Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November 2016


A Month of Reflection

Yeesh, are we already that close to Christmas? Well, you would think so given that every room in the house (minus the office, that's the dark side) has a Christmas tree in it. The sewing room has two! But it doesn't feel like it yet. We only had a sprinkling of snow - which is awesome. I hate that fluff. But perhaps it really would feel more like Christmas with it around. My birthday is in a handful of weeks, I hate that day, but I'm putting a positive spin on it, I'm going to donate to my favorite animal shelter. :)

Health

I've missed work in excess to the point that I'm working as much as I did when I was a teenager, which is next to nothing. I can't stand it but I'm trying to be more forgiving toward myself. If you're hurting like you're dying inside, you have to take time to address that and unfortunately you lose pay as a result. I started physio therapy in early November and my physio therapist believes the majority of my pain is related to damage to my pelvic floor. She doesn't like me working at the factory because it's not exactly ergonomic. In the long run it would be better to find something else, and I've known that, but it's the most accommodating job I have had. I don't think multiple absences would go over very well with a new employer. I recently met with a gastroenterologist, he has some concerns about my family history and my year long bout of fevers and pain. I've given samples and I'm due for a scope in January. And I finally have a new family doctor who I get to see on Friday.
I hope to feel like a normal human being come spring time!



Shopping

Something I shouldn't do but have done is shop. Lord, why?! I gotta put a cap on it, no more shopping!! Black Friday sales sucked me into purchasing a new pair of shoes from YRU for $111 CAD - yikes! I'm not allowed to wear high heels for awhile so I need more flat shoes, and the Tune sneakers in tie-dye were like my 90's dream shoes. I'm stoked to receive them and wear them with my raver pants, but the buying experience with YRU hasn't been great so far...you get to read about that later. I also bought this dress from Urban Outfitters. I don't shop there regularly. It's not my scene but I desperately wanted a red velvet dress for Christmas. I've wanted one for years. I bought it with some of my wedding money. Last week I got a new pair of pjs from Ardene's with flaming marshmallows on them. I also bought some stretch velvet from Fabricland plus sewing notions and at something like $300 total I'm done buying shit. I've resorted to selling off my old shoes and clothes to pay for these things. It's not a bad thing, I needed to get rid of it all, I guess I just needed that extra push from being poor again lol. I'm really glad I'm not doing gift giving this year. >.<

Sewing

I've sewn a few things on and off over the months. I tapped out on my Halloween costume, all that hand sewn tulle was destroying my sewing spirit so it's on hiatus. Instead I decided I needed a hoodie (image here), but like an idiot I forgot to make sure it was the right material. I used a medium weight stable knit, which would be good for a summer hoodie but it's not thick enough to survive the Canadian winter. It was made from a pattern my friend let me borrow when we were sixteen. I didn't know she would die. I would have honestly made the attempt to return it to her if I could've seen that coming, now I sort of feel like a dickhead lol. But, it's made for a very sentimental pattern. I can make a hoodie from it knowing that she made a hoodie from it, and it feels like, on some spiritual level, that we're connected. It's quite sweet. I'm making a real winter hoodie out of it next and this time I'll make fewer mistakes! I'm also working on knocking off a skirt from Urban Outfitters. I really like the skirt from Silence & Noise but at $72 CAD (plus something like $12 shipping) I could not justify purchasing it. For a fucking skirt?! Ridiculous! Instead I'm knocking it off. I've already drafted the pattern and I'm ready to get started. When finished it should only have cost me something like $20. Huge difference and here is when you truly see the benefit of sewing. Not like pajamas... I was tempted to make a pair when I realized it'd cost more than buying them ready made! Yarrgh!

There is no shortage of velvet in the sewing room right now. I have a dark blue velvet that I call "nightshade", I'm planning on making a top out of it. I have a dark green velvet for the skirt, a blood red velvet for whatever my heart desires, a black velvet for god knows what, a stable burgundy velvet that I might use in corsetry some day and a bright red velvet that I would like to see made into a jacket. Velvet. Get some!

I also have this awesome holographic print fabric I've had stashed for nearly ten years. I'm planning on making a circle skirt out of it. I have a cheetah print knit that I'm going to make into a sexy wiggle dress and a metallic woven fabric for a top. The sewing projects are literally piling up in the corner of my room. I have to get on top of them and punch them out over the holiday so I can have a new wardrobe come springtime! Of course I'll keep track of it here.

Blog

Obviously sewing is a big part of Bien Aimée. I'd like to get back to doing mood boards now and again. I was pleased with the response to my social anxiety post and I have plans to further develop it into another two additional parts. I've done a lot of self exploration and I'm learning quite a bit, a helluva lot more than I did when I had a psychologist lol. So I'd like to share those experiences and insights with my readers because I want people to know they're definitely not alone, I share your struggles. I have a product review coming up. I think I might have a few of those next year. I'll talk more about this in the New Year's post. 


