, and vending.

This was my third time attending and vending at this festival in four years.  (One year I was ill.) I've been able to watch the event grow from a large party to a full-fledged festival, and I've gotten to know the organizers and a lot of people involved with it.  Pretty much every time I talk to a Texas steampunk I ask, "Are you going to Steampunk November?  You should go to Steampunk November."
The new Gypsy Stage.  How gorgeous is that?

This year was definitely the biggest yet, with an entire new area of vendors and a 4th stage. There were more acts, especially musical acts, and more variety.  There were also a lot of small improvements to the site and I was seriously impressed at the amount of work that had been put into it.

For me, the experience of going to Steampunk November as a vendor is like going to a family reunion.  I know a lot of the people and a lot of them know me.  But I talked to quite a few new vendors over the weekend and they all expressed wonder at how welcoming and friendly everyone was.  It's normal to see someone walking around looking dazed and saying "this place is incredible!"

Unlike some other steampunk events, this isn't a convention.  The focus is on performers and vendors rather than educational panels.  The line-up for performers is long and consisted of musical acts, belly dancers, sideshow acts, and other comedy/variety acts.  Since I spent most of my time in my booth, I only really got to see the acts performing on the two stages in the original central area.  And even then I heard the acts more than saw them.
The Phantom Sensation performing

Because I didn't get to really see the non-musical acts I'll just focus on the bands.  Besides, part of my main reason to go to cons and events is to see live music.

 My favorite bands of the weekend were Plunk Murray, The Phantom Sensation, The Long Losts, and Frenchy and the Punk. Plunk Murray is a local Dallas Celtic Punk/Rock band and I totally enjoyed their set on Sunday morning.  The Phantom Sensation is a Fort Worth band who call themselves a punk rock, southern gothic, blackgrass band.  They played several times over the weekend and I caught bits and pieces and was really impressed with them.   The Long Losts are a goth punk duo from New York and they were seriously awesome.  I mean, my tastes incline in that direction, but I loved them.  They are also both very nice people. And finally there's Frenchy and the Punk.  They were the Saturday night headliners and only were able to play one set but they were awesome, as always.  This is the third time I've seen them and they are always a great time.
Frenchy and the Punk (at soundcheck)

The selection of vendors was fantastic.  There were a ton this year, and in general the quality of the merchandise was high.  The focus was definitely on handmade items, not the kind of factory-produced stuff you see at most comic cons.  The wares covered everything from steampunk costumes and jewelry to fine art, glasswares, books, and more.

There may have been a few too many vendors there for the size of the crowd, from a money-making point of view.  Certainly there is room for the festival to grow in attendance and it never felt crowded, but it wasn't ever empty either.  From talking to other vendors how well they did ranged wildly from breaking even to raking it in.  But pretty much everyone I talked to said how much they enjoyed the event and that it was worth it to show up just for the experience.  (This is the category I fall in really.  I never make huge money at this show, but I always make some and I really enjoy it.  This year I didn't have as much stock as I would have liked due to being laid up recently.  But I made more than I expected.)

My husband and I in front of
the Steam Ingenious booth.
The only real complaint I heard was regarding food options.  The only on-site food was an Italian-themed food truck.  They had a nice variety of food available from salads, sandwiches, pasta, and fried snacks.  But the line was long and the wait for food was even longer.  I know some people got frustrated.  Everything I ate was good, though, and the organizers have said they are planning on having more food vendors next year.

The other attractions of the festival are two wine-tastings, an afternoon tea, a beer-tasting, and tea-dueling.  I have never been able to go to any of these, so I really can't report on them.  But everyone RAVES about the wine tasting (and I don't think it's just because they come out drunk.)  And I know people had fun at the tea dueling.  The tastings and tea cost extra and tickets for them must be bought in advance.

The one downside of Steampunk November is that the location isn't very convenient or easy to get to.  That's hardly unique for Renaissance events, but I think it's probably the reason the festival hasn't gotten more popular.  It's a significant drive from Dallas, but ok for a day trip.  There is camping available, but in November it's a little cool for a lot of people (i.e. me.).

But I would really encourage people to make the effort and plan to attend, whether that means camping out for the whole weekend, driving from Dallas, or getting a hotel room nearby.  It's absolutely worth it for a relaxed, enchanting, fun atmosphere with great people.

ETA: I forgot to say hi to those readers of this blog who said hi at the event!  Thanks so much for stopping to talk and I was so glad you turned up!