What have you been up to, lovelies?

Best,
 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Cosplay by McCall's Papillon & Manikin

Steampunk and Lolita Cosplay Patterns

Meant to post about this sooner, especially as I'm very excited to see yet another Lolita pattern emerge from McCall's. Just two patterns this time around. The first Papillon (I know them as dogs lol) is a Victorian inspired tailcoat and women's lined short coat. Manikin is a JSK with blouse and overskirt.


Papillon
Lined Swallowtail Coat and Lined Short Coat
M2084

Those interested in the Neo-Victorian fashion movement might be tempted to pick this pattern up. The pattern features a swallowtail coat, which I find very Jack Skellington-esque. It's a bit boyish for my liking but I figure that's the point. The short version comes in two different styles, with pleated ruffle and without, with side fastener or buttons. I quite like this short coat, I plan on making it for myself, hopefully out of a blood red velvet I've had stashed away for such a piece.



Manikin
Dress, Overskirt, Blouse and Bow
M2035

This pattern features a JSK with shirred elastic back, lace up over-skirt and blouse with bow. I really like the blouse on this, it's very feminine and delicate and has a Victorian feel to it, I can see more than just Loli girls buying the pattern for the blouse alone. The tiered dress is cute but I think the straps could be a bit wider as they seem awfully skimpy. While the over skirt is a good idea I'm not a fan of the execution, I think the back is what bothers me about it. I'm used to seeing them positioned with the lace up in the front of the dress, but more importantly it doesn't look like it fits on the model. It seems underdeveloped and tight, probably the most costumey aspect of the entire outfit. That being said I'm sure with some drafting it could be brought up to snuff. It's a cute pattern. Probably too sweet for my wardrobe but I want that blouse in black.

Conclusion

These are certainly more wearable than most of the cosplay costumes that have come out and I really appreciate that. I like this trend of feminine, Victorian pieces, but I'm going back to my fashion roots and where all my interests began so I have a soft spot for this sort of thing.

What do you think, my lovelies?

Best,

Friday, 18 November 2016

Too Different to Make Friends


Battling an Inferiority Complex and Low Self Esteem

I haven't talked much on here recently, I'm sure many of you must be thinking it's work, home life or illness. It's kind of a mixture of all three, but most importantly my social life was taking a turn for what I thought would be the best...but it nosedived as I should have known it would.

I had an old acquaintance reach out to me. We hadn't seen each other in years. I was super nervous but optimistic, yet somehow when I saw them everything in me shut down and I felt terrible about myself. I ruined the entire outing by acting like an asshat and saying the stupidest shit imaginable.

What happened here? It's difficult to summarize. There are a few major contributing factors, like who this person was to me, what they are now, and how different we are from each other. But more importantly it brought to light that I still struggle with an inferiority complex and I still battle social anxiety. If it wasn't for either of those things I probably would have made a life long friend and not fucked everything up. Then again, maybe I wouldn't have. Who knows, the opportunity is probably lost.

I have been in isolation for over a decade. After I lost a good friend to drug abuse, I entered into University and got on with nearly no one. That's not true, I made a few friends but they weren't the outside-of-school-hours kind. Even after graduation I've never managed to solidify a friendship with anyone new. The only person left is my friend Liz from the 9th grade and I rarely see her because we don't live in the same city.

I'm always very standoffish when you first meet me or catch me in social settings. I clamp up, sound like I'm snapping when I talk, or shut down entirely. I'm fearful of doing and saying the wrong things, which only inevitably leads to actually doing and saying the wrong things. That's irony for you, isn't it? I've been told to get out more and that practice will help me to overcome my social anxiety but in a city this small it seems laughable to think that would work. I've looked at meetups, none of it interests me, there's a lot of business and coding groups in my city. I found one group of introverts which only made me laugh at myself because I'm not actually introverted. I'm just different.

That word...different. I think the majority of bloggers in the Goth and alt scene can identify with my struggle of being different. You know how it is...Don't talk about your fascination with taxidermy to anyone. Don't tell them you listen to The Cure or Joy Division. When they question why you always wear black don't say it's because you're in touch with your dark side, tell them you have a black cat and don't like the fur showing up on your clothing. Or if you're really like me, don't tell them about your choice to not have kids, how you reject societal norms, and that you feel like a boy on the inside (watch the shit hit the fan with that one). 

Social anxiety has been the bane of my existence for ages. I've always put on this facade of who I am. My senior years in high school were possibly the only years I was being honest with people. As a freshman I had been trying to please everyone, constantly joking around and acting retarded. It didn't get me anywhere, just a lot of acquaintances who didn't see me as more than a joke or someone to fill in the gaps between classes. It was like that in uni too, only it changed into me being more of a crotchety bitch who was trying to deflect attention from herself. I met some nice people but I guess I was so guarded it never amounted to anything beyond the occasional chat. Now I'm so inexperienced socially I forget how to behave in public. I talk to people like cats sometimes. I'm not kidding! I don't even remember who I am anymore. Am I me, or am I my clothes? Does that even make sense?

I tried creating a workbook to review the self defeating thoughts that keep resurfacing, the qualities I think I might have, and those negative ones that I know I do. I think this could be a helpful exercise for anyone else who may combat feelings of inadequacy. Has it helped me? That remains to be seen. I've clarified a few things but I still don't understand who I am and how it relates to everyone else.


Overcoming an Inferiority Complex 

Make a list of your negative attributes.

Mine:
Self centred, igrnorant, uncultured, inexperienced, vulgar, avid non-conformist, judgmental, shy, low self esteem, brutally honest, negative

Can any of these attributes be corrected over time, are some of them exaggerations or untrue?

Am I self-centred? Probably. We all tend to be self-involved. If you're too selfless people walk all over you. I try to be more giving and outwardly interested. My vulgarity and ignorance is certainly something to be improved upon. I could swear less, talk dirty less and be more open minded. The best way to do this is to become a good listener and to think more before I speak. I could be more cultured and experienced if I only sought life experiences out, but finances and my location have made that rather difficult. The only way I've tried to overcome these barriers is by reading and trying to collect other people's experiences...it feels really fucking shameful when you can recall stories from friends but none of your own. Is my being a non-conformist a negative thing? That's deep. Maybe I reject a lot of things because of some internal struggle, like it's out of jealousy or something. Largely I'm not a non-conformist by choice, it just comes naturally and is certainly apart of my individuality and uniqueness. I think it's important to be unique. I'd rather that than being predictable and boring, so perhaps I'm being too hard on myself for being different. Shyness can be overcome in time but sometimes it's necessary to be shy. I need to stop being too honest and too open about everything, some things should be revealed over time. If I talk about the wrong things too early in a conversation people will believe that whatever it is I'm talking about is of the utmost importance to me because this is the first conversation, it's my first impression. I fuck that up a lot. Yet, there are some things that I think are important for people to know about me (this is good practice, you should try making a list of things you want people to know about who you are so you can be prepared for those first time interactions). I could also try to stay positive and change my attitude when I catch myself slipping.

What do I think is my biggest barrier to becoming socially accepted?

That is a hard question to answer, don't feel bad if you can't. I think this one takes some soul searching. My biggest problem is that I'm not receptive to socializing. I've conditioned myself to live without it and I've closed myself off from people. The reason I lost friends in university is that I didn't open my heart enough to being loved and supported. I'm fiercely independent emotionally. I act like I can do without even though I definitely can't (I might try convincing myself that I can, but the other day I said I would give up my art and everything I hold dear if someone would just "connect" with me on a personal level). I want to be more receptive, I have to determine the path to achieving that.

Make a list of positive attributes.

Mine: creative, unique, funny, caring, empathetic, sensitive, honest, trustworthy, supportive, emotionally intelligent, strong, driven, talented

This is always harder. Coming up with things that you like about yourself is likely going to take twice as long as the negative attributes list. Don't feel like that's weird, it's normal. It's also normal if some of these attributes conflict with your negative ones because we all have internal conflicts, we also over exaggerate our flaws. I'm self-centered but empathetic? Wtf? But I am. I am very interested in other people, I want to care for and support them emotionally yet I have difficulty unplugging from myself. I might talk too much about myself and not ask enough about them, although I do care to know them. Make sense? While these qualities are good I feel like the majority of them are not easily discerned by other people. There are things we know about ourselves that a stranger wouldn't. By randomly talking to me on the street you probably would not know that I am trustworthy. Some of these things are learned over time and the problem for me is that a lot of my attributes need time to be established. Someone would have to invest time in me to become aware of how loyal a friend I can be, therefore my first impression on someone needs to be freaking amazeballs. Hence, why I fucked up so supremely with my old acquaintance. He's not going to come back to find out more about me. I'd be very surprised if he did.

Analyze your self defeating thoughts.

Start with a self-defeating thought and then break it down with a positive affirmation. 

Example:

Self-defeating thought (A): "I'm not as good at art as Ladyfair is."
Affirmation (B): "But I'm far better at (x) than she is."

A: "I can never think of what to say. I'm stupid."
B: " I can listen and encourage conversation by asking questions. I can read to expand my knowledge or experience."

A: "No one is interested in what I think or feel."
B: "I cannot account for or intuit what another person thinks about me. I can only do my best and keep trying."

This next one is a hard one, it needs an affirmation to follow it but I feel it should also be further analyzed. 

A: "So-and-so hates me, I wish I had their acceptance."
B: "I should move on to find someone who values me."
^ If so-and-so does in fact hate me, and I'm not just over exaggerating something stupid I did, or internalizing something they said or did as an attack, then I need to determine why their acceptance is important to me. Who are they to me? What do they represent? Do I feel that knowing them can benefit me somehow? Can I find that benefit through other means (or other people)?

Every negative thought should be followed by a positive one. You need to find things you value in yourself and stop the cycle of self hatred, especially before you can make any real friends. Believe it or not, that negativity shows. It's in your mannerisms and your speech. Try practicing positive affirmations daily. You have to believe in them, though. If you catch yourself having a self-defeating thought acknowledge it as such. For instance, I struggle with OCD. I might think of setting my towel on fire. I know that I don't want to and that's abnormal, it's an aspect of my OCD and not a real belief of mine, therefore it's not what I really think. Your negative thoughts aren't real reflections of yourself, you're just having a shitty day, acknowledge them as shitty thoughts and replace them with affirmations. You might say, but Ladyfair, I really do hate myself! And that is such a fucking pussy emo thing to say. It's juvenile and unrealistic to believe that you have no good qualities about yourself. Find what they are and remind yourself about them daily. You have to change your thought process, that shit is not going to fix itself.

This is what I intend to do. I challenge my readers to do the same. Please share your experiences in the comments below. Next time I might talk about assessing your values and your ideas about friendship and socializing.

Best,



Saturday, 5 November 2016

Cosplay Accessories from Cosplay by McCall's

New Accessory Patterns

I recall perusing the Cosplay by McCall's social media sites and had seen a few suggestions regarding Cosplay accessories. I couldn't help but agree with other posters, we need more accessory patterns. Whether it may be hats, body armor, gun slings or garters, we need accessories! All too often I have found costume patterns that feature stellar outfits but less than stellar accessories (hats are the worst of it, they're so poorly drafted they seem like afterthoughts). Cosplay by McCall's has released the first of it's accessory patterns; Stash, Rove and Fatale. Let's take a look at them!


STASH
Belts and Pouches

I'm finding in my spare time my sewing doodles are leaning more and more towards a kind of punky, post-apocalyptic Tank Girl kind of thing. I have plans for making harnesses and such, so this pattern appeals to me. I have to say I'm not crazy about the waist belt. It's shaped in almost a garter kind of way, where it tapers into the ass and the hips. Kind of an odd design choice given that it's bulky and very masculine. It's not a sexy looking belt, however the skill level for this pattern is very easy and if you want to keep things accessible to the newby sewists simplification really is the way to go. I prefer the hip satchel...or fanny pack (hooray for the 80's). It's much nicer looking overall. I'm excited to make it. 


ROVE
Bolero Jackets

The bolero is a staple in many a wardrobe. This pattern reminds me of a few years back when Dieselpunk was a pretty big thing. You remember the military jackets and Lip Service's Gangsta Pranksta line (Google it). If you're itching to revive that look then this pattern might be for you. It features three different variations of the bolero, a mixture of cap sleeves, half sleeves, long sleeves, and a classic or mandarin collar.



FATALE
Collar, Shoulder Armor, Leggings and Crown

This one is kind of weird lol. It's more like a Queen of Hearts costume, although I'm sure the high collar could be used for other period costume inspired stuff. It comes with instructions on how to make the crown, which again, is decent if you're looking to make a Queen of Hearts costume. The pattern also features "shoulder armor" - new to me. It's a puff pleather sleeve with lace detailing that fastens around the chest. Neat, not necessarily my scene but okay. The "leggings" are more like footless stockings or leg warmers. They're thigh high and stop at the ankle, and it's a damn shame too because it's probably the only thing I'd make from this pattern but I prefer covering my feet. I like the cage detailing at the top and the fishnet panel is a neat idea. This definitely has a Lolita vibe to it which is not surprising because it was designed in part by Ichigo Black.  

Conclusion

I'm happy to see some accessory patterns emerging, I'd like to see more of them in the future! It's also good to see more patterns in the "easy" and "very easy" skill ratings. I feel like the other patterns in the catalog would be too complex and overwhelming for those looking to break into Cosplay, so these patterns would be a good introduction for beginners.

Thoughts?

Best,

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